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30 Baht health care scheme starts today (updated)

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2001 at 21:39 PM
At last the famous 30 Baht health scheme that (now) PM Thaksin Shinawatra promised in the election campaign for his Thai Rak Thai party, is effective nationwide today (1 October).
The Public Health Minister said he had received confirmation from all participating hospitals that they were ready to provide medical services under the new scheme. The hospitals have had –and needed- considerable time to prepare. Now everything should work out smoothly. One reported problem was a failure to issue membership cards for the project to every person who requested one. Addresses and household registrations were not always correct. Another reported problem was the misunderstanding with some hospital officials about medical fees. The Minister said he had explained to the hospitals that they must provide the best possible medical services to patients with a 30 Baht medical scheme card and they should not overcharge them. That is the core of the scheme: Health care institutions and persons should give the best possible medical care for 30 Baht. Who exactly is entitled to use the scheme and who not is not completely clear to us at this moment.
What we do know, is that there will be three kinds of health insurance for Thais from now on. The social security system, the medical welfare scheme for state officials, and the 30-baht medical care scheme. The new scheme applies to holders of a "gold-card". This scheme also covers people aged over 60, children below 12, disabled people, monks, and community leaders eligible for free medical services. Furthermore it also covers those who have been without any health insurance before, but this group will have to pay 30 Baht per visit and is included in the new scheme.
The new -30 Baht- scheme does not cover all kinds of diseases. Treatments such as kidney dialysis and anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/Aids patients are not provided under scheme.
We hope that more clarity about the new scheme will be given soon. It appears that not only we, but also the Thai public does not fully understand the new scheme.
But it is certain that those people who are not blessed with lots money are entitled to use the scheme, and in fact it was devised in the first place for them. We find this an important achievement of the Thaksin government. Everybody who needs medical care can get it now at a very affordable price!. (Sources: The Nation, BBC News, Bangkok Post)


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Thai food keeps you healthy

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2001 at 18:21 PM
Angina pectoris (a heart disease) is killing about 40,000 Thais yearly, a Thai doctor said today. This high and increased number of patients with heart diseases means that all the patients involved (together) have to visit hospitals 3-4 million times a year, the doctor added.
The number of patients with Angina pectoris has increased 11 times. But other heart diseases have increased also: Narrowed brain blood vessel has increased 9 times and high blood pressure has increased 6 times.
The doctor who investigated this subject has given some warnings and advice. One advice is to stop smoking; another is to stop eating Western-style, which causes overfeed.
Furthermore people should not spend so much time before (or is it behind?) televisions and computers, the doctor said. They should exercise and have a regular walk for at least 10 minutes daily. But the most important advice of all: Eat Thai food! That will keep you healthy and keep you especially from heart diseases. We must say that it is a fact, that Thai food is considerably less fat than Western food, so for that reason we believe we should agree with this Thai doctor. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New case against Wisuth

Posted by hasekamp on 29 September 2001 at 12:09 PM
The human remains found in septic tanks at a Chulalongkorn University dormitory and the Sofitel Central Plaza hotel belonged to Phassaporn Boonkasemsanti, the estranged wife of Wisuth Boonkasemsanti. Ms Phassaporn is still listed as missing, a court was told.
As we reported, her husband, Wisuth, was arrested in connection with the disappearance, but had to be released again for lack of evidence. The public prosecutor saw no case to bring to court. (Use our search box to find former items on the subject).
A forensic expert at the Scientific Crime Detection Division, said he ran DNA tests on human flesh recovered from tanks at a Chulalongkorn University dormitory and the Sofitel Central Plaza hotel. The results matched DNA from Dr Phassaporn's hair, he told the Southern Criminal Court. The court will hear three more witnesses in its preliminary hearing before deciding whether to accept the lawsuit filed by Dr Phassaporn's father, against Wisuth Boonkasemsanti, the woman's estranged husband. This new lawsuit was filed after the public prosecutor dropped murder charges against Dr Wisuth. Dr Phassaporn, who went missing on 20 February 2001, was last seen with her estranged husband at a restaurant. (Source: Bangkok Post)


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PM believes he can trust the Thai Muslims

Posted by hasekamp on 28 September 2001 at 15:27 PM
The government is confident that the Thai Muslims will understand its policy against international terrorism, because the country –so far- has no plan to send troops to help the United States in a war against terrorists. This is what Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday.
In an open letter to Mr Thaksin, eight religious groups including the Siam Muslim Club and the Muslim Youth of Thailand Association had said that Thailand has been set back by its involvement in other wars. "We do not agree to Thailand sending troops or allowing the United States to use our bases," the letter said.
However, the groups said they agreed with the government's decision to lend moral support to the anti-terrorism movement in line with its responsibilities as a member of the United Nations.
Does this really solve the problem we signaled earlier this week, that Muslims in southern Thailand appear to be displaying portraits of Osama bin Laden? We believe that the Thai government might take some more trouble before it can be so certain about the sympathy of its Muslims in the war against terrorism. To mention just one point: This war will –military or otherwise- highly probably will be fought by the US and its allies, and not by the United Nations. (Source: The Nation)


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Will visa rules be tightened?

Posted by hasekamp on 28 September 2001 at 15:26 PM
For the third or fourth time within one year, Thailand has announced that it will step up immigration checks and review visa privileges. In the past in this was announced in connection with general security and drugs trafficking, now to keep out terrorists. The Foreign Minister made the latest announcement yesterday.
The new measures would not hurt tourism, the Minister said.
Citizens of 57 countries can now stay in Thailand without a visa for a month, while those of another 96 countries can apply for a 15-day visa on arrival. A review of visa privileges does not require cabinet approval and can be conducted on the interior minister's order, the minister said.
Given the fax-ct that the measure has been announced several times without ever having become effective, we wonder it the Thai government is serious about the measure now. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No skytrain extensions after all?

