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New plan by Samak

Posted by hasekamp on 30 June 2001 at 12:31 PM
Our regular readers know that we are no fans of Mr Samak, the Bangkok Governor. Some of his plans that we criticized are the moving of Dusit Zoo, giving Bangkok a more "Metropolitan" character and so on, and so on. He has also promoted the use of highly environment-unfriendly krathongs last November. Use our search box if necessary.
His latest idea is to develop a new weekend market near Bangkok's subway depot in Huay Khwang. In other words, he wants to move (and consequently close) the World famous Chatuchak market. The plan has been turned down by the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA).
Mr Samak presented his latest idea to the MRTA's board of directors on Wednesday. The land where he thinks he can found a new weekend market ("Samak market"?) is in an Eastern part of Bangkok, near Pracha Uthit road. Luckily -as said- the board rejected his idea!
We had and have the idea that Mr Samak wants to make himself immortal by launching one bad idea after another. In our opinion he only ridicules himself. So far none of his revolutionary plans have been implemented. (Source: for this latest idea: the Bangkok Post)


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Car free zones in Bangkok?

Posted by hasekamp on 28 June 2001 at 16:55 PM
The Public Relations Department announces that the Thai government plans to establish a car free zone on some roads in Bangkok every Sunday, as part of its policy to conserve fuel oil and to reduce pollution.
As some of our readers might remember, last year a car-free day was held and it was officially declared a success, although only a small percentage of the Bangkokians participated actively.
Now Deputy Prime Minister Pitak Intrawityanunt said that under the plan, some roads such as Silom Road will be closed to traffic every Sunday.
Silom Road is one of the busiest roads in Bangkok. The government believes that this closing of roads will encourage the people to use public transport, like the –for Bangkokians much too expensive- skytrain. We wonder, if this plan will ever become active, if the effect will be visible. We have always believed and experienced that Bangkokians simply refuse to use any other means of transport than their own cars!


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One year today (editorial)

Posted by hasekamp on 28 June 2001 at 13:55 PM
Today this Thailand news page in one year "on the air". We have posted hundreds of news items and we have received feedback, people have subscribed to our weekly updates and our search box and archives are consulted frequently. All this encourages us to continue. And we will continue as long as we feel we feel that we fulfill a need. This page is one of the most popular pages of our website now.
Our aim has been from the very start to post news about Thailand that cannot is easily to be found in other sources, with emphasis on environmental issues and issues that may be interesting for tourists, but also some of the headline stories, to give an impression of what is going on in Thailand.
We have been following drugs and border issues with Burma, some crime cases, the general election, the performance of the new government and several other issues, to give a few examples of headline issues that we followed.
It has always been, and will always be, a selection that we publish. We simply do not have the (human) resources and the time to give a more or less complete coverage of the Thai news.
Being the first to publish news is not our prime target (although we sometimes are very quick). Our first aim is to give reliable information. We hope to receive continuing support from our readers, as we did in the past.


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Student prostitutes

Posted by hasekamp on 27 June 2001 at 11:49 AM
During a recent seminar in Bangkok some student prostitutes explained why they entered the sex trade. In most cases they said that they needed the money to pay tuition fees and to buy luxury goods, like mobile phones, expensive clothes and handbags.
The shocking part of this is, that the students seem to believe that there is nothing wrong with earning extra money this way. This might also mean that there is a serious danger that prostitution may spread further among students, with all the consequences, like the spreading of AIDS, to mention just one.
we find this a highly worrying situation, and we wonder who could be able to do something about it. One possible reply or hint could be taken from the answers in a recent poll among student prostitutes: Almost 40% of these student prostitutes said they needed money to support their family and to pay tuition fees as well, which they simply could not. And "just" 20% said they spend the money on luxury goods in the first place.
Forty percent of the respondents said love and understanding in the family would have prevented them from entering the sex trade. So, if these respondents form indeed (roughly) the same group as the group that answered that they simply do not have enough money to support their parents and to pay the tuition fees as well, one could point a finger at the parents. It always is easy to point as the government as the guilty party in the first place, but we believe that in this case one should look at the parents in the first place.
This does not mean that we see an easy solution. In Thailand the system is such, that children support their parents financially. But in cases like this, the parents should have a better understanding what consequences this system -that is a part of Thai culture- can have, when their children have to pay their school or University fees as well. (Facts only taken form an editorial in Daily News)


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Drug dealer executed

Posted by hasekamp on 27 June 2001 at 11:19 AM
Another convicted drug trafficker and dealer was executed yesterday, which brings the total number of drug convicts executed during the Thaksin government up to six now.
The prisoner, Suchart Thaokhamthong, 50, was arrested at the Laksi Temple in Bangkok with 45,000 methamphetamine tablets with him i 1996.
He appealed up to the Supreme Court, but this court upheld the ruling that he had possessed the drug with the intention of selling them, and thereby and upheld the death sentence against him. He was shot dead by a firing squad at Bangkwang Maximum Security Prison at 5 pm. It has not been published if the execution was public in any way, so we can confirm nor deny this.
Earlier it was made public (and we reported about this) that HM the King and, after him, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra want to stop the possibility for death row prisoners who have been convicted for drug offenses to ask for a Royal Pardon. (Factual information based on an article by the Nation)


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People Bank Project started yesterday

Posted by hasekamp on 26 June 2001 at 16:32 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra officially launched the People’s Bank Project at the Head Office of the Government Savings Bank in Bangkok yesterday. Branch offices all over the country opened at the same time. The People’s Bank is operating through 578 branches of the Government Savings Bank nationwide.
The People’s Bank Project is one of the things that were promised by the Thai Rak Thai Party during the elections, early this year. It gives "soft loans" for the Thai people without collateral. About 100,000 people have applied alraedy. Loan ceiling has been set at 15,000 Baht to start with, to be paid back in no more than 13 installments. Later the ceiling will be raised to 30,000 Baht, in no more than 25 installments. The Project is meant for the poor people who are not able to loan from conventional sources.
The Government Savings Bank lent out 75 million Baht to 5,000 low-income people on the first day of the Project. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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No more Royal Pardon for drug convicts

Posted by hasekamp on 26 June 2001 at 10:58 AM
As could be expected, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra now has announced that there will no longer be the possibility to ask for a Royal Pardon for drug convicts on death row. As we reported a few days ago, His Majesty the King said that he is against the system. So the Government could hardly do anything else than following him.
For the sake of clearness we emphasize here that a request for a Royal Pardon is not sent directly to His Majesty the King, but is considered by a department of the Interior Ministry first, and then sent to His Majesty. Normally HM should sign then, Thailand being a Constitutional Monarchy.
Mr Thaksin said that it was time to accept the fact that illicit drugs had become one of the biggest threats to the Nation. However, officials said legal amendments will still be required to deny prisoners the right to ask for a Royal Pardon. Several acts will have to be amended to implement the ban on appeals for a Royal Pardon by drug convicts on death row.
Mr Thaksin rejected comments on that subject. Maybe Mr Thaksin did not realize at that moment that he cannot change laws on his own.
It has been a policy issue anyway of the Thaksin government to act harsh against drugs, corruption and poverty.


