Thailand 32nd happiest country in the world
UNITES Nation marked the International Day of Happiness past Monday by showing off its Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s (SDSN’s) World Happiness Report 2017 (http://worldhappiness.report/) in which Thailand ranked as the 32nd happiest country.
SDSN is a global initiative launched by the UN in 2012, aimed to persuade nations to build social trust and equality to improve their citizens’ well-being. It took economic factors (gross domestic product per capita), social support (education and family life), healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption into its consideration of ranking.
Norway ranked first followed with Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden as the top 10 countries. South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic were the least happy countries.
The director of the SDSN and a special adviser to the UN secretary-general Jeffrey Sachs said, among other things, during an interview that he would like nations to follow the United Arab Emirates and other countries that have appointed Ministers of Happiness.
Top: Nature would like the whole planet to be happy as underscored by this smiley face on a sunflower seen at a field in Lawrence, Kansas. Photo: Jordi Bernabeu Farrús (CC-BY-2.0)
Old railway stations to be demolished
The country’s 443 old railways stations are becoming obstacles to the double-track train development plan as new constructions are needed to handle new rail systems while an academic has proposed an idea of preserving some selected stations.
“It’s a shame that the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) sees no value in those old stations, claiming that it has no budget, while the government pays no attention,” said Parinya Chukaew who teaches architecture at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang.
Nearly half of the number, roughly 200, should be preserved as cultural and architectural heritage sites of the country, said Parinya. He raised example of an over 80 years old Khon Kaen station which, though not very original, its collective modification over time can tell how the city has been develop over decades hence the historical value.
The Khon Kaen station is among the first stations to be demolished and replaced with the new and larger two-storey building with elevated tracks, said Sakarin Saeng-arun, head of Khon Kaen station.
First inset: One of the 443 old railway stations that are to be demolished. Photo: Parinya Chukaew
PM won’t use Article 44 against Uber
Many registered taxi drivers called for help from PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha to solve problems caused by Uber service and alike by using powerful Article 44 of the interim constitution.
The PM replied after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, “The [Uber] ride-sharing service is a good alternative for public transportation but an applicable law is needed to be issued in order to avoid creating a new problem.”
He also said law violation must be dealt with using existing laws and regulations and that he had already ordered the Ministry of Transport to solve the problem.
Second inset: Premier Prayut Chan-o-cha gestures while carrying out his duties recently. Photo: Nationmultimedia.com
New kind of school in Buri Ram
Mechai Viravaidya is popular among Thais as “Mr Condom” for promoting the use of contraceptive back in the 70s, as an actor who performed in 1970 melodrama “Sunset in Chaophraya” and holding many government positions at different times. He now runs a boarding school in Buri Ram, quite an unconventional one really.
The school has a student cabinet, with democratic process, to regulate school budget, spending, auditing as well as managing the student body’s discipline, environment, communications and business, selecting prospective students, or even recruiting new teachers. For big decision, their opinion is sought and consulted (five vehicles recently bought).
In short, the students run the school. They regularly engage in community outreach projects, train art of agriculture to elderly and people in wheelchair, teach local kids to swim, set up vegetable gardens at four petrol stations and sell the produce. The school also offers loans to the students and their families to start small business,
Though Mr Mechai aims to make the school self-sustainable lifelong learning center without collecting money from students, it still relies on sponsorship from private companies and his friends, his salary and the school’s social enterprises.
Jirapa Tibmoon, a 15 years old student in Mathayom 3 said that she paid school fees with time. The fee requirement is that each student and their parents be responsible for planting 800 trees and participate in community service for 800 hours a year.
Mr Mechai hopes this will instill a feeling of civic pride in his students. If everyone learns to share and help one another, perhaps the problem of social disparity can be solved. “And so far, after almost nine years, I think everything is going rather well,” he said.
Below: Students working in the garden at Mr Mechai’s boarding school in Buri Ram. Photo: Komchadluek.net
School’s website – http://mechaipattana.ac.th.
By Piboon Awasdaruharote