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Ambassador sells Embassy building!

Posted by hasekamp on 29 November 2000 at 11:36 AM
The (former) Thai Ambassador in the Netherlands appears to have sold the Embassy building in The Hague. The buyer, a Dutch businessman whose name has not been published here, now wants the transfer of property and has sued the Kingdom of Thailand fo this.
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai knows nothing about the "deal" and is prepared to fight it where he can.
How is the situation under Dutch law? We can give the following information:
In principle everybody can sell anybodies propertry legally, but if he does not owm it, he cannot transfer property.
In this case the buying contract will probably be valid, but now that the former Ambassador does not owm the premises, there is a problem. The lawyer of the buyer has chosen to sue the Thai State, because he knows of course that the former Ambassador has -far- overplayed his hand. So in principle Thailand has a strong case. Should the buyer have believed that the former Ambassador had the power to trasfer property, he would have sued him.
But ... everything will depend on the fact in what way the former Ambassador has given the -lawfully relevant- impression to the buyer during negotiations that he could ransfer the property and to what extend the buyer has investigated his "impression" that Mr former Ambassador could give him the property indeed.
Looking at the case now, we believe that Thailand has a better case than the businessman. Who would rightfully beleive that an Ambassador had the power to sell and deliver an Embassy building anyway?


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Looting and sale in Hat Yai

Posted by hasekamp on 29 November 2000 at 11:20 AM
Shortly after the water had sunk in Hat Yai after the recent flooding, several shops have been looted. Especially the 7-Eleven shops, that sell groceries and snacks, were the victims of the looting. We are very sorry to hear this. The whole population has suffered -and as a matter of fact is still suffering- and it is very un-Thai to try to get what does not belong to you under these circumstances. We hope and expect that the looters will be heavily punished, when caught.
Furthermore shopkeepers are now trying to sell their damaged goods in a massive sale. For hardly more than nothing you can buy all kinds of things in Hat Yai now.
The water has lowered to normal level in most streets now, but there is still water in some areas. There also still is no electricity, so people have compulsary candlelight dinners.
Hotels complain about heavy losses, because the customers keep away, of course. Also small businessmen, as there are so many in Thailand, are complaining about hight damage on their cars, now that they are re-appearing again from under the water. You should realize that most cars in Thailand are not insured. These businessmen are highly dependent on their vehicles, and for them damage on their car is heavy damage.
Comsidering the above, the total damage will appear to be much higher than was though initially. HM the Queen and HRH the Crown Prince have visited the hit areas.


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Wardens helped with escape of prisoners

Posted by hasekamp on 29 November 2000 at 11:03 AM
At least ten wardens of Samut Sakran prison are under suspicion of having helped the Burmese prisoners, who escaped the prison recently and were killed during their flight -as reported earlier- with supplying them with weapons. See our former posting on this case for more details.
The wardens have been suspended while the investigations last. Weapons could be smuggled into the prison, in spite of security measures taken. It is believed that the wardens made this possible.
In the meantime the search for the last escapee has been stopped.
The police officer, who was seriously wounded during the action, is still in critical condition in hospital.
Their Majesties the King and the Queen have requested daily reports about his condition.


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Water lowers, death toll rises in Hat Yai

Posted by hasekamp on 27 November 2000 at 5:29 AM
The number of dead reported in the southern provinces of Thailand after the recent flooding has risen to around 70 now (different sources give different numbers). Around 100 persons are reported missing. As we mentioned earlier, the flooding was the most serious disaster that hit the southern provinces for 12 years. Hat Yai has been hit hardest.
The water is now lowering, and people have to walk "just" up to their ankles in the water now in Hat Yai. The real damage is showing now and is estimated to be at least one billion Baht. One can imagine this, when one realizes that the water was 1 to 3 meters high, a few days ago.
Luckily there have not yet been any reports of diseases as a result of the flooding, as was feared by the authorities.
The Thai army, navy, air force and the police force are still helping where they can. We still advise against trying to visit the area for at least the next weeks.


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Monkey feast in Lopburi

Posted by hasekamp on 27 November 2000 at 5:18 AM
Hundreds -if not thousands- of monkeys are living in Lopburi (about 100 km North of Bangkok) and they are walking around there freely. Some -inaccurate- travel guides tell you that the monkeys are being trained to rob tourists, which certainly is not true. It is, however, always wise to keep an eye on your belongings with monkeys around, because they are curious!
Now back to Lopburi: Once a year the local population prapares a large buffet for the monkeys. That day was yesterday this year.
A multi-course buffet was prepared at two of the major shrines where the monkeys often reside. The menu included: hors d'oevre, "fried rice, monkey style", fruits, more fruits and vegetables. The total weight of the buffet was more than 3,000 kilos.
The buffet was free for the monkeys. Tourists who wanted to see the feast from nearby had to pay 200 Baht(!)
If we were mokeys, we would skip the fried rice, the hors d'oevre, the vegetables and most of the fruits, and we would go straight for the bananas, as we expect most of the monkeys did!


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Hat Yai cut off. No water, no power.

