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Massive prayer at Wat Phra Kaew

Posted by hasekamp on 31 October 2001 at 17:05 PM
A massive prayer meeting, nationwide, but with emphasis on a meeting at Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok, has been held in Thailand today. At Wat Phra Kaew many Buddist monks and Buddhist laypeople were praying for peace. According to a spokesman of the organizing committee, representatives of other religions than Buddhism have joined in this massive prayer session. Muslims ands Christians were mentioned in particular, be it that they held their meetings in other places. In Thailand people are still very worried about the war in Afghanistan, and we believe that they are becoming more worried every day, although you would not notice this while walking on the streets.
This meeting is not the first prayer meeting since the bombing by the US began and we expect more of these (very) peaceful protests. (Source: CNN TV)


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TV on the Internet

Posted by hasekamp on 31 October 2001 at 16:57 PM
Shin Satellite Plc has launched Thailand's first Internet television service, Internet Protocol TV (iPTV). The new broadcaster will offer content similar to that shown on existing Thai television stations, but only on the Internet. As always, Thailand seems far ahead of the rest of the world, where high-tech applications are concerned!
The company does not need a broadcasting license, as iPTV uses Internet technology, which does not fall under the jurisdiction of current broadcasting regulations.
The sudden arrival of the Internet television service is part of CS Communication's plan to encourage subscription to its broadband Internet service, Turbo Internet. The company hopes to promote Internet use by offering a wide array of multimedia content, ranging from simple Web pages to real-time live telecasts of music and TV programs.
There will probably not be a high demand for broadband Internet in Thailand. An advantage of broadband Internet –apart from the high speed- is that people do not have to pay phone costs any more to use the Internet. But in Thailand a local phone call is charged as one unit, even if it takes all day. So in Thailand it is possible already to be on-line all day for a very low price, contrary to some other countries, where local calls are charged progressively in time.
Therefore, by introducing new applications –like television- on the Web the need to have a high-speed connection like broadband Internet may rise. We believe that iPTV is aiming at that.
The company also plans to purchase the rights to recently released films that have just ended their cinema runs to air on the iP PayPerView program. Viewers will be charged 20 to 40 Baht per movie then, depending on the megabyte-volume of the movie streamed on the site. (Source: The Nation)


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Ancient human fossils discovered

Posted by hasekamp on 31 October 2001 at 16:55 PM
A group of Thai researchers has discovered fossils of ancient humans in the northern province of Lampang. This is the first time that Thai researchers found ancient human remains, according to the National Research Committee.
The Secretary-General of the National Research Committee told at a press conference that the fossils belonged to the "homo erectus" humans, living in the Stone Age over 500,000 years ago.
The fossils were discovered in front of a limestone cave in Kao Ka district. Studies will be continued in the hope that UNESCO eventually will announce the site as a World Heritage site. The fossils that were found include four pieces of remains of a human skull, as well as remains of fingers and teeth.
Other ancient remains of humans, having lived in Thailand over 100,000 and over 30,000 years ago, were discovered earlier by French researchers in Chaiyaphum province in the Northeast, and Krabi province in the South. Hasthe civilization started in Thailand after all? (Source: Thai News Agency)


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THAI has to change its plans

Posted by hasekamp on 29 October 2001 at 19:25 PM
Thai Airways International will review its plans to buy new aircraft and revamp its five-year operation plan. One of the reasons for this decision is the order of PM Thaksin Shinawatra to cut costs for the airline. We do hope that THAI will make the right decisions here. It is always a bad sign to save on investments. But the airline may have to review its plan to buy new aircraft since many airlines have reduced their flights because of the global downturn in air travel. This is very true of course, but on the other hand one must expect air travel to increase again and it may be too late then to buy new aircraft. Anyway, these are the wise decisions THAI has to make, given the orders of the cabinet.
THAI will have to cut costs where it can in the next two years. Therefore it will also be unnecessary for the airline to recruit new staff. On the other hand it also will not be necessary to reduce the present staff, because the financial situation of the airline is still stable. As we have written more than once on this page, we are fierce supporters of THAI's Royal Orchid service, and we hope we will be able to enjoy it for many years to come! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Visitors to be charged to use toilets in parks

Posted by hasekamp on 29 October 2001 at 19:10 PM
City park visitors will be asked to pay two Baht each time they use the toilets in public parks, in exchange for a better service, parks staff say.
The deputy director of the Social Welfare Department said that private companies would be contracted to manage toilets in city parks. Hence the better service. So far the fee to use a toilet in a public park was one Baht. The new fee includes hand soap.
The contracts with private companies to run the toilets in the city parks will contain a revenue-sharing clause, which means that in the contractors will have to return a part of the profit to the park, for park improvement projects.
Under the new system individuals will do the running of the toilets in the park. If a park such as Lumphini park has 12 facilities, there will be 12 individuals providing the service. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin gives himself 8 years as PM

Posted by hasekamp on 29 October 2001 at 18:24 PM
Newspaper the Nation had an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in which Thaksin says that he plans to retire from politics eight years from now, at the age of 60. He believes that he cam remain at the top until then.
At 60 he believes himself to be "too old and obsolete" for politics in a rapidly changing world, he said. "Then I'll have to pass on my duties to the younger generation" the PM said.
We must say that we were no fierce supporters of Mr Thaksin when he tried to reach the top, but now, after about half a year, we believe he did achieve several of the things he promised, which can not be said of many politicians. So, some more Thaksin years for Thailand would probably not harm the country. And he seems to be one of the first politicians to realize that there will –inevitably- come a moment when one has to make room for the next generation. (Source for the (extensive) interview: The Nation)


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Old explosives self-ignited says army

Posted by hasekamp on 29 October 2001 at 18:23 PM
Deteriorated munitions caused the explosion in an ammunition depot in Nakhon Ratchasima's Pak Chong district last week. This means that careless handling did not cause the disaster, the army investigation has concluded. We reported about the explosion, but we did not yet publish a follow-up.
The inquiry by the Thai army found that deteriorated monition-chemicals had ignited spontaneously.
On-site investigation had ruled out a human error, because the people on duty were all well trained. An army source said the investigation found that the explosion was probably intensified by the detonation of highly-destructive "bungalow torpedoes" stored in one of the arsenal warehouses. These torpedoes were used by the United States military during World War II and in the Vietnam War to blow up bridges and enemy encampments. A large number of them were kept in the warehouse. One might wonder why they were (still) kept in Thailand, but probably the answer to this question is classified.
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has ordered the urgent relocation some other ammunition depots in Nonthaburi, Nakhon Sawan and also of the Pak Chong depot (or ewhat is left of it), saying they are too close to communities. A residence-free zone of 3 km will have to be observed.
Tests on water sources in tambon Nong Sarai, where the recent blast was centered, have not found any pollutants despite concerns of local people.
People who owned the houses destroyed by the blast will be financially compensated. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Dolphins return

Posted by hasekamp on 26 October 2001 at 8:07 AM
Now we have a small piece of good news. The Bangkok Post reports that dolphins have returned to the Bang Pakong river estuary, in search of sea catfish. About 100 white and finless dolphins have been seen in groups hunting fish around the river mouth.
The dolphins appear regularly around this time of the year, when river run-off enters the Gulf of Thailand. Tourists flocked to see the dolphins last year and local businesses are expecting a similar boom this year. And indeed the dolphins did return. So, now and then there seems hope for Thai environmentalists. As our readers know, we always pay special attention to environmental issues.
We will not only concentrate on good news, but also on less promising news in this category, like the fact that there are more and more alarming news items about the Asian elephant in Thailand, that still is threatened with extinction.
When in Thailand, please pay attention to these issues and support the organizations that try to do something about them. Environmentalists in Thailand are volunteers and almost 100% of your money will arrive at the place where it should.


