Vol. VII No. 37 - Tuesday
September 9 - September 15, 2008



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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


Chiang Mai FeMail
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Shan work accident victim to challenge SSO discrimination in the Supreme Court of Thailand

How to make friends – if you’re a dog!

Commitment or Casanova?

Osteoporosis and Exercise

OPINION

 

Shan work accident victim to challenge SSO discrimination in the Supreme Court of Thailand

Accident on site of Shangri-La Hotel resulted in paralysis

Shan News Agency - On August 29, Nang Noon, the 37 year-old Shan woman whose accident on the construction site at the Shangri-La Hotel caused her permanent disablement, took her legal challenge to the Social Security Office’s (SSO), refusal to provide compensation for her injuries to the Supreme Court. She contends that an existing policy denying registered migrants access to the Workmen’s Compensation Fund is illegal and discriminatory.
Nang Noom’s appeal to the Supreme Court stems from a December 2006 accident at the Shangri-la Hotel in Chiang Mai that left her paralysed from the waist down. In July 2007 Chiang Mai SSO refused her request for accident compensation from the WCF. In January 2008 the WCF Committee then rejected her appeal against this decision, ruling that procedures for compensating migrant accident victims laid down in an SSO circular had been adhered to. Nang Noom petitioned Region Five’s Labour Court in February 2008 arguing that the circular was illegal, discriminatory and in breach of both the Thai Constitution and international conventions ratified by the Thai government. In July 2008 the Region Five Labour Court rejected her petition; ruling that the circular was neither unlawful nor discriminatory against migrant workers.
The SSO circular stipulates that to access compensation from the WCF, migrants must produce registration documents and a work permit together with a passport or alien identification documents, and that their employers must have paid a dividend into the WCF. Firstly, most of the estimated 2 million migrant workers in Thailand from Burma, Cambodia and Laos entered illegally without such documentation, given that systems for importing Burmese migrants to work in Thailand are dysfunctional. Nang Noom, along with over 500, 000 other Burmese workers, is, however, currently registered with the Ministries of Interior and Labour to work ‘legally’ in Thailand. Secondly, the SSO does not allow employers of such migrant workers to pay a dividend into the WCF. WCF regulations stipulate, however, that all employers of one or more ‘workers’ must pay dividends into the WCF and it is the duty of the SSO to enforce payment by employers of this dividend.
The circular assigns responsibility to pay compensation to migrant work accident victims in all cases where conditions in the circular are not met by employers. However, data collected by the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) suggests migrants rarely access compensation from their employers and that attempts to claim this compensation through the SSO are plagued with bureaucratic difficulties. HRDF supported Nang Noom’s accident compensation claim and she received baht 584, 896 from her employers. Alongside Nang Noom however, HRDF are now promoting this case as a test case for developing formal work accident compensation systems for all migrant workers in Thailand. Tomorrow’s Supreme Court challenge is in addition to the challenge against the circular filed in May 2008 at the Supreme Administrative Court, which is still awaiting consideration.
Somchai Homlaor, Secretary General of HRDF, states: ‘This Supreme Court challenge by Nang Noom is on behalf of two million mostly Burmese migrants currently working in Thailand in dirty and dangerous conditions. Migrants frequently suffer accidents at work but the SSO refuses to revoke the circular which unfairly pushes these victims to negotiate, generally unsuccessfully, for compensation from their employers. The current system for compensating migrant work accident victims is failing and illustrates that the SSO is neglecting to perform its legal duties for the benefit of migrant workers.’ Somchai concludes: ‘All future migrant work accident victims should receive compensation directly from the WCF, as is the procedure prescribed for Thai workers, therefore providing for a secure, transparent and just compensation system. The Thai Government must treat migrants equally to all other workers because their hard work is a benefit to our economy and they deserve security in their lives. The Government must also ensure the policies of all its Ministries do not breach non-discrimination principles enshrined both in the Thai constitution as well as in ratified international conventions. Adhering to the principle of non-discrimination reflects a genuinely civilized society and a fair system of governance.’

 

How to make friends – if you’re a dog!

“He needs socialisation with other dogs as well as humans, he’s been bullied”, were Ally of Care for Dog’s last words to Mattie’s new mum as she cuddled the little brown 8 month old puppy she’d, (perhaps against her better judgement?), fallen for at the Adoption Fair last week. As she carried him to the car, her thoughts tangled around her concern that Mimi, the diminutive, highly intelligent “boss dog” of her pack of 4, wouldn’t accept the little newcomer. Mattie’s thoughts, of course, were concentrated on his next meal…
“Mmmm, this is nice”, thought the little dog as he was cuddled all the way back to his new home. Introductions to the rest of the doggy family followed – first to Suki – “it’s one of those Golden Retriever idiots”, though Matt, “That’s OK then, she’s a pushover!” Next, Ellie. “She’s a street dog, like me, but she’s a bit chunky and exuberant… have to see with that one”. Then Maxi. “My God, he’s HUGE – and very old, why does my new mum have to help him up? Poor old guy, he’s part lame…I’ll be good to him, then”.
And, last and most important, Mimi. The little dog sidled up to the even smaller dog – “Ouch – she bit my ear – ouch, she bit my butt – I’m outta here. I’ll lurk by the gate, she’ll not notice me there ‘cos it’s dark” were Matt’s thoughts as he dashed off to lie down by the gate. “Wait a moment, what’s Mum doing – that’s food she’s preparing, and she’s coming here. What!! My very own food bowl – I’m going to like it here in spite of that Mimi!” Matt’s Mum, after giving him his supper, sat on the ground next to him and waited until he’d finished and put his head on her knee to go to sleep. When he wore up, he found himself in a strange room lying on a large, square, soft thing, “Wow, it’s a bed – this is really cool”, he thought, and went straight back to sleep. The following morning, after another large meal, several more bites on the butt from Mimi, and a lesson on how to play from Ellie, he decided he was thoroughly “socialised” and had fallen right on his paws in his new home.
And so it continued – 5 dogs, all very different, just one family, with Mimi, of course, still the boss, but also Matt’s best friend. A true story, and one that anyone who’s ever adopted a Thai street dog will recognise!