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Astrologers think Thaksin will survive

Posted by hasekamp on 25 June 2001 at 16:10 PM
Whatever be the outcome of the proceedings at the Constitutional Court against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, four astrologer in Thailand have predicted that he will not be found guilty by the Court. The stars and planets are too well situated for him! This is being reported by Reuters. In Thailand the words of astrologers are highly valued.
The four astrologers were consulted for a current affairs program for Thai TV, to be aired later.
All four astrologers agreed that the stars point toward a favorable decision for Mr Thaksin and one of them, a Chinese astrologer, said Thaksin will keep his job as Prime Minister.
"If, as expected, the Court delivers the verdict after July, I am more than 90 percent sure he will survive,", this Chinese astrologer said. According to him July is not the most lucky month for Thaksin.
Another of the astrologers said that the sun and Jupiter, both supporting stars for Thaksin, will positively influence his astrological life after 15 July, and so bring him luck then.
The court is expected to speak in September, so who knows what more good news the stars have in store for Mr Thaksin at that time!


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Crocodile siamese twins

Posted by hasekamp on 25 June 2001 at 14:02 PM
In Samut Prakarn Crocodile Farm, south of Bangkok, a pair of Siamese crocodile twins was born on Saturday. They share their bellies and tail, have two heads and eight legs. As far as known, this is the first pair of Siamese crocodile twins.
The farm -a busy tourist attraction anyway- has an increasing number of visitors now who want to see this miracle of Nature.
The farm plans to call them "Chang" and "Eng", after their famous human predecessors.
Chang and Eng, the first known Siamese twins, went form Thailand to the US and made a living out of their "handicap".
Recently a novel about their lives has been published, which can be bought from our books page at http://www.hasekamp.net/books.htm.


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Bio-ethanol plants to be built in five provinces

Posted by hasekamp on 24 June 2001 at 13:46 PM
Prime Minister Shinawatra has approved in principle an agreement in which Austria has offered to build five bio-ethanol plants in exchange for Thai agricultural production.
Austria will build the plants over five years, and Thailand will then start to pay for them with part of the production over 10 years. Three plants will be built in the Northeast, one in the Central region and one in the East.
The two main raw materials that go into making ethanol are tapioca and sugarcane.
The new plants are expected to produce 1.5 million liters of ethanol (together) per day. This will enable Thailand to get rid of its cassava and sugar cane surplus and will serve the environment as well. Initially the new plants will be owned by the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, but later shares will be open for private companies to buy. Details will be worked out by the commerce and industry ministries. (Source Bangkok Post)


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Border checkpoint open again

Posted by hasekamp on 24 June 2001 at 13:45 PM
Since Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited Rangoon (and the Burmese Foreign Minister visited Bangkok one day later), Thai-Burmese relations seem to have improved dramatically, as if a miracle has happened! The checkpoint in Mae Sai has been reopened now too. Yesterday Thai and Burmese residents gathered at the Friendship Bridge in Mae Sai and cheered as a Thai delegation returned from Tachilek with confirmation that the border checkpoint would reopen.
Hands were shaken on both sides of the bridge between Thais and Burmese citizens and officials and everybody was happy. We wonder (but hope) that the Thai-Burmese relations have improved permanently!
The ban on strategic goods, like fuel, rice, vehicles, auto spare parts and medicines has been lifted at the same time. This means that free border trade will start to flourish again.
Thai Col Wanthip said, however, that his men will remain alert for security and anti-narcotics duties.
Both sides have agreed to strengthen their relations by meeting more often, said Col Wanthip.
We wonder why the improvement of relations can have been so simple to achieve and we also wonder what has been agreed behind the closed doors in Rangoon! From almost a war to best friends within two days is a big achievement indeed.


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China lends giant pandas to Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 23 June 2001 at 12:23 PM
China has agreed to lend two giant pandas to Thailand for one year, to mark closer relations between the two countries. The idea was raised by Deputy Premier and Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh during a meeting with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji yesterday. The Chinese Premier also visited Thailand recently, as can br read in our archives.
It is not yet known where the pandas would be kept in Thailand. We hope that it will be in Dusit Zoo in Bangkok, to give that zoo a boost and because in Bangkok most people will be able to visit the pandas.


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Thailand orders labeling for GMO products

Posted by hasekamp on 23 June 2001 at 12:21 PM
The Thai Food and Drug Administration has made labeling for local products with between 3% and 5% of genetically modified ingredients (GMO) compulsory. A discussion about the subject has been going on for months. The FDA is expected to issue a regulation on labeling by the end of the year.
Although Greenpeace wants labels on all products with GMO content, the committee settled on 3-5% because it would be difficult for local laboratories to test for the smallest possible amounts of GMO content in each product. In Europe products with 1% GMO content have to be labeled. South Korea requires 3% and Japan 5%.
So it appears that Greenpeace, who started the discussion, as we reported, is getting its way now. We at Hasekamp Net support the new regulation. We are environmentalists and we believe in free choice for the consumers. (Source: Bangkok Post)


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His Majesty wants death for drug crimes

Posted by hasekamp on 23 June 2001 at 12:20 PM
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is in favor of capital punishment for drug offenders. In His Majesty’s opinion the drug trade has inflicted Thai society.
His Majesty said this while addressing 165 new judges at a swearing-in ceremony at the summer palace in Hua Hin.
As should be known to our readers, the words of His Majesty are extremely highly valued in Thailand. His Majesty said on the same occasion that he recently rejected a petition for pardon from a death row prisoner convicted of trafficking in 50,000 methamphetamine pills. The pills would have caused many deaths and done serious harm to society, he said. Life imprisonment would not be a good solution, because then a Royal Pardon would be possible. If a Royal Pardon would be granted, those who in fact deserve capital punishment could be released and commit the same crimes again.
These are indeed very harsh words by the Thai monarch. Discussions about the death penalty are going on Worldwide, and most countries choose to discontinue it. After these words it cannot be expected that Thailand will discontinue the death penalty for at least the lifetime of His Majesty the King, and probably (much) longer. (Factual information taken from the Bangkok Post).