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Bomb Hoaxes in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 26 October 2001 at 8:06 AM
Two separate bomb hoaxes at the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) building and a 31-storey office tower were evacuated after bomb hoaxes yesterday.
The bomb at SET was supposed to explode in the afternoon. Stock market trading was unaffected, officials say.
The other bomb hoax was at UM Tower in Khlong Tan district. A male caller claimed a bomb had been planted on the building's 26th floor and was about to explode. Police evacuated the employees of more than 50 companies from the building before conducting a thorough search. No bomb was found.
We do not hope that this will become a new trend in Bangkok. Bombs and bomb hoaxes have been relatively scarce in Thailand so far. It seems that after September 11 everything is possible, also in Thailand. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai ammunition depot explodes

Posted by hasekamp on 26 October 2001 at 8:05 AM
At least two people were killed and 80 injured when an army weapons store in northeastern Thailand exploded, officials said on Thursday. A spokeswoman for Pak Chong Nana hospital said army officers and villagers were among the injured, who mostly sustained cuts and burns miles away from the depot.
Two seriously injured people were transferred to the main provincial hospitals in Nakhon Ratchasima and Saraburi provinces.
So far two persons were confirmed dead, but sources say that at least 13 are dead. The number of casualties in the area itself is not yet known. The first investigations rule out sabotage. The Interior Minister went to the site and viewed it from a helicopter. Because of danger for further explosions, nobody was allowed near the site. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has given orders to the army to chech if te site is safe, before anybody may enter it.
Hotels near the site have been evacuated in the meantime and travelers are advised to bypass the area. At this moment (Friday afternoon) an accident is still believed to be the cause of the explosion. Sobotage is still excluded. (Sources: The Nation, the Bangkok Post and The Phuket Gazette)


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Trademark for Thai jasmine rice

Posted by hasekamp on 26 October 2001 at 8:04 AM
The Thais are not very scrupulous when it comes to infringe other's Industrial Property (IP) rights. Take for example the (expensive) Thai movie Suriothai. This movie is not available illegally at all on video, VCD or DVD! Legal copies are available, however. Take the latest American movies, on the other hand, still playing or still to be premiered in movie theatres in Thailand, and they are available (illegally) for 100 Baht or less on every street corner.
The same philosophy seems to be valid for Thai jasmine rice. US researchers are trying to modify the strain, and want to patent it. We have reported about this. Don't ask us how many US products are being imitated illegally in Thailand, without any government action. But now\E2€\A6 when it comes to the famous Thai jasmine rice, the Thai government wants to do something!
The Commerce Ministry yesterday agreed to take appropriate actions to register for a trademark of the rice in six countries: the United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Less urgent, but also planned, are registrations in 44 other countries.
We are supporters of the IP system, being patent examiners ourselves. But if one adopts laws to protect IP rights, like Thailand does, the system has two sides. Thai citizens and companies can protect their products or processes, but foreigners can do the same. To us it looks as if Thailand believes that the IP system only works one way, that is, when is comes to protecting IP rights. Of course everybody if free to register his rights and pay for that. But when it comes to maintaining these rights, you are left alone, except when you are Thai! (Sources: Thai News Agency and our own editor)


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Vegetarian Festival in Phuket is over

Posted by hasekamp on 25 October 2001 at 17:46 PM
The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket ended today. This year's Festival was –it seems- more spectacular than ever. During the –daily- processions heavier objects that one can imagine were carried, hanging on rods, pierced through the faces of the participants. Observers this year saw bicycles, heavy rifles and other very heavy objects. Also two participants, clung together by rings, on pierced through each face and a third one, connecting the other two, were seen. The Chinese Gods do not fully protect the believers, however. They have to be treated in hospital afterwards, to have their wounds stitched. A hospital van is also included in the procession, in case of emergencies.
We wonder how long this can culminate further. This real rifles and bicycles. What will be the records next year? Will this Festival ever be prohibited? We believe not, but we expect some rules to be issued one of the next years.
The Vegetarian Festival is of Chinese origin. The processions start at the Chinese shrines in Phuket Town. Believers make a donation there on the first day and get free vegetarian food during the whole Festival then. This is a bargain for them. The Phuket Gazette reports that this year more people than ever before used this (almost) free service. They conclude that the economic recession (the third wave in the meantime?) is the cause of that. Around 15,000 people had free meals this year. Temple people also noted tat many people just came for the food, without making a donation.
The menu was more varied this year. This was also the first year that hotels were involved in providing free vegetarian food. Two to three tons of rice was cooked per day. The final day the Festival ends with a massive procession with so many firecrackers being lit, that one could believe there is a war going on. Then there is an assembly, organized by all the Chinese shrines, at Saphan Hin at midnight. And then ... they are going to have a non-vegetarian meal at one of the Chinese shrines! (Source: The Phuket gazette)


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Many food shops not clean

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2001 at 15:28 PM
All the certified food shops and restaurants in Bangkok have been checked recently by the city's Health Department and the shocking result is that nearly half of them failed the test.
There are about 10,000 food shops and restaurants in Bangkok, about half of which were awarded a city's "clean food-good taste" certificate between 1997 and 1999.
The director of the Health Department said that about 700 random checks were made on certified food shops. About 300 of them had failed the test.
Especially ecoli, bacteria that causes diarrhea and food poisoning, was found abundantly.
The shops that failed the tests were given a warning and advised on how to keep their food clean. The inspection was part of the city's food safety campaign, being run jointly with the Public Health Ministry and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
So, if you are going to Bangkok soon, double-check the places where you are going to eat! But is this advice really new to you? (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chulalongkorn Day

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2001 at 15:26 PM
Yesterday was Chulalongkorn Day in Thailand. This is a day on which King Chulalongkorn, also known by his official name of King Rama V, is remembered. All over the country government officials (but only they!) have a holiday on this day. Their Majesties the King and Queen have presided over a memorial service at the King Chulalongkorn the Great monument in the Royal Plaza yesterday to commemorate King Chulalongkorn Day. In other Cities, like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai also high officials have paid respect to this great King, who actively sought contact with the West. As will be known, King Chulalongkorn was the son of King Mongkut. (Then) Prince Culalongkorn was (partly) educated by Anna Leonowens, as can be seen (romanticized) in "The King and I".


