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Monk charged with murder

Posted by hasekamp on 31 October 2000 at 12:26 PM
The crisis in Thai Monkhood seems to become graver each day.
Yesterday the abbot (aged 46) of Wat Nongsawangarom, in Petchaboon Province, has been arrested with charges of robbery and murder. A laboratory test is being made to see if he also has to be charged with rape.
The Monk was taken to a superior immediately after his arrest, to have him disrobed before he was taken away to the Police station.
The charges are based on the recent disappearance of a woman in Petchaboon Province on 21 October. Her body was found in a septic tank near her house. She has highly probabaly been strangled. Some of her jewellery was missing. The Monk has been watched for several time, because the murdered woman was a classmate of his, with whom he (probably) had an intimate relationship.
The Monk was caught while trying to burn some clothing and a ring, inscribed with the name of the murdered woman.
We are even more shocked about this event than we were about the recent sex scandals with Monks involved. Murder is something different than having sex, although we strongly disapprove of Monks having sex too.
Where is Thai Monkhood going? Has there not been sufficient control? Will there appear to be (many) more criminal Monks? Is all that has been revealed recently just the top of an iceberg? We certainly do not hope so!
We do hope that our readers do not have the impression that all Thai Monks are criminals and sex maniacs, because that certainly is not true.
We still firmly believe in Thai Monkhood. Nevertheless we fear that in the coming period of time more revalations will take place and that Monkhood and Thai Buddhism will enter a grave crisis.
We also read in the Thai media that the Religious Affars Department is working to create ways to be able to inspect Monks better.
Also the Thai population has been asked to report any misconduct of Monks, known by them. We realize that this is a fragile system, but on the other hand we believe that the people who meet the Monks daily should know most about their conduct.
For the information of our readers we mention the fact that a Buddhist Monk is not even allowed to come so close to a woman that he touches her. Therefore you will never see Monks sitting next to women in public transport. So, for disrobement of a Monk sex is not even quot;required". Coming close to women or touching them can be enough.


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Thai herbal products are popular

Posted by hasekamp on 30 October 2000 at 13:39 PM
As we have reported several times before, Thai herbal products and Thai traditional medicine are becoming increasingly popular in the Kingdom.
What we read for the first time now, is that they are also increasibngly popular abroad. In the US, as well as elserwhere in Asia, as well as in Europe, Thai herbal products are boosting in popularity. Total sales volume should be close to three trillion Baht per year! And the market seems to expand 20% per year, according to the Thai Farmers Research Center (TFRC).
On the domestic market sales are good for 40 billion Baht and an increase of around 30% per year! When one ses these figures one should think that herbs could easily solve the economic crisis...
One reason for the popularity of herbs on the local market is the low price. Foreign medicines are becoming very expensive, especially with the low Baht and the strong US dollar. Nevertheless we are surprised by these huge figures. We should take a look in a herbal medicine shop the next time we visit Thailand!


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TAT wants to attract visitors through new website

Posted by hasekamp on 30 October 2000 at 13:27 PM
The TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) wants to set upna special website to attract visitors to exhibition, congresses and the like. The site is to be launched early next year and requires an investment of 20 million Baht.
According to recent figures 200,000 visitors for conferences and the like visit Thailand annually. They are thought to spend 10 billion Baht together.
We have pointed out before that the current policy of TAT seems not very successful. In a small poll, held by us on our website, TAT scored very low as a principal source for Thailand information. We wonder if the new website (to be found next year at http://www.experiencethailand.com) will be the solution. We also wonder if this kind of tourism brings more money than normal tourism, because congress visitors, though they may have more to spend per day than others, normally stay for a short time only.
We will follow this new "marketing strategy" by TAT and we will see what it will bring.


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Giant panda teeth found

Posted by hasekamp on 29 October 2000 at 20:58 PM
Did we report a few days ago that a dinosaur leg was found in Thailand, today we can report that a Thai geologist has found four fossil teeth of the giant panda near Mae Hong Son. The teeth are believed to be as old as two million years. Very old fossils that are found, like these, are mostly teeth, this being a part of mammals that survives time best.
This proves, according to the geologist (Ms Yaowolak Chaimanee) that the giant panda has lived in Thailand long ago, but has disappeared there also long ago.
Discoveries like this one give better insight in the diversity and in the evolution of mammals. Ms Yaowalak says she is the only scientist in Thailand who does this type of work.


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Another Paralympics golden medal for Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 29 October 2000 at 20:54 PM
The Thai Paralympics athletes have won their fifth golden medal yesterday in the 4 x 100 m wheelchair relay.
So the final result comes to 10 medals (5-3-2), which brings Thailand to the 29th pace, a (much) higher place than in the Olympics.
On 31 October the Paralympics athletes return home and will be received on Don Muanmg Airport in Bangkok by their relatives and some high Government officials, under whom Minister to the Prime Minister Churin Lasanavisit, who is in charge with sport matters.
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai will preside over a banquet for the successful athletes at Government House on 1 November.


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Sex-Monk has been cheating for years!

Posted by hasekamp on 28 October 2000 at 19:15 PM
The abbot of Wat Thachang in Supan Buri (Wanchai Oonsap), who was caught "red handed" a few days ago by an iTV camera, while leaving his house accompanied by a woman, appears to have been stealing and cheating for a long time already. Some say for ten years or longer.
This criminal and untrustworthy person was a Monk first at Wat Mahathat, one of the major Temples in Bangkok, which is also a place where Monks are being educated (and by the way where tourists can follow a meditation course). He used to be a Monk at this important Temple for many years and has been stealing money or collecting money for his own purpose there (he bought himself a "top-of-the-line" Mercedes) during that time. He also was having sex with several women regularly.
His fellow-Monks knew about this, but when they said they would speak, Wanchai threatened them with their lives! Everybody therefore was afraid of him.
This is a place to explain a tiny bit of Thai culture: Thai people have the nature to fled from unpleasant situations, so it is quite easy to get what you want in Thailand by threatening people.
That explains whey this criminal Monk (later abbot), by abusing Thai character, was able to continue his double life for many years, and even when caught on TV ventilated the opinion that he hardly did any harm to Thai Buddhism!
After having threatened the abbot of Wat Mahathat in Bangkok, he was sent away and -we can’t understand how- he was made abbot of Wat Thachang in Supan Buri, instead of being disrobed. This was four years ago, so (at least) six years after he started his criminal practices.
Nevertheless he kept returning to Wat Mahathat, even after he was sent away there and made abbot elsewhere, and kept using his quarters in Wat Mahathat for his improper purposes. These quarters have been searched by the police too, and more evidence for his practices was found there.
He continued his improper way of life in his new Temple, where doubtless his fellow-Monks must also have known about his habits. So we believe that some other Monks from Wat Thachang may have to leave Monkhood involuntarily too, as the investigation proceeds.
In the meantime -on Sunday 29 October- it has been made public that twelve Monks, originating from Cambodia have been disrobed in connnection to theis case.
The whole situation worries us very much. Word reaches us that especially older Monks are often tempted to have sex, and that many women know about this. Nevertheless nobody speaks. A 63-years old woman from Wat Thachang said that "it is common for senior Monks to have sex with followers". If this statement, in all its generality, appears to be true, than Thai Monkhood, and therewith Thai Buddhism is in serious trouble.
As we have written in former news items, Buddhists Monks should have and deserve the trust of their followers. We dare not think of the consequences if this should no longer be the general rule. We await the investigations of the recent cases that led to disrobing of Monks with some fear, but -being optimistic in the end- also with some confidence.


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Dinosaur leg found

Posted by hasekamp on 28 October 2000 at 12:00 PM
In the North-Eastern Province of Kalasin, a complete left hind leg of a dinosaur has been found. It is believed to be 130 million years old.
Not many dinosaur finds have been reported in Thailand. This leg was found by villagers, in a place where a dinosaur center has been opened some years ago.
The leg belonged to a species called Phuwiangosaurus Sirindhornae, a name of a dinosaur type given in honor of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. This dinosaur was already known for some time, though this is the first large part of it that has been found.
Is it a juist a coincidence that this dinosaur leg was found roughly at the time when the new Disney movie about dinosaurs is premiered in Thailand?


