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Rub of the Hub: 'Over the past decade international organized crime has discovered the attractions of Bangkok and — if turf wars and spilt blood are any indication — business is flourishing.' — THE NATIONS, Oct. 13

"Bangkok As Crime Central" [THE NATIONS, Oct. 13] alleges that Bangkok has become a haven for all sorts of criminals. Thailand is an open country and, thanks to the government's efforts in promoting the tourism industry, the number of tourists is the highest in Southeast Asia. It is unavoidable that among these bona fide tourists there exist certain foreign criminal elements that exploit our hospitality (pictured, a shooting suspect). But it would be an exaggeration to say that Bangkok is "crime central." Government authorities are closely monitoring the situation and establishing a task force to deal with the small number of foreign criminals that tarnish Thailand's image.

Thailand has a firm policy of cooperating with countries and international organizations in law enforcement. We have signed extradition treaties with the United States and many countries in Europe and Asia. Every branch of the Thai government has always extended full cooperation to foreign governments' requests for extradition of their nationals. Even to states with which we don't have bilateral extradition treaties, we extend our cooperation within the scope of Thailand's Extradition Act.
Bansarn Bunnag
director, news division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Call this innocence versus globalization. Thais are far behind the image of the new revolution. We have been taught to trust, be honest, and extend royal treatment to all visitors, tourists and even gangsters who pretend to be nice to us. We are friends to everyone, but our own laws and beliefs contribute to destroying our peace. We are too naive to conquer tricky friends. Is it time for us to apply a paradigm shift by teaching our children to treat visitors and tourists as suspect strangers? Should we teach our kids international law instead of remaining relatively innocent? In my opinion we should not change our beliefs that much. But, visitors, please do not use our land as your playing field any more.
Phasina Tangchuang
Faculty of Education
Chiang Mai University

Worries About Islamic Bill
Whilst welcoming a statement from the Prime Minister's Department on the need to "review and deliberate" the proposed Restoration of Faith Act to ensure its acceptance among Malaysians, concerned citizens would still urge the government to reconsider the need for such a bill on constitutional grounds and because of its impact on race relations ["A Matter of Personal Faith?" THE NATIONS, Oct. 13].

Many fear how this law [on apostasy and deviations], if passed and implemented, might be interpreted and applied by overzealous officials. They also worry whether this can lead to abuse of officials' powers in the name of religion. Any law that curbs freedom of religion is a violation of the Malaysian federal Constitution, which provides that every person has the right to profess and practice his or her religion.

Before any laws that regulate the faith and private lives of citizens are tabled, we urge the government to hold in-depth dialogue sessions with religious consultative councils, interested groups, political parties, NGOs and parliamentarians to receive their considered views. Malaysia must not deviate from upholding the pluralism, tolerance and understanding that are the hallmark of a civil, democratic, multireligious, multicultural and polyglot society.
Rita Sim
Kuala Lumpur

As a non-Muslim Malaysian, I am naturally quite disturbed by the developments described in "A Matter of Personal Faith?" Since one can say that the acceptance of religion is a matter of free will, natural law authorizes men to follow only the voice of individual conscience in this matter. And religious freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution.
A "Disturbed" Malaysian

Japan's Historic 0penings

You refer to openings which have changed Japan, beginning with the Meiji Restoration of 1868 ["Pressure Points," SPECIAL REPORT, Oct. 20]. Surely the first opening was that which brought Chinese culture, including Buddhism, Confucianism and kanji [Chinese characters] during the Tang dynasty. That would make the debatable current one (which may go down in history as the Clairol Transformation) at least the fourth.
Henry Steiner
Hong Kong

Don't Glamorize the Hacker

You should not publish reports about persons who commit world-encompassing crimes, like the suspected "Love Bug" hacker de Guzman of the Philippines ["Hacking Takes a Holiday," TECHNOLOGY, Oct. 13]. He should be forgotten and left alone. Why rehash the memories of expensive costs and crippling gridlock suffered worldwide? Publicizing his crime is very glamorous to him. Don't foster his perceived glamour.
Fred Villa
San Francisco

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Environment: Hong Kong's dangerous appetite for luxury foods

Investing: How to ride the current volatile markets
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Ban: Malaysia's crackdown on arcades won't end illicit gambling

Letters & Comment: Bangkok crime capital?

The Bottom Line: Asiaweek's ranking of world economies

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