Friday, 7 July 2017

UK and Thailand Road Safety weaving all over the road?




Khun Anchalee Kongrut swerves around none of the concerns of drink-driving and road safety in Thailand in her article:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1281271/more-jail-time-wont-prevent-drink-driving

Certainly 40 road deaths per day and 25% of those due to drink-driving is sadly Thailand living down to its reputation as one of the world’s worst nations for road safety.

And if the Buddhist Lent ban on drinking may reduce deaths over the long holiday weekend, then is the reality 6 months on from the 7 Dangerous Days of Xmas and Thai New Year that the death toll will simply remain as high as ever by next Xmas?

The reforms on passenger bans in the back of trucks and on minivans and seatbelt wearing will be fruitless unless drink-driving is tackled hard.

Britain can take great pride in its road safety work over the decades – and there is no quick fix it does take decades of consistent and rigorous effort - and is now rivalled only by Sweden as the safest roads in the world.

##UK Road Safety##

Chief Inspector Phil Vickers the road safety expert at Lincolnshire Police – one of the 43 UK police forces – has done much to promote the #Fatal4 next wave of road safety measures of which drink driving is a persistent problem.

While both Lincolnshire Police and Chief Constable Simon Byrne of Cheshire Police have been active in highlighting road safety work, especially speeding and drink driving with the Police Interceptors TV show.

If Red Bull has given wings to its heir now on the run – the Lord Lucan of fizzy drinks- it would be unthinkable for any cop-killer on UK roads to escape justice for so long. And Yoovidhaya having fled London before being collared managing to flee in a private jet to Singapore, raises concerns over Interpol’s activity so far.

As an aside, it raises questions over what the lawyers were saying to the courts until now in the Red Bull case. And certainly UK can take no pride in a wave of corrupt lawyers and courts – not just the South Thanet election fraud nor Russian libel tourism nor even Lord Grabiner and his cabal of crooked barristers in One Essex Court but also blatant HMRC fraud by Lawrence Stephens lawyers:

https://www.lawrencestephens.com/people/andrew-conway/

But with road safety, Chief Constable Pughsley of Kent Police can cite great improvements in frontline Kent with the police HGV to spot long distance lorry drivers drinking or using the mobile phone. Even watching television – presumably not Police Interceptors – while at the wheel.

Using a mobile phone while driving has been vigorously clamped down on as one of the #Fatal4 in the last year with a $300 fine and 6 points (out of 12 before a ban) on a licence.

While the Road Safety Experience by Kent Fire and Rescue (called out to rescue drivers from the mangled wreckage of car crashes as well as from burning buildings) is an unusual tourist attraction with not just the proverbial beer goggles on how drinking affects driving but road simulators etc.

While forensics are vital in road safety for crash analysis and the plethora of other techniques such as Cold Case review, crash analytics eg injuries caused by car keys requiring vehicle redesign or autoparts review such as brakes and larger scale reporting and recalls such as the Vauxhall Zafira fires are part of the police road safety armoury.

##UK and Thailand Road Safety##

And Bobby Bear merchandising surely a missed opportunity so far at King Power or the Siamese Foxes of Leicester City and the neat flourishes of a police tyre gauge thingummy to check tyre tread for road safety, laminated checklists, and windscreen ice scrapers. The latter admittedly not much use in Thailand.

Surely UK and Thailand working together should enable the boys in brown to get together with the boys in blue at the Road Safety Experience as well as Hendon and share knowledge and tips? To put it bluntly, Thailand would be pushing against an open door to easily access decades of road safety work that works.

And Kent Police are going into overdrive for the Summer road safety campaign – deaths on UK roads counter-intuitively more in Summer than the Xmas festive season due to longer evenings and pub drinking. Bizarrely KCC council are running separate rather clunky campaigns on mobile phones and even worse passengers and speed which is both mixed messages and campaign dilution at its worst.

In my politics work Garbutt for Ramsgate Mayor and MP I’ve urged Frontline Kent as a hothouse of innovation with 20mph zones (down from the usual 30mph) for 10 miles radius around town centres:

http://lovekentloveramsgate.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/kent-chief-constable-letter-and.html

In my Sincerity advertising role, one of the most effective UK road safety campaigns was the Kill Your Speed not a Child ads as research showed adhering to the 30mph limit would reduce child deaths.

Plus I’ve urged zero drink-driving (currently about one pint of beer is allowed) and even the USA system of no booze in cars at all, except locked in the boot, and certainly no open cans or bottles.

And if Khun Anchalee expresses concern over jail sentences for drink driving that would be one tool in the armoury to make a huge dent in drink-driving initially. While the Don’t Drive Drunk Foundation along with GRSP Global Road Safety Partnership must surely have a more active role to play with government to prevent half measures on drink driving?

Khun Anchalee’s potential dashboard cam for her car raises questions over the efficacy of Thailand’s CCTV and road camera systems first raised with the central BKK wat bomb - and the age-old problem of the public sector in the public paying twice, once for the system and then once again to do it themselves properly.

Shouldn’t UK and Thailand take turns at the wheel in sharing road safety experience before the 7 Dangerous Days come hurtling around the corner again?

@timg33

Police reform in UK and Thailand lacking sincerity?

Khun Wassana Nanuam's article on “police reform lacking sincerity” highlights various issues not just for the boys in brown of Thailand but also Britain's boys in blue:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/1281643/police-reform-panel-said-to-lack-sincerity

While adding an extra layer of debate on the military-police roles and interfaces.

Thailand's new Committee of 36 comprising police and academics and military as instigated by PM Prayut certainly does seem to be making all the right moves in police reform.

