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Land of smiles is grim

Re: "Expat survey puts Thailand fourth in Asean", (Online, Sept 8).

That Thailand has dropped to fourth place as the Asean nation preferred by expatriates should come as no surprise to Thailand. It is certainly no surprise to Thai expatriates.

I first came to Thailand in 1969 and have now lived here for 15 years.

Of course, over that time there have been many changes, as there have been elsewhere in the world.

But permit me to offer just a few suggestions as to why Thailand is now lagging being Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia as the country of choice for expatriates.

Way back then Thailand was indeed the "Land of Smiles". It was automatic and genuine wherever you travelled here. But that enigmatic smile is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and is likely to end up as rare as Thai Asian tigers in the wild.

Unfortunately, in its place is a growing industry intent on scamming expatriates for every dollar it can extort. That includes the illegal scams of tourist areas like Pattaya and Phuket, taxi cab scams, and officially sanctioned scams such as price-gouging admission to historical sites and national parks.

Not too long ago, expatriates were entitled to the Thai rate, but that was abolished to bring us in line with foreign tourists.

All countries have their bureaucracies, but Thailand's paper-based officialdom, is way behind the computerised and streamlined systems in some other Asean countries, particularly Singapore and Vietnam.

Somewhere in Thailand there must be a warehouse with hundreds of photocopies of my passport, which I am required to produce unnecessarily for the most trivial transactions.

While 1st place getter Singapore is an expensive place to live, it is my experience that Vietnam is far cheaper than Thailand, and I know of many Australian expatriates (particularly war veterans) who are now making it home.

And a final word: Vietnam can now justly lay claim to the title "Land of Smiles", with people as friendly as friendly as can be, and without a hint of a scam or rort in the eight times I have visited there in the past five years.

Wake up Thailand. It may not be too late.

David Brown

Time to ban Koh Tao

Regarding the saga about the British teen who says she was drugged and raped on Koh Tao, I see the alleged victim is blaming the Thai police for trying to discredit her rather than investigate.

With all that has happened on Koh Tao, the place should be shut down and abandoned, or prohibited to tourists if Thailand is so worried about its image.

Those who live there and earn a living off the tourist industry will take matters into their own hands to clean up the island's reputation when their finances suffer.


PTT sells green image

Regarding your special report, "It's easy being green, even in Map Ta Phut", the state owned PTT oil conglomerate needs to do more work on corporate social responsibility, particularly where fossil fuels are concerned.

While all of the "green" programmes reported on are positive, particularly their educational aspects, they do not lessen PTT executives' commitment to forcing their energy monopoly down the throats of Thai citizens.

Real CSR would result in a corporate strategy to remove itself from fossil fuels starting now.

Norway has a commitment to produce 67.5 % of its energy from sustainable sources by 2020.

Where is Thailand's plan to do the same?

PTT Plc is joined at the hip with the government and this unfortunately makes for (please pardon the expression) brown bedfellows.

Remember the 2013 Rayong oil spill? No, they don't want you to.

Michael Setter

136 Na Ranong Road Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110
Fax: +02 6164000 email:

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