Robert Ganshorn

News from "The Bangkok Post"

Filed By Robert Ganshorn | October 04, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics
Tags: Bangkok, newspapers, Thailand

What are people on the other side of the world reading?

If this proves to be something of interest - and it should be - I will try to do it more often. I won't include every article, but as things strike my eye. This is the Thursday, October 2nd issue. Section One only and I don't do horoscopes. You may wish to read page 14 first...

Front Page: "Ramadan ends" with a great Disney style picture of the central mosque I might add. In a country that is 98% Buddhist they take time to respect the Muslim faith.

Page 2: The public health minister has sought to downplay the Chinese powdered milk scandal. The government has tested the sole Chinese brand distributed here and held up the shipments, but understandably does not wish to embarrass the Chinese. There are no sick children here. (This is Asia, people don't want to lose 'face.')

Page 3: Local news you wouldn't care about.

Page 4: Pending bill to insure that beggars on the streets are truly disabled. Violators could go to jail for three months, fined up to $180.00 US or both. It's the first revision of this law since 1941.

Page 5: Oxygen levels in three principal rivers of Thailand found to be dangerously low, perhaps incapable of sustaining aquatic life. Suspected culprit is intense rice farming and associated runoffs.

Page 6: World news (You have seen it!).

Page 7: The United States is setting up an independent group to study whether neighboring Burma's junta has committed international crimes. They are fact finding when the recent crimes of Burma (31 persons dead and 74 more "missing") are a matter of record.

Page 8: Two people in eastern Tibet have died of the deadliest and least common form of plague. Health Article: Research traces Aids virus origin to 100 years ago.

Page 9: Dateline Stockholm, US writers 'too insular' for an award... Bad news for American writers hoping for a Noble Prize next week. The top member of the award jury believes the United States is too insular and ignorant to compete with Europe when it comes to great writing.

Page 10: Editorial page: Cartoon of emergency room patient with a doctor standing over him. The sheet reads 'US Economy' and shows a long leg leaving the room marked: "congress." The caption beneath reads: 'Rescue Unplugged!!!'

Page 11: NASA going through a mid life crisis: a 50th birthday approaching, a longing for the glory days of youth, a hankering to dump the aging partner of 27 years, and a costly flirtation with a new young thing. (a replacement for the space shuttle).

Page 12: Sports section! Boxing! Fahpetchnio Kratingdaenggym is likely to get a title shot against WBC flyweight champion Daisuke Naito in Japan on December 24, his promoter Piyarat Wachirarattawongse said yesterday. (folks, I don't make up these names) White Sox edge Twins to clinch play off berth.

Page 13: Golf: Atlanta, St Andrews, Atlanta, St Andrews, and were is Tiger Woods.

Page 14: Soccer with cute boys jumping around with their red and white balls.

Page 15: Women's Tennis: Thailand's top seed Tamarine Tanasugarn will play either Caroline Wozianacki of Denmark or Japan's Ayumi Morita in the last eight-- (whatever that is).

Page 16: Last page. Still sports, still soccer, but covering Manchester United and Real Madrid. And I must say they seem a friendly group! Some lovely pictures nonetheless admirably displayed by some very flexible athletes. Perhaps I should get soccer tickets.

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But which page is the comics section? :)

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 4, 2008 11:51 PM

Section three with the ads for Movies and the horoscopes. I know this because I read them first.

Out of 16 pages, four of the them have items about the US --- shows that the US influence on the mindshare of the world is substantial, even when we are in the middle of a big fuck-up.

And if a US paper dedicated its front page to Ramadan, there would be exorcisms-in-effigy in the streets in front of newspaper headquarters. Sad.

Ah, but you should not forget that, not too long ago, in southern Thailand Moslem extremists were busy blowing up things and making a stir, to put it mildly.

Thailands moslem minority has shown that it can be fractious, unlike here in the US, so it is good politics to play nice every once in awhile and show them how loved they are by the rest of the country.

(We love you lil' rascals, please don't blow me up again, thanks.)

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 5, 2008 12:38 AM

There is a beautiful large mosque here in nearby Pattaya, but by population group there is really only two smaller provinces in the extreme south of Thailand bordering Muslim Malaysia that are strongly Muslim. That is where, by far, the majority of the problem has been located. There was a single small explosion in Bangkok in late December of 2006 at the Victory Monument that cost a single life.

That is regrettable of course, but the vast majority of Thai Muslims are completely peaceful. They are respected and treated equally in Thai society which is underscored by the huge number of Muslim tourists from the Middle East who visit Thailand. I have Muslims in my building, but I worry about a drunken American. :)

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 5, 2008 12:02 AM

The international news (here) includes election coverage of Obama and McCain. It would be fair to say that American and Western culture is over represented, but this and "The Nation" are the only English language newspapers in the country. I always ask what Thais I know are reading about their government and the world in the Thai language.

This is interesting because I live in the only country in Asia that was never colonized by a European or American power or forced to give "treaty ports" or "concessions." Their view of themselves in understandably different.

I'm an unashamed Thaiophile. I spent some time there, and not just for my surgery. The place has gone decidedly up-market even in the last 10 years, and all to the good.

The thing I liked most in the Bangkok post were the occasional stories about Buddhist monks and abbots who had "fallen off the wagon" so to speak.

Now most Buddhist monks are ascetic, devout, pious, and sincere. But when the wall breaks - well, they could give lessons to the Romans when it comes to orgiastic behaviour. Not cruelty or selfishness, just completely unrestrained hedonism.

The thing is... they get treated with kindness and sympathy, rather than pure condemnation.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 5, 2008 1:33 AM

And yet Zoe, at the start of Buddhist lent comes the story of the monks calling for abstaining from alcohol. Complete with pictures of monks pouring bottles of liquor down the sewer. Well, they SAID it was liquor and I will take their word about it.

At 5:30 AM a monk walks barefoot down the street and is given alms by the motorcycle taxi drivers in front of my building. I have seen businessmen and restaurant owners drop everything to give alms to the monks. I have given alms and received a blessing myself, but fortunately I am learning to sleep in until 6:00. Their kindness and sympathy is remarkable.

I completely accept that American writers are way too insular and ignorant, but aren't the Nobel literature jury being a bunch of dicks?

Was Coetzee's Michael K a universal everyman?

Rev. Bob - you're just insufficiently nuanced. It's a cultural thing, colonials wouldn't understand.