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SET drawn below 300 by Thaksin fears

Posted by hasekamp on 31 July 2001 at 14:10 PM
The SET (Stock Exchange of Thailand) index has sunken below the 300 level again. There has been some positive signs in the market lately, but now it appears that investors are getting anxious about Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's case at the Constitutional Court. Rumors are spreading that the Court will find him guilty in concealing his assets illegally.
The property and bank sectors took hard hits, but also foreign investors sold shares with a value of more than 200 million Baht.
It looks as if investors want to wait the outcome of the Thaksin case before they put their money in the Thai stock market again.
On the other hand the other markets in the area were also lower, so we are not completely convinced that the Thaksin case ins the only reason for the taking of the 300 barrier. (Source: The Nation)


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Seven drug officials missing

Posted by hasekamp on 31 July 2001 at 14:09 PM
Seven Thai military and civilian drug suppression officials have gone missing after entering Burmese territory on Friday. The now missing persons crossed the border at Tachilek, opposite Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district and have not been seen since.
One of the four missing military officers is a female colonel, the others are the chief of the Third Army's Thai-Burmese team, and officials of the Third Cavalry Regiment Task Force. The three civilians were working for the Narcotics Control Board.
For some time it looked as if the visit of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had cleared the air between Thailand and Burma, but after this incident we get the strong impression that the close contacts after this visit are loosening fast. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Start the logging again?

Posted by hasekamp on 30 July 2001 at 13:25 PM
Environmentalists are protesting against a controversial proposal to resume logging in Thailand under a plan, that was designed to help the government finance the public debt. Under a sustainable forestry-management plan, logging would be allowed in plantations run by the state-owned Forest Industry Organization (FIO) to raise money for the government, the FIO said.
We find this one of the worst plans of the government we have heard of. Selling the last bits of tropical forest to decrease debt? It is an illusion anyway to reduce the national debt considerably by starting logging activities.
If this should become the official policy, the proposal would mean the lifting of a nationwide ban on logging, imposed during the Chatichai government the late 1980s. Chatichai imposed the ban after hundreds of villagers in the South died during devastating flooding and mudslides caused by heavy logging. The decision marked an important turning point for the environmental movement.
The director of the Project for Ecological Recovery (PER), an active environmental group, apparently is of the same opinion as we are, because the group promises a difficult time for the FIO. "By making such a proposal, the agency simply set itself on fire", he said.
He also said that the FIO is only trying to generate revenue for itself. The FIO has run into financial trouble lately. (Source: The Nation)


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No more THAI flights to Mae Hong Son

Posted by hasekamp on 30 July 2001 at 13:23 PM
Thai Airway International plans to stop flying between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. This has resulted in strong protests from the local community. Thai flies Boeing 737-400s to Mae Hong Son, which can seat 149 people, and said it is losing too much money. We find this a strange reason to stop the service and hence to worsen the already bad name Thai Airways is building up during the past months. Thai does also own smaller planes, and used them when we flew to Mae Hong Son only a few years ago.
The route will probably be taken over by Air Andaman, a private company, flying smaller planes carrying 32-40 passengers. But the cost of the (single) trip will then increase from 450 Baht to 620 Baht.
Mae Hong Son people fear the fare increase will affect tourism, the province's major source of income. We agree with them. Mae Hong Son has some beautiful attractions, but it is not really interesting to stay there longer than a few days. Then one has seen everything.
Local residents and businesspeople say that the government has spent more than 80 million Baht recently to improve the runway at Mae Hong Son airport, and 150 million Baht to build a Thai-style passenger terminal. And yet another 100 million Baht has been spent on radar equipment. Obviously this was not done to allow a private firm to take over the investments!
The final decision lies with the minister, responsible for transportation. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Koh Samui to become a major island resort

Posted by hasekamp on 29 July 2001 at 15:33 PM
Koh Samui is to be promoted as a major tourist resort, if the cabinet gets its way.
New radio programs for tourists, street signs in Japanese and German, and speedboats and high-tech telecommunications equipment for police are among the proposals to transform Koh Samui into a world-class tourism destination.
The cabinet is holding a three-day workshop at the southern island resort to brainstorm development strategies. Hence these new ideas.
A spokesman from the office of the PM, overseeing tourism, said seven areas for improvement had been identified, covering (as the most important ones) transportation links, public utilities and services for tourists.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand will look at whether it is possible to expand port facilities to accommodate a heavier trip schedule. Bangkok Airways is to open a frequent link to the island.
Ministers also agreed to work on improving public utilities on Koh Samui, particularly rubbish collection and water treatment. A budget of 500 million Baht will be available been set aside for four new water treatment plants.
Koh Samui has a local population of 38,000 people, with some 860,000 visitors a year. The number of tourists visiting the island is expected to exceed 900,000 this year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No death squads against drugs offenders

