Wildlife foundation head sets the record straight

Wildlife foundation head sets the record straight

Re: "Melee over wildlife issue gathers steam" (BP, March 22).

The melee started after staff at Lampang province leaked information that an elephant who was under the care of the National Parks, Wildlife and Conservation Department had had died. This elephant was taken by the department from an elephant camp in Kanchanaburi a few weeks ago. Besides this there is great concern about the fate of 99 other animals taken from the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) rescue centre in Phetchaburi after news that at least two gibbons forcibly taken to a department breeding centre in Ratchaburi have died.

Staff and management of WFFT as well as the Thai Animal Guardians Association and a Bangkok-based support group have asked for permission to visit the confiscated wildlife to ensure proper animal welfare standards are in place. This request has been unanswered for over three weeks. If the department states that all animals are well, why can't staff or media be allowed access to the animals? Why did the death of the elephant stay secret and why is this not mentioned in the article?

The articles I wrote over the last weeks have not been aggressive, but straight to the point and factual. If someone cannot deal with the truth that is one thing, but calling it aggressive is not a correct description.

When department deputy director-general Theerapat Prayurasidhi mentions defamation in the article I wonder how he would classify his last remark: "He is using the camp as a private zoo to get donations to feed his business." The WFFT is a legally registered foundation under Thai law. The day-to-day bookkeeping and yearly financial report are properly maintained as required by law. The rescue centre is seen by international government and non-governmental organisations as one of the best of its kind, with fully equipped medical facilities and holding facilities built to international standards. A private zoo is closed to the public while the rescue centre is accessible for free, for educational purposes.

The WFFT does receive voluntary donations by people and organisations worldwide, just enough to support its work; we do not receive any government funding or taxpayer money. The WFFT is a non-profit organisation, and has been for the last 11 years.

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

Can the Thai people really handle the truth?

Re: "The truth may not set us free" (BP, Editorial, March 22)

The editorial is an example of the kind of debate the Truth for Reconciliation Commission is convinced can bring about reconciliation. Because it really goes to the heart of the matter: what degree of wrong-doing are we, the Thai people, willing to forgive and forget? And then, just a little further down the road, the next question: how much corruption are we willing to put up with in a leader?

So we come to the question posed by Sanan Kachornprasart to Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin. Who was the "mastermind" of the 2006 coup, and why can't he say? Was it just one person, he asked, and is that why you can't say?

Or is it possible there were so many voices whispering in Gen Sonthi's ear at once and so persuasively he simply had no alternative but to get on with it? And of course, those voices would all have been saying it would be easy because there would be no opposition, no arson, no letting, taking or pouring of blood or anything but joy in the streets. Which, of course, there wasn't.

Chiang Mai

Thai English teachers have hard slog ahead

Re: "Thai educators must be the ones to teach English" (BP, Postbag, March 21).

Thrilling though the challenges to "teachers, students, relevant governmental agencies and society at large" might seem, I remain unmoved. The writer says that cooperation from the aforementioned groups is essential if Thais are to able to communicate with Asean Economic Community nations in English by 2015. When this happens, and the government provides "tools and funding to train and empower Thai teachers to proficiently and confidently teach English", the result, says the writer, will be that "there will be less need to rely on foreign teachers".

Having taught English for many years in this country, I can tell the writer that the majority of Thai English teachers I have worked with think an elephant is "an eelephant", and that orange juice rhymes with Lennox Lewis. And I love them for it, but will the other Asean nations?


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