Postbag: Why don't Thais read?
published : 4 May 2013 at 00:00
newspaper section: News
As Unesco has designated Bangkok World Book Capital for 2013, Bangkok governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra hopes to encourage Thais to read more books, 10-15 a year against five books per annum according to 2003 figures. Despite all the efforts by previous governments to increase national readership, Thai people still read very few books compared to those in other Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan where people read around 40-60 titles a year.
Reading is essential to developing human resources. What we need is a stringent nationwide strategy to boost the Thai reading culture. The plan might include research on why Thais do not read, and how to cultivate Thai reading habits. There should be evaluations on the impact of improved literacy levels for Thailand.
Street loses Bearings
I love this tidbit on '''Henry' Dunant, maybe?'', (PostBag, May 3). Similarly, ''Lasal Road'' could have been spelt ''La Salle''. I can understand why the road is called ''Lasal'' because La Salle College is located there.
But I have been puzzled by the names ''Bearing Road'' and ''Bearing Station''. Was it because of having a bearing factory there or in memory of someone?
Cunningham all wrong
Re: ''Sack the speech writer'' (PostBag, May 3). I followed Khun Songdej Praditsmanont's advice and read ''Publicity or propaganda, it's all just a matter of spin'' by Philip J Cunningham (BP, May 2) and I have a few points to make.
First, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra mentioned the words democracy 27 times. She delivered the speech at the Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies, didn't she? Did you expect her to mention ''breast-feeding'' 27 times?
Second, Cunningham asked, ''So why does her party tend to lose in the most educated electoral districts in Thailand?'' Does that mean Bangkok and the deep South provinces are ''the most educated electoral districts'' while the North and Northeast are ''the most uneducated electoral districts?''
By the way, how can you tell if a person is educated or uneducated? A person with a high school diploma? A bachelor's degree? A PhD?
Third, Cunningham wrote, ''and her brother is a fugitive from justice''. This should be ''and her brother is an escapee of injustice''. Finally, Yingluck used a lot of political cliches, such as ''reduce the gap between rich and poor'', ''providing education and economic opportunities'', ''rule of law'' and all that crap. But, hey, she's a politician, isn't she?
I found the column itself a piece of propaganda aimed at discrediting the government and Thaksin.
Thank you, Songdej Praditsmanont, for mentioning Philip J Cunningham's article ''Publicity or propaganda, it's all just a matter of spin'' (BP, May 2), but why change anything?
After decades of propaganda in the former Soviet Union, the people stopped believing the words of the government; the US has become the new Soviet Union, from a propaganda standpoint (government and corporate), and now most Americans do not believe the government or corporations.
Please, keep the propaganda coming in full force, as the sooner everything falls apart, the sooner we can pick up the pieces and put them together the right way.
People who use propaganda deserve to fail and indeed they determine their fates the moment they start using it; let them be failures so that we can recognise them as such and then move on to success without them.
Propaganda is a disease that disables itself and those who employ it.
Suffering for beauty
Having recently visited Bangkok I couldn't help but notice how all the Thai girls seemed to have changed!
The natural 'Thai beauty' has become hidden by so many cosmetics, most notably the horrendous facial skin whiteners!
The lovely ''Siamese eyes'' are now covered with ugly dark contact lenses and surrounded by streaks of mascara!
The famous ''Thai smile'' reveals teeth braces that just look geekish and 'unreal'.
Why do these girls follow this fashion? What is it about white skin?
Who is raking in all the money promoting such ridiculous ''aids to beauty''?
The contact lenses impair vision and are prone to causing severe eye infection!
Oh, and if you have been spoken to closely by someone with the teeth braces then you will certainly remember!
The braces impair the food being consumed and it remains in the mouth creating horrendously bad breath!
It's sad to see so many young and even older ladies affected by this senseless fashion craze!
Squatting on a dilemma
Two recent articles by Andrew Biggs (Brunch, April 28) and Usnisa Sukhsvasti (Life, May 29) covered Thai toileting habits and bodily waste functions with commendable delicacy.
Soon, on decidedly dubious medical grounds, it seems that Western style sit-down toilets are to be imposed nationwide, although I suspect a sizeable majority of the populace will continue to squat, if the evidence of strangely located footprints is anything to go by.
Anyway, most modern buildings in Bangkok already have suitable facilities, complete with helpful instructions. A sign in the male cubicles of one Sukhumvit block requests users to ''please not put sanitary napkins down the toilet'', which at first left me wondering if I had gone through the wrong door.
Of course, the question that always recurs is whether one should leave the toilet lid up or down, but not long ago a friend surprised me with another dilemma: ''Which way should you face when squatting _ to the back or towards the door?'' I had always thought the answer was obvious, but now I'm not so sure. If the government has its way, it won't matter for much longer.
Leaking a public service
Re: ''Thailand again on US bad boy list'' (Business, May 3).
I would like to thank all those Thais who leak test results and marketing plans for drugs, pharmaceuticals and chemicals for agricultural use. I think they are providing a public service.
What is the intention of the USTR in asking Thailand or other countries to stop this leaking, if not the protection of well-documented, often unethical, fraudulent or quasi-criminal practices by the companies producing and selling these products? How often are the cases of conviction for concealing inefficiency or severe side effects or deaths caused by these products and of marketing of drugs that have no notable benefits _ except in the marketing plans and for their producers?
Egg on the army's face
A judge in the UK sentenced fake bomb-detector seller James McCormick to 10 years in jail for fraud. A quote from the BBC World News Service states, ''McCormick bought novelty 'golf ball detectors' which were little more than radio aerials from the USA for less than $20 each before selling them as bomb detectors for $5,000 each.'' Of course the Thai army command still maintains these things work.
It's pretty hard to wash dried egg off your face, isn't it?
PM fawns on Chinese
Bulldog's letter, ''Bring out the handbags'' (PostBag, May 2), should be titled, ''Bring out the brains.'' Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra could carry a handbag made of gold, but it wouldn't help her much. It is not how she dresses or what she carries. She has no substance, simply parroting her brother Thaksin's wishes.
At the moment, notice how she is fawning over, and praising the Chinese foreign minister? She is so anxious to please him. How long before Thailand becomes another Tibet? The takeover will not be military, but totally economic. China nearly owns us anyway.
Thaksin's grain of truth
I would like to suggest that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra be allowed to return to Thailand on one condition: that he buys all the unsold rice from his rice pledging scheme at the price the government paid for it.
Tourist cops need boost
Re: ''Tourism court floated'' (BP, April 30). Adding a nearly duplicate organisation will only invite further complications and waste more money. Strengthen the existing tourist police and criminal court organisations and establish a fast-track police for tourism cases, if possible.
Unfair fares on BTS
As a long-time foreign resident of Bangkok aged over 60, I wrote to the BTS asking them to explain the reasoning and justification behind their policy of offering the senior discount fare only to Thai citizens. Naturally, I received no response.
Perhaps the management would care to respond on these pages? The MRT has no such discrimination policy.
High praise for HD
Kudos to TrueVisions for increasing the number of HD channels. HD makes all the difference in the world, especially when viewing sports. However, I would ask that when making announcements regarding programming changes that all such notices be made not only in Thai but also English for the benefit of those of us who cannot read Thai. The current announcement that Golf Channel Thailand will switch to HD on May 1 is a case in point. Only through my powers of deductive reasoning (and the help of my housemaid) did I become aware of this wonderful upgrade! One other note to TrueVisions _ please proof-read all of your programme descriptions _ the current one regarding the Meet The Press states that the programme is hosted by Tim Russert, who unfortunately passed away several years ago.
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