Posted by hasekamp on 25 November 2000 at 4:58 AM
The situation in Hat Yai, of which we reported recently, is worsening. Power is cut off now, and food and drinking water are not available. People have to drink rainwater.
The water in town (and neighboring town like Songkla) is more than chest-high. HM the King has personally ordered a help organization under his patronage to send help immediately. Other charities are active too in the region. The army and navy are helping too where they can.
Fear is rising that diseases will break out. Hat Yai Hospital cannot do anything at the moment, because it does not have water and electricity, like the rest of the town. Hundreds of people have been taken to hospitals that can still be used.
Road and railway connections have been cut off. Only the airport can still be used.
The siuation is really very bad and high water is expected to stay for at least two more weeks. Any tourists planning holidays south of Trang are strongly advised to change their plans for at least the next month.


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Hostage drama ends with ten dead

Posted by hasekamp on 25 November 2000 at 4:46 AM
Ten Burmese prisoners, who were jailed for illegal working in Thailand, escaped from the prison in Samut Sakon on Thursday, after having shot dead a Buddhist lecturer, who was being seen around by the prison chief, and wounding the prison chief himself.
The prisoners took a number of hostages with them. Police set up a trap, but did not succeed to capture them there.
In the meantime a secret meeting was being held with PM Chuan Leekpai and police and military leaders. The hostage-takers were "convicted to de.th" during that meeting. It was considered unacceptable to take hostages and to try to use them as a blackmail tool. Furthermore a Buddhits lecturere had been killed by them, which was also considered highly unacceptable.
After 20 hours the drama ended with all the hostage-takers, except one, being shot dead by Thai commandos, and all the hostages except one being freed unhurt.
The last hostage was badly hurt and was taken to the Police Hospital (he is a police chief). His chances to survive are around 50%, according to hospital officials. The tenth hostage-taker is still on the run.


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When will the discrimination stop?

Posted by hasekamp on 23 November 2000 at 15:22 PM
In Thailand tourists pay larger fees than Thais in many places. This is a thing that has been annoying us for years now. As far as this is done by the Private Sector, it may be difficult for the Thai Government to get hold of.
But the Government itself is doing this too. We reported some time ago that the fees for National Parks in Phuket would be increased tenfold for foreigners. This has been done in the meantime. Now the Forestry Department has decided to extend this discriminating measure to all the National Parks nationwide.
When people are treated differently solely and alone on the basis of their nationality, race or the color of their skin, this is called discrimination in civilized countries and this is forbidden by International treaties. (We are not certain at this moment if Thailand is a party in these treaties).
We find this a serious matter, even if it is about a few hundreds of Bahts only. Discrimination is discrimination, and no Government should tolerate it, leave alone do it actively.
When you visit Ayutthaya or Sukhothai on your next holiday to Thailand (both worthwhile!), you will have to pay more than your Thai companions too. In these cases the discriminations is done by the Fine Arts Department, also part of the Thai Government.
We hope that this very annoying practice will end as soon as possible. May we hope that some Thai Government Official reads this? We love Thailand, as will be clear from our site, but we are most strongly opposed against discriminating fees, raised by the Thai Government! Luckily we know many Thais who agree with us.


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Six star hotel planned in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 23 November 2000 at 15:03 PM
Phuket is becoming more and more popular. The beaches that is. As we reported a few weeks ago, Phuket Town is loosing all its visitors.
Now another "six star" hotel (we thought five stars is the maximum) is being planned on one of the few empty spaces left near the beaches. The hotel will cost around one billion Baht and is due to open in 2002. There seems to be a market for these multiple star hotels in Phuket. This one should consist of spacious villas. It will be located near Nai Thon Beach, a place unknown by our Phuket-born reporter (maybe it is Nai Harn Beach?). We have given our opinion about the over-comercialzation of hukret, and we hope that this will be the last of these large hotels there. The island is not very large, but it still has some tropical rainforest. We hope to see that again on our next visit to Phuket!


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Monk in military dress gets six months

Posted by hasekamp on 23 November 2000 at 14:52 PM
The former abbot of Wat Tha Chang, who was found in female company, wearing a military uniform by an iTV camera, has appeared in Court this week. (For the former items about this abbot, search our archives).
He was convicted to six months in prison for unlawfully wearing a military uniform. The Court did not give the maximun sentence, because the Monk pleaded guilty. He still denied -however- having had sex with the woman, found in his company. He announced to file an appeal against the sentence.


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Serious flooding in Hat Yai

Posted by hasekamp on 23 November 2000 at 14:43 PM
There has been very serious flooding in the "deep So.th" of Thailand yesterday. Nine people have been reported dead. The flooding is worst in Hat Yai, a place that is popular with tourists from Hong Kong and Malaysia in particular, but serious problems are also reported from Yala, Pattani and Chumpon. No problems have been reported from Phuket.
Water in the streets of Hat Yai is as high as 1-3 meters and people who want to get out of Hat Yai have to go by boat from their hotels in the center to a higher place, where they have to change to Army trucks.
The airport of Hat Yai is still open, because it ia situated higher than the town. More rain is expected.
This is the worst case of flooding since it began several months ago in the North-East.
So far Bangkok has not seen any flooding of importance. But the weather might change there too...
If you have planned a holiday in Soiuthern Thailand check out the Thai newspapers if you should change your plans. We advise against the "deep South" for the next two weeks at least.


