Preserving 'Thainess'

Re: "Differing paradigm", (PostBag, July 2).

As is so often the case when foreigners offer solutions to myriad problems this nation faces, they are met with criticism well characterised by Nick Poon's comments such as foreigners' ideas "go against the core of Thai values like hai kiet, kreng jai, alum alui".

Any Thais will realise that these Thai values, with no direct equivalent in English, are the main factors that make Thailand and the Thais Thai -- in the past, present and future.

Foreigners will find such thinking to be reactionary, xenophobic, culturally divisive and cultic.

After all, the metrics of Thailand's achievements as a nation are a direct result of the implementation of the values of which Mr Poon is so proud and which he claims are not comprehensible except to members of his exclusive cult.

Let us all preserve so called "Thainess" above all, even though it guarantees the number one spot in traffic fatalities, egregious exploitation of the poor, income disparity, and political corruption.

The litany of embarrassing statistics is a long and unnecessary one.

Unnecessary that is if people will start treating each other with genuine respect instead of kreng jai and learn how to lose face when appropriate as the Buddha teaches.

Michael Setter


What's normal here?

Re: "Differing paradigm", (PostBag, July 2).

Nick Poon seems to try to diminish the impressive Future Forward Party (FFP) result by stating that just over 4 million votes were for the FFP, out of over 30 million "which does not constitute a majority vote".

According to Wikipedia, no party got even halfway to a majority and the FFP received over 6.25 million votes, or 17.65%, being more than the Democrats and Bhumjaithai. He also criticised their approach as not being in accordance with the normal Thai way of doing things. Defending the status quo of behaviour in Thai politics sounds like defending the indefensible to me.

Phil Cox


Neo-liberals so wrong

Re: "Vladimir Putin is wrong, but so are liberals", (Opinion, July 3).

Vladimir Putin is wrong, but so is Pankaj Mishra. Yes, excesses of neo-liberalism and stinky politics must be curbed. But Mr Mishra fails to see that neo-liberalism, mass migration and multiculturalism are not separate issues, but come as a package. Unfettered migration and multiculturalism are key tenets of neo-liberalism. Rather than agitating straw men, he should think harder.

Liberals who value individual freedoms, the common good and the welfare state, particularly in Europe, must address multiculturalism which is the negation of liberal democracy. By definition, it implies the abolition of the common good and results in individuals being assigned to competing groups they just happen to be born in with their individual freedoms limited by the norms of their community. Its most principled critics are the republicans (as in republic, res publica) left, not the hard right.

Liberals also must rationally worry about mass inflows of people who do not share liberal values and are not assimilated. Mathieu Bock-Cote defines multiculturalism as the host country having to adapt to migrants (for example Canada), rather than migrants having to adapt to the host country's values as was expected in the past.

Finally, no-border migration is incompatible with maintaining our welfare states. The new prime minister of Denmark wants to strictly control immigration to preserve the country's generous welfare state. Hard right, nationalist, Thatcherite? No, a social-democrat: a liberal!

BAFFLED READER


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