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Thailand successful at the Sydney Paralympics

Posted by hasekamp on 27 October 2000 at 13:45 PM
So far Thailand has won four gold medals in the Paralympics in Sydney. Supachai Koysub won one on the 200 meters wheel chair race, Prawat Washoram won two, on the 5,000 and 10,000 meters wheel chair races, and Somchai Doungkaew won one in the 50 meters S4 butterfly swimming race.
The Thai disabled athletes have also won three silver and two bronze medals so far. So one certainly can speak of a great success for these athletes!
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai has said that the disabled sporters will get a similar welcome as the Olympic athletes early this month.


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No tiger sales over the Net

Posted by hasekamp on 27 October 2000 at 13:43 PM
The plan by a Thai Rak Thai candidate for the next elections, to change the Thai laws in order to make it possible for him to sell (his home-breeded) tigers over the Internet has met fierce opposition. A spokesman of "Traffic", the Organization that monitors trade in animals, on behalf of World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Union, said that he was appalled by the mere suggestion, like we were when publishing this news a few days ago.
Thailand has signed the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, which explicitly forbids the sale of protected species. So even the "commercial breeding", as performed by Mr Chuvit is very doubtful under the Convention! Furthermore the spokesman said that it is completely out of the question that Thailand would allow somebody or some country to raise the population of an endangered species on its own to more than the total number living in the wild today. So -luckily- we can consider this item as closed.
There is a certain -illegal- demand for bones and other parts of tigers, among other countries from Japan. Some people there believe that tiger parts will enhance their sexual performance. It should be common knowledge that a way of life, in which the work plays an all-important part, is harmful for the sex life. No tiger parts can mend this! One should change one’s life in such a way that one has more time for one’s family to have a better sex life.
Hopefully superfluously we attend our readers to the fact that the well-known "Tiger Balm®" has nothing to do with tiger parts. The trade name only wants to suggest that the balm is strong and the list of ingredients only consists of herbs.


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Another devil in disguise. Religious Affairs Department worried

Posted by hasekamp on 27 October 2000 at 13:41 PM
The abbot of Wat Thachang in Supan Buri (North of Bangkok), aged 43 years, has been disrobed and sent away from hid Temple, after it had been found out that he has had sex with several women in a house in nearby Nonthaburi. He disguised as an Army Officer and was driving a Mercedes Benz to impress women and in fact he led a double life. He is also being accused of having taken money from the Temple.
For wearing the uniform he may face a jail sentence of five years. Very clear traces of his activities were found in his house in Nonthaburi and he has admitted his improper conduct, although he said that he only cause "slight damage" to Buddhism.
The Religious Affairs Department does not agree at all with this statement and is worried. Two abbots of Temples around Bangkok within a short time have been found guilty to improper behavior and the public is getting doubts about Monkhood.
Hundreds of people loudly gave outing to their disapproval when the abbot was taken away by the police from the Temple yesterday. Five hundred angry Buddhists refused to give alms to the Monks of the Temple in question yesterday.
The Government is trying to set up a system to monitor Monk conduct more closely. And donations to Temples will be put in separate bank accounts from now on.
It goes without saying that we are as shocked ad The Thai authorities and public. Religious leaders should not only set an example to their fellow-Monks, but in fact to the whole Nation, Thailand being a Buddhist Kingdom. We sincerely hope that we will not read this kind of news for a long time and that measures will be taken by the proper authorities to make these things very difficult, if not impossible in the future. One should be able to trust one’s Clergy without reservation!


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Sex tourist faces 20 years in jail

Posted by hasekamp on 26 October 2000 at 11:55 AM
Here at Hasekamp Net we are strongly opposed against "sex tourism". We have published this all over this site and will keep opposing against it with all the means we have. It is therefore with great satisfaction that we publish the following news item.
A French sex tourist by the name of Amnon Chemouil (now 48 years of age) visited Thailand six years ago and had sex with a -then- 11 years old Thai girl. The paedophile had the session taped on video by a "traveling companion" (just imagine this anyway). The session took place in Pattaya, which we have always considered to be one large brothel, but sex with 11 years old girls is even more disgusting than what we have seen around us the one day we have visited Pattaya, years ago.
Back to this case now: The mentioned traveling companion identified the paedophile, when the French police was investigating related cases, and a search in the house of Mr Chemouil revealed the video tape. Furthermore the victim (now 17 years if age) is able to fly to France as a witness in the case. The case serves under a relatively recent French law in which prosecution of sexual crimes on minors, committed abroad, can be prosecuted in France.
UNICEF is happy with this "landmark case", and it hopes that the number of one million children in South East Asia, who are subjected to these crimes will fall as a result of the case.
The ecidence: 1. The sex tourist has admitted that he had paid sex with the girl. 2. She is there as a witness and then 3. there is the video tape. So in our minds it should be possible to lead this case to a conviction. A jail sentence up to 20 years is possible under the relevant law.
The only thing Mr Chemouil had to say for himself was, that he did not want to be the sole victim of crimes that are committed yearly by millions of others, without being prosecuted.
This defense shows the low moral standard of this sex tourist who hopefully will receive the sentence he deserves.


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Mr Samak has one new plan after another

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2000 at 23:12 PM
Bangkok Governor Mr Samak Sundaravej has another new plan. Recently he came into the news by promoting his plan to move Dusit Zoo to the suburbs of Bangkok, a plan strongly opposed by many, then he wanted to open casino's in some resorts outside the area of his jurisdiction (both plans have been reported on this page).
Later he wanted to allow plastic foam in Bangkok for the "krathongs" on the Loy Krathong Festival in November, a plan also heavily opposed by environmentalists (not yet reported here, but now commented below) and today he has launched another plan: opening special schools for drug addicts.
We wonder what Mr Samak is up to. Almost every day he launches a new plan, most of them heavily opposed. Does he not have enough publicity and is he seeking it in this way?
We do not know the answer to this question. His latest plan may have good sides. We cannot judge it before Mr Samak reveals what he has exactly in mind. His former plans (mentioned above) all seem not realistic or even harmful to Bangkok.
In order to bring our visitors up to date, we should give a short explanation to the "Loy Krathong" plan of Mr Samak:
On Loy Krathong Day (this year on 11 November) people buy small boats, decorated with flowers, normally made out of a piece of banana tree. People then put candles and incense sticks on these small boats ("krathongs") and light these candles and incense sticks. The multitude of these small boats, floating on the waters, give a fantastic sight, which is considered to be one of the most fantastic sights in Asia.
As long as these boats have been made out of natural material (traditionally a piece of banana tree) there are no harmful effects for the environment. However, when they have been made out of plastic foam, the waters will be heavily polluted with this material, that is not self-destructing, after the Festival. For weeks or even months these pieces of foam float in the waters then. And that is what Mr Samak wanted to promote for this year's Festival. We cannot find a good reason why. The same goes for others, that have commented this idea in the Thai press.
Plans by which the City of Bangkok or its inhabitants benefit will always be greeted with joy by us, but Mr Samak recently only has launched plans that are harmful to the City and to the Bangkokians. Elections for a new Governor of Bangkok are still far ahead of us.


