Your Say

 |  June 26, 2009

[right]Your say is an open forum for you the reader to express your opinions.
Write to:, subject: Your say. Letters can be on any subject and priority will be given to letters under 200 words.Letters may be edited for clarity or conciseness. Name and contact details must be supplied.[/right]

German Humour

Now I as a Kraut don’t have a sense of humour but just been leafing through your June edition & read the ‘Higgledy-Piggledy’ letter – is this guy for real?! Wow, one scary customer! Not sure how he managed to interpret your editorial so differently to what (I think) you intended it to be! It was your personal thoughts that you shared with your readers & that letter must have been very hurtful – of course you should laugh about it and ‘take the crunchy with the smooth’ – but that’s not so easy when you care about something! So just a little note to say thank you to you and all your staff for a brilliant (much more than a simple travel!) magazine – and I look forward to reading your next edition, editorial ‘n’ all!

Best wishes.

A Little Common Sense

Your insightful interview with Assoc. Prof. Prathoomporn made a great deal of (common) sense, coming from a Thai that is. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way but it’s seldom that you come across such a straight talking, critical assessment from a Thai about what’s wrong with education (or anything for that matter), and this is the crux of the matter. Most observers agree that education here is sub-standard and manifests itself indirectly in the current political crisis. But Thai cultural conditioning, a pre-condition for learning and thinking, suppresses constructive criticism, critical thinking, realistic policy making and ultimately effective problem solving. Your various educational articles revealed some contrasting eyebrow raising comments; ‘Siamese students…are very bright and intelligent’ – (Earnest Young 1898). ‘What is the role of the mother; a) One cooking pot b) Making som tam c) Fruit carving (Test question for Farang teachers’ cultural exam)’. ‘Varee prides itself on…the high standards of Thai, its educational system regarding attention to detail, focus on science, maths and especially English (Varee School advertorial)’.

‘Thai medical students are only ranked 27th in the world and that is supposed to be our strength (Khun Prathoomporn)’. Clearly we are all missing the point here. Plenty has already been said about teaching shortcomings in Thailand and after teaching for six months in a typical private Bangkok school I too witness some of the farcical fundamentals. But it is the overall lack of what farang call ‘common sense’. Well, this is a cultural difference, but when you see examples like the teachers’ cultural test, the Land Department Head declaring that all land bought using foreign money is illegal, the bank manager telling me I can have a credit card (with 100,000 baht limit) if I deposit 200,000 baht in a fixed deposit account, or the billboard trying to sell me a 6 million baht condo using bad grammar and spelling, you then realise just how hopeless these graduates of the Thai education system can be. These are examples coming from captains of industry, the highly paid, highly qualified policy makers. In another culture they would be lambasted by the public for being such imbeciles, here face saving denies them even the feedback that they’ve been incredibly, embarrassingly, stupid. And it all has its roots in the way people are taught to think.


DiSScussing Education

The nasty letter to editor this month (June 2009) was astounding to read. I just have to think that it was a joke because otherwise it was in the meanest of spirit and frankly ignorant. I always like your editorials, even though some I disagree with. So to me, it is not a waste of space. That having been said, I thought that the article with Assoc. Prof. Prathoomporn this month was one of the best pieces of interview I have read in a long while. I read it out to my wife and later heard her discussing it with many of her Thai friends. I probably shouldn’t, but I can’t help commenting on the rather unfortunate misspelling of Discussing (you wrote Disscussing) on the main page. A bit of a shame as the entire publication was about education! Oooops.

Brighton Dave

Wot no Panda?

Wot no panda news? It’s about all everyone is going on about these days. Am not sure if I think you missed the boat or were clever ’nuff not to bother.

Marc J.

It’s NOT flied lice

I have noticed that the standard of English has much improved here in Chiang Mai since I first moved here nearly two decades ago. I assume one must credit the great English programmes coming out of Chiang Mai and Payap Universities, as well as the proliferation of language schools and general contact Thais now have (TV, internet) with foreigners. That is why I am still constantly bemused at the terrible spelling one sees everywhere. I know Citylife has been on a rant about spelling Chiang Mai as two words rather than one, and that is still a problem, but simple things like brochures for trekking companies, restaurant menus, billboards, flyers and even, a few of the advertisements in your publication seem to contain terrible English. One wonders why business owners don’t aspire to present themselves to tourists in a more professional way. I asked around and found that there is no company which offers copyediting in English, which is quite strange considering we are such a tourist town. Perhaps a business idea for someone? We are, after all, living in Thailand, so its not imperative people speak English, but we are, after all, a tourist and expat city, so why not make the extra effort? It may help a business to have ‘fried rice’ on the menu instead of ‘flied lice’.

A Stickler