LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Raising average IQ of future voters could eventually spell doom for ruling party
Re: "Thai kids rank 'below average' on world IQ rankings", News, July 20.
I read with interest the comments from the vice minister for education regarding the average IQ of Thai children. Reading back through the 2002 survey quoted, I was struck by the regional differences. Children in the North scoring some nine IQ points lower on average than children in Bangkok and the South.
It immediately reminded me of a document that surfaced on the Internet following the most recent elections in the US, which showed a correlation between the average IQ of each state and whether that state voted for George W Bush or for John Kerry.
The results were simply stunning in as much as it was split, almost exactly, down the middle of the IQ rankings. Higher-average-IQ states voted Kerry, while Bush won his mandate to govern the world's most powerful nation from those states with sub-par IQs.
I guess we could draw similar conclusions here in Thailand with caretaker PM Thaksin's strong support in the North and fierce opposition in the South.
I commend Vice Minister Watchara Phanchet's ambitious vision of raising "Thai children's [average] IQ to at least 100 by 2008" - and in so doing, hopefully this great nation can start to produce a more intelligent class of voter.
Kingdom's 'charismatic' figure is unmasked at last
Thaksin's speaking before thinking and without weighing the meaning of what he says is now on a par with President Bush's "Bushisms".
Among all of the various interpretations of what he meant by an "extra-constitutional charismatic" figure, and who such a figure may be, the most logical explanation seems to have escaped the attention of all Thaksin watchers.
"Extra-", as a prefix, forms adjectives with the senses of "situated outside" and "not coming within the scope of" (Oxford English Dictionary).
Therefore, he refers to someone who is outside the Constitution.
But as much one scratches one's head, one cannot come up with a single person, from the highest to the lowest, who is outside the Constitution.
There is one exception, though, one who has been put within the meaning of the adjective by his own words and deeds: Thaksin himself.
But what about "charismatic"? Well, that is super-CEO's other slip: an obvious pat on his own back. Lots and lots of money buys a lot of charisma, would you not say so?
Thai postal system generally fails to deliver the goods
Who's in a position to wrench Thailand's postal service out of the 19th century? For the eight years I've resided in the Land of Smiles, the international postage rate has been Bt19, yet there has never been a Bt19 stamp.
More pressing is a need to revamp addresses. I don't much mind that even and odd numbers can be on the same side of the street or that the same street can change its name every few blocks. I'm more concerned about addresses being so drawn out, with redundancies and unnecessary names and numbers - I about get carpal-tunnel syndrome each time I write a Thai address.
The postal service seems to be comprised mostly of good, honest people, but the occasional bad apples need to be culled. Case in point: a Thai friend caught a postal delivery man stealing a package. My friend was about to report the thief to the guy's boss, but the scoundrel pleaded for mercy so convincingly that my good-hearted friend relented and let the bugger go. Unfortunately, that seemingly good deed allowed the thief to keep working - and month after subsequent month, much mail and many packages that should have arrived never got to their destinations. Particularly tempting are credit cards, which can be felt through the envelope. A word to the wise: if you absolutely can't avoid having a credit card mailed to you, specify that it be placed between two pieces of cardboard within the envelope.
Some who are reading this might think, "No problem, I'll have it sent registered or certified." Good luck, Padre! Certified or registered only makes the package stick out even more for the nimble-fingered among us. Oh, and then there's the tried and trusted express delivery companies. Granted, there's less chance things will get stolen than from the postal service, but the express people are inept and as often as not can't get parcels to their correct addresses.
Which brings us back to the original bellyache about Thai addresses being overwrought and confusing. At least twice I've had notices delivered to my address that said, in effect, "We tried to deliver an express package to your address but couldn't find your address." Go figure. Oh, and by the time I get the notice of non-delivery, the package has been returned to the sender's address abroad.
Zebra crossings in Bangkok can be lethal for pedestrians
Re: "BMA driver is jailed for deaths of two tourists", News, July 20.
Is anyone surprised by this? In fact, I am surprised there are not more deaths in so-called pedestrian crossings.
Now the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has installed crossings controlled by traffic lights. These are even more lethal. One in particular is on Rajdamri Road, where green buses continue to speed along straight through the red light. People are going to continue to die until drivers learn that red means stop.
This will not happen, though, because if the traffic police were to enforce laws, and drivers obeyed those laws, then they could no longer collect their "fines". Pathetic. My condolences to the families of those who were needlessly killed.
Attacks on Lebanon may simply be needed for security
Re: "Tel Aviv's actions clear case of state-sponsored terrorism", Letters, July 18.
The writer states, "Israel's attacks on the civilian infrastructure in Gaza and Beirut are clearly war crimes." Not a single word is said about Hezbollah's attacks, not on infrastructure, but on civilians, railway stations, residential areas, apartment blocks, houses, etc .The sole purpose of their indiscriminate bombing is to terrorise the civilian population and inflict as many casualties among the civilian population as possible. Yet when Israel bombs not the civilians, but the infrastructure used by Hezbollah to covey their men, equip their men, arm their men, there is this hue and cry about what the Israelis are doing to defend themselves. If Lebanon or part of it needs to be flattened to rid it of terrorists, so be it.
Recent events belie notion that Israel can do no wrong
Israel fiddles and the US and the UK dance! When will these two "democracies" drop the notion that Israel can do no wrong? I have read that some evacuees from Lebanon were stopped from leaving by ship, as Israel had imposed a curfew! What spineless nation would let Israel get away with the imposition of an illegal maritime blockade?
I hold no brief for Hezbollah or any other terrorist organisation; however, the cowardly attacks by Israel on defenceless Lebanese citizens makes Israel the greater of the two evils. The actions of Israel over the last week or so have confirmed they enjoy the use of inappropriate levels of force and collective punishment, tactics learned from the Axis powers of the Second World War. Peace in the Middle East will only come if Israel withdraws to its pre-1967 borders - and pigs may fly!
Plenty of blame to share in latest Middle East upheaval
Many of the present and past comments on the revamped Israeli conflict reflect a poor or very selective knowledge of the past since before WWII, and I do not refer just to the Holocaust, the cause of the present situation.
l Under the violence of northern European and Russian pogroms, Jews started to resettle peacefully in Palestine, their ancient motherland, buying land from the Arab landowners, making the land, reduced to a desert by goats and Arab neglect, flourish again. That created an atmosphere of envy and hostility by the Arabs.
l To destabilise the colonial British Empire in that strategic region, Nazi agents lobbied the Great Mufti of Jerusalem and instigated a greater hatred against both the local Jews and the British. In the aftermath of WWII, in their typical fashion, the British left Palestine in a condition that guaranteed a constant conflict between Arabs and Jews. At the same time, many of the Nazi officers took service with Arab states as military advisers.
l Palestine had been part of Egypt since the Ottoman Empire. Of the millions of US dollars in aid that daily reached Egyptian authorities, the press at the time reported that Palestinian refugees saw only a trickle of it. Egypt obviously saw advantage to having Palestine as a simmering irritant aimed at Israel. It paid for it afterwards in the two major conflicts it started.
l The phenomenon of Muslim terrorism is as much a historical part of the dark side of a narrow and selective interpretation of Islam as the product of the "constructive ambiguity and engagement" so dear to the US to keep conflicts unresolved.
Therefore, to each his own responsibility, by omission and commission.
Dr Massimo-F Buonaiuto