Endless debt cycle
Re: "Handouts not the solution", (Editorial, Oct 4).
My opinion is based on two aspects: 1. This is not a proper use of tax money. If there is a real benefit to the shops and tourist attractions involved, maybe they should pay for the promotions. 2. "Multipliers" for new money injected into economies have crashed in the last 50 years. It is not clear that such money increases GDP even by the amount spent. However, given that the government consistently runs deficits, every single baht of this contributes to debt that is continuously rolled forward into the future.
Making a megalopolis
I'm a Rayong resident and have a different take on the EEC from Mr Wichit Chantranusornsiri in his Oct 3 "Making Sense" column. Rayong is a mid-sized city and I hope it stays that way. I see the EEC as a means to extend Bangkok all the way to Rayong; along with its congestion and pollution. The triple airport train route would be lined with condos and malls. Thailand should be able to take care of itself without making its eastern seaboard a giant Bangkok. Caring for a smaller Thailand is a more conservative, greener ambition.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in speaking about moving the nation's capital outside of Bangkok, was quoted recently as saying, "the first priority now is to establish a mutual understanding among people to make sure they and the government are on the same page".
Would that not be achieved by holding a free election under a constitution designed to establish genuine democracy
The Singapore model
Re: "What next with China as a superpower?" (Opinion, Oct 4).
It looks to me that China has copied the Singapore style of governance in that there is strong control, no meaningful opposition and capitalism as the driver. Pressure will build up if too many get no benefit from the system and start insisting that the Communist Party start acting like its name suggests. This system has been possible in a city-state with a small population but we will now see if a big country can keep the lid on.
Money prevents jail
I admire Burin Kantabutra for his the Oct 2 letter, "Call them to account".
While we all agree, the facts and reality is always different from what actually transpires. A case in point is the millionaire whose Benz hit a smaller car killing a policeman and his wife. What happened? The millionaire driver got off with a warning instead of being prosecuted for reckless driving and vehicular homicide. There are so many similar cases that they are not worth even mentioning. Now, if a smaller car were to crash into that Benz, I'm sure there would have been arrests, lawsuits, incarcerations, everything else. Face it. This is still Thailand where a good lawyer and a wealthy client, (plus a judge of dubious distinction), combo is unbeatable and still reign supreme.
It is regrettable that Oct 2, a date which was proclaimed in 2007 by the United Nations as the International Day of Non-Violence, could not have the legitimate worldwide resonance it deserves. This year the world community was invited to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, one of the giant personalities of all times who said that "non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man".
Mahatma Gandhi promoted non-violence not just as a doctrine and a political strategy, but also as a powerful modality to achieve justice and radical changes at the national and universal levels. His teachings are immortal and should continue to inspire a genuine culture of peace on our vulnerable planet.
Re: "Modi's toilet claim raises questions", (BP, Oct 3).
I was gratified to read about Indian PM Narendra Modi's claim that all 1.3 billion Indians now have access to toilets and that he was about to declare India "open-defecation free". But I was puzzled to read that 10,000 jars of treated human faecal matter (you could call it HFM) were to be distributed to guests at Mahatma Gandhi's iconic Sabarmati Ashram.
I wondered what the guests were expected to do with them. It seems to me that the solution to India's open-air toilet problem is not to preserve the substance of concern in jars (and possibly to market it?), but to get rid of it.
If my memory is correct, Gandhi himself once recommended that every Indian should carry a trowel, so that whenever he felt the urge, he could dig a little hole and bury his personal contribution to the topography of the planet. It seems that this idea never took hold.
Many years ago, an Indian philanthropist constructed a number of privies graced with the proud title "shauchalaya", a Sanskrit term meaning "abode of cleanliness". I encountered one while backpacking in the North Indian hill country in 1981. I never found out what happened to the shauchalaya initiative, but it was a praiseworthy effort that I hope succeeded.
Instead of distributing prestige-conferring jars of HFM to deserving Indians, I would suggest that Mr Modi's government focus on (a) building more shauchalayas and (b) promoting Gandhi's trowel suggestion. Then the Indian tourism authority could change its slogan "Incredible India" to "Immaculate India".
