LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Referendum could help decide best way out of current political crisis
According to the recent advice given by His Majesty the King to the heads of the Administrative and Supreme courts, the King, although not rejecting the idea of a royally conferred prime minister, expressed the opinion that applying Article 7 of the Constitution to the current political situation would be tantamount to performing undemocratically.
As a consequence, the solution to this situation should be a plebiscite (referendum) on what would be best for the country, which is democratic and permitted by the Constitution. This will be in accordance with the expression of His Majesty and will help realise the process of political stabilisation.
Thus, a plebiscite on this subject should be arranged in the country as soon as possible.
A Friend of Thailand
Cowboys Bush, Thaksin caught in their own lariats
Thaksin Shinawatra has often boasted that he and George W Bush "are both Texas cowboys". There are, indeed, many striking parallels that can be drawn between the lone-ranger buckaroo cattle wranglers.
Both uncurious George and imperious Thaksin are steering their own perverse out-of-control round-ups against Muslim insurgents, corralling and branding terrorism suspects for so-called security reasons. They both also condone imposing aggressive extrajudicial methods to enforce a deadly war on drugs and look the other way when it comes to abuse of innocent victims.
Considering themselves morally superior, these good-versus-evil vindicators have consolidated power by favouring the interests of big business and installing an inner circle of crony capitulators in key posts, with little or no consideration given to corruption or efficiency. Tipping the scales of justice with submissive appointees, arrogantly sidestepping check-and-balance procedures and parliamentary approvals, they have rolled back citizens' cherished freedoms and civil rights.
In the name of nationalism and democracy, both mavericks have done their best - or worst - to weaken valued constitutional imperatives and to tarnish ethical golden rules. Suffering from inflated egos, while overestimating their own clout, these self-serving world champions have demonstrated abuses of power by intimidating and falsely accusing rivals, bringing frivolous, petty lawsuits against the press, and vindictively drawing up outlaw blacklists.
Like stubborn water buffaloes entrenched in mud, desperately trying to shore up their sagging "tough guy" images and fallen Lone Star ratings, both poll-cats have ultimately fallen from grace and been lassoed by their own fake promises and tangled loose nooses.
Dr Charles Frederickson
Let's not sacrifice truth for political correctness in film
Re: "Take measures to insure that foreign film-makers do not misrepresent Thai culture", Letters, April 29.
I was rather amazed to read the letter by Scott Rosenberg on the subject of the film, "The Elephant King". Like a lot of would-be censors, he talks about his "wholehearted" support for freedom of speech before immediately going on to suggest the Thai government should suppress films like this.
I looked at the synopsis of the film and did not find any "chilling" character assassination of Thailand. It looks like a film I would like to see and judge for myself before the thought police get to it. Rosenberg calls for positive portrayals of Thailand - and who could object to that - but I also want to see films that are not afraid of complexity and truth and challenging people.
Michael Haas makes a response ("Code of conduct needed on film representations", May 1) to Rosenberg's suggestion, pointing out that coverage of Thailand is generally positive. But he goes on to suggest softer, nicer-sounding measures, censorship in disguise - committees and "independent" consultants who would probably bend before whatever moralistic or political wind is blowing. There should be more freedom, not less, and there should always be space for criticism.
Disappointed over racism in Thai films and on TV
Thai films and Thai television shows constantly portray "farang", and all non-Thais, in a very racist, condescending manner. Foreigners do drugs, don't respect Thai culture, and are corrupt and shameless womanisers, while of course Thai men would never do such things. Foreigners are called names that would be an insult if Thais were addressed the same way. Have you seen "Tom Yum Gung"?
Asia is a hotbed of racism and nationalism, and Asians have no right to cry about how they are represented in foreign media and foreign films until they clean up their own house.
Furthermore, Western countries constantly make films that show problems in their societies. Asian societies are not honest or open enough to do the same. Losing face is more important than being truthful!
Have you ever seen a Thai film that deals with police corruption, government corruption, racism against foreigners, etc, etc? No way.
Being honest would make Thailand look bad. It seems films about racism and corruption are only okay when there is a white person to blame.
Film 'United 93' should be above partisan politics
'United 93", the new film that so movingly recreates this young century's most notable day of infamy, is flying into an unseemly turbulence from some on the political left. They apparently fear it will reawaken security concerns among Americans comforted by the Bush administration's astonishing success at protecting us from further al-Qaeda outrages on American soil, and thereby revitalise Republican prospects in the fall elections.
How tawdry such partisan concerns must seem even to those who now act on them by seeking to marginalise this film and its celebration of bravery and sacrifice.
With terror yet all too threatening, and every reason to be grateful for heroes protecting us from its awful grasp, we can surely agree to lay politics aside for the brief length of this cinematic tribute to 40 souls lost among the clouds.
Foreigners fail to see the ground realities
Re: "A misunderstanding of 'Thai politics' is a bogus allegation", Letters, April 25.
It seems that Sebastian Wasserzug himself fails to understand the main points of Rado Tylecote's article "Failing to understand Thai politics", Opinion, April 22. It would be odd for Tylecote, who is a foreigner himself, to imply that it is impossible for foreigners to understand Thai politics.
Whether foreign observers or a certain foreign publication have been critical of Thaksin in the past is not the issue here. The implication of the article is that it is difficult for people in the West to understand why Thais, with our democratically elected government and "independent" institutions, need to take to the streets. They fail to see that with the democratic system and its system checks and balances being totally corrupted, the only way out for the frustrated, educated middle class is to take the matter into their own hands. They fail to see that even if the system is in place, it is not functioning as it should. This makes the democracy no different to a dictatorship.
The fundamental truth Tylecote points to is that the growth in the number of people in this country who will no longer tolerate corruption is very heartening and should not be admonished by the international community. No nitpicking or misinterpretation of the article should disguise that.
Sachs shoots down his own argument for welfare state
Re: "Lessons from the North of Europe", Opinion, April 22.
You give editorial space to the left-wing Professor Jeffrey Sachs of New York, to propagandise his ideal welfare state.
Sachs is honest in his recognition that the 25 million inhabitants of the Nordic lands - Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland - "are homogenous", whereas the United States' 295 million are polyglot.
However, for an economics professor, he sets the tone for the rest of his thesis, and his lack of serious validity for his welfare state proposal, when he argues that the welfare state is responsible for "Norway's per-capita income (exceeding) that of the US".
Norway owns half the North Sea oilfields and has a population of just 4.5 million people among which to divide that wealth. If the Norwegians' per-capita income did not exceed that of the US, the laws of mathematics would be seriously amiss! Sachs cannot use this canard to pad his argument for welfare heaven.
Evolution has given primates, including humans, exquisite mental software to recognise cheating, whether it be hoarding food on the savannah or ripping off taxpayers for welfare state handouts. Tribes of homogenous primates readily obey rules and conform, whereas neighbouring tribes go to war over scarce resources.
Thus, Sachs belatedly at the end of his article throws in the towel, notwithstanding all his prior arguments, and recognises the improbability of imposing a welfare state on Americans. He states that creating a US welfare state "is not an economic" reality, because of "ethnic and racial diversity". He settles for "promoting respect and inclusiveness" among all the different groups of Americans.
So the opinion piece thus ends as a non-applicable dud, a non-transferable ethnic capsule, even at its author's hand, although Sachs wishes with all his might it were not so.
If you want to publish economic professors' thoughts on the depradations of the welfare state, try Milton Friedman or Walter Williams.
Orange County, California