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Think different

Re: "In pursuit of academic freedom," (Life, Feb 7).

I fully support open, peaceful discussion of ideas, including in the 1932 People Space Library.

As Walter Lippmann noted, "Where all think alike, no one thinks very much." Thus, the hallmark of a great university is one which encourages vigorous but peaceful discussion on issues of the day. For example, during the McCarthy years in the US, a student organisation at my alma mater, the University of Chicago, invited the Communist Party of America to present its views. Many students and faculty protested, seeking to deny campus facilities for such an event. The president appointed a faculty committee to study the matter. The committee decided that to be true to its mission, "Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched", UChicago could not refuse such a peaceful discussion. The event proceeded smoothly as planned.

PM Prayut wants Thai universities to be among the world's leading institutions of higher learning in short order. To reach such a lofty and noble goal, we need to stimulate much more free and open discussion than the powers that be allow now. Rather than muzzling critics in the name of harmony, we should view dissent as showing us where progress can be made. To foster academic freedom, the Post article should have included the 1932 People Space Library's bank account name and number for those wishing to donate.

BURIN KANTABUTRA


Focus on fertility

Re: "Fertility rate too low," (Opinion, Jan 31) and "When baby well runs dry," (BP, Feb 6).

Tucked quietly within the Bangkok Post editorial and follow-up article was the shocking revelation that Thailand's population actually declined in 2021, as deaths outnumbered births for the first time. The "fertility crisis" is simultaneously playing out in Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and elsewhere. No amount of incentives and inducements is likely to boost birth rates back above replacement levels in most of these countries.

Declining populations are generally very good news for the environment, but terrible news for economies. But the challenges of adapting to smaller populations can be met. To maintain economic vitality, countries with declining populations will need to boost worker productivity, increase automation, encourage worker mobility -- especially of high-skilled workers -- and focus on high-value products and services. At the same time, steps will be needed to decrease the number of schools, reduce the size of some cities, adjust transportation infrastructure, and shrink government agencies, among other measures. The transition to a smaller, older population in Thailand will not be easy. It will require vision and creative adaptation. Is the country up to the challenge?

SAMANEA SAMAN


Squid Game rules

Re: "Safer streets," (PostBag, Feb 5).

It's about time someone tackles the road safety issues head-on. The speed limit for Bangkok CBD is at 80km/h, whereas in most significant cities worldwide, the CBD speed limit is kept at 50km/h to help ensure safety for pedestrians. A pedestrian crossing in central Bangkok appears more or less like the Netflix psychological thriller Squid Game where one would not know whether they could cross the road safely. It's time to talk the talk and walk the walk.

VEERACHAI SACHDEV

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