Thai readers may be unfamiliar with almost febrile atmosphere in UK over the regular Koh Tao deaths, wide publicity of Thailand as a dangerous tourism destination and Andy Hall and National Fruit Co. human rights cases and the Red Bull cop-killer case.

The default position, unfairly in my view, is one of instant and total criticism of Thai police.

Anecdotally in my (few) experiences of Thai police at road blocks or lost credit cards I've always been met with unfailing politeness if not embarrassment at my feeble knowledge of UK football. While Thai quirks such as Police Hospitals and Nurses are rather baffling.

Corruption is far more endemic in Kent with the police drowning under a tidal wave of dodgy Caribbean tax haven companies and council fraud with Pleasurama and Dreamland megaprojects and corporate manslaughter with Infratil directors, now of Wellington Airport, facing extradition.

Certainly the danger of a Costa del Crime culture that affected Southern Spain with British criminals on the run to the sun could infect Phuket and Pattaya without effective policing eg the recent arrest of UK drug lord Jonathon Moorby on the run in Thailand, or the arrest in BKK of Manston-Ostend gunrunner Viktor Bout.

I've urged for example a Kent Police International dept to focus on ASEAN with clear and fast links to Interpol and Europol as well as all 43 UK police forces. Whether focusing on UK criminals abroad or terrorism or stranded citizens.

Kent citizen Joshua French featured in my MP manifesto and now released from Death Row Congo and concerns over the murder of Kent's George Low and cross-border problems in Cyprus with the murderers fleeing to Turkey:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-37076836

And there’s a wider debate on London's Boris water cannon - still stored on Kent territory and apt with Hamburg G20 riots now - versus water sprinklers in tower blocks.

While UK’s 5,000 guncops, in effect a Police Army, and redeployment of Special Branch the political police to counter-terrorism, with terror attacks on Parliament and Borough market, and upto 3,000 regular troops on the streets in aid to the civil power (with questions over what the other 76k troops are for) and shortage of detectives raises questions over who does what.

While Doitung must be a huge feather in the cap of Thai police in the Golden Triangle and ready to roll out to the Wa and Shan regions of Myanmar if not Helmand.

For surely the 36 Committee will have failed if it's merely used to truncheon Thai police into submission rather than highlighting reforms and success and best practice? And surely ACT amongst other civil society groups, and even Surin Pitsuwan in his Bangkok Governor campaign ushering in the beginning of a return to full democracy in 2108, should have a voice in the process?

While the 36 Committee is unusual to farang eyes in having General Boonsang a West Point (why not Sandhurst or Hendon too?) graduate military man in charge of policing scrutiny where the position is reversed in UK - albeit with the exception of Deepcut barracks as below.

##Kent Policing noodling##

In UK slightly different approaches have taken place in recent years with each of the 43 UK police forces having their own elected Police Commissioner (previously unelected) to scrutinise the police and hire and fire the Chief Constable.

It's proved something of a success with reservations providing greater public scrutiny of the forces. But very low election turnouts - as low as 15% in many cases. While the UK Commissioners have led to cronyism and padding of offices, and even concerns of going native and simply cheerleading the police forces, and party politics muddying the waters.

That mitigated to some extent by HMIC a separate civil service inspectorate of all the UK police forces.

In Kent though the Police Commissioner got off to an abysmal start with Ann Barnes the previous unelected commissioner being newly-elected to a car crash TV series of dogs in the office, a mountain of Pot Noodles - not a Thai curry brand unfortunately - that would shame the rice pledgers and that Kent Police are still working their way through, and the infamous Onion of Priorities.

And if Kent Police are struggling on weaving their way through the political jungle of the Manston-Infratil crimes committed by politicians and civil servants in removing monitors and faking pollution and cancer data, then Surrey Police are also caught between the devil and the deep blue sea in the Deepcut scandal.


##Deepcut scandal##

Deepcut army barracks saw 4 young soldiers shot between 1995 and 2002 supposedly in separate suicides. One supposed suicide with five(!) bullets in him.

Now a 2nd (new) inquest or Sean Benton is opening in January and detailed in Private Eye magazine (available in Asia Books) plus BBC Panorama with concerns not just in the interplay between Surrey Police and the Military Police over jurisdiction at the barracks.

But astonishingly also QC John Beggs - criticised over his involvement in the Hillsboro scandal with South Yorkshire police - now hired again by Surrey Police with public funds to speak for them, and essentially browbeat family witnesses on the rates and in the public's courts.

It's astonishing that in the UK mainland and in peacetime there would be any confusion over the primacy of civilian police in military policing, especially for murders.

While a swirl of rumours around war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq and Bloody Sunday Northern Ireland and lack of military police or civilian police rigour have resulted in reduced sentences for the Royal Marines Sergeant Blackman.

And now a Sunday Times expose last week, and UK's largest-ever Military Police investigation, on war crimes by a rogue SAS unit in Afghanistan acting as its own kill-squad and running amok and planting guns on executed Taliban, or civilians:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rogue-sas-unit-accused-of-executing-civilians-in-afghanistan-f2bqlc897

All of which has undertones not of Thailand's Deep South troubles and interplay of military and police in counter-insurgency terrorism, but more the My Lai and Speedy Express systemic massacres of the USA military in the Vietnam War.

While persistent unsolved crimes such as police corruption around the axe murder of private detective Daniel Morgan would have Robert Peel turning in his grave:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/10/daniel-morgan-how-private-eyes-haunts-britains-powerful-30-years-on

If the 36 Committee has the potential for root and branch reform of Thailand's police then as as Khun Wassana points out surely a lack of sincerity would hold back more effective policing and Greater UK and Thailand cooperation?

@timg33

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Smart Farms served up fresh and hot for UK and Thailand?