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Tuk-tuk goes international

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2001 at 15:25 PM
Thailand's famous tuk-tuk's might be manufactured according to a new international standard, under a plan to boost exports of the vehicles. Some tuk-tuk's can be seen abroad already, but they mainly serve promotional purposes. In the Netherlands, one can see them occasionally, and there is no doubt that they meet the Dutch standards.
Apparently the manufacturer looks worldwide now, because the Deputy Industry Minister yesterday appointed the manufacturer's director as the head of a panel that will set (international) specifications for tuk-tuk's.
The plan will now be studied in detail, but according to our source preparations have been going on for a year already.
Auto-parts manufacturers have been invited to invest in a public company to implement the project. The government hopes that setting international standards for the vehicles will open up more export markets for manufacturers, creating more jobs at home.
The Transport Department limits the local production and registration of tuk-tuk's to 50,000 a year now. Four local manufacturers also export about 10,000 excess vehicles per year to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. Apparently he export to European countries, like the Netherlands, is almost zero.
As we all know, the tuk-tuk had become a symbol of Thailand. The vehicles are made almost entirely of local parts, except for the engines, which are imported from China and made by Suzuki there.
We will wait and see for the working out of these great plans. (Source: The Nation)


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Muslims organize mass protest

Posted by hasekamp on 22 October 2001 at 16:00 PM
Tens of thousands of Thai Muslims have organized a nationwide protest against the US actions in Afghanistan. The Council of Muslim Organizations in Thailand (CMOT) organized the event. Among other things, a new ban of American products was announced, which so far was not very effective.
The fiercest demonstrations were held in the Southern province of Pattani. US flags and portraits of the US President were burnt. But also prayer gatherings were held nationwide. The largest gathering brought 50,000 people on the roads. (Source: The Nation)


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Phuket to be cleaned up

Posted by hasekamp on 22 October 2001 at 15:59 PM
Phuket seems to be now the number one tourist destination in Thailand. So, it is time to give it a brush-up, authorities have decided, Most sellers will have to leave the golden beaches, elephant rides have to be stopped (something ewe do not regret) and more similar measures have been announced (but, as is a good custom in Thailand) have not yet been effectuated.
At this moment Phuket is very busy anyway and there is no time for any measure whatsoever. Phuket is in the middle of the Vegetarian Festival, with very noisy and spectacular processions every day, a wide choice of vegetarian food, and lost of tourists. Most of them come from Thailand, this time. We once more advise our readers to visit the island in October (check the dates) to see this unforgettable event. It will also cure them from the idea that vegetarian food is not available in a very wide variety! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Jet explosion to be simulated

Posted by hasekamp on 22 October 2001 at 15:58 PM
We (probably) all remember the explosion of a THAI jet at Bangkok airport on 3 March 2001. This page has reported extensively about this serious incident. Prime Minister Thaksin was to board the plane, so everybody immediately thought of sabotage. Later the Thai experts were not so sure any more and eventually the American experts from Boeing were asked to solve the mystery, which will give a certain outcome in such a way, that it will not make Boeing responsible!
Now some experts from Boeing will come to Thailand to simulate the accident, using mock aircraft. The theory, developed by Boeing, is that the air-conditioning equipment, that had been working all day because of the great heat in March, caused the explosion. The air conditioners are placed closely under the oil tanks, and these tanks may have become overheated. The explosion started there anyway. That is what now will be tried out, at a similar temperature.
We find this an interesting experiment and we will follow it here if we can. As said, we believe that we know the outcome already, which does not mean tat we find the suspected cause very unlikely. An interesting detail o report is that the last time we boarded a THAI airplane, the captain apologized for the heat, which was caused –he said- by the fact that the air-conditioning had been turned off for some time, for security reasons! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Wisuth to go on trial after all

Posted by hasekamp on 20 October 2001 at 9:52 AM
Dr. Wisuth Boonkasemsanti will go on trial in a private suit on charges of killing his wife, the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court decided yesterday. As we reported extensively in the past months, Dr Wisuth's wife, Phassaporn Boonkasemsanti, disappeared in February.
Dr Phassaporn's father, Chote Watanaset, filed the lawsuit after public prosecutors rejected the police case against Dr Wisuth, citing a lack of eyewitness evidence.
Four charges will be brought up in the suit: premeditated murder, intimidation, illegal detention, and covering up a murder.
The court issued a warrant summoning Dr Wisuth to testify within seven days and set Dec 17 for examination of prosecution witnesses. The court further said that the circumstantial evidence, especially DNA tests, and human flesh thought to belong to Dr Phassaporn, convinced the court that she was dead.
Furthermore witnesses support the argument that a serious conflict between Dr Phassaporn and Dr Wisuth led to their separation and may be a motive for the alleged murder.
The police doubtless is happy with this upcoming court investigation, whereas we wonder what the public prosecutor will think. He refused to bring the case to court after the police thought there was enough evidence. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Muslims still prefer Coke above principles

Posted by hasekamp on 19 October 2001 at 16:33 PM
Some days ago we reported that Muslim organizations in Thailand called for a boycott on US made products. However, it appears that the call of Coke and other popular US products is stronger than the call of the Muslim leaders. Some youths in a Muslim community told newspaper The Nation that their parents had told them about the campaign to avoid any US products, but that they still buy them.
Also the owners of grocery shops appear to appreciate their income above the principles of their leaders. They still sells the banned US products, as demand remains.
Some Thai Muslims are very pragmatic by saying "We are Thais, living on Thai soil. We respect His Majesty the King. The only difference is that we are Muslims".
Our conclusion is that most Thai Muslims are not liekely to become violent. They may be Muslims, but they -being Thais- will respect His Majesty in the first place, probably before their religious leaders!


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Elephant healing well from landmine wounds

Posted by hasekamp on 18 October 2001 at 13:20 PM
About two years ago an elephant stepped on a landmine, while working in a Burmese forest. The elephant was taken to Hang Chat Elephant Hospital in Lampang and was treated there. Sometimes these heavy wounds, caused by landmines, can heal well, apparently. This is the case with the wounds of Motala, the elephant concerned. His left foot was largely shredded in the landmine explosion. But he should be able to walk on four legs again soon. The secretary-general of the Friends of Asian Elephants Foundation said the elephant was almost in normal health, after having received surgery. The tissue around her stump foot began to grow back and now the elephant is trying to walk on four legs again.
Two years ago the elephant drew the attention of the media worldwide, and donations began to come in at the Friends of the Asian Elephants Foundation, in order to have Motala treated properly at the Elephant Hospital.
We are happy to be able to bring this piece of good news. Landmines do not only destruct the lives of humans, but often also of animals. Thanks to the donations, this elephant has been treated and might forget his accident in time. At the same time we still are worried about too many messages in the Thai media about elephants being mistreated, mostly for the "pleasure" of tourists. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Disgraced monk disrobed or not?

Posted by hasekamp on 18 October 2001 at 13:05 PM
We have reported twice about a monk, who has been accused of having has sex and having bought expensive goods. The man fled a few days ago, after a broadcast by iTV about his behavior. Breaking his silence after disappearing from his temple in Petchaburi last week, Phra Issaramunee yesterday said the media had played foul play and he should be left in peace.
The disgraced (former) monk decided to break his silence at Mr Thaksin's request to answer the allegation that he had an intimate relationship with a woman disciple.
The monk said that the so-called evidence presented by the media was insufficient to prove his wrongdoing. He also accused the media of telling just one side of the story.
He said that he was no longer a monk and asked Mr Thaksin to forget him.
Meanwhile, the Religious Affairs Department gave Phra Issaramunee 30 days to contact the department or face dismissal as the temple abbot.
would start searching for him. A spokesman said he did not believe that Pra Issaramunee had already left monkhood. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Rice strain stolen from Thailand after all?