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Buddhism in the new educational system

Posted by hasekamp on 22 June 2001 at 19:49 PM
As our regular readers may remember, there recently has been a discussion about the role of Buddhism in education in Thailand some time ago.
On 25 June senior Buddhist monks and academics will gather at a workshop to discuss the role of Buddhism under the proposed educational reform. The workshop will be held at the Phuttha Monthon Buddhist Center near Bangkok (worth a visit) and will be presided by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who since a few weeks also is Education Minister, because the former Education Minister had to retire for health reasons.
It is intended to become a brainstorming session. The proposed educational reforms, that are being planned by the Cabinet, are to be introduced in 2002.
Under the new Education Act, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of University Affairs and the National Education Commission will be merged into one ministry next year.
As a result, the Department of Religious Affairs will be dissolved. And that is where Buddhism comes in (or out). The affairs relating to Buddhism will be placed under the supervision of the Committee on Religions and Culture.
The introduction of a new educational system coincides with a crisis within the Buddhist clergy, of which we have reported repeatedly late last year and early this year.
(Source: Public Relations Department).


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Trade war about soy beans (updated)

Posted by hasekamp on 22 June 2001 at 19:47 PM
Britain has put a ban on soybean sauce from Asian countries, including Thailand. This might lead to a trade war. Thai officials are now also threatening to impose their own ban on British products if Britain does not alter its policy.
What seems to be the problem? Last year the European Union claimed that soybean products from Thailand contained chemicals that possibly could cause cancer in humans, if taken in large quantities. If this has been proven at all remains an open question to us, but now the British are doing in fact the same thing as last year.
The Thai authorities have tested samples of soybean products from several companies. The results indicated that the products indeed contained a chemical (called 3MCPD), but in such small quantities that it could not possibly be harmful to consumers, according to the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The problem is coming into a "yes" against "no" stage now, and nobody really seems to know in what quantities the chemical could be harmful.
The FDA in the meantime has started a campaign to encourage soybean sauce manufacturers to use biological fermentation instead of adding acids to their products.
The products affected by the ban are imported by Britain not only from Thailand, but also from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Most of them are being sold in shops specialising in oriental foods. (Source: The Nation).
Later Thailand's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said to the general public that people should not worry about the safety of the seasoning sauce, based on soybeans, saying that normal consumption posed no cancer risk at all.


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Thaksin back from Rangoon

Posted by hasekamp on 20 June 2001 at 23:22 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has returned from Rangoon to Bangkok today, declaring his official visits to Burma (Myanmar) a success.
Soon after his arrival, Mr Thaksin said that better understanding had been created and closer cooperation had been agreed between the two countries.
The PM indicated that the success for his Burmese trip was particularly attributed to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who recently said to the new Burmese ambassador to Thailand that Myanmar and Thailand are good friends.
Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand have now officially been invited to pay a visit to Rangoon to promote and strengthen goodwill and friendship between the two close neighbouring countries, said Mr Thaksin. This was expected, as we already reported a few days ago.
Rangoon wants all border checkpoints to be re-opened within the next seven days. It seems to look as if Thai-Burmese relations have indeed improved!
As planned, the Thai and Burmese governments signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in narcotic prevention and suppression, Mr Thaksin said to journalists.
Furthermore an agreement on enhanced cooperation in tourism, and in cultural and educational promotion has been made.
Mr Thaksin also has visited Laos and Cambodia, before he visited Myanmar. These visits were also successful, according to Mr Thaksin. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin welcomed in Burma. Australia complicates things

Posted by hasekamp on 20 June 2001 at 11:54 AM
Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra received a warm welcome in Rangoon yesterday.
School children waving Thai and Burmese flags greeted him at the airport, and were lined up along the road from the airport to Rangoon.
The "New Light of Myanmar" (infamous for its recent article about a late Thai King) printed his biography on its front page and an editorial article inside.
We believe that Mr Thaksin is playing his stakes high with this visit now, at the same moment that the Constitutional Court is bending itself over his case. It would not surprise us if the outcome of this visit to Burma would be reflected in one way or another in the Court verdict.
Mr Thaksin said, when he left for Rangoon, that the Burmese leadership would not have made so many preparations for his visit if they did not want to talk to him. This is doubtless true, but the border at Tachilek-Mae Sai (near the area, under dispute by Burma and Thailand) remained closed. The Mae Sai-Tachilek checkpoint is closed since February.
The two governments –according to plan- sign a memorandum of understanding on co-operation against drugs, and an agreement between a Thai firm and the Burmese government on the construction on roads in Burma.
A serious complication during this visit –especially where the drugs issue is concerned- is that an Australian television program yesterday claimed that it had evidence to show the involvement of the Burmese government in the drugs trade. For Thailand the timing of this broadcast could not have been worse.
The report was about a military raid on a Burmese army post by the Thai army in March, that started a border clash. During the raid a huge number of speed pills was captured, that was on its way to Thailand. These drugs were stored at the post by the Burmese army.
An Australian expert said: "In the case of the methamphetamine production labs Burmese troops are actually guarding the plants, military intelligence people are providing the escorts of the trafficking caravans and military people bring the drugs actually into Thailand".
It remains to be seen what influence this Australian broadcast will have on the Thai-Burmese relations. The drug problem is on the agenda of the Thaksin visit, but it will be a painful subject if indeed the Burmese government has a (proven) direct influence on it. Will Mr Thaksin find a way to remove this large cloud over the discussions? (Sources: the Bangkok Post and The Nation).


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King and Queen to visit Burma?