Posted by hasekamp on 27 September 2001 at 12:20 PM
Not so long ago we wrote under the title "To extend or not to extendquot; that the Bangkok skytrain would probably be extended on two routes, as planned by BTSC.
In the meantime there appear to exist some problems after all (as usual with the skytrain). A Bangkok City administration spokesman now said that the plans to extend the skytrain routes were out of line with a previous cabinet decision. The cabinet wanted the system extended on all three routes. However, BTSC (the skytrain operator) wanted to extend only two routes. And because BTSC has no money to pay for the extensions, and therefore has asked the state to pay, it looks as if the skytrain will not be extended for some time. The only hope now for BTSC is directed towards Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej. Should he be willing to pay, then there might come a skytrain extension. But –according to our experience- Mr Samak changes his plans so often, that we do not believe that he will make a definite decision soon. And so we expect this skytrain soap to continue in the coming years. (Loosely based on an article in the Bangkok Post)


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Silom to close indeed on Sunday

Posted by hasekamp on 27 September 2001 at 12:19 PM
We have reported about this plan before, but now it really seems to become reality: Silom Road will be closed to traffic on Sunday afternoons between Sala Daeng and Narathiwat intersections from 18 November on, Deputy Prime Minister Pitak Intrawithayanunt said yesterday.
The government believes that this measure will promote tourism and family life in Bangkok.
We have some reservation about this optimism, because Silom Road has been spoiled definitely and forever after the skytrain was constructed. Since then it is almost impossible to see any daylight there.
The government also considers to close Yaowarat road The main road in Bangkok Chinatown) on Sundays. But this still is a plan.
The closure of Silom will continue at least until the end of the year. Fronmm this we derive that it still is a test... (Source: Bangkok Post)


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Where do the Thai Muslims stand?

Posted by hasekamp on 27 September 2001 at 12:18 PM
A few days ago we could report that one of the main Muslim leaders in Thailand had voiced support for the Thai government, saying that terrorism should be fought.
Today, however, in the southern province of Yala widely spread photographs of the world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden have been seen. The photographs bore the text "Allah, please protect Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden". Learned lecturer from Thammasart University says that the posters do not necessarily mean that Thai Muslims support terrorism. They might just mean support for the Afghan people, he says. We are not so certain about this and if we were the Thai government, we would look into this matter carefully. The situation with so much uncertainty about the question as where lies the sympathy of the Muslims in southern Thailand is confusing. It would be good if we would get to know once and for all where the Thai Muslim community stands. Contradictory messages, as we have read them during the past few weeks will not do much good to the International image of Thailand. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Flowers as food

Posted by hasekamp on 26 September 2001 at 15:43 PM
In Bangkok a food festival with flowers as the "main dishes" has been organized by
the (four-star) Fortune Hotel. On the menu were flowers like plumeria flowers, Thai tulips, roses and more, all in the form of salads, omelets etc.
Then organizer (76 years of age) wants to see more flowery food on the menus in Thailand. The show is believed to be the first in the world to promote flowers as food, and not as a decoration only.
There was more than enough interest of Thai cuisine chefs. The chef Bangkok's SC Park Hotel, for instance, will follow the new menu suggestions right away, he said.
The idea behind this event is that, if flowers are safe for birds and monkeys to eat, they are safe for humans too.
This new type of Thai cuisine promises new experiences for our future visits to Thailand. And maybe it will also give a boost to the famous Pak Klong Talad flower market!
And how about the Phuket Vegetarian Festival? Will that be more flowery too, this year? (Source: Reuters)


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Thailand to ratify biodiversity convention

Posted by hasekamp on 26 September 2001 at 14:34 PM
After about ten years of preparing and debating over the issue, Thailand will finally ratify the Convention on Biodiversity. Not tomorrow or next week, but within two years, the Agriculture Ministry announced yesterday.
Non-governmental organizations, which have for years opposed ratification, now agreed that the country was ready to ratify the pact.
Failure to ratify the convention would mean that Thailand would hav no further access to research funds and the right to participate in the process of drawing up international regulations on preservation and utilization of biological resources.
So far 180 countries have ratified the convention. Thailand and Brunei are the only Southeast Asian countries that have not yet ratified it. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Caught after four years

Posted by hasekamp on 26 September 2001 at 14:23 PM
A British fugitive, Matthew Gerald Timothy O'Conner, 39 wanted on a murder charge in England has been arrested in Pattaya yesterday, after almost four years in hiding, police said. He will be extradited to Britain to face a murder charge. So it appears possible to hide yourself within Thailand for several years, but not forever! The suspected murderer is known as Raymond John Daly, Roy Cann and Philip Hood. The arrest followed a request by the British embassy.
O'Conner, who once owned a pub in London, is accused of having stabbed to death one of his customers in 1997. He was initially believed to have fled to Spain and has traveled to Thailand under a false passport. He was living in Pattaya and had a clothing business there. He has also been dealing in cocaine while still in Britain and who know what else he did wrong. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Rehabilitation project for mangrove forests

Posted by hasekamp on 25 September 2001 at 12:47 PM
Today we -being environmentalists, have good news for our readers: The Government will stop nationwide to extend concessions to use mangrove forests. This is an important step on the way to rehabilitate these rare forests.
The Cabinet has agreed to provide funds from the 2002 government budget for the rehabilitation project. About 300 concessions have been issued nationwide in the past. So the new program will aim to bring all the forest areas involved back to nature, where they belong.
The rehabilitation project has been dedicated to Her Majesty the Queen, to mark the completion of her sixth astrological cycle since her birth, in the next three years. The fact that the project has been dedicated to Her Majesty the Queen, is a guarantee that it will be taken seriously by every Thai citizen. This gives us good hope that the program will be implemented successfully.
The project is to be conducted in two ways. One is to be carried out by the Government and the second by the general public, with financial supports from government units.
The Director-General of the Royal Forestry Department has called for public cooperation for the project, particularly for mangrove forests. He also said that no legal action will be taken against encroachers if they voluntarily leave the areas now. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Once more the aftermath of the Attacks on the US

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2001 at 12:39 PM
An administrating member of the Central Muslim Committee of Thailand on Monday has said that since the terrorist attacks in the US, there has been a provocation in the southern region of Thailand, where Muslims have involved in incidents. The press does not give detaiols what incidents were meant exactly, so the statement remains vague.
Muslim leaders in Thailand have tried to communicate with people in their areas, asking them not to be provocative against Muslims.
Meanwhile Mae Hong Son tourism appears to be badly affected by terrorist attacks in U.S.
The number of foreign tourist that visit the province has declined by 40% since the terrorist attacks in the US. This information comes from the Mae Hong Son Tourism Association. They believe that the cause is that most tourist that visit the province are from North America and Europe. This –in our opinion- does not explain why this province complains more than other provinces. Whatever the cause, the tourism industry in the province will lose millions of Baht this year.
An unexpected positive effect of the attacks is that the export of Thai parboiled rice is increasing to a highest recorded level this year, according to Thai Farmers Bank Research Center. Although the connection is not crystal-clear to us, this is what the Bank states. One possible explanation might be that countries purchase more rice for increased reserves to be used and consumed in case of emergency, the report says. Parboiled rice is popular in countries in the Middle East, Africa and central Asia.
Finally another news item related to the aftermath of the attacks. The Buddhist Supreme Patriarch on Sunday urged Buddhists to stay calm amidst this time of the world’s worst depravity. More than 10,000 Buddhist monks and laymen joined Sunday afternoon in the chanting ceremony held at Sanam Luang, the large open space located in front of the Temple of Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.
A nine-minute meditation to extend merit to the ones who passed away during and after the attacks followed. (Source for these items, compressed to one message here: Thai News Agency)


