Thursday, November 29, 2007










Reference: Bush adamant on peace treaty, Bangkok Post, November 30, 2007

At the end of the much hyped Mideast peace conference in Annapolis, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated that a peace deal could not be implemented until the violence against Israel from Gaza stops (Bush adamant on peace treaty, Bangkok Post, November 30, 2007). If that is the case, he was negotiating with the wrong person because Mr Mahmud Abbas does not control the Gaza; and we may safely conclude that the conference made zero progress toward peace in Palestine. If anything, the conference revealed that the world has developed a level of tolerance for the status quo so this is probably the way things will be for a while. The interesting question is why the conference was even held given the Israeli precondition. The answer may lie in a hidden agenda that has more to do with isolating Iran than finding a solution to the Palestinian quagmire.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand







Reference: The bitter taste of sugar, Bangkok Post, November 29, 2007

The article cites the documentary, "The Price of Sugar" to conclude that Haitians working in sugar plantations across the porous border in the other half of the divided island are being exploited by the forces of globalisation because they are working in severe conditions without health care or adequate compensation (The bitter taste of sugar, Bangkok Post, November 29, 2007). It is long on gee-whiz and short on history. The exploitation of of Africans as slaves and then Asians as indentured workers by the sugar industry peaked in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries when the British Empire was busy cornering the market for sugar. That monopoly was broken a long time ago and the industry is now well distributed mostly among poor countries and is not controlled by large multinational or transnational firms. The plight of the Haitians is a poverty issue and not a globalisation issue.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Tuesday, November 27, 2007










Reference: Appointed legislature needs to be closed down, Bangkok Post, November 28, 2007

The appointed NLA was given a difficult job at a critical time in Thailand's political history. They have done that job and they have done it well. It would be a positive action for their legacy to either disband or to simply call a moratorium on legislation; and allow the people's elected assembly to take over some months from now. The nation can wait. Many of the bills before the appointed NLA are frivolous and others possibly unconstitutional. A government that concerns itself with instilling patriotism by bringing every motor vehicle in the nation to a stop for a daily broadcast of the national anthem is surely well beyond Thomas Paine's ideal - "that government is best which governs least". Just look at how long the Belgians have gone without a government; and the trains still run on time.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Sunday, November 25, 2007








Reference: Chart Thai proves its slippery reputation, Bangkok Post, November 26, 2007

Thailish has its place in Thai society but the Bangkok Post is not that place. The Post is Thailand's international newspaper and it should be held to international standards. Sadly, the title of your commentary (Chart Thai proves its slippery reputation, Bangkok Post, November 26, 2007) falls short. The Chart Thai Party may live up to its reputation of being as slippery as an eel or this reputation may prove to be well deserved, but it is not possible for Chart Thai to prove its reputation.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Saturday, November 24, 2007








Reference: Carter presents proposal to end Nepal deadlock, Bangkok Post, November 25, 2007

The Bangkok Post article on Nepal (Carter presents proposal to end Nepal deadlock, Bangkok Post, November 25, 2007) states that the political deadlock there has to do with the Maoists demand to abolish the monarchy. This representation is not accurate. The monarchy issue is not the deadlock issue at the moment. The deadlock has to do with the Maoist demand for proportional representation of the marginalized groups in the new Constituent Assembly. Both the Nepali Congress and the Maoists have expressed their willingness to compromise on the monarchy issue but neither side will budge on proportional representation.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand









Reference: Bush thanks the troops, Bangkok Post, November 25, 2007

In his Thanksgiving message to his country, President Bush thanked the American troops in Iraq who are killing people (Bush thanks the troops, Bangkok Post, November 25, 2007) but forgot to mention the American troops in Bangladesh who are saving people. On Thanksgiving Day of 2007 the Bangladeshi victims of Cyclone Sidr discovered the enormous military might of the USA, the humanitarian nature of the American people, and the meaning of Thanksgiving all at the same time when the US Navy and the US Marines Corp launched an incredibly efficient and effective blitzkrieg attack in Bangladesh not to kill but to save. No matter how much you hate America for the evil that they do, there are times when you have to stand up and salute them. This is one of those times. Thank you America and happy Thanksgiving.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Friday, November 23, 2007








