Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Announcement of Birth

It is with great pleasure that I announce the birth in Chiang Mai to Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui of a daughter. The birth took place on May 27th. The daughter has not been named yet. She will be given a name on Aug 12th, which is Mother's Day here in Thailand.

The proud parents agreed to share a few baby photos.


Oh, didn't I mention that Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui were pandas? Well of course they are. They live here at Chiang Mai Zoo, as local celebrities. The only blot in their otherwise happy existence was the fact that after six years together, their union had not been blessed with offspring. In fact, Chuang Chuang quite neglected his matrimonial duties. But with some help from the veterinarians here in CM Lin Hui was successfully impregnated by artificial insemination. The silly vets thought the proceedure had been a failure, as Lin Hui cleverly hid her condition as a modest young bride will. They were certainly surprised when she gave birth!



As you can see in the latest picture, the young panda has begun to exhibit the coloration of a mature panda.


Anyway, congratulations to the happy family, and best wishes for the future. I would be handing out cigars at this juncture, but pandas really hate cigar smoke.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Attitudes toward Blindness in Thailand

The Interior Minister of Thailand claimed over the weekend that giving 2000 baht to a blind person could not be construed as vote buying because the blind are legally incompetent and not eligible to vote. (See story)
Now, the minister was quickly upbraided by the Thai Association of the Blind President. The blind are not legally incompetent and are allowed to vote. (The issue of vote buying I will leave to another time).

But to address a broader issue, the situation of the disabled in Thailand is distressing to say the least. They are discriminated against in employment, education, entertainment, and general society. The kind of ignorance that the Interior Minister exhibits is almost universal. Most businesses simply will not hire disabled persons. This leaves them dependent on family members, or on working as market or street venders, or begging. It is an unfortunate situation, that doesn't really seem to be changing.

Every year my language school holds a graduation ceremony for our students. The US Consulate always sends someone to speak. Last year the new General Consul came. He spoke on the value of learning foreign languages. That Stuffed Shirt somehow managed to leave the impression that because he spoke Russian, he and his buddy Ronald Reagan were able to topple the Soviet Union. That guy is really full of himself. This year we were luckier. We got an assistant consul. The interesting thing was that this guy was blind. He gave a good speech, articulate, funny, made appropriate Thai references that our students could relate to. He never mentioned his blindness. I was glad that our graduates and their families could see a blind person in a position of responsibility and authority. I hope his work with the Consulate will help change some people's attitudes regarding the blind and other persons with disabilities.