Posted by hasekamp on 18 October 2001 at 13:04 PM
The latest evidence shows that the jasmine rice strain that is being developed –and is due to be patented- by an American researcher was illegally taken out of Thailand. This is what a senior Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry official says.
Internal information from the Department of Agriculture showed that the jasmine rice strain, called Khao Dokmali 105, was not taken from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, as claimed first, but was stolen from Thailand. The nature of the new evidence has not been published, sadly.
The Khao Dokmali 105 strain is known as the world’s most famous jasmine rice, acordiong to the Ministry.
The US researcher, Mr. Deren, claimed that he obtained the seeds from a gene bank of IRRI in the Philippines in late 1995 although he knew –he says- that the original seeds were brought there from Thailand.
Now the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will, together with the Ministry of Commerce, try to find out how the rice strain was taken out of the country. If this should have been done illegally, the people or parties involved will be prosecuted. But will it ve possible to track the possible thieves after such a long time?
Whatever of this investigation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives will closely follow Mr. Deren’s rice development project, which is expected to last about five years.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives further says it will object to any effort by the US researcher to patent the newly-developed rice strain.
We do not expect much of all these actions. It will be very hard, if possible at all, to deliver the proof, sought by the Thai authorities. That does not mean that we support the actions of Mr. Deren. We believe that if he got his strain illegally, that he should not continue his research, before he has made a settlement with the Thai authorities. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Temples assets to be checked

Posted by hasekamp on 17 October 2001 at 12:14 PM
The Religious Affairs Department will be checking temple assets, probably countrywide, following the sex scandal involving Phra Issaramunee and a woman disciple. Apart from sex, another hobby of this monk was buying expensive goods, as we reported yesterday. It is not clear where the monk got the money from, to satisfy his lust for expensive goods, but the authorities think that he took it from the Temple.
The Bangkok Post reports that it has not yet been confirmed that this monk has been disrobed already. This was supposed yesterday, because the monk sent a fax to a newspaper before he ran off in his brand new Mercedes.
The monk could not be found at his temple whwn he was wanted and he did not show up for disrobing at Wat Nong Ya Plong in Phetchaburi as reported in the press, a psokesman of the Temple said.
The Deputy Education Minister said he has instructed the Religious Affairs Department to co-ordinate inquiries about Phra Issaramunee and check the assets of Wat Thammaviharee to ensure that everything is there.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is one of Phra Issaramunee's followers, said the monk should come out to clarify the allegations and allow an inquiry if he was still in monkhood or not. Mr Thaksin further said that the news made him not feel good. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New flood warning for the South

Posted by hasekamp on 17 October 2001 at 12:13 PM
Because we believe that our site is visited by tourists, planning to visit Thailand, we mostly include flood warnings on this page.
Today people living in the southern provinces of Phattalung, Songkhla, and Nakhon Si Thammarat have been warned by the Meteorological Department to be prepared for possible flash floods over the next days. Some areas in the provinces are reportedly facing continued and heavy rain, as it still is the rainy season in the South.
Bangkok and its peripheral areas will face scattering rain in coming days, particularly in the afternoon and in the evening, according to the Meteorological Department. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Greenpeace publishes new lists

Posted by hasekamp on 17 October 2001 at 12:12 PM
The discussion about GMO containing food, sold in Thailand is not over yet. We have published about this issue in the past.
Now Greenpeace Southeast Asia has published a new black list of food products sold in the local market which allegedly contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This new black list contains the following products: Nestle Cerelac mix vegetable, Novartis’s Gerber Rice with Fruit Baby Cereal, Goldroast instant cereal, Nissin cup noodles, Vienna Pork CP, and Pringles Potato Crisps. All these products were tested at a laboratory in Hong Kong last month, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace said.
At the same time Greenpeace issued a green list of food products sold in Thailand. This green list constitutes food products which were tested GMO free and the manufacturers have stated that they will not use GMO containing materials. This green list includes powdered milk produced by Dumex Co., Snow Brand Siam Ltd., and Mead Johnson, Yan Wal Yun’s soya bean sauce, Mama instant noodle, Knorr Cup Jok instant soup, Malee instant cream corn soup, Lactasoy UHT soya milk, and Vitamilk UHT soya milk.
In the near future Greenpeace also wants to issue a gray list, containing food products that were tested GMO free, but whose manufacturers have not given any clear statement whether they refrain from using GM raw materials. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Worldly Monk flees

Posted by hasekamp on 16 October 2001 at 12:15 PM
A new scandal around a senior Buddhist monk has been revealed by iTV. The monk (Phra Issaramunee of Wat Thammaviharee in Phetchaburi province) left monkhood just before iTV aired a program that made all his missteps public, such as his relationship with a female disciple and a more than great (let us say huge) liking for expensive earthly goods.
His former Holiness said in a statement that he intended to leave monkhood and that he would spend the rest of his life peacefully, regardless of what other people might think, which is quite a lot.
The worldly monk left his monastery four days ago in a (brand new) Mercedes, taking with him many valuable belongings. Religious Affairs Department officials went to Wat Thammaviharee to investigate the behavior of the former monk.
On iTV was shown that some of the worldly goods that were in the possession of the man are telescopes, infra-red binoculars, a scuba diving outfit and a whirlpool bath tub, that could hold up to five people.
Furthermore he had just bought a Mercedes to replace a Japanese-made car given to him by Mr Thaksin Shinawatra two years ago. So Mr Thaksin appears to be one of his (former) followers. The Japanese car was abandoned by the former monk, because the seats in this car were not supportive enough (for his sexual activities?).
There have been no major revelations about monks for some time now, and we hoped that everything around the Buddhist monks was becoming quiet again. We hope that this incident is an isolated one and that the Thai Buddhist can trust their monks in the future. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Smile to fight your problems

Posted by hasekamp on 15 October 2001 at 17:42 PM
The Mental Health Department has started a new campaign, under the motto "Smile to fight crisis". At least that is the motto as translated into English (by Thai officials).
The idea is not really novel. It has been known for a long time that when you are happy, your body produces endorphin, but if you are under stress, your body produces adrenalin.
But now, with a war against terrorism going on in Afghanistan and (see our preceding item) a war against drugs and corruption going on right here in Thailand, people can use a bit more happiness. When people are happy mentally, they will also feel good physically.
The Department will also promote more exercise. This also is not really what we call a new idea. (But why not, it has never done anybody harm!)
The department also plans a counseling corner in public places, with a psychiatrist to give advice to those who find it hard to smile. This –in our modest opinion- is a superfluous idea in the Land of Smiles!
Nevertheless a psychiatrist said: "I don't think Thai people will be as serious as Japanese businessmen who need to go to smile-training school"! Do these things really exist in Japan? Do we have Japanese readers who can confirm this?
We will visit Thailand soon and we wonder if we will see more smiles in the streets than in former years. We believe that is impossible in –as we said- the Land of Smiles. (Sources: Bangkok Post and Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin announces war against drugs

