Thursday, January 12, 2012

Article 112

I haven't written much for some time but I feel compelled.

First I want to be very clear, I truly believe we have to protect the Monarchy with some form of law.  I also believe that Article 112 of the LM law has been abused for way too long as a political tool.

We need to protect the Monarchy while at the same time protect the People's right to comment.    After all this is a supposed Democracy.  The way the law is setup and used often does not protect the Royal family or the People.  I also believe that recent abuse of article 112 has actually hurt the image of the Monarchy, which is the exact opposite of what it was intended to do.

There is a couple of simple solutions that could solve the problem of abuse of the law while still protecting the royal Family.

First we could change the law slightly so that accusers were not anonymous.  This would help eliminate all the frivolous accusations that the police have to act upon.  We could go even further and write into the law that there was a substantial penalty for anyone bringing forward a frivolous accusation of LM and the onus is on them to prove they did not.

The very easiest way to stop all this politicizing LM is to allow only a single entity, like  the Royal Household Bureau, to bring forward accusations.  This would stop radical fringe groups from bringing frivolous charges and at the same time protect the royal family by allowing the Monarchy a say in what it deems offensive to itself.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bangkok Post and the Military

Just after Army Chief Phayruth came out on the military owned TV channels with his very political statement that the military would crack down on any Media outlets who were not putting out the correct information the Bangkok Post responded quickly.  Although not in a way you would think a newspaper would, especially on their web page.

What did the Bangkok Post do that I personally find so vile.  As a media outlet they bowed and groveled to the army chief.  Soon after his "words of wisdom", more of a threat in reality, the Bangkok Post removed all their website reader comments that had been online for a day on anything concerned with the military and General Prayuth and now they don't even allow comments at all on these issues.  In a heartbeat they capitulated their freedom of expression and media freedom passing it to the Military.
For Thailand to have a free media be it radio, TV or print they have to be allowed, without threat or intimidation, to put forward a variety of thoughts from all sides of the spectrum.   I'm not talking subversion or fringe press, I'm talking the mainstream media here.
There is a reason that Reporters Without Borders rated Thailand (153) with less press freedom last year behind countries that we would all agree have little to no press freedom some of them we think of as third world.    Cambodia, Ethiopia, Russia, Honduras, Columbia, Nigeria, Congo even Afghanistan and Pakistan are ahead of Thailand.  Although we were 3 places ahead of the Philippines who had mass shootings of reporters last year as if that's a consolation.
Until The Thai Media has the courage to report neutrally even while under pressure rather than capitulate to the government of the time, the rich, the powerful or even worse the Military it's little more than a propaganda machine for whatever party is pressuring it.
The Thai people need to do their part in a couple of ways.
We need to get out and vote.   Vote for the party or politician of your choice think about what will help Thailand, what will help you and your family, what will help your immediate area,  and what is needed to move forward.   Think about what you had, what you have and what you pope to have in the future.  Then be sure to Vote.
We need to fight for Media Freedom.  When you see something like the situation at the Bangkok Post, or the indiscriminate closing of radio or TV stations, without a court warrant, don't just throw up your arms in frustration.  Say something.  Say it to your friends, say it to your neighbor, say it on Face book or twitter, buy say something.   Say it even if you don't agree with the views of the outlet.  If you remain silent, the situation we find our self in, will just worsen.  Be part of the solution to this very severe problem.

UPDATE:- In fairness to the Post one long term employee has contacted me and said they are looking into what was described as a 'Big Issue".

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 11:27 PM   0 Comments Links to this post

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Lunacy of it All

Lately the heat is getting to a lot of people, not the heat of summer but the political heat. 

The Army or more rightly stated an Army Chief is once again meddling in politics.  He's decided to become Thailand's Great Inquisitor, the upholder of the Monarchy the only one who will be righteous to a fault.   Problem is that's not his job.  His job is to be the protector of the Thai people from outside forces, nothing more nothing less.  To start dictating, and yes I used that word on purpose, to the populous on who should be charged with sedition  or LM for clapping and  cheering at a pep rally is well, incomprehensible from a man in such a high position.  What's he going to do next, decree who can and can't clap and cheer at a football match?  It's outright dumb.  In any other country on earth the head of the military making statements and acting in this manner would be unemployed.   To me it looks like he's just trying to sway the outcome of the election by pointing fingers at the opposition and the opposition is rightly pointing back this time.