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Thaksin did not satisfy the NCCC

Posted by hasekamp on 21 November 2000 at 15:00 PM
Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, leader of the Thai Rak Thai Party had to hand over all his assets to the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC), as we have reported. Mr Thaksin handed over some papers, but these far from satisfied the NCCC.
As reported, Mr Thaksin has made very large transfers of money and shares to his relatives and servants. The problem is that some think that he did so to cover up his (gigantic) wealth. If so, he can be banned to enter politics for five years, which would ruin his aspirations to become Thailands next Prime Minister.
Now, the NCCC has announced that it will hear six servants of Mr Thaksin soon, to get things more clearly. The witnesses have been told to appear, if they do not wish to be arrested...
We fear that Mr Thaksin is playing a high game and that he tries to become elected first. The case has our attention.


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Thailand.com makes another try

Posted by hasekamp on 21 November 2000 at 14:51 PM
We have reported several times rather critically about the aspirations of http://www.thailand.com and we will do so again now. We still believe that the site will never become what it promises.
First it promised to make billions, but so far it only reported losses. Then it published that it had opened the largest and best travel site for Thailand, including the best Thailand portal. We checked it out and we were not impressed. But of course, one cannot create ssuch a site overnight!
Now thailand.com tries to promote its site in a different way: Newspaper The Nation (with has the biggest finacial interest in thailand.com) publishes page-large advertisements that everybody can open a free email-account (your_name@thailand.com) and if you do so, you have a chance to win 10,000 Baht every day. But ... the small print at the bottom tells you that winners will be notified through their new email account and they have to reply within 24 hours. So, if you want to win, you have to log into your thailand.com account every day, and you will find there -doubtless- some exclusive and intersting offers!
We find The Nation a good Thai newspaper, but we also think that they should stick to what they can do (making a newspaper) and that they should not try to create the best Thailand site (which they probably cannot).
We will follow thailand.com critically. In the meantime those who want to win money and want to read a mailbox full with SPAM every day, should sign up. Others should read the existing Thailand sites, including the one by The Nation and hope they will concentrate on that newspaper again!
By the way: In our opinion one of the best portal sites to Thailand at the moment is http://www.ethailand.com.


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A total of 37 parties to choose from

Posted by hasekamp on 21 November 2000 at 14:33 PM
Now the deadline to file lists for the general elections in Thailand on 6 January 2001 has expired, it appears that there will be 37 parties to choose from.
Since the starting date for filing, on which 22 parties entered a list, 15 more parties did so. The new ones, however, are all new and / or small and it would surprise us if any unexpected winners would be among them.
Campaigns have started (which we find quite early) and posters are all around now. Furthermore politicians are going upcountry to promote their party. Where available, elephants are being used to draw the attention of the public.
One one of these elephant rides three candidates for the democratic party fell off the animal and had to be brought to hospital! The elephant was unhurt. Is this indeed a sign that the democrats are not as solid in the saddle as they think?


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Book the movies by WAP

Posted by hasekamp on 18 November 2000 at 11:03 AM
We have always found the Thais very early in matters of high-tech. When nobody ever had heard about a mobile phone in Europe, every Thai seemed to use one already. We are talking here about the time about ten years ago. Now too the Thais are far ahead of the Europeans (and the Americans?). If you want to book a seat in one of the Major Cineplex Theatres in Bangkok, just use your WAP-enabled mobile phone. Go to http://www.majorcineplex.com/wap to book or -if you "only" use the Internet- go to http://www.majorcineplex.com to book on-line.


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Political Parties start filing their lists

Posted by hasekamp on 18 November 2000 at 10:55 AM
The Thai Political parties have started to file their lists of candidates for the general elections on 6 january 2001. There will be a choice from 22 parties so far. This is the first day for filing lists, on which all major political parties do so.
Most Bangkokians are not yet warm for the elections and more than 72% of tham have said that they do not yet know what to choose. Upcountry around 60% is still undecided.
The numbers of the lists are allocated by a draw in Thailand, and the Thai Rak Thai Party (of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra) has drawn number 7, which is considersd a lucky number in Thailand. The Democrats of Mr Chuan Leekpai have drawn number 16. But they discovered soon that the sum of 1 and 6 also equals seven, so they are happy too. It seem easy to satisfy everyone!
Around 10 of the 22 lists entered so far can be considered to be considered to come from large parties. The rest have just one up to ten candidates.
As far as the budgets for the election campaigns are concerned it is the Thai Rak Thai party that has most money to spend, but doubtless the Democrats and some of the other serious parties will look deep into their purses too. TV spots are already appearing regularly on Thai TV. Maybe this money could better be saved for a time closer to the elections?
We hope that the Thais will be better in counting the votes than the Americans appear to be!


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Beauty queen appears to be a king

Posted by hasekamp on 18 November 2000 at 10:40 AM
As we have reported, on Loy Krathong Day (one week ago now) in many places a "Miss Loy Krathong" is being elected. This was also the case in Ratchaburi. A local beauty won, but was closely met by the runner-up. The judges were very fond of this runner-up too and it was a close ending.
Now it has appeared that this runner-up was a man! We wonder what king of judges they used in Ratchaburi for this beauty contest, not perceiving the difference between a man and a woman... The beauty queen/king had to return the prize of 6,000 Baht. We wonder if the judges also had to return their fees... That would be more than fair in our mind!


