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Sheer happiness for the 1%

Re: "Report: Thailand most unequal country in 2018", (BP, Dec 7).

Who would not be impressed by the report from Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2018, which ranks Thailand comfortably at No.1 at last?

In 2016, Thailand's 1% elite owned only 58% of the nation's wealth, but the unremitting efforts of those selfless lads who took over to correct such states of affairs have managed to boost that to 66.9% ownership by the 1% this year. For those threatened by the good morals of democracy, another coup was clearly the sound investment strategy. And with Thailand's Gini Index "at a whopping 90.2", it is obvious what sort of ingrates complain about the state of the state.

The joy of coups: returning happiness to the 1%.

Felix Qui

When personal freedom is stolen

Digital banking risk management is a hot topic in the financial sector. Fintech and the accelerating transition to a cashless economy present risks the average citizen cannot imagine let alone evaluate responsibly.

Consider the Bangladesh Bank cyber heist of 2016, and imagine how much more criminals have learned since then. When targets are spread across the entire global economy, spanning everything from consumers to central banks, the likelihood that someone's money will eventually disappear with a keystroke is beyond certainty, it is now built into the system. Cash is becoming illiquid in many nations.

But the greater danger looming takes another form. Sovereign ownership is being steadily transferred from ordinary individuals to the state and its corporate minions.

Owe back taxes? No, actually you don't because the state has already seized your funds electronically. Bought a pack of cigarettes yesterday? Your health insurance premium went up three seconds after the purchase and the additional money has already been credited to your insurer. Your future debt to the state will be known to the penny and calculated on the day of your birth.

A cashless society is the handmaiden of socialism and an essential component in the progressive demise of individual sovereignty. In short, the risk to the individual is far greater than a mere theft of assets, it is your soul they are after. Personal freedom and the unfettered pursuit of happiness will have been stolen like a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat.

Michael Setter
Bang Saray

Time to reduce cost of solar

As an Englishman who loves Thailand. I would like the Bangkok Post to start a campaign to reduce the cost of solar panels and installation. Thailand in my opinion is missing a big trick. Lower costs will allow energy saving all over Thailand.


Road carnage is a real issue

Re: "Thailand tops Asean road death table", (Online Dec 7).

This should be made a major issue in the upcoming political bickering, aka election time. Not one politician, not one past government including the present government has paid anything but the weakest lip service to this issue, as if, why bother, it'll continue anyway. It is high time real laws, realistic laws, laws with severe penalties, (not the slap on the wrist stuff), were enacted and enforced. Severe jail time with no reduced time for good behaviour, life sentences for drunk drivers with no appeal, denial of driver's licences for life, vehicle confiscation, and fines in the 4-figure range might put the message across.

It also of course would help if roads were made safer with proper paving, removing trees and vines that hide road signs, and, putting police patrols on country roads. Why are all traffic laws in Thailand treated as a joke, with a smile and a "mai pen rai"? Because that's exactly what traffic laws are, big jokes, to be scoffed at, and treated lightly, or with disdain.


Something fishy about gold haul

Re: "Suspect says movies inspired him to B6m gold burglary", (BP, Dec 8).

This story is incredible.

An owner of a gold shop after closing left the shop's key on a hook near the back door so his employee can get in and he didn't put his precious merchandise in a safe. Surveillance camera had been unplugged. The only thing the owner left out was a "Please come in" sign.

I smell something fishy. The police should dig deeper.

Somsak Pola

What does populism really mean?

Re: "Rethinking our attitude towards populism" (Opinion, Dec 6).

Thanks to Wichit Chantanusornsiri for opening the proverbial can of worms regarding "populism". The highly misunderstood and maligned term is certainly nothing new. Virtually all politicians play the populist game to some extent or another. Without promises and benefits (whether "handouts," tax breaks, or delivery of popular programmes) it is doubtful any politicians could win an election.

At what point do "programmes to benefit the people" cross the line into "populism"? Some, like Khun Wichit, argue the demarcation depends on the degree of efficiency in design and delivery of the programme in question and some measure of "goodness" (he cites vocational training as an example of the latter). But who determines the relevance or "goodness" of any particular socio-economic programme? Who decides what is "populist" and what is simply bad policy (or good policy, for that matter)?

The world has seen its share of leftist populists (for example, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez) as well as the current spate of rightist populists (exemplified by Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump). What they all have in common is a claim to be looking out for the "real people".

Columbia University Professor Nadia Urbinati notes that populist leaders who get into power are forced to maintain a permanent campaign to convince people that they are not establishment and never will be. She argues that populism is "made of negatives" -- whether it is anti-politics, anti-intellectualism, or anti-elite. Perhaps this is the one characteristic of populism that is most easy to identify -- it foments conflict and stokes divisions within societies, usually for the express purpose of gaining political advantage for one person and a few of their cronies.

Samanea Saman

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All letter writers must provide a full name and address. All published correspondence is subject to editing at our discretion