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'Squid Game' lessons

Re: "'Squid Game' rings true in our new reality," (BP, Oct 12).

As Atiya Achakulwisut notes, the plot of the extravagantly popular "Squid Game" might once upon a time have been described as 'bizarre' and 'unrealistic'. Once upon a time. But as our understanding of reality improves with time, helped by prompts such as the latest K-drama hit, we often learn that the bizarre is reality, or that reality is often bizarre.

It was, accordingly, very thoughtful of the Royal Thai Police to take the opportunity to remind us of their level of competence. The facts, however, are that none, not even children, are going to rush out and start murdering at random because they have watched a violent TV series, not even the highly diverting "Squid Game". Nor was it the case that the ultra-violent Tom and Jerry cartoons so popular in my own childhood led to any detectable uptick in violence levels among children. The remarkably violent A Clockwork Orange (1971), very popular among my generation of university students, also failed to bring down civilisation, or initiate even a modest blood bath: I don't think my cohort who came of age in the 1970s was noticeably more violent than any other, quite the contrary, as mounting opposition to the Vietnam war and violence in general attests.

Only an ignorant fool from the days when myth ruled over reason and evidence would make such a silly claim premised on the notion that children and others are unable to tell fact from honestly labelled fiction. You don't shoot people in the head because they failed to separate their chosen shape in the sugar candy game, even a shape so complex as an deliciously curvy umbrella.

What does make a society violent are acts of real life violence, especially when committed with impunity, for example: a culture of police violence up to torturing people to death with plastic bags; an endemic culture of committing and colluding in coups against popular, democratic governments; or a legal culture that allows sending in uniforms to arrest and throw into prison young people who have done nothing but peacefully express honestly critical opinions.

"Squid Game" is unlikely to lead to blood on the streets or on the local football field or around around the hopscotch squares, but it might well have some useful lessons to teach Thai youth; and that is the perhaps the real fear.


Education mafia

Re: "Good start to level learning," (Editorial, Oct 12).

The fact is that in Thailand students from rich families tend to get the lion's share of education and employment opportunities in the country. It is solely the fault of the Thai government to allow the international education mafia to set up their institutions squeezing billions of baht from families and send their children for further exploitation in the UK, US and Australia. There should be a cap on this mafia which is partly responsible for creating the disparities and cracks in the Thai educational system from the top to the bottom. These so-called "elite" institutions have no interest in serving the Thai middle class. The proliferation of international sweatshops combined with the government's misguided policies has resulted in widening the education gap. Yes, there are exceptions. Catholic institutions in Thailand have provided quality education to the disfranchised and poor people in Thailand for a century.

The Thai educational system must be decentralised and the government agencies should provide guidelines with a core curriculum across the country with the freedom to experiment with the electives, as needed. The traditional one-size-fits-all type of top-down approach is not working. Unless, more efforts are put into cultivating a healthy, equitable, and well-rounded autonomous educational system that is accessible to all students, regardless of the family income, the ordinary Thais will remain on the fringes. There is no need to copy the Finnish or UK model of education. There is a very successful education model of human resource development right in our neighbourhood -- the Singapore model.


Distortion dangers

Re: "Kids risk jab-induced illness," (BP, Oct 6).

There is much concern these days about "fake news", misinformation, and misleading narratives. The Bangkok Post purports to be "the newspaper you can trust". As such, editors would be well-advised to review their practices to guard against the onslaught of distortions. The headline for the captioned article is a classic case in point.

The article itself clearly points out that Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is extremely rare, having been identified in only 0.02% of all cases of children infected with Covid-19 globally, and only a very small number in Thailand.

Yet, from the headline, readers could be misled into believing MIS-C to be a major risk. The headline would be far more accurate and serve the public immeasurably better if it had read, "Kids face very little risk from jab-induced illness".


Abortion will stay

Re: "Life is precious," (PostBag, Oct 10).

While in his tirade against abortion, Ye Olde Theologian says life is precious, he shows zero compassion for a teenage rape victim who may die as a result of an illegal back alley abortion.

He also makes no distinction between early term or late term abortion. Does he really have more concern for a one-month old foetus than he does for the emotional and physical well being of the woman who is carrying it?

If the pro-life people really cared they would be in the forefront of the birth control movement since according to the UN, family planning prevents over a hundred million abortions a year. As long as there are millions of unwanted pregnancies, abortion, legal or illegal, will continue to be a fact of life.


Vaccine U-turn

Re: "Times are a changin," (PostBag, Oct 14).

Jason Jellison asks us to believe that the mischievous posts on the internet by Thai youth that the Pfizer vaccine is going to kill off a whole generation in a couple of years time is a pushback by young people who feel ignored and alienated (PostBag, 13 Oct). He agrees with PM Prayut that these claims are baseless.

Is this the same Jason Jellison who wrote quoting misleading stats. from notorious UK anti-vaxxer Rodney Atkinson less than a week ago (Oct 9) that equated increased vaccination rates with increases in Covid infections? It's not difficult to see why young people would seize on the chance to have a bit of fun at everybody's expense when they see how easily beat-ups such as Mr Jellison's gain currency.


Going green vital

Re: "Why nations need to reach net zero," (Opinion, Oct 14).

Indeed, the transition to a green economy is vital to the future of developing countries and the recent Non-aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Belgrade has brought additional demonstration in this field. The 120 NAM members will have an important role during the diplomatic deliberations of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow next month.

As announced in Belgrade, in anticipation of COP26, an important UN diplomatic event will take place in New York on 26 Oct on climate action, particularly focused on capacities at country level. This event, titled "Delivering Climate Action -- for People, Planet & Prosperity", will highlight best practices and achievements in renewables, in climate finance, and in adaptation. The expected positive results of this event will depend on the strong support from NAM countries which is also vitally needed for the success of COP26.


Addressing issues

In my many years in Thailand I have bought 12 second-hand motorcycles and one new one. Due to the discrimination between ownership by Thais or by foreigners it has always been easier to drag my wife, or son once he was old enough, along to do the paperwork at the Department of Land Transport. This week I once again enquired about the rules for my newly obtained motorbike and was informed I'd need a certificate of residence from the Immigration office in Chiang Mai, being located 200km away from my home. My nearest Immigration in Fang province is not allowed to produce this form, which by the way comes at a cost of 500 baht and also requires an overnight stay in Chiang Mai because it takes 24 hours to print those few lines.

Amazingly, as Thailand likes to say, I have a form clipped in my passport as demanded by immigration, that states my address but that obviously wouldn't help raise more money from us long-term stayers. I also happen to have not one but two driving licences (obviously difficult to put car and bike on the one) which clearly show my home address printed on the back. Proving that all this is nothing more than a fund-raising work creation scheme for govt officials I can change address days after registering this bike and not have to inform anyone of my new address.


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