Posted by hasekamp on 29 July 2001 at 15:31 PM
It is known that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is a hard man, especially where drugs and drugs dealers are concerned, but he immediately said no to a proposal to use so-called death squads to deal with drug traffickers.
The idea, as proposed by the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), was to set up death squads that would shoot first and ask question later (if still useful) to drugs offenders.
The PM considers the idea against human rights, and he is right in that opinion. Although there is a "war against drugs" going on, that still does not make the laws of war applicable. The idea of having death squads is very dangerous in a democratic society because it can easily lead to the suppression of human rights, is what Thaksin said. He added that the suppression of crime in a democratic society needs to be handled in a democratic way, without infringing human rights. No one opposes the role of the army in helping the police and civilians to tackle drug trafficking because the army is deemed to have both the necessary firepower and the discipline. However, there must be consultations with the civilian side as to what form the cooperation should take and whether there is a law underpinning the proposed military role. Although we sometimes have been critical towards Mr Thaksin, we have seldom agreed with him as much as this time.


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Buffaloes further on the way back

Posted by hasekamp on 17 July 2001 at 11:09 AM
We have had to write more than once about the way back of the buffalo, once the true and faithful friend and companion of every Thai farmer. The National Culture Commission will now start to promote the breeding of native buffaloes because it is concerned about the fact that their population has fallen sharply in recent years. A bit late, but better late than never!
The increase in the use of ploughing machines made farmers sell their faithful friends to slaughterhouses. Even pregnant females went to the slaughterhouses, as we sadly had to report in the recent past. Now the population of buffaloes has dropped to about one million this year, from two million last year and three million in 1999. Simple arithmetic shows us that if the selling off goes on in the same tempo, the buffalo will be extinct next year.
The commission wants to join forces with the Livestock Department to breed and raise the farm beasts at 17 buffalo villages in the Northeast. These villages will be asked to exchange information and opinions in buffalo breeding and raising. Even these basic facts have largely disappeared, it seems.
As will be known to our regular readers, we support ideas like this strongly. It is a shame to slaughter one's best friends in farming in such a fast tempo. Most farmers have probably not yet realized that tractors and other farming machines need regular service and replacement, and therefore in the end buffaloes are cheaper for small farmers.
Buffaloes have always been considered to be very useful because they could be used for general farming purposes. (Facts from the Bangkok Post)


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Less entertainment zones in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 17 July 2001 at 11:08 AM
Not only in Bangkok plans are being developed to concentrate "nightlife" in certain "entertaiment zones" (EZs), this is also being done in Phuket.
But the Ministry of Interior has now rejected Phuket’s plans for twenty-five entertainment zones (EZs) scattered across the island.
As a result, the province has to be satisfied with a much shorter list of EZs. The approves zones are as follows:
Patong: An area stretching 50 meters to the north and 50 meters to the south of the intersection between Thaweewong Rd and Sawasdirak Road; both sides of Soi Bangla, including side alleys up to 100 meters from the center of the road; and Rat-U-Thit Road from 130 meters to the south of the Soi Sainamyen intersection to 100 meters to the south of Soi Bangla.
Kata-Karon: An area 100 meters to either side of the center of Tai Nai Rd, for the entire length of the road.
Under the new plan, no entertainment zones are proposed for any other part of the island.
The Phuket Gazette has published these facts. Of course many "entertainers" are unhappy with the approved plans, but such has been decided. Nightlife on Phuket might come under control now.


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Pirated CD manufacturers

Posted by hasekamp on 17 July 2001 at 11:07 AM
Sixty pirate-CD producers are blacklisted, according to a spokesman of the Royal Thai Police Department. These producers are mainly based in Nonthaburi, Bangkok and its perimeter provinces, he added. This would comply with our own experience. Especially Nonthaburi (where the Department of Intellectual Property is located, mind you!) is den of illegal CD, VCD and DVD trade. The situation in Bangkok is well known to every visitor to Thailand. So in fact the police are telling nothing new. We have written several times about pirated IP (Intellectual Property) rights and always pointed at these two places. Use our search box if needed.
Police also said that the pirate CD-producers know that police have difficulty in obtaining a warrant of search during nighttime. This weakness in the system is gratefully used by the pirates.
It was also revealed by the police that places where pirated CDs are being manufactured usually are hided behind thick and tall walls, with closed-circuit cameras installed.
This may be true, but the selling takes place in the streets and in places like Pantip Plaza, open to everybody. Some of the sellers must be able to give information about the whereabouts of their suppliers! (Source for the facts: Thai News Agency)


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Ban on elephant export requested

Posted by hasekamp on 16 July 2001 at 22:42 PM
The secretary-general of the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation, said in a letter to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that elephant exports lead to a decline in the Thai elephant population and increases the killing of wild elephants.
Therefore the export of elephants should be banned completely, according to the organization.
Elephants were exported recently to be trained for circus and tourism, which is of course not the correct way to protect the declining numbers of Asian elephants.
The group has repeatedly given government agencies information on the trade in elephants but it had been ignored, resulting in the continued export of the animals.
According the organization the Forestry Department has done nothing about the issue. Now they hope that Mr Thaksin will listen to them. The trade and export of elephants is prohibited under wildlife protection laws. Only animal exchanges for zoos are considered to be acceptable.