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Internet cafes are booming. Quality differs

Posted by hasekamp on 18 November 2000 at 10:32 AM
Two years ago one had to search for an Internet cafe in Thailand, not the least in Bangkok, where apparently many people have their own Internet access. Last year the facilities -especially upcountry- were becoming abundant, but in Bangkok still relatively scarce.
Now also in Bangkok the Internet business is booming. In every street you can find Internet cafes nowadays, in Bangkok as well as upcountry. And they are well-visited too. One point to watch -however- is the quality of the Internet access. We have heard of cafes where the connection is being broken every twenty minutes or so and of places where the connection is very slow. So, if you are going to use the Internet during your stay in Thailand, try out the quality. If it is not what you are used to, go to another place, a few houses further, until you find your ideal connection. And be aware that the price is the same for you and for Thais. We reported about places where they charged tourists more than Thais recently!


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Cyber tuk-tuk in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 18 November 2000 at 10:20 AM
The latest novelty in Bangkok is a tuk-tuk with a (very fast!) Internet connection through a satellite dish. This novelty reached all the national newspapers and some of the TV stations yesreeday and today.
The vehicle has two laptop computers at the back seats that can be ussed by the passenger(s). The necessity of all this is a bit beyond our comprehension, but after having noticed that this is a free, promotional, service, we would be happy to use it. The service is sponsored by TAT, Boon Rawd Brewery (the makers of the excellent Singha Beer) and CS Internet. The service includes the use of a digital camera. The drivewr -who received a special training in English and computer basics- will gladly make a digital picture of you, to send home by email!


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Is the buffalo an endangered species?

Posted by hasekamp on 16 November 2000 at 6:55 AM
The Bangkok Post has published an interesting article about Dr Charan Chantalakhana, who is an expert on water buffaloes ("kwai" in Thai). He argues that this animal, once the pride of every Thai farmer, might disappear within 10 years from now. Many farmers have sent their buffaloes to the slaugterhouse and have bought a small tractor instead. They probably do not realize that in the long term a tractor is more expensive, costing fuel (of which the price rises), needing maintenance (which often is not being given) and not producing manure (which makes it necessary to buy fertilizers).
Should we be happy then that buffaloes are being used as tourist attractions now for races for instance? Yes and no.
We believe that the buffalo belongs to Thai (or generally Asian) farming and has proved to be a very effective friend to the farmers. So we can be happy that it may not disappear if it is being used for (reasonable) tourist attractions. However, this animal deserves better than just being a tourist attraction! It has served Thai farmers too well.
Furthermore it is a shame that even pregnant females are being sent to the slaughterhouse now! Dr Charan has started an action to stop at least this practice. No animal deserves it to be slaughtered when its unborn child is carried by it.


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Tiger Woods not really welcome!

Posted by hasekamp on 16 November 2000 at 6:41 AM
Golf champion Tiger Woods, whose mother is Thai, has arrived in Thailand shortly, for playing one of his well-paid tournaments. He made the trip with his proivate jet and was welcomed not only by fans, but also by some of the 1000 workers, dismissed by NIKE in Thaiand. NIKE is Wood's sponsor for roughly 100 million US$ in four years.
The angry workers still have not yet been fully paid by NIKE. They should still get a few hudred Baht each. Or, as one of them said, workers in Thailand could easily live for 72,000 yaers from the sponsoring contract between NIKE and Tiger Woods.
Until these workers have been paid, we suggest our readers to buy their sport articles from firms other than NIKE. We realize that thius will not be felt at all by NIKE, but one could make a small gesture, could one not?
Another group of Thais is not happy with the fact that Kasetsart University has given Tiger Woods a honorary doctorate in Sport Science (whatever that may be). They say that the immensely rich champion, who has been regarded as a kind of ambassador for Thailand for quite some time, has in fact done nothing at all for Thailand. No promotion, nothing. So, why should he be honored by a Thai University? A discussion on this subject is going on in Thai Cyberspace now and the vast majority of Thai cyber-citizens holds the view, given above.


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Two prices for Internet access!

Posted by hasekamp on 16 November 2000 at 6:22 AM
Many of us know the system that foreigners have to pay more in Thailand than Thais for the same service. We have posted more than once about this practice. The latest "invention" of Thai businessmen/-women is asking more per hour for Internet access in Internet cafe's.
In more than one place the rate for foreiners is up to twice the rate for Thais.
We are not only angry about this relatively new development, we also think that Thailand is giving itself a bad name to tourists.
Suppose we opened an Internet shop at this site to sell Thai products and we charged 50% more fot Thais. How would they like that? We keep hoping that there will be an end some day to this practice, but we realize that this hope may be idle...