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Thai Baht falls through 44 against the US$

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2000 at 17:19 PM
The Thai Baht has fallen through the 44 against one US dollar level, which is a 31 month low. So now in fact we are back in the situation during the economic crisis. The SET (Stock Exchange of Thailand) index also is not very promising, being still well below 300.
Deputy Finance Minister Mr Pisit Lee-Atham said that the Bank of Thailand (BOT) is closely monitoring the situation and the BOT, and not the Government, is responsible for the currency's level. He is convinced that the BOT does its job as it should, and that it will keep things under control.
This is a true statement: Indeed politics should not intervene in the value of the currency.
The task of the Government (politics) in these matters is to try to keep the Baht stable, for instance by taking economic measures.
But indeed, any possible intervention (for instance by supporting the Baht through buying Bahts on the International money markets) is solely a responsibility for the Central Bank (BOT).
In the meantime some financial experts have stated that the Thai economy will need at least three more years to (fully) recover. This -if it appears to be true- is a bad prospect. The Thai economy is in a crisis for more than three years now, with only a few small signs of recovery. Another three years of crisis will be a hard burden to carry for the country.
The Thai Government has recently made public that exports are still within the predicted (increasing) figures. That, of course is a small light at the end of the tunnel. On the other hand, we had to report recently that exports are not increasing for all branches of the Thai industry. The Thai industry is heavily based on agricultural products. And, after all, high exports are nor surprising when the currency is very weak. So, taking the low value of the Baht into consideration. exports should in fact exceed expectations!


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Investors are eager to invest in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2000 at 13:55 PM
At least three large hotel chains (Marriot, Shangri-La and Four Seasons) are eager to open resorts on several places on Phuket Island, because -according to the Phuket Travel Association- there are coming more tourists to Phuket every year.
We can agree with that statement. Every time we visit Phuket, we see more large hotels near the beautiful beaches. We sometimes wonder where this should end. When we visited Phuket -say- five years ago, it was a relatively quiet island, but everything is getting more and more busy and touristic there now.
If you are looking for luxury on Phuket, go to one of the many resorts near the beaches. You will find every luxury you want there. If you are looking for ultimate luxury, combined with quiet surroundings, go to Le Meridien Phuket, in the middle of a nature park, if you can afford it.
If you are looking for a more quiet place on the island, we recommend Phuket Town. There the hotels are becoming more and more empty every year! In the past, when we wanted to stay in the Thavorn Hotel, right in the center of Phuket Town, we had to book long in advance. Now they are happy when we want to book there at all. The owners have several expensive resorts on different places on the island and are not interested any more in their old, historic, hotel. As a consequence you can stay there now for the same price as a guesthouse in Bangkok! Also several hotels have already been closed down in Phuket Town. So, if you want to go to the beaches, there is enough (if not too much) choice and you have to pay a relatively high price, but you get value for it. If you want to stay on the island in more quiet surroundings, try Phuket Town. A bus will take you from there to the beaches in half an hour up to an hour.
More information about Phuket Island can be found on our pages about Phuket Island.


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Teak trees or Elephants?

Posted by hasekamp on 23 October 2000 at 14:17 PM
In Thailand illegal logging is -sadly- a serious problem. The authorities try to prevent it by all available means, but still some people find ways to destroy the precious rainforest nevertheless.
In Mae Yom National Park the last "golden teak" forest of Thailand can be found, and even there illegal logging takes place. In this forest -however- logging without the help of elephants to move the logs is virtually impossible.
The Forestry Department has now decided that the illegal logging in this area should stop at all cost. Therefore the order now has been given to shoot elephants, used by the loggers if this is necessary to stop the logging (not to speak of the loggers themselves!). So in this case precious golden teak trees come before elephants and one rare species has to be preserved if necessary at the cost of another. Furthermore patrols in this area have been ordered to take place around the clock.
It is extremely sad that choices like this have to be made. But a big problem with illegal logging is, that villagers, who can earn money with this crime, are very hard to convince that nobody wins on the long term by illegal logging. The disappearing rainforest brings flooding, climate changes and the loss of unique animals and plants forever. The financial advantages of illegal logging are only temporary. Nevertheless when the villagers are poor, they do not think further ahead than a short time.
We hope that these severe measures will have effect and that in this extreme way the very last piece of "golden teak" forest will be safe from further illegal logging.


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Kathin Ceremony performed by HM the King

Posted by hasekamp on 23 October 2000 at 9:51 AM
His Majesty the King has performed a Royal Kathin Ceremony yesterday at Wat Bovorinnives in Bangkok. During this Ceremony HM donates new robes to the monks in the Wat, on the occasion of the end of the Buddhist Lent, this year on 13 October.
Last year HM -on the occasion of the completion of his sixth astrological cycle (72th birthday) performed the Kathin Ceremony on 4 November in Wat Arun, and went to Wat Arun by Royal Barges Procession, one of the ultimate sights in Asia. Royal Barge Processions are seldomly held, however, and so this year HM simpy went by car to the Wat.
Wat Bovorinnives is located in Banglampoo. It is the Wat where His Holiness the High Patriarch of Thailand lives, and there fore it is one of the most important Wats in Thailand.
The Wat has extensive Temple grounds and is worth a visit, being an oasis of rest in the middle of the busy traffic of Bangkok.
On the FAQ page of this site some more information about Thai Festivals can be found and on the pages with written "experiences" an impression of last year's Royal Barges Procession can be found.


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And another 4 million speed pills seized...

Posted by hasekamp on 22 October 2000 at 19:29 PM
Another four million speed pills were seized by the Police in Bangkok yesterday. They were found in a house in Ram Intra Road. They had been transported from the North under large quantities of garlic, to mask the smell. Luckily police dogs (or even Thai policemen?) can smell the difference between garlic and speed pills, so even this method does not work. We have reported before about transports of drugs in bags of vegetables, but transport in garlic bags was new to us. The Police raided the house after a tip.
In the meantime almost two million more speed pills were found in two other districts of Bangkok and five arrests were made, among them two officials of the Department of Corrections (the service that executes prison sentences). It seems that there are more corrupt officials than we dared to believe. And it seems likely that this drug business in Thailand will not end before the production stops. But if it is up to Burma, that will not be before 2015.


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Politician wants to sell tigers over the Internet

Posted by hasekamp on 22 October 2000 at 19:28 PM
Mr Chuvit Pitakpornpallop, a candidate for the Thai Rak Thai Party for the coming elections, once raised a few tiger cubs in 1992, and now has 30 tigers. He expects to be able to deliver 200 of them in 2005, if he keeps on breeding like he does. One really can call him a tiger breeder!
On a seminar in Bangkok, organized by his party, he suggested to start selling tigers (and other wild animals) over the Internet. He realizes that the law has to be amended for this idea, but he thinks it might fight illegal trade in wild animals.
According to Mr Chuvit on the black market a tiger costs 50,000 to 100,000 Baht. And here we clearly see $$ signs appear in Mr Chuvit’s eyes.
Would there be more tiger breeders in Thailand? And if so, what would be the price for a good tiger over the Internet? We guess Mr Chuvit thinks he can make more over the Internet, if the law is changed, than others can make now on the black market!
We find this idea disgusting and although illegal trade could indeed diminish slightly, we think that Mr Chuvit should better stop breeding tigers immediately. And, as long as the law has not been changed -and hopefully it will never be changed- he should try to get rid of his tigers on a proper way or if necessary on the black market (and hopefully be cuaght then) than to try to alter the law, just to please himself, one money-eager politician!


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Thai inventor finds environment-friendly motor

Posted by hasekamp on 21 October 2000 at 17:09 PM
Mr Vichai Wattanapailin has proposed a motorcycle with a dual motor: an electric as well as a gasoline motor. He has been rewarded the Silver Asian Innovation Award for it.
The press release does not state if he has a working prototype or not yet.
The idea is that the machine changes from electricity to gasoline when it goes faster than 20 km/hour and vice versa. The idea is not really new, because Honda has been working on a similar system for (large) motorcycles and Toyota on a similar system for cars. Nevertheless Mr Vicahia’s innovation should lead to a motorcycle with a maximum speed of 50 km/hour, which could be interesting for those (European) countries, where certain types of motorcycles are not allowed to drive faster than that. Mr Vichai is looking for a company to develop his idea further.


