Saturday, January 05, 2008

Difference in societies


Difference in societies

E-mail: / Snail mail: 136 Na Ranong Road, Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110, Thailand

In his Dec 23, 2007 letter, "Farang Who Knows Too Much" writes: "Khun Supachok apparently does not see the violation of Thai cultural virtues implicit when these girls spread their legs for hire." It is interesting when a foreigner is accusing (in a vulgar way) a Thai father of four, two being daughters in university; furthermore, a devout Buddhist of not understanding Thai cultural virtues. I'm well educated, and well travelled, but if you asked me to describe British or American cultural virtues I'd be speechless.

Prostitution is said to be the world's oldest profession. I don't condone it, nor do I despise the people who do it; I simply realise that it's an age-old issue and it's not going away any time soon. Different societies deal with it in their own way, most often in uneven and bizarre ways, and no doubt Thailand is no exception in this regard.

Admittedly, I'm not an expert in world prostitution or an accomplished sex traveller.

For some reason Mr "Farang" is thoroughly bent on this particular subject, and gives the clear impression that he has a simmering dislike for most foreigners, and Thai men of all classes and ages.

Gladly, I don't share this opinion. Maybe I'm just naive.

In my own house, in my own country, I don't criticise my foreign friends and their home nations (perhaps to a fault), and I certainly would never say a word about the sexual lives and preferences of their people, especially their daughters. That said, I enjoy and respect hearing their opinions, even when I don't necessarily agree with them.

One thing I have learned: most foreigners don't really want to change everything, Thailand being the home country they've moved away from. I even hear criticisms saying Thailand has changed too much.

It's like when I go out, some people say I'm too fat and some say I've lost weight and look sick. Which person's opinion should I believe?

His expanded comments on Khun Thaksin's downfall are much clearer than his first and contain truth, but as I mentioned before, the list is long.



Stop sacrificing environment

We may find the anti-west opinion pieces by Imtiaz Muqbil annoying, but this farang reader would rather be getting angry words than bombs.

Besides, many of Muqbil's columns are thought-provoking indeed. His praise of the fancy rhetoric employed by the Coalition of Rainforest Nations against US energy policy representatives at Bali is a case in point.

But before we sign on to leadership in energy sustainability by countries like Thailand, I respectfully suggest they do a few things to clean up their own act.

For example, consider Bangkok's love affair with that northern invention, portland cement.

Cubic miles of the stuff are gouged out of Saraburi's lovely hills, roasted with shiploads of hydrocarbons bought from Burma.

Trucked with much toxic ado to the capital, this grey grit is cast into towers that toast for decades, perhaps centuries, like Easter Island colossuses in the sun, to be ritually cooled by afternoon blasts of gas-gobbling air conditioning. A more sensible future world will look back at these practices with the same disbelief that we now reserve for the sacrifice of virgins.

The tropical countries may well have opportunities to lead in matters environmental, but their urban elites need to meditate on developing some new and better local styles of urban design and living, rather than simply imitating high-latitude western styles. Perhaps then they may rise to Mr Muqbil's praise.



Extreme weather nothing new

Your Soul Searching column of Dec 23 says that "hurricanes, cyclones, snowstorms, and floods" are "killing people largely as a result of the war on nature waged by humanity in pursuit of economic development." The reference is to alleged causal relationships between carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and global warming and between global warming and the frequency and severity of extreme weather phenomena.

Kindly note that extreme weather and weather-related calamities are not new, nor have they become more frequent or more severe.

As far back in time one as cares to look in either weather records or geological data, one finds calamities caused by extreme weather.

In the drought of 1877 in China parents sold their daughters into sex-slavery for the equivalent of $5 each and in the famine of 1790 in India parents killed their children and ate them.

The devastation caused by the cyclone of 1737 in the Bay of Bengal is yet to be outdone by any weather phenomenon.

In 1933 there were 21 hurricanes in the Caribbean and extreme hurricanes there have been recorded numerous times prior to the current phenomenon of rising atmospheric CO2.

The allegations that extreme weather is a new phenomenon and that it is caused by human activity have been repeated so many times that they have become truth by default.



Season's greetings

The thrill in the air, the laughter in parties

Betoken the time of change in the year

Merry lights in the windows, families at peace

At the end of one year, looking forward to the new

In the magical lanes of the city center

Marigolds shine in the tropical sun

And in historic avenues images of His Majesty

Smile upon the people, giving them security

There can be no other time when one wishes for the new

Knowing that the old has gifted of itself beyond its reserve

Unfolding novel surprises in the turn of its time

The new year brings in zest, joys and hopes in undulating tides

With greetings for prosperity, peace and amity there is cheer

That there will be better times ahead. Happy New year !

Glen Chatelier





Crusader merely disliked by some

The Insight column entitled "Vegan Crusader," beginning with "Eric Bahrt, the man so many love to hate" is quite untrue. Eric is not hated in the true sense of the word. He is rather disliked, for his continual nagging and presenting or claiming undocumented statements. For example, Red Ridgeback's letter, "A forum for everybody" (Postbag, Dec 8, 2007), said the Post did not have a section for "sublime to ridiculous," suggesting that Eric Bahrt's letters should appear there. Mr Bahrt claims to be flattered as a stupid person (Postbag, Dec 11); after all, stupidity is the ultimate in commonality. He appears to add his own "quaint" interpretations to what he reads. CHARCOAL RIDGEBACK

(No relation to Red)

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