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Former Monk asks for understanding

Posted by hasekamp on 14 November 2000 at 12:18 PM
A former Monk (from abroad, so a "Phra Farang") has asked for some understanding for Monks that do not keep their vows. He writes so in a letter to the Editor of the Bangkok Post. He describes the many difficulties Monks have to go through and the many temptations they face.
(Of course nobody should have any understanding at all for Monks that commit serious crimes like rape, muder or the drugs trade).
A Buddhist Monk has to get up extremely early in the morning, chant Pali verses, go begging for food (they cannot choose from a menu), and they eat their only meal a day at 11 a.m. The former Monk -who felt more and more opposition against his being a "farang") describes this and more and we believe that he makes some point.
Nevertheless we believe that the cases that have reached the press recently were quite serious, they were not about Monks that made just one mis-step, but about Monks that appeared to having had sex for yaers on a regular basis and/or with many women. We do not believe we should have much understanding for these Monks. Only scarce mis-steps could be forgiven, regarding the hard life a Monks has chosen.


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Global warming is a threat to Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 14 November 2000 at 12:07 PM
All countries in the World suffer from global warming, but it seems that developing countries like Thailand are going to suffer more than developed countries.
British scientists have calculated that Thailand will become around 4 degrees Centigrade warmer in the 21st Century. This is at least one degree more than many other counties, like the UK itself.
During the past 100 years Thailand warmed up only 0.62 degrees Centigrade.
Should Thailand try to prevent or diminish this global warming effect, the cost would be tremendous: about 75,000 Baht per Thai citzen. It should be clear that Thailand cannot afford to spend so much money on an environmental issue.
We believe that the industries from abroad, that profit from low wages in Thailand, should (be forced to) contribute to this prevention of global warming.


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Crown Price performs Ceremony on Emerald Buddha

Posted by hasekamp on 14 November 2000 at 11:57 AM
HRH Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has changed the dress of the Emerald Buddha Image in Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok on Sunday. This ceremony takes place three times a year, as the Emerald Buddha has three different dresses, matching the three seasons in Thailand. Now it is waring its Winter dress.
We regret that HM the King did not perform this Holy Ceremony himself this year. We see him appear in public less and less, which we regret. We are the strongest admirers of HM King Bjhumibol Adulyadej, and we hope to see anb hear more of him again. As (hopefully) known to our readers, HM hopes to celebrate his 73rd birthday on 5 December.


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Elephants overworked

Posted by hasekamp on 14 November 2000 at 11:49 AM
In Chiang Mai travel agencies are desperate to bring you to an elephant training camp, in order to let you make a ride (for a price that we find too high in most cases).
This practice has caused the first victims: Two elephants in one of these camps are overworked at the beginning of the tourist season! The beasts are also underfed and have been brought to an elephant hospital. The "Friends of the Asian Elephant" are approaching the owners of the camps now to urge them to treat their animals as they should.
Despite this alarming news item we are not against the use of elephants for tourist purposes. We have reported one or two times before that many owners of elephants find no employ for them in the North any more and take them to Bangkok, hoping to find employ for them there, which appears to be very difficult. So, as long as the elephant camps are properly maintained, elephants have a reasonable life there.


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Loy, loy krathong...

Posted by hasekamp on 11 November 2000 at 13:51 PM
Today is the day! The krathongs are almost sold out and those who did not buy a krathong make one for themselves. Basically a krathong is a round, flat piece of banana tree, about 2.5 cm thick, decorated with banana leaf and flowers on top. The more flowers the better.
One candle is put on top of everything, as well as three joss-sticks. The candle and the joss-stickes are being lit and the krathong is put into the water, in the evening.
But before that, in many places a procession is being held with huge krathongs, of which one will be chosen as the most beautiful one. Phuket Town is one of those places. In Patong, the most popular tourist place on Phuket Island, a gay procession is being held instead... Everyone can take his pick.
When it is time to let the krathongs float, one should put three small coins under the banana leaf, to please the Goddess of the Water. The disadvantage of this is, that small children will be standing in the water to grab your krathong and to take the coins out. This is a sad ending for a krathong, and so the Police has asked the people not to put coins in the krathongs this year. We hope that it works and that the krathongs will keep floating ("loy" means "float") until the candle is finished. That will give one of the most picturesque sights of Asia: Hundreds of candle-lit krathongs.
And on Loy Krathong Day everywhere in Thailand "Miss Loy Krathong" will be chosen. In some places out of small children, in other places out of all women who make themselves candidates.
In Phuket the base of the krathongs is only made of banana tree.
In Bangkok, sadly, mostly of plastic foam, as an idea of the Governor of Bangkok. Governor Samak Sundaravej will even lead officials in launching 100 styrofoam krathongs on Klong Lot tonight.
Nevertheless we wish everybody a Happy Loy Krathing Day! You truly should experience this unique sight once, on the full moon night in November.


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World Buddhist top started. New scandals in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 11 November 2000 at 9:04 AM
The World Buddhist top, of which we reported before, has been opened in Bangkok on 9 November. The spiritual Buddhist leaders present believe that Buddhism can play a role in ending conflicts and human rights violations present all over the World.
Messages were read from Mr Kofi Annan and from the Dalai Lama, who was refused a visa for Thailand in order not to hurt the good relations between Thailand and China.
In the meantime the crisis in Thai Buddhism has not yet ended. Since our last posting about Monks being involved in sex scandals or even in crimes, another case of rape byu a Monk has been reported. A senior Monk is being accused of having raped a 11 year old girl several times.
And an assistant abbot left monkhood compulsory after it had been found out that he had sex with several of his followers. An audio tape is available as evidence. The Monk has been disrobed and his superior has reported the case nationwide, in order to prevent him to enter Monkhood elsewhere. We still wonder where this will end. We believe that more of the 300,000 Monks in Thailand will have to go.


