Alien Thoughts

1 Oct 2017
‘Govt sets B3 trillion tourism target’ reads the Bangkok Post headline (together with a pic showing ‘Chinese tourists at Wat Phra Kaeo’ who have fair hair and big noses) (the dastardly Chinese tourists must have started wearing disguises!). So that’s alright then.
25 Sep 2017
How’s your arithmetic? In April this year, North Korea celebrated the 85th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army.  And it was no secret. USA Today’s headline was ‘North Korea marks anniversary of its military with massive live-fire drill’.  Reuters ran with ‘South Korea on heightened alert as North Korea readies for army anniversary’.  The Daily Mirror: ‘Terrifying rally in North Korean parliament to mark army’s 85th anniversary as fears of war grow’.  And lots more on Google.
26 May 2017
A bomb goes off at Phramongkutklao Hospital and 25 are injured.  The Prime Minister next day says that if such things go on, the election (in the most optimistic scenario at least 18 months away) may have to be delayed.
15 May 2017
As if our non-elected Prime Minister didn’t already have little enough faith in democracy, Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal has gone and got himself elected as president of Chulalongkorn University Student Council. Chula, that bastion of elitism, conformity and 100-year-old privilege in pink; the university where students wear uniforms to sign petitions against uniforms, and where new graduates give Nazi salutes in front of murals of Hitler (just for the laugh, of course); Chula, of all places, has elected a free-thinking anti-authoritarian, anti-militarist iconoclast.
29 Apr 2017
The Ordinary National Education Test (ONET) results this year are as disappointing as in previous years.  Almost as disappointing as the wilful ignorance that produced the tests and the sadly misinformed comments on them in the media. Let us take the Prathom 6 English test as an example. For kids who have in all likelihood been taking multiple-choice tests since pre-kindergarten, it starts by helpfully showing them how to answer this kind of question: ‘Directions: Choose the correct answer. ‘Example ‘Item 0: Which province is in the south of Thailand?
22 Mar 2017
Recent news item: ‘The Department of Land Transport (DLT) said that despite their positives, Uber and the Grab Car do not provide customers with the essentials that regular taxis offer. Under the law, taxis come under public transportation, so taxi drivers are required by law to register themselves with the DLT. The agency conducts a comprehensive background check on the drivers and when problems occur, they can be traced easily.’
15 Mar 2017
Well it didn’t take long for the other shoe to fall. The recent Ordinary National Educational Test (O-Net) in Thai language contained what could have been a bolt from the blue for the Thai schooling system.  Instead it turned out to be a bolt that ever more firmly fixes Thai education into authoritarian irrelevance.
15 Feb 2017
Chulalongkorn (we have murals of Hitler as a superhero) University is back in the news and you don’t whether to laugh or cry. Its Faculty of Engineering seems to have spawned its own little Hitlers who are going round seizing the cards of any student not in uniform.  And even if you’re in uniform but not the correct one.  The blue smock required in workshops is OK if you’re in the workshop, but step outside still wearing it and you’ll get nicked.
5 Feb 2017
Within days of a Section 44 order banning certain ideas from entering the country, chaos reigned at the kingdom’s borders. In an attempt to promote unity and reconciliation and to thwart political divisions, Prime Minister and National Council for Peace and Order Head Prayut Chan-o-cha exercised his supreme authority to ban the entry into Thailand of any work connected to 7 ideologies: communism, socialism, liberalism, anti-monarchism, anti-conservatism, antimilitarism and antidisestablishmentarianism.
28 Jan 2017
The new President of the United States believes that ‘torture works.’  Or rather, with his unremitting bombast, ‘absolutely torture works.’ He bases this not on any empirical evidence (which all points the other way) but on the same kind of fact-free ugly-gut faux-hard-man reaction that has led him to claim that climate change is a Chinese hoax, that his election victory would have been more impressive if millions had not voted illegally, and that his inauguration attracted the biggest audience ever.  Period.  Ever.
20 Jan 2017
The venue:  The meeting room of the Thailand 4.0 Policy and Planning Division, Scenarios Section.
11 Jan 2017
The seminal Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson is one of those works which joins up dots you had never before thought were even on the same page.  And hence the insights.  It appears on graduate reading lists for all manner of degrees. But it is a dense text.  And should a successful product of the Thai education system, a student accepted for a graduate programme overseas, be asked to read it, the result is unlikely to be satisfactory.  Thai students don’t do dense texts.

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