During my time in Thailand, I collected various newspaper articles from both The
Bangkok Post and The Nation. These articles reflect my various interests in health care in
Thailand, state health policies and programs, available health information, issues of social
injustice and inequality, issues in development. I have listed the day in which the article
was published, the title, segments from the article, as well as thoughts and questions
inspired by the content of the article.
October 12, 2006
The Bangkok Post
“City could see worst flood since „95”
- This article discussed the flooding north of the Bangkok Metropolitan area
(BMA), and how farmers were allowing their field to be flooded to save the
BMA. I thought this illustrated how Bangkok is the heart and center of Thailand.
Somehow saying this sounds strange to me, because I see the culture of a nation
as the practices and habits of the villages and the in between the cities.
“Irrigation Dept wants to designate water retention areas”
- The Royal Thai Government is working out a compensation for farmers who have
sacrificed their paddy fields for use as water retention areas in the latest plan to
spare Bangkok from a massive run-off from the north. The rice fields, or not
retention areas, will help slow and reduce the floods reaching downstream
Bangkok. Some farmers have expressed willingness to follow suit and let their
fields be used to absorb the water. Farmers and local politicians disagreed about
some water catchments ideas; most do not believe it will present a permanent
solution to flooding.
- The tone of this article makes it sound like the North is the problem, and this
reflects Thai society‟s power structure that the Bangkok Metropolitan Area and its
problems should concern everyone. One professor put it like this—when
Bangkok sneezes, the whole nation gets a cold. I think his comment really rings
true. I question whether these farmers really wanted to flood their fields, I am
sure not, but the power of the nationalism and greater good. I am sure this
happens every few years, and they allow their fields to be flooded knowing they
are never going to be compensated for their losses, when they are eking out a
meager profit already.
- While reading this article, I was also reminded of the large control the
government has over the smallest, usually most insignificant areas.
- This article reflects on the changes in the hospitality industry in Bangkok in the
last fifty years. Interestingly, the author mostly discusses that there were few
“proper accommodations” or “proper place to stay”. According to the author,
fifty years ago, you could count the hotels. The only hotels then catered to
European culture. “Guests at the Oriental are privy to spectacular views of long-
tailed boats, barges, ferries, and temples. The hotel‟s architecture pretty much
reflects its early history and evolution into a world-class hotel”. The
housekeeping at the Oriental are training by hospital nurses. “Four decades ago
American and European tourists knew little about Thailand”. Travelers came to
Thailand for sheer adventure… In those days, he recalled, the staff were
genuinely eager to serve overseas guests because they wanted to learn about
foreign cultures, but information technology has changed all that. Today they do
it because it is required of them”. The Oriental was the hub of European culture.
Over the years hotel uniforms have changed and now the emphasis is one dresses
made from “local fabrics, a statement of its Thai heritage”.
- What curious wording this author and those he interviews uses! The staff “eager”
to serve? I think the author missed the idea of monetary motivation and cultural
perceptions of white and wealth. I am also curious exactly how the author sees
that information and technology has changed the staff‟s eagerness to serve?
- Furthermore, the views of the Oriental is indicative of what Thailand packages as
tourism or authenticity—here, industry is a form of tourism, barges and ferries
represent development, whereas long-tail boats and temples draw on the authentic
cultural traditions of the Thai people. Also the dresses made from local fabrics
are a play on tradition and exoticism.
“Call for truly Thai charter”
- Thailand needs to become a true democracy, avoid ultra-nationalism, and regulate
political capitalism according to this article. “Thailand‟s political development
had taken the wrong turn after each past crisis by haphazardly borrowing from
western theories”. “This time the charter drafters must have the courage to think
about the ways to promote the people‟ power that is concordant with Thai culture
and this charter should be called a constitution, Thai-wisdom version.
Substantive democracy that demands honesty, justice, people‟s rights, and well-
being in order to be sustainable”. The article states that in order to achieve the
goal, the private sector should have a role to play, though increased taxation, to
promote independent check and balance mechanisms in which civil society and
independent media play important roles. The article goes on to say: “the
economic and social equity for rural people as a way to resolve urban-rural
conflicts that had been perpetuated by the Thai-Rak-Thai led government”. The
government has been urged to achieve equilibrium between economic growth and
people‟s well-being, particularly that of the rural sector which has been bypassed
by past economic policies”. Thailand needs “a globalized economy and
sufficiency economy between political and social power”. Much blame goes to
“the Thaksin government for destroying the balance by dominating the mass
media and suppressing social development organizations”.
- This academic quoted in this article admits that Thailand has borrowed from the
ideas of the west. I see that many things could have been borrowed from the
West, but they also could be ideas indigenous to Thailand. It is difficult to know.
- This article briefly acknowledges the urban-rural divide and disinterment between
the two. There are many inequalities in both the social, economic, and political
structure in Thailand, and reflects the powerlessness of the rural areas. The
political, social, and economic decision-making comes from the Bangkok, which
officially would be considered the capital for all three systems.
- How is it that the Thaksin government is so popular in the rural regions? He also
has many supporters in Chiang Mai (my family). How is it that he is so
unpopular and blamed for so much? How does one make sense of all the
- What exactly were Thaksin‟s social and economic programs in the rural areas?
What were their intended results?
- Thaksin‟s populist policies benefited not only the poor and rural people but also
officials in every state organization. This article looks at the historical structural
changes in Thailand.
- So the problem is that Thaksin targeted those with the most power and those with
the least amount of power, and everyone in the middle became upset?
“Government must focus on betterment of people” (Opinion Page)
- This editorial states that the Thai government needs to focus on greater social
security for the people of Thailand. There are other issues such as economic and
foreign political needs, international trade agreements and global financial
markets, intellectual elite of Thailand stands, and free global trade and exchange
- “It is wrong to propagate a system that tries to change the people just to fit into
the market plan of ever-hungry productivity”.
- “The ongoing exploitation of the national economy by introducing fast-growing
consumer markets that are based on debt will end in disaster. The propagated
benefits of commercial development, such as promises of social security through
life insurance and government pension funds that secure the elderly, do not work
over time, as we can see in countries such as Germany or England, where the
social systems are successively cut back and the public assets are sold off to
finance the household deficient”.
- “I wish that the intellectual elite of Thailand stands together as one unit working
towards a solution that combines the old values that are the origin of the world
famous Thai smile, and the selective and constructive use of the overwhelming
new temptations presented in the delusion of free global trade and the exchange of
- I want to learn more about the structures and forces of global influence currently
as well as historically. I find myself collecting articles that comment on past
relationships and connections with Europe and the United States. These articles
and themes seem to be everywhere—economics, politics, media and
entertainment—the connections permeate life in Thailand.
- Give concrete examples of this.
- This cartoon depicts the plight of the rural people crying out for help.
“City dwellers must chip in”
- “The provisions of food, medicine, drinking water, and other necessities to the
victims will mitigate their suffering”.
- “In the end, more farmland may have to be sacrificed if Bangkok is to be spared
- “Deforestation must be addressed in earnest and extensive reforestation should be
implemented so that excess rainwater can be absorbed and thus mitigate the
problem of flooding”. All of this is done “at the expense of the suffering of the
- “In light of the current flooding, which has caused serious suffering to our fellow-
Thais in the provinces surrounding Bangkok, Bangkokians should count
themselves lucky and privileged for all the efforts undertaken by the government
to protect the city from the threatening flood, even at the expense of the suffering
of the rural people.”
- It seems like everything is done for Bangkok, but what is Bangkok doing for
- From these articles, there sounds like there is a lot of dissentient between the rural
and urban areas, well the rural and Bangkok.
“Change at the top for NSC, drug bureau”
- Bureaucrats try to make Thailand safer.
“Government to ban alcohol advertisements in all media”
- The Thai government will impose a round-the-clock ban on alcohol advertisement
in the media. There is a draft and it will soon be announced on day it will be go
into effect. In addition, the government is unwilling to negotiate the conditions of
the terms. This ban is a part of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, and
includes both alcohol products and their logos.
- The article also mentioned that young people in Thailand consume an average of
8.5 liters of alcoholic drinks each per year. “In Thailand poverty is often a result
of heavy drinking, with 20% of the poorest families spending an estimated 88
baht per month on liquor”.
- Thai government‟s indirect way to ease the burden of poverty.
- What are the other programs under the Thai Health Promotion Foundation?
- Those who will be most effected by this ban will be the poorest. The beer girls
who are trying to make money by selling beer and their body.
- What was the government‟s motivation behind this ban?
- More can be said on poverty and inequality-- what is the article actually saying?
“Wijit: moral integrity first, knowledge next”
- According to the Social Development and Human Security and Culture Ministry
“courses on integrity, solidarity, peaceful approaches to problem-solving and the
sufficiency economy will be incorporated into all levels of the national
- What exactly does the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and
“Schools to teach very young about drugs and sex”
- This article pertains to India, and announces that India will teach children as
young as five years old about sexual health and drugs, and dangers they face in a
changing society. “Topics related to sexual changes at puberty, substances abuse,
myths concerning the reproductive growth of a child and sexually transmitted
diseases will be part of the curriculum”.
- This amazes me that India, of all countries, thinks that the future health of its
nation is such trouble that they are going to teach five year olds about sexual
health and drugs.
- I am curious how available this information will be, also who will teach these
- I have absolutely no idea what this says in Thai unfortunately. However, I think
the image says enough.
- The power of biomedicine and its pharmaceuticals are evident in this
advertisement, which plays on the love of family and elders in Thailand. The
advertisement seems to say, “If you want your elder and important family
members to live, choose the medicine that will save them-- Pfizer.” The
advertisement is very dramatic. The son looking over the father (maybe), hoping
with a concerned look that the medicine will work.
- What does this say about medicine in Thailand?
- Biomedical pharmaceuticals are present and have the ability to play on people‟s
emotions. They seem to say, “Do you want to take the chance on anything else
with your loved one‟s life?” Do you really want to play with their life by using
any other medicine or brand?
“City could see worst flood since „95”
- I thought this was an interesting article and I appreciated how it talked about the
public health endeavors, the medicine that this being distributed. This article also
talked about the „disposable toilets‟, which were an attempt to prevent the spread
of infectious diseases. It is a concern because most infectious diseases are born
out of stagnant water.
“Hurting, Haunting, Hoping”
- This article was interesting to me because it illustrates how an event affects the
history of a nation. The Tammasat University massacre lives on in the minds of
the world and in the hearts of people in Thailand.
- There is an MTV generation in Thailand, and throughout Southeast Asia. From
Singapore video DJ's host to an English-speaking audience with a British or
American/Australian accent. The styles portray Japanese influence, but the music
is mostly American and Thai popular artists.
- The article announces that there will be two music festivals during the month of
October. The „Melody of Life‟ music festival will be at Central World (although
the article does not say it, I think that the money to build Central World was
probably donated by Central Department Store.)
October 13, 2006
The Bangkok Post
- The article begins with “[living] in Bangkok, the world‟s most famous and
perhaps most packed spa hub, it is very easy to find a spa”. “Ayurvedic principles
and botanical products combine to make this spa a welcome refuge for
- The spa is in a “sophisticatedly decorated suite with passing sky trains as a
backdrop”. Occupying a 700-square-meter space, Vareena has seven nicely-
decorated treatment rooms and a spacious luxury suite equipped with a private
steam room, plunge pool and Jacuzzi as well as a sky view lounging area. There
is also a hydrotherapy room and a steam room that can handle six guests”
- “The spa uses a spa product line from USA called Sundari, which is a collection
of Indian ayurvedic-inspired luxury skincare formulated to meet the needs of
contemporary women. Sundari products are claimed to contain the purest
botanicals and utilize the powerful regenerative properties of plants, herbs, roots,
and floral extracts, many of which originated in the Himalayan region. The
essential oils used in all products are 100 percent natural, therapeutic grade, and
harvested with precision.”