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Thai Muslims warned against recruiting

Posted by hasekamp on 23 September 2001 at 12:31 PM
The Defense Ministry has warned Thai Muslims against falling victim to websites that are recruiting Islamic people to fight a war with the United States.
The Ministry said the websites, based in Germany, promised to pay US$20,000 a month to any Muslim who helped Afghanistan's ruling Taleban fight a "a holy war" with the US.
Those interested were asked to travel to Karachi in Pakistan where they would discuss strategies before moving into Afghanistan this week. News about the attempted recruitment spread like wildfire, the Defense Ministry said. A number of Muslims in the South and from Bangkok, including some Ramkhamhaeng University students, have already left for Karachi.
Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh will visit Muslims in Satun, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat on 4 and 5 October to discuss the matter. In Southern Thailand there are quite large numbers of Muslims. So far they have not shown really extreme teachings and acts.
Indeed, US$20,000 a month is a very large amount of money, certainly for Thais, but also for most Westerners. It (therefore) is highly unlikely that this money will ever be paid. Those believing that it will be paid nevertheless, and have gone to Karachi to get it, should also realize that they, Thai citizens, are going to serve a cause that is against the policy of their country. In other words they are volunteering in a foreign army, that might fight the army of their own country. This will make them unwanted citizens and serious offenders against the laws of their own country. Therefore they will highly probably not be able to return to Thailand. Is this what they want?
The Thai government has done its duty now to warn against the practices involved here.
In the meantime Thai Muslim leaders from nine southern provinces, meeting in Krabi yesterday, issued a joint statement opposing the United States plan to attack Afghanistan.
In their statement, the leaders said that America cannot justify punishing innocent people based on the unproven allegation that Osama bin Laden is the prime suspect in last week's terrorist attacks on the US. They said the US should not punish the Afghan people as a whole or even the Taleban government, solely on the belief that bin Laden was behind last week's kamikaze attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin speech. Poll in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 23 September 2001 at 12:29 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday said in a radio speech that critics should be more responsible when they criticize the government on its reaction to the crisis in the US. The PM reminded the Thai people that if the two planes that attacked the WTC in New York only half hour later, there would have been many more Thais in the buildings.
Mr Thaksin was obviously irritated by the "news" that the US government has proposed to rent Thailand’s U-tapao airbase for 20 billion Baht and said that whoever is responsible for spreading this news should be watchful on what he released.
A poll, held in Bangkok, showed that Bangkokians share different opinions on the US crisis.
- 38.30 % - agreed that the government has an appropriate action on the matter.
- 35.80 % - disagreed with the government’s standing point on the matter.
- 37.70 % - believed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has not lost his popularity because this attitude
- 26.90 % - believed the Premier has lost his popularity
- 32.40 % - agreed that the government should suppress terrorists
- 17.80% - voiced opposite opinion on terrorists suppression
- 39.80 % - believed there is a small chance terrorists would attack Thailand
- 25.40 % - believed there is a lot of possibilities Thailand could be attacked by terrorists
- 55.90 % - not convinced that home security offices could prevent Thailand from being attacked by terrorist.
Meanwhile several former Foreign Ministers said yesterday that the government must ensure there is sufficient proof of Osama bin Laden's involvement in the recent terrorist attacks in America before cooperating with US to wipe out terrorist networks inside Afghanistan.
They warned, in separate interviews, that a decision to support US military action could have a huge impact on relations with other countries, and within Thailand's own borders. (Sources: Thai News Agency and The Nation)


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Ban on inland shrimp farming

Posted by hasekamp on 21 September 2001 at 15:12 PM
As we reported a few days ago, His Majesty the King is opposed against inland shrimp farming. A committee studying issues related to inland shrimp farming now has said that it is worried that the salinity of soil will raise in surrounding areas on inland shrimp farms. Not very surprisingly, this is exactly the point of view of His Majesty. And as a consequence of saline soil, rice fields will become so infiltrated with sodium that it will be hardly possible to rehabilitate them, the committee said.
The committee now is afraid that this point of view will cause a conflict between shrimp farmers and rice and fruit growers. The Royal Irrigation Department has already constructed irrigation systems for the benefit of rice farmers, to fight saline ground. Obviously this money is lost now.
Nevertheless, this story confirms what we knew already: When His Majesty speaks his opinion is final! (Source: The Nation)


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Do not visit the BOT website!

Posted by hasekamp on 21 September 2001 at 15:11 PM
The Bank of Thailand’s headquarters shut down all personal computers yesterday following an attack by the Nimda virus, which is the latest plague in Internet traffic.
Central bank officials said the attack did not affect the BOT database, and that all computers will be turned back on today after an antivirus patch is installed.
The Nimda virus is more dangerous than other viruses, because it can also infect visitors of infected websites. And just surfing the Internet therefore can infect your computer.
BOT say they have a good backup system and all data remain intact.
"Nimda", spelled backwards is "Admin", which tells enough about the aim of the author(s) of the virus. The virus infects Windows based servers and computers. (By the way, this server is not Windows based). Nimda has infected several websites all over the world, which caused them to shut down. The Australian government’s computer networks were attacked by the virus on Wednesday night, and Parliament House in Thailand shut down its website and stopped Internal email for hundreds of staff.
Furthermore the website of Hotmail was largely inaccessible from Siongapore, because of the virus, that also slows down Internet traffic. Find more information about the virus on the websites of the major anti-virus software houses. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai Musllim leader supports alliance against terrorism

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2001 at 13:57 PM
The Phuket Gazette reports that the spiritual leader of the Muslims in Thailand, Sawas Sumalyasak, today expressed his support for an international alliance against terrorism.
He said that the persons who were responsible for the attacks of 11 September in the United States were "destroyers of religion".
Sawas, who is the head of the Central Islamic Committee of Thailand, said plans by the United States to launch military action to avenge the attacks on New York and Washington were aimed at terrorists, not at Muslims. "If a war breaks out it is not jihad because the action is against terrorists, who are the destroyers of religion and lands," he told reporters.
Although we have read and seen several Muslims or Muslim leaders expressing their disgust about the terrorist attacks last week, we find this one of the clearest opinions so far, expressed by a Muslim leader.


