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PAGE 1 of 83
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Opinion and Analysis [TEXT]
No.
Topic & Description
Published
1 .
Sleepwalking to collapse
The WTO's Hong Kong Ministerial Conference changed practically nothing. The result was meagre at best; and the tough decisions on market access have been postponed to 2006. Why is the Doha Round sleepwalking closer to collapse? We think a major fault line is this round's vaunted ''development dimension''. NGOs and most developing nations interpret it to mean one-sided liberalisation _ the North should open its markets while the South is exempted from further liberalisation and rules commitments and receives more aid.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
2 Jan 2006
2 .
Think beyond a numbers game
There are many ways of enjoying the New Year festivities, not all of which involve alcohol. Some, though, chose to drink 2006 in without moderation and are still wondering if the frenzied partying justified the monumental hangover. Then there were others who ignored the warnings because they thought nothing bad could happen to them. Instead they celebrated wildly and then tried to drive themselves home. These selfish individuals should feel lucky if they are at home today or in a jail cell or hospital and able to read this because it means they didn't suffer an agonising death in a heap of twisted metal.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
2 Jan 2006
3 .
In a mad rush
Re: Anita Matta's (Postbag, Dec 29) comments on the long wait for buses. I would like to add my comments about the green mini-bus drivers. These drivers are always in a rush, not stopping to pick up passengers, speeding, tailgating, braking fast and accelerating with the bus full of standing passengers. It seems this bus company does not supervise its employees; they smoke on the bus, whistle or yell at girls walking by, and don't come to a full stop to discharge or pick up elderly passengers. I ride on bus number 75, I wonder if this happens on other bus lines?

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
31 Dec 2005
4 .
Need help? Log into your computer and call India
New Delhi _ Every night thousands of young Indians sit in front of computers, with their headphones on, to answer calls of American and British customers on a range of subjects _ help in defrosting their fridges to managing their stocks. They all speak in American and British accents, and even have pseudo Western names. Currently this industry employs close to 350,000 men and women. The number is projected to grow to one million in another three years. But, of late, this cosy industry is facing new challenges.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
31 Dec 2005
5 .
A peaceful year, even if it did not seem so
First, the good news. In October, a comprehensive three-year study led by Andrew Mack, former director of the Strategic Planning Unit in the office of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, concluded that there have been major declines in armed conflicts, genocides, human rights abuses, military coups and international crises worldwide. The number of armed conflicts dropped 4% since 1992, and large conflicts, with more than 1,000 battle-deaths per year, fell by 80%. The international media by their very nature will always offer us an image of global chaos, but in fact the Americas, Europe and Asia were almost entirely at peace during 2005 _ Colombia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Nepal and the southern Philippines being the major exceptions. The Middle East was also at peace, except for the American war in Iraq, and even sub-Saharan Africa saw some major improvements during the year.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
31 Dec 2005
6 .
On the threshold of another year
The past year may go down as the classic mixed bag of news. On the one hand, terrorist attacks got nastier at home and abroad as extremists attacked Muslim homelands, repeated the Bali suicide attacks and killed on a daily basis in the South. The Iraq war continued, there were ugly race riots in France and Australia. The year 2005 is likely to be remembered for a trio of dreadful natural disasters, as the tsunami losses became clear and storms including Hurricane Katrina struck America, leaving colourful New Orleans shattered. The third calamity, an appallingly deadly earthquake centred in Pakistan, killed tens of thousands and created the greatest refugee crisis since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan of 1979. Burma remained enslaved by a military junta that advanced from merely brutal to suspiciously neurotic with an unannounced move to a new capital far from the sea, the neighbours and the vast majority of its people.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
31 Dec 2005
7 .
PM tries to keep factions happy
Thai Rath Comment _ 2005 has been an eventful and exciting year for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his ruling Thai Rak Thai party (TRT). With the crisis in the deep South still unsolved, the prime minister has had to cope with rising oil prices that threaten to stunt economic growth this year.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
27 Dec 2005
8 .
A spot of savagery
Not only did members of the public think the behaviour barbaric. Animals did too, as our cartoonist suggests. That was the use of force, allegedly by aides of an assistant minister, to try and silence critics of the Chiang Mai Night Safari. Plodprasob Suraswadi, the assistant to the minister of natural resources and environment, is in charge of the project due to open officially on New Year's Day. The critics, representing community rights and wildlife conservationist groups, had been invited to discuss Kenya's decision to stop sending wild animals to the night zoo. Mr Plodprasob led the side in favour of the zoo in the debate hosted by Thueng Look Thueng Khon, the popular television talk show.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
27 Dec 2005
9 .
