• Reader’s Retort
I found myself taken aback by the letter from Mr. Terry Reardon [Your Say, March 2013], who condemned Citylife’s recent trend toward covering more ‘social issues’.
I had to read Mr. Reardon’s letter several times to make sure I had understood him. It’s not often that you find a reader clamoring for more fluff and less substance in a magazine. Having written for expat publications that focus almost exclusively on such ‘light’ material, I find Citylife refreshing in its willingness to tackle more substantial topics. And as a new regular contributor to Citylife, I was disturbed by the suggestion that the publication should veer toward safer topics, such as restaurants, rentals and entertainment venues.
While these subjects are of interest to expats, Citylife already provides entertainment and dining coverage, and there are plenty of other outlets that focus exclusively on such topics, such as ThaiVisa or TripAdvisor. Citylife provides an important service by telling readers stories of the dark and often atrocious goings-on outside the comfortable farang lifestyle.
What could be more ‘pertinent to our lives here’, to use Mr. Reardon’s phrase, than to understand the cultural and social injustices that pervade the area in which we live?
I disagree with Mr. Reardon’s suggestion that the topics covered in recent issues, which include the deadly toll Vietnam War-era cluster bombs continue to exact on neighbouring Laos and one woman’s effort to protect and support sex trafficking victims, are those which ‘most foreign readers cannot affect in a serious, long term manner’. While it may be true that foreigners are unlikely to change laws or reform a culture, there is power in knowledge. We can support organisations that rehabilitate and protect disenfranchised groups, and refuse to give monetary or moral sanction to practices and businesses that perpetuate violence and injustice.
Thailand provides a comfortable haven for expats of all ages and all backgrounds. It’s a wonderful place but the longer you live here, the more difficult it becomes to ignore the tragedies that sully the country’s history and image. Whether discussed in the pages of Citylife or not, sex trafficking, abuse and corruption are as much a part of Chiang Mai as they are any other city in the world and ignoring those realities will not make them go away.
It is Mr. Reardon’s prerogative to turn a blind eye to these issues and to seek more light-hearted media, but I hope that the editors at Citylife will continue to push the envelope on those issues that are unfortunately a very real fact of life in this part of the world.
• Pushing Barriers
I think it is important to educate your readers, regardless of whether or not they can impact change, about the socio-economic issues going on. Besides, you never know. It takes one person to start something and education is key to that. As for the language issue mentioned, in America alternative weekly publications, at least the ones I have read, were meant to push the barrier of reporting, to not censor (heavily) language and to be a bit controversial.
• Pope Bashing
As a devout Catholic I am not sure how much I should be offended by your editorial. There isn’t much you say there that I don’t read in liberal media all over the world, and Citylife has always been a liberal publication with leftist, anti-establishment, anti-conservative views, so it is hard to assume outrage. But many of your loyal readers are very conservative and religious, so please bear that in mind when you go after what we love and worship.
On the other hand you do make good points, the world is shifting towards your side of the argument and we on the right must try our best to stay relevant. Perhaps there are more softer ways of making an argument that you could adopt? Talking of the wobbly hands of the old pope and graying hair seems a little bit too much to stomach.
A Devout Catholic
• Daughters United
I just read ‘Daughters Unite’ and it is very powerful. Alexa’s story, while very inspiring, is a hard one to hear. The things that so many young women have to endure is incredible and I remember countless horror stories from my own non-profit work with victims of family violence in the States. Stories of sexual violence and rape are the most upsetting to me. I am so proud of Alexa’s work! She is the real deal and I wish I had millions and millions of dollars to give her because she is actually creating a movement to a better world.
• City ??????
I think that it is great that Citylife is including more social issues. This has not taken away from Citylife providing information on entertainment and leisure activities in Chiang Mai. I enjoy having both. I think addressing social and economic issues makes the magazine more diverse and interesting. Citylife is an English language magazine and therefore is mainly targeted at foreigners and Thais who can read English… I think that you should at least be aware of what is going on around you and secondly I do think you can contribute to helping with Thailand’s social and economic issues by donating money or volunteering your time to an endless list of causes.
As a person who is half Thai half English, I am a foreigner to some extent but I am also Thai and I find the articles addressing different social and economic issues related to Thailand and Chiang Mai important to have in Citylife. I know that there are many sources for reading up on Thailand’s social and economic issues, but having them in the magazine is important because Citylife can and does reach a certain audience. I also hope that one day, Citylife will become a bilingual publication. That would truly be amazing.
• Puffing Smog
Isn’t it ironic that while the police tour the town intimidating restaurant and bar owners who allow some poor sod to puff furtively on a fag, the whole city is enveloped in smoke and nobody seems to be doing damned-all about it?