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Looking back and a looking ahead

Posted by hasekamp on 31 December 2000 at 15:17 PM
On this last day of the year we want to look back at what 2000 has brought for Thailand and we want to look ahead what we expect for 2001.
In 2000 a painful issue was that there were some rape and murder cases with tourists involved. We reported extensively (only) about the Kirsty Jones case, that has not been solved (yet).
Furthermore we have given our concern about some environmental issues and about the drug issues caused by the drug trafficking from Burma (Myanmar).
And there was the terrible flooding in Hat Yai in November, which will not easily be forgotten by the victims.
We also want to mention a crisis in Thai Buddhism, as one monk after another -it seemed- was caught on the suspicion of sexual activities.
During the last months of the year the news was dominated by election issues, in the first place the investigation by the NCCC of Thai Rak Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
Nevertheless Mr Thaksin was still found to be the most popular politician in Thailand, according to a very recent Suan Dusit Poll with almost 35,000 participants.
The happiest moment for most Thais -according to the same poll- was the winning of Olympic boxing gold by Wijan Ponlid.
HM the King played a role of importance too in Thai life this year. Just think of his birthday speech, that immediately gave the Government reason to start a project to produce ethanol-based fuel for cars. Also think of his remark that the Hat Yai disaster could have been prevented, if after the previous disaster (12 years ago) adequate measures would have been taken. You can be certain that his suggestions about this issue will be taken seriously! He gave several other pieces of advice that were immediately followed.
On the other hand we had to see that HM did not appear as much in public as some years ago. We wish him a long life and we wish Thailand the presence of his wisdom forever.
Looking ahead into 2001, the first major event will probably be the general elections on 6 January. Mr Thaksin Shinawatra still is favorite, but we wonder if the Thai people will vote for him massively with a ban on his political life being imminent (see our former postings on the issue for details).
It has already been reported by the media that the new Government will have to face the problems of soil erosion and water depletion very soon. These environmental issues will probably be dominant in 2001. Also the economic crisis is not over yet. Economic issues will therefore also play an important part in Thai politics.
And we are realistic enough to see that the drugs problems are far from solved and will dominate the news again in 2001.
We hope that Thailand will get a new Government that is capable to tackle all the issues mentioned!


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Call for foreign investors

Posted by hasekamp on 30 December 2000 at 18:09 PM
Very recently we have given a report of the development of some Thai economic factors, and this report was not good. The Government is aware of this too, and therefore a budget of one billion Baht has been reserved to promote Thailand in the International Community, in order to attract foreign investors by trying to give them confidence in the Thai economy.
The Ministry of Commerce will be responsible for the job. The project should last for three years. The Department of Export Promotion (DEP) as well as the Board of Investment (BOI) are involved in the project.
Some parts of the plan are not completely new and have been partly published on this page already: Thai food will be promoted, by a company called Global Thai Restaurant (the name speaks for itself). We have given our opinion about this part earlier. We hope there will be more than just that. TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) and Thai Airways International will be asked to invest in this part of the project.
Furthermore a firm will be set up to promote e-commerce in Thailand. We bet that Thailand.com will volunteer for that, and we fear that they will not be the ideal partners.
An export growth target of 11.3% has been set.


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US to help in drugs operations

Posted by hasekamp on 30 December 2000 at 18:02 PM
The US army will train Thai soldiers for drug operations. This is a result of the long awaited cooperation, of which we have reported a few times. A joint headquarter will be set up in Chiang Mai for this purpose. US soldiers will pass on their experiences from actions in Colombia, while fighting the cocaine trade there.
Four Thai companies from both the army and thew border patrols will be involved. More problems at the Burmese borders are expected in 2001, because the Wa army is increasing its production of speed pills from 400 million to six hundred million a year!
These figures show that some extra experience is needed, because only 25 million pills were seized this year by the Thais.
The Burmese have moved some 10,000 ethnic minority groups to the border areas with Thailand to increase the production of speed pills as well as opium.
We may hope and pray that this new training will be successful and that the dug trafficking with all the side activities of which we have reported this year, will stop or at least strongly diminish.


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Bad year for Thai stockmarket and currency

Posted by hasekamp on 29 December 2000 at 12:28 PM
With the SET index at 267 today, the Thai stock market will have to face a bad year. Return in 2000 from January to November was negative 42%, which is the second worst performance in Asia after the Korean market, with a negative return growth of 49%.
Although it is not fair to put all the blame on Thailand, with the -worldwide promenent- Dow Jones, NASDAQ and NIKKEI indices having sunk too, the SET result is bad indeed.
With the Baht at 43.15 for a greenback today, the currency could have performed better too, although we keep saying that we believe that the US$ has risen more than the Baht has tumbled. If the greenback will stay at it current level, there is not much hope for a stronger Baht, whatever new Government Thailand will see.
And most financial experts shiver already by the prospect of Mr Thgaksin Shinawatra, who may be banned from politics any moment from March on, will be the next Prime Minister of Thailand. That will certainly do no good for the SET and for the Baht, whatever good plans he may have!


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Drug dealers use villages for their practices

Posted by hasekamp on 29 December 2000 at 11:42 AM
Drug dealers from Burma (Myanmar) now use the Hilltribe villages to find new "customers" for their low trade. The aim is obvious: New users will create new addicts, and these new addicts need money for their addiction and they are being stimulated to deal in drugs as well, which creates a spiral of new addicts and new dealers.
This spiral has been signalized by a drugs rehabilitation center in Chiang Mai Province, run by the Thai military. The rate of addiction to speed pills as well as to heroin in Chiang Mai Province (in several districts) is alarming now.
The new dealers do not get much profit from their dealing: They have to buy speed pills for 15-17 Baht and sell them for 20-25 Baht a piece. Luckily a number of them report themselves sooner or later at the rehabilitation center, but the problem is still great and the activities of the Burmese dealers may still extend.
Treatment at the rehabilitation center is free of charge.


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Skytrain to be extended

Posted by hasekamp on 28 December 2000 at 19:43 PM
The Government allows the current Skytrain Operator to Extend its Service. The Cabinet has ruled in favour of the current operator, the Bangkok Transit System (BTS), for the extension.
Priority will be given to the 11 kilometer extension from ON NUT to SAMRONG areas and the TAKSIN Bridge to the KO BO area. The remaining three routes will be extended later.
As has been reported by us earlier, the skytrain is not very popular with the average Bangkokian, because the fare is roughly 5-8 times the fare of a bus ticket. Although it may help to increase the popularity of the service by extending the routes, the major problem -the high fares- cannot be solved by building extensions.
In our opinion the Government or -better- the Bangkok City administration should consider to subsidize the skytrain fares.
Only in that way the skytrain might become more popular with the average Bangkok commuter, who simply cannot afford it for his/her daily way to the office.


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Cabinet chooses for gasohol

Posted by hasekamp on 28 December 2000 at 13:39 PM
The Cabinet approved a plan to open four plants to produce "gasohol", a fuel for cars, based on ethanol. This is a follow-up of the suggestion by HM the King in his birthday speech on 4 December.
We support this idea. It will make Thailand less dependent from foreign sources for car-fuel. And up to 10 billion Baht of foreign exchange reserves can be saved yearly in this way. The gasohol will be cheaper than gasoline.
The gasohol will be made out of cassava and sugar cane. A side effect will therefore be a price rise for these products, which will be good for the farmers.
The first four plants will be opened close to the sources of sugar cane and cassava. At first a 91 octane product will be produced, this being the most used fuel in Thailand. Later 95 octane gasohol will follow. The plants are to be operated privately, but the gasohol will be sold to the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT).