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Forty million speed pills ready for smuggling

Posted by hasekamp on 16 July 2001 at 22:39 PM
The Bangkok Post reports that the Third Army has learned that 40 million (!) methamphetamine pills are ready in Burma for gradual smuggling into Thailand.
Third Army has stepped up patrols along the border in several Northern districts on reports that Red Wa, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army and Kokang tribesmen produced about 40 million speed pills and planned to gradually smuggle them across the border into Thailand.
If this number is correct, the catches of a few million pills now and then are "peanuts" compared to the production capacity and stock.
At the next meeting of the bilateral Regional Border Committee the issue of the destruction of drug production plants in Burma will be discussed. The meeting has not yet been scheduled, however.
Thai intelligence services earlier estimated 600-700 million speed pills will be produced this year in Burma.


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Monks to fight against drugs

Posted by hasekamp on 15 July 2001 at 19:34 PM
The Religious Affairs Department has opened its first training session that is supposed to turn Buddhist monks into anti-drugs ambassadors. This happened in Kanchanaburi yesterday, when 194 monks, gathered at Wat Siri Kanjanaram in Muang district were told how Buddhist principles could be applied in the fight against drugs. The monks are supposed to pass on their knowledge to schools and communities. Eventually 2,000 monks are to be trained this way.
Next –similar- training sessions are being planned at Wat Chujit Thammaram in Ayutthaya, Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai, Wat Khok Samarnkhun in Songkhla and Wat Isan in Buri Ram. We support this idea. Religious leaders can be excellent ambassadors for moral issues. And the drugs problems in Thailand are so huge, nowadays, that it seems a good idea to train the thousands of Buddhist monks in relation to these problems. If it will help remains to be seen.


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Drug news

Posted by hasekamp on 14 July 2001 at 15:04 PM
The Third Army confiscated some 1.3 million of speed pills last month, a spokesman said.
Besides methamphetamine, 80 grams of heroin, one kilogram of marijuana and two tons of caffeine were seized. The latest news about the (Burmese) drug business is, that drug factories are being moved from Burma to Laos, This does not solve the problem of course, but maybe it is an act of the Burmese government to show it good will towards Thailand?
There now are 55-60 plants along the Thai-Burmese border and several others on the Thai-Lao border, an official said. The United Wa State Army is therefore making speedy deliveries of methamphetamine pills to northern Thailand, before moving its factories from Burmese soil to Laos.
In the meantime the Chiang Rai provincial court sentenced two men to death yesterday for possessing about one million methamphetamine pills and 20 kilogrammes of heroin.
The Thai army is still active in trying to get people off drugs. It expects to treat 5,000 drug addicts each year under the government's rehabilitation program. About 25 military camps nationwide will be used as rehabilitation centers.


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New law to do something about IP rights

Posted by hasekamp on 14 July 2001 at 15:03 PM
After the US have threatened with a trade embargo, the Thai government seems to be in a hurry to satisfy the US where the respecting copyright and other IP (Intellectual Property) rights is concerned. A new legislation has been announced for this, although we believe that the present legislation would be perfectly effective, provided it would be carried out consequently.
The Interior Minister said the recording industry should also do its part by cutting retail prices of CDs.
The government thinks the price difference between the original goods and counterfeit products is the cause of widespread piracy, which is something we do not believe. Prices for legal CD's and other IP-protected goods can be called reasonable, but certainly not expensive in Thailand! However, pirated goods can be called extremely cheap, but that should not be a reason for manufacturers to lower their prices!
A national campaign on the negative effects of piracy is also being planned. The campaign would also strive to introduce in Thai culture a respect for intellectual property. This indeed is something that should have a high priority. In the streets of Bangkok one can order any CD, Video CD or DVD one wishes, and it is being delivered within a few days, illegally as can be, of course. This seems to be considered a part of Thai culture.
The government also wants to propose a new law limiting the importation and the use of CD-writing machines. We believe that the government can save its energy here. CD writers are standard with every modern computer. Should they be removed for Thailand? That really would not be realistic. Maybe the government should think of a special tax on blank CD's.
The government has promised the recording industry in the last election campaign to eliminate counterfeit products and music piracy. Since then, the situation had become even more serious. Music firms say they have lost between 40% and 50% of sales on each album, amounting to billions of Baht in lost sales a year, because of copyright violations.
In the meantime the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court reports a sharp increase in legal disputes about IP rights in the first six months. About 1,577 lawsuits on intellectual property rights violations claiming damages of around 15 billion Baht were filed between January and June this year.
This year also 875 criminal lawsuits involving trademark infringements were filed, compared with last year's 549. And 615 criminal suits on copyright violations have already been filed, compared with 371 last year. (Source: Bangkok Post)


