Postbag: TIP reports not gospel
published : 21 Jun 2014 at 01:15
Today we will hear about Thailand’s Tier in America’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report. Never forget the TIP report is also a programme. America makes demands under TIP and countries, including Thailand, ignore their own sovereignty, and comply. TIP demands that countries change laws, speed up justice (a conflicting thought), and set aside special treatment for one class of victims that the US can never find enough of. Every TIP report whines about the need to find more victims and prosecute more traffickers and then throw away the key. But the Somaly Mam expose in the Bangkok Post on June 1 and around the world has shown us that this issue has suffered extreme exaggeration by those who need funding and by media who benefit from sensational stories. Read a few blogs about trafficking and you too will quickly learn that “facts” about trafficking often defy common sense.
Every resident of Thailand, Thai and farang, should read TIP reports and see what they are really about. On page 4 of the 2013 TIP report the United States offers Taiwan as an example for other countries to follow. TIP tells us Taiwan has detention centres at its borders to hold new arrivals until they can be investigated as possible trafficking victims. Detainees are offered long-term immigration status (a kind of bribe) and release from detention in exchange for agreeing to claim to be victims and turn on people who helped them get a job in Taiwan. I am shocked, even scared, that my country encourages this. Scared because that is not the country I know from my youth.
British embassy a joke
With reference to the Stephen Young letter on June 20, I could not agree more with what he states. Being British and having been in Thailand some 19 years, the treatment one gets from my embassy is exactly the same. A few years ago I rang the British Embassy in Bangkok about a problem with passport renewal as I was working in Indonesia at the time. A voice answered saying “for this press this” number. After about 10 different numbers, I sent an email explaining the problem and now am still waiting for a reply. I rang at the time the embassy in Jakarta and immediately spoke to a nice lady who advised me what I should do and offered me more help should I require it. My problem did resolve itself thankfully. What a difference between two embassies.
The embassy report detailing the pre-coup situation gave the impression it was the Wild West everywhere without seeing that maybe 95% of Bangkok was peaceful. The people that run the embassies are our representatives in any country we go to, and expect them to be truthful and helpful. I for one have lost faith in ours in Thailand. Good luck to Stephen in his quest.
Handouts no answer
I fully agree that the government should “ensure that our farmers can enjoy a better life than they have been living, and secure a better future for their children” (“Farmers need quality of life”, BP, June 19).
However, no country can sustainably subsidise inefficiency, nor should it — especially when Thai farmers have one of the lowest rice yields in the world.
Thus, instead of seeking to fully cover their costs, aid to farmers should be designed to give them no more than, say, five years, to adjust to market forces and seek a better living. This can be done by, for example, introducing subsidised high-yield varieties, controlling water flows, low-interest loans for machinery, student loans, or price guarantees set slightly below market rates (to cushion against price drops).
Help our farmers to stand on their own feet, not become slaves to handouts.
Don’t poo poo cabbies
I’m happy Edward B Duhigg does not own or drive a car in Bangkok (“City cabs the worst”, PostBag, June 19). He is sensible and is part of the solution, not the problem. Bangkok taxi drivers may rank among the worst in the world, but it takes a driver of special daring to drive a taxi in already insane Bangkok traffic conditions.
Most people (tourists and locals alike) find Bangkok taxi drivers a bit reckless, but they seem to get to their destinations without mishaps.
Perhaps with General Prayuth’s new taxi regulations being implemented, a driver who refuses to take a passenger to a destination or turn on a meter will now get his butt kicked and his licence revoked.
While in Cairo last year, my taxi was behind a camel on a major Cairo street, in a traffic jam. The camel just “unloaded” onto the hood of the taxi.
Now THAT was a pretty special experience.
In Samut Prakan province a few years ago, my taxi got too close to a load of pigs in a big truck, and the pigs, well, ya know, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go.
Bangkok taxi drivers have a personality and spirit all their own.
I do not envy them.
They deserve every baht they earn, because they earn their money the hard way. But, as Mr Duhigg says, they can be a horrible lot and there is a lot of room for improvement.
David James Wong
Follow Lion City lead
Re: “Thailand needs organised corruption” (Opinion, June 19, 2014). “Organised corruption”, as advised to be used as a policy for Thailand by Voranai Vanijaka, seems to be the same thing as “organised crime” in American parlance — which is regarded as highly illegal and must be eradicated at any cost, and oftentimes by any means, by the US government.
I was hoping that at least Mr Voranai should have stressed that this was just tongue-in-cheek kind of advice from him.
My opinion is that we should follow the example of Singapore, in which both good governance and clean and clear business practices are accentuated rigorously.
Sometimes, it looks like Singapore regards democracy as secondary to a clean and forward-looking government.
Here in Thailand, we regard democracy and freedom of speech as must-haves, and at the same time disregard the importance of clean governance and a clear conscience in doing business.
It’s the same thing as admiring the Mona Lisa painting in an upside down position and exclaiming: “What a beautiful work of art!”.
World Cup waste
The NBTC should certainly hand over to the “central government” what is left in the piggy bank from the sales of the digital TV spectrum! For a start, they just wasted 427 million baht buying the TV rights to the World Cup!
