It's not hard to see why people in Thailand are deeply cynical about their nation's political process. Since the Southeast Asian nation became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, 17 coups have been punctuated only by short periods of unstable civilian rule.
With the first elections since the latest coup in September last year set for Dec. 23, a new poll shows two-thirds of potential voters are willing to sell their ballot to the highest bidder.
Pollster Nappadon Kannika said he accepts that vote-buying in his country is rampant, but even he was surprised with the results of last month's survey of 3,000 voters nationwide. "Over 60 percent of total respondents in the survey say they would accept cash from the candidates in the coming general election in Thailand," Kannika said. To be precise, 64.6 percent said they'd take money for their vote. And a whopping 83 percent said they'd look the other way if they saw vote-buying going on in their communities.
The military-backed interim government says it wants to stamp out this culture of corruption. It is limiting the amount of cash spent in this general-election campaign. The government has also started a public awareness campaign aimed at persuading Thais that vote-buying and -selling is wrong. However, government spokesman Chaiya Yimwilai said he is under no illusions about how much can be accomplished in such a short period of time.
"At least (we) … should be able to go a step or two … further for a better democracy, a real democracy, not a pseudo-democracy," Yimwilai said. Pseudo-democracy is the way some critics describe the government of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose authoritarian tendencies and alleged corruption led the military to stage their coup in September of last year. [via NPR]
- The Public Health Ministry is keeping a close eye on 12 provinces for signs of cholera after several people died from eating half-cooked food. The provinces are Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Sakhon Nakhon, Lamphun, Roi Et, Maha Sarakham, Kalasin, Nakhon Phanom, Samut Sakhon, Nong Khai, Ayutthaya and Mukdahan.
Disease Control Department (DCD) director general Dr Thawat Suntrajarn said yesterday checks had been made on the spread of cholera across the country from January to November. It uncovered 761 people with severe diarrhoea caused by cholera, seven of whom had died. Most people in the provinces still ate halfcooked food like cockles, which was sometimes tainted with cholera bacteria. This caused severe diarrhoea. [via The Nation]
- Gemma Atkinson in Maxim, January 2008
- You Call That Health Food? - Just because a product heralds itself as fat-free doesn't mean it's good for you, and Men's Health tackles 12 unhealthy foods consumers often mistake for nutritious. For example, the oft-assumed healthy granola bar you're eating with breakfast every day may not be as wholesome as you think. [via Men's Health]
On the plus side, not all granola bars are unhealthy, and for each unhealthy food the article highlights, it also suggests a healthful alternative. In all, Men's Health gives the thumbs-down to:
- Yogurt with Fruit at the Bottom
- Baked Beans
- Fat-Free Salad Dressing
- California Roll
- Fruit Cocktail
- Granola Bars
- Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
- Pasta Salad
- English Muffins
- Corn Oil
- Microsoft's Zune Desktop Media Player - Microsoft (MS) recently released a major upgrade to their free desktop media player, Zune and I really like the results. It's got a sort of minimalist look to it but is no less functional for all that. It will playback multi-format music, photos, videos and podcasts. It will sync your collections over WIFI with a ZUNE device or an MS Xbox. It links online to a Marketplace where you can buy and download music. It will auto update your MP3 tags and will play, rip or burn music CDs.
However, for me it's strongest suit is it's playback of MP3 music collections. It makes it very easy to build playlists or import existing playlists, (must be m3u format). Zune lets you take different views of your MP3 collection, (see below), but the view I like the most is the one where the background is made up of album art thumbnails and the album art of the song being played is in the foreground. The clever people at MS have even remembered to randomly rearrange the background thumbnails to prevent screen burn-in. The only weakness for me is you can't fade from track to track. That apart, MS Zune gets a 'recommended' rating from Pattaya Rag.
- Next to each Pattaya Rag headline you will now see a madkast green share-it symbol. If you click on the green symbol the following window will open which will allow you to share Pattaya Rag content with friends or del.icio.us, Digg, Technorati, etc. That's on the off chance there's anything worth sharing.......
- Young Irish woman found dead in Thailand - The body of an Irish woman has been found washed up on a beach in Thailand. It is understood the woman was in her 20s and from Co Monaghan. The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed the discovery and was in contact with the woman's family this morning. [via RTE News]
- The United Nations' AIDS-fighting agency plans to issue a report today acknowledging that it overestimated the size of the epidemic and that new infections with the deadly virus have been dropping each year since they peaked in the late 1990s.
The agency, Unaids, will lower the number of people it believes are infected worldwide, to 33.2 million from the 39.5 million it estimated late last year. The agency now believes that the number of new infections each year with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, probably peaked in the late 1990s, or by 2001, at about 3 million. [via New York Times]
- Mable, the black goodtime girl of the Kings Road, was such a staunch Chelsea supporter, she had a tattoo of John Terry on one thigh, and a tattoo of Frank Lampard on the other. However none of her punters recognised them. One day she put up a sign in her flat, that anybody recognising the players would get a free evening. The first punter comes in, peers closely at the tattoos and says. " I don't know who the one on the left is, nor the one on the right, but the one in the middle with the dark curly hair, big red lips, and his tongue sticking out, must be Sean Wright-Phillips."
- An Englishmen and an Irishman are on a police ID parade to see which one of them is an attempted rapist. The victim is brought into the room to look at the suspects. Paddy jumps up, points his finger at the woman and says.... That's the difficult bitch!