LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
A mother's reflections on the horrific tragedy at Virginia Tech University
I was totally shocked when I came to learn about what happened at Virginia Tech University last Monday.
My son studies in the United States and I can understand the worried feelings of other mothers who have children studying in US universities.
My son is 22 and a senior. The Virginia Tech gunman, Cho Seung-hui, was a senior too. What Cho did was unforgivable for a human being, but there is no way that we can punish or cure him now. The Almighty is merciful, He can do what we cannot, and I hope He will forgive Cho for his wrongdoing. We cannot forgive him, but we should try to think why he did what he did, and whether there were lapses in our actions that brought about his horrifying act.
Cho's family migrated to the US in 1992. He was eight at the time. I do not know what made his family migrate to the US from a flourishing Korea, but the trauma of leaving home must have been very severe for young Cho. Probably the parents were busy earning their bread and Cho was very lonely. Possibly he could not make friends at first due to the language barrier. By the time he overcame the language difficulty, he might have become used to being alone. Seeing the rich kids in the US, he might have considered himself deprived as the son of a poor immigrant. We do not know whether he used to be bullied in school or not.
If there was some problem with Cho from childhood, it should have been treated. But it seems that it went unnoticed. Young Cho reportedly never talked to the neighbours or even said hello to them. Did the neighbours ever wonder why young Cho was behaving like this, and did they ever speak to Cho's parents about it? Maybe the notion of "privacy" kept them quiet. But if a country can intervene in another country's private matters in the name of world security, then why can't well-wishing neighbours point it out if they notice something "improper" in a child's behaviour!
If Cho had been brought up in Korea, or was treated nicely, or did not feel deprived, neglected and rejected, then maybe his life and the fates of the young students he killed would have been different. In Korea, if Cho's parents were busy then the grandparents, uncles, aunts or even neighbours would have been more vigilant, loving and caring. In Asian societies, relatives and even neighbours will come forward to point out the shortcomings of a child without thinking that they are interfering in others' family matters. This may be uncomfortable on occasion, but it shows the sincere bonds and concern for the child's welfare.
Thank God that Cho was not a Muslim. In that case, I would have tried to find a link between him and terrorist groups. I would not think about the economic and social environment he was brought up in, his frustrations, his values and ideologies being crushed, his thousand unanswered questions. In reality, a killer or a terrorist does not have any religious or racial identity. We must not generalise these heinous acts by caste or creed. It is frustration, deprivation, rejection and hatred that make a young soul angry and drive one into committing such acts. If we want a peaceful society and a peaceful world, it is through love and understanding we can get it, not through hatred, distrust or revenge.
A shocked mother
Time for Premier Surayud to 'do as he says' in the South
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont's position that the solution to the southern insurgency is to emphasise non-violent methods is most welcome.
However, recalling US Attorney-General John Mitchell's "watch what we do, not what we say" adage, it appears that none of the defence volunteers who shot and killed four apparently unarmed youths and injured five others a week or so ago in Yala have been arrested. Not only that, under the emergency decree extended twice by Surayud, none of the troops or their commanders can be held responsible for the shootings, even if they turn out to be murders.
Also, none of the military/police involved in the Krue Se overreaction or the Tak Bai manslaughter (78 suffocations) have been punished (other than transfers).
Prime Minister Surayud, you insist that it's you who calls the shots. Bravo! Please bring your government's actions into line with your calls. Amend the emergency decree to be consistent with your declared emphasis on non-violence, and complete the Krue Se, Tak Bai and Yala investigations and courts-martial within your tenure. Give southerners some reason to trust your words.
How can there be a threat to Buddhism in Thailand?
Re: "Buddhism defines Thailand", News, April 23. Buddhist movement leader Thongchai Kuersakul contradicted himself in his interview with Pravit Rojanaphruk. If, according to him, Buddhists make up 94 per cent of the Thai population, why should his group feel threatened if Buddhism is not included in the constitution as a national religion?
I, for one, do not support his idea and movement. Buddhism, with such a large following in Thailand, is already our de facto national religion. Any attempt to include it in the governing charter will only lead to divisiveness in our country. In turn, worshippers of other religions will feel threatened. Religious fanaticism will surface and conflagration would ensue.
Sane Buddhists should come out and condemn this ill-omened political movement disguised in a saffron robe.
Flaming car crash caused by high-speed racing
The front page of The Sunday Nation on April 22 showed the beginning of the Supercar Rally featuring Lotuses, Ferraris and other sports cars with lots of glamour girls etc. On page 2 you reported on a car that caught fire on the Bang Na-Bang Phli-Bang Pakong expressway.
What your paper may not have known at the time is that the car on fire was one of those highly expensive sports cars in the rally - in fact, the yellow one prominently featured at the start of the rally.
What appears to have happened is that the cars, when presented with a bit of open space on the top level expressway, started to race at high speeds. The rather serious consequence was that one car went into the back of another, rupturing the fuel tank in the first car. The driver managed to escape, but with terrible burns to his face and hands. Unfortunately, he passed away 48 hours later.
It would be helpful if your paper could highlight the dangers, particularly to young people, that racing fast cars and racing on normal roads can bring.
Conduct of monks raises doubts about their faith
I watch a fair amount of Thai TV in my efforts to better understand the Thai people. I am also a student of history and of Buddhism, so I am often astonished when I see monks doing worldly things.
Specifically, I am reminded that Rama IV declared that any monk having more than the cost of a single meal on his person could be arrested and executed.
However, nowadays monks may be seen with cell phones, cigarettes, watching TV (out of sight in their rooms) and shopping in department stores. Recently, Thai TV showed a revered monk speaking, but I was astonished that he was addicted to betel and throughout his talk he was constantly spitting into a bowl. Not only is such behaviour disgusting to Westerners, but it violates elements of the Buddhist faith.
My question is: how can anyone believe in or trust a monk who doesn't believe in himself? If he truly believed in the Buddha's teachings, he would not be addicted to a worldly substance. Such behaviour embarrasses foreigners who love Thailand.
Seeking justice for tourist attacked in a cybercafe
Nowadays people encounter crime much more often in Pattaya, and very often while enjoying themselves in so-called safe places.
I go to use the Internet on Soi Buakhao often, and while checking my e-mail last week I saw two cybercafe workers attack a tourist customer. They punched and kicked him as he was about to leave. He was told to go because he asked them to turn on the air-conditioning, as the air was very stuffy at the time.
In a case like this the police are prone to believe the Thai people. A few years ago two Thai men attacked a tourist in the street and tried to rob his watch and money. He punched them in self-defence and when the police arrived he was put in jail for three days for attacking Thai people.
In this attack in the Internet cafe, one worker claimed the tourist attacked him first, which is highly unlikely, but since this is Thailand, the police believed him. When I went to the police, they told me the Internet worker had a witness - his co-worker who also attacked the customer. Is this a reliable witness?
I feel it's time to make a stand against the brutal conduct of a few people and I ask the other nine or 10 customers in the Internet cafe at the time to go to the police station on Soi 9 and make a statement about what happened. They should get a receipt or a stamped copy from the police to confirm it is recorded in a proper manner.
Please contact me for further info at email@example.com.
Toothbrush rating idea a brush with insanity
Mighty glad am I to read that the Public Health Ministry is taking time out from its ill-conceived, biased and vindictive campaign against legitimate alcohol producers and distributors in Thailand to launch a certification programme to help shoppers in choosing toothbrushes.
What next - an all-important consumer guide to lavatory paper?
Bring on the men in white coats.