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What do the main opponents promise for the elections?

Posted by hasekamp on 11 November 2000 at 8:48 AM
With the elections nearing, it may be interesting for our readers to know some of the highlights from the programs of the two main opponents.
Here we give some points for orientation:
The Democrats (of Mr Chuan Leekpai, the present Prime Minister) want to relocate funds to solve the economic crisis. They have not been very succesful in fighting the falling Baht and many think they should not return in Office for that reason. There also have been some corruption scandals and prominent members have been leaving the party recently. Mr Chuan, however, has not been accused succesfully.
The Thai Rak Thai Party of Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, is new and can promise all they want. They have not been in Office yet, altough some members were for different parties in former Cabinets.
This party promises a moratorium for debts of farmers (a very popular promise, of course) and one million Baht per village for the development of the villages. A popular promise too. They also want to fight corruption (how?) and promise to end poverty within three months. If they can make that true, they should win, but can they??
We will give roundups now and then.


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Thai Parliament dissolved. Elections on 6 January 2001

Posted by hasekamp on 11 November 2000 at 8:25 AM
The Thai Parliament has agreed on Thursday upon its dissolution, and the date for the elections has been definitely set for 6 January 2001.
Just one (small) Party was opposed against the proposed election day.
The Cabinet now still has to decide which projects need a decision under the present Government because they cannot wait until next year.
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai has presented a draft Royal Decree on the dissolution yesterday to His Majesty the King. HM has signed the document, and with that signature the dissolution saw a fact.
Posters with candidates of the Political Parties are appearing around the country and parties and politicians are starting to accuse each other of all that is bad, as is normally the case all over the World, when elections are nearing.
The main issue, will Mr Thaksin Shinawatra of Thai the Rak Thai Party be able to satify the National Counter Corruption Committee, will come to some solution in the coming weeks. Mr Thaksin should have explained his trasfers of shares to the NCCC before the end of this month. We are following this issue.


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Renewed call for entry restrictions into Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 9 November 2000 at 15:04 PM
We have reported some time ago on the issue that the Thai Government planned to restrict the number of countries whose citizens do not need to apply for a visa at home, before they travel to Thailand. The idea was to restrict the number of people who can (easily) bring drugs in and out of the country and to fight human trafficking (in connection with the sex trade in particular).
There seems to have been no action taken yet. That is: The Immigration Bureau recently has complained.
We come back to this item now, because the Immigration Bureau is using a very strange argument: They think that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) should be involved in a plan to fight human trafficking, because TAT tries to bring in as many touruists as possible.
We find this a very starnge line of reasoning. TAT does what it is expected to do. If the Government (or whoever else is also responsible for the controlled entry of foreigners) does not do its job properly, one cannot blame TAT for that!


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Trademark and Copyright violations worsen

Posted by hasekamp on 9 November 2000 at 14:34 PM
Several years ago it was hardly possible to buy any legal tapes or CD's in Thailand. The trade propered and in every street tapes were sold, without caring for Intellectual Property rights. Then Thailand became a member of the World Trade Organization and it had to take measures to stop these violations of rights belonging to others. And it did so. Many tape sellers disappeared and all seemed to go into the right direction. One could even read now and then about raids into Pantip Plaza, the Mecca of the illegal music and software trade.
Now (because of the economic crisis?) illegal products are back. And next to CD's and tapes, you now can buy VCD's (Video CD's) and (movie) DVD's. No worry about region coding, they work in every region (it seems). Name the latest movie and the street sellers have it for you, for about 100 Baht. No guartantee for the quality, of course!
And apart from that, the Trademark violations are increasing too. Did KIPLING recently win a Trademark case in Thailand, nevertheless the KIPLING bags are still here, not only the originals, but also the ones without labels or the famous small monkeys attached. And apart from that you can buy bags that look exactly like KIPLINGs, but at second sight the "trademark" is slightly different.
We will stop this list now. Illegal trade is coming back to Thailand, if it ever was away completely. We think that this is not a good thing. In the end the "consumers" of these products will realize that they are not exactly as good as the originals. In the meantime Thailand spoils its name in International cycles.
We hope that the new Government will be able to stop this violation or rights.


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This Saturday is Loy Krathong

Posted by hasekamp on 7 November 2000 at 10:47 AM
On the full moon night of November (11 November this year) Loy Krathong will be celebrated all over the country. In Bangkok all the hotels advertize with special arrangements already, a "krathong" included, and the selling of the small boats that will float with candles lit on all the waters of Thailand, has started on markets like Pak Klong Talat in Bangkok. In Bangkok the Governor has allowed the sale of foam-based krathongs, so there will be a lot to clean up there on Sunday!
The festival is celebrated with large shows all over the country, and many Thai women will be elected "Miss Loy Krathong". Suykhothai is famous for its Loy Krathong show between the old ruins. Other places have shows too. The "normal people" go to a water near their house and put their boat into the water there.
Loy Krathong is not a public holiday, but as it is on Saturday this year, we can expect massive support for the festival this year.