Posted by hasekamp on 15 October 2001 at 17:41 PM
While the US is announcing a war against terrorism, Thailand's Prime Minster has announces a war against drugs. Mr Thaksin said he would spare nothing in the war against drug traders, describing them as traitors to the nation. The new war against drugs is inspired by the enormous danger that drugs pose to the country. The government regards anyone trading drugs or supporting the drugs trade as traitors.
The Prime Minister called on the public to join hands and assist in the fight against drugs.
The war against drugs apparently also is linked to corruption, reading the words opf Mr Thaksin: "I want to announce that from now on Thailand has no need of buying and selling government posts". The prime minister also called on the public to refrain from respecting people because of their standing, without looking at their backgrounds. In that way society would become a race for cash, with no one caring how it is obtained.
Of course we support these new wars by Mr Thaksin. He has promised to fight them during his election campaign, after all. We now wonder how successful these wars can be. So far they have hardly ever been fought in Thailand. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Posted by hasekamp on 14 October 2001 at 16:35 PM
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival has been held on the island for over 150 years and is a major attraction for the island. The processions with participants with sharp objects pierced through their bodies and loads of fruits hung from these objects are World famous. This year, the festival will be held on October 16-25 at several shrines all over Phuket. There also will be contests like fire walking, knife ladder climbing and more. So from Tuesday on most people on Phuket will eat vegetarian food only for ten days. Several other attractions will be planned.
If you hesitate if you should visit Phuket, this Festival might make you to decide to go.
For more details about the Festival contact TAT.


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Thai Muslims ban American goods

Posted by hasekamp on 14 October 2001 at 16:34 PM
Thai Muslims will boycott products made in the United States and its allies in protest against the US-led attacks on Afghanistan. A Muslim "academic" (we wonder why Thai Muslims always are called this in the Thai press since a few days) said that the Central Islamic Committee of Thailand had decided that Muslims should not frequent fast-food restaurants run by American companies or discount stores owned by some of the United States' European allies. Well, if this satisfies them, they should do so! As long as the protests are this peacefully and not violent, they are quite acceptable.
The committee agreed to give the government some time to review Washington's landing rights at Thai military airbases, which we see as a positive sign too.
Meanwhile T-shirts printed with the face of Osama bin Laden were selling extremely well among Muslim teenagers in the South. Bin Laden T-shirts are priced at 180-200 Baht. This of course is not something to be happy about,
We conclude from the above that the Thai Muslim community is against the military actions in Afghanistan, which is their good right. They also have a right to express those feelings openly in a peaceful manner. If this is the attitude of the Thai Muslim community, we believe Mr Thaksin can keep things under control. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin has visited the Philippines

Posted by hasekamp on 14 October 2001 at 16:33 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Saturday ended an official two-day official visit to the Philippines, and he is content with the results. Manila wants to purchase more rice and sugar from Thailand. Mr Thaksin said that he found out that (Thai) jasmine rice was sold in the Philippine market at around 45 Baht per kilo, while it is sold in Thailand at around 20 Baht per kilo. Then he said "So, if we can sell more rice to the Philippines, it will help Thai farmers to have higher income", This seems too easy a conclusion by Mr Thaksin! As soon as the authorities in the Philippines (also) discover the price difference for Thai rice, they highly probably will want to talk about the price again!
Mr Thaksin further said that the Philippines expressed its satisfaction with Thailand’s success in tourism promotion, and tat the Philippines wanted to cooperate with Thailand in tourism campaigns.
Issues concerning anti-terrorism were also discussed with the two countries agreeing to strongly object to terrorist acts in all forms, as well as to be obliged by resolutions of the U.N. Security Council, and to cooperate with the international community in eliminating terrorism. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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THAI closes offices, rises fares

Posted by hasekamp on 13 October 2001 at 11:23 AM
Thai Airways International, like all airways at the moment, is in trouble. The number of customers is going down as a result of the events on 11 September.
In the first place, for that reason, we would like to stimulate our readers who want to fly to Thailand, to fly THAI. We always do so, and we have never regretted that we chose for the Royal Orchid service, that indeed is "smooth as silk". With other airlines (in the past) we felt like a passenger, with Thai we feel as a guest. We even have to make a small detour for it. But we consider it as one of the ways to support the Thai economy, which is one of the ways to express our love for the country. We hope that some of our readers will feel similar.
THAI will probably raise its international fares to try to get out of the recent problems. The new Director has ordered the management to estimate fuel prices, the number of passengers on each route and interest rates over the next year, to calculate how much fares would need to be raised. A raise seems inevitable. It seems in evitable especially on routes with a high volume of passengers. The ticket price raise will be softened by the campaign that it is safe to fly Thai Airways (which statistically certainly is true!)
Furthermore THAI will close seven offices in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco, Dallas and Seattle as the number of passengers on American routes is dropping.
The only US branch to remain open is Los Angeles. This will save US$ 1.25 million next year. It will not affect Thai Airways employees because all staff in these branches is contracted foreigners. (Source: Bangkok Post)


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US researchers use Thai rice

Posted by hasekamp on 13 October 2001 at 11:22 AM
There have been protests lately in Thailand against a US researcher who seeks a patent for jasmine rice. Jasmine fragrant rice is being used by this researcher to develop and patent a new rice strain in the United States. The project is not yet fished and will last for at least another five years.
It now appears that Thai rice (rice originating from the Kingdom) was used for these experiments (which in fact hardly surprises us). The seeds were obtained from a gene bank, which is freely accessible for taking samples by researchers.
But fragrant jasmine rice is the pride of Thailand, and there nobody wants the US to obtain a patent for any variety that Thai product. This is –as said- Thailand's pride and nobody should touch it.
Thai legal experts now say that it is forbidden to take samples from the gene bank, in order to obtain intellectual property rights on germplasm or related information obtained. Recipients who obtained material from that bank must sign a benefit-sharing contract with this institute and with the country-of-origin of the seeds, the same experts say.
So now the Thai governments has been asked to take action against the US scientists who used Thai rice for his genetic experiments. But this is not so simple, because the scientist did nothing wrong, as any researcher has the right to conduct research on plant genes.
The ministry of agriculture will keep an eye on the American project, and will (try to) raise objections to any US attempt to patent the rice strain.
We, however, warn our readers that Intellectual Property law are a complicated field of technology and law, as we know from the first hand. Not only are we patent examiners ourselves, but we also have seen many patent cases in court, also being deputy judge for patent cases. Patent cases are often extremely difficult to decide. Not only the judges have to be highly specialized. The (also) highly specialized lawyers are sometimes very cunning in finding arguments for their case. So we wonder who will stand strongest whenever this case will be brought to court. If the Thai government want to fight this patent in the future, it would be wise to search for experts now already, who can assist them in court, when the time comes! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 11 October 2001 at 13:20 PM
The English language newspaper the Nation publishes in a headline today that there has been flooding (again) in Bangkok, with considerable hindrance for motorists. As we were not able to enter the site of the Nation further than their home page, we are at the moment unable to give further details.
We can add to this headline, however, that in October it happens more than once that the lower areas of the capital are flooded, this being the period, close to the end of the rainy season. This is something visitors to Bangkok should reckon with.
In the South, for instance on Phuket, rains mostly are even heavier than in Bangkok during the rainy season, but because Phuket in an island with many elevated areas, serious flooding hardly ever happens there.


