Crikey readers weigh in on the big issues of the day.
Wes Pryor writes: Re: “Phuket’s red light women trade where it’s ‘no big deal’” (yesterday). That Crikey would publish an article that, at best, seems like a backpacker blog post about a trip to a go-go bar doesn’t surprise me. Crikey’s diverse, pro-am and user-generated undercurrents make it stronger, and are why I subscribe.
But a twee description of life for the “girls” in Pa Tong? Drawing from analysis that by his own admission comes from a pissed yarn with an Aussie bar owner, Liam Engel just offends a sophisticated notion, and adds precisely zero to our understanding of the world, Thailand, or even the life of a dropout mysogynist (in the pre-Gillard sense) who owns a Pa Tong bar.
To publish this article any day is beneath Crikey standards. But to do so on the 86th birthday of His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej highlights just how off the mark it is. This is a moment when the colour coded (red vs yellow) tensions of Thai politics are stirring, a month after the American ambassador to Thailand walked to the Burmese border in a protest against human trafficking, the day after another lonely foreigner took his own life while down and out in Thailand.
This is a time when the government has announced massive economic reforms with a view to raising the GDP — with few tangible policies to achieve it. This is a place where journalists, including Somjit Nawakruasunthorn, routinely receives threats from military sources and party thugs for, well, being a neutral journalist. This is a week after the authorities tear-gassed protesters calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Shinawatra, and a place where those protesters were, in the main, $30-a-day mercenaries.
And this is a time when Aussie blokes in Aussie bars on Pa Tong beaches know precisely nothing about the lives of the women they procure for s-x — very often with a passing and cathartic notion of charity or somehow helping her. While the s-x trade is but a tiny fraction of the Thai psyche, it deserves far richer analysis than you have offered. But Thailand herself deserves a different perception from Australians. She is complex, changing and rich in history and culture — her opening sentence does not include the phrase “go-go”, however cute it might have seemed to your beered-up correspondent.
Bruce Howarth writes: Keith Thomas (comments, yesterday) is probably right that Britons have an “unquenchable thirst … for tabloid style titillation and schadenfreude”. But let’s not forget that they’ve been carefully groomed over many years to expect the titillation as of right, by the same people that now say they have no choice but to give the public what it wants.
Peter Matters writes: Re: “Hockey on four-point plans and a falling economy” (yesterday). Is the Treasury scared to bring in a Tobin Tax on currency deals or have they not thought about it? It would help materially to lower the value of the AUD and at the same time provide very welcome funds with next-to-no impact on the Australian tax payer. Is the government scared of another one of Tony Abbott’s paroxysms? Please note that even the mining moguls would welcome a Tobin Tax.
The thought of government and Rinehart and co. agreeing on anything is, in any case, good for a laugh.