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Who is suffering not from the economic crisis?

Posted by hasekamp on 7 November 2000 at 10:34 AM
Not only the "man in the street" is sufferiung from the (second wave of the) economic crisis ion Thailand, also wholesale traders for clothes in Thailand are complaining that business is bad. Traders in Pratunam District in Bangkok, traditionally a place for Thais to buy clothes (also in wholesale), say their trade is not going well. Winter clothes (as far as one can speak of winter in Thailand) are not selling well this year.
As we have reported several times, export is not so bad, the Government says. That has never surprised us, with 43-44 Baht for one US$. Nevertheless, people of the EURO countries -as we are- can wonder if the Baht is so low. 27 Baht or thereabouts for one EURO is not really cheaper than one year ago, maybe even a bit more expensive.
So it would not surprise us if export to Europe will go down as well, which leaves only the Americans to benefit from the low Baht.
The SET index -by the way- is still far below 300.


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Thai musician patents "bamboolin"

Posted by hasekamp on 7 November 2000 at 10:21 AM
A Thai musician-inventor has invented the bamboolin, which is a kind of violin, made out of bamboo! A piece of bamboo with a large diameter is used as the main part. A piece of plastic is being attached on one side to hold it under the chin and -of course- snares are mounted upon it. That's it! Total cost: 300 Baht, but the inventor, Mr Joompot Muangling, can make them cheaper if demand increases. Now he has orders for 100 pieces, from several countries.
Accordiong to Mr Joompot the bamboolin makes it possible for anybody to buy a musical instrument.
Mr Joompon applied for a (Thai) patent and received it! He also entered the bamboolin for a contest for inventors, organized by the Thai Patent Office, but did not win a prize. "They did not quite understand the revolutionary character of the bamboolin" was his commentary.
For us there is just one thing that prevents us from sending Mr Joompot our order: We would like to hear this new bamboolin first!


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Police to advise on cheap meals...

Posted by hasekamp on 7 November 2000 at 10:08 AM
In Bangkok there are many eating houses, and many are good and cheap. But which ones are good and cheap? You will know this soon, when a new guide to eating places appears. But this new one will be special, because the police is going to advise on the content!
The editors believe that policemen know Bangkok best, so they also know where to eat good and cheap. So all the 87 police stations in Bangkok will be asked to cooperate in this project.
And because the emergency workers are underpaid, money from the sales will go to them!
By the way, "the police knows already where the best places are, so they do not have to make over-hours to give the information needed" a senior policeman said...


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Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 7 November 2000 at 9:55 AM
In Thailand there was a time when gibbons could be found eveywhere in the forests. But with the disappearance of the forests, gibbons became scarce too. Nevertheless there always is a trade for everything, and in the past many gibbons have been sold as "attractions" for bars and who nows where else. Many of these gibbons cannot be kept in bars for long, simply because they belong in the forests.
Now in Phuket there is a group of volunteers who try to rehabilitate gibbons that have been "dumped" by their owners. In the center set up by these volunteers they are being accustomed to their normal lives again and -when ready- are set free on a small island where they are safe from humans. We at Hasekamp Net are highly sympathizing with this project and we warmly recommend it to our readers. If you are in Phuket, visit the Center (at the motorway 4027) and adopt a gibbon financially! Gibbons are closely related to humans. Together with the "great apes" they are the only monkeys without tails. When they walk, they walk upright.


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Another Monk arrested...

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2000 at 18:38 PM
There seems to be no end at the revealed misconduct of Thai Monks.
Yesterday Pongsak Parisutho, the abbot of Wat Pa Srisunthorn in Yasothon's Muang district, was arrested on charges of possessing and selling amphetamine tablets.
The Monk was disrobed immediately and taken away for interrogation. This is the second time this week that a Monk had to be arrested for criminal activities. Earlier this week a Monk was charged with murder.
Police said Pongsak Parisutho was a long-time amphetamine user, who also has admitted having had sexual intercourse with his "girlfriend" many times during his monkhood. We seriously wonder how a Monk can speak about "his girlfriend" so lightly!
So, apart from his criminal activities in the drugs trade, this Monk also was unworthy because he did not keep his vows.
We are now beginning to fear that all that has been revealed lately about Thai Monks is indeed just the top of an iceberg. We cannot predict the consequences of all this for Thai Buddhism. What should the Thai laymen-Buddhists, who try to live a good life, think now their spiritual leaders not only appear to have "girlfriends", but sometimes also actively are involved in criminal activities!


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Thaksin wants more time

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2000 at 14:33 PM
Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, leader of the Thai Rak Thai Party, has been given time until the end of this month to give an explanation for his -undeclared- large transfers of shares (worth 10 billion Baht) to some of his servants. As we reported recently, the National Counter Corruption Committee (NCCC) has given his the term mentioned above.
Mr Thaksin says he did nothing wrong and has simply forgotten to declare the transfers. If things are that simple, we do not see why Mr Thaksin needs more time.
To us it seems more likely that Mr Thaksin wants to try to extend the term of the NCCC until after the elections, to take place by the end of this year, or early next year. So we do not believe Mr Thaksin "simply forgot" to declare transfers of billions of Bahts. However, when Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai was recently asked for an explanation why he did not declare transfer of a small amount of money, Mr Chuan answered in the same way. Mr Chuan Leekpai -however- is known as one of the most "clean" persons in Thai politics, so from him such an explanation could be acceptable.
"What Chuan can so, I can do too" Mr Thaksin seems to think. But who can believe that one forgets about the transfer of 10 billion Baht to one’s servants?
Anyway, Mr Thaksin will not appear next Monday at a debate for Party leaders in connection to the coming elections. His "busy schedule" prevents him from going there....