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Thaksin to fight until the end (extended)

Posted by hasekamp on 27 December 2000 at 20:03 PM
Now that the NCCC (National Counter Corruption Commission) has found almost unanimously (8:1) that Mr Thaksin Shinawatra has violated the Constitution by not handing over his correct assets when leaving the office of Cabinet Minister in 1997, the World is too small for the silk and telecom tycoon. He has announced to fight until the bitter end, by appealing to the Constitutional Court. It will take about three months before the wise men of this Court will give a verdict, so now Thailand seriously faces a "lame duck" as a Prime Minister.
Experts believe that the Thai Rak Thai Party will suffer from this prospect, in the 6 January 2001 elections. According to a poll, recently held, 58% of the persons questioned feel no sympathy for the Thai Rak Thai leader, which could indeed mean that the elections will be influenced by the NCCC case against Mr Thaksin.
More polls have been held since the NCCC ruling: Snap opinion polls found that Thaksin's popularity in Bangkok declined sharply. Now only 10.4% of the respondents support him against 35.3% for current PM Chuan Leekpai. Thaksin is now in fourth place in that Bangkok poll. A previous poll gave Thaksin 29.7% last week! In the same poll, 24% of the respondents wanted Chuan to remain Prime Minister.
Mr Thaksin himself said that he will "make things happen", regardless of the time he may have. He also said that the people should not worry for him, but for the Country.
The Thai Rak Thai Party has announced that they are not looking for somebody to replace Mr Thaksin as their leader.
Below a picture of Mr Thaksin, still smiling from an election poster in Bangkok.


election poster with Mr Thaksin


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Thaksin found guilty by NCCC

Posted by hasekamp on 26 December 2000 at 13:27 PM
The National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) announced today that it has officially ruled 8:1 indicting Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai Rak Tahi Party leader, for concealing his assets while holding public office in 1995-97.
This is in fact what could have been expected and what we did expect (see our former reports on this case).
The NCCC's decision is not final, but can be forwarded to the Constitutional Court, although some Thai legal experts think it is final. If the Constitutional Court confirmes the NCCC, the Thai Rak Thai leader will be barred from politics for five years.
At the same time another case is waiting for decision by the Constitutional Court: As we reported a few days ago, Mr Thaksin has asked the Constitutional Court to rule if the NCCC has the power at all to indict him.
As we also have reported before, we expect Mr Thaksin to forward his case to the Constuitutional Court, and we do not expect a verdict before election day on 6 january 2001, in which case Thailand will get a "lame duck" as Prime Minister, that is if the popularity of Mr Thaksin will remein the same as it has been so far.
With all these legal affairs around the elections, it seems to us that fighting about the elections before the Courts is becoming a very popular hobby in several parts of the World...


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Cold weather for Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 26 December 2000 at 13:11 PM
In the West many people are "dreaming of a white Christmas" but this year some parts of Thailand are coming closer than ever to it. Weather has been relatively cold the last few days, and temperatures in the North and Northeast will fall further, according to the Meteorological Department.
As Christmas is not being celebrated at all in Thailand and snow is practically unknown, the wish for a white Christmas is non-existent in Thailand, however. And in fact low temparatures can even cost lives in Thailand. Earlier this year there were low temperatures too in the North and several people died of the cold. We should realize that in Thailand heating in houses is unknown and that -especially in the North- people (the Hilltribes) live in primitive houses that are not at all up to low temperatures. Above that warm clothing is also almost unknown in Thailand. If you "just" catch a cold in this cold weather, you can call yourself lucky!
The coming days the North will have temperatures of 10-15 Celsius in lower parts and as low as 1-6C in the mountains! The Northeast can expect 10-15C in the lower parts and 3-8C in the mountains.
Bangkok will can expect a low of 18-19C. All these temperatures are uncommonly low for Thailand.


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Light show at Wat Arun

Posted by hasekamp on 24 December 2000 at 14:24 PM
To promote tourism and to welcome visitors, TAT organizes a light and sound show at Wat Arun in Bangkok. It is called "Nights of Wat Arun" it lasts 13 minutes, and it will be performed four times a day (7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.). As one might expect, it will be based on Thai culture and the Thai way of life.
The show will be on from 23 December until August 2001, on Monday to Saturday. There is no entrance fee (not even for foreigners!), so go there if this type of show gives you a kick. We wonder if there will be smart businessmen (like long-tailed boat operators) who will try to make money of it anyway, and who will ask you a fee to attend it!


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Stamps with your own picture

Posted by hasekamp on 24 December 2000 at 14:23 PM
The Phuket Gazette reports that in Phuket it will be possible to send letters with a picture of your own choice as a stamp, on the occasion of "Children’s Day" on 13 January 2001. This is a service for 2001 only. Children’s Day is every year on the second Saturday in January.
Those who wish to use this service have to deliver their picture before or on 13 January or they have to queue up on 13 January for having a digital picture made on the spot. For a modest fee of 120 Baht they get 15 normal stamps and 10 personal stamps. It is not allowed -however- to use the personal stamps without regular stamps. (See the example below).
This service is not completely original, because the Swiss Post has done the same thing one year ago, on the occasion of entering the new millennium.
Nevertheless, we like the service. So, look in your postbox every day starting 13 January. If you receive a letter with stamps as shown below, you can be certain that it comes from our webmaster!


personal stamp sheet


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Former Ambassador under further investigation

Posted by hasekamp on 23 December 2000 at 16:47 PM
The former Thai Ambassador in the Netherlands, who allegedly has sold (though not delivered) the premises of ten Embassy in The Hague (Netherlands), has appeared before the disciplinary investigation committee of the Thai Foreign Office again. He declared this time that a third party was trying to make him appear as a corrupt official.
Last week the Honorary Consul in the Netherlands, Mr Richard Ruijgrok, also testified before the committee. He told that Mr Suseree had received 50,000 guilders "under the table" for signing the contract. The former ambassador replied to this allegation that there was no proof at all of this payment, which -as we wrote earlier- there never is when corrupt money is being paid, so we believe that Mr Suseree has to come up with something better!
The case will be heard by the Hague District Court on 16 January 2001.
There is not much doubt that the newspapers in Thailand as well as in the Netherlands will report about it soon afterwards. We keep our eyes and ears open and will inform our readers of further news.


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Thaksin goes to Constitutional Court

Posted by hasekamp on 23 December 2000 at 16:46 PM
Even before the NCCC has given its definite opinion about the Thaksin case (see our recent posting about the current status of this case) Mr Thaksin has petitioned to the Constitutional Court already, to ask an interpretation of Constitution. He wants to know "as soon as possible" from the Court what power the NCCC has under the Thai Constitution. Mr Thaksin believes that the NCCC does not have the power to investigate his assets now. He handed them over in 1997, as required, and in that way he thinks he complied with the Constitution. Of course Mr Thaksin makes an interesting point here, but in our opinion this is the point of a person looking for his last straw to keep himself alive. The time bomb is ticking under his political chair, and Mr Thaksin would give (almost) anything to dismantle this time bomb, of course. His petition to the Constitutional Court is probably his ultimate effort to do so. We expect the NCCC to give its opinion before the Constitutional Court, and if so, we believe that Mr Thaksin will be harmed politically anyway if that opinion is not in his favor. So, the first thing to await is the opinion of the plenary NCCC.


