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Phuket Entertainment: Giving women what they want

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Entertainment: Giving women what they want | The Thaiger

PHUKET: What began as a language-learning exercise – watching Thai soaps with English subtitles online – has become, well, a problem. I stay up too late, watch during breakfast and abandon unessential tasks until I finish the series, all 20-plus hours of it.

I became addicted despite the fact that from the first moment I know what will happen – the main characters will get together, and those other two who seem to hate each other will get together, and the bad guys will get their comeuppance and everyone will suffer along the way.

So what is it that keeps me and countless Thai women spellbound by these shows? It’s watching the main characters solve an endless series of problems while slowly falling in love along the way.

There is the macro problem: She is an actress trying to regain her former popularity by hosting a cooking show, and she needs him to teach her how to cook. Or she is a spirit trapped in the body of his five-year-old niece. Or she is an independent woman who wants to have a baby and is angling to get him to donate his sperm.

And there is the long string of micro problems: Will he be able to love her even though he believes she’s a prostitute? She’s not a prostitute of course, but the daughter of a super rich soy sauce manufacturer in disguise. Ah! He realizes that he truly loves her. But wait, someone is spreading the rumor that she slept with his best friend. He breaks up with her. Bummer! Is he going to take her back? He does. Thank goodness! But by then she’s pissed off and won’t accept his apology. Oh golly!

We enjoy seeing the good guys triumph and keep their love-competitors at bay. Again and again, they clear their names, win mothers-in-law over, get out of scrapes gracefully, and say the right sassy or noble thing at just the right time.

Then there’s the eye candy factor. It doesn’t hurt that everyone is attractive and that the women’s makeup is always immaculate, their hairstyles ever-changing and their clothes great. It’s accessories porn. Not to mention that there’s always at least one super-rich person’s house to ogle, and a Mercedes or two.

But the very best thing that the soaps give us is a close up of two people falling in love in slow motion, a gradual dawning of feelings, their courtship. What could be more compelling to a woman, I do not know.

There are shy smiles, long looks, a first hand-holding, swabbing with a damp cloth when one falls sick. There are statements like “Thank you for worrying about me”, which we understand really means “I know now that you love me.”

The shows are as chaste as a Jane Austen novel. In fact, sometimes so chaste that the characters can’t come together on their own. The girl needs to trip or fall, the man catches her, they gaze deep into each others’ eyes, and voila, their love begins to flower.

After a brief period of happiness, the lovers face a mandatory separation as their feelings are tested.

During this painful time, they fall silent, gaze frequently into space, and relive scenes from the past as the theme music plays repeatedly. They cry, and beautiful tears fall down their cheeks.

They’re always reunited of course, but the endings, while technically happy, are often duds. In a series called Oum Rak (Chain of love), we watch the lovers suffer terribly during their time apart. Then they meet by chance the very day he’s to go abroad to start a new life. “Can you not go?” she asks. “I never wanted to leave,” he says. Little kiss, little hug, and – jop, the show’s over. It’s as though the producers know that we know the ending will be happy, and don’t waste much energy on it.

Some inadvertent pleasures of the soaps for a Western viewer are the cultural oddities that pop up here and there, like everyone wearing slippers indoors, even the bad guys, even when they’re shouting and fighting. And all the men, including the hotties, wearing grandpa-style pyjamas to bed.

Other elements can be jarring. Women are often weak and it’s unseemly for them to show their desire. And one show, so popular that it has been remade many times, has a plot I never grew comfortable with. In Sawang Bieng, (Paradise Diversions) the man rapes the woman, then spends the whole series trying to win her love, finally succeeding.

But things may be improving for female characters. In a recent soap, Dao Kiao Duen (Star Courts the Moon), the woman is a rock climber and a black belt with major fighting skills. She’s the one hunting for sperm to have a baby on her own.

And this is what her boyfriend says at the end when she asks forgiveness for her ulterior motives “I won’t forget the past, but I’ll look at it positively, because everything that happened made us know each other better, made us love each other. And the bad things I’ve done to you, I’d like you to forget. Remember just one thing: My life cannot go on without you.”

Ah! Now that’s an ending.

— Leslie Porterfield

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Business

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg

May Taylor

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Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | The Thaiger

Thai Residents reports that on Sunday, Bloomberg published an article on the world’s best pension systems, using information gathered from the 2019 Melbourne Mercer Global Pensions Index.

The survey looked at the pension systems of 37 countries with metrics including employee rights, savings, the number of homeowners, growth of assets, and growth of the economy. The purpose of the analysis was to determine what was needed to improve state pension systems and to gauge the level of confidence citizens had in their state pension system.

The Netherlands and Denmark were found to have the world’s best state pensions, with Australia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, and Chile next. Out of all 37 countries, Thailand finished last, with what the report described as an extremely ineffective and ambiguous system.

“Thailand was in the bottom slot and should introduce a minimum level of mandatory retirement savings and increase support for the poorest.”

Out of 37 countries, Thailand has the worst pension system, says Bloomberg | News by The Thaiger

Photo: WorkpointNews

Thai Residents states that only those employed within the government system in Thailand are eligible for a pension based on salary. For most Thai citizens, pension amounts vary from 600 baht to 1,000 baht a month, depending on the recipient’s age.

A report carried out by The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) advises Thai citizens to have at least 4 million baht saved by the time they retire, but Thai Residents reports that 60% of Thai retirees have less than 1 million baht in savings, with one in three citizens who have reached retirement age are forced to continue working in order to survive.

SOURCE: thairesidents.com

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Bangkok

Tax on salt content being considered

Greeley Pulitzer

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Tax on salt content being considered | The Thaiger

The Excise Department is considering imposing a tax on the salt content of food to encourage food producers to reduce the sodium content of snacks, instant noodles and seasoning cubes.

The director of the Office of Tax Planning said that the department is discussing a limit on the amount of sodium food can contain, in line with the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is 2,000 milligrams of salt per day.

In reality, Thai people consume an average of 1,000 milligrams per meal, making their daily intake well above WHO guidelines, according to the director.

He said any tax imposed would be at a level which would encourage food producers to reduce the sodium in their processed food without being punitive, adding that the proposal isn’t intended to generate more tax revenue, but to help protect the health of consumers. Excessive sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Fish sauce, soy sauce and salt would not be taxed.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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News

Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces

Greeley Pulitzer

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Water shortage warnings in 22 provinces | The Thaiger

People living in 22 Thai provinces are being warned to prepare for shortages of drinking water during the upcoming dry season, due to start on November 1st.

The warning was issued by the National Water Resources Office, citing low levels in reservoirs, which are the main sources for tap water production waterworks in 22 provinces.

Areas at risk identified by the office are in northern, north-eastern, eastern and southern provinces.

Measures have been adopted by agencies charged with dealing with water shortages. including dredging water channels to allow greater volumes of water to flow into reservoirs, drilling underground wells, enlarging storage ponds and the purchase of water to supply to those in urgent need.

The Royal Irrigation Department has announced that people should use water sparingly.

There are currently about 6 billion cubic metres of usable water in reservoirs in the affected provinces, with 5 billion cubic metres reserved for consumption and ecological preservation, leaving only 1 billion cubic metres for use in agriculture.

This means farmers in the Chao Phraya river basin may not be able to grow a second crop of rice this year.

SOURCE: thaipbsworld.com

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