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Army chief: "Coup not to be excluded"

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2000 at 14:32 PM
General Surayand Chulanont, the Thai army chief, held an address yesterday, in which he stated that within the military there are persons who believe that the problems in Thailand at the moment can only be solved by a military coup. The reason why this did not take place is that others -among whom Gen Surayand himself- are opposed against the idea. He said that he was confident that at the moment the majority of the military did not want the country to be torn apart.
Thailand is a different kind of Nation than most of the Western Nations where our readers live. One of our Thai spokesmen said as a reaction to this message that a coup has been good for the country in the past and might be good in the future again. When politicians are not able to solve the problems, there comes a moment when the military think they can. This hardly is an option in a Western Democracy, but it is in Thailand.
Now back to the address by Gen Surayand: He also expressed his great concern about the corruption in all layers of the country. According to him, about 30% of the national budget is flowing away into corrupt practices. Although the General said that complete extermination of all corruption would be an illusion, he would be glad to have it brought back to a single digit percentage.
Here we can fully agree with the General: No country has ever benefited from corruption. Contrary: corruption has brought some countries on (or even over) the edge of bankruptcy.
The whole address of the General gives us concern. Although we do not expect a military coup next week, the threat of a possible coup is not good for the country, especially not to a country in economic problems like Thailand. We hope that politicians as well as other who are guilty of corrupt practices have realized one of the meanings of the words of the army chief. And we do hope that it will not come to a coup in Thailand. The people of the country are -normally- the last to benefit from a coup.


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World Buddhism top in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 2 November 2000 at 15:50 PM
Next week (9-12 November) the "Second World Buddhist Summit Propagating Conference" will be held in Nakhon Pathom Province in Thailand.
Spiritual leaders from almost all Buddhist countries will be present. Sadly the Dalai Lama from Tibet cannot attend the conference. He has been refused a visa by the Thai authorities, due to pressure, executed by China. Thailand is just in the process of bettering its relations with China, with HM the Queen visiting China right now. Obviously Thailnd was not prepered to endanger the friendly bonds with China.
HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside the opening ceremony. The aim of the Conference is to give all Buddhist leaders an opportunity to exchange views.
It is a complete coincidence that this conference coincides with a crisis in Thai Buddhism, with several Monks being disrobed as a consequence of not keeping their vows.
But it would not surprise us in the least if this issue will be discussed at the Buddhism top next week (extensively).


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Sex-Monk to be defrocked permanently

Posted by hasekamp on 2 November 2000 at 11:21 AM
The Religious Affairs Department wants to have the abbot of Wat Thachang, who was caught by TV cameras while entertaining a girl (see our former messages), to have defrocked permanently.
Religious Affairs Department director Paibul Siangkong said yesterday that the evidence against the Monk, including the TV images, will be submitted to Phra Thammoli, the acting chief monk of Region 1, under whose jurisdiction Bangkok nad Nonthaburi fall.
"We have considered the case carefully and have consulted religious experts" said Mr Paibul.
This permanent punishment is considerd necessary to protect Monkhood and Buddhism.
Monks that have been defrocked for misconduct are placed on a blacklist and can never enter Monkhood again.


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Some flooding expected for Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 1 November 2000 at 23:17 PM
Although officials are optimistic about flooding of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, they nevertheless expect some problems in the areas where the new dykes have not yet been finished.
Communities along Rama III Road can expect some problems, for instance. The level of the Chao Phraya River is being closely monitored. As we have reported some time ago, following the advice of HM the King, water from dams upstream has not been let out, to prevent flooding in Bangkok.


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Thaksin has one more month

Posted by hasekamp on 1 November 2000 at 23:16 PM
Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, seen by many as Thailand’s next Prime Minister has time until the end of this month, to explain his share transfers to his servants, bodyguards and maids. He transferred shares, worth ten billion Baht to 10 people.
His political opponents believe that he did so in order to cover up his wealth. We have written about this affair some time ago (find the former article in the search box).
The problem with the shares transfers is, that he did not declare them (as he should according to the Constitution) to the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC).
The NCCC said that they will hear witnesses if necessary.
Mr Thaksin has said that he has done nothing wrong, so he will meet the requirements of the NCCC.
The Thai elections are approaching fast now. Parliament will be dissolved next week (8 November). Although most sources believe that elections will be held on 23 December, Prime Minster Chuam Leekpai so far has refused to announce the date publicly.
Some sources recently say that 6 January 2001 is a more likely data than 23 December 2000.
For some time accusations of alleged corruption of politicians are the order of the day, but Mr Thaksin's case is the most interesting one, because of the large sums involved, and because of his aspirations to become Thailand's next Prime Minister.


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