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Thailand second on SEA Games

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2001 at 13:06 PM
Thailand ended second, given the number of medals, on the South East Asian Games in Malaysia this year. The Thai athletes won 103 out of 391 gold medals available and also won 86 silver and 89 bronze medals. Malaysia just was ahead with 111 gold medals.
The government, led by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, will host the official reception for the athletes and officials today at Government House starting at 7 p.m. The gold winners will be awarded special prizes, set by the Sport Authority of Thailand, at the party. Each gold medal is worth 50,000 Baht.
Total bonuses available are estimated around 10 million Baht.
The next SEA Games will; be heod in Vietnam in 2003. Vietnam will hold 30 sport events split between Ho Chi Minh City (10) and Hanoi (20). Thailand's Olympic Committee is worried about a rumor that boxing will not be on the program in 2003. If this appears to be the case, Thailand will file a protest, because boxing is an Olympic-standard compulsory event. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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US thanks Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2001 at 13:05 PM
The United States has thanked the Thai government for agreeing to co-operate in the struggle against terrorism. "We are grateful to have Thailand as a partner in this critically important effort," US ambassador Richard Hecklinger said. "We greatly appreciate the support of the government and the Thai people at this time," he further said.
Thai government agencies meet at the Foreign Ministry tomorrow to review plans for evacuation of expatriate Thais in the event of a US-led strike.
With regards to the possible Thai victims in last week’s attacks on the US, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has tracked down 96 Thais reported missing after the strikes, but says another 42 people have still not been found. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Ceremony for victims in US. No Thai troops offered

Posted by hasekamp on 19 September 2001 at 11:36 AM
A memorial ceremony has been held yesterday outside the US Embassy in Bangkok in remembrance of the victims of the terrorist attacks in the US. Christian hymns and Buddhist chants were part of the ceremony. People from various faiths prayed outside the US Embassy yesterday for those killed in the terrorist attacks in the United States. The Muslim members of the group sang a song of love and peace.
A coordinator of the group read a statement saying Thai people shared the sadness with the Americans and would like to express condolences to the families of those killed in the attacks. A copy of the statement was later handed to a US Embassy official before the activists dispersed.
Meanwhile the Foreign Minister said yesterday that the government has not offered to participate in any US-led military action by providing Thai troops. All the government has done so far is to denounce acts of terrorism, like those committed last week in New York and Washington, the Minister said.
Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday he did not think the US would use Thailand as a base in any attack on Afghanistan. The PM said the government would take appropriate action in the interest of the nation and the people, while abiding by any UN resolutions. (Source: The Nation)


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Deadly disease because of ostrich farms

Posted by hasekamp on 19 September 2001 at 10:57 AM
Not every new trend only gives benefits and improvements. Since some time ostrich farming has become popular in Thailand. However, ostriches do not belong in Thailand originally and the taking up of ostrich farming has brought problems to the country:
Thai health officials now have issued a warning that ostriches could be the carriers of fleas that cause a rare kind of hemorrhage fever. The spokesperson for the Public Health Ministry said that the deadly Crimean-Congo hemorrhage fever had been reported in Uzbekistan, Russia, Bulgaria, Iraq, Pakistan, western China and a few African nations. And now it could be in Thailand too, although specific cases have not yet been reported.
The disease is transmitted through fleas or through contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of ostriches. The symptoms of the illness are high fever, muscular pain and violent nausea. Several of the symptoms could be mistaken for those of a stomach ulcer.
Although there are no reports of the carrier flea being found in Thailand, doctors are urged to learn about the deadly disease and its symptoms in case it ever breaks out in the country.
The lesson we can learn from this, is that it seems wise to avoid staying near ostrich farms, while in Thailand. The problem is, however, that the Public Relations Department, that published the message on which this news item is based, does not say where exactly these ostrich farms are located in Thailand.


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His Majesty opposed to prawn farming

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2001 at 13:40 PM
His Majesty the King is opposed to the setting up of inland prawn farms in rice-growing areas.
"I disagree with and do not support (the raising of black tiger prawns) in freshwater zones such as Lop Buri, Ayutthaya and Suphan Buri. I never supported it and have said so several times," were the literal words of His Majesty, according an unofficial transcript of a conversation between His Majesty and executives of CP Group (a food industrial group) on 22 August.
"I support prawn cultivation the way I have done it, but I do not support cultivation which requires the transportation of sea water, because it is too costly," His Majesty the King said further. His Majesty was apparently referring to a personal research project on black tiger prawn cultivation he undertook in Bang Taen district, Prachin Buri.
Knowing how the Thai people love their King, it is highly unlikely that inland prawn farms will ever be founded. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Should Thaksin have consulted Parliament?

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2001 at 13:39 PM
After Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that Thailand will stand at the side of the US is possible retaliations against (most likely) Afghanistan, the head of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee has criticized the Prime Minister’s decision as "too fast" and said the Government should have taken the issue to Parliament. Thailand should observe neutrality while waiting for clear evidence to show who were behind the plot, according to a Senate spokesman.
He warned that the Prime Minister should have considered the feelings of Muslim people in Thailand and in neighboring countries better.
Others have performed a merit-making rite at Wat Benjamaborpit (the Marble Temple) today in remembrance of those who perished in last week's attacks on the United States.
Sermons are to be given there in Thai and English. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been invited to attend the ceremony. Lists of names of victims, retrieved from the Internet, have been burned and holy water was sprinkled on the ashes as a religious merit-making gesture. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Thailand supports war against terrorism

Posted by hasekamp on 17 September 2001 at 18:12 PM
Thailand will co-operate with the United States and the United Nations to eliminate terrorism, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday, after a special cabinet meeting. He did not say what kind of support the country will give if the US starts a military campaign. So far the US have not yet asked Thailand for military assistance of any kind.
"Terrorism is a crime the world community will have to co-operate to eliminate. Thailand is glad to co-operate with the UN and the US to contain terrorism so that it does not expand and destroy world progress," Mr Thaksin said.
He said this was also the opinion of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and as a member of the United Nations and a longtime ally of the United States, Thailand will stand by them.
The government has considered the possible repercussions and believes that its support to the fight against terrorism will have no direct effect on Thailand or Thai citizens, Mr Thaksin said.
The Foreign Ministry yesterday also released a statement saying that as a longtime friend and treaty ally of the US, Thailand will render all possible assistance to the United States as Thailand has done consistently in the past.
These statements give the necessary clarity where Thailand stands if it comes to an armed conflict.
We also can report that one of the three Thais listed as missing in New York is reported safe now, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
Nat Chakraphand has been found but nothing can be confirmed about his circumstances until he has been contacted, a ministry spokesman said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Security meeting today