The TDRI article by Nipon Poapongsakorn and Phunjasit Chokesomritpol on Agriculture 4.0 raises some food for thought on farming in UK and Thailand:

https://tdri.or.th/en/2017/06/agriculture-4-0-obstacles-break-2/

With 90% of Thai farms mechanised and the Electronic Government Agency developing satellites and soil sensors Thai agriculture should be best-placed to develop the Precision Agriculture Khun Nipon mentions.

And the Hom Pathum rice from Kanchanaburi with a yield increase of 27% highlights both the potential of boutique rice and crop gains.

With 50% of all farmland increasing crops from 878kg per rai to 1,118kg the potential is there. Yet 43% of all farms are under 10 rai and a further 25% just 10-25 rai.

While agricultural R&D dropping to 0.2% of GDP from 0.9% is a backward step. For, rather than just reduced tech costs or moves to larger farms surely there are qualitative improvements possible with Smart Farms and UK-Thai cooperation.

Even on instances of koi pla liver cancer in Isaan with over 20,000 deaths.

##UK farming growing?##

UK farming has troubles of its own with most farmers now over the age of 65 - Private Eye magazine detailing the rise in farm injuries from such elderly workers: 30% of fatal farm accidents are for those aged over 65. Agriculture with just 1.4% of the UK workforce accounted for 20% of work fatalities. Fatal injuries at 7.73 per 100,000 workers compared to 1.94 in construction.

Bumble bees have suffered a catastrophic decline and impact on crop growth through failure to manage hedgerows and prevent mono crops that reduce biodiversity.
And UK lags woefully behind nations such as Ecuador and India in tree planting - the latter with 50M trees planted in one day for Climate Change resilience.

UN Year of the Soil promoted by Kasetsart University highlighted potentially just 6 more harvests through degraded top soil.

Climate Change a factor with hotter summers and longer winters and fiercer storms and variable rainfall affecting crop yield.

And the contribution to Climate Change in non-seasonal foods and food miles in transport.

The Global Seed Bank featured in a New European newspaper article by Stuart Thompson Senior lecturer in Plant Biochemistry at University of Westminster, already under threat form flooding despite being in one of the remotest parts of Norway and supposedly Climate Change resistant to protect its bank of seed varieties.

UK farming employs less than 1% of the population but still 475,000 workers and covers 75% of UK land. While Resilience and Food Security issues are a concern with 40-60% of food imported and the risk of Pandemics such as Bird Flu or Dutch Elm disease. Last Xmas was nearly cancelled due to an outbreak of bird flu in much of UK's turkeys.

##East Kent farming##

And food is the largest UK manufacturing industry - or at least value added - with the switch to a service economy, worth £109BN and 3.8M direct and indirect jobs through the supply chain.

In East Kent with its rural heritage as The Garden of England as depicted in The Darling Buds of May TV show that rocketed Catherine Zeta-Jones to stardom. Or Charles Dickens waxing lyrical on its apples and cherries arming is crucial. Or Charles Darwin detailing the origin of species that forms the basis for much of the world's knowledge of the natural world.

While, Brexit silliness aside, Kent as UK's most European county must surely be able to capitalise on its Polish and Romanian and Hungarian links - as well as Benelux - in cuisine and culture if nothing else? The KCC faded links with Bacs-Kiskun and Virginia are an affront to good governance - and the dynamic Governor Terry McAuliffe Breakfast Club further food for thought on malnutrition, obesity and diabetes.

90% of the orchards have been lost since WW2 and even the most ardent non-Brexiter concerned at bland apple crop imports such as France's Golden Delicious. While Climate Change has positively affected Kent's vineyards with a resurgence not seen since Roman times of fizzy wines.

The last main fishing fleet in the South East works from Ramsgate harbour - battling the elements and lack of policy in combatting overfishing and reseeding the oceans. All to stock East Kent's booming Cuisine Culture from the Michelin-starred Sportsman pub in Whitstable, to Surin Thai restaurant by the harbour in Ramsgate (try the sea bass!).

##Smart Farms and ASEAN and UK##

A recent business trip to Vietnam saw discussions with students concerned at potentially going back to the farm, yet enthused at the possibility of Smart farms and the range of AI, sensors and robo-automation.

While Thanet Earth mega-greenhouses the largest in Western Europe provide supermarket crops and the basis for space food. And the thriving fruit and veg stalls of Ramsgate market days on Friday and Saturday provide a golden thread from farm gate to High St.

And rare Kent Orchids form the basis of a garden market economy that Thai orchids have already developed.

Surely the basis for UK-Thai agricultural industry cooperation is rooted in several measures in my politics and advertising work:

* Kasetsart links with say Hadlow Farming College in Kent and Kent University
* TDRI links with Produced in Kent and Sustain and Mayor of London Food board think tanks
* Kent and Thailand lead on filling the Svalbard Global Seed Bank faster: only 930,000 seeds out of a capacity of 2.5BN so far - and tighter links to the other 1,700 seed banks eg Kew Gardens Millennium Seed Bank in nearby Sussex
* Links with Kent's Givaudin flavouring and perfume experts and UNFAO UK and Thailand eg Laotian vanilla pods
* Surin's Rice Research centre plugged into the seed banks and IRRI
* A Thai-UK supermarket group to analyse and forecast consumer and market trends whether Thai pineapples or Argentine grapes
* True mobile links with Microsoft - the UK campus the largest outside USA- and Thai Farmers bank and City of London for technology developments
* Discovery Park links with Thai STEM parks and DaNang science park

Another Green Revolution to again triple food production is a must as hungry mouths to feed increase from 7BN to 11BN over the next 50 years. The potential of a 70% increase in food production made easier with DNA technology such as CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.

