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Come on Crikey, Thailand is more complex than that

Crikey readers weigh in on the big issues of the day.

Thailand

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.

Leveson

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.

Tax

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.

6
  • 1
    paddy
    Posted Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Well said Wes Pryor! That article is one of the worst things I can remember reading in Crikey since I became a subscriber.
    Re-reading it again today, only makes me angrier.
    Trashy clickbait of the worst kind.
    Thanks again Wes, for those 5 paras of thoughtful input.

  • 2
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Peter Matters, yes! A sensible debate is way overdue on a Tobin Tax.

  • 3
    duncan stephens
    Posted Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ll second Paddy’s comments - that Thailand article was simply embarrassing, I’m not sure how it slipped in. Thanks Wes for articulating so well exactly how and why it was so inappropriate.

  • 4
    michael r james
    Posted Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    FYI, Crikeyites, below is a link to an article on a Financial Transaction Tax from Eliot Spitzer a few days ago in Slate. It is more about stock exchange transactions (esp. high-speed trading) than ForEx (a $4 trillion dollar a day trade!) and there are plenty of informed comments noting that Spitzer’s proposed 0.5% is at least tenfold higher than normally proposed (especially for ForEx):

    (slate.com/blogs/spitzer/2012/12/03/tax_financial_transactions_solve_debt_crisis_and_stop_reckless_trading.html)
    Tax the Traders! It Would Solve Economic Crisis and Stop Reckless Trading.
    By Eliot Spitzer | Posted Monday, Dec. 3, 2012

  • 5
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Michael RJ, thanks for the Spitzer link. I’ve been bemused for some time why this automated trading treasure trove hasn’t been plundered - an obvious standout for the perfect tax.

  • 6
    Kate Rogers
    Posted Friday, 7 December 2012 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    Thank you Wes! Why doesn’t Crikey commission you to write a full article? I’d certainly prefer it to Engel’s. And while we’re at it, perhaps they can explain just who Engel is and why they thought it was worth publishing his opinion piece?

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