Posted by hasekamp on 16 September 2001 at 14:39 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will call a national security meeting today. The meeting will highly probably include a discussion on the US’s request to use U-tapao airbase or other Thai facilities for possible US military operations.
"Although the terrorist attacks in the US did not directly concern Thailand directly, it did concern Thailand indirectly, as a part of the world community. So we must deal with those mad people systematically", the PM said.
Countries around the world, including Thailand, have agreed that the attacks against the US constituted sabotage, which should not happen in today's modern world, Mr Thaksin said. Yesterday the Thai Prime Minister said that Thailand wants to remain neutral in a possible war, and this still is the case. Nevertheless the government seems serious about granting permission to the US to use Thai air bases. Apparently this would not affect this neutral attitude, according to the Thai Premier. The same permission was granted during the Gulf War.
The Prime Minister said he was aware of reports some international terrorists entered Thailand but once more denied these reports.
In the meantime the consulate-general in New York has sought help from the Thai community in the US to find three missing Thais. The consulate-general has posted their photographs and some details at Thai restaurants in New York. The three are two women who worked in the World Trade Center building and a man whose exact place of work is not clear.
One of the women, Saranya Srinual, 23, was a bond trader who worked for a finance company on the 104th floor. We reported yesterday about the second woman, Orasri Liangthanasarn, aged 26, who worked for the restaurant on the 107th floor. She worked there for only two months.
The man, Nat Chakraphand, earlier identified as Chakraphand na Ayuddhaya, worked for the DKNY clothing company on the 69th floor. Some 15,000 Thais live in New York and nearby New Jersey. (This figure seems to change every day).
In Bangkok, the Foreign Ministry now has tracked down 62 Thais in the US.
We –and political analysts within Thailand- believe that Thailand does not have much room to remain really neutral, because it is one of the countries in the region that a defense pact with the US. Furthermore Thailand receives large economic support from the US and financial support for its fight against drugs. The US has just agreed to give more money for drugs suppression.
There are quite different opinions too: Civil Right groups within Thailand are trying to get attention for their opinion that terrorists should be brought to justice by applying diplomacy and rules of law rather than by bombs and bullets.
The director of Thammasart University's Peace Information Center warned that the US would paint itself into a corner from which where there is no escape if it insisted on military revenge.
He cited a remark by Mahatma Gandhi that violent means would only blind the whole world. (All available Thai new sources were used for this item)


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Thailand wants to remain neutral

Posted by hasekamp on 15 September 2001 at 14:01 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra declined to say yesterday if the government would allow the US to use Thailand as a base for reprisal action after Tuesday's terrorist attacks in the US. The US has contacted the Foreign Ministry to ask this assistance, he said.
The prime minister said the country took a neutral stand.
Meanwhile the PM has denied that any terrorists linked with Osama bin Laden were now in Thailand.
Mr Thaksin yesterday further said that Thailand is reluctant to be part of any US-led military operation in retribution for the recent terrorist attacks in the US. Thailand hopes that the US will respond with restraint and that any violent action will be limited and not on a large scale like the Gulf War, the prime minister said, adding that there should be no element of a religious war. Mr Thaksin expressed his concern that any fighting could extend to, or otherwise affect, Southeast Asia, including Thailand.
Although we realize that Thailand may be criticized for this reluctant policy, we believe that, as long as the exact military actions, to be taken by the US, are not yet known. Mr Thaksin has good reasons to be as reluctant as he is. He may have to revise his policy, when the actions to be taken by the US are clearer.
The US has not yet requested to use the naval air base in Chon Buri province as a logistics base, as it did during the Gulf War.
Meanwhile stories about Thais who were in New York last Tuesday keep coming in. Some have damage or are wounded; others desperately seek for their loved ones.
A Thai restaurateur with a restaurant close to the WTC expects to lose some $20,000 as a result of a two-week blockade of the area. Power and water supplies are also cut off for this period.
The director of the Thai Trade Promotion Office on the 37th floor of the WTC tower that was first attacked, has breathing difficulties and throat problems as a result of his run to safety on Tuesday.
A Thai who lives only two blocks away from the WTC saw the first attack on the WTC on television and dashed out of his apartment to pick up his 10-year-old daughter from a nearby school when he heard the second building crumble. They fled back into their apartment and were kept there with no electricity or water for a day and a half by security guards.
The two women who have serious burns because they were in one of the WTC buildings are reported to be safe in hospital and in better condition.
An employee of the Board of Investment, who took burns on 40% of her body, was reported to be able to talk normally now. Her condition is serious
The assistant director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand branch office, who also took burns (20% of the body) is said to be improving.
Thai Airways International will resume its Bangkok-Los Angeles flights today after three days of suspension.
Thailand is ready to evacuate its nationals working in the Middle East if the situation becomes worse. Plans for emergency evacuation could not be ruled out.
Thailand has no diplomatic contacts with Afghanistan and it has been confirmed that no Thais are staying there. But there are tens of thousands of Thais working in the Middle East, including around 20,000 workers in Israel, 5,000 in Libya and 26 students in Iraq.
The woman who was working as a banquet official at the Window on the World restaurant on the 107th floor of Tower 1 is missing, but her family still has hope that she went late to work on Tuesday. On the web pages of the Nation some comments by relatives of possible victims have been placed. (All available sources used)


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More than 100 Thais reported missing

Posted by hasekamp on 14 September 2001 at 14:15 PM
More than a hundred Thais are still reported missing in New York and in the Pentagon, the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry said. So far the ministry has been successful in tracking down 18 of 131 requests to find missing persons in the US. That leaves 113 Thais missing.
The Ministry asks the people to stay optimistic, as communication with the areas hit still is not optimal.
Of the four Thai government officials who disappeared in New York, only one has been found so far.
There is no indication that there were Thais aboard of the hijacked planes.
One Thai woman has serious burning wounds. She was on one of the lowest floors within the WTC when the first plane hit it.
At least three more Thais were wounded, be it less serious.
Two Thai nationals who were working on the 104th and on the 107th floor of the WTC are now definitely presumed to be dead.
Their Majesties the King and the Queen of Thailand have, on Wednesday already, sent to the US President their condolences on the incidents of terrorists attacks in New York and Washington D.C. This was not made public earlier.
Their Majesties said in the message that they deeply sympathized with the enormous loss and casualties the US government and its people have to face. They especilly sent their condolances to the people who lost relatives.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday that Thailand could possibly be used as a transit route for terrorists because it is a regional hub function for aviation and promotes tourism.
Mr Thaksin, however, believes that Thailand cannot be a base for any terrorist movement. He was reacting, when he said so, to a report that some supporters of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden are in Bangkok.
Nevertheless security has been tightened on airports and railway stations, especially in the South. The southern security agencies have also been instructed to tighten security protection, along the border.
Shares of Thai Airways International sank to a historic low of 23.75 Baht yesterday, because of concerns over the Thai tourism industry, as fewer tourists from the US are now expected. (Sources: The Nation and The Bangkok Post)