Then we have the matter of the three young girls vs the Cultural ministry.  The girls danced topless on a car and the Ministry had a hemorrhoid.  Problem is the Ministry had pictures of 3 nude Thai women on their web page when all this started.  Being Songkran it's hard to get a web page changed fast.  Oops.  Who really cares if three young women took off their tops and danced around a bit, not me.  Maybe the Cultural Minister never took off his cloths on a hot summer day when he was a kid and went skinny dipping.  Too bad, because he missed one of the true joys of hot weather and childhood.  Maybe that's why they are such a stuffy lot.   While I'm on the subject, traditionally women in Siam did walk around topless and just maybe the cultural ministry should suck up some of that ancient culture they feel needs protecting by visiting a museum or two and looking at the art.  The same art they HAD depicted on their web page.

Now a bit of a rant on the Bangkok Post.  

There is one thing that bothers me about every second article in the paper.  They use the word source too freely.  In journalistic terms you want to protect your source so you will have it again when needed but at the same time you have to do your own leg work to write a story.  Often "the Source" is some low key person a secretary, a janitor or a tidbit heard over lunch from another table.  Sometimes "the Source" is someone disgruntled about a situation or someone that can advance their own position by lessening someone else's.  AND THEN sometimes "the Source" is just the journalist's way of stating his own opinion without actually putting his head in a noose.  Come on Bangkok Post reporters, do some work, ask some questions, state your own opinion and quit hiding behind, "The Source". 

I have no idea who moderates the Bangkok Post comments section but this is what I feel.  If you are going to allow comments then get moderators who are neutral.  To constantly allow anti red comments without any censorship some of which are quite provocative while at the same time censoring most comments that are either pro red or anti government is not moderation, it's Censorship.  One would think that all media outlets in Thailand would be sensitive to censorship but apparently at the Post it is alive and well used in their comments section continuously.

It's not just me that feel this way I've talked to a few other commenter's and they often are censored when the replies to their comments are let go often times being quite radical.

I'll just add that they even sent me an email if I continued to comment against Abhisit my account would be terminated.  At least they are showing the true intent of their publication.

Now a comment on the election, if it ever is even called.   With all the panic by the Army about the UDD and with all the lop sided articles in the media favoring the Democrats even after the Democrats have changed the ground rules in regards to the make up of the house to favor themselves, one has to wonder if panic has set in.   The EC today has decided to allow EU election observers for the next election.  There must be some major panic in the ranks on that one.  The Democrats and Suthep in particular do not want observers that could well tell the world community in no uncertain terns that the election was not fee and fair if the Democrats manage to win the most seats.  The incredible worst case scenario for the Democrats is that the PTP win a majority and the EU election observers declare that everything was 100% above board or that the PTP won even with interference from groups against them.   Lets wait and see what transpires but it's going to get interesting.  Very interesting indeed.

posted by Ricefield radio @ 11:58 PM   0 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Surgery on my face - A new experience

