LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Promoting healthcare for foreigners takes sorely needed doctors from locals
Re: "Medical visits popular", News, May 18. The opening line of the article reads, "Moves to make Thailand one of Asia's top medical hubs have gone well, with a more than 50-per-cent annual increase in the number of foreigners using health services here."
However, everyone associated with the medical establishment in Thailand would hesitate to call this a success.
Each time a foreigner sees a Thai doctor at "foreigner prices", he takes away an opportunity for a Thai person to see that same doctor at normal Thai fees. In other words, this programme, while presumably bringing in foreign capital to our hospitals, is sucking the medical care from our own Thai people.
As more and more doctors leave the government system for lucrative foreigner practices, who is left to take care of the millions of Thais whose finances can't compete with rich Japanese businessmen?
We have to ask ourselves if this is a programme that we really believe should be paid for with the taxes of our people. Not only do we spend tax money to attract these foreigners, we then pull our limited number of care-givers away from the very people that paid to create this situation!
Far from being a success, the programme is a tribute to the misguided belief that money for a few at the top is automatically good for everyone. That concept is wrong, and in this case, dead wrong.
Most exciting thing about 'Da Vinci' was the marketing
I applaud Brian Elkey's letter citing the marketing genius behind the making and release of "The Da Vinci Code" [Letters May 20]. I agree with every aspect of his analysis and after seeing the movie, recognise that Christians have played into the hands of the film-makers.
I saw the film on Friday after I read in The Nation that it would be released without modification from the Thai censors. My first reaction after the final credits began to roll was to apologise to my girlfriend for forcing her to watch it, then thank her for her effort to stay awake throughout. Thank God (no pun here) much of the dialogue was in French, which gave me the opportunity to rest my eyes from time to time. Having read the book a few years ago, I was able to follow the quest even if I didn't care to.
When it came time to view the crucial and controversial final 10 minutes, I was consciously wishing that the Royal Thai Police's Registration Division had prevailed so we could get the hell (pun intended) out of there.
"The Da Vinci Code" movie could not be the blockbuster it is without the indignation and outrage of the Christians and Jews. You would think they would have learned their lesson with Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" which without their rage could not have become one of the largest grossing films in history.
Pure marketing genius.
Controversy can be avoided through calm discussion
Advocates of banning "The Da Vinci Code" say that although the movie refers actual places and periods, some depictions are not based on clear historical fact. The main issue seems to be whether Jesus married Mary Magdalene or not, which has been a topic of debate for a long time anyway.
The thing that worries me more is that the novel on which the movie is based gave me an exaggerated view of the mystical Catholic group Opus Dei. I shivered at the strict rules of this organisation and an image of preachers practising mortification was imprinted on my mind. A month after reading the book, I happened to see members of Opus Dei on CNN who declared in polite, calm voices that they are ordinary people with jobs, families and social status.
Sensitive topics such as faith, sex, religion and the supernatural easily cause arguments if people force their opinions. Discretion, an important factor to discriminate between fact and fiction, is a word heard frequently in connection with the myriad media of today. I have a positive attitude towards reasonable criticism because it generates a dynamic society.
A sensitive topic can be compared to a cracked mirror. If we make unrestrained arguments, the mirror will finally shatter. On the other hand, if we carefully discuss the issue, it could be acceptable to either change the bad pieces or hold the shaky pieces together with glue. No matter that it is covered with cracks; hopefully we will not buy a new sheet of mirror and tell our children that this is our history.
EC commissioners showing their true patriotic colours
Do the remaining members of the Election Commission have no shame? They have been exposed as being severely flawed in various ways. Reasoned voices are now calling for them to act on what little dignity they have left and go. Clearly, they have little love of their country and its treasured institutions and think only of themselves.
Dr John Symons
Correct the procedure rather than abandon exam system
Re: "Parents group demands end to new admissions system", The Nation, May 16).
In the wake of the debacle over the announcement of the O-Net and A-Net results there have been calls for scrapping of the new exam system. There is, surely, no argument that the sequence of errors that first became manifest to the public on April 1 must not be allowed to occur again. However let us not be too hasty. There is a saying in English: "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water".
Where did the problems occur? There was no indication of dissatisfaction on the days of the exams themselves or in subsequent weeks. The problems were in the administration and handling of the marks after the students had sat the exams. If the format of the exams were at fault then there would have been an outcry when the exams were being sat.
What is needed now is a thorough review of the administrative process used - what went wrong and how it can be modified to avoid problems in the future and provide scores that are fair to all the students. This will involve, among other things, tight quality control over the marking process to ensure the same standard across all markers. It will also involve checking the database of marks, once compiled, for unusual values that might need manual follow-up.
The new exams are a step forward by introducing open-ended questions that require students to write and express themselves. Don't lose that because of administrative bungles.
New parties should align to erase Thai Rak Thai legacy
Re: "New parties sprouting already", News, May 17. The proliferation of parties is a worrying sign. The re-emergence of old-school politicians will divert focus from the ongoing need to reform the political system and to cleanse the country.
Let's not forget that it wasn't just Thaksinomics that we were fighting against. It was also policy corruption, crony capitalism, abuse of power, money politics, lack of checks and balances, divisiveness and a culture of greed and impunity. It is a huge agenda, but we should not let it be hijacked by cynical politicians, and the public should not let reform fatigue set in even before the process is started. We have a good opportunity to cleanse the country and restore some semblance of decency. We must maintain focus.
The names being mentioned by the newly emerging parties indicate that there is no lack of good alternative leaders in this country. But instead of standing as small splinter groups, they should form a grand coalition for reform, or at least coordinate their platforms and campaigns so as not to split the reform vote.
PAD's decision to stay out of election is absolutely correct
Assuming the Thai Rak Thai Party manages to somehow wriggle out of the legal hole it has dug for itself by allegedly bribing smaller parties to bend to its will, the unfortunate likelihood is that with its enormous support, especially in the North, it will yet again win an election. After all, as that wily English politician Harold Wilson put it some decades ago: "A week is a long time in politics." And by October, when the next election is due, all that is happening now could easily be forgotten. Hopefully your newspaper will see to it that this doesn't happen.
It is therefore with some alarm that I read your report urging the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) - and any others so minded - to stand at the next election ("Time for PAD to seize the day", News, May 18). If it is the principal intention of the PAD to see the demise of the Thai Rak Thai Party, then their decision not to field candidates at the next election is absolutely spot on. Instead they should be urging their supporters to vote for the party that, in their considered opinion, stands the best chance of either beating the Thai Rak Thai Party - or at least forming a powerful opposition in Parliament. Splintering the vote against Thai Rak Thai will only have the effect of entrenching them further in power. Hopefully, the PAD have realised this - hence their decision.
Turning to the comment made by Somkid Lertpaitoon ("Senators say party must be dissolved", News, May 18) that "Article 63 of the Constitution aims only to prevent military coup attempts". That may well have been the thinking and intention of the drafters but it is not what the article actually says. According to the translation, there are no words contained within it confining it only to military coups and it can therefore be legally applied to any other relevant situation. It does however, point to the importance of drafting laws that say exactly what is intended. Of course, the same stricture applies to any legal document.