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Helmets not included

I was somewhat heartened when I read the headline "Cops eye traffic offences points system", (BP, May 28).

At last, I thought, the police are taking the disregard off traffic laws seriously, I hoped that errant drivers and riders were at last going to feel the full force of the law. I then read the text of the story and it became apparent that they are not.

They are apparently of the view that not wearing a helmet, a seat belt or speeding are only minor offences and only warrant a one point penalty, come on the Royal Thai Police breaking these laws is costing lives, you need to show how serious it is.

Running a red light is only considered a moderately serious offence, we've all seen drivers and riders accelerating as they approach a red light and not stopping, only yesterday the Bangkok Post reported that yet another hapless motorcyclist was killed by a motorist who ignored a red light. Along with driving on the wrong side of the road and speeding, these offences result in many unnecessary deaths on Thai roads.

While I agree that the proposal that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are among the most serious offences, the suggested penalty of only three points is laughable. They should incur an immediate ban of at least 12 months.

So come on RTP, take your role seriously, make the points system meaningful, and when an offender has accumulated 12 points for lesser offences, ban them for at least a year and make them take a test before their licence is returned.

And whilst you're considering offences please include: not stopping at pedestrian crossings, and no riding on the pavement or along canal footpaths.

John Ship

Asia is racist, too

Re: "America the unwelcoming", (Asia Focus, May 28).

While I agree with some of what Erich Parpart writes regarding the erosion of American influence and attraction, he is distorting parts of the story.

Mr Erich cites a recent National Public Radio poll indicating that one in four Asian-Americans have reported being discriminated against, but fails to put this in perspective. For example, how does this compare with the level of discrimination against foreigners (including other Asians) in Australia, New Zealand and China? Not to mention the near 100% discrimination that Thais apply in one aspect or another against foreigners -- including those Asians from neighbouring countries.

The commentary notably questions why parents would send their children to study in America and implies that it is no longer attractive to do so. While it is true that the number of foreign students in the US declined slightly in the past two years, the US is still the top destination for international students -- by far. Although attractive alternatives are emerging, more than one million foreign students are currently studying in the US. In contrast, the number of international students studying in Japan and China are only 173,303 and 264,976 respectively. While mentioning these, Mr Erich somehow conveniently failed to indicate the numbers for the US, which dwarf those studying in other countries. Chinese enrolments in American universities alone accounts for more than 350,000 students.

It may be true that America's influence in the world is plateauing, but Mr Erich's critical assessment of the situation is misleading and lacking in factual analysis in many aspects.

Samanea Saman

A national disservice

Re: "Matters of military service", (PostBag, May 27).

Mr Hunsch, there are many ways your 20-year-old son could better serve his country than potentially ending up as an underpaid domestic servant or gardener to some army general.

Thailand's national service scheme with its unfair lottery system is unnecessary, as the Bangkok Post pointed out in a recent editorial, and should be phased out soon.

But to address your concern, yes, if your son is a Thai citizen he is legally required to register for national service and take his chances at the lottery.

David Brown

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