- Sundari Abhayanga Massage (3,000 baht) is Vareena‟s signature program. “The
treatment, inspired by traditional ayurvedic massage, uses oil to anoint the body
with the purpose of bringing equilibrium to the body by harmonizing and
stabilizing the doshas (the metabolic principles that connect the mind, body, and
- “wooden bucket”
- The author of the article goes on the bash the experience by saying that the
massage experience was just mediocre and the products were “marvelous” with
“an intricate name”.
- This article illustrates the popularity of spas in Thailand with both Thai people
- I wonder if spas were a concept brought by foreigners or if it was “indigenous” to
Thailand. I asked my friend Pia and she said that Thai people use these spas and
believe in benefits. She didn‟t really answer my questions. From her response,
more questions arise in my mind-- Do Thai people use these spas as status
symbols? Because foreigners like them? What are the benefits? Why do Thai
people believe in them?
- I find it difficult to recognize what is “Thai” and what is a service industry that
been transferred to Thailand as part of the tourism industry to make money?
Under the Medicine column: “Curbing cholesterol” and “Psoriasis raises heart risk”.
One is from New York and the other from Chicago.
- “Curbing cholesterol”
o A diet rich in plant stanols, like the traditional Mediterranean diet, helps
lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels in people already receiving optimal
doses of lipid-lowering statins, according to a study.
o Plant stanols, found in margarine and other butter substitutes, help prevent
the body from absorbing cholesterol from food.
- “Psoriasis raises heart risk”
o The connection between heart attacks and psoriasis seems to be related to
inflammation in the body, University of Pennsylvania researchers said.
Both share the biological signal of high levels of C-reactive protein in the
blood that is linked to inflammation.
o Emotional stress or damage to the skin can trigger psoriasis…Many
scientists believe it is the result of an overactive immune system that
speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells, which shed too quickly and form
visible, red plaques.
o Though there is no cure, psoriasis can be treated with medications and
exposure to light.
(Is there really no cure? Do alternative therapies provide more effective
therapy? Has psoriasis been around for a long time, or has it only become a
problem in modern times?)
“The road to healthy recovery”
- This article gives advice on how to recover from any form of exercise injury, and
goes through the process and phases: rehydration, assisting recovery, and
“Alcohol displays to be forced off shelves”
- “Alcohol displays will be forced off the shelves as a part of a total ban on alcohol
advertisements in all forms of media and a national anti-drinking campaign,
which will come into effect at the end of the month”
- The anti-alcohol advertisement will also “include a ban on alcohol displays at
places such as convenience stores, shopping malls, restaurants and outdoor beer
gardens. Posters, signs and promotional materials carrying logos and names of
liquor brands will be pulled from these places”.
- “The measures to control drinking will be enforced similarly to those on cigarette
and tobacco products in order to reduce the number of deaths and health payments
due to drinking alcohol, and road accidents,” Public Health Minister Mongkol Na
Songkhla said yesterday.
- The minister believes the new measure will help reduce the number of deaths and
accidents due to drinking and driving during the forthcoming long weekends such
as the New Year and Songkran festivals.
- The number of road injuries and the death toll due to drink driving during the
Songkran Festival last April alone reached 6, 194 and 506 respectively, according
to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.
- Thai Health Promotion Foundation is working on the drinking and smoking
- Taxies levied on all kinds of alcohol products and cigarettes, including those
imported from other countries, should be increased, he said.
- He said the ban on alcohol advertisements would be a good opportunity to
persuade people to change their lifestyles as domestic violence and drink-driving
cases mostly stemmed from over-consumption of alcohol.
- I wonder if these state controls will actually be effective in controlling “drink
- Historically, what has been the most effective campaign against drinking and
driving? What works?
- Why politically are all these changes in health care and health controls happening
now? How does the interim nature of this administration explain these changes in
health care policy? Or does it? It seems there is something missing from this
analysis—what could the political-economy theory tell me more about this?
- What would Foucault say about these state controls on cigarettes and alcohol?
Bio-power and state restrictions are for the good of the people in Thailand, for
- How can one reason through all the theories and ethical frameworks and come to
any conclusion? Has there been anyone who has reached a semi-satisfactory
“Lust for Life”
- “Bangkok is an eclectic city… In one corner of the capital, a vagabond seated by
a bus stop could be asking for loose change from frantic passersby while on the
other side of town, couples dressed to the nines decide whether or not to slam a
shot of vodka with the Beluga.”
- “Leaving her hometown of Chiang Mai five years ago-- where the air is clear and
its people genteel-- Pimm eventually opted to live and work in a city that is able
to catch up with her cosmopolitan blood-type and fast-paced lifestyle. A city that
is able to offer her good food, sumptuous wines and, when she feels like it, even
- “After my years of studying in England I soon discovered my true passion for
luxury and fashion”
- She works for Loewe under LVHM, her dream job. “…Loewe has long been
associated with royalty and aristocrats, in fact, since 1846. My ambition is to
open up a new door for a new breed of consumers to allow both the older and
younger generations-- not just the blue blood-- to appreciate and identify with the
- On Lambada belly dancing: “Revealing some flesh enables a dancer to perform
the moves better and allows the spectator to see and appreciate these difficult
moves in a much more accommodating light”. As for belly dancing as a form of
seduction, “I can‟t deny that it is pretty hot, isn‟t?”
- Caption under the photo: “Contrary to the belief that anyone can belly dance after
a few drinks, you do have to be extremely fit to be able to do it well”.
- Who is Loewe under LVHM?
Lowe sells luxury televisions and other electronic products, and it is a part of the
luxury giant LVHM. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is the world's largest
luxury goods company, with brands that are bywords for the good life and everything
showy. LVMH makes wines and spirits (Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon, Veuve
Clicquot, and Hennessy), perfumes (Christian Dior, Guerlain, and Givenchy),
cosmetics (Bliss, Fresh, and BeneFit), fashion and leather goods (Donna Karan,
Givenchy, Kenzo, and Louis Vuitton), and watches and jewelry (TAG Heuer, Ebel,
Chaumet, and Fred). LVMH's retail division includes Sephora cosmetics stores, Le
Bon Marché Paris department stores, and 61% of DFS Group (duty-free shops).
Chairman Bernard Arnault and his family own 48% of LVMH.
- I see this article as revealing how Thai people interpret labels and fashion, and
how the shape a person‟s identity. Thai people really read into clothes and labels.
- She is so pretentious! But, it seems expectable and even admired how she learned
about luxury by going to England, and feels comfortable in Bangkok because it
fits with her “cosmopolitan blood-type”.
- What is her family like? How have they made their money?
- On one hand, this woman seems to be very modern-- studying abroad, working,
and well educated, but the article focuses on her skill of belly dancing and going
out, which subjugates her to traditional female roles of being a body and
“Drink campaign will hit students who work as beer girls”
- “The Public Health Ministry‟s new measures aimed at reducing the consumption
of alcohol not only deal to blow to beverage businesses but also to numerous
university students who work as part-time beer girls to earn money for their
- “Working as a beer girl is worth over 10,000 baht a month, which goes to cover
her study fees and accommodations without any parental assistance.
- “The band, which will take effect as the end of the month, is aimed at
discouraging drinking. It will be imposed on all forms of media and also cover
alcohol displays in many places”
- Will the beer girls really be devastated? Or will they be able to find other jobs
besides the sex industry?
“School Bans Teens with Hepatitis- B”
- Chinese schools have expelled students who tested positive for hepatitis-B,
sparking outrage from central government authorities.
- The 19 students were banned from attending middle schools in the city of
Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, under guidelines issued by the city government, the
- Hepatitis-B affects more than 120 million Chinese and is considered a major
threat to public health, according to the Ministry of Health in Beijing.
Advertisement for Centrum Vitamin AD
- I wonder what it says.
- The vitamins are produced by Wyeth, Consumer Healthcare.
“EU keeps an eye on Thai political development”
- The European Union has maintained its “benchmarks” to monitor Thailand‟s
political development to achieve the rapid return of democracy.
- The benchmarks, set after the Sept 19 coup, encompassed the immediate lifting of
martial law and improving the human rights situation, which include freedom of
expression and freedom of assembly…
“ONCB to focus on drugs suppression, not protection”
- The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) is set to review its work,
putting the focus on suppression rather than anti-drug campaigning and protection
- The change was deemed appropriate given the fact that the number of small-time
drug pushers has increased over the past few years… the drug problem has re-
emerged in Bangkok.
- There have been too many „wars against drugs‟ in past years and the public, as a
result, lost enthusiasm.
“30 Baht treatment to be made free”
- The Bt30 healthcare scheme will be replaced by free medical treatment for people
throughout the country, and misleading populist policies revoked, new Public
Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla said yesterday.
- Dr. Mongkol said the 30-baht scheme would be renamed the universal healthcare
project, because the name promoted by the former government caused people to
misunderstand their basic rights.
- Public Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla said that the free treatment policy
would not adversely affect the status of hospitals throughout the country or the
dignity of people receiving medical services under the scheme. “Hospitals won‟t
be richer or poorer whether or not they receive 30 baht,” he said during the annual
meeting of the Rural Doctors Association.
- “From now on we are going to provide real medical treatment and real healthcare
benefits to people,” he said.
- To solve the shortage of funds besetting the scheme, Dr. Mongkol promised to
increase the budget per head from 1,695 to 2,089 baht, as has been suggested by
the National Economic and Social Advisory Council (Nesac).
- But funds from the Social Security Office, and the medical welfare program of
government and state enterprise officials were unlikely to be included in the
project as he would only be in office for a year.
- National Health Security Office (NHSO)
- Thai Health Promotion Foundation + Health System Research Institute
- Social Security Office
- Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI)
- “Power centralization is dangerous”
- “Dr. Mongkol emphasized that the ministry will focus on strategic planning and
academic work. State hospitals should be decentralized to local administration
bodies so they could manage healthcare services and funding to meet demands of
people in different communities over the long term”.
- “Dr. Mongkol urged health officials to work hard and follow His Majesty the
King‟s sufficiency-economy policy rather than ask for more funds”.
- The minister promised to look into the “brain drain” of medical personnel from
the southernmost provinces, resulting from doctors and nurses fleeing separatist
violence in the region. (Really? I think this is a cover response)
- He said the universal healthcare project could be implemented straight away since
it did not require any change to the national health security bill.
- “Virote Na Ranong, a Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI)
researcher studying the 30-baht healthcare scheme, believed free medical
treatment could lead to an increase in the number of patients and workloads of
medical staff. But he did not think it would affect healthcare reform as a whole”.
- Are there any stipulations with this? ID cards? Citizenship? When will it be
implemented or effective?
- Find out more.
- Maybe 30 baht won‟t make a hospital richer or poorer, but what about Bt30 times
1000 or more? Where will the extra money come from?
- Why would the main concerns be “status of the hospitals” or “dignity of people”?
What does his word choice say about medicine and health care in Thailand?
- Are they going to increase the budget in order to compensate? Or are they going
to try to do more with less?
- What are the foreseeable problems, limits, and issues with this healthcare
- What about staying power of the program since Dr. Mongkol is going to be in
office only for a year? Does business benefit from this change in healthcare
scheme? Who will benefit from this program? (People cannot afford healthcare
and can get to the hospital, but what about all those who cannot even get to the
hospital? How does a healthcare program or policy make change so they are
- I wonder how other politicians are reacting to this new health care scheme.
Especially since he didn‟t have to get it passed by anyone, he just did it!
- Describes what life in Thailand was once like.
- Stories from the North is about the broad strokes of the daily lives of men and
women in the North, their farming chores, their culture, their hopes and problems.
- “But Urupong‟s films, Stories from the North in particular and his other short
stories as well, replace such easy sentimentalism with the spiritual power of the
landscape, the expanse of rain-soaked paddies, and sometimes the docile
buffaloes oblivious to the changes around them. The rugged, weathered faces of
northern farmers, housewives, monks, musicians and children in his films speak
not of causal bliss but of hard-fought serenity.”