A faith that frowns on personal interpretation
The dominance of conservative Islam in the Middle East reflects a fundamental reality of Muslim society. But this conservatism should not be mistaken for violent radicalism, as America, unfortunately, has done. While conservatism may claim a majority of the Arab street (and the Persian street), this does not mean that violence and terrorism will inevitably rule the region. A recent study published in Damascus by the Centre of Islamic Studies pointed out that conservatives make up about 80% of the population of the Middle East's Islamic societies.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
27 Dec 2005
10 .
New ventures by Burma gangs
The Burmese dictatorship has gained a spot of respect during the past two years because the country has given up its place as the world's No 1 grower and supplier of opium. But the applause is a little premature. It turns out the Burmese drug gangs, whose relations with the military junta of late have been largely friendly, have simply veered into a new, improved form of the drug trade. They have updated heroin trafficking with modern market methods, and entered the international market for so-called nightclub drugs. These are basically more colourful and expensive versions of the methamphetamines the gangs have peddled to Thai youths for years. Heroin remains king in the Golden Triangle. This does not mean the campaign to cut opium farming has entirely failed. As the United Nations has been reporting for three years, the opium acreage in Burma has fallen consistently. But it turns out enthusiastic officials should have become suspicious when the leaders of the drug gangs _ United Wa State Army leaders Pau Yu Chang and Wei Hsueh-kang, for example _ supported the opium cutback. The Wa-led gangs now control much smaller opium fields. Instead of trying to control vast areas with large armies and huge stockpiles, the heroin merchants now have access to just enough opium to make the heroin for their largely foreign orders. Use of pure opium has almost ended, and the new markets are for stronger and flashier drugs to the yuppie and night-club set outside the drug-producing region. Heroin seizures in recent months in Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong have been bound for Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The actual heroin traffickers were Chinese, members of triads with whom the Burmese gangs have long forged close business relations. Domestic drug trafficking has virtually stopped within Burma. But production, smuggling and sale of drugs in countries outside Burma is another matter.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
27 Dec 2005
11 .
Thais looked past their own losses
I survived the tsunami in Khao Lak although tragically I lost my wife, Samantha, and my baby daughter Ruby Rose. I will never forget the kindness of the Thai people who reached out and helped me in their time of greatest need.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
26 Dec 2005
12 .
PM should not aggravate alienation
Matichon editorial _ Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's response to the southern flood crisis is rather disappointing. There is a double standard in the way he reacts to natural disasters in the country. The prime minister immediately flew to Chiang Mai when a big flood hit his hometown some months ago. He was seen directing anti-flood operations and distributing relief aid to flood victims. However, he did not seem so interested when the South was hit by devastating floods last week. People wonder if he still feels slighted by the southerners who did not vote for his Thai Rak Thai party in the last general election.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
26 Dec 2005
13 .
Smear campaign poorly timed
A year ago today, some 5,000 Thais and foreign tourists perished when a deadly tsunami struck the Andaman coast in southern Thailand. Some 2,900 others are still unaccounted for. Elsewhere, in Aceh and Sri Lanka, several towns were completely wiped off the face of the earth by the force of the giant waves, leaving more than 200,000 dead.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
26 Dec 2005
14 .
Katrina coverage botched from beginning to end
The Hurricane Katrina story is getting one last top-stories-of-2005 run before falling completely and finally off the news pages. But before that, readers and viewers should learn how badly they were manipulated and misled by the media during and immediately after this hurricane. While Katrina and the storm of anti-media criticism will slowly tip off the awareness horizon, it appears the hurricane caused more damage than first realised _ not to devastated New Orleans, but to the reputation of the media.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
26 Dec 2005
15 .
Democracy knocks at Bhutan's door
New Delhi _ The last bastion of absolute monarchy in South Asia is set to crumble. The sudden announcement of the king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, that he will abdicate his throne and install an elected parliament in 2008 has caught the Himalayan kingdom by surprise. The king has also decided to enthrone his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, as the fifth Druk King before 2008. Although the announcement may appear to be sudden, the king had actually set in motion the process of introducing democracy in 1998 when he handed over executive powers to a council of ministers elected by the people. He even empowered the national assembly to remove the monarch through a vote of no-confidence. The national constitution committee, which started drafting the constitution in 2001, has presented a draft to the cabinet and public consultation is currently under way. A copy of the draft has been sent to every citizen. Its implementation will usher in a two-party democratic system in 2008.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
26 Dec 2005
16 .
