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A Week in Review: June 26 - July 2, 2010

Papering over the Cracks...

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones because they might end up having to paper over the cracks. Welcome to the wonderful world of Thai politics. Read our week in review here...

A man who still denies living in a glass house threw a few more stones last week. Hiding behind one of his aides, Thaksin continued his personal vendetta against the Thai government – this time by attempting to discredit the government’s roadmap to reconciliation in the eyes of the United States.

However, the US Congress came out overwhelmingly in favour of the Thai government by voting 411-4 to pass a resolution supporting the roadmap, renouncing the violence that has become an integral part of the reds’ tactics, and encouraging both sides to resolve their differences peacefully and democratically.

Despite the vote of confidence from the US, the Thai government has been coming under increasing pressure through legitimate political channels within Thailand for its spending of late. While deputy PM and chairman of the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Services (CRES) Suthep announced that he would justify the 2 billion baht spent on the CRES since March 11 by making the details of the budget public, there was no immediate defence of spending on the army’s latest white elephant – an airship which is intended for reconnaissance in the deep south but which is unable to fly high enough to avoid being shot down by a rifle.

Meanwhile, well aware that they will need to win more votes at the next election, the government extended the policy introduced by Samak Sundravej to provide the poor with free bus and train travel as well as free electricity for the next six months.

A “6 days, 63 million opinions” project was also launched to give all citizens the chance to phone a hotline to share their opinions and suggestions. PM Abhisit and members of the cabinet were among those taking calls.

Even though the first day was beset by technical problems, 2,000 calls were nevertheless made, mostly from Thailand’s troubled north-eastern and far southern regions.
The government also approved the appointment of 20 academics who had been selected to sit on a police reform panel with the goal of bringing about an “efficient law enforcement agency that is more accountable to the public,” – a task akin to making pigs fly.

The whole world saw the utter ineffectiveness of the Thai police force during the recent troubles when they failed miserably to protect law-abiding citizens and property from red shirt protestors.

And as soon as the protests ended, it was back to the real police business of extorting money from drivers and bar owners. But is this situation so surprising? Thai police officers receive such low salaries that they are forced to look for external revenue streams, and they receive such poor training that, even if they join the force with honourable intentions, they are soon sinking in a sea of apathy.

It is clear that the Thai police force is in need of such a complete overhaul that it could surely only be achieved by disbanding the current force and starting from scratch with a well-paid, and well-trained professional law-enforcement agency.

Yet despite the enormity of the situation, the police reform panel is under directions to implement changes that will have limited impact on the structure of the police force with no sweeping or abrupt changes and no major overhaul.

Where major surgery is required, they are being directed to apply cheap cosmetics.

And it isn’t only the police force that is badly in need of reform. It was well publicised that up to 88% of secondary school teachers in Thailand recently failed exams on the subjects they were teaching. In response, the government has approved a budget of 4 billion baht to be spent on new teachers over the next few years.

Currently, to supplement their meagre salaries, many teachers offer private tutoring. It has been reported that, in many schools, only the basics are taught during class time and so students who wish to do well are forced to take extra classes in the evenings, on weekends and during the holidays. As these extra classes are an extra expense, it only serves to perpetuate the class divide by denying the children of less well off families the opportunity of a decent education.

There is no doubt that the standard of teaching in Thai schools needs to be improved, and offering a higher salary might help make the profession more attractive and reduce the need for extra tutoring, but the teachers are just one part of a problem that includes the curricula, testing, and facilities.

Law enforcement and education are two of the cornerstones of an effective modern democracy. Thailand needs to do more than just paper over the cracks.

Paul Snowdon – July 3, 2010

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Have your say...

29 Jul 2014, 10:02
I have viewed the Mekong many times from Nong Khai and Phon Phisai. I've mlainy been sat at market restaurants and once in the Tha Sadet market in Nong Khai myself and Wi were sat there eating fish looking at the quiet waters when all of a sudden a storm brewed on the Laos side and then whoosh, it whipped across the water and battered Nong Khai for a good twenty minutes. It was awesome. The river is a big big economic source for traders on both sides of the Mekong but when I look over at Laos I can't help but think as much as Thailand has its troubles Laos lags a long way behind in the standard of life its people live. A river that in someways divides two very different ways of life..-= Martynb4s last blog .. =-.
30 Jul 2014, 07:19
Oh Mr., maybe you not understand THAI<a href=""> eonguh</a>, you cannot think about other countrys with the way you think (western way of cause!) We have culture & tradition that maybe complicate than your though.Why don't you study history about Thaksin Shinawatra a little more and you will know that he treat Thai country and Thai people like a company He success for manipulates poor people to think Ohh!!! we're poor, we're weak, we have to sit and wait for money and everythings!!! More over, hardly study about our beloving King, his works for Thai people much more than you know.
01 Aug 2014, 10:46
anyway, i think it's not Northern and Northeast people fault if they vote PT, it's also not boankgk and southern people fault to vote DEMS.A is thinking only about his own life and his profits. B is thinking about his own life, his profits, his country and country's profitsif we know 1-10, why would we concerned about 11? and if they know 1-20, is it our fault that we have a chance to learn just 1-10?. No!that's allsorry for my broken english, i just want to share my opinionglad to know you listen to leonard cohen. he is one of my fav =) [url=]olvqplqyv[/url] [link=]bjayzt[/link]
03 Aug 2014, 17:30
No one cares whoever you would like to<a href=""> selcet</a>. It's yours choice. This article just try to explain for ppl who never tried to understand the truth situation in Thailand and still living in their dream that Thailand is a land of smile and believe that whatever or whoever take Red Shirt side, They have been bought buy Taksin Shinawatra. That is not even make any sense.
04 Aug 2014, 03:17
David I have only visited Koh Chang once and that was like your first time their about 5 years ago. I tohught it was fantastic and is the best location I have stayed at in Thailand.I have always promised myself that I would go back but now having read your excellent comments I doubt I will. It is very sad what you say has happened to the island but like so many developing economy countries the green backs come before conservation.Reading the remainder of your comment I must say what useful information you have included for any newbie about to visit the island. Thanks and I appreciate the time you have spent on this post. [url=]tttgxakgd[/url] [link=]jfvlubl[/link]
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