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AsiaGlobal Voices

Trending Opinions From Across the Region

AsiaGlobal Voices is a curated feed of summaries of opinion articles, columns and editorials published in local languages in media from across Asia.

The publication of AsiaGlobal Voices summaries does not indicate any endorsement by the Asia Global Institute or AsiaGlobal Online of the opinions expressed in them.
Should Taxpayers Bail Out Thai Airways Again?
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Should Taxpayers Bail Out Thai Airways Again?

Pravit Rojanaphruk, Senior Staff Writer, in Khaosod News (May 15, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes

Should Taxpayers Bail Out Thai Airways Again?

The public is debating whether to rescue Thai Airways from its 200 billion-baht (US$6.2 billion) debt or let it go bust. At its peak, the 60-year-old airline was the pride of the nation. But today, Thai Airways is seen as a source of national embarrassment and never-ending sinkhole of taxpayer money. Rumors have it that the airline is ready to file for bankruptcy.

Should taxpayers shoulder the burden? This is not a question of pride or no pride, but how the government should spend our money at the time Thailand is facing grave economic prospects due to the coronavirus.

Not every Thai takes pride in Thai Airways because its prohibitive prices led some to view the airline as more of the pride of the middle class and the elite. It’s an airline on which politicians and those in power feed, while ordinary people are left to clean up the mess. Perhaps the only aspect for which it can now truly be called a national carrier is that all of us taxpayers will likely have to reach into our pockets to cover the losses incurred by the airline.

Thai Airways is a shadow of its past glories. It failed to be competitive now that the aviation sector is full of low-cost rivals. Its management is bloated and ineffective, its business model a failure.

Even if one says that the government should bail out Thai Airways, there is no guarantee how long it will take before the airline comes back begging for more taxpayers’ money. Any attempt to bail out the airline must be sound, transparent and accountable to the public. Thai Airways must bite the bullet and reform. We cannot keep paying for it as long as they can’t give us a credible solution to its woes.


Lock Down the Country but Don’t Let the Economy Collapse
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Lock Down the Country but Don’t Let the Economy Collapse

Watana Muangsook, politician and former government minister, in Siam Rath (March 27, 2020)

Summary by Tom Tuohy (Photo credit: Mx. Granger)

Lock Down the Country but Don’t Let the Economy Collapse

A lockdown of the country would stop almost all economic activity and increase the social distance between citizens. This will reduce the spread of the coronavirus. It would be appropriate to do this when people do not yet have sufficient awareness of Covid-19 and know how to defend themselves against the disease.

While such a measure may have a positive effect on disease prevention and control, it will have a negative impact on the country’s economy, which might collapse if the strategy is not properly pursued. We can control the disease and keep the economy going if the crisis ends within six months to even a year. But if we let our economy collapse, it will take more than 10 years to recover – and more people will starve than die of Covid-19.

So the government must provide protective equipment for medical personal and develop treatments for the disease. It should prevent panic buying of essential goods that might cause a rise in prices. There should be greater awareness that older people are more vulnerable and could require special care if they fall ill. Once these measures are taken, then the government can relax the social distancing rules to get economic activities going again.

Do not close the country beyond the point that we wreck the economy – or we may see Thais committing suicide to escape economic hardship, poverty and disease as some had done even before Covid-19 arrived. 


The Perils of Celebrities on Social Media
Monday, March 9, 2020
The Perils of Celebrities on Social Media

Watchchiranon Thongthep, reporter, on BBC News Thai (March 1, 2020)

Summary by Tom Tuohy

The Perils of Celebrities on Social Media

On February 22, the Student Union of Thailand organized a brief rally at Thammasat University to protest the Constitutional Court’s decision to dissolve the Future Forward Party (FFP), or Phak Anakhot Mai. FFP’s legislators had been stripped of their status and its executive committee members banned from politics for ten years. Thai social media has since been abuzz.

Thai-Swedish model Maria Poonlertlap said she was proud of Thai students for protesting but admitted to being concerned about tweeting this and thought carefully before doing so. “As we are among the influencers, we should ask what an influencer's role is if we do not share our opinions or values with our followers or those who look up to us. I feel that it's time to say something,” she said, emphasizing that expressing opinions is natural in a democratic society.

In the past, celebrities putting forward their views have attracted strong criticism from the public, negatively affecting the actors or singers concerned. Many such public figures have had to apologize or refrain from making comments.

In an interview, Sunny Suwanmethanon, a Thai actor of French-Singaporean extraction, questioned the organizers behind the protest. "If anyone is to blame, it must be those who incited it because nobody thinks anyone is wrong, yet they were encouraged by others to do this, which they didn't think was wrong. Where will it end?”