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Samak is looking how far he can go

Posted by hasekamp on 21 October 2000 at 17:08 PM
The plans of Mr Samak Sundaravej, Governor of Bangkok, to move Dusit Zoo are hardly a few days old or he comes with another "brillant" plan. Now he wants to legalize casinos, but not casinos in Bangkok, where he might have a political mandate, but in places like Pattaya and Phuket, where he has nothing at all to say! "There is gambling anyway, so why not legalize and regulate it?" is what he is saying.
We wonder where Mr Samak will stop and when he will find back his reason.
His plans to move the zoo have met the fiercest thinkable opposition in Bangkok, but nevertheless he says he wants to go on with them. "This is the best public hearing there could be" he said as a reaction to protests in the Thai media, when announcing that having a public hearing is still not necessary in his opinion. In the meantime officials of Dusit Zoo have said that this plan of Mr Samak has no political content and lies beyond his power therefore.
We remain as flabbergasted by his plan, as many Bangkokians are. We will keep reporting on the subject of moving the zoo as long as there is news about it.


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Devil in disguise

Posted by hasekamp on 21 October 2000 at 17:06 PM
Monks should deserve our greatest respect. They study all their lives to become wise in Religious matters, that are mostly too complicated for us, laymen, to comprehend. And they perform the correct rituals at occasions like marriages and cremetions. In Thailand Monkhood is considered to be extremely important, so Monks should be worth our complete trust always.
Nevertheless not all of them stick to the rules, like not touching women, not using alcohol etc.
In a karaoke bar in Bangkok a raid was held by the police earlier this week, in order to seize speed pills that were suspected to be there, and the visitors of the bar were photographed on that occasion. Who sketches our surprise when the abbot of Wat Sriboonruang was recognized among the bar visitors! According to eye witnesses he even was a frequent bar visitor. Of course the holy (well, after all not so holy) man would have been recognized immediately with his clean shaven head and monk garment. Therefore he went in disguise on his frequent outings: He wore "normal" clothes, a wig and colored glasses. At the moment of the raid he was dancing and having some more hanky-panky with some nice Thai girls.
The monk has been ordered to leave monkhood immediately as soon as his superior, the monastic chief for the Central Region of Thailand, heard about the accusations.
The abbot denied all accusations, but nevertheless left monkhood "for the sake of Bhuddism" (whatever he meant by that). The Religious Affairs Department will prosecute him. He left the Temple by boat, together with ten followers. Either these believed in his innocence, or they too were not exactly "clean". The press does not give further information on this.
Our opinion about this matter will be clear: We find this a very serious situation: One day Mr monk is dancing the samba, and the next day he is blessing the wedding or the cremation of a beloved person. It is a shame that monks are occasionally found to have an "easy" opinion about their important, that should give them our authority and trust. We are happy to see that persons like this are being prosecuted whenever their mis-use of monkhood is found out!


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TV station reveals corrupt police officers

Posted by hasekamp on 19 October 2000 at 12:07 PM
In a broadcast of the Thai TV station iTV on Tuesday, three policemen were shown, while accepting banknotes, trown to them by a truckdriver at a checkpoint in Kampaeng Phet. The three have been suspended immediately and will face a disciplinary investigation (and probably the Criminal Court afterwards).
It is amazing how far the drug dealers from Burma have infiltrated Thailand now. We hope that the stronger involvement in suppressing the drugs problem by the army (as advised by HM the King recently) will be successful and will also bring forward any more "rotten bananans" in the police forces!


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Samak tries to save his face

Posted by hasekamp on 19 October 2000 at 11:37 AM
The plan of the Governor of Bangkok (Mr Samak) to move Dusit Zoo to a different location in some suburb, has raised huge protests in Bangkok (luckily). Now Mr Samak seems not to know any more what he should do:
On one hand he has said that he would not mind dropping the plan if it proved too difficult, but on the other hand he has said (since) that he only wants to move the animals and he wants to retain the park as a public park.
His first remark is based on the fact that he was not familiar with the size of the zoo and the requirements for a zoo on the new location. (By the way, there ara alsop legal probvlems with the destination of the ground Mr Samak has in mind for the new zoo).
As for his second remark: We wonder what better park he could create than a first class zoo.
For us these contradictory remarks by Mr Samak are a sign that he has received some signals (maybe right form the Palace, because the audience he has requested has not been allowed) that his plan is not really the first priority for Bangkok, and that he should go back to work. If so, then he is trying right now to turn things in such a way, that his loss of face will be minimal.
He will not succeed in this with us. For us he has lost his face forever and definitely. Not only with this bizarre plan, but also with other remarks and plans we reported earlier. (Look for "Samak" in our search box to find them).
Although it still is not certain the plan has been abandoned, we are confident that the opposition now is sufficient to give Dusit Zoo a good chance to stay where it belongs!


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Surviving the economic crisis...

Posted by hasekamp on 18 October 2000 at 12:27 PM
A former businessman (stockbroker and property-developer), Mr Sirivat Oravethikun, will probably survive the economic crisis in a remarkable way. Mr Sirivat went broke in 1997 and became a sandwich vendor in the streets of Bangkok to survive. He has always sought publicity, also during his worst days, and he has appeared during those days on CNN TV, to tell the World his sad business story. And now he even reaches Hasekamp Net!
However, his story will very likely get a happy ending, because his sandwich business went well and he now he has opened a sandwich kiosk in a large shopping mall and he is negotiating about more similar kiosks. He is also planning to open a fast-food restaurant in the (near?) future, and then he will become a competitor to the giants like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Mc Donalds, Pizza Hut and who not! He has a staff of 28 people already. His philosophy is "Everybody has to eat".
So here we have an example of a man who lost all his money during the crisis, and who had the guts to start at the bottom, of the social ladder again. And from there he indeed succeeded to climb and he will probably rise from the dust completely!


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Samak wants to move Dusit Zoo!

Posted by hasekamp on 17 October 2000 at 21:58 PM
As our regular readers will know, we are no great admirers of the Governor of Bangkok, Mr Samak Sundaravej. We are, however, warm supporters of Dusit Zoo, a fine zoo in the center of Bangkok. The zoo has been at this location since King Rama V.
Now, Mr Samak thinks Dusit Zoo should be moved from its beatiful location to one of the suburbs of Bangkok. He thinks a public hearing on the matter is not necessary, obviously because he thinks his plan is good. GOOD???
The reason he gives is that the zoo is too close to the Royal Palace. Now, we find this a non-reason. King Rama V founded the zoo there and we do not know of any King who had any objections against the location. We too would not gladly miss this fine zoo on the place where it is now and where we visit it almost yearly.
Mr Samak has asked audience with HM the King, to discuss his plan. We are convinced that HM will not agree with Mr Samak's vile plan. Why should this very old Zoo be moved suddenly? Does Mr Samak want to raise a skyscraper on the grounds? Or does he imagine this is the ideal location for the Congress Center he want so badly? We can just guess. Apart form all backgrounds, Mr Samak should realize that his plan to move the zoo is a billions of Bahts matter. It would be really a big shame for Bangkok if this large sum would be trown away for anything that can only end up worse than it is! The money can be used much better, for instance for protection of the forests in Thailand against illegal logging, jusdt to mentions one hot item. We hope that the King feels a need to speak publicly again, as he just did on a very different matter (see our former newsitem).


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King asks military to combat drugs better

Posted by hasekamp on 17 October 2000 at 21:42 PM
HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, of whom we are an ardent admirer, has granted audience to the Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Army, in which audience he has said that he is concerned about the drugs problems in the Northern Provinces, and he advised the army to help better in the combat against drugs. He furthermore asked the army to help the flood victims.
This is one of the very few times HM the King occupies himself with things that normally would be taken care of by politicians. In our (limited) experience with Thai recent history, this means that HM is not content with the way politicians are tackling these problems, although he will never say this directly.
One should realize that HM has the highest thinkable authority in Thailand. So, whatever he advizes or suggest will be done without the slightest restraint.
On the other hand Thailand is a Constitutional Monarchy, which means that it is -and should be- highly uncommon for the King to give a more or less public opinion on political matters. One might even doubt if he is allowed to do so, strictly speaking in a Constitutional way.
That is why we can be certain the HM really is very worried indeed about the drug factories in Burma (Myanmar) and obviously is of the opinion that the Government is not doing enough about it.
HM has given his opinions in political matters only a few times in the past years. Some examples are given on our page about HM the King.