- “…I think my movies can at least remind people that we can live our lives at a
slower pace. We can take time to look back and see if our one-way ticket to
„modernity‟ is the only way of life. Perhaps my movies can suggest that there
other roads we should consider in our development effort-- we‟ve gained a lot in
the past 20 years, but is it worth what we‟ve sacrificed? People in the country
know happiness. They‟ve lived it. But the pressures from mainstream society are
so great that they‟re convinced they can leave behind what they‟ve had and set out
to possess something new.”
- “Like they say in the North, sometimes you go look for an underground
wellspring because you need more water. But when you find it and crack it open
and the spring overflows to become a stream, you may be too excited and fall into
the stream and drown yourself…”
- Interesting topics to ponder.
- Local wisdom
October 14, 2006
“Bangladesch‟s Muhammad Yunus, the „banker of the poor‟”
- Nobel Peace Prize Winner
- Grameen Bank provides access to credit to people too poor to qualify for
traditional bank loans. This micro-credit bank was founded in 1976.
- “The world has stood in admiration at the tremendous and selfless service that he
has rendered to the poorest of the poor, bringing hope to the hopeless and giving
them cause to live.”
- Grameen bank has 6.6 million borrowers, of which some 97 percent are women.
Borrowers use the loans to buy their own tools and equipment, cutting out the
middleman and transforming their lives through self-employment.
- It has no been copied in more than 40 countries.
“CMU team in HIV test-kit breakthrough”
- “A Chiang Mai University team has successfully developed a highly accurate test
kit to curb drug-resistance problems among HIV-infected patients taking life-
saving antiretroviral drugs”
- “the test was designed for doctors or healthcare workers to use in following up
whether their patients took their drugs regularly”
- “Before the development of this test, when doctors needed to know if their
patients had taken an antiretroviral consistently, they were required to send blood
samples for testing in a large laboratory, which was not available at any hospital,
said Chatchai Tayapiwatana, of Chiang Mai University‟s Faculty of Associated
Medical Sciences, who developed the kit with another research”.
- This will help curb the problem of resistance. “When resistant to an antiretroviral
drug, an HIV patient was forced to move on to a new regimen of drugs, which
normally was much more expensive and could have stronger side-effects”.
- Unlike the traditional laboratory test, a user does not need specialist knowledge to
use the new kit, which is similar to a pregnancy test strip.
- The test is to cost about Bt100 when it comes onto the market, said Chatchai
adding that Ark Diagnostics Inc in the US had signed an agreement to mass-
produce it for sale worldwide.
- This is a great example of Research and Development in the nation, fighting and
working to solve their own problems
- What is the relationship between Ark Diagnostics Inc?
- How will each benefit?
October 15, 2006
“Man with a mission”
- “Some dietary advice from that „fat band boy‟ who became president of the
- Bill Clinton is on a crusade to reduce childhood obesity, and part of his campaign
is an effort to get junk food out of school vending machines.
- “When I was a little boy, if you grew up in a place that was as poor as Arkansas
was, it was generally believed that the best evidence of a baby‟s health was how
fat it was”
- “His dieting efforts began in earnest when he was a teenager. “I designed a diet
for myself one summer-- high protein, low carb, a version of the Atkins and South
Beach,” he said, adding hastily, “but I‟m not trying to recommend it to anyone
- “He lost 9.2 kgs in one month, mainly, he said, because “I only ate one meal a
day, between 1pm and 6”
- “If he is successful in changing children‟s eating habits, it may save some of them
from his fate: quadruple bypass surgery in 2004. The Alliance for a Healthier
Generation, formed by the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart
Association is in this for the long haul. The agreement last week with five snack
food manufacturers follows an agreement in May with the three largest soft-drink
makers to get their sugared beverages out of schools. Its next targets are fast
foods, followed by a plan to take on the Agriculture Department and improve
what is put on the plates of the government approved school lunch.”
- “the man who runs the Clinton household prepares his dinners based on his diet:
mostly fish, buffalo in place of steak, turkey burgers, fajitas with whole-wheat
tortillas and low-fat cheese, grilled vegetables, salads, soups and fruit for dessert”
- I think without some common sense applied to this article, the words of Pres.
Clinton could be taken the wrong way. For example, baby‟s health was how fat it
was. Babies are naturally chubby. I think that this is healthy. Also, his diet as a
teenager to most would sound unhealthy.
- The food consumed at the Clinton household is great, but most people cannot
afford to eat like this.
- Poor nutrition is an indication of poverty or near poverty. The cheapest food in
American is the food that has the lowest level of nutrition. If we really wanted to
change the eating habits of Americans-- what about subsidizing vegetables instead
of corn and sugar?
- In addition, I like what the Clinton foundation is doing by targeting vending food
companies, everyone is marketing to teenagers and children. This is where the
unhealthy eating habits begin. Junk food works in the same way as smoking does,
once you start the habit at a young age; the habit continues throughout life or is
incredibly difficult to change.
- I find the image of the two children most interesting because it uses physical
ethnic stereotypes to portray the youth in Thailand. The girl appears to be more
ethnically Chinese because the shape of her eyes. I know this because my
ethnically Chinese, Thai friends would say explain that their father was Chinese,
and then they would point at their eyes. While the boy looks ethnically “Thai”.
This also illustrates how difficult it is to define “Thai” because both of these
children are considered to be Thai yet they are also from different ethnicity as
“UK tackles heavy drinking among young adults”
- “The British government is launching a campaign to fight heavy alcohol
consumption among young people with shock ads showing them paying the price
for acting like invulnerable superheroes. The campaign, entitled Know Your
Limits, will begin appearing tomorrow in cinema, television, radio, magazines
and the internet. It aims to encourage 18 to 24 year olds to drink responsibly and
be aware of the risks of drinking to excess, but also targets those slightly younger
who many already are drinking illegally.”
- Is this where the Thai government‟s inspiration came from?
- I wonder how many policies are nationally and internationally inspired. Or, is it
that the world has the same problems?
“Black‟s the new black… again”
- Chanel‟s Black Satin varnish was once scarce and is now back in demand.
- “The company says interest in Black Satin grew after Jessica Alba and other
young celebrities were spotted wearing it this summer. Soon, Chanel executives
said, it was selling a thousand bottles a week.”
- The power of celebrities is incredible. People around the world are watching the
smallest parts of their wardrobes and beauty decisions.
- Fashion is a huge deal in Thailand. I wonder what Thai people would consider
the major influence--Japan, United States, or Europe. I asked a Thai friend and
she said Japan. Also, while I was in Thailand, I did not see any women with
black nail polish on, but as soon as this article came out my group members
started painting their nails black. Fashion is so funny!
“Mobile television is on the move”
- People can now watch their favorite shows on their mobile phones
- “A tidal wave of mobile content is starting to gather pace across the globe;
however, to meet the demand from mobile phone operators who want to drive
their powerful 3G networks”.
- This is crazy! The power of television and international telecommunications to
make people feel like the have to be more productive and continually at work
because they can always be reached or access information.
“Officers quarrel turns deadly”
- “A police officer was shot dead by a colleague following a violent scuffle at a part
to celebrate Thai Police Day. A slap in the face was enough to make Pol L/C
Dusit Kaewprasert, 31, shoot Police Senior Sgt- Maj Jaran Patarachon, 47, with
an HK rifle, witnesses said”.
- “he was slapped, a „severe‟ insult, making him look stupid in front of other
- The importance of saving face in Asian cultures is so important and worth
everything, or so it seems in the moment.
- I remember in Vietnam, when the bus assistant took money from me and others,
and instead of admitting that he took it, he said that he could “reimburse us”.
Hmmm. He didn‟t take the money, but he could pay us back. We eventually
received our money back, under the conditions that we would pretend that nothing
had happened. I was amazed how easily he pretended that nothing happened. He
kept his job because he had given the money back. Our tour guide handled the
situation in a diplomatic, indirect, non-confrontational, and non-assuming manner.
The manner in which he handled this was completely foreign to me, but we did
get our money back, the man kept his job, and relations were restored, I guess.
“Rectors call for end to red tape”
- Call to reduce the bureaucratic red tape in higher education administration
- I was unable to find this article in the stack of newspaper articles that I have. I am
sure that I got excited when I read “bureaucratic red tape” because it permeates
the health experiences of those who use the public hospitals. Every step is
weighted with protocols and hierarchy, a system of balances and checks of power.
October 16, 2006
Bt30 Healthcare Scheme--
- This cartoon is divided in two sections: Yesterday and Today. The Yesterday
section shows Thaksin and a woman holding up a sign for the Bt30 Healthcare
Scheme, and the Today section shows a soldier holding up a “Free” sign.
- Healthcare under the military government is free, and it cost Bt30 under the
“Patients evacuated to escape rising waters”
- Phothong district hospital evacuated all twelve patients. It was necessary to move
all the in-patients because of fears the hospital would be heavily inundated in the
next few days.
- A floodwall of sandbags has also been erected around the hospital which has
continued to provide medical services to out-patients
- How are there only twelve patients in this hospital? I wonder if this hospital is the
same size as Phrao, which was the only hospital I went to that had vacancy.
Public hospitals of every size and quality were crowded and over their carrying
- Is there any correlation between funding and the reasons why it is flooding? Are
there more details to the story?
“Pretty in Pink”
- The wealthy celebrate Breast Cancer. I think that it is interesting that the hi-so
people are campaigning at Siam Paragon, the most up-scale shopping center in all
- If the goal is to raise awareness of breast cancer-- do shopping centers lit in pink
lights really help? Did this reach the greatest number of people? What was the
goal because it seems to me like the wealthy people just wanted to decorate public
spaces and have a party?
“Ministry tells parents to be extra careful”
- Public Health Ministry has named parents to keep their children way from the
„four dangers‟-- computer games, junk good, accidents and water-- while they
enjoy their school break this month.
- “Those spending excessive time in front of computers would end up with strained
eyesight, little brain exercise and low levels of social interaction”
- Parents have been advised to ask children to help with household chores or
encourage them to take up a new hobby or sports. For many working mothers,
instant or semi-prepared foods are usually the first choice for their children‟s diet.
- But Mr. Sa-nga warned that many children could become under-nourished
because they did not know how to eat correctly. Many eat instant noodles straight
out of the package…
- Holiday activities such as playground and road accidents can lead to brain injuries
or worse, and water sports could be deadly.
- I think it‟s interesting how the ministry of health is instructing parents on how to
take care of their grown children. What else do they advise on their website?
- What about adults who fit this profile, many more jobs fit this description:
spending excessive time in front of computers, strained eyesight, little brain
exercise, and low levels of social interaction. This is exactly what the movie
Office Space was based on.
- What is the “correct” way to eat?
- I ask, what are children supposed to do? Read books on a treadmill?
Photo “Let‟s go potty”
- Bangladeshi boatmen download earthen pots for sale on the banks of the River
Buriganga in Dhaka, Bangladesch, yesterday. Earthen pots are used for carrying
water as well as cooking.
- The image and text remind me that Thailand is on the “ladder of development”
and moving up the rungs, while other nations in the region are working on getting
on the first rung of the ladder. I see that this is the case in Bangladesh were
people must go to the river to find water and then carry it home.
“Ubon Chaiyaphum doctors win awards”
- “2006 Outstanding Rural Doctors” award have been given to Thawat Boonthai,
director of Muang Samsip district hospital in Ubon Ratchathani, and Cherdphan
Pattarapongsin, director of Nong Bua Rawe district hospital in Chaiyahphum.
- Public Health Ministry Mongkol na Songhla said that two were chosen for their
dedication and hard work, which made them well loved and trusted in their
- Weerapan Supanchaimart, a deputy chairman of the screening panel, said: “The
awards have not only lifted the recipients‟ spirits, but also set an example for
others that sacrifice can make a big difference in rural areas, he said.
- Both doctors are the true followers of His Majesty the King‟s sufficiency
economy concept, said Dr. Weerapan, for not pursuing fame or fortune.
- Dr. Thawat has served in Muang Samsip district for nearly 23 years and Dr.
