LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Blaming American culture an easy out to explain away Cho's demented actions
Re: "A mother's reflections on the horrific tragedy at Virginia Tech University", Letters, April 24.
I must begin by sharing the concern of "A Shocked Mother" regarding the recent school shootings in Virginia. This incident highlights the fears that all parents have for the safety and welfare of our children, wherever they may be.
As a father, I was also shocked and frightened by the incomprehensible actions of this disturbed young man.
Having said that, it is easy to speculate about how he could commit such terrible deeds.
However, in trying to make sense of this tragedy one must be careful not to make suppositions that are unhelpful.
I'm referring to "A Shocked Mother's" suggestion that had the killer been brought up in Korea, surrounded by his Asian family, this incident might not have occurred, because they would have been "more vigilant, loving and caring".
I work at a well-known private school in Bangkok where special needs children, many of whom have aggressive tendencies, are mixed into classes with regular learners, because their parents refuse to accept that their children have a disability. Nobody, including the school administration, will say anything for fear of a confrontation and "loss of face"; rather, the child is given no special attention (as teachers are not equipped to deal with them inside the framework of a classroom) and is simply passed on to the next grade year after year to keep the parents happy.
It seems to me that Asian families, instead of addressing the issues of children who are considered "abnormal", will deny that there is a problem. How many Thais on the street do you ever see with, say for example, Down's syndrome? Is it because this genetic disorder is unknown in Thailand? Or perhaps these people do exist in the same numbers as elsewhere, but are hidden away because of the Asian family's sense of shame. Maybe the family of this young Korean was aware of his behaviour, but chose to ignore it for fear of losing face. Was the university frustrated in its attempts to get him some help? I certainly don't know and so I won't speculate.
It seems to me that this mother's anger towards the country where this incident took place is colouring her thinking. I am not American, and indeed I have no love for "American culture" as it is portrayed to the world, but pointing fingers resolves nothing, except to make one feel better. I am also not Asian, but believe me, my family is every bit as "vigilant, loving and caring" as could be. To try and lay blame on a specific culture ignores our shared humanity - and our shared faults.
I empathise with "A Shocked Mother" and I pray that none of us will ever have to endure suffering like those affected by this senseless act.
State religion advocates seem oddly attached to their goals
Re: "Buddhism defines Thailand", News, April 23.
It's a lark watching so many Thai Buddhists being so attached to legislating in favour of non-attachment.
"We agree in principle with non attachment," said Thongchai Kuersakul in yesterday's news right alongside some opinions that the speaker seemed quite attached to.
Forget principle, how about practice?
Just how do you enshrine impermanence into law? Ah yes, this is Thailand where all laws are impermanent - just wait for the next Thaksin or the next coup for the next constitution to come along!
Aren't coups in Thailand merely an affirmation of the impermanence of all things? They are a kind of political Buddhism are they not? This national religion is a decision for Thais , obviously, but my view is that laws are like lies - one leads to another and another and another and another etc and before you know it you can't see the Buddhists for the trees!
Better go now because it's late and I'm really, really attached to getting a good night's sleep tonight.
No-confidence motion on PM should require majority
I understand that there's a provision in the draft constitution that allows the prime minister to be removed (sic) by a 25 per cent vote in Parliament.
If so, the prize that political parties would really be after is not to become premier - but to have 25 per cent of the members of parliament - because then, they'd have a Sword of Damocles hanging over the prime minister.
The prime minister and the prime minister's party would have to do the minority's bidding, or be removed.
Of course, we could have two such small parties, at opposite ends of the political spectrum, making for even more fun and instability. This is de facto minority rule, and highly undemocratic.
I suggest that while 25 per cent might be enough to initiate a no-confidence motion, a majority be required to remove the prime minister.
SSO customer waits months for transfer of child benefits
My wife resigned from her job a year ago and the Social Security Office (SSO) learnt this quickly and cut off our child allowance of Bt350 per month immediately as she stopped paying the SSO.
So, since I am her legal husband and I still have a job I asked the SSO to pay me instead. I filled out all necessary forms and waited for that money to show up in the bank account.
It's been eight months now and the only answer the SSO can give is to "wait and wait". I feel very disappointed with this slowness.
All of my 15 years of working and I've paid almost Bt1,000 per month for the SSO without using hospital services even a single time. And I know that the money the SSO subtracted from my salary is beneficial to those who are in need in my country. I'm glad I paid for them.
But the Bt4,200 per year means many things as well for the poor like me.
It means almost a one-year subscription of The Nation, which the entire family greatly depends on to follow daily news and practise English. It also means two months of my car petrol cost on my daily route to work. It's also equal to my lunch coupons at the school cafeteria for 233 days!
I don't think any SSO officers with the same problem as the one I had would receive the same treatment from their own office.
If there were a rally for people to voice their frustrations, not against the SSO but in favour of its upgrading and development, I would be the first to join.
Frustrated SSO customer
Ratchada cabaret artists blackmailing patrons
I must warn tourists who visit Bangkok about the cheating, blackmailing performers in the cabaret shows on Ratchada. Loads of tourists go for these shows in which transvestite and sex-reassigned males lip-sync songs by Teresa Teng and the like. After the show, they pose with the tourists for about Bt20 a photo.
What I witnessed with my own eyes was that when a tourist is about to take a photograph with a chosen performer, another one will barge into the picture. In a flash, this second one will grab hold of the tourist's hands, put one on each of their breasts and, a split second before the camera snaps, take away her hands while both quickly pull down their brassieres to expose their fake breasts. When the camera snaps, the picture shows the tourist with his hands on their bare breasts. These two transvestites will demand Bt100 each from the tourist for "molesting" their breasts.
If the tourist refuses to pay they threaten to go to their boss to lodge a complaint, using the picture as evidence.
Such blackmailing of innocent tourists must be exposed to the world so that these despicable tactics are stopped at once, before Thailand's already tattered reputation as a safe, cheap holiday destination comes to a final demise.
Lim Boon Hee
Happiness in Thailand cannot be judged by economics alone
Re: "Thailand gained from China's fear of foreign investment", Letters, April 23.
Is anyone out there beginning to understand what this debate on foreign investment is all about? I keep arguing the quality of life and everyone else keeps arguing economic success.
"Thailand gained"? Exactly what did Thailand gain? The roads are clogged with traffic, the rivers are polluted from industrial runoff, the air is polluted from automobile exhaust and the people are now in debt up to their designer label lapels.
Luckily, so far the tourists keep coming, but for how much longer if Westernisation continues or even accelerates?
I have just returned from Macau and I have to report that it is developing on a massive scale, everyone is making money thanks to American money and casinos arriving and things seem to be rosy. Unfortunately, getting a smile from anyone is like pulling teeth. You can cut the intensity with a knife. Is this what you would have for Thailand?
If all of you would ask yourselves one simple question, you might then begin to get out of the "making money" mode and understand what I have been saying.
People do not go to the United States, Japan or China to vacation. They come to Thailand.
People do not retire in those countries either; they come to Thailand.
And that is the major portion of the foreign investment that has allowed Thailand to progress economically.
The minor portion is the one responsible for the bad air, water and attitudes. Now the question is: why do you suppose people do come here to either vacation or retire?