I sit here looking through one eye of my bifocals trying to type.  In August I bloged that I had to have a mole removed from my nose by a special procedure. 
Well the day has passed and I've had the surgery.  It was a long procedure 7 hours, give or take a bit, but was broken up into sections.  For the first hour it was mostly an assessment by the team and a q&A about all sorts of stuff, like medications, that could affect the outcome and talking pulse oxygen and blood pressure.  Then it was waiting time.
With this type of surgery you do a lot of waiting and if you are the "ants in the pants" type you will go crazy.   After another 45 minutes I was called in to the operating room and huge amounts of anesthetic was injected into my face.  I was literally numb all over.  They drew some lines on my face with a felt marker and then it was time to start the cutting procedure.  Having never gone through anything like this I didn't know what to expect.  There was no pain involved at all but it felt like they were pulling chunks out of my skin, a very strange sensation.  You could feel the scalpel cutting and the forceps pulling and when they cauterized the bleeding it made the end of mu nose itchy.  Then back to waiting while the new pieces of flesh were sent to the lab for analysis.
45 minutes later the results were in and it was back to the operating room.  The nurse was holding a piece of paper with a big map of my face.  In the center was this big red circle.  That area was still cancerous.   The whole area BTW.   This started out with a mole that was smaller than the end of your little finger now it as a hole about the side of your index finger and still cancerous.  The temporary patch was removed and I was numbed up again.  The surgeon started to cut away for another hour.  This time the hole was the size of your thumb if you look at it from the fingerprint side.  Then back to waiting.
Like clockwork after 45 minutes the nurse arrived and informed me that they had cut out all the cancer and that they would stitch me up in about 5 minutes.   In I went.  More anesthetic, and way more cutting.  She cut for the better part of an hour, more about her later.  The head plastic surgeon came in and they had a discussion about skin flaps and where to put the stitches and to cut a bit more, "here and here".   Then it was stitch up time, she stitched and stitched and stitched.  I was thinking of asking her if she would stitch the hem of my jeans at one point.  That took another hour and a half.
At one point she told me I was going to look like I'd been in a fight and I told her that I'd look just like one of my clients.  (A tidbit for all those who don't know what I do in Canada to pass my time - I have an interest in a gym and do personal training)  We got talking about the UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championships and Mixed Martial Arts. Seems she's a big MMA fan.  Strange, I wouldn't have guessed that in a million years.  She's very professional, about 6 foot, blond, incredibly pretty and has a body like a super model with very long legs.  This young woman with a blood thirst patched up people all day it was just surrealistic.
I was all done and the nurse patched me up with this huge compression bandage, and I was on my way.  I was glad I brought a huge bottle of  Tylenol for when the freezing wore off. 
The surprising thing is that it really didn't hurt much at all.  I took the Tylenol just in case but I really don't think I needed it at all.
My Right eye did swell shut and I iced it continuously for the entire evening.  The next morning I could just see out of it.  Today it's a bit better and my wife (It's nice to have a health care professional in the family)  took off the old dressing and put on a less bulky one.  It's feeling much better now.
The prognosis, Cancer free maybe 98%, The swelling should go down in a few days, only one black eye although they predicted two, and I can finally go for a new eyeglass prescription in a month or so.
Now for some pictures.  This one is from 2 hours after the surgery, taken by my 5 year old.
This one is from 48 hours after the surgery when the compression bandage was removed.  Somewhere in the 40 - 50 stitch range.
Next week I have to go to have them all removed.  Rats!!!!!!


I've had my stitches removed and everything is healing well.  Still swollen but the stitch line down the side of my nose is almost invisible although a bit reddish.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Education and the Education Budget in Thailand.

Today the parliament passed the mid-year budget in principle with 265 votes to 61 while 93 MPs abstained and 2 didn't vote.  What does that mean in reality.  Well to put it into perspective 28.3% of the budget is on education spending.  What you say, can't be!!!!  Well it is.

According to Thailand spends more on education than anyone on their list.  A full 11.2% more than the USA,  15% more than Australia and 15.6% more than Canada.  There are probably a few who would argue that the Thai education system is as good and they will likely also argue that the world is flat.  A hollow arguments at best. 

So, I'll tell you a little story.  Once upon a time last year, in the Summer, Thai summer that is, when I was doing research for a story on the Reds.  We also decided to try and find a decent school for our son who was then four.  We had some criteria.  The school had to be primarily English language, had to be clean , had to have a low teacher turnover, realistic student teacher ratio and had to be somewhat affordable.   Guess what?   We couldn't find one at least not in Phayao, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lamphun or Lampang.  We found lots of schools but all failed on one or two counts, sometimes all of them.  Now, as a family, we may be a bit biased.    I attended school in the West and my wife worked on her graduate degree at University in Canada.

We decided to send our son to school, in Canada.  The opportunities offered by the better end of the Thai school system were just downright lousy, not to mention expensive.

So off to Canada we trundled, bags in hand.  The move wasn't all that traumatic as we have a nice little house on the West coast and we all have Canadian citizenship.  So off to the school we went to register prior to the first day.   Only the principal was in the school but she was so helpful and made our son feel at home instantly.  The school is relatively new, maybe 10 years old.  Only bad thing I could find was the soccer pitch was not draining too well, but I digress.

This school is chocked full of computer labs with wide screens,  Teaching aids, well stocked library, a gymnasium and it's clean as our house.  Did I mention WiFi?

In our son's class there are 18 other students as the class limit is 19 from the local school board.  For those 19 students there is one teacher, one teacher's assistant and one special needs teacher.  As our son speaks a second language, Thai, he's got a ESL teacher that he shares with two Filipino students and a Mexican.  Funny part is, they now all speak English better than they do their native languages, but they insist the ESL teacher is a necessity.  I'm not sure - kids adapt very quickly.