Cherdphan in Nong Bua Rawe district for 17 years. The two decided to stay put
for the sake of development.
- Dr. Thawat said when he arrived as the only doctor at the hospital, he had to
screen 8mm movies or play music to let the locals know that the hospital was
fully operational. He said: “If you‟re contented and have a positive attitude, you
can live happily anywhere.”
- Dr. Cherdphan said his hospital had recently won the Hospital accreditation (HA)
certificate from the International Institute of Hospital Quality Improvement and
- He said to chose to stick around because he enjoyed his work and “if you abandon
the status quo for something more, you have to keep on reach out. That isn't my
definition of happiness.”
- This award maybe should be renamed as Outstanding Rural Director award,
because the two listed are both directs and probably do not have much physician-
- How did the screening panel find these men in the rural areas? I would think this
award would be steeped in nepotism and political connections, although I hope
- I don‟t understand his status quo comment-- wouldn‟t he be against the status quo,
and always wanting to make the hospital better?
“Economic policies to be spelled out”
- “our goal is to lift the living status of the rural and poor people”
- national policy framework and global „free market‟
- foreign investors
“How global bodies develop local talent”
- Globalization and multinationals corporations are experiencing increasing
pressure to become “local”.
- Governments demand that they implement localization programs, and they
themselves are coming to recognize the commercial benefits, which include a
better understanding of local consumers and business environments.
- This article includes an analysis of successful approaches taken by multinationals
to develop a high-quality local workforce and to select and groom local leaders in
a variety of regions.
- The sample spans five sectors: banking, consumer products, energy, health care
- governmental organization, non-governmental organizations, private
- The successful programs integrate programs that promote education, build a
supplier base, and improve the local business infrastructure.
- Initiatives to develop talent within a country sometimes reflect legal obligations:
production agreements between governments and natural resource companies can
require 90% or more of the workforce to consist of local people. Even more
important, in many cases, are commercial factors such as better knowledge of
local languages and culture, corporate values (for instance, a company‟s
determination to promote a homogeneous global culture), and lower labor costs
(local employees tend to be cheaper).
- Many organizations are recruiting talented locals working or studying for MBAs
abroad and brought them back to fill key positions
- Overseas rotations are important in providing local staff with an international
perspective, exposure to the corporate culture, and an appropriate network of
colleagues throughout the organization.
- This article continues to explain the benefits of local staff versus expatriate staff.
- This article illustrates how multinational companies and corporations are trying to
make national franchises less dependent through the development of “local
talent”. Local talent and knowledge is where it is at. However, in the meantime
when the talent is being developed, how does one access local knowledge but also
make locals the initiators of change. What organizations exemplify this delicate
- Is it better to make change in your own community where you are the local
“The last word on the last breath”
- Lawyers, judges, and physicians decide how a patient will end their days. The
article discusses the last days of a 35 year old patient who has been in a persistent
vegetative state for 15 years, and recently developed septic bedsores and
pneumonia. His kidneys were failing, and despite a feeding tube, he was losing
weight. Now he was in cardiac arrest and dying.
- “But the young staff doctors had no choice. The patient‟s relatives, convinced
that the man could communicate, had insisted that all revival efforts be made. Sot
he doctors give the patient a few mouth to mouth breaths, climbed on the bed and
began vigorous chest compressions, trying cardiopulmonary resuscitation.”
- The article goes on to explain in detail the additional lifesaving measures that
were taken to revive this man. All efforts were unsuccessful and fifteen minutes
later, the patient was pronounced dead. During the lifesaving efforts, the patient‟s
ribs were cracked, and in response the intern wonders, “Why couldn‟t we have let
the patient die in peace?”
- “Many doctors believe that their medical judgment about whether CPR will be
effective in a particular patient‟s case and their knowledge of the havoc that CPR
can wreak on a dying body should prevail. But a patient‟s representative, who is
often a relative, may believe that every medical option should be exercised and
that a miracle should be just a chest compression away. And patients‟ families,
spurred on by TV medical dramas, often mistakenly believe that CPR is almost
always effective-- a notion disproved by studies.”
- The article goes on to discuss the possibilities such as DNR (Do Not Resituate)
and other possibilities for family members and patients.
- I think it is so interesting that fashion comes from Japan and the UK, while
entertainment and medicine come from the US. Why would someone choose this
article about the American health care system? Is this becoming a problem in
Thailand as well? How transferable are the problems of one biomedical health
care system to another?
- What would other cultures have to say about this article?
- There are so many things going on in this article-- Who has the power to say what
should be done? Should the doctor be the official executor, and then is this giving
doctors too much power? Or should the family have the last say even if they want
to use “unnecessary” lifesaving interventions? It is also interesting to think about
the cost of television on society. Yet, is it democratic to control the television
shows in order to properly educate the public.
“The Achilles heal of HIV therapy”
- The HIV virus can sneak into the brain to cause dementia, despite today‟s best
medicines, an Achilles heel of HIV therapy. Now tests are beginning on drugs
that may protect the brain from memory loss and other symptoms of so-called
neuroAIDS that affect at least one in five people with HIV, and are becoming
more common as patients live longer.
“Anti-alcohol brigade” (Editorial)
- “The Public Health Ministry is very concerned about alcohol,” says Dr. Karl
- He states that the ministry is “not even trying to educate the people to behave
responsibly,” which is really what is needed rather than this “ordering mentality”.
The ministry, in his opinion, need to focus on creating a “balanced behavior.”
- The editorial ends with: “Democracy needs educated and responsible citizens, not
people who are only used to being ordered around by the elders.”
October 17, 1006
The Bangkok Post
“Taking a stand”
- This article talks about taking a stand against poverty
- “Food for all”
“Experts urge formal compensation plan”
- The rural people, mostly farmers, who allowed their land to be flooded, must be
paid for their sacrifices.
- “The compensation system for farmers who allow their farmland to absorb excess
water to save Bangkok from floods should be formalized to improve the water
retention process, water experts recommended yesterday.”
- “… we have to beg farmers for help…”
- The compensation money should also be based on farmers‟ investments rather
than on the produce value-- this means that they make nothing extra! How is this
- This article illustrates how the urban have the most resources but they are also at
the weakness of the rural farmers in times of natural disaster. I am sure that this
flooding process is an annual problem or cyclical, and I am sure each year the
farmers hesitate to save Bangkok because they know that they will not be
compensated. How are they to make up this additional money when they begin
- I think there is more that can be said about this problem, but what? What else
does it say about Thai society? Social structure?
“Ban on Booze adverts set to be issued today”
- The FDA has classified liquor, beer, and other alcoholic drinks as “health-hazard
- “A survey by the National Economic and social Development Board indicated
that advertisement and promotions are seen as an attempt to lure people,
especially teenagers, into drinking.”
- “In Thailand, according to the Public Health Ministry, the number of alcohol
related accidents has increased by 5% over the past four years.”
- “The bill, already going through public hearings countrywide, includes raising the
minimum age for buyers of alcohol to 25, a ban against selling alcohol from
vending machines, and making certain areas such as universities, temples, and
other public places alcohol-free zones.”
- “The ministry is also considering a 1-2% tax increase on alcoholic drinks to bring
in more money to help victims of drink driving” (should be drunk driving).
- “… the anti-alcohol network yesterday called on the government to designate
Sunday an alcohol free day” (This is interesting! Thailand is not a „Christian‟
nation-state at all-- Why Sunday?)
- Disease Control Department
- World Health Organization
- A ban against selling alcohol from vending machines
- Public health authorities and power
- Will this be effective?
- Why change anything? What are the political forces that are influencing these
- I wonder what would happen if law and policy makers had focuses groups to see
what the pulse of the people was. What would happen? Would laws and policies
then really reflect what the people wanted?
“Nestles sells off two Thai factories”
- “…Nestle will have more time to develop and expand its Nesvita drinking cereal.
Coffee Mat non-dairy creamer and Nescafe instant coffee. These products were
the key drivers of growth and profits”
- This reminds me of the powerful relationship and influences between Western
and multinational companies have in the world and their impact on health. I
understand that health, biomedicine, herbal medicine, traditional medicine, and so
on have all become tools of capitalism, but when does the health of the world
begin to concern these companies? How far can the principle of capitalism go? I
have a very difficult time with companies like Coca Cola (selling coke for less
than water) and Nestle (for encouraging bottle formula more than breast milk).
How do I reason through what they are doing? Is it ethical? What are the ethics
of capitalism and health? Where does one draw the line?
- What are the implications of Thailand and Nestle? Increased industrial foods-- all
products are sweetened, canned, processed artificial, instant, and all the other
qualities that describe industrialized food.
- How have these products influenced how or what people eat?
“Developing countries play more active role in FDI flows”
- “Developing economies played a greater role in the global growth of foreign
direct investment last year, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development (Unctad)”.
- “We are witnessing a profound shift in the world economy, with some developing
countries gaining economic and political weight”
- Increasing FDI among developing countries might lead to job cuts and drive the
labor prices down due to increased competition.
- What is the article not including? … Everything
- What are the consequences or losses for these gains?
- Does FDI raise the standard of living?
“Scandal claims UnitedHealth CEO”
- UnitedHealth Group Inc is the second largest US managed care company. An
outside report found that the CEO‟s grants were likely backdated. The
UnitedHealth shake-up adds to the list of corner-office victims of stock option
- While I read the papers in Thailand, I always found it interesting what
medical/health related articles were included, what did they say, and where did
the stories come from. I found that most of the articles that discussed
biomedicine or insurance were from the United States. I wonder why the United
States was the source of biomedical news. It could be because our health care
system is so outrageously expensive, among other problems, but as a result, it is
more widely reported on than other health care systems.
- Why did they choose this article?
- What is “backdating”?
“Flying hospital brings sight to millions of poor worldwide”
- Orbis International‟s flying eye hospital- a covert DC10 complete with operating
room and rotating volunteer doctors from around the world provide a handful of
patients selected to have surgery at Danang‟s airport in Vietnam.
- This New York based charity has not only saved or dramatically improved the
sight of thousands through surgery on the plane, but estimates it has also trained
some 124,000 doctors, nurses, and other health workers to perform the procedures
- Before the flying hospital touches down, Orbis sends a team into the country to
ask which procedures doctors want to observe based on their experience and the
equipment available at their hospitals.
- I want to learn more about Orbis International. How is their organization funded?
- It sounds like a great organization and puts development and health care in the
hands of the locals.
“Luxury fair in Shanghai for China‟s rich”
- “China‟s new rich are ready to spend”
- “More than 320,000 dollar millionaires are estimated to live in mainland China”
- “China is also currently the world‟s third-largest consumer of luxury goods,
accounting for 12 per cent of global sales, behind Japan‟s 41 per cent and the 17
per cent for the US, according to a survey published late last year by consultancy
Ernst and Young”.
- Cai, an auto parts business owner wants a new car: “I‟m thinking about getting a
new car”… a Ferrari. “It‟s expensive and not really worth it for Shanghai roads,
but I would be willing to get one for my kinds when they grow up.”
- “We believe that they would want to buy [Australian lambs‟ wool bedding].
Chinese are very concerned about their health and sleeping well gives one good
health as well as beauty.”
- Talk about disparities in wealth!
- The people interviewed in the article even admit that this luxury is ridiculous.
The watch collector can‟t have more than a hundred watches because he can‟t
wind them all, and the man with the Ferrari can‟t even drive it on the street.
- These luxury items are symbols to display opulent wealth, and these families in a
category of “rich”.
- I did not see these galleries and stores while I was in Shanghai. It just shows that
one must live in a place for years until they finally get to know all its nuances.
Solveig, one of my group members, said that she had never seen a Ferrari
dealership until Shanghai.
October 19, 2006
“Global English: The end of English as a foreign language”
- Globalization has been mostly associated with trade and economics (the article
goes on to give a definition of globalization from Merriam-Webster online
- Globalization has established preconditions for a new world language order--
English as a global language.