While 40% malnutrition in Cambodia and Laos just across the Thai border and almost within sight of the glittering shopping malls of Bangkok and ever-present 7-11 and Boots Lotus and Makro suggests far more can be done.

And Discovery Park STEM science park, as it develops, with links to Sittingbourne Science park and Kent University and CCU University campuses in Canterbury and Broadstairs, and 6th form colleges, must surely focus not just on vaccine research and manufacture for malaria and TB growth markets.

And indeed Cancer and Dementia - but also Smart Farm technology to ensure that Kent's Farm to Pharma strategy grows.

@timg33

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Surin4SurinSchools – education reform for UK and Thailand and Bangkok Governor 2018?


Khun Surin Pitsuwan, Thailand’s former deputy PM and ASEAN Secretary-general and erstwhile Bangkok governor in March 2018 makes some eloquent points in his “Education itself must learn some lessons” article in the Bangkok Post:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1280631/education-itself-must-learn-some-lessons

The PM Prayut initiative on Thailand 4.0 to drive up the quality of teachers and education is an important one, in danger of being derailed, and resonates here in UK too.

Khun Surin rightly details the shocking litany of Thai education results in recent years:

• PISA results for Thailand and Cambodia 62nd and 69th of 70 nations in Asia for English proficiency

• The 2016 survey by Cambridge University of 400 English teachers in Thailand rated 60% as inadequate – and with worse figures in STEM courses

If the success of UK links and heritage via the Commonwealth could help explain the PISA success of Singapore at 12th position and Malaysia at 14th position then no such excuse could be found for Vietnam ranking higher than Thailand at 29th position.

Anecdotally the poor quality of Thailand’s teacher training and grammar books is only matched by my occasional series of what I call Tim’s Thai Typos the astonishingly bad translations of big brand advertisements in Thailand’s press and poster industries.

Clearly Khun Surin is right to flag up the need for root and branch reform of Thailand’s education system – and to highlight the success of the UK Russell Group and USA Ivy League universities as suitable candidates for emulation.

The UK is famed for the quality of its education system especially universities – the world top ten being American or UK universities. A success highlighted by UK being 5x smaller in population than USA and only 0.8% of the world population. And the sprinkling of Carnegie libraries that highlight UK-USA educational funding.
And, as an aside, why wouldn’t Khun Surin as Bangkok Governor in 2018 follow the Royal Road of closer education and cultural links with Cambodia as well as fast-forwarding hispeed rail links to Phnom Penh and onto both HCMC and Yangon to cement Bangkok’s role as essentially the capital of ASEAN?


## Surin Education Reform##

For if Khun Surin underscores the 166 international schools in Thailand – including his own Rugby School as Chairman and an honorary degree from my alma mater Bristol University– then it’s a concern that only 45 such schools are member s of the ISAT Thai International group with formal and active links to Thailand’s Ministry of Education. Hardly an engine for education reform and growth.

In UK pressure is on for continued improvement in education after the too-long Summer holidays – a Victorian relic of farming and harvests. But with the UK still facing the effects of the Great Recession of 2008, and a summer of silliness if not political mayhem with Brexit, then few people have been heard to call for a revamp of the whole UK education system.

In my Sincerity Advertising role I’ve volunteered and taught in Thai and Kent schools and universities in English, and Advertising, and Business Studies and highly recommend it.

Universities such as MMU, SPU, King Mongkut, Kasetsart as well as Chula and Thammasat and Sasin have much to offer UK.

The UK’s June election has sent British politics to the bottom of the class with wholesale U-turns in the Tory manifesto including the cancellation of the reintroduction of grammar schools and cancelling the cancelling of free school dinners.

Indeed calls for Brexit to be cancelled are growing by the week as a more outward facing UK emerges again from the insular Little England debates of the past few years.

And the new lame-duck Theresa May government now distracted in calling for a more equal society especially for white working class boys to attend university. And calls to end charitable status for public schools such as Eton, and increase the State school quota beyond 59%.

The dynamic UK Education Minister Justine Greening is active on UK reform and issues raised such as free tampons in school, or the DUP and Northern Ireland lack of access to abortions.

And research this week showing the gender gap remains with Middlesboro being the worst town in UK to be a girl. And it’s horrifying that UK officially classes literacy as a reading age of just 8 years old at age 16.


##Kent and ASEAN education##

The UK education system certainly isn’t perfect here in Kent, Medway district has the dubious honour of the worst-performing primary schools in UK.

Kent social services had to be gutted in the face of vulnerable children scandals (plus scandals in youth football and youth military cadets), the Archbishop of Canterbury now calling for faster action on refugee children from the nearby Calais Jungle, and the Northfleet children scandal of the children being born with their intestines on the outside of their bodies.

All this with a council budget of $3BN per year just to manage Kent’s schools suggests reform has been held back. The specific schools and university budgets are extra to that figure.

Youth unemployment in EU is reaching epidemic levels with 39.7% in Spain and 21.7% in France and debates around the effectiveness of mainstream academic courses and vocational courses in UK’s 130 universities and dozens of colleges and language schools are underway.

Sadiq Khan the new London Mayor – the most votes ever in any UK election and most powerful Moslem politician in Europe – wiping the blackboard clean in urging a public inquiry into the Grenfell skyscraper fires, cancelling the garden Bridge scandal and expanding the Night train London Tube service to overground by December 2017 for a 24/7 global London.

https://timesofislamabad.com/europes-most-powerful-muslim-politician-sadiq-khan/2016/05/25/

While wider debates on the school leaving age increasing to 18 from 16, votes at 16 rather than 18, free tuition fees in Scotland but not UK and a Basic National Income are on the UK agenda.