My kid just loves going to school.  No rote learning, just it's all interactive kids teachers in a loosely laid out setting that they all feel comfortable about.  Kids are allowed and actually encouraged to explore and ask questions of themselves, their friends and the staff.   Yesterday, we went to the school because they had a Parent student learning session, based on mathematics, where the kids could move from one station to another and ask questions of the parents and the teachers.  Try that one in Thailand.  Not likely, it's more like - Ga Gai - Ka Kai - Ror Rua over and over and over again - Ga Gai - Ka Kai - Ror Rua.

Now to the costs.  If we stayed in Thailand we would have had to put out at least 70,000 baht a year for a school we felt a bit confident with, or God knows how much for one that was acceptable, but with reservation.  Then add on all the extras like school trips busing etc and you can add a couple of thousand more a month easily.

In Canada the school costs us nothing, it's on our house taxes that we get to pay, even if we are in Thailand, about 15,500 Bt a year.  We don't have to pay for the bus as it's free.   Now the extra cost items.   The school buys all the yearly supplies in bulk for a year - books, pencils, rulers, crayons, felts etc cost 625 bt. They just went for swimming lessons for a month, cost 750 baht and it was optional.  They have a hot lunch program, also optional, on Fridays cost about 75 baht. 

Not counting the house tax, that you would pay anyway kids or not, the total cost for a year at a Canadian Elementary school somewhere around 5000 bt or under 500 bt a month.  Even a peasant could send their kid to school here.

Not to be outdone the Government will cover the entire cost of correspondence via the Internet for 2 years when we decide to move back to Thailand. in the future, which we plan.

Now after reading all that can someone tell me, what does that extra 15.6% do for the Thai school system other than line someone's pocket?

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 3:13 AM   1 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This doesn't have much to do with politics, or does it?

As parents we all wonder what our grade may be bringing up our children.  Will we make the right decisions, give the correct answers and make our kids better people. This is a little story to ponder a bit.

My son entered the last year of kindergarten this year.  He's always been a very emotional kid, not in a bad way, but his feelings get hurt easily and ponders stuff.  He's also always said he's going to be an artist when he grows up. I'm not sure if they are related or not, but I digress. 

In his kindergarten class is one young boy who uses crutches.  I'm not sure what his affliction is but he's sure not putting out the vibe that he's affected by it.   One night in our ritual of the bedtime talk I asked him if he played with him.  He said no because he's not very fast running and he can't use much of the playground equipment.  How do you answer to that?  Not easily.

I asked him to think about what it would be like to be in that kid's position.  To think about things that he can do better than you can.   I told him that people in his position normally have much stronger upper bodies and arms to compensate for their lower body strength, and there will come a time when he can do things you can't, as you both get older.

Yesterday, we went to the school to help out.  They were making Gingerbread houses out of crackers, Yes, I thought it was strange too.  But if you put on enough icing you really can't tell once it's decorated with a bunch of candy and stuff.

To my surprise my son had picked the crippled kid as his partner for this project.  They helped each other make their houses and shared their decorations and candy.  In talking to the other adult helping him they had apparently become good friends and played together all the time when it was something like this.

I believe so far I'm getting a passing mark, I just have to keep it up.

In politics if one side would look at the others strong points rather than their weakness and visa versa they would find that they had a lot more in common than they believed.   Unfortunately in Thailand everyone wants the whole cookie instead of breaking it and sharing it around.  This leads to constant confrontation and bickering over trivial matters.  If both the opposition and the coalition would just take a step back they would see where the problems arise, not just with themselves, and they could correct it.  After all the Army has been elected by no one but themselves, so why are they constantly trying to run the show.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

FSRN in Crisis

Our News feed, Free Speech Radio News, is in a crisis position financially.

Starting Tuesday, December 7, FSRN has had to pare down its newscast to a bare bones staff. If they don't raise the needed funds by Monday, December 20, that will be their last day on the air. 

This will leave Ricefield Radio without a proper news feed for our listeners.   FSRN has been supplying their news feed free of charge to us for the past 2 years.  We feel that it is a service worth keeping on the air.  If you can, please visit their website and make a donation, no matter how small.

On behalf of Ricefield radio and FSRN we thank you.

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 5:17 AM   0 Comments Links to this post