Looking back at a tragedy
A year after the worst natural disaster in Thai history, the country and many foreign guests are pausing today to remember the tsunami and its aftermath. Few anniversaries in this country will be as sad. The terrible waves of Boxing Day 2004 hit southern Thailand but affected the world. Among the dead and missing were Thais and guests from near and far. It is still difficult to confront the disaster. Yet even as the victims are remembered at memorial services today in the South and around the world, Thailand also can be proud of its role in the hours and in the year since the tsunami rolled over the Andaman beaches.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
26 Dec 2005
17 .
MPs forced to toe party line
Matichon Editorial _ Those who are 50 or older may remember how the country fared under the old politics of intra-party squabbling and lobbying for plum cabinet posts. Political instability was blamed on the presence of several small and medium-sized parties and independent MPs who were willing to side with any of them in return for financial or other rewards. The writers of the present Constitution wanted to change that by barring individuals without party membership from contesting national elections.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
20 Dec 2005
18 .
Not all is as it may seem
Just over 30 years ago, expatriates from the West were amazed about the Japanese presence in everyday life in Thailand. ''Turn on your radio, it's Japanese. Your television? The same. The car, table ware, textiles, cosmetics. All Japanese,'' observed a European correspondent. None of this has gone away. On the contrary, the Japanese influence seems to have spread wider and deeper, into high fashion, entertainment, animation and books.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
20 Dec 2005
19 .
Radical change in politics of trade
Hong Kong _ The World Trade Organisation's latest deal announced Sunday is only a small step forward in the drive to tear down global trade barriers _ but it offers big insights into the rapidly changing world of international trade. WTO ministers agreed after six days of gruelling negotiations to eliminate costly farm export subsidies by 2013 and to offer special measures to help poorer nations, including African cotton producers.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
20 Dec 2005
20 .
Anocha's case is a N Korean test
The suspected abduction of a Chiang Mai woman in 1978 has once again provided to Thais proof, if any were needed, that North Korea's sordid past must raise doubts about its present actions and intentions. Testimony continues to accumulate, from neighbours as well as Thailand, that the most dangerous nation in Asia was involved in terrible and murderous crimes. North Korea must address such allegations seriously, answer questions competently and work to clear away the undoubted crimes of the past. The fate of Thai citizen Anocha Panjoy is a serious matter. The facts of Ms Anocha's case are sparse. On May 21, 1978, she disappeared from her job and residence in Macau, then a Portuguese colony. Her Thai co-workers and her family, helped by authorities in Macau and elsewhere, heard stories from vague witnesses that she was physically seized and taken away. And that was the dead end of the story until last month, when the amnestied US Army deserter Charles Jenkins told a Japanese reporter he had seen Ms Anocha in Pyongyang. In fact, he said she was ''married'' to another US deserter, Mr Jenkins' friend. Mr Jenkins lived in North Korea for close to 50 years, is married to a Japanese abduction victim, and has much knowledge of the subject.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
20 Dec 2005
21 .
People crucial to education reform plan
Daily News editorial _ Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra wants to modernise Thailand by applying foreign technology to all aspects of educational development. The Education Ministry has proposed an eight-point strategy that includes introducing e-learning, reforming formal and vocational education, improving academic standards in universities, promoting life-long learning and developing sports facilities and science parks. In addition, the ministry wants to see greater academic exchange between Thai and foreign schools. One million Thai students will take part in a competition for academic excellence annually and 10,000 best and brightest students will be chosen. It is hoped the winners and their works will stimulate other students to strive for academic excellence.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
19 Dec 2005
22 .
Applying treatment to region's chronic disease
There has been a flurry of welcomed activity surrounding Burma at the recent Asean summit in Kuala Lumpur. For the first time, Asean countries broke with their traditional non-interference policy and aired their concerns with Burma's slow progress toward democracy and the continued detention of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi. Burma's Prime Minister Soe Win reportedly agreed to allow an Asean envoy to visit Burma in early January and might even allow a meeting with democratic leader Mrs Suu Kyi to hose down ever mounting international concern.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
19 Dec 2005
23 .