In my Ramsgate Mayor and MP campaign I’ve urged a top 200 university in Kent along with ASEAN studies courses and BBCTV language learning courses even free-to-air broadcast exchanges and Open University expansion, the first MOOC.

News this month of the possible closure of the Broadstairs campus of Canterbury Christchurch University suggests a failure of both marketing and courses. While calls are increasing for Kent Police involvement in a CCU “Hendon of the South” as well as Community Policing with Charlton Athletic football club etc.


##Thailand and UK Education Partnership##

Shouldn’t the UK and Thailand form a long-term partnership in education?

And surely Khun Surin should make education a key platform in his Bangkok Governor campaign for March 2018?

It’s astonishing that almost no universities in Thailand have formal links and exchange programmes with UK universities.

Kasetsart being a dynamic exception with strong UK and EU and ASEAN links with its International dept, especially Newcastle University and its railway engineering courses. Indeed Newcastle MP and Shadow Industrial Minister Chi Onwurah has urged greater education and industry cooperation not just in excellent traditional industries such as railways but new industries such as computer coding.

With UK introducing computer coding as a lesson surely the expansion of Yingluck computers and Raspberry PI should feature in UK as well as Thailand?

And no Thai language courses or high schools or Rajabhat universities have formal links with UK universities.

While the Surin Village School Charity I founded has already built its first school in Isaan for just $30,000 for a new school building for 50 schoolkids including a library and satellite internet and computer links with Kent schools.

Wouldn’t Surin4SurinSchools be a key message for Khun Surin’s Bangkok governor campaign?

Certainly any new Bangkok governor would need to consider the disunited kingdom aspects of the Charter referendum and how to broaden education access to Isaan and the North and Deep South. As well as considering how to more equitably redistribute government funding beyond an ever-larger city-state that distorts national cohesion and affects both Krungthep and London.

Issues such as Bangkok lacking potable tap water compared ot Singapore or the Doitung Golden Triangle and Mynamar Wa drugs blight or even the monstrous failure in UK of Thai WW1 monument must surely be in the mix?

If London is cooking on gas to end the North-South divide through the Northern Powerhouse programmes then Thailand has much to do to end blatant inequality with luxury cars nestled next to street food carts. And the generation gap of 6 years of primary schooling in Isaan is a national drain compared to the educational access of central BKK. As would be a failure to expand the 10 baht healthcare schemes with sustainable vocational courses.

Failure by a Bangkok Governor to solve such problems could be the biggest disaster to befall the Thai capital since Ayutthaya in 1767.

While cultural issues such as Mahakan Fort and Bangkok Riverside developments as well as the new Observation Tower or High Speed railways will be a test for any Bangkok Governor in ensuring they graduate from being potentially costly white elephants or concrete vanity projects to credits to benefit future generations of residents and tourists in a world city like BKK.

Khun Surin would surely be pushing against an open door with the dynamic British Council – UK and Thailand’s secret weapon - for both cultural and educational opportunities – yet another UK Education Seminar near BTS Chidlom on 22nd July for example including Kent University:

https://th.edukexhibition.org/

As well as ensuring Universities UK – the grouping of all 130 UK universities – places Thailand’s needs first as well as with the Erasmus EU programme of university access.

Otherwise what a massive waste of both nations’ human capital?


##Thailand and East Kent##

Kent has 4 universities that are chomping at the bit to partner with Thai and ASEAN universities.

Kent University is a top 30 UK university (with an excellent journalism dept) while CCU Canterbury Christchurch University has strong teacher training and police forensic course, sports sciences and cinema departments. And a very strong business department and vocational courses and apprenticeships and work experience placements.

The latter could also be relevant for Gap Summers and Gap Years for UK students and teachers in Thai schools:

https://www.britishcouncil.org/study-work-create/opportunity/work-volunteer/thailand-english-teaching-programme

Thailand has a golden opportunity, before eventually the African Commonwealth nations such as Kenya or Ghana will put in place similar programmes, along with strategic growth markets such as Senegal, Mali, South Africa, Malawi and Angola.

Or with tighter Latin American growth market programmes with Mexico, Cuba, Chile and Argentina for example to move UK culture beyond just Shakespeare.

I’ve written before on Discovery Park and Sittingbourne science labs here in East Kent (both sites just 20km from the universities and with their own on-site STEM campus) for vaccines research and production – the former the largest US inward investment in Europe with Pfizer.

Both have excellent International Student departments and calls for Kent to have at least one top 200 university in the next decade. But already nursing exchanges are in place at CCU with DaNang University – Vietnam is not slow in grasping such opportunities and no doubt that reflected in the PISA results Khun Surin cites.
DaNang University in Vietnam is already the largest UK education investment. And UK has an Education export target for £30BN to be achieved – and both Thailand and Vietnam as key growth economies.

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/content/2020-education-export-target-will-need-teamwork#survey-answer

Will Khun Surin urge a Thai-UK Education partnership to create ASEAN Studies courses and languages and lift the number of Thai students in UK from 8,000 to 17,000 – the latter figure only the same as Malaysian students in UK now?

Shouldn’t all 8 top performing Thai universities in The Times higher education leagues be linked not only to a UK university but also to specific departments?
Plus there is East Kent vocational college opening its own hotel for customer service training and Creative Industries courses. Plus 400 other schools including Kings School in Canterbury the world’s oldest school, and dozens and dozens of language schools.

And David Cameron before standing down as PM and now MP made it clear that any international student graduating form a UK university and with a graduate-level job would be entitled to stay on in UK if they wished to do so.

Shouldn’t a Thai-UK university and education partnership help deliver on Thailand 4.0? For both nations to miss such an opportunity would surely mark them out as dunces?

