CityNews Chiang Mai

 |  December 3, 2012

CityNews, Chiang Mai‘s first daily-updated English language online news site brought you the city’s biggest news events last month, as well as some hard-hitting feature stories that we hope you enjoyed.

Last month perhaps the biggest story that grabbed everyone’s attention was the horrific murder of a Masters Degree student at Payap University. The culprit was found quickly but the story won’t easily be forgotten. On a happier note, we reported on Obama’s visit, and the many festivals that came to Chiang Mai in the months of November and December. The cool season – if it ever arrives – is party time for Chiang Mai and we covered it all.

And don’t forget our reviews, blogs and photos. We’ve added a ‘Highlights’ section to the site so now you can’t miss a lot of our bigger and more interesting stories, while all our features are now in one section. Some of you have told us you would like to see an anonymous comments section on every story, and this will happen in the upcoming month. The comments will have to be approved, just so we can follow the rules of the land and avoid excessive trolling.

News Highlights Last Month

Interview with Outspoken Bangkok Journalist  Voranai Vanijaka

Voranai Vanijaka, a Bangkok based journalist working for the likes of the Bangkok Post, has become well-known over the last five years or so for his sometimes controversial opinion pieces. His social commentary touches on subjects such as class snobbery, Plato’s noble lies (or the government’s), censorship, sex tourism and the many struggles facing every Thai as Thailand shifts through a period of enlightenment in its very own unique way. He writes in English, and was educated at the University of Texas, Austin and Southbank University, London. ¬†He also teaches at Thammasart University.

You’re quite well known for being perhaps one of the most outspoken critics in Thailand. Are there any subjects, bar the obvious, you won’t broach because of perceived dangers? Are there any subjects you just can’t resist returning to again and again?

The subjects I return to time and time again are historical evolution (‘cos you got to know the past to comprehend the present), education and the patronage cultural mindset (‘cos these are the two main issues that hold Thailand back) and Thaksin Shinawatra (‘cos it’s just so much fun).

Are we living in a kind of Wild East where writers or editors should be very aware of who they might upset?

They should be aware, but they should try to upset them anyway. I believe in shaking things up, not accepting things as they are.

You talked in an interview once before about people in general needing to be more self-reflective, more accountable for their actions/thought processes. I don’t want to ask you to generalise, but if a large group of children grow up not as self-aware as they should be, then why is that?

This is because it just makes life easier. To be self-aware is to face and admit your own flaws. In doing so, you can either accept your flaws and move on or change them for the better. The former is an existential nightmare; the latter is too much work. So it’s easier to only see the flaws in others and be obstinately self-righteous of oneself.

What does it mean to be more self-aware?

To recognise and admit that we are all geniuses and idiots, saints and scumbags, martyrs and morons – all rolled into one.

Many have criticised the Ministry of Culture’s commandments on what it deems to be ‘good’ and ‘bad’ society or culture. Is this kind of indoctrination harmful to society in your opinion? Why does it happen? Who comes up with certain ideas on why it’s bad to be gay or why teenage girls shouldn’t think about sex?

The portfolio is the least relevant, the least prestigious and the least lucrative of all the ministries. So it’s a combination of inward self vanity plus insecurity and outward simple-minded perceptions of the world that make them do the things that they do.

What some people call antiquated ideas, such as the above, seems to be a majority consensus. Or am I wrong? Is it difficult to be a radical thinker in Thailand? Is the education system still not a place to argue with your teacher?

I don’t know if it’s the majority consensus. The younger generation in general doesn’t think so, and many of the older ones are also progressive. But of course we are still stuck way back in the evolutionary chain in terms of liberal thinking, especially at government level. It’s not difficult to be a radical thinker in Thailand, if you don’t take the radical approach to push your ideas. Finesse can at times get you farther than brute force, and leave a much smaller trail of destruction behind you, although it does take more time. It’s not a place to argue, according to the teachers, but I say do it anyway, but do it with a measure of respect and a hint of smile.

It seems the local government in Chiang Mai at the moment, in their fast-track education of the people are taking an anti-materialism stance. Is it contradictory for rich people to be telling poor people not to want the things they have?

I appreciate an anti-materialism stance. But yes, it’s hypocritical for rich people who have so much to tell poor people who have so little not to want what they have. The reality is if you embrace capitalism, then by default, you go to bed with materialism. The rich just want less competition.

No Holiday for Obama in Southeast Asia

Obama’s visit in Thailand went well. Charlie Campbell covered the story before the President even stepped onto Thai soil.

Man Confesses to Raping Payap Student after Killing Her First and Filming the Grizzly Episode on her iPhone

Perhaps the most shocking story we’ve reported all year.

Interview with Human Rights Activist Matthew McDaniel – Missionaries as Human Traffickers, The CIA, and Police Brutality in Northern Thailand

The now deported missionary fighter talks about his cowboy days in Thailand.

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