Reference: How equitable is climate change, Bangkok Post, November 24, 2007

Tropical cyclones over the Bay of Bengal that made landfall in Bangladesh with the severity of Cyclone Sidr or greater have been recorded prior to the year 2007 in 1991, 1970, 1942, 1897, 1876, 1837, 1822, 1789, 1767, 1737, 1699, and 1584. The mother of them all was the cyclone of 1970. It killed 550,000 people and the devastation eventually led to the birth of the country we know as Bangladesh. It is not possible to represent these events as evidence that CO2 from rich countries is devastating poor countries (How equitable is climate change, Bangkok Post, November 24, 2007) without being either ignorant or disingenuous. The Bay of Bengal is known for cyclones. These are natural and recurring events. They are not caused by greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. The cyclone of 1737 was more severe than Cyclone Sidr by orders of magnitude and it was apparently able to form without the aid of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Wednesday, November 21, 2007








From a Muslim perspective, a state of cold war with Israel and the consequent illusion of Islamic unity is much preferable to communal carnage among Sunni, Shia, Kurd, and Ahmadiya, as well as the conflict between Arabs and Iranians and between those who call themselves true Muslims and the others who are presumably false Muslims. All of these true hatreds are sublimated by the perception of a common enemy. The Muslim world is held together by a thin string called Israel. Toda raba.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand










Reference: ASEAN leaders adopt charter, Bangkok Post, November 21, 2007

It is reported that the ASEAN summit in Singapore withdrew its invitation to United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambhari when Burma objected (ASEAN leaders adopt charter, Bangkok Post, November 21, 2007). The relationship between Burma and the rest of ASEAN is intimate and well-developed and it is based not only on geography but on a common understanding of cultural, economic, and political equations. It is time for the rest of the world to understand and accept this reality. It is not possible for ASEAN to discipline the Burmese junta or to expel Burma from the organization because that country is a little too much like ASEAN, an organization made up of nations that rank near the bottom in global ratings of political freedoms, human rights, transparency and integrity in government, and the freedom of the press; and up near the top when it comes to things like corruption and the heavy hand of the military in government. The Association does not stand on sufficiently high moral ground to lecture to the Burmese junta on any of these issues. It cannot eject Burma from ASEAN as has been suggested. It would be a dangerous path for this organization to tread as it may end up ejecting most of its other members on the same grounds.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Tuesday, November 20, 2007












Reference: Putting climate change refugees on the map, Bangkok Post, November 20, 2007

The Kiribati and Tuvalu islands are atolls. Atolls form when volcanic islands begin to sink by subduction and remain as long as the coral growth exceeds the rate of sinking and sink when the rate of sinking exceeds the rate of coral growth. Sinking and flooding of atolls is a common and natural phenomenon and is not caused by rising sea levels or by greenhouse gas emissions. If rising sea level were the cause all the atolls in the sea would be affected uniformly, not just a select few. Since only a few atolls are flooding and other similar atolls are not, we may conclude that the evacuees are subduction refugees and not global warming refugees.

Bangladesh consists of a delta into which drain major rivers that flow through India. In recent years, dams built upstream by the Indians have reduced the amount of water that flows into the delta. The effect of the reduction in water flow is clearly visible all over the country in the form of sand spits in once mighty rivers as well as deeper encroachment of brackish water into tidal canals in southern Bangladesh. These phenomena are not related in any way to global warming or the emission of greenhouse gases.

The part of Africa where Darfur is located is a semi arid area that has been subjected to periods of tragic droughts for thousands of years. The current drought there as well as that in Australia which ended this year are natural phenomena. They are not caused by greenhouse gases and have nothing whatsoever to do with the global warming issue. The victims are drought refugees or perhaps genocide refugees but not climate change refugees.

Shishmaref, Alaska is a fishing village on the sea that is often subject to very high tides as well as to severe storms and high waves. When these two events coincide, the sea can encroach up to 40 feet inland and devastate homes and other man-made structures. Such a coincidence did occur on November 21, 2003 and one home was in fact washed into the sea. The entire community was devastated and they do need help to recover from this tragedy. Yet, it was a natural event and it cannot in any way be related to greenhouse gases, rising seas, or global warming.