Posted by hasekamp on 19 June 2001 at 12:18 PM
Not only Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is to visit Burma soon, but Rangoon also plans to invite Their Majesties the King and Queen to visit Burma, according to the Bangkok Post, who has this from a military source within the team that is preparing the visit of the Thai PM, that starts today. The invitation is to be made during this visit of Mr Thaksin to Rangoon.
Burma hopes in this way to clear the clouded air, that covered the sky of Thai-Burmese relations recently after a publication in the Burmese newspaper "New Light of Myanmar", in which one of the late Kings of Thailand was offended. We have reported about the incident.
Further issues to be discussed during the visit of Mr Thaksin are: Burmese minority groups, the Shan State Army and the role of the Thai media.
Another recent cloud was caused by a Thai movie "Suriyothai" about a war between the ancient Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya and Burma. We wonder what problems a movie about such a historic event –long ago- can cause, but obviously relations are extremely fragile! There has been more fuss about a historical drama on Thai TV recently, from the side of Rangoon.
Mr Thaksin is due to arrive in Rangoon today. Official events include a reception, a visit to an ancient Pagoda and of course the talks between the two neighbors. The visit is planned to last two days.


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Thaksin pleads before the Constitutional Court

Posted by hasekamp on 18 June 2001 at 13:58 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra admitted before the Constitutional Court that he made "honest mistakes" (whatever that may be!) in not accurately reporting his wealth in 1997, but he appealed to the Court to rule in his favor, in order to let him remain Prime Minister. This is a clever try, but we believe that, where the Constitution states that somebody has to be banned from politics for these matters, this is exactly the one argument he should not use! Another matter is if Mr Thaksin is doing well as PM and if it therefore could be in the interest of the country should be treated mildly, if the Constitution would allow this.
In his 20-minute closing statement, Mr Thaksin said once more that he had acquired his (enormous) wealth through legal means, and that he had never been involved in any corruption.
"I ask the Court to take into consideration my integrity as a person and as a politician before making the ruling on the asset concealment case leveled against me by the NCCC (National Counter Corruption Commission)", Mr Thaksin said.
The NCCC Secretary-General, who made his concluding statement before Thaksin, insisted that the main intention of the NCCC is to uphold the principles of the Constitution.
The Court has not yet appointed a date to pass its verdict. We will be looking with great interest for the verdict!


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Discount coupons for travel and gifts

Posted by hasekamp on 18 June 2001 at 12:32 PM
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will give away discount coupons for tourism-related services during ther rainy season as part of its plan to encourage more domestic travel during that season.
About 700 tourism-related businesses have agreed to join this "Ultimate Discounts for Travelling in Thailand" campaign, that will be active from 15 July to 15 October this year.
Booklets of discount coupons will be available at most TAT offices and furthermore at the -always open- "7-Eleven" stores. A total of 800,000 booklets of coupons will be printed. Hotels, restaurants, gift shops, transport services and some tourist destinations will accept the coupons. So, if you are in Thailand during the rainy season this year, you can get some extra discount on your tranport, hotel and maybe even on your umbrella! (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Still shark fin eaters

Posted by hasekamp on 18 June 2001 at 12:04 PM
A proposed ban on shark fin soup has been discussed in Thailand, and Thai Airways International stopped serving the dish in its Royal First Class. We published about this subject around one year ago (use our search box). Nevertheless Asian tourists visiting Bangkok are still looking for places where this (expensive) dish is being served. And demand created the supply....
The continuing high demand among visitors has even led to the opening of some new restaurants in Chinatown (Bangkok), at least three. We have never made a secret of the fact that we are environmentalists, and therefore we are opposed against the new hype. As we said, demand creates the supply.
The price is now rising to 50-200 Baht per dish. The new customers come from Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan. The rest of the customers are Thai-Chinese people.
This means, that the campaign against shark fin soup, launched by WildAid Thailand, is not very successful.


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More Muslims

Posted by hasekamp on 17 June 2001 at 22:53 PM
Thai Muslims are on the rise, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO). This is one of the surprises from the 2000 Population and Housing Census conducted last year.
To be precise: The Thai Muslim population increased from 4.1 per cent in 1990 to 4.6 per cent last year while the Buddhist population slightly declined to 94.6 per cent in 2000 from 95.2 per cent in 1990.
Muslims not always being very tolerant (contrary to Buddhists), if the rise continues, there might be problems, especially in the South of Thailand, where most Muslims live. Some Southerners are worrying about this already. Especially in the field of contraception Muslims are very strict (in not using it, that is). Muslims in Southern Thailand (as elsewhere in the World) look at contraception as a sin.
And this, of course will give rise to a further increase of the number of Muslims, and more political influence accordingly. (Facts based on an article in The Nation)


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Standards wanted for bio-diesel

Posted by hasekamp on 17 June 2001 at 22:32 PM
Supporters of palm and coconut oil as alternative fuels are calling for standards on these products, to boost consumer confidence. Although we have reported that standards were to be developed, nothing seems to have happened yet. We are writing about palm oil-diesel and coconut oil-diesel here (which are blends of the oils mentioned and regular diesel fuel).
At the moment consumer confidence is low, according to The Nation newspaper.
"Biodiesel" gained popularity after reports of coconut-blended diesel being sold in the South. But problems are coming up with the engines and with warranty claims of car engines.
Researchers and consumers now believe that coconut and palm diesel reached Thai consumers too soon.
To give an example, in October last year a Mercedes Benz 300D was filled up with bio-diesel and made a 2,000 km trip. The trip went smoothly except the car refused to start one morning when the temperature dropped.
Despite the problems and some lack of confidence, we remain strong supporters of bio-diesel. Thailand can use (very well) some more independence of the international oil market. But, given the above, we too believe that some more research is needed!


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What will happen to Thaksin?