Is non-interference a sacred cow?
Kuala Lumpur _ To build a community, Asean needs to set rules and regulations and grow some teeth. But most observers and one-time associates with the group caution that no-one should expect Asean to abandon the principle of non-interference. Under the Bangkok Declaration of Aug 8, 1967 that set up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the five founding members express a collective will to promote regional cooperation in the spirit of equality and friendship. They also pledge to ensure stability and security from external interference and to preserve national identities.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
19 Dec 2005
24 .
Modest success, but no smash hit
There is a new summit in the neighbourhood, which is a lot like saying there is good news, and there is bad news. The newest set of initials is EAS, which stands for East Asia Summit, and which also indicates the participants couldn't think of an actual goal, beyond an annual meeting. EAS is an offshoot of the annual, December Asean summit for the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In addition to all Asean members, the EAS includes the big three of East Asia _ China, Japan, South Korea _ plus India which isn't in East Asia, plus Australia and New Zealand which some argue are not in Asia. It does not include the biggest East Asian nation, Russia, nor the only stabilising Pacific force, the United States. So why bother?

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
19 Dec 2005
25 .
Fault likely lies with roofer
A Dec 16 article in the Bangkok Post about a leaky roof at the new airport mentioned Bituthene 6000 was used to seal the roof and this is a surprise. Bituthene, a waterproofing self-adhesive membrane, is an underground structure waterproofing membrane and not a roofing membrane. It can be used on flat structural decks provided it is covered with a concrete topping or similar. This is all clearly stated in the manufacturer's literature.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
19 Dec 2005
26 .
Action on Burma
I am grateful for the insights of Harn Yawnghwe on Burma (Bangkok Post, Dec 3). Clearly the junta have moved the seat of government to a remote location in order to render it less exposed in any kind of uprising, as much as any invasion. And Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's continued incarceration removes from the scene any potential figurehead for some viable alternative government.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
6 Dec 2005
27 .
Back to the wall, Thaksin finally sees the writing
Thai Rath Comment _ In a rare departure from his combative behaviour, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra last week talked about the necessity of open dialogue with the people and critics who do not agree with him. ''Democracy may sometimes be disorderly. We should not be too rigid because that may be seen as undemocratic,'' said Mr Thaksin during a meeting with Government House reporters.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
6 Dec 2005
28 .
Winners are sometimes the losers
No matter what the politicians and salesmen say, there is no such a thing as a win-win situation. If somebody wins, somebody else has to lose. The winner takes all: The prize, the glory, the recognition of skill. The ideal loser may bow to the victor, and admit to being a lesser player, but no one likes being defeated. But losing is not a permanent condition, just as winning isn't. This goes for business, politics, as well as for sports. The trick is to keep trying again and again, honing skills by learning from the competition. Sadly, the 23rd SEA Games that ended in the Philippines yesterday does not seem to have been a learning experience or a friendship promoter.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
6 Dec 2005
29 .
UN hears case against Burma
The decision by the United Nations Security Council to attend a formal briefing on Burma is by far the biggest step the world body ever has taken against the string of military juntas which have run Burma for 43 years. The UN is still obviously far from taking direct action as it did in places like Afghanistan and Cambodia. But the decision puts Burma on notice that the threshold for tolerating dictators is shrinking. The UN bureaucracy already favours a regime change in Burma. Now the vital Security Council has served notice the generals may be on borrowed time. The case against the regime is long, and clear. What began in 1962 as an indefensible move against freedom and democracy has metamorphosed into an often vicious, entirely arbitrary regime, governing a voiceless population. Military rule has impoverished the country, enriched the generals and established a drug-dependent, alternate-universe economy where honest businessmen suffer and drug traffickers are honoured. Speaking of democracy means punishment, working for democracy is actionable and leading a democracy movement brings imprisonment. The Internet is something the outside world enjoys, and TV news means reading officially censored bulletins, generally about glorious agricultural projects.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
6 Dec 2005
30 .
Constitutional amendments could clear air
Baan Muang editorial _ The government should push for constitutional amendments to break the deadlocks that are crippling the work of some independent organisations. Riding the crest of a wave of popularity that returned his Thai Rak Thai party to government in the Feb 6 general election, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra now finds himself in the midst of contentious issues.

Category : TEXT / Opinion and Analysis
5 Dec 2005
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