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House of former statesman now a museum

Posted by hasekamp on 16 October 2000 at 19:18 PM
Yesterday HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided the ceremony to open the house of late Prime Minister Mr Kukrit Pramoj as a museum. HRH donated an amount of money some time ago in order to establish a fund (the Kukrit 80 Foundation) that could be used to renovate the house and to exploit it as a museum.
The descendants of Mr Pramoj wanted to give the house a public meaning, but they did not have the necessary funds to do so.
Until the last days of his life well-wishers came to the house of Mr Pramoj to pay their respect to him. Mr Kukrit Pramoj died in 1995, aged 84 years.
The museum will be open to the public from 4 November 2000 on. To start with only in weekends. There will be trained guides from Thammasart University to show the people around. The house is located in Suan Plu, a small street. Call 286-8185 in Bangkok for details.
Mr Kukrit Pramoj was not only a great statesman, but also a well-known writer and a Thai Classical dancer and actor. He was known as a very wise and philosophic man.
As a writer he became famous with his novel Four Reigns (Si Phaendin) which has been dramatized for Thai TV more than once and which has been translated into English. It describes the story of a woman, living inside the walls of the Royal Palace, during the successive reigns of four Thai Kings. (This book can be ordered directly from the books page of this site). But this is not the only book Mr Pramoj wrote. In total he wrote 150 books. Only a few of them were translated into English.
Mr Pramoj was a modest man, so do not expect great luxury in his house. It is a small house with a beautifully kept garden. You will see an extensive library, the places where Mr Pramoj worked and lived and things related to his life in the museum.
If you are interested in Thai culture and if you want to see the house and belongings of a truly great Thai politician, writer and actor, go and visit the place. We can warmly recommend it to our visitors.


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Cyberspace to be used in fighting drugs?

Posted by hasekamp on 15 October 2000 at 16:37 PM
In Thailand officials think they might get more information about drug criminals by using the Internet, where people can submit information anonimously. This is one of the results of talks between he US and Thailand on the subject. Singapore -among other countries- has used this approach succesfully.
As we reported some time ago, there is already a Thai website where one can see the most wanted drug criminals. Find the old message through our search box.


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Wa army has to respect UN program, US say

Posted by hasekamp on 15 October 2000 at 16:30 PM
The United Wa State Army (UWSA), controlling much of the drug factories just across the Thai border in Burma (Myanmar), will have to respect and accept the UN program that aims at replacing opium for substitute crops in Burma. The program worked in Thailand and Laos, so it also should work in Burma. That is what Mr James Callahan, a high offucial form the US State Department, involved in the Bureau of Interational Narcotics and Law Enforcement recently said, while in Thailand. The Wa are obstructing the UN supported program to replace opium culture by alternatives in Burma right now.
Mr Callahan inspected the Burmese drug factories from the Thai side of the border -as we reported- some time ago and he also spoke to some high Wa officials, as it appears now. "The Wa told me they are not involved in drug production" he told Thai officials dryly.
The Wa are opposed against the program. "They have their own thoughts about development" Mr Callahan said. The Wa are moving tens of thousands of people who live in the areas where the program should work, to their own strongholds, near the Thai border. "If they do not let the UN workers do their jobs, the (15 million US$) program will stop, but I advise them to let our people proceed, if they ever want to become legitimate, after they leave the drugs trade" Mr Callahan further said.
We are glad that some people still use some clear language towards the criminals that operate the drugs production near the Thai border and thereby endanger the lives or futures of many young people in Thailand and abroad. If one lets the Wa and the other illegal armies in Burma have it their way, the drugs trade will never stop, or at least not for the next 15 years. After years of battle, and thanks to the Royal Projects there, Thailand is -as far as production is concerned- almost drugs free now. And it is very bad that right now Burma (Myanmar) takes over and starts the production of drugs in the area all over again.


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General Elections to be expected on 23 December

Posted by hasekamp on 14 October 2000 at 14:45 PM
The Thai House of Representatives is expected to be dissolved by 16 November, with general elections to be held by 23 December, according to Secretary-General to the Cabinet Wissanu Krua-ngam.
As the Thai newspapers will report extensively on the elections, we will follow them only from the background and comment on them when we find it appropriate.
The "throwing of mud" seems to have begun some time ago already. The election game so far is mostly played through allegations of corruption. Even Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, who really seems to be one of the very few high Thai politicians with completely "clean hands" had been the target of corruption allegations.
We inform our readers that Mr Chuan is a deeply religious and social-thinking man, and we will not believe any of these alegations against him before we have seen stone-hard proof!
We find it a pity that he has not succeeded in overcoming the economic crisis, because -generally speaking- we believe that he is one of the best people to lead the Country. If we have to change our mind later, we hope that other politicians will only make us do so by showing positive deeds and not by accusing one of the most "clean" men in the country.


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Flood warning for Bangkok (updated)

Posted by hasekamp on 12 October 2000 at 22:28 PM
Between Sunday and Tuesday during high tide in Bangkok there is a danger for flooding, the director of hydrology and water management warned yesterday.
It is the first flood warning for Bangkok in this season, as far as we are aware of. It is quite normal that the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok overflows or causes some minor problems in October or November, especially in the lower districts. Nevertheless the floodings upcountry have been much heavier than ususal this year, so in Bangkok flooding problems might be worse that usual too this year.
The possibility of flooding in Bangkok is also higher than normal because of the release of water from upriver dams.
***

According tom the latest information, released on 13 October, there seems to be no danger for flooding in Bangkok after all.
"We will follow the King's advice and release less water from Pasak Chonlasit and Chao Phraya dams, as well as divert water into the Bang Pakong river," said Kicha Polparsi, head of the Irrigation Department.
It had been planned originally to release more water from the dams. That would have brought Bangkok under risk of flooding.


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Thai Prime Minister calls for more Royal Projects to suppress drugs

Posted by hasekamp on 12 October 2000 at 16:54 PM
Mr Chuan Leekpai, Thailands PM, in his speech on the International Conference "In Pursuit of a Drug Free ASEAN 2015" said that in programs for eliminating drugs, also attention should be given to rehabilitation and treatment of drugs users. He also said that more Royal Projects, as initiated by HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, should be implemented. These projects, about which this site has more information on our page about HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, aim for instance at replacing opium culture by different crops, like coffee and tea. These alternate crops are bought by the Government or Government related institutions.
Also Minister to the Prime Minister Mr Jurin Laksanwisit said that some successful projects have been started recently, like the "Drugs-Free Villages Project" in Tribute to His Majesty and the "White School Project" that aims at 50% drug-free schools in Thailand in 2001.
Furthermore -among others- a National Drug Control Centre has been set up in Thailand two years ago to coordinate drug-related offices.


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Two million speed pills seized. Burma asks for understanding

Posted by hasekamp on 12 October 2000 at 14:00 PM
Two million speed pills were seized by the Thai police on Tuesday from a Ramkhamhaeng University student in Bangkok. The flow of pills from Burma (Myanmar) into Thailand seems te be endless.
And right now Burma is asking for "understanding" form the International Community about its drugs problem, at a three day Conference on the subject in Bangkok. Rangoon says that thousands of Burmese have been arrested in connection with drug delicts already. "No drug traffickers are spared from justice", a Burmese spokesman said. Rangoon also says it has ordered a relocation of the Wa that live near the Thai border, where the speed pills are being produced.
At the Conference, mentioned above, attended by representatives from 30 countries, a US spokesman -however- said that the Burmese Government was completely inert in trying to stop the drugs factories. So, who is right here? We suppose that our readers know our opinion about the subject.
In the meantime the Conference adopted a program to make the area drug free within the next 15 years. And Rangoon hopes to be able to declare the Wa region opium-free by 2005. We keep following the progress of these programs with more than average interest.