Posted by hasekamp on 16 June 2001 at 13:28 PM
The "hidden assets case" at the Constitutional Court against Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra is nearing its climax. He will deliver his closing statement before the Court on Monday.
In the meantime many people are supporting him. A gigantic ceremony, in which more than 1,100 monks have been chanting for him, and that was attended by around 30,000 pro-Thaksin supporters, has recently taken place. All over the country and in the press people are expressing their support for the PM.
Now the Court will rule soon, we expect. However, the threat that Mr Thaksin will have to leave office soon -in f the Court finds him guilty- is not very clear at the moment.
It appears that the law that bans politicians in cases like this, seems (suddenly) not very clear:
Article 295 of the Constitution does not clearly state the beginning of the suspension period for a politician who is convicted on the charges in question!
The 14 judges of the Constitutional Court are reportedly split over when the suspension should start.
One group believes the punishment should date from 26 December 2000, when the National Counter Corruption Commission officially declared Thaksin had concealed his wealth, but
other judges believe the five-year ban from politics should take effect when the court hands down the verdict, now expected in the next few weeks.
And yet another group says the suspension should take effect from 4 December 1997, the day Thaksin stepped down as deputy premier in the Chavalit Yongchaiyudh government.
Clearly the last date mentioned is the most favorable, because one could argue that he could "return" to politics then on 4 December 2002. But on the other hand, he would also lose his MP status, and a prime minister must be an MP, so it is not very clear at all!
We will have to wait a few more weeks until we know what "creative" solution the Thai judges will come up with!


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Illegal trade of tiger parts

Posted by hasekamp on 16 June 2001 at 13:23 PM
A Temple in Kanchanaburi is known as a haven for wild tigers. But now it appears that it might also be a transit point for the illegal wildlife trade, the Forestry Department director general said.
Wat Pa Luangta Bua is being accused of having served traffickers in protected animals, as traders could get access to more than 300 animals on the temple grounds.
One concrete incident involves the export of three tigers to a private zoo in Laos, it is said.
In the meantime the number of wild tigers is declining in Thailand. We remind our readers of a Senator -the owner of a tiger zoo- who wanted to sell tigers over the Internet some time ago!
In some countries (like Japan) it is believed that parts of tigers have magic forces. We want to emphasize, however, that the well-known "Tiger Balm" has nothing to do at all with tiger parts. The name only tries to symbolize strength.


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Speedy new IP laws

Posted by hasekamp on 14 June 2001 at 11:53 AM
Thailand will soon amend its IP laws in order to give Intellectual Property (IP) rights a better protection.
The Deputy Commerce Minister has promised to amend the IP laws and to improve regulations for both Thai and foreign Intellectual Property.
We have written about the IP issue in Thailand several times, and when we are there, we see heavy violations of (foreign) IP right all over the country. We do not quite understand how his Excellency the Deputy Minister can be so concerned about Thai IP rights, when foreign IP rights are completely ignored, by businesspeople as well as by the authorities.
The promise to amend the laws comes after a recent meeting with state and private agencies, Thai as well as foreign, including representatives from the US Embassy.
The government seems to be optimistic that Thailand will be deleted from the US black list next year if all measures to fight against Intellectual Property violations are effectively implemented. We are not so optimistic, but we await the effectiveness of the law amendments.
However, we also still believe that under the present laws more than enough can be done to stop or strongly diminish the IP violations in Thailand!
The United States, meanwhile, said it will provide a training course for Thai police and officials from the Intellectual Property Department to equip them with more knowledge about new piracy-suppression methods. Maybe this course will be more effective than any law amendments.


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Thaksin goes bio-diesel

Posted by hasekamp on 13 June 2001 at 15:15 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is seeking a for bio-diesel powered car for his own use to help to promote the Thai-produced fuel. As can be seen from our archives, the so-called "bio-diesel", a mixture of diesel fuel and vegetable oils, is becoming popular in Thailand. However, its commercial availability is still limited.
A government spokesman said the prime minister would like to experiment with a bio-diesel powered car and hopes to acquire one for personal use before the end of this month. Mr Thaksin intends to pay for his new car from his own pocket.


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Rare monkeys in Southern Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 13 June 2001 at 15:13 PM
In the Southern province of Satun a group of a rare type of monkey has been seen. These monkeys are very friendly to tourists, it appears.
The long-tailed monkeys are believed to be the last flock of their kind in the province, or maybe even in Thailand. They are langurs and have a circle around their eyes, more or less like white-handed gibbons. Thai Southerners therefore call them "eye-glasses langurs".
A primatologist says that this kind of monkeys normally are found in tropical forests. The flock in question lives, however, in the mangrove forest in Satun province.
Local authorities now want to make an "eco-tourism site" of the forest where the monkeys have been seen, because the monkeys are very loveable.
We hope that this will not happen, because the also "very loveable" gibbons are almost extinct now, because they have been captured as private tourist attractions in bars and who know where else, everywhere in Thailand. Now a Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (on Phuket island) is necessary to try to save some of the se beautiful animals.
And there is more bad news: The flock of twenty monkeys is being threatened by a huge construction project nearby. They are therefore not only at risk of being driven from their territory, but also of being hunted and eaten by the construction workers, a local official said. It is not clear to us what will happen to them, but knowing humans a bit, we fear for these beautiful and friendly animals. And we also fear for the mangrove forest where they live. Hopefully some environmentalist will show up to protect them and their forest.


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Sex changes popular in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 11 June 2001 at 9:21 AM
The most popular medical treatment, carried out in Thailand, is a sex change operation. And almost all of them concern men who want their sex changed.
One surgeon in particular (doctor Preecha) is famous for performing this operation. He once disliked transvestites and transsexuals, but now has become the most wanted surgeon for the job in the country.
His fame has spread around the World, and he has been interviewed by Time Asia and the New York Times. He has transformed no less than 1,500 men into women in around 15 years!
Although at first he was reluctant, it appeared that very low quality "surgery" was performed by amateurs or even as a kind of "self surgery" was applied, that hardly reached further than cutting off certain parts!
Now the fame of this surgeon has spread to the United States, Europe, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Middle East and so on".
The cost of the operation is about 20,000 Baht, quite cheap foreigners. Nevertheless everybody, Thai or foreigner, gets the same bill. The famous doctor has a long waiting list now. It is to be hoped for his (future) patients that he will not retire soon.
But, as we said in the beginning of this message, sex change is the most popular medical operation in Thailand, so there will doubtless be others to take the job over if necessary!


