Who's really losing face here?
- 13 Aug 2017 at 04:15
- WRITER: POSTBAG
In his Aug 12 letter, Michael Setter said: "If, in exercising this responsibility, it causes others to lose face, well, that's just too damn bad."
Why people in "the East" must think the same as people in "the West" is beyond me. Do you imply Western thinking is better? Why should Western rules and behaviour be copied in the East?
This is the arrogant Western mind forcing itself on the East; colonialism ended some time ago, but it seems some are still afflicted. "When in Rome" is much older than whatever Einstein supposedly said. Avoidance of conflict is prized in the East; confrontation is the Western game -- see what it brings us nowadays. The world seems to be on fire because of this.
Immigration bullies lose plot
A small comment on the airport immigration brouhaha: I greatly appreciate the automatic channels. It really helps to process Thais and residents in a very fast way. A few weeks ago when going on one of my frequent trips abroad, I questioned the immigration officials on why it is still necessary to fill out the departure cards. All information on it is already in the computer. It elicited quite an outburst of anger from the officials. The country does not need people like me, I should get out of the country and the like. To my response that we all should think and try to improve, they answered in a chorus: "Do not think, just do it." That is the mindset that has to change.
From Thai friends who also travel frequently I heard that many of them complained about these forms for many months. The answer was always: "It's the law, it's the law." Laws can be changed and officials should seek change whenever there is feedback that they are out of sync with reality. Why are they always waiting for a calamity until something changes? Officials proactively seeking change. That would be Thailand 4.0.
There are good examples as to how it can work. The Central Immigration Office in Chaeng Wattana (at least the Residents Section) -- friendly, efficient, helpful -- still have some procedures and forms that could be dropped. This is how it could work everywhere.
PS: A hint to the Tourism Ministry in relation to the arrival cards. Just ask big consumer product companies about market research. They know all about their customers without all of their customers filling out forms each time they buy their products.
Falling out of bed of roses
In response to "All rosy in Phuket" (PostBag, Aug 12), perhaps Don Mueang should be relocated to Phuket. Then let's see how rosy it all will be.
Get with the times
In his Aug 11 letter, Lungstib dreams of a robotic machine where the passport is fed into a machine much like a bank passport update outside a bank, and a barrier opens and a visitor passes.
What he may not know is that Sydney airport already has this, and possibly others too. It's not futuristic -- it already exists, successfully, at one of the world's busiest airports. So, while Thailand bickers and blames a simple form for delays, it is still living in the past with either surly officers or unmanned immigration counters where visitors are made to feel unwelcome to our shores.
Lost in translation
I had an issue with my credit card and called the customer service number. The recorded answer said that I should press "2" for English, which I did. The problem? After doing this the message continued totally in Thai. I repeated the procedure with the same result. And this was the country's largest bank! Thailand 4.0? More like Thailand Stone Age.
Bold 'plan' is up in the air
I keep reading in the Bangkok Post about all these tourists coming to Thailand and taking three to five hours (not minutes) to clear customs and immigration, and this is at the old Don Mueang airport. This leaves me scratching my head and wondering what has happened to the original plan of building a new, advanced, superior to all, airport, called Swan Lake, or something like that. This new airport, which was built in a hurry something like 30 years or so, was supposed to take the heat off Don Mueang and let the air force have it back. Did I get that right?
What I really can't understand is if, as I have read, Don Mueang had 43 immigration stations operating in 2013, and was aware tourist visas and arrivals would be increasing in the coming years, who is the smart official who decided we would only need 23 stations by 2017? Is Swan Lake (or equivalent) still needed?
Antidote to the poison
If I might suggest one partial antidote to the poison that Paritta Wangkiat so lucidly exposes in "Conquering the enemy deep within" (Opinion, Aug 11), it would help if schools directly invited students to present opposing arguments to received wisdom, customs, traditions and antique morals.
This might conveniently be done in social studies, history and other subjects that address Thai history, culture and society. This does not require that students be taught that received wisdom is always false, merely that it might not be so obviously true as some assume or proclaim it to be, that dissenting views do exist which have sound reasons that good people who value honesty and humanity need to answer.
This would be conducive to some healthy, critical review of the bad reasoning, the falsehoods and the ignorance enforced by censorship that feed divisive nationalism. Open discussion of dissenting controversial ideas is a healthy activity that is an essential part of any decent education.
Such a healthy reform would benefit not only education but would help to inoculate Thai society from the worst excesses of rabid nationalism.
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