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Elephant Orchestra on CD

Posted by hasekamp on 23 December 2000 at 16:45 PM
In Lampang a group of elephants has been taught to play musical instruments, specially designed for them. They play them with their trunks. Normally we would not be interested at all in bizarre events like this one, but the revenues of the CD that has been made of this orchestra, will partly go to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. For that reason: Buy the CD to support the Asian elephant in Thailand, that is threatened with extinction.
We do not expect anything musically of this orchestra. As far as we are aware of, elephants do not have any musical talents, so there must be a lot of high-tech manipulating involved in this recording. Nevertheless, if you do not like to support the Thai elephant in a different way, buy the CD. It is to appear any moment now.


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Thai Classical Dance as exercise

Posted by hasekamp on 22 December 2000 at 16:49 PM
A new kind of exercise has been proposed and introduced by the Department of Health, the Fine Arts Department and the Department of Physical Education. It is based on Thai Classical Dance. Officials believe that people will like this exercise, that at the same time gives them a part of their Cultural background and a better physical condition. The primary aim of the project is to improve public health. As everywhere, in Thailand people are not having as much exercise as they should, due to -among other factors- the use of machines where human force was used in the past. Hence the concern of the authorities. Video tapes that explain the new type of exercise have been sent to all parts of the country.
We find this an interesting way of combining exercise and preserving the cultural heritage. In many countries cultural heritage is neglected or even lost, because nobody finds time to study it. So why not do so while exercising?


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Time bomb for Mr Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 22 December 2000 at 16:48 PM
The subcommittee of the NCCC (National Counter Corruption Commission) has decided, after its investigation, that Mr Thaksin Shinawatra (who wants to become Thailand’s next Prime Minister and is tipped as such by the polls) has violated the Constitution by intentionally concealing his wealth. As reported earlier, Mr Thaksin has transferred billions of Bahts in shares to his relatives and servants. His case was investigated because he has been a cabinet minister in 1997 and should have stated all his assets correctly on leaving this office, There were doubts if he had done so correctly, and therefore his case was investigated. He had to explain why he transferred so much of his wealth, and in the opinion of the subcommittee did not succeed in doing so.
The subcommittee found that Mr Thaksin benefited personally from these transfers and it also found Mr Thaksin guilty of stock market violations.
The case will now go to the plenary meeting of the NCCC, and there it will have to be decided if the NCCC follows its subcommittee or not.
Should the NCCC indeed follow its subcommittee, then a time bomb has been placed under Mr Thaksin’s chair. If the opinion of the NCCC is held up by the Constitutional Court, then Mr Thaksin will be forbidden to hold any public office for five years. It is widely believed that Mr Thaksin will appeal against any unfavorable decision by the NCCC, and it is also widely believed that the Constitutional Court will not be able to give its verdict before the elections on 6 January 2001.
So, should Mr Thaksin remain a candidate and indeed become PM, then the situation will be very painful if he will be called back from office by the Constitutional Court. The question also is if he will want to take this risk. We believe he will do so and be a "lame duck" if he will become PM. We wonder if the opinion by the plenary NCCC will have impact on the (high) popularity of Mr Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party. His political opponents are -of course- laughing in the background of this painful affair.


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One million new trees for Bangkok?

Posted by hasekamp on 21 December 2000 at 22:42 PM
As our regular readers will know, we are no great fans of Governor Samak Sundaravej of Bangkok. He has come up with many plans lately, most of which we have criticized heavily. This time, however, we support his plan, be it that it remains to be seen if he can realize it. He did not realize most of his former plans too, after all.
Governor Samak wants to plant one million large trees in Bangkok within the next four years. In that way Bangkok should become greener. Every year 100,000 trees will be planted according to this plan, in addition to the ones that have been grown already. This would bring the total number of new trees to 1,000,000 in 2004.
The trees are to be planted in parks and "mini-parks", as well as in areas belonging to the government and state enterprises.
Being environmentalists, we support this plan fully, although -as stated- we have our doubts about the practical possibilities to realize it. In particular we do not fully understand how planting 100,000 trees a year would be enough, in addition to the trees grown already to reach a number of 1,000,000. Does the Governor mean that all trees that have been planted in the past years should be counted again on top of the new ones? In that way he gives a fine piece of arithmetic. Nevertheless, a greener Bangkok sounds better to us than the more "metropolitan" Bangkok, Mr Samak wanted to create earlier!


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New airport for Bangkok in 2004

Posted by hasekamp on 21 December 2000 at 12:11 PM
Bangkok will have a new International airport in 2004. The airport will be knows as Nong Ngu Hao Airport and the Thai News Agency writes that it will be Bangkok’s second International Airport. We interpret this such, that Don Muang will remain in operation. The plans were made some time ago already, but now it has been announces that everything is on scheme and that the necessary funds (120 billion Baht) are available.
As is usual for large projects, the opening is scheduled on the birthday of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in this case 5 December 2004.


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Elephant babies mistreated

Posted by hasekamp on 20 December 2000 at 16:32 PM
Thai environmentalists have warned against tourist attractions where elephant babies are being used to entertain the public. Most of these elephant babies have been poached from the wild, they say. And these baby elephant, that have been separated from their mothers too early, usually die (very) young. They need the milk from their mother for at least three years. If they do not get this mothers' milk, they will get a bone disease, which will cause their death.
It is believed that 70% of all elephant babies in tourist attractions are being poached from the wild. In Phuket the problem is believed to be the worst.
We -also being environmentalists- strongly advise our readers not to attend shows where elephant babies are being mistreated in this way, in other words we stongly advise our readers not to attend any show with baby elephants in it. As soon as the interest in these attractions stops, the abuse of baby elephants will stop too, as a logical consequence.
We find it a shame that in Thailand, where the elephant has been the symbol and pride of the country for many yaers, more and more alarming news about the treatment of these animals is being published! Use our search box with the word "elephant" to find more alarming news about these animals.


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Not two, but five awards for HM the King

Posted by hasekamp on 19 December 2000 at 13:38 PM
On 2 December we reported that the Chai Pattana Water Aerator received two prizes on the International EKA Inventors exhibitionBrussels. It now appears that we were too soon with this news, because today -after the exhibition has been closed- it appears that the invention by HM the King received five awards:
- The top prize of the exhibition, the Prix OMPI (WIPO) Medal with certificate;
- A Gold Medal with certificate for the top selected invention, to praise the simple and efficient technology;
- The Grand Prix International for an invention that renders excellent cooperation with the media;
- Minister J. Chabert’s Award, awarded by an International Committee with members from 30 countries, and
- The Yugoslavia Cup.
This information has been published today by the Thai News Agency (TNA).
The Chai Pattana water aerator was patented by HM the King on 2 February 1993 and helps to solve the problem of polluted water in canals and ditches. For a picture of the aerator we refer to our former message, dated 2 December 2000 and to our page about HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, on http:/www.hasekamp.net/king.htm .