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Grammy Entertainment in e-commerce

Posted by hasekamp on 13 July 2001 at 14:59 PM
Grammy Entertainment will offer CDs and cassettes online at http://www.uclicktoday.com and will provide home delivery. The website has created what it calls a regional music mall. The site will come on-line on 1 August. Siam Commercial Bank will be responsible for the (safe) payment system.
The website will also offer general merchandise, thanks to an alliance with Central Department Stores. An agreement was signed yesterday with the company to launch a Central Plaza Shopping Mall online too.
The company has high expectations of this new form of commerce. As said, the company will go regional. Especially Hong Kong has Grammy fans.
Grammy is involved in music, media and the movie businesses and the company believes all its products have great potential overseas.
The Nation, on whose article this message is based, is not clear about the fact if you and me, not living in the South East Asian region, can also order with Grammy and Central Department store on-line. The only way to get to know this is to point your browser at the link given above, from August on.


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Red Bull drink under investigation

Posted by hasekamp on 13 July 2001 at 14:58 PM
Red Bull, the Thai made energy drink that is popular around the world now with those who want new energy, is under investigation in Sweden. It has been reported that three people have died after consuming it. This is being reported by the London Times.
The Swedish National Food Administration has issued a public warning, advising people not to drink Red Bull mixed with alcohol.
The three (supposedly) healthy people who died are believed to have taken Red Bull just before they died. So little has been released about the way they died, that we do not take this rumor seriously fore the moment. One of the three –for instance- is said to have died in a nightclub after drinking Red Bull. But what else has this person done there before he or she (even the gender has not been revealed) died?
A spokeswoman for the Thai manufacturer of the drink told BBC News Online: "This is one story that is not been based on facts, and has been fuelled by speculation only. There is no proof that Red Bull is harmful when mixed with alcohol".
One could even conclude that Red Bull is a (very) healthy drink, given the fact that Goran Ivanisevic and his friends celebrated his Wimbledon tennis victory drinking Red Bull! They mixed the drink with vodka, as one could expect from Eastern European people.


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Free vouchers for tourists

Posted by hasekamp on 12 July 2001 at 14:51 PM
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) yesterday distributed 800,000 free booklets of vouchers for local visitors in a campaign to stimulate the Thai economy during the rainy season. It appears that income from the tourist industry is (considerably) less during the rainy season. Hence this campaign.
The voucher books are worth 80,000 Baht each and have been issued with the cooperation of more than 1,500 hotels, resorts, airlines, transport services, tour businesses, souvenir shops and more. Each coupon has a value of between 5,000 to 8,000 Baht and must be used within three months, starting July 15 this year.
It would not do you any harm if you picked up one of these booklets, we suppose. They are free of charge and can give you some interesting reduction during your holidays.
The booklets can be picked up at all 22 TAT branches and at Bangchak service stations throughout the country. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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New charge for Wisuth

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2001 at 13:05 PM
Wisuth Boonkasemsanti, who was arrested some time ago (use our search box) for the alleged murder of his missing wife, but who's case was not found strong enough to bring to Court by the Public Prosecutor, has been charged again.
Now that the police saw no more ways to get him convicted for murder, they have thought out a new charge: He is accused of having forged the signature of his wife on two letters. Police summoned Wisuth for questioning after obtaining -they think- evidence that he hired a woman to type two letters bearing the fake signature of his wife.
One letter was a leave request to her employer and the other was sent to her children.
Dr Wisuth was accompanied by his lawyer and answered questions at the Police station. If found guilty, he would face up to three years in jail and a fine of 6,000 Baht. Not exactly what he would have faced for murder, but a beginning at least...


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Anti-smoking award

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2001 at 12:42 PM
Former Public Health Minister Korn Dabbaransi, as well as Director of the National Tobacco Consumption Control Institute Varaporn Bhumisawasdee and Assistant of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation Bungon Ritthipakdee have been awarded by the World Health Organization (WHO) for their outstanding role in anti-smoking campaigns that have contributed to a five-percent drop in the number of smokers in Thailand.
The former Public Health Minister was honoured for his ban on television scenes depicting smokers, Medical Doctor Varaporn for her campaign to put labels on cigarette packs warning against possible sexual impotence from smoking, and Ms Bungon for her public relation campaign against smoking in public places.
Thailand has been recognized by the World Health Organization for its leading role in solving health problems caused by smoking. The number of smokers in the country decreased from 26 percent to 21 percent in the past two decades.
We find a drop of 5 percent in the number of smokers indeed a significant number and we therefore believe that this award has been given for a good reason. Especially the ban on smoking on TV appeals to us. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Sharkfin business stinks