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Posted by hasekamp on 10 June 2001 at 15:07 PM
The fight against brand-name piracy

A New Logo Will Be Introduced in the Fight against brand-name piracy.
The Intellectual Property Department is getting prepared to issue a logo that can be used by approved brand name products as part of its campaign against piracy.
The Department is working on a logo design with 23 companies in the entertainment, luxury goods and software industries. The logo will be owned by the Department, and brand owners will have to apply to use it.
The working group includes members of the Thai Recording Industry Association, luxury brands such as Rolex, Rado and Gucci, entertainment firms such as Walt Disney, and computer software businesses.
The logo can be stamped on products or displayed in authorized sales outlets to guarantee the Department’s protection.
Last year, the TRIA seized 130,000 illegal music CDs and cassettes worth 31 million baht. In Thailand, there are about 50 plants manufacturing CDs both legal and illegal. Many illegal operators are said to have fled to Thailand from China and Taiwan.
This piracy seems very hard to fight in Thailand! Although it takes place completely in the open (often literally, on the markets) not much is being done against it.
In Nonthaburi, where the Department of Intellectual Property is housed, on the market numerous pirated goods tare being sold. We have always wondered why.
In Pantip Plaza in Bangkok it is hardly possible to buy anything legal, and still only once or twice a year a "razzia" is held there.
These facts being as they are, we do not expect much of this new logo! (Based on a publication by the Public Relations Department)


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Environmentalists warn for eco-tourism

Posted by hasekamp on 10 June 2001 at 15:06 PM
We have reported that The Forestry Department plans to promote tourism in national parks. Eco-tourism -if carefully controlled- can have a function in the preservation of Nature.
Now environmentalists warn that the Forestry Department plan could result in over-exploitation of forests in the absence of strong preventive measures.
The secretary-general of Wildlife Fund Thailand (WFT), said mismanagement and abuses in several popular parks have already led to severe degradation and, in many cases, the problems have gone out of control.
The WFT spokesman said that in Khao Yai National Park, which is very popular, waste management has become a big problem. Apart from that, wild animals in the park have changed their habits and behavior. Khao Yai monkeys have turned into "beggar monkeys" already, it seems. This is indeed a very serious problem, because "beggar monkeys" have no chance to survive in Nature any more.
The plan of the Forestry Department was devised in response to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's idea of creating more tourism.


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International exchange program for Thai zoos

Posted by hasekamp on 9 June 2001 at 19:48 PM
Representatives of Thai zoos signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on an agreed program with their counterparts from Singapore, Malaysia, and the US, at Government House yesterday.
One of the Ministers to the Prime Minister’s Office, presided over the signing ceremony.
The cooperation in the wild animal exchange program will reduce the need of Thai zoos to obtain wild animals from the forests.
Similar programs can be found all over the World, and we are happy that Thailand will now be an active member of one of these programs now, although we regret that this did not happen earlier.
It is expected that the agreement will lead to further zoological development in Thailand and the Thai authorities hope that this will lead to an "upgrade" of the Thai zoos, so that they can meet international standards.
The program will also help Thailand save about 20 million Baht, that it now spends on importing wild animals.
In principle the participants of these programs exchange their animals free of charge. In some cases -however- some compensation has to be paid.
Thailand is in particular interested in acquiring African bisons and orangutans from Singapore and Malaysia, and white tigers from the U.S.
If indeed Thailand bough these animals from people who caught them from the wild, it was high time for this program. Especially the very much threatened orangutans should not have been captured from the wild for years already.
Every orangutan caught in the wild carries with it the souls from at least four others. That is: at least four other orangutans are being killed before one can be caught and kept alive!
The other countries, who signed the agreement with Thailand, are interested in exchanging such animals like civets, gibbons, bamboo rats, wild hogs, and clouded leopard. We do hope that the Thais will only exchange animals that have been born in captivity! Especially with gibbons the situation is as alarming as with orangutans. They are almost extinct. For further details we refer to our page about the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project on Phuket.


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Thaksin to visit Burma, Laos and Cambodia

Posted by hasekamp on 9 June 2001 at 19:46 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has announced that he will pay official visits to three closest neighboring countries, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar (Burma), starting next week.
He will visit Laos between 13 and 14 June, Cambodia between 18 and 19 June and Myanmar (Burma) between 19 and 20 June.
Of course nobody is really interested in the first two visits and the media (at least we) will mostly, if not completely, focus on the visit to Myanmar (Burma).
According to Mr Thaksin’s official words goodwill and understanding with the closest neighboring countries will bring peace to the countries, which facilitates and promotes investment and tourism in the economies.
Whatever these diplomatic words may mean exactly, we hope that the visit to Burma will have any result at all, not just a hollow statement (that can be expected after any official visit) but results with which one can work.
Journalists also appeared to be interested in the visit to Burma. Most questions were about this visit. As to this visit, Mr Thaksin expressed his confidence that all pending disputes and misunderstanding between Thailand and Myanmar will end following his talks with the Myanmar government leaders.


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Investor Fair in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 8 June 2001 at 16:05 PM
Today the first Investor Fair opens in Bangkok. The aim is to demonstrate the potential of the Thai capital market and stimulate investors.
The President of the Stock Exchange of Thailand said the SET and over 100 other exhibitors will be present at the fair. There will also be seminars during the fait. Visitors to the fair can discover answers to all their investment questions and can also test their investment decision-making skills by participating in an investment simulation game.
We believe that the Thai stock market is not interesting enough for investors to jump into it. Or do we too lack knowledge and should we visit the fair too?


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Chavalit blames foreign media

Posted by hasekamp on 8 June 2001 at 16:04 PM
Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh yesterday accused the foreign media (including this site?) of driving a wedge between Thailand and Burma. The foreign media were accused to have been "meddling" in issues they did not understand. This would make the work to prepare a visit to Rangoon by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on 17 June more difficult.
A Thai team just left for Rangoon for the preparation of the visit of the Thai PM.
Mr Thaksin himself followed his Minister and said that the foreign media might not want Thailand to be on good terms with Burma.
We believe that this accusation is a bit (or rather more than a bit) fantasy! Especially the Third Army constantly has given signals to the media (including the foreign media indeed) that have done no good to Thai-Burmese relations, and -we must admit that- Mr Chavalit is one of the few official spokesmen that always tries to give a more positive signal in the direction of Rangoon.
However, as we have written, we find that Mr Chavalit closes his eyes once too often for Burmese aggression or other unreasonable actions. Just think of the constant drug trafficking by the Burmese, who have their factories just over the border. We do not believe that Mr Chavalit wants (or should, if it comes to that) tolerate these factories and the trafficking that comes from them.
A source within the team that will prepare the Thaksin visit said that the team would propose that Burma and Thailand stop attacking each other.
We wait eagerly fort the results of the long awaited visit of Mr Thaksin to Burma. From his first day in Office, he has said that he wants to visit Rangoon. The time that he will do so seems near now.


