Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Reference: A social reform agenda for the new government, Bangkok Post, January 30, 2008 and February 6, 2008
A two-part article in the Bangkok Post proposes a 12-point program for social reform in Thailand (A social reform agenda for the new government, Bangkok Post, January 30, 2008 and February 6, 2008) that includes the rule of law, autonomy for southern Muslims, community rights, media freedoms, democratic principles, no to FTA with the USA, tax reforms, guaranteed quality of life, empowerment of workers, citizenship for the stateless, a Burma policy, and military reform. The list is mostly a political agenda and there are glaring omissions with respect to much needed social reform.
Education through Mathayom 6 should be made free and compulsory and the education system should be overhauled to raise the quality of education to, say, Korean standards. We could make this overhaul a megaproject right up there with mega mass transit and irrigation systems being proposed by this government. The country also needs a comprehensive legal and social reform program to rid the society of an ancient, irrelevant, and reprehensible dowry system that denigrates women and makes marriage into a financial transaction in which the parents of the bride sell their daughter and the groom literally buys his wife. Dowries have been abolished by law in most of the civilized world even in places like Bangladesh. Last but not least, the country needs a social reform program to end the vicious cycle that starts with deadbeat dads and ends with abandoned and discarded single moms condemned to the trash heap of society from which concubinage and prostitution are often the only escape.