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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Ko Samui Properties December 2011 Blog - Face and its consequences

(Better late  than never)

There is a distinct lack of news this month to be trawled from the local and national papers. Neither The Nation or Bangkok Post had any relevant stories about Koh Samui during November and the Samui Express web site is still in the throes of re-inventing itself and re-hashing old, old stories with nothing new. Samui Gazette is up and running but, bless their hearts, they do make it difficult for me to plagiarise so here is the direct link to their web site.

http://issuu.com/discoversamui/docs/edition-35-nov-16-29-2011/11

Something I have been thinking about recently is the Eastern concept of “face”. I had always assumed that to lose “Face” was a consequence of doing something wrong in the eyes of other people, or being humiliated in front of other people. It is a concept that comes up time and again when discussing eastern culture. Wikipedia has a long discussion on “Face as a sociological concept” and it is clearly not easy to define in all its facets. Respect; reputation; prestige, honour all figure in definitions but these obviously vary between the eastern concept and that as we see it in the west. Then we have “losing face” and “saving face”.

The reason I have been thinking about this is the very real issue of “why did no-one lose face over the re-surfacing of the road by Bandon Hospital?” They spent good money improving the drains, putting in new kerbs and then re-surfacing – albeit straight onto the concrete – but within weeks the road is giving way and holes are appearing and major patch work has been put in place. Now surely someone must feel responsible for this shoddy workmanship and I would have thought “lost face”. Is it the Contractor who did the work, the Civil Engineer who wrote the specification, the Project Manager who over saw the work? Or have I got this whole concept wrong? Were all the parties involved able to “gain face” with their contempories by getting away with and getting paid for shoddy work? The same has to go for the construction of the promenade around Chaweng Lake. Looked good to start with but started falling to bits within months. The street lights through part of Bangrak – promoted as a “Walking Street” they then proceeded to place the light posts in the middle of the footpath so you had to step into the road. Then they were rarely switched on, if they were half did not work and most of the fittings are missing . Has no-one “lost face” over that fiasco?

As I see it “face” is a concept used and abused according to circumstances and an individual’s inability to provide a good answer to something that they are responsible for but have screwed up. To some extent this runs parallel with the Thai concept of Kreng jai which is being aware of other people’s feelings and showing politeness, respect and consideration towards them. It is also tied in with the Thai concept of not wanting to lose face; displaying kreng jai is one way in which one person can help another save face. Do nothing that will embarrass the other person. Let them get away with shoddy workmanship because to tell them it is shoddy would make them feel bad. Basically, criticism is bad manners. I have learned to live with it and deal with it over the years and if you are going to live here in Thailand and be happy then you must too. As frustrating as it can be sometimes, I still love living here and it could be worse. I could be living in England.

The market continues to be erratic, but at least that is better than dead. Enquiries ebb and flow and there is no consistency in the range of demand. Certainly more long term rental enquiries recently but also requests for details on properties for sale has increased, although not as much as the demand from new sellers to market their properties. We have seen and heard of a number of sales being completed but without exception at heavily discounted prices and the trend remains an average 30% fall over the last 2-3 years.

If you would like to receive a copy of the full Newsletter, please email me at hbonning@kosamuiproperties.com

8 comments:

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