Prayut never learns
Re: "Dialogue vital to find peace", (Editorial, Oct 16).
Yes, dialogue is vital to find peace. But after six years of Prayut Chan-o-cha, we still rely on street demonstrations and emergency decrees instead of dialogue to effect or retard political change, showing that Gen Prayut has no more idea than his predecessors on how to develop democracy in Thailand.
All parties, including the government coalition, agree that our constitution needs amendment -- and that it should reflect the will of Thais as a whole, not a small elite.
We already have such a document: the 1997 "People's Constitution". Prime Minister Prayut should be caretaker while a new committee follows the methodology of nationwide public hearings used by Khun Anand Panyarachun's committee to update the 1997 charter. The new committee chair might be Khun Vicha Mahakun, who did sterling work in investigating the Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya case. The updated charter should take less time than the original, certainly under one year.
Outlook is gloomy
I hope I am wrong but from my reading of the situation I think the old, patriarchal, authoritarians running this country have zero flexibility and would rather sink the country than accede to the protesters' wishes in any meaningful way.
These people have had 50-60 years of believing in something and I seriously doubt their minds can ever be changed, no matter the argument.
I also doubt that with leaders or no leaders, in prison or out of prison, given the financial emergency that most are probably experiencing or about to be experiencing personally, that the protesters' minds will change much either.
In the US, Trump is apparently willing to sacrifice millions of Americans by trying to get back to the pre-pandemic status quo. I hope that here we won't see millions of the young and poor sacrificed to maintain the status quo too.
Seeing sense at last
Re: "Controversial Thai Canal back in spotlight", (Business, Oct 14).
It's good to see that at least a few individuals are questioning the viability of the Thai Canal project. The ambitious project is undoubtedly technically possible but it's extremely dubious from an economic perspective. Shaving just two days off shipping routes from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea is unlikely to generate revenues to offset the immense cost of the project.
People should recognise that the real interests in this project lie with three groups. The first is China, which has strategic interests in acquiring secure shipping alternatives to the Malacca Straits chokepoint in times of conflict. The second interest group comprises construction companies that stand to earn huge profits from building the proposed canal. The third interest group -- for obvious reasons -- comprises politicians and officials who would issue the contracts and approvals for this boondoggle.
Money is no barrier
Re: "Too many lives being lost at train crossings", (BP, Oct 16).
There are 621 illegal crossings throughout the country and each barrier costs 5 million to 10 million baht. A feasible option to get the needed barriers installed within a reasonable period of time is to ask the private sector to temporarily divert their CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] priorities to this effort. The government could help by granting double tax deduction. This could be justified by jobs creation during this much-needed period of time.
The real picture
What is being lost in this debate about the death rate from Covid-19 is the fact that many people who "died from Covid-19" didn't die that way. Even the CDC in America admits that 94% of the people who "died from Covid" also had other health problems such as heart disease or diabetes or some other life-threatening disease.
Suppose someone who just died had heart disease, terminal cancer, diabetes, full-blown Aids and the common cold. Would any doctor list the common cold as the cause of death? Yet, if that patient had Covid-19, that would be listed as the cause of death.
This manipulation of statistics has caused hysteria and lockdowns that have destroyed far more lives than Covid-19 could have ever done.
A global battle
Clara Ferreira Marques in her Oct 15 article suggests that environmental disasters that routinely happen all over the world provide lessons only for the countries where they happened. However, the facts and science on this matter are far more complex, for the underlying reasons of melting permafrost or alarmingly wide algal bloom is climate change. Moscow may adapt "clearer official strategies on combating global warming", provide "improved controls", better "oversight" or "supervision" as suggested by the author and uncredited activists all it wants. The problem, however, is that these measures alone would not contribute to solving the fundamental conundrum, which, as the author rightfully points out, is the rise of sea temperatures, a corollary of climate change. What can make a difference on this track is unified, collective action to combat climate change. That is why Russia signed the Paris Agreement, never withdrew from it (unlike other nations) and finally ratified it in October 2019, which is a sign of utter commitment to its international environmental obligations.