Incidentally, even though the IPCC has been predicting rising sea levels for a number of years no actual increase in sea level has yet been recorded. Also, after the devastation by Hurricane Katrina, the IPCC projected worse Atlantic hurricanes to come in the 2006 season due to increases in greenhouse gases. It did not happen. After a period of silence on the subject of Atlantic hurricanes, they issued a forecast in April 2007 that the 2007 hurricane season would be so severe that it would settle the global warming issue in their favor once and for all. That did not happen either. In fact, the entire IPCC case against greenhouse gases rests on forecasts that are so far in the future that they are yet to be proven wrong. All of their short term forecasts have come to naught.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Sunday, November 18, 2007









Reference: Keeping languages alive, Bangkok Post, November 18, 2007

Languages are dynamic communication tools. They are not static. They evolve over time in Darwinian fashion as our communication needs change. Some die off even as new ones are born. The job of historians is to record history, not to preserve it, nor to keep it from changing. The appropriate response to the expected disappearance of thousands of arcane languages each spoken by a handful of people, is to record these data for posterity rather than to force people to continue to speak a language that no longer serves their communication needs. Ethnologists appear to have lost their way on this issue. It's the Bambi Principle.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand






Reference: Rape victim gets lash, Bangkok Post, November 17, 2007

There are societies among the human race that find it rational to punish a 19-year-old rape victim with 200 lashes of the whip and 6 months of jail for the crime of being raped (Rape victim gets lash, Bangkok Post, November 17, 2007). Surely theirs and ours are mutually exclusive civilizations. If they are civilized then we are not and if we are civilized then they are not. It's a clash of civilizations.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand






Reference: Cult families ready to die, Bangkok Post, November 17, 2007

Human DNA must contain an apocalypse gene. Thousands of years ago, we fretted about the end of the world described in the Book of Revelation. More recently a doomsday cult in Russia has sealed themselves off in a cave to prepare for the end of the world (Cult families ready to die, Bangkok Post, November 17, 2007). They are not the only ones. There are plenty of doomsday cults among us. Biological forces within draw us to them for there is something about the apocalypse scenario that fits in with the way we rationalize mortality. I see climate change activism in this light and the IPCC as a doomsday cult.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand






Reference: UN warns of climate catastrophe, Bangkok Post, November 18, 2007

According to the IPCC, "melting ice sheets could lead to a rapid rise in sea levels". This relationship is inconsistent with Archimedes Principle if they are referring to ice sheets floating in the Arctic Ocean. Floating ice displaces exactly that volume of water that its melting will occupy. Incidentally, the much touted claim that the sea level will rise by 7 meters in 100 years has been quietly revised downwards 100 fold to 7 cm on the IPCC's own website but the rhetoric has not changed.

In the same article (UN warns of climate catastrophe, Bangkok Post, November 18, 2007), the IPCC also claims that global warming will cause "the extinction of a large number of species" and thereby devastate the biodiversity of the planet. This relationship is inconsistent with the geological history of the planet which shows that every prior epoch of climate change has caused an explosion in the number of species and in biodiversity. In fact, these data have forced biologists to revise Darwin's theory of evolution to include the idea that environmental stress causes biodiversity.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand








Reference: Musharraf's electoral farce, Bangkok Post, November 18, 2007

Musharraf's election is not the only farce in the theater of the absurd currently being played out in Pakistan where the person who has now taken center stage as the champion for democracy is at the same time ducking corruption charges. Many of the government's actions may be politically motivated as claimed but at the same time much of the new enthusiasm for politics may be financially motivated. As usual in South Asia, the real information is hidden under many layers of misinformation. The interested observer must peal away the layers and follow the money.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Saturday, November 17, 2007








Reference: Coalition govt a foregone conclusion, Bangkok Post, November 13, 2007

A known weakness of parliamentary democracy is that it relies heavily on the opposition bench in parliament to hold the government accountable. Without a strong opposition, the government can devolve into party dictatorship. However, if a parliamentary democracy could be structured so that each of three or more political parties fields one and only one candidate in any given constituency, then a small change in the election procedure would make it impossible for any one of these political parties to form an unaccountable government. The same change would also severely weaken the effectiveness of vote-buying. The proposed change is to select not just one but two candidates from each constituency to serve as equal members of parliament. Various methods may be used for this selection, the simplest of which is to select the top two vote getters. The system would require protection from fraud because, among other things, it would encourage large political parties to field multiple candidates in a single constituency through devious means. It will also be necessary that political parties themselves be made transparent and democratic.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Tuesday, November 13, 2007









Reference: Who are the real climate leaders, Bangkok Post, November 10, 2007

Charoen Wat-Aksorn was a Thai hero because, like Seub Na Kha-satian before him, he stood up to the power elite of Thailand and said no. No, you can't just pay people off to have it your way as you run amok over this land to enrich yourselves. He was killed shortly after he had asked the authorities to investigate the alleged attempt by influential locals to grab public lands. He was opposed to the location of the power plant not to the kind of fuel it would use. He was not a global warming warrior and he had no fight against fossil fuels. It is a cruel, shameless, and grotesque act to use his name to push the global warming agenda (Who are the real climate leaders, Bangkok Post, November 10, 2007). The agenda survives only because its long term forecasts have yet to be proven wrong and it survives even though all of its short term projections have already been proven wrong. Hurricane Katrina was not a global warming phenomenon. There was no killer hurricane season in 2006. There was no killer hurricane season in 2007. Sane and decent persons would conclude that the model that made these predictions is wrong instead of continuing to push the same agenda even if it means having to sell genuine local heroes as global warming warriors to achieve their marketing objectives.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Thursday, November 08, 2007
















Excerpted from a letter written by Mr Farmuzul Huq to Gen. Ayub Khan's assistant in 1958. Personal communications left out.

