A monopoly, for sure
Re: "A more unequal society than ever before", (Opinion, Nov 14).
Wasant Techawongtham notes that CP Retail Development's acquisition of Tesco Lotus increases the CP group's share of trade in the country from 52% to over 69%. This should raise the alarm for all Thai citizens.
How could the Trade Competition Commission (TCC) approve such a merger? Apparently, its members do not consider the CP group to have a monopoly over the market, although the majority (4-3 decision) admitted that CP would now have further control over the Thai market.
What exactly does the TCC consider to be a monopoly, then, Mr Wasant asks sarcastically? He notes that in most countries, any company which has over a 50% share of trade would be considered a monopoly.
The decision made earlier in the month clearly makes Thailand an even more unequal society than it already is, as wealth will be further concentrated into fewer hands. I can foresee many consequences that will stem from the TCC's decision, all of them negative.
Being that this is the case, Thai citizens must do everything they can to overturn the decision. Thai citizens should be protesting in the streets, alright, but not necessarily about Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. They should be protesting to ensure that they will be able to live in a fair and equitable, market-based society, rather than in a monopolistic-based one.
Kudos to Asean
Re: "Asean is still alive and kicking (softly)", (Opinion, Nov 17).
The fruitful outcome of the 37th Asean Summit under the chairmanship of Vietnam is persuasive proof of the capacity of this regional organisation to be a genuine driving force in the complex process of promoting multilateralism. The final comprehensive document of the Summit (28 pages, 88 paragraphs) deserves to be mandatory reading for diplomats and students of international relations worldwide.
According to this instructive programmatic document, regionalism and multilateralism are important principles and frameworks of cooperation, and their strength and value lie in their inclusive, rules-based nature and emphasis on mutual benefit and respect.
Guided by this belief, the 10 Asean members are expected to bring a valuable contribution to the success of deliberations of the special session of the United Nations General Assembly in response to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, a significant event of multilateral diplomacy scheduled to take place in New York, at the headquarters of the world organisation, on Dec 3 and 4, 2020.
Loopholes for sale
Re: "Groupthink has left the Left blind to its failings", (Opinion, Nov 20).
It is sad to see that American politics has been poisoned to such an extent that the left, right, and centre have lost their meaning. Mr Stephen should know that the ideologies come in 50 shades of grey. Hence the role of leaders in any society is very critical. The rise of right-wing militia under the supremacist leader in the US reminds us of Hitler's Germany. In the last four years, the "Right" has been far removed from "righteousness" and the "Left" is left behind. As a result, the core of American democracy or the "centre" has been corrupted by crony capitalism. The current situation in America is aptly captured by veteran politician Gary Johnson's quote "We do live in an environment of crony capitalism, and the main reason we do is that loopholes are for sale, and both parties (Republican and Democrat) have their hands out through those loopholes."
Useless red tape
Are the decision makers of this country living in another dimension? It seems that silly requirements and regulations affecting all "aliens" -- as the Immigration Department calls us expats and visitors alike -- do not stop being implemented one after another without any prior sensible thinking.
The latest one that seemingly has been unofficially scrapped is the requirement for foreigners applying for a Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV) to show proof of funds totaling 500,000 baht or the equivalent. According to various sources, it seems that both the Thai embassies in London and Washington have removed this requirement from the long list, only keeping the other mandatory ones : (1) Certificate of Entry, (2) declaration form, (3) 14-day quarantine booking, (4) Fit to Fly Certificate, (5) Covid-19 negative test result and (6) medical insurance policy with a minimum of US$100,000 coverage, including Covid-19.
As I have been through all of these requirements while stranded seven months in Canada from March to August 2020, before being allowed to join a repatriation flight to Bangkok, let me confirm that none of these requirements was easy to fulfil, although the support from the Thai Embassy in Ottawa was outstanding.
No sensible tourist will even dream about going though such a hellish and ridiculous process just to come and relax on a sunny beach for a couple of weeks. Either this country reopens its borders or not.
While we roam through silly Immigration Bureau regulations, thanks to the gods, the infamous TM30 requirement forcing another visit to alert local immigration officials within 24 hours of arrival even at your own residence has been finally and quietly put to rest.
But there is still quite ample space for much-needed improvement. For a start, it is time to drop the so-called TM47 (90-day reporting) forcing all long-stay residents to show up at immigration premises to reconfirm every three months that they still live at the same address. Residing in this country for 30 years, we have not moved from our Nonthaburi location for the last 18 years.
Unless someone at Immigration Department would have proof to the contrary, this policy is completely useless as "good guys", as the former Immigration chief was calling us, will comply, but "bad guys" will evade or find ways to cheat the process.
And do not let me start on other strange immigration requirements (e.g. extension of stay, reentry permits, etc.). The Immigration Bureau has for years expanded what should be simple processes, adding all sorts of letters, forms and documents that pile up on their desks and slow down all processes. As queues get even longer and service slower, given the Covid distancing era, maybe it is time to look to start implement really operational and efficient digital methods for tracking us "aliens"?
Out of proportion
Re: "Pair lose bribery appeal", (BP, Nov 17).
While I'm all for serious prosecution of corruption and malfeasance, it is only fitting that sentences be commensurate with crimes. The acceptance of bribes totalling some 60 million baht by former Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Juthamas Siriwan is no small offence. But I'm thinking the 50-year sentence imposed on the former tourism official perhaps has more to do with who her boss was at the time than the severity of the crime.
I read Felix Qui's Nov 17 letter, "Nothing is sacred," expecting the usual balanced analysis.
I was sorely disappointed.
Personally, I have no need for religious dogma of any kind, other than to be as nice to other people as I can. I have, however, lived in France and the call for everybody to be free to mock the innate beliefs of others defies good sense.
I find most institutional religions to be absurd, given their history and inability to adapt to a totally new world, but I see absolutely no reason for Felix Qui to argue that they should be free to insult/mock each other.
I can only imagine Felix had one too many cocktails when he suggested we should follow France in its visceral hatred of Muslims and somehow tied that in with reforming the monarchy.
The Prayut Chan-o-cha government has rejected protesters' demands and issued another "state of emergency".
Desperate to cling on to power at any cost, the powers that be have shown from top to bottom they care nothing for Thai people and are only mired in self-obsession, greed and, yes, fear.
Although a cooperative, inclusive approach would be eminently possible for those whose hearts exceed their fear (the protesters demonstrate this quality in abundance), the government has once again shown that it is crippled by fear and self-interest.
It is not difficult to discern who holds the moral high ground -- the whole world has seen these events and it could not be more obvious. Now it is time for the government to perform a sober self-examination and permanently remove their blinders before the entire nation is irreversibly rent asunder.
Once again the True Gestapo think they can prevent people in Thailand from learning about what is going on in Bangkok by censoring the news on BBC (forget CNN, since they are obsessed with Trump and Covid-19 and have no real newscasts).
Have these censors ever heard of newspapers, internet and social networks? All of them, -- including Thai news stations, report on what is going on and it is available worldwide, but these stalwarts act as if "if we prevent you from seeing it, it didn't happen".
I guess commonsense is not a factor when working as a censor for True.
Seen it elsewhere
This is a response to David James Wong's Nov 20 letter, "Oh, so true."
A Thai politician or parliamentarian may not know how to find his/her way out of a telephone booth, but I betcha these people know how to find their way into banks, both local and foreign, without any problems. Ha ha ha!
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