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TV5 will respect Muslim feelings better

Posted by hasekamp on 11 October 2001 at 13:09 PM
Comments that could hurt the feelings of Thai Muslims will be banned from army-run television and radio broadcasts on the army chief's order. The TV station that is run by the army, is the popular and high quality TV5 network. The decision has been taken in order to avoid conflicts with Thai Muslims in the South. This means that words like "Muslim separatist movement" will be taken out of TV and radio programs that are under control; of the army.
The army Chief also said that the army was willing to bring together the donations made by Muslims in the South, to help Afghan refugees. But the government (not the army) would have to arrange shipments for goods, bought from these donations. The Central Islamic Committee of Thailand had offered humanitarian aid to thise Muslims, affected by the war between the United States and the Taliban. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Royal decorations from Cambodia for Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 11 October 2001 at 13:06 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is paying an one-day visit to Cambodia today, in order to receive a set of Royal decorations from King Norodom Sihanouh and to hold talks with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen. Mr Thaksin will be granted an audience with the Cambodian King for this purpose.
The decorations in question are the highest level of Cambodia’s Royal decorations. They are given to leaders of allied countries to symbolize friendship and goodwill, as well as in order to strengthen ties between Cambodia and the allied countries. In his talks with his Cambodian counterpart, Hun Sen, Mr Thaksin will discuss issues of mutual interests, such as the follow-up of agreed cooperation in economic affairs, tourism, and joint utilization of natural resources. Mr Thaksin and his companions will fly back to Bangkok this afternoon. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Limited victory for tour operators

Posted by hasekamp on 10 October 2001 at 13:54 PM
Local tour operators in Phuket province have been able to convince the
Royal Forestry Department (RFD) to refrain from raising a new (tenfold) 200-Baht entry fee for foreigners in tour groups, visiting Phang Nga Bay National Park.
We call this a limited victory, because individual foreigners will have to pay 200 Baht (100 Baht for children) from (this) 1 October on. Group fees (and fees for Thais) remain 20 Baht (10 Baht for children).
Yesterday representatives of the Phuket Eco-Tourism Association (PETA) met in Bangkok with the Director-General of the RFD, and the Chief of Phang Nga Bay National Park and reached this result. However, PETA's Secretary said that the agreement means that the scheme in which tour and dive operators will pay only 20 Baht for
every foreign tourist will expire on September 30 next year. So, also in that respect we can only speak of a limited success. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Phuket wants encroachers brought to court

Posted by hasekamp on 10 October 2001 at 13:37 PM
The Phuket governor today ordered strong action against the -nearly 30- developers that are continuing to encroach national park ground and public ground, despite previous orders to stop their operations.
The problem of encroachment on public land is growing in intensity. The governor said that the problem will give a massive blow to Phuket’s tourism industry, which is the island’s main source of income. A number of tourists have complained already.
Although the problem of encroachment on the national park land has been resolved partially, developers continue to build on public land, under the jurisdiction of Talang District.
Restaurants and shops have been built there, spoiling the natural look and the beach. Furthermore the encroachers are discharging wastewater into the sea.
The Bangkok governor said that around two months ago negotiations had taken place with the developers to persuade them to dismantle their operations, but as yet the developers had done nothing. The Talang district office now will file criminal charges against the encroachers, he said. We hope that this action will indeed be taken, and that it will not remain a hollow phrase, as sometimes these threats appear to be. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thai "academics" against air strikes

Posted by hasekamp on 10 October 2001 at 13:35 PM
Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are urged by Thai "academics" (who are supposed to be intellectuals, we suppose) to speak with one voice against the military action by the United States and Britain against Afghanistan. In the opinion of these academics Thailand should play a leading role in seeking unity within the regional grouping to counter the attack. Spokesman of these academics is a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
The 10 members of Asean, however, have different reactions to the offensive against Afghanistan. Malaysia is against the attacks, while Cambodia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are (still) backed them. Indonesia, with the largest number of Muslims anywhere, is seems strongly opposed to the attacks, although its government still has sympathy for the West.
Brunei, Laos, Burma and Vietnam have remained silent so far.
These academics wonder if Thailand will never participate in the war. They believe the country should remain neutral and they apparently believe the propaganda that "Washington is actually eager to destroy the whole Islamic world, not just bin Laden." (Source: The Nation)


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Senate wants explanation about airbase

Posted by hasekamp on 10 October 2001 at 13:32 PM
The chairman of the Senate foreign affairs committee has demanded Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra explain why the United States is using U-tapao naval airbase for military missions. The senator suspects that US aircraft have also used the Thai base for their bombing missions.
He wondered why the government failed to tell the public what is going on, especially since the US presence had a direct impact on the country and its people.
Mr Thaksin has said already-as we reported- that it was normal military practice for UN members. According to the senator the government should also have consulted the House of Representatives and the Senate. Other senators appear to share this opinion. Te senators point at the fact that Thailand could become a target for terrorist attacks. And this just at tha time TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) and Thai Airways International are promoting Thailand as the safest tourist destination in the region!
In the meantime Thailand will send 3,000 tons of rice as humanitarian aid to Afghanistan through the United Nations, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Six arrested are no terrorists

Posted by hasekamp on 9 October 2001 at 16:36 PM
Recently we reported about the arrest of six men from Middle Eastern countries. They were arrested because they were behaving suspiciously and were carrying suspect articles.
However, the six have no terrorist connections, police concluded yesterday, after an investigation. The three Iranians, two Iraqis and one Afghan were arrested at Hat Yai airport with two glass tubes, a 24-page document written in Arabic, and were without travel documents.
Police said that the glass tubes (that were suspected to be parts of bombs) were light bulbs bought in Malaysia. The document proved to be a diary containing personal notes of one of the men about his problems in Malaysia and Thailand.
The Songkhla court nevertheless sentenced each to six months' imprisonment and a 10,000 Baht fine for illegally entering the country. The jail term was suspended for one year, however. They had to go to jail nevertheless, because they were unable to pay the fine.(Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand supports military action. Muslims protest

Posted by hasekamp on 9 October 2001 at 13:09 PM
As a member of the United Nations, Thailand supports the US-led strikes against the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday. Thailand supports the action because it believes it came after careful consideration and close consultation between UN member states. Mr Thaksin said that the evidence provided by the US against Osama bin Laden (shown to his government) had been convincing and fully justified the US-led military operation against Afghanistan.
Deputy PM and Defense Minister Gen Chaovalit Yongchaiyudh Tuesday admitted that the US have used Thailand’s U-Tapao airbase for their fighter planes recently. The statement was vague, but it seems that US planes have used the base for re-fuelling, which is a right the US has, independent on the situation. The Defense Minister assured that Thailand would definitely not allow the US to be based on Thai soil or to use its fighter planes for attacks. No requests for that have reached the Thai government so far.
Meanwhile Muslims in Thailand are opposed to US military strikes against Afghanistan, but they want to strictly adhere to the Islamic principles of peace, truth and patience in dealing with the situation.
The vice chairman of the Young Muslims Association of Thailand, said the US strikes no longer are a hunt for Osama bin Laden, but are aimed at toppling Islam. The Islamic Center of Thailand issued a statement in which it calls on the US to end the military operation, pointing at the enormous losses of innocent lives and damage to the global economy they cause. The US should seek to end terrorist problems through peace, not war, it said. The Yala Islamic Committee said that Thai Muslims strongly resented the US strikes. Other Muslim organizations repeated their former standpoint that Thailand must remain neutral. (Sources: Thai News Agency, the Bangkok Post, and the Nation)