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More Thais reported missing (updated)

Posted by hasekamp on 13 September 2001 at 11:28 AM
Yesterday we reported that two Thais are feared to be victims of the US attack. Today the Thai media give more details and updated information. Not only government related workers worked in the World Trade Center, but also employees of Thai and foreign private firms worked there. And furthermore there were Thai visitors.
According to the Bangkok Post all this brings the feared number of Thai victims around 30.
So far from two or three Thais it is known with certainty that they were (not very badly) injured.
In total about 10,000 Thais live or work in Manhattan, and 30,000 more in the vicinity, according to the Foreign Ministry. This means that the number of missing Thais may still rise. About 10 shops run by Thais near the World Trade Center were reported safe.
Some people who worked in the World Trade Center escaped death by coming late to work.
Her Royal Highness Princess Bhajara Kitiyabha, who is studying in New York, was well away from the site of the attacks and is safe.
A Thai family, who had a home only 500 meters from the World Trade Center, also is safe.
Now also the official reactions have been released:
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday condemned the terrorist attacks in the US and has set up a high-level special task force to closely monitor the consequences. He has sent a condolence message to US President George W. Bush, in which he stated that he was deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic events.
"The government and the people of Thailand stand ready to render any possible assistance to relieve the suffering and the plight of the victims of these terrorist acts", he said.
The Foreign Minister sent a similar message to US Secretary of State. "Thailand strongly condemns these acts of terrorism", the minister said in his message.
Mr Thaksin said, after a specila Cabinet meeting, that the Government has ordered temporary closure of the stock exchange of Thailand and would decide on reopening it on a daily evaluation.
He also said that the attacks are not expected to seriously affect the Thai economy.
In Bangkok's Chinatown a real "goldrush" has started after the attacks on the US. Well-to-do Bangkokians decided to buy gold as a reliable investment. The retail price for gold therefore yesterday went up considerably. The upward trend is expected to continue. Customers before gold shops had to line up to wait for their turn. Shop owners were content with this unexpected trend.
We emphasize that news keeps coming is and that this message may appear not to be fully correct. (Several sources used)


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Thailand shocked. Fate of two Thais uncertain

Posted by hasekamp on 12 September 2001 at 10:11 AM
Thailand too, of course, was shocked by the terrorist attacks on the US. The US embassy in Wireless Road and other US buildings have been placed under tight security.
A special cabinet meeting will be held today to discuss the situation and the possible consequences for Thailand.
All flights to the Us have been cancelled or diverted to Canada if a cancellation was not possible any more.
Some Thai companies and institutions are worried about their employees who were working in the New York World Trade Center. The Board of Investment had 4, the Tourism Authority of Thailand had 5, the Thai Commercial Counselor had 6, the Royal Thai Consulate also had 6 and the Thai Farmers Bank had 2 employees who had their working spot there.
One at least is safe: Kittinan Yingcharoen, who worked on the 37th floor of the World Trade Center was able to escape. His story is in The Nation today. It took him 40 minutes to get out of the building. Most of the other Thais also appear to be safe, as some were able to send emails home. They all worked on the lower floors. But Thai Farmers Bank executives fear that their New York staff could be among the casualties. They worked at the 78th floor. (Several sources)


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To extend or not to extend?

Posted by hasekamp on 11 September 2001 at 13:10 PM
We have reported several times about planned extensions of the Bangkok skytrain system. Sometimes we read that extensions have been approved already and work to realize them is imminent, sometimes we read that extensions are not being made for the time due, mostly due to a lack of money.
Now there are reports again that Bangkok Mass Transit System Corp (BTSC) has agreed to extend the skytrain system on two routes. It wants the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to pay for the works, however.
According to these latest reports BTSC wants to extend the skytrain system 3 km from Sathon to Wong Wian Yai across the river and 8 km from Onnuj to Samrong in Samut Prakan.
BTSC has large debts and is discussing debt restructuring with its creditors at the moment. This makes clear hat BTSC cannot pay for the extension right now.
It has now picked two extension routes that have been approved by BMA and the cabinet already, however. Will the work start soon then? We are not certain about it. We believe that the question who will pay the work to realize the extensions has to be answered first, and that may still take some time, in our opinion. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New floods in Phrae

Posted by hasekamp on 11 September 2001 at 13:09 PM
In Phrae province new flash floods have hit three areas in Wang Chin district. Hundreds of people had to flee to the hills.
Downpour in one day was no less than 102 millimeters! Several villages were flooded. No casualties have been reported though.
But damage seems large again, as rice fields and orchards were inundated.
A committee had already been set up to map out preventive measures. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand does well SEA Games

Posted by hasekamp on 10 September 2001 at 17:20 PM
The South East Asian Games (SEA Games) are not as famous as the Olympics. Far from that. So there has been hardly –if any- publicity in the Western press about them. Neither do we publish much about sport events.
Nevertheless it is worth a while to realize that Thailand was second -so far- in this year’s SEA Games, given the number of medals: Thailand has won 6 gold, 10 silver and 6 bronze medals on the third day, with only Malaysia winning more with 22 gold and 7 silver and 10 bronze.
So Thailand can be proud of its sportsmen and women.


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Elephant needs and rights

Posted by hasekamp on 9 September 2001 at 12:53 PM
The numbers of TV stations that show films about animal life are growing ands these stations are quite popular. This is a good thing. It (hopefully) will teach people to respect animals and nature. However, this has a shadow side too: Sometimes the animals (elephants in Thailand) are forced to do something several times, until the film crew is satisfied.
Wildlife Fund Thailand (WFT) is worried about this. And another problem is that sometimes poorly researched stories about elephants are broadcasted. The images of Thai elephants and their problems portrayed in the media and on TV are far from the reality, WFT say. This does not only affect the general public, but also the authorities.
One recent example of misleading news coverage involved an incident in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Kuiburi national park. News reports said that wild elephants had invaded a pineapple orchard because of a water shortage, causing the authorities to construct seven reservoirs in the area.
But these water reservoirs are not what the elephants need and will not solve the problem, according to WFT. Therefore WFT now tries to give the general public as well as the authorities a better understanding of elephant needs and rights. We, being environmentalists and especially concerned about wildlife, believe that this is a very useful initiative, for humans as well as for elephants. (Source: The Nation)