Abnormal temperatures in Europe, the record-hitting fires in California as well as in Brazil's Amazon equally as Siberian wildfires or unusually heavy rains across Southeast Asia are not isolated events. They carry lessons for the entire international community to intensify its fight with global warming and climate change.
An unwise rebate
Re: "Tax rebate expected to prop up phones", (Business, Oct 15).
This scheme is not much different from Yingluck Shinawatra's "new car rebate". Remember? Every man and his dog rushed out and bought a new car that many didn't need/couldn't afford. This time, it is for much less costly items, but still promotes spending money/borrowing on credit cards on items which the Thai public needs like a hole in the head.
Logic would dictate that the government distributes the tax costs of this rebate scheme to people who need food, not cake. With respect, Khun Prime Minister, learn the lessons of French history.
Stamp this out
I wanted to extend my extended tourist amnesty visa yesterday at the Immigration office in Jomtien.
I was hoping to get a two-month visa without too many complications. In front of me was a Chinese national. He talked to the guy from immigration who was giving out the waiting numbers. The immigration guy offered the Chinese a 60-day visa for 6,000 baht.
When it was my turn, I told him that I wanted a visa extension for as long as possible due to Covid-19 but that I was not willing to pay extra money. I got a ticket for the 1,900 baht, 30-day visa extension counter. Very efficient girl behind the counter, compliments.
Thirty minutes later I paid my 1,900 baht, got two stamps in my passport, and to my horror another stamp that summoned me back to Jomtien Immigration on Nov 11, because my visa extension was still "pending".
I wanted to travel around Thailand a bit and help the tourist industry in less frequented places.
After staying in Jomtien since March 3, I am really bored and want to explore some parts of the kingdom I haven't visited in the past.
It is time to erase corruption at immigration offices and make it easy to obtain a 60-day extension that allows me to travel inside Thailand.
Stranded Tourist from Germany
12 Strong is a Netflix movie based on US assistance to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, when the invasion began post-9/11. In one scene, the character playing Abdul Rasheed Dostam proudly refers to Afghanistan as the "Graveyard of Empires". The reference, in itself, is a vivid description of how the country has always remained embroiled in a never-ending quest for power and bloodshed.
This country, where peace has mostly remained illusory, has finally embarked upon a more meaningful journey towards peace and stability. After all, it's never too late. The realisation is right there in the form of intra-Afghan dialogues. For the first time, the government and Taliban are at the negotiating table, thanks to a willingness for peace and the untiring efforts of neighbouring Pakistan. Truly historic in nature, these dialogues offer much-needed possibilities and above all, a hope for a peaceful country where the well-being of its beleaguered inhabitants assumes primacy.
The international community also seems to have developed a consensus that lasting peace in Afghanistan is the only solution to get rid of terrorism and instability in the region. Additionally, the economic dividends could serve as a game changer. Landlocked Afghanistan remains the key to unlocking energy-rich central Asian states. Against this backdrop, it is imperative that all stakeholders join hands in facilitating Afghans to resolve their issues. In the greater interest of Afghanistan, the country should no longer become a battleground for settling each other's scores.
Any effort to scuttle the peace process must be resolutely denied and jointly discouraged by all stakeholders. The Afghan-led and Afghan-owned initiative must meet the desired end state so that the resultant benefits are fully reaped by the region -- taking pride in a perennially doomed and gloomed status is no longer an option. A positive and peace-related reference is all that matters. Let's hope the "Graveyard of Empires" becomes "The Land of Peace and Prosperity".
The US Embassy compound in Bangkok is one of the largest in the world ... and also one of the most incompetent. Over the years of democracy protests, the ambassadors have always been silent. Ambassador Michael DeSombre has said nothing to support these courageous young students against fascists, nor protested against their unlawful detention without the right to a lawyer.
Meanwhile, there are photos of the ambassador holidaying in the South. He needs to be reminded that he is not a tourist and that US taxpayers pay his salary, which he is not earning by sitting there doing nothing.
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