Sunday, August 31, 2008

Media manipulation not worth emulating


Media manipulation not worth emulating

Imtiaz Muqbil (Soul Searching, Aug 17 2008) effectively exposed the blatant use of Western propaganda to denigrate China while the Chinese are hosting the 2008 Olympics.

The constant barrage of media manipulation over the past seven years, especially from Washington, has desensitised media readers and viewers to the point that the media in general have become untrustworthy and lacking in credibility and words from leaders, especially from those in Washington, are being totally ignored all over the world.

Imtiaz asked: ''If they can do it, why can't we?''

The answer is: You can do it too, but you can count me out because they have lost their credibility and I plan to keep mine.

Imtiaz did a most excellent job identifying the problem, but it is muchbetter to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.




Thaksin and the justice system

I applaud Thongbai Thongpao's commentary of Aug 17, 2008 for reminding the public that former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra evidently had no problem with the Thai justice system when it acquitted him on assets concealment charges.

Indeed, persons involved in the deci sion have subsequently admitted publicly that political factors were taken into account in the decision. For the error the Supreme Court, in a belated show of righteous indignation, eventually issued a scathing public indictment of the judges concerned.

However, Mr Thongbai's assertion that Mr Thaksin's family and financial assets would be at risk should he return to Thailand is subject to doubt.




Licensing beggars not the way to go

Thai people are surprisingly talented at coming up with unique ideas, but sometimes this can run in the wrong direction and cause a big laugh and/or trouble.

Licensing beggars of Thai nationality is a bad example.

Since qualification exams and issuing such licences will be handled by relatively low-level officials, it will invite corruption and collusion.

As a consequence, it is quite likely that more beggars will roam public areas, such as streets, and visit businesses asking help openly.

In advanced countries, it is the norm that these poor people are given a kind of ID which widens their chance for receiving support from the government and/or NGOs.

As for non-Thai beggars, police should not fail to arrest and deport them to their origins.




Foreign diatribes a perverse service

It is a constant embarrassment as a long-term foreigner living in Thailand to have to read, on a very regular basis, the half-baked rants from other foreigners in your letter columns.

A sizable proportion of these efforts presents a wholly myopic and self-driven view of how they expect Thailand to be, and varying degrees of anger that it does not meet their personal expectations.

Whilst amusing for your Thai readers to see how truly ridiculous some foreigners actually are, I feel it does not really advance the flame of truth very much by giving them column inches. But then again, perhaps revealing these grotesque diatribes provides a warning that all things Western are not necessarily positive.




UK has acted properly in Thaksin saga

I am a UK citizen who has lived in Thailand for five years. I have been following the Shinawatra saga with interest, but not being an authority in either Thai or UK law have refrained from making any previous comment on the subject.

I am however somewhat concerned at the pointing of an accusing finger at the UK as expressed in some of the recent letters you have published. Such criticism is, in my view, totally unjustified and unwarranted. I hope that consideration of the following points will clarify the situation, although judging by the almost vitriolic and abusive content of some letters, I fear they may not satisfy the most prejudiced.

Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Khunying Potjaman, have been regular visitors to the UK for a number of years and, no doubt, the visas they hold are of long duration and permit multiple entries to the country. At the time of their application, therefore, it can, I suggest, be assumed that both parties truthfully declared that they had no criminal convictions.

After the opening of the Beijing Olympics, the Shinawatras clearly caught the people of Thailand by surprise in not returning; perhaps, too, the people of the UK. On arrival in the UK there is no requirement to declare to Immigration/Passport control that one has recently acquired a criminal record and it presumably did not show up on the relevant computer records in Khunying Potjaman's case. There is, of course, no reason why UK Customs and Revenue Service should have been aware as there is not, as far as I know, any requirement for Thailand to advise the UK that one of her citizens has been convicted. And they certainly would have been unaware of a bail deadline in respect of the Ratchadaphisek land purchase case.

Having a conviction does not necessarily automatically invalidate a visa; each case is judged on its merits. The UK government will not, rightly, discuss individual cases.

To deny Thaksin (who is the main target) entry after so many previous visits since his ouster would have served only to put the UK in a position of being accused of prejudging the matter. A per son is innocent until proven guilty; a refusal of entry to the UK was never an option.

To deny the khunying could well have seemed petty, given the clear expectation she would be returning to honour her appeal bail.



Bus conductors have important role

Before the introduction of one-person operated buses in Bangkok, I would urge the BMTA to consider the following points, based on my experience in London. Conductors play a vital social role in two major respects.

First, they constantly monitor passengers and act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour. Second they act as a companion to the driver and through occasional conversation help to ward off driver fatigue, especially on the longer bus routes.

Drivers working on their own will need intensive training and salary increases to compensate for additional skills.

Buses will need to be massively upgraded with CCTV and direct communication links with the police. Doors will need to be redesignated entry and exit and a system devised to deter passengers from entering through the exit doors with intent to avoid paying, especially during peak periods.

The level of ticket inspection is highly commendable, though more noticeable on the outskirts of Bangkok. London could learn a few lessons here.



The other side

Russia's envoy to Nato wrote the following in the International Herald Tribune on Aug 18, 2008: ''The Georgian air force and artillery struck the sleeping town at midnight. More than 1,500 civilians perished in the very first hours of the shelling. At the same time, Georgian special forces shot 10 Russian peacekeepers who didn't expect such a betrayal from their Georgian colleagues. The Kremlin attempted to reach Georgian Prime Minister Saakashvili, who was hiding, by phone. All this time the Russian Joint Staff forbid (forbade) the surviving peacekeepers to open return fire. Finally our patience was exhausted. The Russian forces came to help Tskhinvali and its civilian population. In reply to the insulting criticism by President Bush that Russia used 'disproportionate force', I'd like to cite some legal grounds for our response.

''Can shooting peacekeepers and the mass extermination of a civilian population _ mainly Russian citizens _ be regarded as hostile action against a state? Is it ground (grounds) enough to use armed force in self-defence and to safeguard the security of these citizens?'' (from ''Washington's hypocrisy,'' by Dmitry Rogozin, published August 18, 2008, International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times at




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