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Government to publish (only?) on the Web

Posted by hasekamp on 8 September 2001 at 17:37 PM
The Government has given up its efforts to reach the people by the traditional way of publishing its achievements. From now on they will, instead, put the information into a website for daily checking. And if we understand things properly, they will only use the Web.
This seems good news for news services abroad (like this one), that hardly have more than the Web to get recent information from. We believe, however, that news about Thailand is available in a satisfactory quantity on the Web already, certainly if we compare this to our own country, where the Internet is used far too little by the government.
The Thai Government, will, from 1 October on, upload its achievements onto the Government House website on a daily basis, so that the public and the media can monitor policy progress regularly. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Smoking kills too many monks

Posted by hasekamp on 8 September 2001 at 17:36 PM
There are plans to ban smoking from Temples, after a recent health report found that smoking-related diseases are the number one killer among monks.
The Action on Smoking and Health Foundation said that a health-awareness campaign should be intensified among monks.
Half of the monks do smoke, despite intensive campaign in the past. But one problem is that too many people include cigarettes in food packages that are being donated to monks. And all this should not be a problem, because a law prohibits smoking in Temples.
Only a few Temples have internal bans on smoking on the Temple grounds.
Given all the facts mentioned, we think that the (expensive) campaign against smoking would not be necessary, but a reminder of the existing law should be enough! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Three more death sentences

Posted by hasekamp on 7 September 2001 at 16:16 PM
Two Chinese and a Burmese drug dealer were sentenced to death by the Criminal Court yesterday. A Thai woman, who bought 64,000 speed pills from them, was given a 50-year jail term, which is practically a life sentence.
The three foreigners, who were sentenced to death, were charged with possessing 1,730,000 speed pills. The woman was arrested by police officers posing as buyers.
It seems that the government is serious about its plan to fight the drugs trade as hard as it can. Should any of our readers plan to bring drugs into Thailand or to buy them there, we advise him or her to reconsider these plans. It is most likely that he or she will end in death row, from where there is no escape in Thailand. There is no chance for a Royal Pardon and chances to get a sentence reversed in appeal are very close to zero. Why do we mention this? Because one of the visitors of this site has asked us where he can buy drugs in Thailand. We advised him as we advise all our readers here. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Trouble within THAI

Posted by hasekamp on 7 September 2001 at 16:15 PM
There are big problems within Thai Airways International for some time already. There recently have been bomb hoaxes, short strikes, long delays and more unpleasant things. The financial situation of THAI also is far from good.
We did not report about most of these incidents, because we have good experiences with THAI and therefore we do not want to give it more negative publicity than is necessary in the coverage of a selection of Thai news. But now it is time for an update.
The entire board of directors of Thai Airways International has resigned yesterday. The resignations are a direct consequence of the demands by Prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to solve the internal problems. The board that resigned appeared not to be able to solve these problems. So now another board will have to solve them. The labor unions agree with the PM that the board should go.
There have been two bomb hoaxes this week. They are believed to come from an internal dispute between pilots and their trade unions. Labor relations are –obviously- far from good.
The board members are leaving their posts just four months after they replaced another board that was forced to resign after a near-disaster involving a Thai Airways jet. Prime Minster Thaksin just escaped this disaster. We have reported about this incident extensively, early this year. Although sabotage was ruled out, a definitive cause has never been found.
It is doubtful if the proposed (partial) privatization (from 93% to 70 % government property) of the airlines will continue as scheduled. Lufthansa, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Scandinavian Airlines have shown interest in buying the new shares. The PM thinks the privatization should continue as planned, but we think this unrealistic. Order within THAI four weeks (which is the term set for the issue of shares) after everything that has happened? We do not believe in it.
The stock market seems to believe in it, however, because the THAI shares already on the market (just 7% of the total number) rose 3.5% after the resignation of the board, with 2.3 million shares traded. (Sources: Public Relations Department, BBC News and the Bangkok Post)


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Friendship with Rangoon deepens

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2001 at 11:22 AM
Did we report about the new deep friendship between former rivals Thailand and Burma yesterday, today we can report the love affair between the two countries has deepened further. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and the Supreme Patriarch will visit Rangoon soon, at the invitation of Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt. The officiakl invitation was even extended His Majesty the King. His Majesty, however, politely suggested that the Princess should get the honor of a visit to Burma.
During his meeting with the Burmese delegation, His Majesty the King stressed the importance of bilateral relations between the two countries. Burmese authorities will visit some of theRroyal Projects later.
Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand (the highest Buddhist authority in the country) also plans to visit Burma soon, after having been invited. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New logo for Hom Mali rice

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2001 at 11:22 AM
Thai Hom Mali rice is one of the finest rice varieties. It is a very special fragrant rice with a unique small and taste and we can recommend it too all our readers. It seems, however, that some traders call their rice Thai Hom Mali rice, when it is something else. In that way they want to profit from the good name of the famous rice variety. Therefore the Foreign Trade Department will internationally register a logo for Thai Hom Mali rice, that guarantees that the product has met export standards.
The department will watch for imitations. It has introduced the logo three years ago, but international registration had not yet taken place. So far 26 exporters have been granted the right to use the logo. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand and Burma are now best friends

Posted by hasekamp on 5 September 2001 at 16:21 PM
Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh seemed to consider Burma the best friend of Thailand after security talks with Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, the first secretary of the Rangoon junta, who is visiting Thailand at the moment.
The Thai Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister said "I would like to repeat what I said 10 years ago that our best friend is our neighbor". Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt promised Burma would be Thailand's best friend in every aspect.
So now we wonder why the countries have been fighting each other verbally and, only last year, with weapons, for such a long time. Lt-Gen Khint Nyunt further said "Coming to Thailand this time, I feel so good because of the warm welcome from Gen Chavalit. I respect him as my big brother". Well, who would have expected this great friendship so suddenly?
Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt agreed to free 64 Thais, who are at the moment imprisoned in Burma, while the Thai military promised to help Burma build a road linking Three-Pagoda checkpoint in Kanchanaburi to Burma, and another road to Burma's Karen state.
Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt also said there were peace talks going on between Rangoon and Aung San Suu Kyi, which have already led to the release of 179 political prisoners.
Seeing is believing, we always have been taught, but we want to see this warm friendship a bit longer before we really believe in it. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Dogs saved from being killed