Posted by hasekamp on 10 July 2001 at 14:24 PM
We have reported recently about shark fin soup, that allegedly is far from healthy. Now WildAid, the organization that started the whole discussion, says that the item is being a covered-up by the industry.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the international wildlife organization insists that its independent survey had found dangerous level of lead in shark fins from shops in Yaowaraj Road (in Bangkok Chinatown).
"We anticipated a smear campaign from those who hope to cover up these facts, but we hope the government of Thailand and other governments will act on them," WildAid said.
Not only are sharkfins not healthy to eat, the massive slaughter of sharks is bad for the oceans, it hurts tourism and the contamination of sharks from polluted waters can hurt consumers, WildAid wrote in its letter to Mr Thaksin.
The letter also said that the economy and public health of Thailand will suffer if authorities play down the facts instead of taking responsible action. We wonder how the Thai government will act in response to this letter from a widely respected organization. (Source: The Nation)


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Flooding in the East (updated)

Posted by hasekamp on 10 July 2001 at 14:22 PM
There has been serious flooding in Eastern provinces yesterday. And heavy rainfall is also predicted for most parts of the North.
Trat is one of the worst-hit provinces. Flooding damaged vast areas of farmland there. Other hit areas are Huay Raeng and Khao Saming district. Prawn farms worth millions of Bahts were swept away by the floods there.
But in fact most of the Eastern provinces have been hit and inundated areas are widespread. .
The weather bureau in Chiang Mai, meanwhile, has forecast heavy rain in the upper northern provinces particularly in Chiang Rai, Payao, Phrae, Nan and Tak over the next few days.
Although no cause has been given, flooding is mostly caused by deforestation.
One of the actions that had to be taken after the flooding in the East, was to evacuate a number of inmates from Chanthaburi prison. They were moved out of their cells on boats, and transported to Chon Buri prison in four trucks.
The floods earlier made the transfer of 170 female prisoners from the same prison to police stations necessary. Also 1,000 male prisoners were moved to the second floor of the prison building. There are plans to move Chanthaburi prison to a less flood-prone site. (Source: Bangkok Post)


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Anti-AIDS program looks successful

Posted by hasekamp on 9 July 2001 at 13:55 PM
The campaign against the spread of AIDS in Thailand has proven to be very successful, the Public Health Ministry said yesterday.
The program has produced an outstanding result for the awareness of "safe sex" by prostitutes and the easing of HIV transmission from pregnant mothers to unborn children.
The number of prostitutes having safe sex is said to have risen to 98%.
The ministry is now concentrating on safe sex for husbands who are not faithful top their wives and for a group of teenagers. All this in an effort to prevent the further spread of AIDS in Thailand.
It has also been found that the use of AZT by AIDS-contracted pregnant women can help to cut the number of HIV transmission cases by two-thirds.
The Public Health Ministry is now including AZT in the 30 Baht health care program of the Thaksin government. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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First public bio-diesel station

Posted by hasekamp on 8 July 2001 at 19:44 PM
The Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) will open its first bio-diesel service station selling a palm oil and diesel blend on July 11, 2001 in Ramkhamhaeng Road in Bangkok.
The Public Relations Department reports this.
The Permanent Secretary for Industry says that about 6,000 liters of palm-oil mix are expected to be sold daily at the initial stage. The bio-diesel blend will be half a Baht cheaper than pure diesel to attract customers. We had expected a more attractive price, but so it has been decided. The mixture comprises 90 percent of pure diesel oil and 10 percent of palm oil, a standard ratio set by the Ministry of Commerce as giving no negative effects on the engines.
In a later stage the PTT plans to sell one million liters of the palm-oil blend daily to the State Railway of Thailand, the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority and the Transport Company Limited. We hope to learn soon how popular the new blend will be!


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US want bootlegging to stop (updated)

Posted by hasekamp on 8 July 2001 at 19:43 PM
It will surprise no visitor to Thailand that the country is under regular, if not constant, threat from the United States for the mass violation of copyright on movies, books and other items, protected by intellectual property (IP) rights. We have written extensively about the subject.
Now six US private-sector associations have pushed their government to threaten with actions against Thailand. The threats are in the first place brought to the doormat of the Department of Intellectual Property. The companies complaining mainly represent American producers of motion pictures, compact discs and books. They say that the Thai government has failed to provide adequate protection for IP-protected goods, resulting in the widespread violation in the forms of counterfeit compact discs for both domestic and export sale.
Last Tuesday, police seized about 30,000 pirated CDs in raids in and around Bangkok.
As our readers know, we too are surprised that the Thai authorities do so little against the stamping of IP rights within Thailand with elephant feet. Just 30,000 CD's is nothing compared to what is being sold daily in Thailand. It looks as if this government too has no interests in this issue, until the US will threaten with a trade embargo, which would not come unexpected to us. But then it would be too late. Thai government: Wake up!
The morning after we wrote the above message, Thai News Agency publishes that "Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that the government will sternly crack down against pirated CDs and other software, noting the United States had threatened to withdraw trade privileges under its generalised system of preference (GSP) from Thai exports if the problem was not addressed".
We flatter ourserves with the thought that we predicted the threatenings of the US correctly and that only after such threatenings the Thai government is prepared to make a (modest?) start to fight software, movie and book piracy. The problem being as huge as it is, not more then a modest start seems within human reach. We wonder if the US will accept this as sufficient or if they will effect their threatenings in order to stimulate the Thai government to act relly seriously aginst piracy. How about a thorough razzia in Pantip Plaza, as a start, Mr Thaksin?