@timg33

Friday, 23 June 2017

PM Prayut four questions for UK as well as Thailand?


PM Prayut's Four Questions as always prove interesting reading - but also a salutary lesson for UK after the dismal election of 8th June.

With an unelected leader now held together by a minority government amidst the shambles of senior politicians voted out, new UKIP and Liberal leadership elections – although they could be held in a telephone box, senior civil servants defenestrated, a whole year of Brexit bumbling (and potentially upto two or three or four more years before it's cancelled), and a worsening economy, UK could well pay heed to PM Prayut's Four Questions.

Only the Ministry of Silly Walks seems well-staffed at the moment in UK government.

Certainly the robotic mantras of strong and stable from Britain's Blueshirts don't have the eloquence and openness of PM Prayut's fireside chats. While the lack of televised Leader Debates and party broadcasts are in stark contrast to the running commentary - no matter how impartial - of Thailand's 30 minute TV shows.
And the threadbare 1970's socialism of Britain's Redshirts is a knee-jerk ideology nationalisation of railways is perhaps only slightly more jaw-droppingly awful than the 18th century Blueshirtsim of foxhunting.

All again in stark contrast to PM Prayut's modernisation initiatives under the Thailand 4.0 umbrella. And Fruitival just one policy, served up fresh and hot, amongst many.
For Britain still to be bumbling towards its first Industrial Strategy some 200 years after beginning the Industrial revolution is concerning.
But if PM Prayut is an uber-patriot returning happiness - or at least a measure of stability - to the Thai people through the unrest and emergencies of the last 3 years, the demands can only grow louder for elections in 2018 from the Four Questions:

1. Do you think the next election will give Thailand a government with good governance?


An interesting philosophical question clouded in doubt and uncertainty for any nation. But perhaps the next election will do so for Thailand. Thailand’s economy is starting to tick upwards. Tourism remains resilient even with the shock report of Thailand rated as one of the world's most dangerous nations - perhaps because of the volume of tourism.

While civil society - a weakness in much of Asia - has been strengthened in Thailand with say ACT anti-corruption groups. While the National Strategy with politicians, businesses, civil servants and Third Sector groups is a refreshing contribution to oversight and scrutiny. It’s in stark contrast to the cod-cabinet of the UK Privy Council or House of Lords still infected with 91 hereditary Lords and bizarre farce of hereditary elections to replace them as they die off.
Unfortunately, as we've seen in UK with the trashing of the Fixed term Parliament Act at its first hurdle, and then the tearing up of the Blueshirt manifesto, elections don't always yield good governance. In Britain's case with even Northern Ireland's DUP now complaining, it doesn't even seem to yield a government.


2. If that is not the case what will you do?


Presumably, as in UK, Thai citizens will tut and sigh and turn away from politics in disgust. That demonstrated in the rise in low turnouts (over 30% of UK voters not voting in national elections, and 70%(!) not voting in local elections). A bitter harvest for the last D-Day veterans landing in Normandy to secure weak democracy in a failing nation. A weakened government and resurgent opposition will undoubtedly result in repeated carcrash elections in effect sifting through the detritus to eventually find viable leadership.

Troops on the streets viable? Britain's tried that recently for a few days - along with armed police - with the London Bridge and Borough Market bombing to minimal support. And less so than in Thailand, France's ongoing state of emergency has failed to stem the wave of terror attacks or instil a sense of security.
But again PM Prayut must be thinking of the 2018 elections and standing with his own party or not?

He could certainly lay claim to strong and stable leadership. And as an uber-patriot surely he must also be best-placed to place a framework around any military aid to the civil power in the future? 21st century Thailand can hardly continue the rollercoaster ride of coups and counter-coups or tempestuous colourshirt politics.

And perhaps all the more important without the wise counsel of King Bhumibol for the first time in the Thai landscape.

And as a comparison, the vitriol routinely directed at the UK royals would cause thousands of lese-majeste cases in Thailand - each day. No wonder Prince Charles routinely heads off to Romania to relax and get away from it all.

With Prince Harry this week stating that no royal wants to be King or Queen Britain’s monarchy seems to be in something of a greater pickle too. With Prince Philip in hospital again and retiring from public life and Queen Elizabeth 91 years old, the smoothness of transition from King Bhumibol to King Vajiralongkorn – despite naughty German teens’s air rifles - is another stark contrast between UK and Thailand.


3. Elections are an integral part of democracy but are elections without regard for the country's future right or wrong?


Again a profound question that casts UK's recent election for Party purposes in a dim light. And as with the rise in civil society in Thailand whether Greenpeace or monks or farmer's or CEDT or TDRI groups, democracy is more than just elections.

Certainly the UK approach of essentially elected dictatorships every five years is overdue for reform. While the Blueshirts have been described as an absolutist political party tempered only by regicide.

While the merry-go-round of elections on Scottish independence, Brexit and national elections plus party leader elections and resignations in Clegg, Cameron, Farron, Nuttall, Farage and Miliband is hardly testament to elections leading to stability and growth in UK at the moment.


4. Do you think bad politicians should be given the chance to return to politics - and if conflict re-emerges who will solve it and by what means?


Does PM Prayut mean Thaksin or Yingluck? Or both? But surely Thailand as a modern democracy can’t perpetually ban citizens for taking up politics? Cambodia's PM Hun Sen's triumph with Sam Rainsy exiled and banned from politics, seems a pyrrhic victory worthy of UK elections and a cautionary tale on the Shinawatra debate.
As was the heat of a judicial coup around the rice pledging schemes and watermelon politics.

Even Boris Johnson, foreign Secretary and erstwhile PM, was only hidden away during the election campaign after his Brexit shenanigans. While the capable Michael Gove has been given another chance after the Brexit palace coup as Environment Minister to green Britain under the hot glare of Climate Change.