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No official reaction from Thailand available yet

Posted by hasekamp on 8 October 2001 at 11:26 AM
So far no official statement or comment by the Thai on the attacks by the US and the UK on Afghanistan has been published. Although -even considering the time difference- we would have expected such a statement or comment by now, it is not available.
The Thai newspapers do not even feature the attacks on Afghanistan yet. This can be explained from the time difference. The Thai newspapers were already on, or maybe already off, the presses when the attacks begun.
The only thing that can be reported right now is that, according to Thai News Agency, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra this morning instructed government agencies to keep a close watch on the air strikes by the United States "and its alliance" against Afghanistan, which began last night. The quoted words suggest that Thailand does not consider itself as one of the allies, but it is too early to conclude so.
A government spokesman said that the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the National Securities Council, the National Intelligence Office and other government agencies were told to be alert. He further said that the premier wanted the public not to panic over the air strikes.
But, as said, an official government comment or statement has not been issued. We hope that the Thai premier will soon make clear where the Thai government stands, now that a military action has begun.
In the recent past the Thai government has first said it wanted to stay neutral, but later is said it was on the side of the US. Now it is time for a definite statement.
We also hope that Mr Thaksin will be able to keep the Muslim community in Thailand under control, whatever the official statement will be.
Thai Airways International has immediately suspended its flights to Pakistan when the news about the attacks was made public.
Furthermore there is just a -rather selfishly- message from the Commerce Minister that the Afghan war may give the Thai rice export a boost, because the US might want to buy extra supplies. In our opinion it would be wiser if Thailand first would make up its mind about its attitude towards this war, before it thinks of gaining money from it. We believe that the US will look elsewhere for its (possible extra) rice supplies if Thailand does not openly choose the side of the US and its allies!


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Six persons, behaving suspiciously, arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 7 October 2001 at 14:29 PM
Police yesterday in Hat Yai (in Southern Thailand) arrested three Iranians, two Iraqis and one Afghani in the car park of Hat Yai airport. The six had entered Thailand illegally form Malaysia.
In their possession a small cutter, a 24-page document in Arabic, two small glass tubes containing wires and silver and bronze sheets (that might be part of an explosives device) and some airline tickets from Arabic air carriers were found. The suspects apparently crossed the Thai border, coming from Malaysia. They did not have any passports or other travel documents. Above that, they behaved suspiciously.
The suspects claimed that the tubes in their possession were electric bulbs. The objects will now be studied by officials who are (hopefully) experts.
The suspects claimed they had been deported from Malaysia and told the Thai police that another associate, an Iranian, was still on the run in Hat Yai. They also said that they had sold clothes and carpets in Malaysia and earned income as musicians.
If police find that they do not have any links to terrorist networks, the relevant authorities will be asked to deport them from the country.
We believe, if the above information is correct, that there was ground to arrest the six. Illegal entry of the country is, after all, enough ground for an arrest already. (Sources: The Bangkok Post and The Nation)


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HM the King gets another patent

Posted by hasekamp on 6 October 2001 at 21:23 PM
Thai News Agency reports today that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has developed an advanced version of his water aerator. For the original concept of his water aerator a patent was granted to him already on 2 February 1993. Some details about this former concept can be seen on our page about His Majesty the King. For the new, advanced, version of the water aerator the Department of Intellectual Property, belonging to the Ministry of Commerce, granted a second patent to him. The Commerce Minister presented the new patent to His Majesty at the Krai Kang Won Palace in Prachuab Kirikan province.
His Majesty makes an effort with his invention to solve the severe wastewater problem in the greater Bangkok area in his new invention by using irrigation gates and natural water filtration systems, in a manner that is more or less like what the water hyacinth does. This is what Thai News Agency writes today. More details have not (yet) been released.
The original Chai Pattana water aerator that was patented in 1993 received international attention and won prizes on the International Inventors exhibition in Brussels.


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US will probably produce jasmine rice

Posted by hasekamp on 5 October 2001 at 12:27 PM
American researchers appear to have successfully managed to grow Thai Hom Mali rice (jasmine rice) in the United States. This news has concerned Thai rice growers.
The government however has said that Thai rice growers and exporters should not be worried that this would affect the export to the US market and other destinations.
These reassuring sounds are based on the presumption that the US could produce rice only for local consumption. In our opinion this still is a threat for Thai farmers. Thailand does export rice to the US. And anyway, why should the US want to grow more than it can consume itself? We do not expect that the US want to take over the complete rice export from Thailand!
A second argument by the Thai government is the Thai rice is of better quality. There the Thai government might have a point. Rice growing is far from a US specialty.
The rice exported from Thailand gains more popularity –despite the US plans- because it is cheaper and is of better quality.
Nevertheless the Thai public should be made aware of the high quality of the Thai Hom Mali rice.
Another complication is that US researchers seem to have patented (a breed of) Thai jasmine rice in the United States. The commerce and agriculture ministries have to check how to his might affect Thai agriculture and if infringement of this patent is to be feared. (Sources: Thai News Agency and The Bangkok Post)


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Malaria infection rate lower than ever

Posted by hasekamp on 5 October 2001 at 12:26 PM
Malaria infection rates in Thailand are at their lowest level in at least 50 years, says Communicable Diseases Control Department. The department's annual survey found 57,695 people infected with malaria nationwide, a 27% drop on the previous year. Thailand's success in controlling the disease was widely recognized in the Asian region, the Department said.
Border provinces from Mae Hong Son in the North down to Kanchanaburi in the West will be kept under close watch. They are the most likely places where malaria may start. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Violent honeymoon

Posted by hasekamp on 4 October 2001 at 14:01 PM
The Phuket police was called yesterday to a guesthouse, where a British citizen (Mark Francis OReilly, 36) was celebrating his honeymoon with his 18 year-old Thai bride. When the police arrived, the room was devastated and the groom was holding a broken beer bottle to his bride’s throat. After the bride was freed and sent to a doctor (her throat needed three stitches) the angry groom jumped on top of the police pick-up truck and jumped so fiercely on the roof, that the truck was heavily damaged. The man was then placed in the back of the pick-up and handcuffed to it. Then he began to hit his head against the side of the car. He was taken to hospital to get 40 (!) stitches in his head, and afterwards was taken to the police station for questioning.
The exact cause of this strange behavior has not yet been revealed. Drugs are being ruled out by the police.
The Briton will have to pay for the broken furniture in the guesthouse and for the damage to the police car. He will not face any charges, because his newly-wed wife has not filed a complaint against him. We regret this, but such is the law.
Normally we do not publish this type of news, but we found this so bizarre, that we want to make an exception for once. Our source does not state if the man was allowed to go back to his ewly-wed wife. We hope not. It must be possible for her to find a better husband! (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Can taxi drivers save the economy?