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Election disqualifications

Posted by hasekamp on 19 December 2000 at 12:58 PM
We are not trying to give a complete report about all the issues related to the upcoming elections in Thailand on 6 January 2001, but now and then we will make a selection of these issues. This is what we do here today.
Provincial Election Committees have disqualified several candidates that were listed for their parties. Some of these cases are being mentioned here. Disqualification appears to happen to candidates of all the political parties.
- A tambon from a central province has been disqualified because he could not make true the University degree he claimed to have. At first he went on campaigning, but after a reminder he stopped.
-Another candidate was disqualified because he was accused of "vote buying", a practice that has been common in Thai politics for ages.
-Two more candidates were disqualified because they could not prove the education they claimed to have had.
-One candidate was disqualified because he did not vote on 4 March in the Senate elections.
The last three candidates mentioned appealed successfully before the Supreme Court and were ordered to be reinstated. It has not (yet) been published if the first two candidates mentioned have appealed. But again we emphasize that we just give a selection of the election issues here.
We hope that this selection gives our readers an impression of what criteria that are being used to test the integrity of the candidates that were listed by their political parties.


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Natural fertilizer saves money and environment

Posted by hasekamp on 18 December 2000 at 13:40 PM
In Thailand agriculture is very important and any savings for that sector can mean (a bit) more wealth for the poor farmers in the North and North-east.
Recent research has shown that planting African Dhaincha plants (sesbania rostrata) gives a fertile soil for later rice growth. The African Dhaincha plants are planted first, and when the time comes that the rice has to be planted, the plants are ploughed into the ground. Three days later the rice can be planted already.
Tests have shown that the harvest of the rice fields can be up to 20% higher by planting African Dhaincha first. This is a very interesting proposal, because farmers are less dependent of foreign fertilizers at the same time. The savings in fertilizer are around 300 Baht per rai of farmland, which is an important sum for the farmers in the North and North-east of Thailand. And of course this natural fertilizer saves the environment too!
We support these initiatives (that make Thai farmers less dependent from foreign multinationals) highly and find it a good initiative to execute research programs like the one that lead to the result mentioned above. Some earlier projects like this one have been initiated by HM the King personally. We do not know if he suggested this natural fertilizer too.


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Export of Thai service products

Posted by hasekamp on 18 December 2000 at 13:19 PM
The Department of Export Promotion (DEP) wants to export more of the "World famous Thai service business". We agree that Thailand is one of the very few countries we know where service is still being written with a Big S, so we do believe that there must be a market for some of the products related to it.
We pick two products out of the list of products that DEP wants to promote as export products. The products we want to discuss are: restaurant operation and long stay health care.
Thai restaurants exist all over the World now (according to DEP there are around 5000 Thai restaurants worldwide this year). We do not see much perspective for Thai restaurant operation as an export product, however. DEP sees a market for franchised Thai restaurants in chains. We do believe that there may be a market for more Thai restaurants abroad, but in our opinion Thai restaurants abroad can never offer the excellent service they offer in Thailand. The service in restaurants in Thailand indeed is excellent, but one should realize that waiters and waitresses are very cheap within Thailand, and a similar service would be very expensive, if not prohibitively expensive, abroad.
It is different –in our opinion- with long stay health care. Health care in Thailand is close to perfect and we do believe that long stay health care could be an export product (in the sense that DEP could attract more foreigners, taking their long stay health care in Thailand and not in their own country). This product could be offered as a combined service by (private) hospitals and hotels or resorts. We know (non-Thai) people that go to Thailand for medical treatment now already, and they are enthusiastic about it.
So to restaurant operation we say no as an export product, but to long stay health care we certainly say yes.
DEP sees more export opportunities for service related products. One consists of products by the entertainment industry. We have given our opinion those products last week already, when DEP announced its future promotional activities in that field, and we were not very enthusiastic then.


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Tom Yam Kung against cancer

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2000 at 19:02 PM
The Institute for Traditional Thai Medicine has studied the influence of the main ingredients for tom yam kung (spicy Thai shrimp soup) and has found that almost all the ingredients are beneficial for your health: ‘ir lime leaf prevents the formation of free radicals and so protects your blood vessels, lemon grass is good for your digestion and prevents formation of harmful bacteria, red onions and lime are filled up with huge quantities of vitamin C, (an anti-oxidant) etc.
So, to prevent getting cancer, you should learn to eat tom yam kung every day, something we will never succeed in!
And now the strange thing: The institute mentioned is afraid that foreign companies will "steal" the Industrial Property rights for tom yam kung! We do not know how they get his thought into their heads, because for patenting the first requirement is novelty, and we cannot imagine that any patent examiner in the World will consider the recipe for an ages old Thai soup novel! And we are not even speaking of the problem that a recipe for making a dish is not patentable at all in many (if not most) countries.
What we taste again here, is the fear that there will be piracy on something typically Thai. We have written about this problem one or two times last week, and we are now almost convinced that the Thais see that the way they treat other persons Industrial Property rights with their feet, should not be allowed by others with Thai rights. A strange way of "double morality" we think. If the Thais continue to ignore Industrial Property rights of others, they can never expect others to respect theirs!


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Nantida to go into politics

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2000 at 19:01 PM
We have become a fan of Nantida Kaewbuasi (or whatever way you prefer to spell her name) within a week after our first arrival in Thailand. Within that week we had bought her (then) latest tape and we had to buy a new one before we left, so often did we play it! Since that time, every year we visited Thailand we bought the latest tape of CD (CD’s as soon as they had arrived in Thailand) and we play them quite often. And we are not the only buyers of her CD’s. She has been immensely popular for more than ten years as a singer.
We therefore were unpleasantly surprised to hear this year that there was no new Nantida-CD because she had married a politician (and therefore now is called Nantida Asavahama). And now she wants to run for a seat in Parliament in the upcoming elections. Her father-in-law is a well-known politician in Thailand. He is chief advisor of the Rassadorn Party and by some called the "Godfather of Samut Prakan", the district where he lives. Nantida (of course) runs for a seat for Samut Prakan, and (of course) for the Rassadorn Party.
Last week The Nation reported that her campaigning goes a bit slow, because she wants to visit all the households in her district, but every household takes her several hours. So in her current tempo she will never finish that job.
Whatever of that, we regret that she stopped her singing career. But this being a fact, we wish her the fulfillment of her political ambition, although silently we hope that she will reconsider one day her decision to go into politics.


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Large number of pirated goods destroyed

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2000 at 12:00 PM
Thai authorities have destroyed pirated goods, worth over 146 million Baht, representing the country’s largest destruction of pirated goods ever, publicly.
The Department of Intellectual Property, with the cooperation of the Economic Crime Investigation Command, the National Police Office, arranged the largest destruction of the seized products at the Impact International Trade Exhibition Centre in Muang Thong Thani of Nonthaburi province on Friday.
The Director-General of the Department of Intellectual Property, said that the destruction was meant to show Thailand’s strong determination to protect intellectual property rights.
Of course we -at Hasekamp Net- are happy to read this, but our readers should not think that all pirated goods that could be easily located have now been destroyed. If the authorities should take the trouble to go to Pantip Plaza in Bangkok and destroy all illegal goods there too, they should make a goods start in letting us believe they are serious about it.
And, by the way, we were in Nonthaburi last month, where many small shops sell illigal goods too. The official of the Department of Intellectual Propertyy, with whom we had lunch then, appeared to be fully aware of the fact that within reach of our lunch table a "good catch " could have been made! So, although we see this as a start, there is a long way to go before Thailand will be free of pirated goods.