And if conflict returns to the streets surely the Boys in Brown of Thailand's police should be the first call, as with UK's Bobbies on the beat, rather than troops firing on citizens? The Bloody Sunday inquiry of Northern Ireland and 14 citizens shot dead by the Parachute Regiment still taints UK politics even now, with the Unionjackshirts of DUP urging amnesties.

Certainly no UK general would expect to last long outside the barracks for any dalliance in UK politics - even the Duke of Wellington met his Prime Ministerial Waterloo besieged in his Hyde Park home under the slings and arrows of the baying mob. And certainly PM Prayut has a golden opportunity in his fireside chats - or aerobic sessions - to openly discuss the future and reform of Thailand’s military?

Is conscription viable? Cancelled in UK back in 1960 even at the height of the Cold War, as an economic and social drain. What is the right size and role of the military? Is Cambodia stealing a march on UK and Thailand in its peacekeeping role with over 1,000 troops deployed? How does the military work in Resilience operations whether SAR search and rescue at sea or floods and earthquakes on land?

After all it took President Eisenhower a former military man and leader of D-Day, highlighted the dangers of the military-industrial complex soaking up public funds with perpetual emergencies and the inability to switch off the military machine. Even now UK troop still based in Germany long after WW2 and the Cold War.

Or PM Prayut could discuss the CEDT view of 61 deans of Thailand’s foremost universities urging the handbrake is pulled on S44 for the Bangkok-Nongkhai Chinese railway that seems to benefit China rather than Thailand or Laos. Is throwing billions of dollars to plough through the vast emptiness of the Laotian Highlands sensible even with OBOR?

With both Kent University and Newcastle University the latter already linked with Kasetsart engineering depts - and Kent’s Southeastern franchise due a Meiji Kent overhaul with a consortium of Japan Rail and Netherlands – surely rail technology transfers would easily be viable?
Certainly that would be of more use to Thailand - although less fun - than Lumyai's Mor Lam twerking? Rather than facing a barrage of three-fingered salutes - and more than a few UK citizens are offering the current UK PM a few two fingered salutes - PM Prayut himself rather than a Lukthung music video lookey-likey could give the thumbs up to increased UK-Thailand trade?

Sadly the Grenfell Tower firestorm in London has exposed shortcomings in both fire standards and UK Resilience - mobs besieging the council offices and resignations, before public inquiries beyond lessons learned, over such failures. And in Kent heavy rotation of press and radio advertising highlighting Pandemic preparation - and need for the Sir Julian Brazier Medical School project linked to Discovery Park vaccine factory - as vaccinations fall below the 83% safe level.

A healthy flow of nurses and doctors and researchers and pharma-factor workers is all the more important for the NHS as Brexit rumbles on and EU citizens and STEM workers feel unwelcome, and the Kent Farm-to-Pharma strategy falters.

Surely Brexit highlights to both UK and Thailand, Eire's sterling work in securing all ten of the top 10 pharma companies from Pfizer to Ameger as inward investment. And there must be a template of JV activity for the City of London and Thai firms such as KTB, SCB and Kasikorn?

For surely PM Prayut's Four Questions pose the basis not just to tee up the 2018 elections but for a strong and stable UK and Thailand relationship into the future.

@timg33

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

UK and Thailand yet to snack on UNSDG30? Or doughnuts in Parliament?


As always it was fascinating to read Khun Sirinya's report in the Bangkok Post comparing Thai street food with the retail (7-11?) options:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/archive/an-adventure-of-convenience-with-a-big-tab/1239394

A mouth-watering smorgasboard of Thai food was laid out with over a dozen options and snacks.

It's hard to believe if she says she didn't eat it all - she must have hollow legs, but Thai food is so healthy it's difficult to put on weight. And the dynamic Travel Blogger and Teacher - from Kent too - Richard Barrow is cooking on gas with his Street Food Survey serving up a choice of snacks:

http://www.richardbarrow.com/2017/05/street-food-walking-trip-in-bangkok-noi-and-thonburi/

And UK doughnuts? Well, leaving aside issues of if/how BMA will clamp down on Street Food, or the surge of Thai Cuisine Culture with the new Michelin Guide for Bangkok, or even Superfoods, or even malnutrition in Laos and Cambodia there has suddenly appeared what's been termed a doughnut-shaped hole in UK policy with the UNSDG30 #globalgoals.

Just before Parliament was dissolved for the 8th June General Election, the Environment Audit Committee (specifically established to review UK Climate Change policy) produced the first report on the UNDG30 and UK.(And not one but two reports on flooding, and a further two reports on microplastics - from shower gels and cosmetics - and ocean pollution). And it was less than ideal:

https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvaud/596/59602.htm


Former PM David Cameron can rightly be proud of establishing UK as the first G20 economy to achieve the UN target of 0.7% GNI aid - and in the face of much criticism even from within his party. But UK is far weaker on using those funds (about $20BN a year) to achieve the UNSDG30 #globalgoals.

The Global Goals are 17 broad aims with 169 sub-categories, all signed up by every nation on earth and perhaps the only main gaps are a Global Space Plan, or WMD Disarmament - both hardly likely to wait until the next iteration of the Global Goals after 2030.


### Global Goals for UK? ###

Concerns have rightly been raised not just over the normal mishaps and corruption over aid spending that unfortunately happen - the Ethiopian Spice Girls project perhaps clumsily prioritising First World issues in a Third World nation. But even more worryingly DFID is simply salting away huge tranches of aid funds into the World Bank for audit tick-boxing where it sits idle rather than being spent on viable projects around the world.