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HM the Queen is to make a State Visit to China

Posted by hasekamp on 12 October 2000 at 10:53 AM
HM Queen Sirikit is to visit the Peoples Republic of China from 16 to 31 October 2000. She will represent HM the King. The visit is the result of an invitation by the Chinese President and his wife whe they visited Thailand in 1999.
This is the first State Visit of HM the Queen since 30 years, when she visited Europe. Relations between Thailand and China have always -almost traditionally- been good and friendly.
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who will accompany HM the Queen, has visited China at least ten times and who speaks the Chinese language fluently. She will also act as an interpretr during this visit. HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn also has visited China four times. Other members of the Royal Family have visited China as well.
Over the past decade all Thai Prime Ministers have visited China.
The visit is expected to establish even stonger relations between the two countries. Not so long ago there have already been talks about an office of TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) in Bejing, to promote tourism from China to Thailand.
Furthermore a boost in the all-friendly relations for the new century between China and Thailand is expected.


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Higher fees for National Parks or not?

Posted by hasekamp on 11 October 2000 at 14:42 PM
Less than a week ago the Royal Forestry Department announced that the proposed twentyfold increase in entrance fees for foreigners to National Parks in Thailand would be postponed until 2001.
In the message in which we passed this information to our visitors, we said that we hoped the Forestry Department would come to reason before the fatal date next year.
Now things have changed again, as a result of conflicting information by the RFD. And the Phuket Gazette now speaks of a chaos:
The chief of the Similans Marine National Park announced that the "new" fees will be applied as soon as the Similans open again, on November 2. So, what will other National Parks do? Will they smell money and follow the Similans? Do foreigners (you) have to accept (much) higher entrance fees this year already when you come to a place where they ask them? We cannot give the answer to these questions at the moment. We only can warn our visitors to be careful with paying new fees. we will keep following this subject as well as we can!


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Economic newsflash

Posted by hasekamp on 11 October 2000 at 12:18 PM
Recently we reported that export from Thailand is expanding geatly. This seems not to be true for all products and all regions. The Malee Sampran Plc has made public that its export results for this year and (expected) for next year are flat. Especially export to some Asian Countries (Indonesia, Japan) have lowered. This makes the European and US markets more important for the Company. Prospects for export to Europe are not too good, because of the weak Euro. That leaves the US as an export market with some prospects.
Malee sells canned fruit and juices. Before the regional economic crisis the Company had an export of 300 million Baht a year, now it is just 100 million Baht. Taken into account the low exchange rate for the Thai Baht these results are quite bad.
The SET index, in the meantime, is 256 now, so the question "How low can you go?" is becoming actual again...


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Illegal logging to be fought with the help of the army

Posted by hasekamp on 9 October 2000 at 21:40 PM
The Thai Third Army, together with the Royal Forestry Department will be trying to fight illegal logging in Thailand together.
At Hasekamp Net we are environmentalists with all our hearts (as our visitors hopefully know), so this seems good news to us.
Illegal logging is a serious plague in Thailand, especially in the North ands North East. To give you some idea of the situation, we give some figures: Last year 134 suspects of illegal logging were arrested and 3,800 illegal logs and 38,000 illegal planks were confiscated. Around 16,000 square kilometers of Tropical Rainforest are in danger for illegal logging, only in Thailand!
Most of the illegally cut trees are being processed immediately, right in the middle of the forest. Most of the criminals who do this are heavily armed and therefore not easily to be fought by officials of the Royal Forestry Department. That is where the Army will come in now. They will patrol in the areas most in danger. And also air patrols will be used.
Illegal logging is a very serious crime, we think. And tragiaclly not only the "Lungs of the Ea.th"> are in danger from it, but also the animals living in the Tropical Rainforests. Many people forget this, but we should realize that, although we can try to keep endangered species in National Parks and Reserves, there is an end to this. To turn the Tropics into a set of isolated Reserves where endangered species can live is not the final solution. Wild animals need their wild environment and we believe that they have a right to have it, as much as humans believe they have a right to claim the largest part of the Earth. We believe that an Earth with only humans is a poor Earth, in which we would not like to live. Sometimes we feel a need to express this opinion, especially when we read news as given above. We hope that the above mentioned operations will be successful!


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Thailand's export greatly increased

Posted by hasekamp on 9 October 2000 at 16:54 PM
Thailands export in the first eight months of this year increased by 21.9 percent, the Thai National Newsagency reports, with figures from Government sources.
The export so far is 73% of the target for this year, which means in our opinion that the target was realistic.
Thailands major export markets include Japan, the US, EU countries and ASEAN members.
The weak Thai Baht is one or the reasons for these large export figures. The weak Baht, as our readers will understand, also has its dark side. An exchange rate of one US$ for (almost) 43 Baht is not a situation to be proud of! Agricultural products, including rice, frozen shrimps and precious stones were some of the main export products from Thailand this year.


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Kirsty Jones case on dead trail indeed

Posted by hasekamp on 8 October 2000 at 15:34 PM
The Bangkok Post publishes an update on the Kirsty Jones Murder case today (much better than that of the Nation a few days ago, by the way). It confirms our suspicion that the case is completely on dead trail, as we reported recently.
Mr Andrew Gill, the owner of Aree Guesthouse, where the rape and murder took place, is still in prison and keeps denying that he has anything to do with the rape or murder. The police is becoming more and more embarrassed by the fact that they can't produce a killer and they seem more interested in any result than a solid case now, it seems. The British press is criticising the Chiang Mai police heavily, and not completely without a reason!
In the first place -according to the Bangkok Post- journalists and cameramen had already destroyed much evidence before the police was on the spot at all. And, above that, the first policemen to arrive were untrained officials for this kind of case. This is unforgivable, of course.
In the second place it seems that there were problems in understanding the English speaking suspects, and therefore the police began to concentrate on Thai suspects.
One of them was a travel guide, who had taken Ms Jones and some other tourists on a trip to Doi Inthanon Park a few days before the murder. He has been interrogated "heavily" and was dumped when he refused to confess. The people who were with him that day comfirm this.
Some further facts we did not publish so far:
- It seems that no less than five people have heard Ms Jones cry at the time of the murder: The manager of Aree Guesthouse, his wife, a bar girl, an Italian girl and another (male) British "backpacker". They all resided in Aree guesthouse. These five have all been suspects during the investigations.
- Statements by the various witnesses/supects have been altered several times, so one might question the value of these statements. The maid has -for instance- made several conflicting statements about the time the body of Ms Jones was found.
- Mr Gill was not what one would call one of the "first class inhabitants" of Chiang Mai. He was often seen in the "go-go scene" and was no complete foreigner in the Chiang Mai drugs scene. He has never had a proper job.
If we skip all the highly improbable scenario's for the moment, then there is one more -not very promising- trail for the police: It seems that there have been several other attacks on foreign tourists in Chiang Mai in recent months, including rape and murder cases. But should the police really look for a serial rapist/killer now (and, by the way, expect that he is still in town)? This seems a hopeless trail.
So for the moment we stay with our prophesy of a few days ago that Mr Gill will be released soon and that the murderer will never be found. Or, even worse, that the police will "seek a confession" of some Thai inhabitant of Chiang Mai. This last possibility arises our mind because the case has a political side too: It will be a great loss of face by the Thai police towards Britain if no suspect can be brought forward.
We will keep you informed with the facts we gather and our opinions on the case, but we fear that ther will not be much more....