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Father of Thai Technology

Posted by hasekamp on 14 December 2000 at 15:53 PM
The Thai cabinet has proposed to honor and praise HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej as "Father of Thai Technology".
The reason for this are the many successful "Royal Projects",such as the Water Detention Project to protect Bangkok for flooding, the Vetiver Grass Project against soil deterioration, the Royal Artificial Rain Project, the Water Treatment Project and many more.
All these projects have been very successful and beneficial for the country and would not have been possible without the initiation by HM the King.
The great wisdom of HM the King has always been a gift for Thailand, where the government and governmental organizations do not always posses the technological knowledge and wisdom, necessary to accomplish certain tasks. In these cases HM the King -who has a great Technological knowledge as a result of his academic studies abroad and his personal studies- has often provided his own knowledge and always for the benefit of the country.
In the field of Social Sciences HM the King has contributed to his country too, for example with the Sufficiency Economy Project in the time if the economic crisis.
The cabinet has decided to commemorate 19 October every year as the National Technological Day. On 19 October 1972 the first successful implementation of he Royal Artificial Rain Project was realized. Since, the Royal Artificial Rain has been a great benefit for the agricultural areas of Thailand. Read more about the Royal Projects in Thailand on http://www.kanchanapisek.or.th/projects/index.en.html .


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Gill now denies allegation (amended)

Posted by hasekamp on 14 December 2000 at 13:08 PM
Mr Andrew Gill, as we reported a few days ago, recently told an English newspaper ("Mail on Sunday") that he has paid around one million Baht to the public prosecutor in Chiang Mai to have himself released.
(As known to our readers, Mr Gill was formerly arrested as a suspect in the rape and killing of Ms Kirsty Jones in Chiang Mai in August of this year).
The allegation by Mr Gill, as published in the British press, caused quite some commotion in Thailand. Even PM Chuan Leekpai went to Chiang Mai to be informed about the bribery case.
A thorough investigation will be made to find out what might be true of the alleged bribery.
In the meantime the Chiang Mai authorities said that Mr Gill was still a suspect for raping and killing Ms Jones, and gathering evidence against him is continuing. He had to be released, however, because in the period of time given for this by Thai law, not enough evidence against him could be gathered.
This had hardly been declared by the Thai authorities, or Mr Gill made a statement that the whole bribery story had been made up by the newspaper, and he had never said it.
He and his father both declared that everything had been made up by the "Mail on Sunday".
The Bangkok Post reports however, that the Thai wife of Andrew Gill, with whom he does not seem to be on speaking terms, declared that she had been asked to deliver the money to the public prosecutor, but that she did not do so, and kept the money for herself instead. If this is true, then Mr Gill has at least tried to bribe a Thai official, which doubtless also is punishable under Thai criminal law.
The Thai authorities have said that they are investigating if they can sue Mr Gill for slander now, apart from investigating the Jones case further.
So it seems that the Kirsty Jones case, and everything around it, are not yet closed. We find, however, that the Thai authorities should use their energy in the first place to solve the crime, not to sue Mr Gill for what he has (or has not) said. That can come later, if the rapist and killer of Ms Jones is safely stored behind bars.


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Will the jewelry trade be cleaned up at last?

Posted by hasekamp on 13 December 2000 at 22:42 PM
TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand), together with some other organizations like the Jewelry Traders Association, wants to do something about gem dealers and tour agents that bring tourists in contact with them. To that purpose TAT has held a seminar on the subject.
First we want to make one thing clear: There are three types of gem traders in Thailand:
1 The normal, honest traders who want to make a living and sell their products for a reasonable price, compliant with the quality of their products.
2 The large jewelry stores, mostly outside city centers, where the product sold are of the quality as stated by the shops, but where the gems are sold for far too high prices.
3 People who sell gems on the streets or who get in contact with tourists and bring them to shops where bad quality gems or fake gems are being sold. These people are the real scams.
We do understand from press releases that TAT wants to do something against the third category, but it is not clear to us if they also want to tackle the second category. Our readers should bear the three categories in mind.
TAT states that tourists have complained during the past three years that they have been cheated for altogether 2.7 billion Baht in jewelry stores and TAT is very worried about this. The organization wants to attract tourists and wants them to spend money in Thailand, also in jewelers shops. Altogether TAT hopes that tourists will bring annually one trillion Baht (!) to Thailand and that definitely will not happen if tourists are being cheated. Then tourists will not come back, and they will not tell their friends to go to Thailand too. The bad part of the jewelers trade has already caused damage to tourism, TAT says. This bad part of the trade sometimes sell gems for tousands of times of its value, according to TAT. We believe that this is only true for the third category mentioned above. However, we know from the first hand that in the large jewelry stores (the second category) most goods are being sold for double to triple their value, so we hope hat TAT has an eye for that too!
What TAT want to do, is to give special logos to "good" dealers and promote them through all available channels, including TAT’s own website. The stores with a logo will them be checked regularly.
This seems a good plan and similar systems work in Western countries in several branches. We do hope -however- that everybody concerned will know his / her responsibility and corruption will not spoil this good effort.


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Asian elephant under threat

Posted by hasekamp on 13 December 2000 at 12:24 PM
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has published a report yesterday, which states that the Asian elephant is becoming an endangered species. Because of logging, agricultural clearance and ill-planned development schemes the animal is being forced out of its natural habitat. Elephants are also being poisoned or shot by farmers, or killed for their meat or tusks. The 35,000 to 50,000 surviving elephants (in the whole of Asia that is) are being squeezed in smaller and smaller areas.
The WWF has projects in most Asian countries (including Thailand) to search for a solution. Also the governments of the countries in question are being called upon by the WWF to act in favor of the elephant. Especially the WWF calls upon the governments to enforce the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) better.
We have written more than once on this page about the worsening situation of the elephant in Thailand. Nevertheless we are shocked by this new report by the WWF. We hope that our readers will donate some money in this holiday period to support the existing projects of WWF to save the elephant. Please go to http://www.panda.org and read more about the projects by the WWF or register for a "Panda Passport" there and make a donation now and then for specific projects.


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Election campaign gifts

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2000 at 17:02 PM
The North-eastern part of Thailand ("Isarn") is always a bit neglected by the rest of Thailand. This is not fair, because that part of the country produces most of the all-important Thai rice. However now -with elections coming up- the area suddenly becomes important, because there are votes to be won there. All parties send their candidates to the villages in Isarn to promote their party. And campaigning goes together with gifts. T-shirts and jackets are favorite and appear to be important for a maximum input.
How to collect as many gifts as possible then? Simlpy. Villagers have collected the T-shirts and jackets of all the important parties, and when another candidate of a party shows up, they all put on the T-shirt with the logo of that party and they promise to campaign for that party. The candidate is pleased and will give more gifts, as experience has shown. Clocks, kitchenware, food (from rice to fish sauce), it all is distributed freely by the parties to win votes.
The next day another party-candidate will show up. Quickly T-shirts are changed and new promises to campaign for that party are being made. This system gives the highest input for the.
Once -at last- Isarn is important and the villagers know it, and they know how to make the most of it!
We think they are right. If there are gifts to be given, the villagers should do their best to get them. And as long as the parties are so simple-minded as to think that these gifts will "buy" them votes for their party, everybody is happy. The big deception -for the parties- may come on 6 January. But then all the gifts have been given already and the villagers have a new set of T-shirts and a new set of kitchenware.