Posted by hasekamp on 5 September 2001 at 15:34 PM
Some 300 street dogs at a street market in (Bangkok) have just been saved from being killed by market sellers, who said to be hindered by them. As said, the management of the market planned to have them killed, all 300! Some dogs were thought to be aggressive. However, just in time, the market's management later promised not to kill the animals but to use other ways to control their population. Earlier, leaflets had been distributed in the market, stating that the management would hire a "terminator" to "solve the problem of the dogs".
There are so many dogs in the area because several vendors love them and give them food.
The authorities will now see that the dogs are given rabies vaccinations and that they will be sterilized.
As our regular readers know we are environmentalists and animal lovers, so we are happy with this timely solution. It is a fact that there are many street dogs in Thailand, and some see them as a problem. We always pity the animals and we are glad whenever we see people feeding them. Sometimes we feed them ourselves. It really is easy to give this small service to the dogs. After all, there are lots of food stalls everywhere in Thailand and you can make one or more dogs very happy if you buy a 20 Baht meal for them! The life of a street dog in Thailand is a hard life. (Source: The Nation)


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Elephant polo tournament

Posted by hasekamp on 4 September 2001 at 13:14 PM
The first elephant polo tournament ever will take place in Thailand, in Hua Hin next weekend.
Teams form Australia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the US, and two teams from Thailand will compete there. The tournament is being organized by a hotel chain, the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, the -recently founded- World Elephant Polo Association and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The elephant center will supply 11 elephants for the tournament. Three elephants will make a team, according to the brand new rules of elephant polo. Every elephant will carry a driver and a player.
All proceeds from ticket sales, 500 Baht each, will be donated to the elephant conservation center. And that is the (only) reason why we report about this bizarre event. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Burmese junta general arrives

Posted by hasekamp on 3 September 2001 at 22:04 PM
A senior member of the military junta that rules Burma has arrived in Thailand today, as we pre-announced earlier. The visit is intended to improve the relationship between Thailand and Burma (Myanmar).
General Khim Nyunt, the head of intelligence in his country, was welcomed with a full guard of honor, and surrounded by the highest levels of security. As we also reported, he will be granted audience to His Majesty the King. We are critical about that audience, as we wrote earlier.
Khim Nyunt is being received as a head of state, even though he is "only" the third-ranking general in the junta.
Thailand is eager to improve its relationship with its drugs-producing neighbor from its side. Burma is desperate to get some positive publicity and hopes to gain it from this visit. The economy of Burma is in a devastating state. "Democracy" is a word that is fading from the Burmese dictionaries, if it is still known at all there.
The Thai Government wants Burma to do something about the drugs production, and it wants to know how the dialogue between the junta and democracy leader and election winner Aung Sang Suu Kyi is going on. We will follow the news top see if this leads to any serious result. (Main source: BBC News)


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Suriyothai gets an extra boost

Posted by hasekamp on 3 September 2001 at 22:03 PM
Are ticket sales going down already? Has everybody seen the movie already (which is very unlikely)? Is competition from Jurassic Park III too hard?
We do not know the exact reason, but we do know that the producers of the epic Thai movie "Suriyothai" are trying to give their product an extra boost by releasing a new music video and a VCD (video CD).
The VCD will not (yet) contain the whole movie, but some "never shown before" behind-the-scenes documentaries. The music video contains the theme song form the movie.
In addition, there will be extra promotion on TV and radio (if that is possible at all).
To us this news looks a bit alarming: It takes longer than a few weeks for 60 million people to see a movie! During the first two weeks every record was broken at the box offices (as we reported then). But is the hype slowing down already? In that case the producers should also reconsider the planned worldwide release and not be too certain about the expected Oscar nomination. Anyway, we will keep you informed about new developments about the movie, good or bad. (Source: The Nation)


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Economic update

Posted by hasekamp on 2 September 2001 at 16:09 PM
Here is our regularly given economic update for Thailand: The Baht continued its fight against the US dollar and yesterday reached a six-month high at 44 against the US currency.
Dealers said the Baht had been gaining all week, following most regional currencies -by the way- against the dollar. Some local analysts said that with hardly anything changed in Thailand, the gains by the Baht were more likely to come from dollar's weakness, and indeed this seems a likely explanation to us. "Our" own Euro also was rising without an apparent reason compared to the greenback.
Thai share prices yesterday rose by 1.19% and the SET index closed yesterday at 335.57 points. So, again, those who invested in Thailand some month ago –and again we were not among them- could see their wallets swell pleasantly. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Northeast still under water

Posted by hasekamp on 2 September 2001 at 16:07 PM
The flooding troubles in Thailand are far from over. Several provinces in the northeastern part of Thailand are still under floodwater, with tens of thousands acres of rice fields damaged. Some of the villagers have been cut from the outside world for 2 consecutive weeks now.
The PM's Office has delivered 4,000 supporting kits to 3 villages in Roi-Et province.
According to the latest report, 6 people have died because of the flood, while 24,688 others suffered in other ways. The damage at roads, houses and rice fields is estimated to a total of 52 million Baht.
Villagers in Roi-Et province also lack of drinking water, medicine and are very much in need of clean toilets. They have to live in the area where floodwater is 50-150 centimeters high while rice and dried food delivered to them earlier by the authorities last for only a few days. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Degree in Traditional Medicine

Posted by hasekamp on 2 September 2001 at 16:05 PM
We have reported again and again about the popularity of traditional Thai medicine. We also about reported about its promotion by the government. Now alternative treatments will be included in textbooks for use by medical students at some universities in Thailand.
Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University will offer a course in traditional Thai medicine from next year, and a bachelor's degree course on Thai traditional medicine will also be available at Rajabhat Institute in Mahasarakham province and in some other provinces.
Medical science faculties at universities that have long questioned and criticized traditional medicine are now giving the scheme a positive chance. Examples are Khon Kaen, Prince of Songkhla, and Chiang Mai Universities.
The main problem with traditional medicine has been its philosophy of healing. That is totally different from Western-based medicine. While Western medicine seeks precise chemicals from plants to heal particular symptoms in the human body and trusts only proven medicine and medical technology, Thai traditional medicine uses a mixture of plants to heal the symptom and trusts in a "holistic" method of treatment. As an example: a traditional medicine to treat diabetes will not only heal the disease but also improve other systems in the body. And this is the main criticism from medical scientists and doctors. The effects of traditional medicine cannot easily be proven.
The bachelor's degree courses on Thai Traditional Medicine will produce more qualified traditional doctors to meet social demand, and they will change social structure, it is expected. And there also is an economical advantage: The government could save billions of Baht by replacing imported western medicine with traditional medicine for certain diseases. We are strong supporters of traditional medicine. Ask anybody who has been treated with it and nobody will be negative about the results. It therefore should get the best of chances, in our opinion. (Source: The Nation)


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