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Thai Stock Market still has bad prospects

Posted by hasekamp on 7 October 2000 at 16:35 PM
Some time ago we thought that the Thai stock market had reached its deepest low and could rise again, but we have to conclusde that the bottom still has not been reached.
The SET index closed at 267 on Friday, and is expected to fall more. Of course the US markets are not exactly what we would call very good at the moment, and this influences markets around the World, but for Thailand also local factors are involved. Our view that the Thai market does not have good prospects, is widely shared by financial experts in Thailand. This keeps foreign investors away. And the Baht remains very weak too. You can get about 42 to 43 of them for one US$. We advise: Keep your money in cash and check out the Thai SET index as soon as the Dow Jones and NASDAQ indices start to rise again significantly. Then make your dicision, with care!


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Another 2.5 million speed pills found in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 7 October 2000 at 16:24 PM
Police found 2.5 million methamphetamine pills a Lat Phrao condominium. A man on his way to deliver 40,000 pills to a customer lead the Police to the flat. A 29 year old man was arrested.
The pills were brought down from the North in a pick-up truck. This seems to be the normal peactice now.
On the other hand we have seen some reports in which it is stated that traffickers from Burma now are using more Southern routes to Thailand. If you take the trouble to look on a map of the region, you will notice that the border between Thailand and Myanmar is very long. Transports are expected to move Southbound if more and more transports from the North are being caught. It seems impossible to watch the whole border between Thailand and Myanmar.



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Twentyfold increase in fees for foreigners to be postponed

Posted by hasekamp on 6 October 2000 at 19:56 PM
The Royal Forestry Department in Phuket has decided to postpone the massive increase in entrance fees for National Parks, of which we reported a week or two ago. Now the new fees should come into effect on 1 October 2001 instead of on 13 September 2000, and so the coast is not yet clear!
The RFD wants to give touring companies more time "to adjust their rates". And the RFD wants some more time to decide if foreigners, living in Thailand, will also have to pay the new fees...
Our opinion on this matter has been given loud and clear as soon as it was announced. We still have a faint hope that reason may take hold of the RFD. After all it is the Royal Forestry Department!


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Senators think Rangoon should help...

Posted by hasekamp on 6 October 2000 at 19:34 PM
Very recently we reported that a group of 20 senators form Bangkok were going to visit Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, in order to see the drugs problem with their own eyes. Well, they are back with an astonishing conclusion: "Rangoon should help to combat the drugs menace" is the comment given by the 20 wise men. We can hardly believe our eyes when we read this.
Yes, honorable senators, of course Rangoon should help, but if you would have read the newspapers (and this page) the past few months, you would have known that the whole drugs business in Myanmar (Burma), from where the drugs are being trafficked into Thailand, is being financed -at least partially- by Rangoon. If this is all that comes from this mission, we find it highly disappointing.
Of course, if Rangoon would help actively in fighting the drugs factories in their country, the problem might be solved in months, but Rangoon has made public that it plans to do something about it in the next 15 years (fifteen years!). So there really is nothing at all to be expected from Rangoon.
In the meantime the border troups in Northern Thailand have a more realistic view on solving the problem. As we have reported, the US is opening talks with them right now on how they can assist in fighting the drugs problem in Thgailand. We expect more form these talks than from the suggestion of the Thai senators to start talks with Rangoon!


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Kirsty Jones case on dead trail

Posted by hasekamp on 5 October 2000 at 11:53 AM
Newspaper The Nation reports today about the Kirsty Jones case. No source is being mentioned, but they suggest the Police in Chiang Mai is their source. If so, more publications are to be expected and we will amend this news item.
As we reported here more than once, Ms Jones was found raped and murdered in her guesthouse room in Aree Guesthouse in Chiang Mai on 10 August 2000. The owner of the guesthouse, Mr Gill, has been arrested some time ago in connection with the case. Although the published evedence against him looked strong at first sight, it appears not to be conclusive in our view.
The theories The Nation publishes today are so bizarre, that we do not wish to repeat any of them here.
What we do conclude from the newspaper's article is, that the case is completely on dead trail now. Therefore we would not be surprised if Mr Gill will be released soon and the case will have to be closed, being without one single serious suspect then.
The police have been under heavy criticism of the British already in connection with this case. Now we can hardly imagine how it can be solved at all, on the basis of the published material. So, let us hope that the police have some more evidence at hand that has not yet been published.
We will keep following the case and we will report all serious news about it on this page.


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Olympic winners get a great welcome and money. Somluck in debt

Posted by hasekamp on 5 October 2000 at 11:01 AM
The Thai Olympic heroes were given a graet welcome in a double-decked bus with open top during a ride along Rachadamnoen Avenue to Sanam Luang in Bangkok. There was a huge crowd to cheer them.
Especially gold medal winner Wijan Ponlid had a good day: He received 500,000 Baht to appear in a TV show, 10 million Baht from Thai Rath newspaper, 500,000 Baht from Thai Rak Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra, 300,000 Baht from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, and is expected to receive 20 million Baht more from sponsors and well-wishers!
He will also receive a free police house (he works with the Police force) and can make use of Police Resorts free for the rest of his life. Ramkanghaeng University will give Wijan free education from bachelor's degree up to doctorate degree. And, last but certainly not least, Wijan will be given a Royal decoration. Doubtless he will hand over his gold medal to HM the King on that occasion.
The Governor of Bangkok, Mr Samak Sundaravej, led the welcome ceremony.
The other medalists were not so well off: They both received 100,000 Baht each from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and 200,000 Baht each from Mr Thaksin. Both bronze medal winners will also receive some smaller prizes and honors.
Mr Thaksin will further make donations to the Amateur Boxing Association and the Amateur Weightlifting Association of Thailand.
Somluck Kamsing, who won gold in Atlanta, but came home without a medal from Sydney, received 100,000 Baht from Mr Thaksin, as promised earlier.
Governor Samak warned the champions to spend their money wisely. He did so, because it is a public secret now that the Atlanta gold medal winner Somluck Kamsing (who then received a total of 30 million Baht) has debts up to 5 million Baht.


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Weil's disease (leptospirosis) in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 4 October 2000 at 21:27 PM
Several sources report these days that in Thailand Weil's disease or leptospirosis is spreading. It started in the North-East and spreads towards Central and Southern parts of Thailand now. It probably started during the floodings in the North-East. Almost 5000 people caught the disease in the past month and 165 are reported to have died of it.
This disease is transferred through rat urine, either by drinking (or otherwise contacting) infected water (river water for instance) or through cuts in the skin.
What should you do to prevent getting it?
The first and best advice is: live hygienic. Drink only water from bottles (you should do that anyway) and take good care of small wounds. See a doctor if you think you have the flu. The symptoms of Weil's disease look very much like the flu. It can be cured if you see a doctor in time. So it is vital to do so. The Phuket Gazette reports that the disease has not yet been seen in Phuket, but as a security measure all the pharmacists and doctors thre have been warned to test for it with patients that say they have the flue. In the South in several other provinces it has been diagnosed, however.


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THAILAND.COM think that they have made it... We do not agree

Posted by hasekamp on 4 October 2000 at 12:27 PM
We have reported that the site Thailand.com is planning to make billions of Bahts with its site.
Today the English language newspaper The Nation (one of the major owners of the site) announces that the travel section, comprising 1000 (one thousand) pages, has been opened, covering all aspects of Thailand and travel in Thailand. We -being webmasters ourselves and always interested in the "ultimate Thailand site"- have run through cyberspace to the site to see how much better we could do, or if the moment even has come to close down our modest site, but ... we were quite disappointed. We went to the section about Bangkok and found only a few major attractions. Then we went to a section about Thai customs information, because we wanted to check how long our passport should still be valid on leaving Thailand (the answer is six months!). Sadly we could not find this information. Some more pages with practical information were also disappointing. If we want to compare the site with other commercial sites, we prefer Asiatravel or Accomodating Asia, just to mention two.
We stopped our exploration of the site that should be so good with its 1000 pages quite soon ater our first disappointing experiences. We received the impression that the site is very commercially oriented (after all you can't make billions of Bahts without commerce) and mainly aiming at booking flights, hotels, excursions etc. For better Thailand information we also refer to our Internet Portal, where we have made a selection of good and informative sites about Thailand. We refer especially to the Thailand Portals section and the Travel section.
As far as we know, none of the sites listed there has ever published that they would build the most complete and best website about Thailand. And we hardly see how a site with 1000 pages (if this number is correct) can ever be kept up to date.
What we want to say is, that modesty would have been a better virtue for thailand.com than the announcement that they have the ultimate Thailand site.
For a site with some selected (non-commercial) information about Thailand, in the first place directed to unexperienced visitors, we modestly refer to our own site with around 25-50 pages. We find it quite a job to keep this number of pages up to date, but we do our best!