- The new world language order is in place to raise many questions regarding the
role of native English speakers and more importantly, how the teaching and
learning of English should be carried out globally.
- Europeans are thought to be the example of how English will be used around the
world-- speak and used English as a foreign language by gaining enough
proficiency in English to use it interchangeably with their own native language.
- English as the new lingua franca has so many implications and can be fully
understood from a historical, colonial perspective.
“Minimum age for buying alcohol likely to stay at 18”
- The minimum age for buying alcohol is likely to remain18 years after cabinet
voiced concerns over the necessity and effectiveness of a measure to raise it,
incorporated in the alcohol control bill.
- Disease Control Department director General Thawat Sundarachan said yesterday
that health authorities had to reconsider whether it was essential to increase the
minimum age for buying alcohol from 18 to 25 years, after cabinet on Tuesday
was concerned the idea might not work well in reality.
- Instead, it would be better to work to educated people on the health hazards
caused by alcoholic drinks before buying them.
- Many are concerned about damage to health due to accidents and drunk driving
- But any changes in the details and guidelines of the proposed alcohol control bill
would not over displays on alcoholic beverage logos and other materials at live
international sports events, so the enforcement would be in line with the round-
the-clock ban on alcohol commercials which would become effective on Dec 5.
- The power of the state is most evident by examining policies regarding
healthcare, drinking, and smoking.
- Is there any statistical evidence that raising the drinking age does not reduce the
damage to health due to accidents and drunk driving?
“Booze ad ban „to cost 30,000 jobs‟”
- The Federation of Alcohol Control of Thailand (Fact) yesterday claimed that the
proposed 24-hour band on liquor advertisement will cost 30,000 jobs, probably
hitting beer salesgirls the hardest
- The band is apart of the Public Health Ministry‟s tough new measures on alcohol
- Fact members include the Thai Restaurant Association, the Thai Hotels
Association, alcohol industry representatives and retailers.
- The government‟s alcohol control policy should focus on ways to effectively
reduce the threat from alcohol consumption instead of cutting consumption, said
the federation secretary Boonchuay Thongcharoenpoonporn.
- An independent agency comprising representatives of business operators and
government agencies should be set up to draft regulations on alcohol product
advertisement together, Mr. Boonchuay said.
- Fact was also concerned that the ban would force producers of alcoholic
beverages to relocate their operating bases to countries with more relaxed alcohol-
related laws and regulations, such as Laos and the Philippines.
- What is the lesser of the two evils? Young women dressed in skimpy clothes
making money and men drinking a lot or to have them pushed into the sex
industry or a job that makes less money. What is the motivation of these bans?
- Do the lawmakers have any other jobs set up for them?
- Are they trying to push people out of the beer gardens and into more expensive
- Wouldn‟t it be better to make some partnerships with businesses and work
together in a cooperative manner to make change?
“Building on a strong base”
- This article speaks to the power of the Thai citizen and ethnic Chinese
businessman in Southeast Asia, Thailand. It depicts how these business-like
values and practices are taught in the home, mostly by mothers and at dinner.
- His mother‟s all-or-nothing attitude taught him to plough all of his energy into the
business when necessary.
- “If a job is very important and requires you to spend seven consecutive days on
the case, you have to. Even 30 days without rest until one o‟clock in the morning-
- you have to. But if there‟s no work, leave me alone…A man in top management
must allocate his time well.”
- “We cannot say if family or work is more important, it‟s up to the situation and
the timing, so you have to weigh things up properly.”
- This article takes an interesting look inside the Chinese family.
- Nearly all or a majority of wealthy businessmen in Southeast Asia are of Chinese
descent. I asked Jing, a Thai friend who is also ethnically Chinese; if she thought
Chinese people were good business people because of culture. She thought that it
was a part of culture because Chinese men will not come home until they have
made something of themselves because they would be ashamed to come home
with nothing. Thus, after the financial crisis in 1997, the park would be filled
with men in business suits who had gone to “work” that morning because they
could not tell their families that they had lost their job.
“Make the redistribution of wealth the way forward” (Siam Rath Editorial)
- The article begins by asking, “What are Thailand‟s fundamental problems?”
- “This question must be answered if the country is ever to attain lasting peace and
continued prosperity for the majority of its population, many of whom still live in
- “In the countryside, many farmers eke out a meager living through subsistence
farming, relying on Mother Nature to ensure good seasonal crops. Many still
travel to big cities to seek employment as laborers or positions in the service
- Everyone must understand these fundamental problems if the country is to start
moving in the right direction.
- “Despite the implementation of national development plans over the past 50
years, the country‟s political system has remained weak and the seemingly
unbridgeable gap between the rich and the poor remains as wide as ever.”
- Despite some political hiccups, the country has recorded some impressive
economic growth rates during the past 50 years. “However, only a small group of
people have benefited from the country‟s economic development, while the poor
- “The uneven distribution of income has also affected the development of our
political system. Money still plays a crucial role in every general election, and the
absence of good governance causes great dissatisfaction among urban voters.”
- “Poverty is the root cause of social problems such as drug addiction and crime”.
- The interim government under Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont must try to
bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. “It must promote good governance
and help the poor to help themselves.”
- “When these fundamental problems are solved, there will be a much fairer
distribution of income and greater social stability.”
- I wonder who wrote this. This article mentions in broad strokes inequality in
- Poverty is the root cause of social problems
- This reminds me of the feudal system when the wealthy and educated were the
most powerful. The families and elite continue to control the political-economy
and social structure by making and developing policies that greatly benefit
themselves and personal wealth.
“Let the people drink” (editorial)
- In all the coverage on the proposed restrictions on alcohol advertising and raising
the drinking age to 25, there has been no discussion of the massive impact this
would have on tourism
- People on holiday like to drink. They have a couple of weeks to relax and let
loose and alcohol is a big part of that… It‟s called having fun and it‟s why people
pay thousands of baht to fly great distances to somewhere like Thailand. It would
be nice to pretend that they all come primarily to see the beautiful temples and to
be smiled at by Thai people, but this is only part of the experience.
- …these people [will] spend their money in a country that doesn‟t treat them like
- So the end result of raising the drinking age will be to bleed enormous amounts of
foreign capital from a well-developed and reliable financial sector, while Thai
youths, stripped of their right to drink legitimately take their business down the
back alleys to Somchai‟s secret neighborhood liquor store… [it] is a “solution”
that will only cause financial and social suffering while actually exacerbating the
problem of youth alcohol abuse.
- This editorial makes a point—what will be the consequences of increasing the
drinking age and will it bring more harm than good?
- This is an interesting thing to ponder—what is the tipping point in which laws are
effective or ineffective?
Advertisement-- “Domestic Help Available”
- The advertisement reads: “Domestic Help Available”-- Can work btwn 8am-2pm.
Very Hardworking. Trustworthy. Need this second job to pay for daughter‟s
- Below: “There‟s an easier solution to afford quality health care for your loved
ones. The answer is a value-for-money health insurance from BUPA, the world‟s
leading health insurance specialist. From just 10 Baht a day per person, your
family can be covered for up to 300,000 Baht of medical expenses. Plus, you‟re
entitled to worldwide coverage and if you join before your 60th birthday we
guarantee renewal for life. So don‟t wait till a medical crisis happens. Be sure
you‟re covered by BUPA.
- This health insurance is most definitely marketing to the retired foreign men who
live in Thailand.
- How much power do insurance companies have in Thailand? How much
influence do they have on the Thai healthcare system? Are they more present and
popular in public or private hospitals or clinics?
“Dunkin‟ Donuts looks to expand”
- More international bakery chains have entered the Thai market lately
- The coup will not slow Dunkin‟ Donuts‟ investment plans in Thailand.
According to Anthony Pavese, the vice-president of Dunkin Brand for the Asia
Pacific region, “The most important thing is partnership. Dunkin Donuts was the
first international doughnut brand to be offered to the [Thai] market.” Dunkin
Donuts will celebrate 25 years in Thailand today.
- The company will continue to follow the motto: “think global but act local.”
- Dunkin Donuts is looking to develop what it calls a “healthy product alternative”
to cash n on more health conscious people. The new healthy menu will be
marketed in Thailand next year.
- Currently, Dunkin Donuts has about 7,000 outlets in 34 countries. About 2,000 of
these outlets are outside the United States, including about 1,400 in the Asia
- I wonder how many of these international chains started in Thailand as a
consequence of the Vietnam War. How did the presence of American soldiers
influence the eating habits of people in Thailand today?
- Chinese dancers perform the “Thousand Goddness of Mercy” dance as a benefit
in Yichang, China, yesterday. Traditional and classical dance was restricted in
the country during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), but such dance troupes
now enjoy government support.
Advertisement-- “Save the Children”
- “Children have the right to protection from all forms of violence.”
- “On 19 October 2006, Save the Children, in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and
globally, calls upon the governments to commit to end all violence against
children and to build child protection systems that include the elimination of
violence against children as a priority objective.”
- Website: www.rb.se/eng
- What kind of violence against children is being committed right now in Southeast
Asia? Why are have the violence against children not been eliminated? How can
governments end all violence against children?
Political Cartoon-- “Banned!!!”
- The cartoon is divided into two sections-- both of them ousting things. One side
is shows the arm of the FDA pushing alcoholic beverages out and the other side is
kicking Thaksin out of a structure with central Thai architecture, labeled
“Frenk bids for UN position”
- Mexico‟s Health Minister is standing for the job of director-general of the World
Health Organization (WHO), defended his record on tobacco control and has
made the greatest progress on anti-smoking measures.
- He has agreed not to impose a ban on billboard by major tobacco companies
towards public health insurance. “We multiplied by five the tax rate for filtered
cigarettes,” he said. “We achieved a total ban of advertisement on radio and TV,
which believe me none of my predecessors had achieved because the economic
interests there are too powerful.”
- He also noted that warning labels had been moved from the side of cigarettes
packets and now covers half of the front.
- A ban on smoking in schools and selling cigarettes around schools, as well as a
sevenfold increase in anti-smoking clinics were also implemented.
- His recent implementation of a health insurance scheme for poor Mexicans
received widespread attention as an example of innovative health reform in a
- Iran has ordered the implementation of a law making it illegal to smoke in public
places and outlawing tobacco advertising, the government website… (in the same
article, although not sure why)
- These articles are examples of what health information comes into the Thailand.
The sources are normally from the United States, so news from Germany and
Mexico is the most diverse health section that I saw in Thailand.
- I am impressed by what is happening in Mexico. It sounds as if there is a lot of
potential change that can happen in terms of public health in Mexico. I am
excited to see if there are results and learn more about the health insurance
scheme that is being started.
“US govt: Fish good for heart”
- A United States government sponsored study sought to reassure Americans that
fish is safe to eat and is a key to fighting heart disease, the number one cause of
death in the US.
- “Seafood is rich in nutrients, low in saturated fat, and should be incorporated
more into the American diet to reduce the risk of early death by heart disease,” the
Commerce Department said…
- Increased demand for fish would also hurt wild fish populations and lead to the
expansion of environmentally damaging fish farms, a statement by the group said.
- The sustainability of food… What are the solutions?
October 21, 2006
The Bangkok Post
“Boy wins 420,000 baht damages”
- Nonthabun provincial court ordered the Public Health Ministry to pay 420,000
baht (11,666 USD) in damage to a boy who received the wrong treatment in state-
run hospital, which caused him to suffer form the rare Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
- SomdetPhra Yupharat Wiang Sa and Surat Thani hospital
- Misdiagnosed and allegeric
- Treated the boy in a careless and substandard manner, which resulted in severe
physical and mental pain, and ordered the ministry to pay the compensation
- Some doctors have banged together to fight the malpractice charges laid against
- What is the Stevens-Johnson syndrome?
- Are doctors not protected against malpractice?
- How does the Ministry of Health differ from the Public Health Ministry, or are
they the same?