Embrace the military
It is interesting that Human Rights Watch condemns Thailand for a lack of human rights and curtailment of freedom of speech. Human Rights Watch sits in an ivory tower in some Asian country pontificating in its usual self-righteous manner without having reviewed the facts and the reality of what Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is doing.
He has accomplished more in about a month than former PM Snow White has done in three years. Yingluck and the Pheu Thai could have done the same things as Gen Prayuth but they were so self-obsessed with their own greed, so self directed by their personal interests and power, and obsessed with Thaksin, Thaksin, and yet more Thaksin.
Pheu Thai ministers were appointed because they were Thaksin’s friends. They were incompetent and made up things as they went along. There was not a competent experienced minister in the lot from the education portfolio to the Foreign Ministry portfolio, which incidentally turned Thailand into a laughing stock both nationally and internationally. Gen Prayuth is tackling years of inbred corruption and power politics. Let him try to do better.
Gen Prayuth, please stay, for years if necessary.
Smart? No, very dumb
The day before yesterday, I was very happy that the “tablet project” was chopped, but yesterday I learned with horror that they are going to put a smart class in all 30,000 schools in Thailand.
I wonder how educated people thought that one can improve education with only “gadgets and electronic boards”.
To improve or to reform education, we need to improve the quality and competencies of our “teachers”. We need better teacher education programme, both pre-service and in-service programmes.
We need better textbooks and teaching aids to help teachers teach more effectively.
We need more children’s books that parents can read to their children from one year old up, to cultivate reading habits and to become lifelong learners which is one of the objectives of the Thai National Curriculum.
Footie schedule chaos
Great. I can watch Fifa World Cup reruns on True Visions Channel 668.
Unfortunately, their app has not yet been configured to display the schedule.
‘Wumo’ just not funny
Since Richard Outcault created the first newspaper comic, Down Hogan’s Alley, which was published in Joseph Pulitzer’s The World in 1885, comic strips have become a regular and beloved feature of most newspapers around the world.
Comic strip heroes, heroines and characters have become household names. Krazy Kat, Hagar the Horrible, Calvin and Hobbes, B.C., Dilbert, The Far Side, Non Sequitur, and Doonesbury are among my favourites. I also enjoy the Bangkok Post’s offerings of The Wizard of Id, Andy Capp, Blondie, Frank & Ernest, Animal Crackers, Garfield, Peanuts and The Born Loser.
I hope this is ample demonstration of my eclectic and diverse taste in comic strip humour.
But try as I might, I fail to find any humour in Wumo, one of your most recent offerings on the Diversions page. For my vote it is the most “unfunny” comic strip in comic strip history, totally devoid of humour, satire, fun, whimsy, wit, farce, jocosity, raillery, levity or any other synonym you care to find in your thesaurus. In short it is a total waste of your (our) money and a waste of valuable newspaper space.
But wait! I have a solution. Do not replace it. Just leave that space blank for lovers of the Bangkok Post’s Crossword, Target and Scrabble to have some scribble space to work out their answers.
Let time stand still
Philip Hollywood in his June 10 letter suggested the change of the Thai time zone by one hour. This would have a devastating effect on the agriculture sector in Thailand. As the majority of farm work starts at the break of dawn and finishes around five in the afternoon, a shift of one hour would cause many problems. This time shift may be good for retired expats but not for the majority of working class Thais trying to earn a living off the land.
Ban the whistles!
I have lived in Thailand for 10 years so this is my second experience of military intervention.
My opinion is that the general and his staff have handled the whole thing expertly and with very clever thinking. What is most impressive is how the general has quickly tackled those long-standing problems which Thais have for years accepted. Notably ... police corruption, mafia taxi operators, protection money paid by thousands of businesses, and so on.
Now two things I ask the general to stop which are not earth shattering but very annoying on a daily basis.
Bangkok is noisy enough with every car park, hotel entrance and some junctions being plagued by this infernal noise pollution along with one hotel opposite my apartment.
Although I have spoken to the hotel manager, it continues. It’s not only annoying but unnecessary because being constant it achieves nothing. Much more effective are the red flags because surely the drivers do look ahead.
The other problem is sex touts. At the corner of Surawongse Road and Patpong the sex touts congregate all day. They congest the pavement of this busy area and they can be very aggressive. Please clear them out.
Finally, I realise it would be good if Thailand worked under a democratic government but I don’t think it’s possible. An election would take us back to how things were.
No helmet, no petrol
It’s time the army once again comes to the rescue of the Thai people, and like smokers, not wearing helmets should be seen as socially unacceptable. Aiding and abetting an illegal act is still a crime and I suggest to those in power to bring to account those who aid and abet illegal activities and here I am fingering the gas filling stations who sell petrol to helmetless drivers.
Enact a “No helmet, no petrol” petrol law with a 500-baht fine for every case proven where an illegal sale has taken place. This might be hard to enforce, one might say, but every major filling station I use has CCTV installed, and therefore with little cost, the police or army can review a day’s trade and culprits could be caught on camera and, as such, a suitable fine imposed on the garage owner.
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