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Ex-suspect accuses prosecutor

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2000 at 15:53 PM
Mr Andrew Gill, released recently after having be arrested in connection with the rape and murder on British backpacker Kirsty Jones, is in the news again. (Use our search box to find previous items about this case).
As we reported, Mr Gill is the owner of Aree Guesthouse in Chiang Mai, where Ms Jones' body was found.
Mr Gill now accuses the public prosecutor in Chiang Mai for having taken a bribe of one million Baht for releasing him.
This is what a British newspaper reports, after having interviewed Mr Gill. According to Mr Gill, his father transferred the money to the Thai wife of Mr Gill, who is said to have paid the money to the prosecutor in cash.
The proscecutor in question denies having received one single Baht from or through the relatives of Mr Gill.
We find this a strange story by Mr Gill. He has left Thailand and it looks as if he now tries to "take revenge" on the Thai authorities. We do not write here that the story by Mr Gill is impossible. Corruption does exist in Thailand. But would the public prosecutor be so simple-minded take money for releasing Mr Gill, knowing that Mr Gill was very upset about his arrest and looking for ways to discredit the Thai authorities? So far we do not take this story very seriuosly and consider it as unlikely. We wonder -however- if this accusation will get any follow-up in the Thai press.


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Clash in Hat Yai

Posted by hasekamp on 11 December 2000 at 19:50 PM
In Hat Yai most of the roads have now been cleared after the flooding of a few weeks ago, of which we reported extensively on this page, and the authorities hope to get the tourism industry going again soon. TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) has promised to promote the area extra, especially in Malaysia, where many tourist to Hat Yai come from. Extra money has been supplied for this purpose. The hotel owners in Hat Yai are now almost ready to receive new tourist.
Also insurance companies have paid what they had to pay, and after all even many cars could be repaired or replaced from insurance money. Those without insurance have been helped by charities and by the government. So, life is starting its normal way again in Hat Yai, Songkla and the surrounding communities.
But, as always when something goes wrong, somebody has to be blamed. Many inhabitants of Hat Yai believe that the mayor of this city is to blame for the damage, because he did not warn the population that flooding was imminent. Yesterday a group, thinking thus, went to Hat Yai City Hall in order to protest against the mayor, and asking his resignation.
Others however, are supporters of the mayor and they also went on the streets, in order to show their support for the mayor.
Now, these two groups ended in fighting near the (huge) market of Hat Yai.
Police got the situation under control soon, luckily. There has been enough damage around there!
We believe that the mayor can get some of the blame, but certainly not all. As HM the King said in his birthday speech, there had been a serious disaster twelve year ago in the area, and the authorities then (and the population!) could have acted more adequate in the past twelve years. It seems no good idea to blame one person for something that had been neglected for twelve years by the whole community.
The mayor said later that this action had been destructive and would not do any good to the local economy.


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Thailand afraid of piracy in export of entertainment

Posted by hasekamp on 10 December 2000 at 15:27 PM
The Thai Department of Export Promotion (DEP) thinks there are foreign markets for Thai "entertainment products" and it is going to promote them. A three year plan has been made in order to do so.
A spokesman of the Thai Entertainment Industry Association (TENA) said that the business was worth 40 billion Baht this year, coming from films, music, TV programs (in the first place the endless Thai soaps!) and software. He believes that there are foreign markets for this huge reservoir. The spokesman further said that Thailand has excellent studios and film labs, which we believe is true.
The target markets for the Thai entertainment product are America, Europe and Asia, in other words the whole World! In particular Canada, Belgium and France have been mentioned as markets.
We -having seen lots of fragments of Thai soap- wonder if there will be a market for that outside Asia. We do not expect to see a Thai soap soon on Dutch TV. Or are we wrong, because one thing Thai soap has is the typical Thai atmosphere (the only reason why we watch it sometimes)? And maybe documentaries and some kinds of Thai music may be attractive for Europe and America?
DEP wants to act in two phases: First there should be marketing and PR activities, that have started already, and then there should be development of export markets.
Furthermore it was said that the Department of Intellectual Property should look after the problem of piracy.
We cannot believe this! Hello, are you still there, DEP, TENA, Thai Government? Who said this? Do we read this correctly? Thailand, the country where one needs a microscope to find a legal copy of a CD, tape, video or software program is afraid of piracy?
Come on! It would simply be impossible to expect 10% of the piracy, that is not looked after at all (and considered normal) in Thailand, in any Western country! I would suggest to act against piracy in Thailand first before worrying about it elsewhere! But we must say, it is typical that the thought about piracy immediately comes up in connection with entertainment!


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Warning against patents for traditional medicines

Posted by hasekamp on 9 December 2000 at 16:50 PM
An expert-doctor (Dr Pennapa Subchairoon) yesterday warned against patents for traditional Thai medicines. He said that companies from developed countries would appear to benefit most from these patents. So he wants to exclude traditional medicine from Thai patents.
He spoke on a three-day workshop on the subject, organized by WHO.
We, being patent examiners ourselves, agree with this point of view. If the obstacle of novelty can be taken in patenting ages old medicines, we too fear that Western companies will try to cover all the relevant areas with patents and that the Thai consumer will not benefit any longer from the low cost of traditional medicines in Thailand.
Another aspect of patenting is that patents are being published. Ages old ("secret") recipes will become publicly available in that way, which of course also will lead to problems, as everybody (including Western companies) will be free to produce the medicines as soon as the patent expires.
So the best thing for Thailand would indeed be to forbid patents for traditional medicine and keep the recipes secret. If this can be justified Internationally is another matter, given International treaties in which Thailand is a party.. We now just speak for Thailand.


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Soldiers killed and wounded at border

Posted by hasekamp on 9 December 2000 at 16:49 PM
We have not reported about the border clashed and the drugs trafficking in the North of Thailand for some time. Drug production and trafficking from Burma is going on as it was, however. And there have been several small clashes in the past weeks.
Yesterday one Thai soldier was killed and two seriously wounded in Mae Ai district. The Thai army had to fight the (Burma based) Wa Army again. We fear that these border clashes will continue until Thailand sees a way to seal its borders.
Some time ago the US promised to help. We have not read much about that help since, but we can understand that these things are not widely published in the Thai press. We see foreign help as a possible solution.
A fully new approach from within the Thai army is to teach Thai soldiers in the area Burmese. Recently negotiation with Burmese rebels was necessary several times and that appeared virtually impossible because if the different languages. Now some Thai soldiers will be taught Burmese. We were surprised -however- to read in the Thai media that some soldiers have been sent to Rangoon for that purpose.