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Thaksin corrects his words

Posted by hasekamp on 5 June 2001 at 15:12 PM
Only recently we quoted Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who said that Thai Airways International was very bad, and that he was glad when he was able to fly a different airline. His words, first published by the Bangkok Post, went all over the World
Now Mr Thaksin must have been shocked by the impact of his words. Yesterday he said that the airline provided good service and only minor improvements were needed.
His literal words (translated into English) were: "I think Thai International is a very good airline except that the seats in the first class and business class must be improved. That is the only weak point where they cannot compete with other Asian airlines. If you look at other airlines, they spend a lot of money on seats and entertainment".
Mr Thaksin now further said that the airline's economy class was already very competitive and very profitable and the improvements were mainly needed in first and business class. Mr Thaksin said that the Bangkok Post has translated his words incorrectly into English (which is certainly not true, because the Bangkok Post published a transliteration of the corresponding Thai words for his worst accusations!).
However good Mr Thaksin may have meant these recent correcting words, we believe that the wrong has been done already. His words -as we stated- went all over the World, and appeared -among others- in BBC World news. We think, as we reported with our former message, that the Prime Minister of Thailand should mind his words better. And when he is being interviewed by a newspaper that publishes in a language that is not his first language, he should take extra care what he says.


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Burma builds pagoda on disputed ground

Posted by hasekamp on 5 June 2001 at 11:13 AM
The border conflict with Burma has taken a new dimension. The Burmese have started to build a pagoda just on the one square kilometer of ground that is claimed by both Thailand and Burma.
Burma had started the building earlier, stopped the activities in February -when the border conflict between Thailand and Burma became more serious- and resumed the work a few days ago.
We find this a strange way of seeking to solve the border dispute in a peaceful way, as it looked recently Burma wanted. This way of acting seems very much inspired by the way the Israelis seek peace with its neighbors. As we all know this does not work and only sharpens the conflict.
We also wonder if Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will still prepare his proposed trip to Burma this month, given this new development. Mr Thaksin yesterday said he would make the trip this month, but he did not mention a date.


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Paper out of elephant droppings

Posted by hasekamp on 5 June 2001 at 11:12 AM
At the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang experts have found that elephant dung can be turned into (decorative) paper.
This new type of paper can be used to make things like artificial flowers, gift boxes and photo frames. According to the experts no smell is left on the paper.
The research project could be completed within five months, after which commercial production could start. The production process is very similar to the process to make sa paper, a type of paper that is widely being used in Thailand for decorative purposes. The end product has the same look and feel as sa paper.
We are looking forward to buy photo frames or similar articles, made out of elephant dung on our next visit to Thailand! In our country at some zoos elephant dung is being sold as a fertilizer for gardens. We wonder if this new Thai solution will be taken over there!


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Traditional Thai Massage to be upgraded

Posted by hasekamp on 4 June 2001 at 13:26 PM
Traditional Thai massage is an ancient way of healing. It has been practiced and passed over in Thailand from generation to generation.
It was feared to be deserted when Thai people turned their attention to the western health care practices.
Since the economic crisis, with Western health care getting more expensive, attention for traditional Thai medicine is coming back.
Now Thai massage, which is considered to be a part of traditional Thai medicine, will get a big boost. The Ministry of Public Health will upgrade Thai traditional massage up to international standards.
The Ministry of Public Health has a policy to develop knowledge of traditional Thai medicine and massage, so that it will be more and more used by the Thai people and get more international recognition.
The Ministry will provide training courses to the general public. Training courses will comprise 600 hours.
Many young people are already attending these courses. Traditional Thai Massage has been proven to help to relieve aches and pains on the body and aid the blood circulation.
The National Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine will issue rules and regulations to classify Thai traditional massage as a type of traditional Thai medicine.
Those who have attended a Thai traditional massage training from the Institute will be qualified to work at both state and private hospitals. The Ministry of Public Health is expanding its massage training centers in all parts of the country.
To be perfectly clear: The massage that is being given in Patpong and related premises has nothing to do with Thai traditional massage. For Thai traditional massage you can go -for instance- to Wat Pho in Bangkok.


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Test for police investigators

Posted by hasekamp on 4 June 2001 at 13:25 PM
We have had to report about unsolved crimes in Thailand more than we want to admit. Finally in Thailand similar thought have come up:
New standards will be set for police investigators, who will have to pass a test and will obtain a licence when they pass this test. A new regulation to implement this is to be introduced soon.
A police spokesman said licensed investigators would be entitled to a special allowance to encourage them to give their best.
The police force has about 6,000 investigators nationwide.
Police investigators wanting to move up, would have to apply for the licence at the Law Office and the Institution of Prosecution Affairs Development. Only officers who complete a full training program would be given a licence.
Will this be the end of those -highly unsatisfying- unsolved cases, where often can be pointed at police mistakes? We truly hope so!


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Traditional Chinese opera in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 3 June 2001 at 13:10 PM
It is hard to find a place where one can watch traditional Chinese opera. In China it seems not to be easy, but in Thailand, where also many Chinese live, it is ever harder. But there is some hopenow: In Bangkok’s Chinatown traditional Chinese opera is becoming popular.
Recently a small opera facility has been set up in the middle of Bangkok's Chinatown to allow senior citizens to perform on their own and be watched by their friends:
The owner of the Tong Tai Cheng Restaurant, said that he has decided to open a Chinese opera talent show inside his restaurant.
"Nowadays it is hard to find such a nice place with an authentic Chinese atmosphere for getting together and having some conversation. There's no permanent Chinese opera house in the Chinatown area any more, so I thought I should do something about it, since I am Chinese too", Mr Hong said.
The guests of this new facility even come from Phuket, where probably the largest concentration of Chinese people in Thailand lives. We have always wondered why no Phuketian ever thought of opening a Chinese opera house there.
But guests also come form Chiang Mai, Chon Buri and Samut Sakhon.
Although this new facility is run by "amateurs" and is housed in a restaurant, we believe that our visitors might be interested in it. Mr Hong has one big further wish: That there will be a proper Chinese opera house in Bangkok one day.