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Master plan for the Thai economy

Posted by hasekamp on 8 July 2001 at 19:41 PM
The Thai Finance Minister has put the finishing touch on a master plan for economic revitalization, Thai News Agency reports today. The plan is to be submitted to the Prime Minister tomorrow.
The master plan will be divided into a short-term and a long-term master plan. The government wants the plan to be a guideline for addressing the economic problems in the widest sense of the word with it. It is to serve as a framework for all ministries. It is designed to make foreign investors feel good about Thailand. And therewith it should give investors a proper understanding of the Thai government’s policy and it should convince foreign businessmen to invest in the country. As our readers will notice, nothing of the plan itself has been published yet. Only its main aims. As soon as more details are being made public, we will probably come back to it.


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Sanam Luang to be closed or not?

Posted by hasekamp on 7 July 2001 at 13:48 PM
Shortly ago we reported about plans to close down Sanam Luang, at least during nights. Prostitutes as well as the homeless are making the Pramane Grounds their home or working area at night, and some "inappropriate activities" are being executed there. There were mixed, though mainly negative, reactions to the idea to cose the grounds down.
Most persons and institutions that reacted said that prostitutes will move to a different place then, which does not solve, but will only move the problem. Others said that the area should be open at all times.
Instead of banning everyone from using the place, the officials should opt for more serious measures to prevent the place from being a hangout for prostitutes and the homeless, is the general opinion.
Only a few visitors said that a nighttime ban would be welcome as this would help make the place rubbish-free and put an end to prostitution and other undesirable activities.
Most visitors also were against the suspension of bus stops in the area at night.
"The city should not assume that all visitors are bad,", the general opinion seems to be. The city should take public views into account before taking any decision on the matter, some said and this also is or opinion. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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The end is near for duty-free smoking

Posted by hasekamp on 7 July 2001 at 13:43 PM
The World Health Organization (WHO) wants to stop all types of international advertising and promotion of tobacco products as well as the sale of tobacco products in duty-free shops –mainly- in airports.
The president of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation said WHO representatives had recently talked with six countries that are leading the campaign against cigarette smoking. One of these countries is Thailand. A convention will be drafted, to be ratified by WHO member countries in 2004. The convention will ban the advertising of tobacco products through satellite systems and the Internet. Tobacco companies will also be banned from sponsoring sporting and cultural programs according to the convention. So Thailand is one of the counties, to give the good example to stop the associations –wanted so very much by the industry- of tobacco use and healthy activities, as well as the stopping to give air travelers the chance to buy duty-free tobacco products. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin goes mobile

Posted by hasekamp on 7 July 2001 at 13:42 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra chose the Northern province of Chiang Mai as the venue for his first mobile cabinet meeting this month. Mr Thaksin had the idea for mobile cabinet meetings for some time already. The first mobile cabinet meeting will be held during July 15-17.
The province of Chiang Mai is happy with the decision and has offered 3-4 places for consideration. The PM chose Suan Boa Resort. Mr Thaksin said that his cabinet meeting will proceed in a relaxing atmosphere there. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Bank of Thailand intervenes

Posted by hasekamp on 6 July 2001 at 13:49 PM
The Baht has reached its lowest level (45.70) since the end of April against the US dollar yesterday. Therefore the Bank of Thailand (BOT) intervened, traders say. Normally these things are not made public and one has to use the information by traders and other experts. The Baht ended at 45.50 against the dollar yesterday.
As could be expected, the central bank declined to comment on the supposed intervention yesterday, but it said that the recent fall of the Baht was in accordance with trends in regional currencies, led by the sliding Japanese yen.
The SET (Stock Exchange of Thailand) index is around 325 right now, which we do not call bad.


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Murder for Internet bill

Posted by hasekamp on 6 July 2001 at 13:44 PM
As the Bangkok Post reports, the Internet can lead to unexpected crimes: A student has been charged with killing a young woman at an apartment in Bangkok while trying to steal money to pay his Internet cafe bill.
The man (22) was a computer science student. He has confessed the murder after his arrest. The woman he killed was a bank employee and the debt that the man considered worth a murder was just 2,000 Baht!
He did not know the young woman (28) personally. He stayed with a friend at the same apartment where she lived and he had went into her apartment to look for money. She awoke and he stabbed her with a knife. He left enough traces for the police to be able to catch him easily.