Dear Colonel Sahib

Please tell General Ayub Khan that even though I was a sitting member of Parliament when he seized power and dissolved it, and I should be most adversely affected, yet I heaved a sigh of relief, so unruly had democracy become in our country and so close to the edge we had gone to becoming a failed state.

I sat in Parliament as a member of the ruling Awami Party but I was morally opposed to their Joint Electorate plan. I felt that my party had betrayed me for the socialist policies of Bhashani and Congress. As a result, I left the party and joined the opposition with a view to wreck the Awami government. However, we were defeated by the brutal and unparliamentary tactics of the Ruling Awami Coalition. I felt that as a country and a government we were lost and stumbling in the dark. It was in that state of hopelessness that I received the news of declaration of martial law. My immediate reaction was that the country had been saved and I am willing to serve in the new government should I be needed.

I graduated from Calcutta University and soon thereafter organized the Broja movement against the tyranny of the Hindu zamindars and when Jinnah organized the Committee of the Bengal Provincial Muslim League (BPML) in 1938, I joined the movement. In the first election of the BPML held in 1939, I was elected Assistant Secretary of the organization and also served as office secretary. I continued to work in that capacity until 1943. In the 1943 BPML elections, Mr Abul Hashem was elected General Secretary and I was elected Joint Secretary while continuing to serve as office secretary. I held that office until August 14, 1947, the day that India became free of British rule and the new nation of Pakistan was carved out of India.

During the same period, 1939 to 1947, I also served as a member of the All India Muslim League Council and an elected member of the Indian Constituent Assembly. After partition, I worked as a secretary in the Ministry of Heath for the government of Pakistan even as my name was suggested by Mr H. S. Suhrawardy for a place in Fazlul Huq's cabinet. Unfortunately, Fazlul Huq was opposed to me on personal grounds and so I was left out. Mr Suhrawardy had me in his list of Awami Ministers in East Pakistan but as I had fallen out with him on the Joint Electorate issue, he lamented, saying "He has dug his own grave".

Sincerely
Farmuzul Huq
76 Shantinagar
Dacca, East Pakistan
October, 1958

Tuesday, November 06, 2007








Reference: Only autonomy can resolve southern conflict, Bangkok Post, November 7, 2007

In one of the most scholarly articles I have ever read in the Bangkok Post, Professor Imtiyaz Yousuf presented a comprehensive theoretical and empirical argument that the southern insurgency in Thailand is not a religion issue but an ethnicity issue. Muslims in Thailand are spread out throughout the country and include ethnic Thai, Chinese, South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Burmese in addition to Malay. And yet the insurgency is only in the south. What is unique about the south is that it contains a concentration of Malays who differ from Thais in culture and language. Therefore the insurgency in the south is based on ethnicity not religion. We are dealing with Malays who happen to be Muslim not Muslims who happen to be Malay. Before one proposes a solution to a problem, one must first define the problem. The article on the autonomy solution (Only autonomy can resolve southern conflict, Bangkok Post, November 7, 2007) is quite possibly the right answer to the wrong question because it assumes that the insurgency is a holy war.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Monday, November 05, 2007







Reference: Amazing Thailand starts with drivers, Postbag, November 5, 2007

What Thai driving habits, ice cubes in beer, Pidgin English, and "Mai pen rai" have in common is that when you first come to Thailand they will drive you crazy; but you stay Thailand long time already you do same same.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand









Reference: Star powered professor, Bangkok Post, November 4, 2007

Astrological predictions are a hit and miss affair with mostly misses but it is the rare hit that grabs our attention and legitimizes the practice. The global astrological outlook for 2001 contained no hint of 911 but instead predicted a huge natural calamity, the likes of the 2004 tsunami, which incidentally was missing from the 2004 outlook. Instead of the tsunami, the 2004 forecast incorrectly predicted that Tony Blair and the Labour Party would fall that year. Comprehensive statistical analyses of past astrological forecasts do not show that they contain any useful information.