The insurance riddle
The Thailand Insurance agency along with the government has touted that those who wish to remain in Thailand should have adequate health insurance. A very good idea. The problem arises that at a certain period, they will drop you. It usually happens when you reach the age of 70 or 75. At this point, it will be impossible to get any health insurance, leaving you to become self-insured. Try to go to the open market and the first question will be about medical preconditions. Now, who as we age doesn't have "preconditions". The insurance companies collect at one end and shut the door at the other. If you want to be in the insurance business in Thailand, you should take into account that once you are onboard, you cannot drop a customer. Beware... it's just writing on the wall!
Apple doesn't fall far
Re: "Plight of 'little ghosts'", (BP, Sept 29).
At last, we know the real basis of the government's paranoia towards foreigners and the draconian restrictions imposed on them by the Immigration Department (eg TM30).
The fear is that foreigners coming to Thailand will behave like the multitudes of Thais (140,000 in South Korea alone) who flout the immigration laws of other countries, a practice the government must be well aware of.
Who would have thought Thais could behave so lawlessly? The government obviously thinks foreigners in the Land of Smiles are no different.
Horrors of TM30
Like a criminal on parole, I had to do a TM30 24-hour report. I am 76 and have lived here for 30 years in my own condo. Sick with the flu, I couldn't face the arduous taxi journey from Ploenchit let alone the chamber of horrors known as the Chaengwatthana Immigration Bureau.
A Thai friend agreed to go for me. My stack of signed photocopies of documents included the completed TM30 form, previous Receipt of Residence Registration, passport photo page, Retirement Visa page, Multiple Re-entry page, arrival card TM6, 90-day report receipt, Blue Book page, Yellow Book pages, pink ID card, Title Deed, and condo sale transaction. Everything in excess, I thought.
Arriving at 7am which is well ahead of the 8.30am opening time, 100 TM30 reporting victims secured queue numbers ahead of him. Three hours later, he had edged to the head of the line. Now the twist of the knife came. Where's the Power of Attorney? The documents are fine but a Power of Attorney was required, completed by the Assignor (with yet another signed photocopy of the passport photo page) and the Assignee (with a signed copy of his Thai ID card), before two witnesses, on the Immigration Department PoA form, with two five-baht duty stamps affixed.
Spirit broken, my Thai friend arrived back at Ploenchit mid-afternoon to process the PoA, too late to return to Chaengwatthana. The ordeal was repeated, with jubilant success the next day. Anyone can lodge a TM47 90-day Report for another person without a PoA, why not the TM30 24-hour Report? You will never know.
(Signed) Des Pair
China's other side
Re: "China needs to be more Chinese", (Opinion, Oct 2).
It is quite arbitrary to petition that China's traditions are founded on civilisational values of pluralism. Mr Pankaj Mishra seems to be unaware that the unification of China was achieved though brutal imperialism and slavery too, compared to which the Western brand was most benign, that communism was very palatable to Chinese authoritarian/equalitarian stem family structure, and that the present autocratic government is in the Chinese legalist tradition. Also, the imperial system of the Qing empire was not Chinese but Manchu and much resisted by the Chinese elite and population.
Certainly, there were periods of pluralism and tolerance -- and we'd prefer China to refer to these rather than to its foundational and more persistent traditions -- and but they were few and far between and cannot be held to represent the whole of Chinese culture. As for Asian countries, I doubt they would be pleased to be granted some measure of self-rule under a new empire.
I liked John Moss's comments in his Oct 4 letter, "Unwritten traffic rules". I'd add to that the motorcycle morons who either tear around bends, steering with one hand while with a mobile on the other, or, better yet, here in my area, motorcyclists stop on totally dangerous blind curves to answer and gab on their mobiles. Both are equally as bad. As for the boys in blue, er, I mean, boys in brown, I have not seen a police patrol on this stretch of highway for the past 20 years. I bet they don't even know this stretch of roadway even exists.
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