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Northern part of subway tunnel ready

Posted by hasekamp on 9 December 2000 at 16:47 PM
Bangkok will, next to the skytrain, have an underground train in the future. Work on it has been going on for some time already. And now the Northern part of the tunnel is ready. The tunnel spans the route from Rama IX to Bang Sue and this section is 8.7 km long.
The Southern part is also under construction and spans the route from Hua Lampong station to Rama IX. (We hope the two parts will fit and not cross each other!) This Southern part should be ready by February 2001. The whole underground train is expected to be operational in 2002 (on 5 December, as usual?), because rails, stations and further facilities have to be built still.
The Bangkok Mass Transit Agency will provide bus services to the stations, as it does with the skytrain. The subway could attract 300,000 passengers a day, is the hope of the authorities.
Now, here we want to make some remarks. The skytrain is not very successful, financially that is. We have used it and it works perfectly, but it is far too expensive for the average Bangkokian. One only sees foreigners and "high class" Bangkokians in it. No wonder: A medium-distance ride in the skytrain costs 40 Baht, against 5 Baht for the same distance by bus.
Now, how will anybody ever get the average commuter into the skytrain and in the subway with this price difference? Many commuters have a salary of maybe 1000 Baht a month, and then these prices are completely unrealistic.
We believe that the skytrain as well as the subway could only play a serious role in public transport in Bangkok, if some instance subsidizes both systems heavily.
We believe that there are almost revolutionary decisions necessary in order to solve this problem.
The Government does not want to subsidize (and should not do so) public transport in Bangkok too heavily, because only Bangkok has profit from it and not the rest of the country. There is enough jealousy in the provinces already.
Bangkok cannot pay the heavy subsidies necessary. The trick, thought out by Governor Samak of Bangkok, to sell shares to the general public is a vile trick to steal money from the Bangkok population. So, who will pay the subsidy to make the skytrain and subway attractive? Will the solution be to charge more to foreigners than to Thais? We can predict that many foreigners will not accept this. So, who will be opening his purse then in order to get modern public transport in Bangkok off the ground?


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Deadly massage

Posted by hasekamp on 9 December 2000 at 13:31 PM
A Thai man (in his seventies) and his two sons were shot dead in a Thai massage parlour on Yaowaraj Road in Chinatown yesterday.
There was a difference about a business agreement. The killer is still on the run, but he is known to the police.
The three men who were killed had invested millions of Bahts together with the killer in a Thai massage parlour. When business worsened due to the economic crisis, the three men wanted to continue, but the fourth wanted to withdrew his share. This led to the deadly dispute. It has not been made public if the three men were killed before, during or after a treatment in the massage parlour.
As will be known to our visitors, we are fierce opponents of "Thai massage" and everything around it. Therefore we only publish this news to give our readers another reason not to go there. Apart from catching AIDS and other unpleasant diseases, Thai massage can also be deadly if you have a business dispute with a Thai businessman...


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Servant points at Mrs Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2000 at 15:57 PM
The hearing of witnesses in the case before the NCCC (National Counter Corruption Commission) of silk and telecom tycoon Mr Thaksin Shinawatra is in full swing now and on Thursday one of the servants of the Shinawatra family was heard. She is considered to be a key witness. She declared that it was Mr Thaksin’s wife, not himself, who let her sign some papers to transfer shares to her name. "I want to borrow your name fore a while, my dear" Mrs Shinawatra should have said.
Mr Thaksin has to make clear why he has transferred billions of Bahts in shares to his servants and relatives, as we reported repeatedly here. If he did his to cover up his wealth, he could be banned from politics for five years.
The NCCC was not really impressed by the declaration, that seemed to be meant to save Mr Thaksin’s political life. "Man and wife are one" declared a NCCC spokesman. The witness in question ran to the Shinawatra Company building immediately after her appearance before the NCCC.
Mr and Mrs Shinawatra will be heard by the NCCC tomorrow. On the eve of this event Mr Thaksin seems to be less confident than before. He said to the press that he has no choice as to accept the findings of the NCCC and that he would testify with his heart. He added that he hoped that the voters would still have confidence in the Thai Rak Thai Party if he should not be able to become Prime Minister. However, he could not understand it -he said- if he appeared to live in a system where hard workers were condemned and corrupt persons were sitting in the cabinet. This last remark was being made towards those cabinet members, who also are being investigated by the NCCC.
Sources around the NCCC say that it is likely that the NCCC will conclude taht Mr Thaksin gave an incorrect assets declaration. If this will be the case, then Mr Thaksin is likely to appeal to the Constitutional Court.


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Will Thai cars be driving on ethanol?

Posted by hasekamp on 7 December 2000 at 13:35 PM
In Thailand anybody will follow a suggestion by HM the King as soon as possible. And we have more than once written that we understand this. Many of the suggestions of HM have proved to be very valuable for the country. One of the most successful "Royal Projects" is the supply of alternate crops for opium, that was being grown in the far North of Thailand (the "Golden Triangle") in the past. Now opium cultivation is almost extinct in Thailand and has been replaced by crops like coffee and tea. These crops are guaranteed to be bought by Government related organizations, like Thai Airways International. This airline serves products resulting from "Royal Projects" on every flight and has a special promotion for these products in December 2000.
Now, HM the King said in his birthday speech (on the eve of his birthday) that it might be possible to produce fuel on the basis of ethanol ("gasohol") in Thailand and to ask lower taxes for that kind of fuel.
HM has hardly spoken out this suggestion, or the cabinet will discuss a plan for the production of "gasohol" on December 26 already!
The gasohol could be produced from sugercane and/or tapioca. Both crops are widely available in Thailand.
Setup costs for the commercial "gasohol" production are estimated to be between 4 and 5 billion Baht Demand (and therefore also the required production capacity) are estimated to reach 300,000 litres a day.


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Dutch embassy case starts to stink

Posted by hasekamp on 7 December 2000 at 12:04 PM
After his press conference (of which we reported here) the former Thai Ambassador in The Hague has been interviewed by a committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand, as part of an official investigation. We now find the case more and more “strange”. This also seems to be the opinion of the committee that interviewed the former ambassador (who has changed his name since to Surasee Tavedikul. (We wonder why).
The committee had its doubts already about the simple way in which Mr. (now) Surasee judged the document he signed. He has not been able to make clear to the committee on what grounds he though that the paper was “only a list of offers”. And why, anyway, he was interested in these offers.
Now it also appears that Mr Surasee may have received 50,000 guilders (around 1,000,000 Baht) for signing the selling contract. This has been stated by Mr Richard Ruijgrok, honorary consul-general in Bangkok, who was present at the signing of the contract. The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said to make the contract public soon.
Mr Surasee denied the fact that he had received any money to sign, and the committee said that Mr Ruijgrok has offered no proof, other than his statement that he has seen the sum paid in 1,000 guilder notes by Mr Bakker of the other party. We -contrary to the committee- do not find it so strange that there is no written evidence of the payment of this corrupt money. As far as we know it is not the custom to make written documents in these cases in order to prove the corruption later.
Now, if it appears to be true that Mr Surasee received 1,000,000 Baht for signing the contract, the case is becoming more clear to us: Mr Surasee, almost leaving his office as ambassador, wanted to earn some extra pocket money and had to sell the premises of the embassy to get it easily. We await further confirmation of this fact before we can accept it as true, but Mr Surasee has something to clarify now, 9in our opinion.
Later -however- the Foreign Ministry said that no criminal charge will be filed against Mr Susaree, but that disciplinary measures will suffice. This probably means that we will never know if the 50,000 guilders were paid to him or not.
In the meantime the Dutch Government has offered to help Thailand in the court case in which the Dutch "businessman" will try go get the property of the embassy building transferred. It has been reported that the Dutch Government will claim the premises as being Thai property on behalf of the Thai Government. If necessary also the diplomatic immunity will be called to keep the premises in Thai hands.


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Former Ambassdor speaks

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2000 at 15:29 PM
The former ambassador for Thailand in the Hague (Netherlands) has spoken for the first time since he has been accused to have sold the embassy premises in The Hague. His main point of his declaration was, that he considered the whole affair as a plot against the Democratic Party, with the elections coming up soon.
Furthermore he said that he had been more or less forced by the other party (J. Bakker Holding) to sign the paper he did not understand. He promised to give Mr Chuan Leekpai a 16-page account of his view on the matter.
To us this whole affair remains very strange. In the first place we wonder WHY the former amdassador signed a paper he did not uderstand! And if things are as simple as stated here, what should be written on the other 15 pages of his account to the Prime Minister?