- Are there any other external factors that factored into this misdiagnosis and
- How would a doctor misdiagnosis? Why would a doctor misdiagnosis? Would
pressures of time and lack of money influence this? Did the doctor not order
some tests? What are the contributing factors not mentioned in this article?
- What do Thais think about this?
- What are the conditions of the state hospitals?
- Also, is 11,666 USD enough money to care for this boy for the rest of his life? Is
this a fair compensation and what was this payment based on?
- What types of health insurance are available? Can health insurance be used at
both private and public hospitals?
Advertisement for a hospital--
- I think that it is interesting that the hospital advertises care and quality touch.
- - What does this say about hospitals both public and private in Thailand?
- What is the ratio of doctors to patients? Is there a shortage? Where are they
going? What are the issues?
“Putting paid to alcohol abuse”
- I am curious about the connection between the Thaksin government and the
Public Health Ministry.
- What is the philosophy?
- Interesting the Buddhist nation has such a problem with alcohol and the sex
industry. How ironic! Did this begin because of development or the Vietnam
War or was this started in response to tolerance in Thailand.
- What is the historical correlation?
- Is poverty a bigger factor in this than religion/
October 21, 2006
“Paying the price of development”
- This article discusses the costs of development.
- “Thirty years ago, Pai in Mae Hong Son province was a little village made up of
wooden houses with banana leaf or galvanized steel roofs… Every once in a
while a car would pass along the road, but it was used primarily by cattle and
water buffalo and their owners, moving from one grassy meadow to another.”
- “The population included hill tribespeople, ethnic Tai Yai, Chinese, Muslims, and
Northern Thais living together in harmony. Both were also governed by the
administration of the District of Pai, which was located in the lower town (the
lower and upper towns are separated by the Pai River). The area around the main
communities is cultivated land which is surrounded by mountains so that Pai take
the form of a basin with rugged peaks around it.”
- “With so many attractive qualities-- natural beauty, a history extended back to
ancient times, and a diverse, colorful population-- it isn‟t surprising that travelers
passing through the community might fall under the spell of the local atmosphere
and might want to get out of their cars and stay for a while.”
- “As a result, over the past 20 years, a period in which Mae Hong Son has
experienced a boom in tourism, visitors to the region, especially Westerners, have
been showing up in Pai in growing numbers.” As a result, of the constant stream
of people, land has been cleared for the construction of hotels and restaurants.
The population has boomed.
- “A flash flood from the Pai River drowned the lower town and did so much
damage that the investors began looking for a more congenial place to put their
money. Of course, the obvious choice was the upper town. Not only were land
was cheaper, but the view from the high ground was better.”
- The boom of the town Pai demonstrates the effects of globalization.
- “An important factor contributing to the problem was that the government took no
steps to control the ratio of outsiders to locals and to protect the environment form
trash, waste water, and noise pollution. No attention was given to preserving the
local architecture and arts and to implement planning operations. Not only were
these important aspects of local life and culture ignored, but development and
change were pushed ahead at full speed through the construction of a small
airport… The reason it was built was to permit visitors to get to Pai faster,
avoiding the long, road with its more than 100 curves and bends. A meeting was
held between the private sector and the district at which it was agreed that 12-
seater aircraft could land there easily… Objections were raised to this plan, but
district officials countered that it was all for the good of the local people: If
someone needed urgent medical attention they could quickly fly to Chiang Mai
for treatment. This argument is ridiculous because local people were highly
unlikely to be able to afford the fare for the 12-seater plane.”
- The article continues to discuss the implications of development and how the
locals and Thai government could have better protected or preserved the culture
and traditions of Pia. The article ends with this sentence: “With serious effort, the
authentic character of the ancient upper town might still survive”.
- I found this article very interesting.
- I especially liked the 12-seater plane justification-- locals flying to the hospitals.
What!? Who could afford to fly to Chiang Mai for medical care?
- Interesting argument about culture preservation and protecting authenticity, can
this be done naturally or does it all end up looking artificial because it is so
unnatural to have many foreigners and a vibrant traditional community. These
questions and concerns challenge me as a foreigner and tourist-- what do I want to
see? What are the qualities that I look for in a “tourist place”?
“Putting paid to alcohol abuse”
- “Of all the hare-brained and ill-considered pieces of legislation to emerge from
the Thaksin administration the two measures which, between them ban all liquor
advertising, raise the minimum drinking age to 25 and introduce a host of other
unenforceable controls stand out… But they were not and we have had to endure
a week of hand-wringing, intolerance and face-saving backdowns at the Public
Health Ministry as a result.”
- “Although cabinet objections have forced proponents of the 25-year minimum
drinking age to retreat for now and lick their wounds, a sweeping advertising ban
looks likely to come into force on Dec 5. This will throw thousands of „beer
girls‟-- usually students earning money for tuition fees and living expenses-- out
of work while making no effort to provide them with alternative employment.
They will lose their jobs in beer gardens because all advertising logos will be
banned and their uniforms, sporting the brand of beer they sell, will become
- “But none of these consequences [loss of sports sponsors and money in general]
of the ban would matter in the slightest if it had the remotest change of weaning
those most vulnerable off alcohol and saving lives. It would be a worthy
sacrifice. We already know that alcohol abuse is a horribly real problem, fuelling
domestic and street violence. It is responsible for much of the carnage on our
roads, especially at Songkran. But instead of a well thought-out attempt to
address the cause of the problem, there is just the illusion that something
meaningful is being done. We already have a ban on TV advertising of alcohol
before 10pm and if the authorities think this has little impact, what good can come
of extending the ban to cover the hours when most people are asleep?” (What
about during the day?)
- “What causes most consumers to lose control is the demon at the low end of the
market called lao khao, or white spirit. It is at least 40 per cent alcohol by
volume, absurdly cheap and totally lethal. Furthermore it is never advertised so
the new round-the-clock advertising bans will have absolutely no effect on sales.
Bottles of the brew are flying off shelves because it carries the lowest excise tax,
although it contains the highest percentage of alcohol legally available. Beer, on
the other hand, which many lao khao drinkers would prefer, attracts a huge tax
rate so they cannot afford it.”
- “This is a farcical situation that must be resolved to stop alcohol abuse. First we
should lower alcohol levels and revamp the excise tax system so the lower the
percentage of alcohol, the lower the tax. Educate youngsters to make them aware
of the dangers. Let parents teach their children to develop a healthy respect for
themselves, their religion, and the law. Then impose tight controls on
irresponsible drinkers and prosecute them when necessary, regardless of their
connections, family name or bank balance. Laws already exist for this purpose so
why not enforce them? We do not need any more.”
- The insider‟s story to the bans on alcohol and their potential affect or lack of
- This editorial provides backdoor solutions for the alcohol abuse. Finally, an idea
that has substances and makes sense.
“Ways to make free trade fairer”
- What are the poor countries looking for in a trade deal with rich countries under
o To cut trade-disorting farm and export subsidies that lead to
overproduction and dumping, hurting poor and small farmers in the
o To increase market access and reduce tariffs that block farm products from
that block farm products from the developing countries from entering
some developed countries‟ markets.
o To give some developing countries flexibility to develop their agricultural
and industrial sectors by allowing them to exempt certain products from
o To grant special and differential privileges to the least-developed countries
in the form of 100% duty-free and quota-free access to the developed
o To stop demanding the developing countries open up their industrial and
- Fairer trades are an important instrument for poor people making their way out of
- “The US and EU, in particular, should stop fighting over which types of farm
subsidies each is to cut and by how much. Instead, they should bridge their
differences and revive the failed trade negotiations as quickly as possible”
- Protectionist policies?
- “Since tariffs are normally already low in the rich countries but are relatively high
in most of the poor countries, benefits from potential reductions of tariffs and
trade barriers will mostly go to producers in the rich countries who can
significantly increase their exports.”
- Intellectual property rights (IPR)
- These demands convey the deadlock and challenges to development. It most
definitely sounds like there is a ceiling for development in terms of the market
- Increased globalization has made it more difficult to make thoughtful decisions.
“Crown Prince opens legislative assembly”
- His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn yesterday emphasized
that the country‟s stability lay in the hands of the National Legislation Assembly
(NLA), and called on its members to work together towards this end.
- The rest of the article discusses his speech which continues to stress the need
national community effort to be responsible and work together to ensure
prosperity and stability. The statement also called for improvements in human
rights and civil liberties, including freedom of assembly and freedom of
- Royalty in Thailand has more power than I could have ever imagined. Whenever
the royal family is making news, they are on the front page.
- Ajarn Wililak told us that on the nightly news at 8pm, the royal family news is
- Along the major roads in the city of Chiang Mai, there are huge billboards
devoted to the King and Queen and most are adorn with lights.
October 22, 2006
“Ten tips to save your life”
- This article is an attempt to learn about the latest cure-all advice from health
- Things to improve your health: daily portions of Brazilian acai berries to avoid
cancer, to eat salmon six times a week in order to stay wrinkle-free, consume
celebrity-endorsed super-museli $25 a kilo (Bt 930), ask for a heart disease risk
assessment, take a new hobby, turn down the volume, get to know your body,
give up the equivalent of one hour‟s television a day, take a statin, protect your
skin from the sun, practice safe sex and use a condom, and go back to the basics
at home and turn off the central air conditioner and heat.
- We do receive an inordinate amount of health advice. Why are we so obsessed
with our health?
- What affect does health information such as this have on the Thai population?
Probably not a great affect since the news is printed in English.
- What would Thai doctors tell Thai people if they were to answer these questions?
- These responses are reflective of health concerns for developed countries. Would
they be the same for a developing country?
“Older generation should not preach to the younger” (Opinion)
- This editorial speaks to the increase in drinking age, and explains that the interim
cabinet of ministers‟ ages averages to exceed 60. Yet, they have the power to
pass laws that raise the legal minimum age of alcohol buyers from 18 to 25. The
proposed bill “reflected the general attitude of the elders of our country towards
the younger generation that, regardless of their age and education, they are still
not mature enough to decide for themselves what or what not to do.
- I see that these attitudes on both ends demonstrate the idea of dependence
between the younger and older generation in Thailand. The younger generation
wants to enjoy the principles of democracy-- freedom to choose; yet the older
generation isn't comfortable with this and wants to control the actions of the
“What Tibetan medicine offers”
- “Tibetan medical science is based on Buddhism, regarding all diseases as being
rooted in greed, hatred, and delusion.”
- “Insight into its art, science and philosophy will be shared by Dr Namgyal Qusar.
Admission is Bt300. On November 6, a practitioner will conduct 20-minute
physical check-ups on anyone interested for Bt200, and a workshop for beginners
is being held from the November 10 to12, and an advanced course fro the 13th and
15th. All cost Bt2,000.”
- I would like to know more about how Buddhism is related to health; because I
was told that Buddhism tells its followers that the Buddha cannot help with four
things and one of them being health.
- Is this a commonly held belief that greed, hatred, and delusion cause illness and
- How is Buddhist doctrine or Buddhism related to ideas of health and healing in
- Does the combination of words “science” and “art” cause problems here? Can
medicine be both a “science” and an “art”? Or is it always both? Usually
biomedicine is described as a “science” and traditional forms of medicine are
thought to be an “art.”
“Thais reap windfall”
- This article discusses Thailand‟s relationship with EU and Asian countries, and
how more countries are banning GE rice from the US.
“Royal guards dispatched”
- 20,000 a day are being treated for waterborne illnesses
- His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has dispatched Royal
guards to aid flood victims at Pho Thong in Angthong, and an ancient market in
Wiset Chai Chan district has been flooded.
- 1,000 survival kits will be distributed to Pho Thong villagers and ordered 50
Royal guards to assist flood-hit locals.
- Public Health Ministry spokesman Supan Srithamma said as many as 20,000
flood-affected people were receiving medical care each day. Since late August
almost 428,000 have fallen ill with waterborne disease, more than half with hand,
foot and mouth disease.
- Angthong Hospital director Niran Changtrakul said 40 per cent of 240 chronically
ill patients registered with the hospital had missed doctors‟ appointments because
they were unable to leave their homes and the hospital was ending out doctors by
- Yesterday, three people were reported drowned in Prachin Buri.