According to astrologers, who we are and how our lives evolve as individuals depend on our astrological chart determined by the internal organization of the solar system at the moment of our birth. Assuming that people born in the same five-minute period will have identical charts, they should have more or less identical personalities with identical lives. A large scale survey was undertaken to test this hypothesis and it did not find any similarity within these groups.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Sunday, November 04, 2007










Reference: Rise in average temperature seen, Bangkok Post, November 3, 2007

Thailand's excessive reliance on fossil fuels is pumping so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that temperatures are rising across the country. As a result, the winter season will become shorter and shorter in the northern mountainous region as winter arrives later and later and spring comes sooner and sooner. Cool nights in the north with temperatures below 15 Celsius will disappear from Thailand (Rise in average temperature seen, Bangkok Post, November 3, 2007).

Reference: North turns chilly, Bangkok Post, November 4, 2007

Winter came early to the northern mountains this year and it is cold up there. The temperature has dropped to 13 Celsius at low elevations and as low as 8 Celsius up in the mountains (North turns chilly, Bangkok Post, November 4, 2007).

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Saturday, November 03, 2007








Reference: Health dept warns of cholera risks, Bangkok Post, November 4, 2007

Cholera is spread by the feces of infected persons normally through drinking water or eating fresh uncooked foods that have been thus tainted. Sharing spoons can only spread infections diseases that are spread through saliva and cholera is not one of them. The long spoon lecture in the article about cholera (Health dept warns of cholera risks, Bangkok Post, November 4, 2007) is misplaced.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand








Reference: Kamnans to join poll fraud fight, Bangkok Post, November 3, 2007

Political candidates in Thailand buy votes in wholesale lots from local agents and it is these agents and not the candidates themselves that carry out the alleged illicit trade in votes. The candidates, without these agents, would be unable to buy votes. The agents are well known. The obvious but apparently impenetrable way to end the trade is to simply put these agents out of commission by placing them under house arrest and taking away their communication privileges including their mobile phones until the elections are over. The various indirect means being proposed by the present government are not unlike the provisions in the 1997 constitution that were supposed to end vote trading once and for all. They did not do that. Besides, there is a more fundamental question that has yet to be answered and that is whether vote trading compromises democratic principles. Even the most failed of democracies experiences a brief moment of democratic freedom during elections for it is then that every voter, however poor, infirm, or stupid, exercises his absolute right to vote as he pleases and if we demand that he not profit from those rights do we not infringe on those rights? Do we know better than he? Perhaps he only sells votes to candidates he finds acceptable. If the political financing that might otherwise go to advertising agents and pork barrels that only benefit the rich, end up going directly to poor voters through vote trading, is that necessarily bad? Are we trying too hard to live up to the expectations of the West? Are we unable to reason for ourselves? We should take note that vote trading was endemic in Britain in the 19th century and yet here they are all developed and democratic and wonderful. In time, and given better education, Thailand's democracy too will evolve after going through the growing pains that older democracies once endured.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Friday, November 02, 2007







Reference: Southeast Asia's sordid secret, Bangkok Post, November 1, 2007

Asians like to think of their sordid state of prostitution, particularly in the case of paedophilia, as an evil imposed on them by Western debauchery. Asians are presented as innocent victims. It is, they say, the relative poverty of the victims in comparison to the seemingly infinite wealth of the falang that is the primal cause of their sordidness. In other words, the twin evils of child prostitution and paedophilia are imposed on them from without and not from within. The reality is more sordid than that for it is Asian men that are the primary sexual predators in this realm and it is Asian misogyny that makes this kind of predation possible. Debauched falangs did not create this situation. They have come only to feed in a feeding frenzy of the Asians' own making.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand

Thursday, November 01, 2007










Reference: Women sexy men can't sleep pray, Bangkok Post, November 1, 2007

According to Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, spiritual leader of the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party, there are too many women in Malaysia who wear sexy clothing. The sight of these women is enough to cause Muslim men sufficient anguish that they are not able to sleep or pray, so shallow is their faith. The answer is not to cover and hide their women nor to sue women for emotional abuse as the good spiritual leader implies. Rather, those who profess to be men of faith should find sufficient depth of devotion, equal to that of Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Jews, so that they too can look upon a woman who is not covered from head to toe and still find the mental acuity to worship just as Muslim women are able to look upon an uncovered man and still pray. The defect, if any, is with Muslim men not with sexy women.

Cha-am Jamal
Thailand