Excessive financial reserves within UK government departments are part of the same problem for UK activity.

For the doughnut-shaped hole has appeared where UK is developing the Global Goals abroad but not instigating them at home. So doing, would not only promote the Global Goals to the UK public (who are ultimately funding them through tax), but would also frame UK policy in to solve UK problems.

For example, 3M UK citizens suffer from malnutrition. And the rise of 1M people needing Food Banks in a G7 nation (the oft-cited problem of affording to heat-or-eat for many families) is a Dickensian failure in 21st century Britain. And framing the Global Goals to UK problems would also highlight malnutrition in terms of say diabetes or obesity, from actual doughnuts.

And just as Pepsi and Coke are rapidly diversifying to sugar-free soda, and portfolio juice and water brands, and McDonalds to healthy eating as well as home delivery and waitress service it's interesting to see Chang move to drinking water over alcoholic beverages.

As an aside, surely it's an own goal for the UK as a Sporting Superpower from the 2012 and 2016 Olympics not to build on that success - with Goal 3 Healthy Lives - through framing UK Sports policy through the lens of the Global Goals?

Global Golas if you will.

Although other sports brands are available - as spurs to progress.

Here in Kent, Charlton Athletic are very active in their community work with schools and colleges, while Arsenal has very active Summer Schools, and a Goalkeeper school. While the Margate Beach Games has been a runaway success with UK Volleyball Championships and beach football and burgeoning kayaking, cycling and surfing events beefing up Kent fitness amidst the more sedate golfing and yachting.

### Global Goals for the World ###

And other nations are leading the UK already: Philippines has already adapted the Global Goals into much of its national policy. While the Parliamentary report cites 10 Argentinian Ministers active in their nations' Global Goals, and the Colombian government creating a ministerial department to deliver UNSDG30, and even attributing the success of the Peace Process to the Global Goals and Agenda.

With my Sincerity Advertising hat on, it's reassuring to see that the report highlights the need for advertising given the successful social media and app work by Finland.

Plus a German TV commercial - even Bonn being established as The UNSDG30 Town of Germany to focus delivery of the Global Goals - and in UK Project Everyone (and with The World's Biggest Lesson of free material for schools) established by Richard Curtis, of Comic Relief and Blackadder and Love Actually fame, is stumbling at making the Global Goals famous in UK.

And in my politics work I've called for every Kent schoolbook, and pen and pencil, across all 400 Kent schools, to feature the Global Goals logo and graphics and website. And with branding on Yingluck computers and phones and screensavers too.

It's astonishing - as the report outlines - that some 15 years after the UN Millennium Development Goals and now into Year 2 of the UNDSG30 Global Goals not one UK government department has any plans to deliver them, nor even get the ball rolling by featuring the UNSDG30 logos on their websites.

And it was interesting that two sessions of the Parliamentary Environment Committee were on Soil Health - a subject that's perhaps not especially riveting to most people - despite fears of only six more harvests given Climate Change, existing overproduction, AMR and excessive antibiotics in animals and a further 4BN population growth.

So, Soil Health disappeared without a trace in UK - even here in the more rural Kent with concerns of most farmers over 65 years old, and Brexit fears of restrictions on farm subsidies and farm labourers - yet actively promoted by Kasetsart University after the UN Year of the Soil.

Surely whether it's healthy eating or Climate Change or social initiatives such as Children's Day or Teacher's Day or King Power and Leicester City or 7-11 expansion of 700 new stores just in Thailand, UK and Thailand could carve out a slice of the pie on the Global Goals.

And snack on Goal 17 Global Partnerships?

@timg33

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Speeding up Road Safety for UK and Thailand?

Khun Ploenpote Atthakor in her Bangkok Post article makes some interesting points on Road Safety in Thailand:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1255226/speed-focus-not-making-roads-safer


Certainly she was lucky to be let off for speeding: 133 kph in a 90 kph zone: UK Police would be much stricter than Thai Police in such instances.

And she makes a fair point on speeding and German autobahn motorways (only 70mph in UK and 55mph in USA).

But the harsh reality is that speeding is one of the #Fatal4 most common causes of road deaths. Khun Ploenpote may be a superb driver - I'm sure she's not Twittering on her mobile phone at the wheel - but many people are not, and a pothole or a child running out or a patch of oil doesn't allow for reaction at high speeds.

In my Sincerity Advertising role, the "Kill Your Speed Not a Child" advertising campaign stands out as being a superb example of not just enforcing the 30mph limit on minor roads but in encouraging a reduction to 20mph.

Such advertising work is a key thread in ensuring UK is a Road Safety Global Champion - as well as a Sporting Superpower -with the lowest road deaths in the world. Germany probably has less serious injuries- with few if any survivors from a high-speed autobahn crash.

The various UK road organisations: Automobile Association and RAC and Green Flag are also active in promoting cheaper car insurance with advanced driving courses eg Institute of Advanced Motorists.

While in terms of speeding even the Road Safety Police in Kent and Lincolnshire - both with long stretches of motorway and rural roads - emphasise speed safety and have extensive high speed driving experience. Some police road chases are called off for the potential dangers of crashes and injuring bystanders, to call in the police helicopter or air ambulance. While the numerous instances of long-distance lorry drivers even watching television at the wheel is astonishing.

In my politics work: Garbutt for South Thanet MP 8th June I am urging the new speed limit for 20mph, zero drinkdrive limit (drinking and driving also one of the #Fatal4) to reduce the slight increase to 54 KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) on Kent's roads in the last year.

And to urge a UK-Thailand Road Safety partnership with AIP Foundation and UK and Thailand police.

We are after all speeding along to the Seven Dangerous Days of New Year again in just over 6 months time?

@timg33