- The article goes on to give more details about the flood relief form various
- SAY SOMETHING
“Skincare to avoid a scare”
- This article dishes out advice for “the best” way to take care of your complexion
and have beautiful skin.
- The article shares “beauty secret” by sharing what her grandmother used to do.
“My grandmother used to wash her face with egg whites. She also created her
own exfoliating scrub by combining glycerine and white sugar. Once in a while
she would use lemon juice to peel away dead skin cells. Anyway, she had
amazing skin. Thinking back, I see that my grandmother was quite a pioneer in
the organic skincare products. Shame she never thought of mass-producing her
- These days when it comes to skincare, most of us naturally turn to the enormous
variety of cosmetic products available… Cosmetic giants are coming up with new
products and brands continually, and now there are countless creams and serums
to improve or whiten the complexion…The cosmetic industry rakes in billions of
dollars a year… In Asia in particular, whitening products have become
increasingly popular, with millions of Asian women hoping to achieve fairer
complexions, since in Asia, it seems, fairness is a key factor for being beautiful.”
- She gives her daily skincare routine which includes many products most of which
the general public could not afford.
- The article ends with her vote of confidence to consult a dermatologists for
correct skincare products and to combat wrinkles.
- What I wonder is did her grandmother really know what these ingredients did?
Or did she just know from experience that this worked for this and that didn‟t
work that that?
- How is the knowledge acquired?
- This woman also is describing what is traditional about products-- not mass-
produced, homemade, gentle/natural, and simple.
- The cosmetic giants sound like the pharmaceutical giants in some ways-- always
coming out with new products, overwhelming variety…
“Jiving with java”
- A new study shows that coffee is rich in antioxidants and may even reduce the
chance of developing certain diseases
- Antioxidants help the body get rid of harmful free radicals, destructive molecules
that damage cells and DNA. They have been linked to a number of health
benefits, including protection against heart disease and cancer as well as a
reduced risk of liver and colon cancer, Type II Diabetes and Parkinson‟s disease.
- “Oxidation in our body occurs when free radicals pair with other molecules like
protein, fat, or tissues, which is likely to speed up the ageing process, cause
disease and heart and cardiovascular problems,” says Chaichan Sangdee of the
pharmacology department at Chiang Mai University‟s medical faculty.
- “Too many antioxidants can become pro-oxidants. So drink in moderation.”
- How did Thailand come to like coffee? French? Colonialism?
Photo: Meatless merit-making
- Locals and visitors adorn the sacred pillar of nine Chinese saints to make the start
of the vegetarian festival in Phuket yesterday. The non-meat diet is said to bring
merit to observers wearing white or yellow.
- This is a photo of the vegetarian festival.
October 26, 2006
“Who‟s afraid of the ghost of populism”
- Even the most battle-hardened politicians would tell you that if you didn‟t have to
worry about what opinion polls for the next election, you could do wonderful
things for the country.
- This interim government, once it switches into the right gear to put itself on the
fast track, could in fact win the respect…of the people by simply telling them the
ugly truth about past populist policies and replacing them with a road map that
will put the country on a more sustainable, transparent and ethical path.
- It wasn‟t long ago (exactly five weeks to be exact) that most people thought
nobody could really come up with any platform that could win the grass-roots
vote better than Thaksin‟s Bt30 universal healthcare for every Thai citizen. Who
would have thought that Public Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla, one of the
much-maligned old bureaucrats in the interim Cabinet, could within days of
taking up office declare a stunning new twist to what used to be labeled Thaksin‟s
most entrenched policy? His alternative policy is to make it all free.
- Dr. Mongkol has a one-year term as public health minister and he certainly isn‟t
looking to get votes from the country‟s poor. His reasoning is clear and simple:
the Bt30 price tag was there only as an election sloganeering gimmick of
Thaksin‟s Thai Rak Thai Party. In fact, officials would tell you that the
cumbersome paperwork involved in collecting Bt30 from every patient instead of
offering the service free, in the end cost more than the token fee charged.
- The politicians exploiting this political plank to gain votes from villagers
deliberately refused to tell the truth to the voters-- that its taxpayers‟ money that
take care of the health services under the scheme.
- Populist platform was conceived and run: the most talked-about program was one
of the most controversial, opaque and mismanaged… clearly lacking in good
governance and accountability.
- …Dr Kasem Watanachai, a privy councilor and former education minister under
Thaksin‟s first cabinet, pointed out, the country‟s health policy for the past five
years had some disastrous effects on doctors, nurses and medical schools, indeed
the whole medical community. There was never any genuine and realistic
performance assessment because politics dictated every aspect of the
operation…political consideration of the powers that be took precedence over
- Kasem said last week that the Bt30 medical scheme was nothing but „an election
campaign‟s marketing gimmick‟
- Like most of the populist programs trumpeted by the previous government, the
egregious error of judgment in the implementation of the Bt30 health service
wasn‟t in the declared intention to help the poor. The colossal mistake was in the
deliberate political spin put on the scheme-- to make it sound so simplistic and
exclusive and that only a rich businessman with an overwhelming political
manage could wave this magical wand.
- Each of Thaksin‟s populist schemes must be placed under close scrutiny and an
independent, fair, and frank assessment of its real contribution to people‟s quality
of life…the real cost-benefit report on all those pork-barrel projects (the Village
Fund, One Million Cows Project, government-operated lotteries, SML grants,
Bangkok‟s Fashion City, the Elite Card etc) is verified… [to see if] the real task
of building the foundation of a self-propelled, independent and self-sufficient
grass-roots movement that interacts effectively and continuously within a genuine
democratic system can earnestly begin.
- …engage the people in real development work and get rid of all the political
puffery. Superficial, colorful packaging and short-term marketing mustn‟t be
allowed to replace the real crux of the issue: the quality of the product.
- This opinion article has a good point, that the interim government doesn‟t have to
make any new policies, laws, or bills, all they have to do it tell the truth about the
past government and the country is more sustainable, transparent, and ethical. I
am not sure how I feel about this. Is this really an example of a sustainable,
transparent, and ethical government? Will the next government just tell on the
interim government and this cycle of “truth-telling” will continue?
- This article provides some good back ground information on the Bt30 healthcare
scheme and a context in which the new healthcare scheme can be placed.
“Most schools told to admit all applicants”
- Only 430 of the most popular secondary schools will hold entrance exams next
- Every other school will be required to admit all applicants.
- “I am told that if these popular secondary schools do not hold entrance exams, an
extremely large number of children will flock to these schools” says Education
Minister Wijit Srisa-an, “explaining why the most famous schools would be
- Basic Education Commission (BEC) is devoted to find a better way to select new
students for the most popular schools.
- Former education minister Chaturon Chaisang approved a plan to reduce the ratio
of seats earmarked for neighborhood children from 60 to 50 per cent. He said the
proportion would give children in remote areas a better change of gaining
admission to prestigious schools. The elite schools like these standards, but the
new education minister say this should be removed because it was a government‟s
duty to provide education for all children.
- But exempted to the 430 most popular schools on the BEC list. About half of
them are in Bangkok, and the rest in other provinces. At each of these 430
schools, 50 per cent of available seats will go to children in the local
neighborhood, 40 per cent will go to applicants who successfully pass entrance
exams, and 10 other per cent will be allocated for children with special talents.
- How will the non-exempt schools pay for the increase in students?
- This issue of centralized and elite/selective secondary education is a precursor for
continued disparities and gaps in wealth in Thai society. Education seems to be a
good indicator of social status.
- Pia, one of the Thai buddies, comes from a single parent home. Her mother
works in a factory that makes plastic bags. Her father died of kidney failure when
she was very young. She told me that he had surgery, and then wanted to get
better quickly so he ate a lot, but his kidneys couldn‟t handled it. They were
shocked when he died. Her mother had stayed a home with the kids, but then she
had to work. Out of all the Thai buddies, Pia appears to be the wealthiest; she has
incredible poise and grace. She is also incredibly intelligent. My observations
did not match up with her story. Education has given her many opportunities.
She attended public school and received a large scholarship from Chiang Mai.
While I was there, she received a large scholarship from Shell. Education has
propelled her through the social hierarchy. Now, she is applying for masters in
- What causes kidney failure?
“Public healthcare in need of surgery”
- The interim government must do whatever necessary to ensure long-term
sustainability of the scheme
- The government‟s plan to overhaul the Bt30 health scheme to upgrade the quality
of service, improve administrative efficiency and ensure sustainable funding is to
- According to the author, the program was one of the best things every provided to
poor people in this country; however, it will take moral courage, sound judgment,
and innovated ideas to fix it.
- Next the government must tell the public the truth that the healthcare program,
one of the world‟s most generous, cannot continue in its present form without
imposing long-term financial liabilities on the country. Virtually no nation can
sustain such universal healthcare indefinitely because the costs of providing
services will evetually overshoot the government‟s ability to fun it.
- Down the road the government would eventually have to make judicious cuts in
the benefits to everyone, or demand a sizeable increase in co-payment from all
patients, or to make financially well-off people pay a fair share of their own
medical bills-- to ensure financial sustainability of the scheme over the long term.
- The only option is to require people who can afford it to make substantial
payments much higher than Bt30. “Only this would allow the state to recover
much of the total costs of medical services”
- The universal healthcare program covers all Thai citizens not already covered by
existing health insurance schemes, such as those provided by the Social Security
Office, Civil Servants Medical Benefits Scheme and the state enterprise workers‟
- It is obvious that the universal healthcare program could benefit from better
targeting to make sure poor people who really need help get all the help they can
get, while people who can afford to make payments for treatment out of their own
pockets do so.
- Thaksin kept the scheme under-funded and understaffed because he had to divert
taxpayers‟ money for healthcare toward other wasteful populist projects. As a
result, many government hospitals were left teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
State hospitals, the main healthcare providers of the universal medical service,
have often had difficulty getting reimbursed for costly medical treatments and
medication that they provided to patients. The quality of healthcare has been
compromised, and the morale of doctors and nurses at state hospitals is at an all-
- The interim government has already injected much-needed funds to enable state
hospitals to pay off debts and to function smoothly.
- …ensure that available healthcare is a gift to the people that keeps on giving
- It has been mentioned…that it will be complicated process to determine who, and
at which income bracket, should be asked to make what amount of co-payment
under the universal health care program… Our personal income tax system
already divides income earners neatly into categories with different tax rates. (and
- This editorial highlights some of the main problems as well as potential solutions.
“Industry has doubts on „sin tax‟”
- -The Public Health Ministry plans to impose a 2-per-cent “sin tax” on alcohol
products-- which would raise the duty levied to 4 per cent-- believing that it is a
misdirected effort to solve alcohol-related social problems.
- The increase in alcohol and cigarette taxes was proposed on Tuesday… alcohol
producers could withdraw their sports sponsorships if the government implements
the 24-hour advertising band on all alcohol products.
- The Tourism and Sports Ministry has estimated that the advertising ban would
lead to the cancellation of the Bt130 million budgets…
- “The Thai Health Promotion Foundation already has Bt2 billion from the 2 per
cent it levied earlier. If another 2 per cent is taken, it will have Bt4 billion at its
disposal. So far the Bt2 billion has not even been completely used, said Somchai
Suthikulpanich, senior vice president of Thai Beverage Marketing.
- I think this a good idea. It helps the Ministry of Public Health pay for the
universal healthcare system. However, it does manipulate people‟s ability to
consume whatever they want. Also, many poor people drink out of desperation
and depression due to their socio-economic condition, by raising the total price of
alcohol the poor would be come poorer. Alternatively, this extra money could go
to raising their socio-economic status in some manner.
- Is there a better solution?
“New study reveals scale of ads‟ threat”
- A recent study by Mahidol University… [was] released yesterday, the result show
people who live close to alcohol ads drink 12 times more often than those who
- Exposure to alcohol advertising-- including at points of purchase like grocery
shops and convenience stores-- can increase the likelihood of drinking by three to
four times, Assoc Professor Kusol Soonthorndhada, form the university‟s Institute
for Population and Social Research.