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NASA to help fight malaria

Posted by hasekamp on 5 July 2001 at 13:29 PM
The Director-General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control has said that the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has approved the use of its satellites to help survey malaria-sensitinve areas in Thailand.
In addition, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has donated four million US dollars to support a pilot project for comprehensive malaria control in Tak Province.
The NASA satellite information will help in a study on the outbreak of malaria in Thailand. In the 10 provinces near the border with Burma malaria still comes up regularly.
In the campaign, to accompany the satellite tracking, health officials will aim at eliminating mosquitoes instead of taking malaria prophylaxis. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Alcohol-free day?

Posted by hasekamp on 5 July 2001 at 13:28 PM
Buddhists have called on the Government to declare the first day of the Buddhist Lent this year on 6 July) an alcohol-free day. A petition with that contents has been submitted to the Government earlier this week. Buddhists normally observe the 3-month lent with piety, saying daily prayers at home or at the temple, and refraining from alcohol consuming.
Alcohol being a kind of drug, Buddhists find it necessary to give some emphasis on that fact.
They would also prefer a tobacco-free day. Our source has not published if the Government will follow the petition. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Fence around Sanam Luang

Posted by hasekamp on 4 July 2001 at 14:18 PM
The Bangkok Post publishes that Sanam Luang will be fenced in to prevent street vendors and sex workers from using the ground. The idea comes from district officials, and has the support of Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej, although he does not support the idea also to cancel buses to the area at night.
Temporary fences are to be erected around the ground, and buses –according to the plan- are to be told not to stop there between 11 pm and 5 am.
The measure is thought to be necessary after the municipal police failed to keep people from engaging themselves in "inappropriate activities" on Sanam Luang. Plans are to effectuate the new regulation on 1 August.
We wonder how Sanam Luang will look with a large fence around it. If that would be only the case during the night, we find it acceptable, but if (in the future) the closure would be also be extended during daytime, we would be strongly opposed to the idea. Walking around Sanam Luang is always an attractive activity, especially during weekends, not only for Bangkokians, but also for tourists.


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Danger for dengue fever

Posted by hasekamp on 4 July 2001 at 14:17 PM
Since some time dengue fever has been diagnosed in Thailand. Now the Public Health Ministry fears that the outbreak may worsen. So far the disease has claimed 79 lives. Especially pregnant women have now been warned. Viral infections from dengue fever could lead to stillbirths among pregnant women. Furthermore the authorities advise against wearing black clothes, especially black stockings. The color black is attractive to mosquitoes, and women wearing black stockings are at greater risk of being bitten.
The Health Ministry says that nearly 40,000 people have been infected with the mosquito-borne disease this year and many more are expected to fall sick in the next few months during the monsoon season. Other Asian countries have also reported bad dengue fever seasons this year.


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Shark fins are dangerous (updated)

Posted by hasekamp on 3 July 2001 at 13:20 PM
At last a good point has been made to stop the consumption of shark fin soup in Asia. We have reported before about the danger the sharks are brought into by the continuing consumption of their fins.
Now Reuter reports that consuming sharks, or parts thereof, is dangerous, because the fishes appear to contain a dangerously high level of mercury. The level of mercury found in shark fins for sale in Thailand was as much as 42 times higher than what is considered to be a safe limit for humans. Most shark fins in Asia are imported from Hong Kong.
Wild Aid, which this month launched a global campaign to persuade governments to ban shark fishing in their territorial waters, has tested 10 shark fin samples from three major dealers in Bangkok's Chinatown and found the high level of mercury, as mentioned, in all samples.
Many of the fins were also found to have been pumped full with some as yet unidentified chemicals to increase their size.
Will this at last be a signal to stop the consumption of shark fins? Some people believe that shark fin soup acts as a kind of love potion. Especially in Chinese restaurants in Asia, shark fin soup can be found on the menu. Now, with the large quantity of highly poisonous mercury inside, the eaters of shark fin soup can reckon with the falling out of their teeth, and who knows what else, when they think they are getting in the mood for love...
Later a well-known marine biologists said that over-fishing for sharks has cost Thailand (much) more tourism dollars than the country gets income from the shark-fin market. So that should be another reason to stop the shark-fin soup business forever in Thailand.
And still later the Thai Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) said that random tests on shark fins in Bangkok restaurants showed no chemicals to "blow them up".
(Several sources)


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Prehistoric fossil

Posted by hasekamp on 3 July 2001 at 13:19 PM
In the Northern Thai province of Phetchabun a piece of prehistoric fossil was found, when a farmer was working on her land.
The billions of years old fossil has an imprint of leaves, fishes, and shells, some of which are in perfect shapes, according to Thai News Agency today.
The owner of the plot of ground had planned to excavate part of her land, to develop as a fish pond, but the digging was ceased when the chunk of fossil was found.
The local population has come to see the fossil with great excitement. The fossil still has to be examined, to find out its exact age.