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World longest concrete dam

Posted by hasekamp on 2 June 2001 at 13:55 PM
His Majesty the King will lay the foundation stone today for the World’s longest concrete dam, that will be built in Nakhon Nayok Province. The dam will be called the Khlong Tha Dan Dam, which also is the name of the canal it is built upon.
The project was initiated by His Majesty the King himself, in order to be able to irrigate 74,000 acres of farmland, benefiting 5,400 families. The finished dam will be able to store 224 million cubic meters of water, of which 16 million cubic meters will be supplied annually to the industrial sector and for general consumption.
Completion of the dam is scheduled for October 2004. Then 35% of the flood water will be absorbed and the problem of acid soil in the province should be solved.
It is to be hoped that the dam will have no negative effects on the environment. But, His Majesty the King being an environmentalist too, has thought of that. Therefore the Royal Irrigation Department has drawn up an action plan, ending in 2008, to monitor, prevent and evaluate negative results of the project while environmental development will be undertaken. The possible negative effects of a project of this size can never be completely foreseen.
In order to give the right knowledge about the dam to the public, a series of training courses are being organized for people and students living in the areas. (Source: Public Relations Department).


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Tambons have problems with the Web

Posted by hasekamp on 2 June 2001 at 13:54 PM
Did we report recently that all tambons (say villages) will be linked up to the Internet soon, in practice this is more complicated than placing some computers and servers here and there. The head of a tambon administrative organization -that is in the pilot project- has called for technical support to help it efficiently link up to the Internet.
He said the tambon needs a scanner to help download pictures onto its link on the website (whatever he means by that...) and a person with good technical knowledge (which is obvious after reading the former remark).
He further said: "I don't know why we have been picked. There are six of us here and we all have lots of things to do. I am the only person who can use the Internet". Does he indeed?
Under the government scheme, a thousand tambon administrations should be linked to the Internet.


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Buddhism out of schools?

Posted by hasekamp on 2 June 2001 at 13:53 PM
Thailand is a Buddhist country. Although in statistics you also see that there area few percent of Christians in Thailand, but do not believe those are native Thais, because virtually all the native Thais are (active) Buddhists. And that should remain so.
This is not only our opinion (but who are we anyway in religious matters), but also the valued opinion of the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, His Holiness Somdet Prayansangworn.
There have been suggestions to pull Buddhism out of the compulsory school curriculum in Thailand. The Supreme Patriarch opposes against this idea. At a seminar on Buddhism and educational reform, he said Buddhism should always be included in the compulsory curriculum, because religion teaches children to distinguish right from wrong.
"Only those who are not very clever, but malicious would try to keep Buddhism out", His Holiness told about 200 monks and laymen.
The audience included members of the Ecclesiastical Council, which wants the Religious Affairs Department to come under the Prime Minister's Office rather than the Education Ministry.
Attending the seminar briefly, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Buddhism taught him to let go and not take things too seriously.
He said it taught him to have a "strong heart" to better keep himself from disquiet and to concentrate on how to solve problems. So, is there still hope then?


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eThailand goes well

Posted by hasekamp on 1 June 2001 at 14:01 PM
An obviously very jealous "The Nation" newspaper reports today that the eThailand Group plans to invest over 182 million Baht to enter the e-commerce business.
Why is " The Nation" jealous? Because it owns "Thailand .com" that for one reason or another seems not to be able to get grip on the market. They publish one superlative after another about themselves, but not much happens!
eThailand -contrary to that- just quietly goes on and seems to succeed in getting grip on the Thai e-business market.
The company will start the e-commerce service next year and also plans to acquire some Internet related firms. The company furthermore plans to launch both business-to-business and business-to-consumer sites. They are expected to account for 60 per cent of total revenue.
"We will mainly focus on the market outside Thailand initially, before moving back there", a spokesman said.
eThailand is divided into four major divisions: portal, consulting, publishing and business services. It has been recently assigned by MSN Singapore to be the Thai Hotmail service representative.
Find them at http://www.ethailand.com


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Virus hoax makes Thailand lame

Posted by hasekamp on 1 June 2001 at 14:00 PM
The fastest spreading item on the Internet in the past two weeks has made the Thai email servers lame. The hoax warned computer users that had a virus in their Windows system, and it gave instructions on deleting it. The file pointed at as dangerous is a normal Windows file, however, so there is no virus at all! This official Microsoft file (SULFNBK.EXE) has been deleted by most Thai email users now! The hoax email said the users that no anti-virus software is able to disarm the virus (which is not so strange in this case), so it had to be deleted by hand. And there they went on deleting their system file, those good-believing Thais.
It is believed that the hoax came form Brazil. So, if you need to contact a Thai friend, there is a good chance that his computer does not work correctly, because he deleted one of his system files.


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What does Rangoon want?

Posted by hasekamp on 1 June 2001 at 13:59 PM
Is there light at the end of the tunnel? A Burmese newspaper, "New Light of Myanmar" praised Their Majesties the King and Queen suddenly, because of their historical trip to Burma in 1960, that helped strengthen the ties between Thailand and Burma in the past.
The newspaper is run by the Burmese (Myanmar) state, so there should be some hidden meaning anyway. Is it indeed a positive gesture?
It could bring the long-planned visit to Rangoon by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra a bit nearer. Observers around the government say that this is the first positive (or might we say non-negative?) sign from Burma since a long time. Only shortly the same newspaper criticized two late Thai monarchs.
Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh -who always is far too optimistic, when it comes to relations with Burma- in his premature optimism faxed a copy of the article to the prime minister as soon as he saw it.
Sources say that Mr Thaksin also is becoming a bit optimistic. So, what happens inside those government rooms? Have there been secret contacts?
"Once a positive sign is transmitted directly from Burma, the premier will decide when he will make his move. Now we have this sign", a government source said.
We will not become optimistic about Thai-Burmese relations before we have seen a direct friendly sign form Rangoon to Bangkok.


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