Posted by hasekamp on 4 October 2001 at 13:15 PM
The Finance Minister made an interesting statement today: Thai taxi drivers can help to boost the Thai economy by learning the English language better and in that way they can make the country a more attractive destination for foreign tourists, he said.
He said that workers in the tourism industry (that includes taxi drivers) will be given free English lessons to help the sector generate more income to offset Thailand's disappointing export growth.
An official of TAT (Tourist Authority of Thailand) said that the authorities were working on a plan to ask 14,200 cab and coach drivers, hotel workers and souvenir shop attendants to attend a 90-hour English course next year.
As we have written on our page with Thailand experiences, the knowledge of the English language by Thai taxi drivers could certainly be improved. But in our opinion it seems very optimistic to thinks that they could save the country is they would speak the English language better.
So, we support these planned language lessons, but we do not expect -as the Finance Minister does- that this will save the country. On the other hand, we do not know much of economy, and so we may not expect from the Finance Minister that he knows exactly what tourists find (most) important.
However, if we may give a suggestion to His Excellency, we would say that Thailand would increase its popularity as a tourists destination if the same entrance fees would be asked from tourists and Thai citizens at attractions in the country. (Source: Reuters)


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HIV Statistics

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2001 at 17:11 PM
The Phuket Gazette reports that Phuket now has the second-highest rate of HIV-infected people in Thailand. Only Chiang Rai has a higher rate. Further figures are not given.
The infection rate in Phuket over the past 12 years was approximately six times the national average. In 1989, the last time that national HIV statistics were compared, Phuket had the fourth-highest rate in the country.
And there is more bad news for the southern island: Phuket has a comparatively high number of pregnant women who are infected with HIV. While in most other provinces less than 1% of reported cases were pregnant women, in Phuket that number is 4% of the reported cases.
As said, the figures for Bangkok (and other main places) are not given in the article in the Phuket Gazette on which we based this news item.
But, if you are going to Phuket, be aware that you are playing with your life if you would like to use the services of the pretty looking ladies who want to spend the night with you.


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Muslims do not want support for US

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2001 at 10:04 AM
The standpoint of the Thai Muslims remains unclear to us, or maybe we should say that it is becoming clearer and clearer.
The Central Islamic Committee of Thailand has urged the government not to allow the US to use Thai military bases for any attacks on Afghanistan. The committee yesterday called a meeting to discuss the terrorist attacks on the US and Thailand's stand on the issue. The meeting resolved that Thailand should remain neutral in every respect.
In a statement the committee said that Muslims across the country disagreed with the terrorist attacks, as this is against Islamic principles, because innocent citizens are killed.
But apparently fighting terrorism seems to be too much for the Thai Muslims, maybe because that also can cause victims.
Anti-US sentiment seems to be growing among Muslims in Satun, where some shops have stopped the sale of American products.
On the other hand a Thai Muslim spokesman said that the committee (mentioned above) had nothing to do with the distribution of leaflets urging Muslims in southern Yala province to join a holy war in Afghanistan. (Source: Bangkok Post)


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Every airco bus-trip one price

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2001 at 9:45 AM
Every trip in a Bangkok air-conditioned city bus will cost 15 Baht soon, to help subsidize the loss-making ordinary buses. Now these airco buses have a fare depending on the distance, ranging from 8-18 Baht. This new fare will enable the government to stop subsidy for these buses, as they cost 14 Baht per passenger to keep them going. The government does then only have to subsidize the ordinary buses, that are mainly used by "ordinary" Bangkokian (commuters). Ordinary buses cost 3.50 Baht per drive, independent of the distance, and this will remain so.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he was ready to consider the fare change because the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) needs it.
Our news source does not tell us when the new fare will become effective. (Source: Bangkok Post)


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Flash flood warning

Posted by hasekamp on 2 October 2001 at 11:25 AM
People living in the southern region of Thailand should –again- be aware of possible flash floods over the next few days, due to heavy rain, the Meteorological Department has said.
The Meteorological Department further said that Thailand's eastern, southern, lower central regions, and even Bangkok could face heavy rain over the next few days too. As we wrote yesterday, this is not exceptional in the rainy season.
People living in the areas mentioned should, therefore, be prepared for the (continued or) heavy rain. The warning for flash floods is for the southern areas only. We copy this warning here, because it could be important in planning your holidays (Source: Thai news Agency)


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Thai victims in the US

Posted by hasekamp on 1 October 2001 at 23:09 PM
The Thai Foreign Ministry yesterday confirmed for the first time that two Thai women, of whom we reported before, were killed in the terrorist attacks on the US earlier this month.
The confirmation came from New York authorities. They officially announced that there was no one left alive under the World Trade Center buildings. The two were among the Thais reported missing in the attacks on New York. Both worked in the WTC buildings, on high floors. A ministry spokesman said that 12 Thais were still listed as missing. There still is a (small) possibility that they are not under the remains of the WTC and they can still be traced somewhere in New York. The chance is getting smaller every day, however. So the number of Thai victims lies between 2 and 14, and we have to reckon with 14, highly probably. (Source: The Nation)


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Roads in Bangkok flooded

Posted by hasekamp on 1 October 2001 at 23:08 PM
Heavy rains in Bangkok yesterday afternoon put some busy streets under water, causing traffic problems all over town. The Nation reports that in less than an hour, Sunthornkosa Road, Rama III Road, Sukhumvit Road from Soi 43 to 55, Lat Phrao Road, Ramkhamhaeng Road, Phetchaburi Road, Nang Linji Road, and Suan Phloo Road were all under water. Flood levels ranged between 15 and 20 centimeters.
Rains (and often heavy rains) with some flooding are quite normal in October in Bangkok. We have seen this several times. In fact this is more a rule than an exception in this season. It is the rainy season now. Nevertheless the repeating flooding every year, in fact all over the country, be it at different times, worry us. In Bangkok the roads will probably be dry again within a few days. But new flooding is as possibility. The drainage system in Bangkok is inadequate and unable to handle with excessive rain. So if you are going to Bangkok soon, be prepared to see some flooding.


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Tenfold fees also in Pang Nga

Posted by hasekamp on 1 October 2001 at 23:07 PM
After Phuket, also Pang Nga has risen entrance fees for national Parks tenfold for tourists. The local tourist industry strongly opposes the step, as they fear a drop in clients.
The admission fees will rise from 20 Baht to 200 Baht. We have written our opinion of these different prices for foreigners and Thais and these enormous rises in fees often enough and it has not changed.
The new admission fees will apply to national parks administered by the Royal Forestry Department. The tourist industry is still trying top get the fees down to the former level. Some say that the Forestry Department might delay the new fees, but we are not very optimistic about the situation. All over the country there are discussions about higher fees. We think, however, that with the [resent drop in the number of tourists, as a result of the attacks on the US, it seems not wise to effectuate these high fees right now. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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