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Disability Award for Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 3 July 2001 at 13:18 PM
Thailand has received the FDR International Disability Award, as a recognition of its modern laws, equalizing the rights of disabled people. The award was presented to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn yesterday during a ceremony. The Princess attended the event on behalf of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Thailand wins the award for its activities and policies in accordance with World action plans for disabled persons, as worked out by the United Nations. The Thai plans in this field are considered to be good examples for other countries.
The FDR Award was originated by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the World Committee on Disability in 199, at the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.
In Thailand, there are currently about five to six million disabled people.
Previous recipient nations of the FDR Award were South Korea, Canada, Ireland, and Hungary. (Source: Thai news Agency)


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All telephone numbers in Thailand will change

Posted by hasekamp on 3 July 2001 at 11:55 AM
This message is important to all Thailand visitors, so please take good notice: From this Thursday (5 July) on, all telephone numbers in Thailand will have nine digits. The change will create 800 million new phone numbers, which the Telephone Organization of Thailand says will be sufficient for the next 50 years. How will this change take place?
In Bangkok you will have to dial the 02 area code plus the existing seven-digit number, while elsewhere you will have to dial the three-digit area code plus the existing six-digit number.
And mobile phone callers will have to dial 01 plus the existing seven-digit number for calls to other mobile phones.
In that way all telephone numbers in Thailand will have nine digits, starting this Thursday. (Source: Telephone Organization of Thailand)


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No longer Amazing

Posted by hasekamp on 2 July 2001 at 21:14 PM
The Amazing Thailand theme is believed to have lost its effectiveness mainly now and is to disappear within the next two to three years, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The "Amazing Thailand" theme was introduced in 1998 and has brought some good promotion for Thailand, but the theme appears to be wearing out.
A new theme, "Amazing Thailand: Amaze the World" has been suggested by an advertising agency as the 2001 tourism slogan. However, TAT believes the new slogan be completely different. And every year a different sub-theme is to be introduced, like "The Place to Meet: Amazing Thailand" for next year, focusing on the market of meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE). We have reported about plans to promote Thailand for the MICE market before.
Thailand is also considering promoting its area, together with neighboring countries, instead of the country alone.
Finally it will interest our readers that TAT is keen to hold the 2007 World Expo in Thailand as part of the celebrations of the expected 80th birthday His Majesty the King.


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Tamarine out of Wimbledon

Posted by hasekamp on 2 July 2001 at 21:11 PM
We do not post much sports news here, and now we feel we should have done so earlier than today. What is the case? Tamarine Tanasugarn, tennis darling of the Thai public, and also admired by the BBC, who called her "Thai-riffic" this morning, is out of Wimbledon 2001.
But she has done a great job and the 24-year-old Tamarine has left a good impression at Wimbledon. Tamarine was seeded 31 in this year's women's singles at Wimbledon. Tamarine has many fans back home in Thailand.
Her best appearance at Wimbledon this year was last Saturday, when she knocked out the number six seed Amelie Mauresmo 6-4 6-4. This brought her in the fourth round (with the last 16), for the fourth time in succession.
Sadly today Nathalie Tauziat from France appeared too strong for her and Tamarine lost 6-3 6-2. Out for Tamarine this year, but she will doubtless come back next year and show that she can still get stronger. We are certain that she will see a large crowd of admirers at the airport when she returns home.


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Brain Bank proves to be successful

Posted by hasekamp on 1 July 2001 at 13:36 PM
According to the Public Relations Department, more than 1,000 persons have joined the Brain Bank, which was suggested by Her Majesty the Queen in her birthday speech and shortly afterwards founded.
The Brain Bank is a center of senior citizens with knowledge and experiences in a specific area, and willing to contribute to Thai society, even after their retirement.
To be precise, up to today 1,057 persons have registered, representing expertise in 17 fields. So far the Brain Bank has answered 22 requests for help.
Specific areas where the Brain Bank proves to be useful are drug prevention, local organization management, and productivity in the private sector.
The Brain Bank has also cooperated with governmental institutions. Especially in drugs prevention the knowledge of the Brain Bank proved to be useful.


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Forestry official shoots poacher

Posted by hasekamp on 1 July 2001 at 13:35 PM
The Bangkok Post reports that a forestry official from Phrae province has been arrested on the charge of having killed charged a log poacher, while he was on patrol. The official turned himself in on Friday. He told police he shot a known poacher, 48, after the man resisted arrest. The official was released on bail, using his position as surety.
This is a sad event. Poachers are the last thing the rain forests in Thailand -and anywhere else in the World, when it comes to that- need. An official on duty must be able to do something, when he sees a poacher. It seems unlikely that the official killed the man intently. In that case he would not have turned himself in, in our opinion.
We wonder what will come from this incident. We hope that the official will be able to convince the court that the killing was not intended. If he will be convicted, there will not be many forestry officials left in Thailand who really want to -and can- act against poachers in the future.


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