LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
PM should play it safe and set up TRT headquarters at Dhammakaya Temple
After admiring our beloved caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin for putting on yet another breathtaking performance at the Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani, I would like to suggest that he shift the whole Thai Rak Thai Party there.
There is no other venue better suited to the premier. Shaped like a massive flying-saucer-looking space dome, the place can hold an astonishing 250,000 people at one time. The "UFO temple", as it is popularly known, has a top-notch security system and a whole squad of security guards. The temple has all the latest state-of-the-art IT technology and an amazing 300,000 disciples.
It is great to see Dhammakaya back in the news after its revered reputation was sabotaged by the media in connection to embezzlement and corruption a few years back.
Thaksin was reported to have said last week that he was impressed by the place - and no wonder, it's paradise on earth. Who in their right mind would not want to be ordained there!
Should he move his headquarters to the biggest flying saucer in the world, he will be in the shadows of the late Dhammakaya "miracle monk", Luang Pu Wat Paknam, who was known for his miracles, prophecies and supernatural healing powers. What more could Thaksin hope for in times of trouble than a few heavenly miracles from Dhammakaya?
Many of the temple's miracles once headlined Thailand's newspapers for weeks on end. Followers are taught that the allied powers, during World War II, had planned to test out their atomic bomb on Bangkok! It was only through the intensive meditation of Dhammakaya monks, that Japan was bombed instead!
Not only that, but there were headline reports of meditating nuns who had been witnessed floating in the sky at the same time the bombs rained down on Thailand during World War II. Quite miraculously none of them hit Dhammakaya!
What more could Thaksin dream of than such heavenly intervention.
Following the tried and true technique of "make merit, give a big donation and get rich" - I do hope that Thaksin popped into the temple's shop and bought a few mementoes. Personally, I liked the Dhammakaya golf shirts with the temple's flying saucer logo stitched on the front. Long live the Dhammakaya temple and the Thai Rak Thai Party, they would make one wonderful partnership!
Zebra crossings just street decorations for many drivers
Re: "BMA driver is jailed for deaths of two tourists", News, July 20.
When I used to work for a living the zebra crossings were a problem, but why? Pedestrians felt safe while walking in a zebra crossing and ignored approaching traffic, which was sometimes a fatal mistake. So they made fewer zebra crossings. Now keep in mind that every intersection is a pedestrian crossing, marked or not.
Now lets take the situation of the pedestrian in Bangkok. I actually believe that drivers in Bangkok regard the zebra crossings as some kind of decoration with no purpose.
When I cross a zebra crossing in Bangkok, I don't dare to walk in front of a vehicle until I notice that the driver is committed to stopping and I have made eye contact.
Vehicles have tried to ignore me many times when I've used zebra crossings and I point to the white markings. Sometimes I get obscene gestures in return.
So as a pedestrian in Bangkok, be aware that it is a social thing. If you are walking you are nothing to a driver. Those pedestrians crossing with flags in a marked crosswalk made a fatal mistake - they thought they were safe.
TAT should warn visitors of the danger of Bangkok's roads
The tragic accident of a foreign couple hit by a vehicle while on a zebra crossing this week shows how irresponsible most motorists are on the road.
Despite being branded as people who are friendly and smiling, most Thais become totally different persons when they are driving. In most cases, when you signal a lane change, you are lucky if one out of 10 cars in your desired lane lets you in.
At a zebra crossing, Thais rarely get hurt because they never trust that the driver will stop in any case. But foreign visitors who use zebra crossings daily in their home countries may find out too late that the practice is not relied upon here.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand should give out a leaflet warning all foreigner visitors not to mistake zebra crossings as safe places to cross the road. It is also time for the governor of Bangkok to refurbish all zebra crossings with proper islands, and it is time for the police department to implement the traffic laws strictly, before someone else gets killed in another tragedy.
Permanence is a relative concept in the civil service
One question has been bothering me for some time: does anyone in Thailand know what the word "permanent" means? In any dictionary I have seen, it means "without end" or "not replaceable".
Why, then, in Thailand can you have a "permanent secretary" who is removed, transferred or simply fired from a position? Doesn't sound very permanent to me.
Postal system may be slow, but it works despite challenges
Re: "Thai postal system generally fails to deliver the goods", Letters, July 22.
Ken Albertsen's blanket statements concerning the Royal Thai Postal system intrigue me. I am intrigued by his tale of his Thai lady friend who caught a postman stealing a package. How and where did it happen? Was he prising open her mailbox in the middle of the night - or even day - to steal her mail and packages? Maybe she was at the post office and caught thief tip-toeing off with her package. Or did she catch him red-handed furtively opening her package to see what goodies there were inside?
Apart from it being slow - five days for a letter to go anywhere within the Kingdom - I find the postal system surprisingly efficient, bearing in mind that nothing is ever 100 per cent without fault. You get your mail delivered - eventually - whether you live in the bustling city or in a remote village. Postmen use boats to deliver to those who live on canals, ride bicycles to get from village to village etc,.
I have received letters addressed to me from Europe with only the name of the street and no numbers. Postal workers then tried to match the name on the envelope with other mail that had the same name.
In the UK, when an envelope is too big to be pushed through the letter box, the postman just goes off and takes it away. Ringing the bell to alert the occupants would be breaking union rules, I suppose!
Costly IQ enhancement initiatives have achieved little
Re: "Thai kids rank 'below average' on world IQ ranking", News, July 20.
This item appears to be recycled news that is about three years old. Back then it was alleged that the national average IQ of Thai children had dropped from 92.1 in 1996 to 89.0 in 2001. When Thailand's alleged IQ deficit was first reported the government had announced an IQ enhancement program with the goal of raising the national average IQ by 25 per cent in four years. In other words, to achieve a national average IQ of 111 by 2007. The stated purpose of IQ enhancement was "to export people's potential and Thai traits and make money".
By December 2004, Bt10 billion had been spent on IQ enhancement. The total budget for the four-year program was not revealed. Well, here we are in 2006 and I can't help but wonder how much money has been spent so far on IQ-enhancement and what kind of results have been achieved. I also wonder whether we are on track to overtake Germany next year as the world's smartest nation and to make money by exporting Thai traits.
Phang Nga setting a national standard for education reform
Re: "Thai kids rank 'below average' on world IQ ranking", News, July 20.
The findings that Thai children's IQs range between 87-88 are not surprising given that little or no preparation for creative and abstract thinking or problem-solving techniques has been incorporated into the curriculum. The situation is being dealt with in at least one southern province, however, where one of the aims of the new materials recently introduced is to raise the average IQ by at least 10 points.
The educational renaissance in Phang Nga province is flourishing, with virtually every school in the province currently using the innovative "Can Do, Will Do" CD and workbook package to encourage child-centred integrated skills, while focusing on nurturing creative and abstract thinking. The five levels of self-access materials have been designed to motivate each and every student to develop a positive attitude toward progressive, individualised learning.
They also put into practice essential life skills such as the risk-taking savvy that is needed to perform better in school and expand one's horizon and career prospects, which will help today's students cope with the computer-based demands of the constantly changing world of tomorrow. The vast majority of teachers there have already received intensive training in creative visualisation techniques, and local school administrators have overwhelmingly opted to initiate and support the project, successfully implemented in conjunction with student representatives, parents, community leaders and members of the supervisory unit.
Dr Charles Frederickson