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PDRC myths versus truth of Bt30 healthcare scheme

Re: "What's good for America is not good for the world", Letters, May 14.

Tony Lee rather patronisingly describes Isaan citizens as great people who work hard and claims that handouts and populist policies might win their votes but will not improve their standard of living. This repeats the myth much favoured by the PAD, its successor the PDRC and other critics of Thaksin related political parties - that the "simple, ignorant and uneducated" rural folks are essentially bribed into supporting Thaksin and his cronies.

The writer might like to ponder a recently released report on the impact of the Bt30 healthcare scheme that Thaksin's government introduced in 2001. The report states that, in the year following the introduction, infant mortality dropped by 13 per cent, for the obvious reason that it encouraged the less well-off to seek hospital treatment. Professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Harvard University economist compiled that report, so its academic credentials are impressive.

Thanks to Thaksin and the Thai Rak Thai Party, the lives of thousands of children have been saved. That is an impressive achievement. It is no wonder that he remains a hero to many people.

In reality, voters in Thailand are just the same as those in other democracies - they will vote for the political party they believe will most likely ensure a better standard of living for them. Accusations by Thaksin's critics of buying votes and cynical handouts are just sour grapes. As we have seen, some of his policies are flawed. There is an opportunity for Thaksin's opponents to step up to the challenge with better-thought-out policies of their own, but so far they have not had the energy or imagination to do so.

Robin Grant

Bangkok


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