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Two million speed pills found in Bangkok. Senators visit the North

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2000 at 22:19 PM
In Bangkok, in Soi 105 Sukhumvit, two million "speed pills" were found yesterday by the Police. Two men (both aged 30) and a young woman (aged 19) were arrested. Furthermore some papers (among which a "client list") were found. The trio had sold 820,000 pills since August. The pills came from the North of Thailand (near Chiang Rai) and you can be certain that they were produced in Myanmar (Burma). They had been transported to Bangkok between market goods like fruit and vegetables.
The sad thing about this story is, that the persons arrested sold the pills for 40 Baht each, but earned only 3 Baht per pill. So far it has not made public where the other 37 Baht per pill went.
Although the profit of the whole sales together is not bad for Thailand, these three young people may have to pay a much higher price now: They may very well face the death penalty...
It also is sad that so large quantities of pills could be found in Bangkok, where there apparently is a market of that size for them.
It has also been reported that students in colleges, especially in Bangkok, use these pills. This was discovered when the students looked very interested in their lessons, to great satisfaction of their teachers, but they appeared to be high on speed pills instead!
Later the use of pills of one of the major colleges innBangkom has been widely admitted by staff as well as students.
With the drug situation getting more and more alarming, a group of 20 senators is visiting Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, to see the situation with their own eyes. We hope that they will keep their eyes wide open, especially in the direction of, and across, the Myanmar border. We also hope that this mission will have speedy results and that it will be (much) more that just a day out!


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Expressway Company faces lawsuits for billions of Bahts

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2000 at 13:51 PM
The Expressway and Rapid Transit Authority (ETA) should check its bank account carefully, because many landowners around Bangkok will sue the Company for the price, paid for land, expropriated by ETA. The total amount of claims is said to be around 200 billion Baht!
ETA commented: "Bangkokians now know their rights and have lawyers close at hand to assist them. Highway Departments in other Provinces do not have this problem(!). There people do not want to tangle with the State".
So, what ETA (and its colleagues upcountry) apparently want is to get a bargain when they buy land from unlucky landowners, whose land will be spoiled by expressways. And they even reckon with the fact that people do not know their rights, so that they really can get a bargain! An attitude to be disdained!
Lucky Bangkokians! They do know their rights and ETA has to pay a realistic price there. (Poor ETA!)
The expressways, that have arisen everywhere in and around Bangkok, have completely spoiled the skyline of this City. There once was a time (and this is maybe just ten years ago) when one could see red and golden Temple roofs all over Bangkok, from any elevated point. Nowadays giant hotel towers and extremely ugly expressways have taken all the beauty out of this sight (and all the light from the streets below the expressways).
We hope that we may live the day when Bangkok will stop building all these concrete masses or -better- we hope to see them broken down again. Sadly we realize that even our grandchildren will not live that day!
One of the communities where many lawsuits will come from is the Ban Kruay Community, of which we have written several times on this page. (Find the former articles through the search box on this page). We hope that they will be able to stop ETA and wish them millions of Bahts if they can't.
We recenly reported that the expressway ramp there would not be built. Now we are fearing that we have been too optimistic and that ETA has hired some "cunning" lawyers who might be able to spoil the community after all! Shame on ETA if we are right here!! Again we say: Go to Ban Kruay to see what harm can be done by ETA!


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Herbal medicines against malaria?

Posted by hasekamp on 2 October 2000 at 21:18 PM
Malaria is almost non-existent in Thailand at the moment (according to the WHO). Only in the border areas with Myanmar (Burma) and Cambodia there is a certain risk to catch it. Nevertheless it could come back before we are prepared for it.
Now already it is becoming more and more difficult to find preventives that are effective against malaria parasites. And in recent times new varieties of the parasite have come up that are resistent to almost any medication.
It seems to be a two-way fight: We find a new medicine and the parasite finds a new strain that is imnmune to it.
Now, an assistent Professor of Chualalongkorn University in Bangkok (Kittisak Likitvitthayavudh) has done experiments with certain medicinal herbs, in connection to malaria prevention. And is appears that some of these herbs give a good resistance, even to some new varieties of the parasite that could not be fought before!
Some herbs work less well, but they may work even better if used in combinations. The research is not yet finished. This Thai research program is sponsored by Thailand Research Fund (TRF).
We await further publications about this study with interest. We do not say that this will be the remedy against malaria, but the first results seem very promising and we should not have more confidence in "modern" medication that obviously does not work (any more) than in ages old herbal medicines that show promising results.


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Visitors from several countries will need a visa for Thailand in the future

Posted by hasekamp on 2 October 2000 at 11:40 AM
The National Thai Newsagency reports, that the National Security Agency (chaired by PM Mr Chuan Leekpai) is considering to limit the number of countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter Thailand for a visit with a duration of up to 30 days. Visitors from 58 countries do not need a visa for such a stay at present.
Namely visitors from Myanmar, Kenya, Tunisia, and Papua New Guinea will need to apply for a visa in their country in the future. Visitor from these countries are suspected to be involved in drug trafficking (too) often.
Visitors from 96 other countries can get a 15-day visa on arrival at present. It is planned to revise this system too, and visitors from Bhutan, Tonga, Gabon, Mali and Uganda will probably also have to apply for a visa in their country in the near future.
Furthermore a closer eye will be kept on visitors form Russia, China, and other countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East form now on.
All these (future) restrictions are considered necessary in connection with the increasing drug trafficking in Thailand. It is becoming harder and harder to suppress this drugs trafficking. You can read reports about this problem regularly on this page.
We remind our visitors that drug traffickers will in most cases face the death penalty in Thailand, and if they are very lucky "just" life in prison.


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Wijan gets Olympic GOLD! Somluck to be rewarded (illustrated)

Posted by hasekamp on 1 October 2000 at 22:31 PM
Thai boxer Wijan Ponlid has won the gold medal in his weight catagory (51 kg) by beating his opponent Jumadilov 19-12 in the final of the Olympic boxing championship!
He is the second Thai athlete ever that has won an Olypic gold medal. Boxer Somluck Kamsing won the first ever Olympic gold medal for Thailand in Atlanta four years ago.
Wijan controlled three of the four rounds of the final. There was much support for Wijan fom the crowd. When he was proclaimed winner, Wijan put a Thai flag around his body and -just as Somluck did four years ago- held a portait of his beloved King, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej above his head.
"I won because of the support of the King of Thailand and the Thai people" the winner said later. And he added: "This gold medal is for my King. I will give it to him". This is what Somluck Kamsing also did four years ago. If you do not understand this attitude towards HM the King or if you would like to know why he is adored so much, you might want to visit our page about HM the King.
In the meantime "intended Prime Minister" Thaksin Shinawatra said that he would reward Somluck Kamsing (although he did not say in what way) for his achievements and to encourage him. Mr Thaksin -as we wrote yesterday ourselves- finds it unjust that only a winner is being honored.
As we reported, Mr Thaksin is in political problems at the moment and we think he can use some positive publicity. But also apart from that we find it a gesture from Mr Thaksin to be respected, that he will reward unlucky Somluck!
So the total number of Sydney Olympic medals for Thailand is three: one gold (boxing) and two bronze (boxing and women weightlifting). This is a record for the country.
The pictures below show Wijan in action in the first round (in blue) and honoring his King as a gold medal winner.


"Wijan"Wijan


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