Govt must act now
It has been well known for many years that Thailand has a pollution problem. The country is one of the highest users of poisonous agricultural chemicals. Poorly regulated mining, industrial and energy sectors pollute the groundwater, air and soil with impunity. There is virtually no regulation of vehicle emissions, while the marine and rail sectors are off the rails when it comes to pollution. This has been going on for as long as anyone can remember.
The government would have citizens believe they are the best qualified to continue in power. Yet, they have done nothing to address this crisis. No long term planning, nothing to indicate they have even considered actually doing anything except spray drinking water into the air!
There never was more obvious evidence of the lack of qualification to govern than what has been revealed by the poisoning of the air.
To further confirm matters, the police have arrested a netizen for posting that someone has died from air pollution. Apparently, it was not the individual pictured in the post. However, undoubtedly someone has died from pollution recently. People have every right to be afraid and to speak about their fears. If panic ensues what will happen, a run on safety masks? The government desperately needs to change their top-down point of view. Represent the people and stop dictating to them.
Stop the PR stunts
Re: "Haze shutters city schools", (BP, Jan 31).
At long last, the junta is considering action to reduce the hazardous pollution in Bangkok's air. Instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off, Prayut should consider that the Pollution Control Department's found that 52% of PM2.5 pollutants come from diesel-powered vehicles -- and focus counter-measures accordingly. This would follow Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, one of which is, "Begin with the end (goal) in mind".
The truth of the PCD's conclusion has been vividly demonstrated by the police, who set up just 20 checkpoints to measure diesel exhausts and reportedly issued 10,000 tickets in a single day.
What needs to be done is to triple the number of police checkpoints and run them 24/7. Check buses in their garages at night and trucks when they line up on the city's outskirts, waiting for 9am, when they're allowed into Bangkok. Form flying squads of deputised soldiers, under the direct control of a police officer, authorised to issue tickets and split the proceeds with the squad members. Check trains at terminals.
Promote usage of B20 bio-diesel and Euro 5 fuel. I understand that we can go all the way up to B100 without damage to engines,so why haven't we done so? If going to B40 or higher is in the national interest, we should use the Oil Fund to cushion losses to oil refineries while they adjust, over, say, a 3-year period. Attack the root causes of our pollution, Prayut, instead of giving us PR stunts.
Bad apples spoil all
As the saying goes, bad people only do bad things when good people stand by and do nothing. How apt is this, as once again the selfish bad people cover the north of the country in a toxic haze. Until the population at large demands that politicians take action, nothing will change. Currently, the beautiful Mae Hong Song mountains have disappeared under the usual March filth, and January has just come to an end. When there is nothing left to burn in March, the politicians will give themselves pats on the back. All they have done by banning fires in March is to shuffle paper and let the good but apathetic and uneducated majority believe them. Once again, it seems that we expats are the only ones who care about the country going forward.
Education once again screams out for reform towards a first world system. With it will come minimum pollution, road deaths and corruption. Chok dee on that in the near future.
No fumy boats please
It is wise to take measures on the roads and in the streets to fight pollution.
But it seems that nothing is being done to control and regulate the engines of tailboats on the Chao Phraya, which are the main source of the fumes extracted on the river. Not to mention the noise they are making.
P de P
Forget human affairs
Sitting in our large garden surrounded by the northern hills, it is far too easy to track what is really going on in this "modern" world. If I didn't read, it would all seem rather comfortable and idyllic, but I do read, and from a great many sources. And what I do read bothers me enormously. More people than ever are moving into cities, the places which now regularly show up on maps describing awful air pollution. The businesses that corporations have relied on for years to make their profit are now seen to be killing our children. They make more money by dumping, rather than dealing with, dangerous residues. Our food industry, if what recent reports suggest are true, is feeding us the cause of our modern diseases; diabetes, obesity, strokes and heart attacks. Those same food industries are also fuelling our plastic pollution problem and the pesticide contamination of our drinking water.
If the international press is to be believed, our animal, fish and insect populations have decreased alarmingly, the polar ice is fast disappearing, the forests have been replaced by plantations and very little of our planet's surface is left untainted by humans. And what do we do? Apparently very little. The Brits argue over Brexit, the Americans discuss the latest Mr Trump tantrum and the billionaires fly into Davos to say we the poor and dispossessed, need to change our ways, and the Thais bicker over an election date that cannot change the 20-year development plan. If mother earth has her way she may finally curtail all man's trivial political debate and show us how little we have done to respect her.
The idea that private hospitals can get away with anything is criminal. Medicines that can be bought at local pharmacies are doubled/tripled in at the hospital. Physicians at those private hospitals will give a blank stare if you ask them if you can get the medicines at local drug stores. Last week I spent 6,000 baht for a medicine that cost 2,900 baht at Fascino.
It's time for doctors to stop being the shill for corporations.
Show me the rules
I wish to see some clarification of the "new rule" of having to show 12 months of income deposits in a Thai bank to qualify for a retirement visa. My monthly income is deposited into a US brokerage account and is easily verifiable by a number of means. While my income qualifies under the yearly rule, there is no way I require 66,666.66 baht per month to live here. In fact, that is one of the reasons I came here 13 years ago.
Additionally, US Social Security has no direct deposit relationship with any Thai bank.
Finally, I still have obligations, as a US citizen, in the US and depositing money here and then re-transferring it to the US to pay my bills is redundant as it is much easier to withdraw my monthly requirements here via ATM. Income is income and as long as we can support ourselves here, the location of those monies should be secondary. And there are rumours that the government will seek to tax these monies as income at some point in time once they are here.
I, for one, will be returning to the US as the new (secret) rules make compliance almost impossible unless you can just put your 800,000 baht into a Thai bank account and forget it is there.
Revise passing scores
The past two decades or so have seen Thai universities offer special programmes of study in both arts and sciences as means to generate income to feed into their autonomous status. While the special programmes give working adults opportunities to pursue their academic interest, they appear to have lowered the education quality. The administrators must factor into their budgeting scheme the number of enrolled students to make sure that the programme can be run without being in the red. This is where and how the compromise of education quality kicks in.
Specifically, the admission criteria are lax. For example, a special programme for study in political science of a premier university in Bangkok requires a skimpy score of 30/120 on the CU-TEP, standardised English proficiency test. I wonder how a graduate student with such an embarrassingly low score can read English texts and journals with a fair level of understanding.
If Thai universities are determined to climb up the ranks to be accepted as truly international or world-class universities, the first thing to do is to raise the English test scores to make certain that only well-equipped students are admitted. Keeping the test scores low does no one any service in the long run.
Don't alienate walkers
We are frequent visitors to Pattaya. This year we have encountered more problems than ever with pavements. Never have we seen so many people with arms in slings. Also, more people who, like me, are wheelchair users.
It seems to us that the priority is for vehicle users, but you forget that your once quiet fishing village has expanded beyond imagination due to tourism. Isn't it about time you cared for the welfare of all pavement users?
For example, a hole appeared near the middle of the pavement near the new wing of the Amari Hotel. The next day, an almost bare bristled broom and two pieces of thin wood were placed in the hole (presumably to act as a warning) with no support underneath it.
The adjoining kerb has also collapsed, and the hole is getting a little bigger every day.
The corner right around the beach road, which was repaired last year while we were here, has again collapsed.
Tourist have been the catalyst for the expansion of Pattaya. Do not alienate them by neglecting the basics.
Helen Buckenham (Mrs)
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