Commitment or Casanova?

How many of us have wondered why our beloveds seem to have a strange aversion to commitment? Science may have the answer – recent research carried out in Sweden indicates that it’s all in the genes! The study involved 500 sets of twins, all with permanent long-term partnerships and children, whose DNA was examined and compared with their answers to an exhaustive questionnaire.
The researchers, working at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, discovered that a genetic imbalance involving 2 copies of the rogue 334 version of the AVPRIA gene, (linked to the bonding chemical vasopressin), was common in men who had problems with commitment and found it hard to bond with their partner as a result. 40% of the study group showed this genetic anomaly; it was also noted that they were less likely to be married to their partners, even if they had fathered a child, and that the relationships themselves were more likely to end in divorce.
Researchers, bearing in mind that previous studies on moles had shown that vasopressin affects their ability to remain monogamous, concluded that the gene may affect the manner in which the brain uses the bonding chemical. In previous studies, vasopressin, produced by the pituitary gland, has been shown to have links with autism. The same researchers plan to carry out a similar study on women, involving oxytocin, (the “cuddle” hormone), and its possible influence on women’s inability to commit.
So now we know it, girls – it’s not our fault, it really is all in their genes!


Osteoporosis and Exercise

John Bailey
Osteoporosis is rated at the most common skeletal disease – it is estimated that, in the USA alone, between 7 and 10 million women and 2 million men are affected. Because of declining activity after the age of 35-40 years, we can all expect to suffer a small loss of bone density, but, for some women, bone loss can become critical in later post menopausal life. Studies have shown that a lack of activity in earlier life increases vulnerability to severe loss of bone mass.
There are two kinds of bone tissue, cortical and trabecular. Cortical bone forms the long bones of the skeleton, e.g. the thigh bone. Trabecular bone is found in flat bones such as the pelvis and vertebrae, is present in the ends of long bones, and is more active in terms of the body’s bio-chemistry, making it more vulnerable to chemical, hormonal or nutritional change. This vulnerability often results in stress and impact fractures, particularly in the hips, spine and wrists. Women are particularly susceptible due to the withdrawal of oestrogen which takes place during the menopause. Similar problems are caused by type 2 osteoporosis; however, as the causal factors are different, and the disease is far less common, it is not covered in the article. Many people who may be susceptible to critical bone loss are not aware that they can be tested for this vulnerability, although I do not know if such tests are available here in Chiang Mai.
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, exercise therapy can be beneficial, particularly following early diagnosis, in delaying or preventing further loss of bone mass. If a sufferer has already developed kyphosis, (the forward curvature of the spine common to the later stages of the disease), any exercise regime undertaken will need professional supervision, although the same basic rules will apply. In any event, checking with a medical professional first is recommended.
It has been proven that working with weights is the best way to increase bone marrow density. Another benefit is cardiovascular improvement; as sufferers tend to become sedentary and understandably overcautious in their daily lives. Improved balance and agility, plus the confidence which goes with these abilities lead to a better quality of life. Next week’s article will focus on the recommended exercise programme itself.


OPINION

Elena Edwards
All of us by new will be aware of the growing unrest in our adopted country – many of us may well be becoming increasingly concerned, not just by the possible threat to our own lives here by certain PAD policies, but by the definite threat to the stability of the kingdom and the economic effect this may have on the ordinary Thai people who make up 90% of the population.
Already, income from tourism, an essential part of so many local economies, is declining still more from its unusually low current levels as travel warnings, cancellations of flights, hotel bookings and tours continue and forecasts of estimated tourist number fall yet again. Reports are coming in that the Tourist Authority of Thailand itself is re-examining its current international promotions budget with a view to cancellations of certain expensive advertising strategies which may not at present be suitable.
Media and other forms of advertising, already in decline, are likely to be reduced still further as companies cut their costs. Even some national publications and this local paper have been affected and forced to cut back. The continuing political unrest seems, not surprisingly, to be affecting new international investments, although established investors are not withdrawing their money-yet. The stock market is in decline; the baht, recently, was at a one-year low and had to be supported by government intervention, and prices across the board are still rising, particularly in the food sector, although fuel prices, at present, seem to have stabilised.
Fully aware, surely, that the above is serious threats to Thailand’s emerging status as a developing country, the leaders of the two opposing factions sit stubbornly in Bangkok, locked in a stand–off situation to which there seems to be no immediate solution. The army lurks on the sidelines, saying little except that “there will be no coup”. This columnist hopes that they do not change their minds, and suspects that their recent experiences of running the country will dissuade them from accepting that poisoned chalice again.
But – what about the 90% of the population whose security and livelihoods are affected by the inactivity at the top? Thailand is not a country suited to Chinese and Russian-style revolution, its history and psychology determine otherwise. Surely it is about time that its political moguls look around them, see clearly the possible results if their intransigency and consider governing for the people – all of the people – however difficult that may seem at present.



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