Thai-American TV host Winyu Wongsurawat, known as John Winyu, posted on Twitter afterwards: "I don’t want to offend anyone, but has any student been incited to come out?" Since then, Sunny has faced a backlash, with the hashtag “#Sunny is sweet?” trending and a public campaign calling on people to stop following the actor's Instagram account.


Questions to Consider after the Deadly Korat Shooting
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Questions to Consider after the Deadly Korat Shooting

Prapun Bunpan, columnist, in Matichon (February 10, 2020)

Summary by Tom Tuohy (Photo credit: Youkonton / Shutterstock.com)

Questions to Consider after the Deadly Korat Shooting

The Buddhist festival on February 8 should have been a peaceful holiday, but a shocking event took place at Nakhon Ratchasima, where over 18 hours an army soldier killed 29 people and injured 58 others before he was shot dead.

There are interesting points about the Korat shooting to consider. First, it is easy jump to the conclusion that the tragedy happened because of the personal frustrations of one person. But it is undeniable that the attacker was a military man who murdered people using army weapons, bought with taxpayers’ money. Unfortunately, the killer cannot be questioned.

Second, how can the army guarantee the following: high standards for the storage and disarming of weapons, the mental health of young people, and that such an incident – a soldier with heavy weapons killing innocent people in public areas – will not happen again.

Third, while the Lopburi robbery in January, which resulted in the deaths of three people, and the Korat shooting may differ in many details, one common element is they both happened in large department stores. Shopping centers are public areas that support people’s way of life in a modern society as temples and markets did in the past. They are full of people and enclosed spaces, and can be so complex that when serious crimes occur, it can be difficult for those inside to escape or for emergency responders to enter.

For many years, the government has attached great importance to internal security by expanding the military’s Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC). But what are the real "dangers to internal security"? Could there be a particularly catastrophic incident in the community perpetrated by those who possess military weapons? Even if unlikely, it is still another "near danger" that the government must be aware of and find ways to prevent.


Dust in your Eyes
Monday, January 20, 2020
Dust in your Eyes

Summary by Tom Tuohy

Dust in your Eyes

For two years, Thai people have become familiar with the term “PM 2.5”, with private companies producing masks with that grade of air filter to reduce dust levels. In early 2019, the pollution problem was big news for several days and Thailand ranked high globally for its poor air. In October, 2019, the government made the issue a national priority, but the problem has returned. 

Reports suggest that 72.5 percent of the dust comes from cars and the rest from open burning and heavy industry, including the construction of new train lines. The low-pressure weather pattern over the Bangkok metropolitan area can trap the dust under a canopy.

The government has asked citizens to use cars that meet higher emission standards and introduced legislation to prohibit bus engines from belching black smoke. These measures need to be monitored.

Citizens, academics and the media criticized the government because, while the problem has been around for two years, it has offered no measures to improve people’s daily lives. This criticism should not be seen as a negative attack on the government and civil servants.

If the government insists that they are trying to solve this problem, then they must be serious about finding a solution. They must review the measures taken and determine what needs to be improved. They should not let the dust get into their eyes so they cannot do the right thing.


Reducing Plastic Waste for Future Generations
Sunday, January 12, 2020
Reducing Plastic Waste for Future Generations

Summary by Tom Tuohy

Reducing Plastic Waste for Future Generations

January 1, 2020, was D-Day, with a ban on single-use plastic bags coming into force. The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment made agreements with 90 department stores, shopping centers, supermarkets and convenience stores not to give out plastic bags.

This is a good start and people are now aware of the new measures and are carrying around reusable bags or know that they would have to pay for them if vendors make them available. While the ban has caused some dissatisfaction, this is not a surprise. Stores have publicized it for some time.

Marine expert Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a professor of fisheries at Kasetsart University, says that the management of disposable plastic marine waste got worse in 2019 and hundreds of rare sea creatures were injured or killed from consuming garbage and waste. Thai beaches are full of plastic, and volunteers often need a shovel to dig it out from the seafloor. This affects the ecosystem because the material splits into micro-plastics, eventually entering the food chain.

The government’s plan has three steps: Campaign – Agreement – Regulation. They have been campaigning for 20 years but must speed up the process of plastic waste management in the sea, or face trade barriers, tax increases, and bans on Thai products. Failure to address the problem may also affect beach travel and the international image of Thailand.

The ministry will initiate the third step this year by issuing regulations to upgrade Thailand's management of plastic waste to catch up with the 127 countries that already have regulations managing plastic waste. We must, therefore, increase awareness and cooperation among Thais to look at the overall benefits: a better quality of life and a cleaner environment to safeguard the future of our children.