- Any form of alcohol advertising stimulated the desire to drink two-fold… Some
65 per cent of drinkers were aware of ads for alcoholic beverages compared with
just 40 per cent of non-drinkers.
- “A new and interesting alcohol advertisement always attracts those who are
- However, 83 per cent of respondents who drank believed it was important to
govern alcohol ads. And 72 per cent of non-drinkers thought the same.
- With the 24-hour ban on above-the-line alcohol advertising effective from Dec 3,
Parames [president of Advertising Association of Thailand] doubted whether it
would really solve social problems. Previous sporadic regulations, such as
forbidding alcohol products in programs, no broadcast advertising before 10pm,
and no billboards within school areas, and no billboards within school areas,
failed to reduce the number of drinkers and alcohol-related accidents…
- … the government refused to collaborate with advertisers and advertising
agencies to solve the problem together…
- How was the sporadic regulations studied? How was data collected? Were there
any studies conducted before new policies were proposed?
“Call for sports funds panel”
- An independent fun should be set up to support local sports, which stand to lose
heavily from the ban on alcohol advertising, the Thai Health Promotion
Foundation has suggested.
- Thai Health is looking to promote sports and physical exercise through an excise
tax on alcohol sales by 2 per cent.
- “The additional excise tax could help subsidize local sports, which has received
only limited funding from the state for a long time. That has forced local sports
associations to go to the beverage companies to seek sponsorship,” says Vivat
Vikrantanoros, a Thai Health advisor.
- Thai Health spends 1- to 15 per cent of its budget on local sports sponsorships.
- This alcohol tax will create more dependency between the state and the local
teams. I guess it is better to have them not advertising alcoholic beverages and
receiving more funding.
“Farmers in North fear Flora expo chemicals”
- Villagers and environmentalists are worried residue from pesticides and chemical
fertilizers used at the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2006 in Chiang Mai will
- Hang Dong district farmer Thaong Jailangka fears chemicals will leach into the
Taeng irrigation canal that runs through his property.
- …the event organizer never told locals how it planned to manage environmental
and ecosystem problems associated with the expo.
- …environmental and health impacts were points of concern for the company and
the department (as a result of large amounts of chemical fertilizers being used)
- Healthy Marriage:
o Sukhumvit Hospital is providing a special health examination program for
the bride and groom to prepare them for a safe marriage.
o The program includes physical check-up, lung x-ray, blood test to search
for venereal diseases, any infectious diseases such as thallasemia, hepatitis
B, Aids, German measles.
- Healing Meditation:
o Different techniques for calming the mind and healing physical illness and
emotional imbalance, adapted for people of the busy world.
o It is recommended for people with cancer.
- Neuroscience Center
o Piyavate Hospital holds the official opening of its Neuroscience Center.
o The latest medical equipment, 3-Tesla MRI and 64 Slice CT scan will be
November 8, 2006
The Bangkok Post
“Ministry says advertising ban treats all brands alike”
- The Public Health Ministry yesterday defended its controversial alcohol
advertisement ban, saying the legislation isn't discriminatory because it will be
enforced on both local and imported liquor brands.
- “Any alcohol producer can take the matter to court if it feels the measure violates
its rights. But whether or not the court would accept such a case is another issue,”
said Saman Footrakul, head of the tobacco and alcohol control board.
- The Food and Drug Administration‟s ban covers logos, symbols and theme colors
of alcohol products. Names of liquor companies will also be banned from being
broadcast on air if they are similar to the alcohol brand or contain alcohol-related
words, such as brewery, distillery and liquor.
- The measure is part of the health campaign aimed at curbing the number of young
drinkers who are said to be easily persuaded by attractive advertisement for
alcohol beverages, mostly broadcast on television.
- …the ministry‟s alcohol advertising control measure was not against free trade
principles because it affected both local and imported brands.
- In addition, under Article 20 of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade
(Gatt) 1994, each nation in the World Trade Organization is allowed to enforce
laws to protect basic rights of its population, said Jade Donavanik, the dean of
Siam University‟s law faculty.
- If a foreign liquor producer has problems with the ban, he said, Thailand could
cite the Gatt regulation to support the measure, which protects the public‟s health
from harmful products like alcohol.
- “Alcohol producers, meanwhile, should think about the social benefits rather than
use legal loopholes to earn profits which won‟t help their image,” he said.
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“The heart and the head”
- This article comes from the United States and describes a study about the
correlations between a hole in the heart and migraines.
- One in five adults in the US has a little hole in the heart. Most will never know it,
but the defect may play a role in certain strokes and severe migraines, leading
thousands to get devices implanted to seal it shut. Although doctors are not sure
if fixing the heart in turn helps the migraines.
- This article is definitely for the older folks who have retired in Thailand. The
article also hints at the biomedicines inability to provide solid solutions, but
ability to put a patch on it-- treating the symptoms, but not the root.
- What causes the hole to form? Is it as common in other cultures, nations,
“Zidane strikes a blow for poor”
- French superstar footballer visited a village in Bangladesh “to meet former
beggars who had transformed their lives through tiny loans from Nobel Prize
winner Muhammad Yunus‟s pioneering Grameen Bank.”
- Some 10,000 people turned out to watch him play. “I am completely taken
aback,” Zidane told the private Ntv television channel. “I never thought that
people living thousands of miles away in small villages here in Bangladesh would
know who I am,” he said.
- The article gave examples of some businesses that were started: one woman
began selling toothpaste and shampoo door to door, another sold vegetables, and
- Zidane was there to open officially a factory project run by French food giant
Danone and Grameen Bank at a ceremony in Dhaka. Each has a 50 per cent stake
in the US$1-million (Bt36.6 million) plant in the northern town of Bogra, which
is aimed at producing nutritious food products targeted at people on low-incomes.
- I think it is interesting that the article describes the people as “former beggars.”
- I am interested to learn more about the relationship between Grameen Bank and
“Genetic Hope in HIV Treatment”
- A genetically altered Aids retrovirus that impairs the replication of the HIV virus
has shown encouraging results in a small clinical trial…
- Five advanced AIDS patients unresponsive to at least two anti-retroviral
treatments experienced decreases in viral load and an increase in white-blood cell
count that boosts the immune system‟s response to bacterial, viral and fungal
“2.1bn pounds immunization effort started”
- British Finance Minister Gordon Brown launched a fund to immunize millions of
children around the globe yesterday, calling it a great “Christmas present” for the
- International Finance Facility for Immunization aims to pay for 500 million
children over the next decade to be protected against polio, measles, diphtheria
- The funds works by selling long-term bonds to international money markets to
raise money for developing countries now, with interest on these paid back using
future aid funding.
“Revistalising basic logistics infrastructure”
- Thailand will become the center of an Asian land-transport hub for Southeast
Asia. Now, Thailand is thought to be a global trader providing greater economic
benefits and more friendly logistics infrastructure for macro-economic, industry,
and small business.
- The socio-economic conditions and spread of economic activity throughout all
parts of Thailand means that the nation is maintaining the supply-chain focus on
small business development.
- The articles concern is how to balance the national transport corridor
competitiveness (such as linking road systems with other countries) with
sustainable SME development.
- Infrastructure is a huge part of development and increased economic activity.
November 10, 2006
The Bangkok Post
“Getting clean water to the world‟s poor”
- This article discusses the limited world resources and why it is important that the
limited resources are more equitably distributed.
- Water wars: predictions rooted in fear that there is simply not enough fresh water
to meet the needs of all expanding and quickly urbanizing global population.
According to this article, it is an understandable concern because “there are now
more than a billion people with no regular access to clean water for drinking,
bathing, cooking or basic sanitation.”
- The consequences: an estimated two billion children die annually because their
families don‟t have potable water or functioning toilets.
- “Yet a rationale analysis of the water problem shows that there is no objective
reason--financial, logistical, or geographical--why the poor cannot be provided
with enough clean water to meet their basic human needs.
- Demand shifts the market incentives and technology innovation to public
investment and policy frameworks.
- “And sometimes the missing ingredient is political will.”
- 2006 Human Development Report
- Unquestionably, many parts of the planet are faced with acute water shortages, a
problem which is being exacerbated by global warming. Whether it is water or
the broader problem of global warming, the challenge is fundamentally not one of
aggregate resources, but rather one of the priorities of political leaders, nationally
- All too commonly, water pricing operates on the perverse principle that the poorer
you are, the more it costs. Urban slum residents pay some of the world‟s highest
price for water.
- Privatization versus state ownership
- The real challenge is how to get potable water to those who can least afford to pay
- The emerging industrial powerhouses of the 19th century experienced the same
problems such as New York and London. Those cities invested massively in
public water utilities that rapidly reduced gastrointestinal disease and built a
foundation for economic growth and a rising quality of life. It can be done.
- The 2006 Human Development Report urges every development country to
prepare a national plan to accelerate progress in water and sanitation, with
ambitious targets backed with at least 1% of GDP, and clear strategies for
overcoming equalities. Currently, national public spending on public water
supplies is typically less than 0.5% of GDP.
- The Report also calls for a Global Action Plan under G-8 leadership to put water
and sanitation problems from and center on the world development agenda. The
authors make a persuasive case for an additional US$3.4 to $4 billion in annual
international aid for water and sanitation-assistance that should be considered an
overdue investment, with enormous long-term returns in health and productivity,
and basic quality of life.
- We have a collective responsibility to succeed (in each of the eight Millennium
Development Goals). On practical and ethical grounds both, it is difficult to
imagine a better investment in the health and well-being of the world‟s poor.
- I agree.
- What evidence or data will convince people that it is better to prevent then deal
- What is it about those who have power and wealth that hinders change for those
who have less power and money? Most of my thoughts go to those whose lives
demonstrate inequality, but what about those on top—why don‟t they act? Are
there any theories that address this?
“American and Indian doctors win awards”
- Four distinguished American and Indian doctors have been honored in the 2006
Prince Manidol Awards for their outstanding work in the fields of medicine and
- Introduced oral rehydration therapy (ORT), which is a simple, inexpensive but
effective treatment for severe diarrhea.
- The introduction of ORT has saved more than 40 million lives in the past 30 years
and the discovery was a major achievement in the service of human health.
- The Lancet medical journal also regards ORT as the most important medical
discovery of the 20th century.
- The awardees will receive honorary medals, certificates and a cash award of
$50,000 (1.8 million baht) each from His Majesty the King on Jan. 31.
- These awards are given in honor of Prince Mahidol, and began on his centenary
birthday in 1992. This is an international award in the fields of medicine, public
health, and social services.
November 12, 2006
The Bangkok Post
“Rice farmers need help of government” (editorial)
- Rice farmers are considered the backbone of the country. Most of our rice
farmers are still poor and neglected by the government.
- Previously at the mercy of loan sharks, farmers can now borrow from state-run
banks at low interest. But they still have to pay for fertilizer and pesticides. If
they are hit by floods or droughts, farmers will plunge deeper into debt. Even with
a good harvest, many farmers are still at the mercy of the middlemen, who buy
from them cheaply.
- Farmers cannot rise above poverty if they cannot control the market. They need
technological know-how to boost rice yields, and marketing skills to compete
with global traders. The country will be in grave danger if we do not help our rice
farmers. A large number of rural people have left their farmland to work in
factories. Why do back-breaking work on the farm when they can earn more
money sewing shirts or assembling cars?
- The government must have a long-term plan for the future of our rice farmers. To
keep them on the farms, the government must ensure that they get a good price for
their produce. An insurance scheme should help them cope with natural disasters.
- European analysts have predicted that the price of rice in the world market will
increase by 100 per cent in the next two years. This is good news for rice
exporters. But what about our farmers?
- What a smart article! The same can be said about the farmers everywhere. They
are the foundation and stability of the economy and society, yet they are the
poorest. When will something be done to change this?