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HM the King makes his birthday speech

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2000 at 15:08 PM
Yesterday, on the eve of his birthday, HM the King made his traditional birthday speech, before more than 16,000 well-wishers. HM is 73 years of age today.
The birthday of HM the King is a natonal holiday in Thailand and is "fathers day" at the same time. We, living in the Netherlands, are great admirers of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej. If you visit our page about him (http://www.hasekamp.net/king.htm) it may become clear why. We also have put our Thai flag out today.
HM said in his speech that the people and the Government of Thailand should spend money within the limits of the possibilities, to survive the economic crisis. Any project, done economically, can be beneficial for the country, according to HM.
He wondered if it would be possible to keep taxes for locally produced fuels (like gasohol) lower than for imported fuels. This would promote the use of gasohol, HM said.
Furthermore HM emphasised that people with the relevant knowledge should assist in disaster prevention. In the opinion of HM the King the recent disaster in Hat Yai could have been prevented if proper measures would have been taken in time, that is 12 years ago, when another disaster hit Hat Yai.
HM asked the people to make themselves happy only in a way that would not cause umhappiness to others.
Normally we comment on news items, but we do not feel qualified to comment the words of HM the King.
Long live HM the King! May his great wisdom, which he has shown in his reign of more than 50 years, stay with the Thai people forever!


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Elephant Art

Posted by hasekamp on 4 December 2000 at 14:31 PM
In Amsterdam Zoo ("ARTIS") an exhibtion and sale of paintings, made by Thai elephants, will start on 11 December. Although we have great respect for what elephants mean to Thailand, we have our doubts about their artistic abilties.
We have seen impressive gorilla-art, but the gorilla is practically our brother after all. (See gorilla-art on http://www.gorilla.org).
With us, the elephant keeper of Amsterdam Zoo has his reservations about the elephant as an artist. He believes that the elephants under his care would throw the paint over themselves and over the public and would not make impressive art of it. But who knows, maybe the Thai elephants who made the paintings to be shown were specially trained!
The price of the elephant-made paintings is expected to be from (re-calculated to Thai currency) approxinmately 2,000 to 5,000 Baht.
We wonder if similar exhibitions and sales have ever taken place in Thailand (and we would be happy to hear so from our readers). One should expect this, because it is highly unprobable that these elephant-artists were only productive once in a lifetime.


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Nine million trees for HM the King

Posted by hasekamp on 4 December 2000 at 14:17 PM
The Royal Forestry Department invites all Thai people to plant nine million trees in nine minutes to celebrate the 73rd birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
This special event will be held on December 5, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:09 a.m. exactly. Tree saplings will be provided at several places, among others at the (state owned) PTT petrol stations.
This campaign will hopefully give the Thai people some responsibility towards the environment and it will demonstrate the national unity and the devotion to His Majesty.
We of course support this initiative and we hope that all our readers who are in Thailand on that day will participate!


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Thaksin tries to win time

Posted by hasekamp on 3 December 2000 at 17:26 PM
Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, leader of the popular Thai Rak Thai Party (especially popular in the South-East, because Mr Thaksin promises great financial facilities for farmers) has still to appear before the NCCC (National Counter Corruption Commission), but with the elections coming up early next year, he apparently does not like to do so.
As we have reported, all relevant witnesses have been called to appear before the NCCC and some have been heard already. One (key) witness was reported to have died in the meantime. As reported, Mr Thaksin has donated hundreds of millions of Bahts to several of his servants. As also reported, this may have been done by Mr Thaksin to cover up his wealth. He definitely is the richest person in Thailand, and if the Microsoft stocks keep sliding, he might appear to be richer than Bill Gates.
The Thai newspapers have shown pictures of the servants of Mr Thaksin who testified before the NCCC already, and we must say that they do look far from poor, like many Thai servants -sadly- do.
The rest of the interviews has been planned for the first half of this month. But Mr Thaksin and his wife have to appear themselves too, and so far they seem not very eager to do so, in spite of the many declarations on Thai TV by Mr Thaksin that he has done nothing wrong.
We get the impression (supported by the Thai press) that Mr Thaksin is seeking extra time, preferably until after the elections.
Should he be the new Prime Minister then, he would have not much to fear, because in that case he has proven to be the most popular man in the country and who would dare to ban him from politics if the majority of the voters wants him as their PM?
Anyway, Mr Thaksin and his wife have been given a deadline by the NCCC until 8 December to appear before the NCCC. We wait interested if he will indeed have appeared by that date and we will report accordingly.


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Embassy case to be heard in January

Posted by hasekamp on 2 December 2000 at 16:10 PM
The court case of the Dutch "businessman" against the Thai state in order to transfer the Embassy building in the Hague, that has been sold by the former Thai Ambassador in the Netherlands, is set for 16 January in the District Court in the Hague. The Thai Government will have to appear through a Dutch attorney. The Thai Foreign Ministry has said that it also wants the former ambassador to appear in Court. We wonder if that is necessary for the case in question. But of course we too are very interested in what happened exactly and why...
It is well possible that the businessman will (have to) change his request to the Court and that he has to satisfy himself with asking damages (if he can prove them).
The Dutch Government has already said that it wants the matter to be solved peacefully.
Furthermore Dutch sources have given as their opinion that the Court can never give an order to the Thai Government to transfer the property of the building in question, because of the diplomatic immunity.
We will wait for the Court to speak before we give our opinion what the Court may do and what not or, if that will be sooner, for any agreement between the parties. We still believe, as reported in our former message here, that the Thai Government has a stronger case than the "businessman", whose name is at last published as J. Bakker Holding Co.


Category: Default

Invention by King wins two prizes

Posted by hasekamp on 2 December 2000 at 16:09 PM
The Chart Pattana water aerator, invented by HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, has received two prizes at the recent "Eureka" inventors bourse in Brussels. It received the press prize and the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) prize.
Although the machine is not very recent any more, it appears to be very helpful for small farmers in Thailand, who gratefully use it. The fact that the two prizes mentioned were awarded to it, prove that this way to support the small Thai farmers is widely acclaimed in the world of Intellectual Property.


Chart Pattana water aerator


Category: Default

Suspect in Jones murder case set free

Posted by hasekamp on 2 December 2000 at 16:06 PM
As we predicted around two months ago on this page, Mr Andrew Gill, the owner of the Aree Guesthouse in Chiang Mai, where in August the body of British backpacker Kirsty Jones was found raped and murdered, has been set free. The evidence against him was not found conclusive by the Public Prosecutor.
Mr Gill was the only suspect who was arrested in connection with the case, although many others have been interviewed.
We do not want to say that we would have wanted Mr Gill to pay for a crime that he maybe never committed, but now that the only suspect left has been set free, we fear that the case will never be solved. And that is bitter to us. In trying to solve this case very serious mistakes where made by the Chiang Mai Police, not in the least the fact that the press had been around before some (inexperienced) policemen where at the scene of the crime.
And now it seems as if the inadequate acting of the Thai police will be the cause why this murder will probably not be solved.
We find this a very hard fact to accept. Although it seems not realistic any more to hope for a miracle, one is tempted to hope that the man who raped and killed this young woman from Britain (she was 24 years old when she was murdered) will be caught after all.


Category: Default

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