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Gibbons to be released tomorrow

Posted by hasekamp on 29 November 2001 at 12:39 PM
We have announced this as soon as it was planned, but tomorrow is the big day! A pair of white-handed gibbons, an endangered species of extreme beauty, will be released in a Phuket rainforest tomorrow under the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP) of the Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand (WAR). Gibbons (also called the "singing apes") live monogamously in pairs with their children. The two to be released do form a pair, but do not yet have children.
Gibbons have always been wanted as pets or tourist attractions, and that is the great threat for them. If poachers want to catch a young gibbon (they are no able to catch an adult one), they shoot both parents, and pick up the grieving young orphan. This terrible practice is still not completely ruled out, although it luckily is not common any more. So remember when you see a gibbon in captivity, that it has (at least) the dead souls of two others behind him or her!
The two animals to be released, aged three and six years, will be set free in the Khao Phra Thaew Wildlife and Forest Reserve. Two more gibbons will be released there also on 5 December, to commemorate His Majesty the King's birthday.
Although the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is in operation for 10 years already, the first couple was released in the same area nine years ago. Since then no gibbons were released, so the event of tomorrow is a milestone in the work of GRP and WAR.
The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project now has 65 gibbons under its care. Most were captive before being taken in there. Two of them have been financially adopted by Hasekamp Net for two years now. (Our own correspondent, with some information added form the Bangkok Post)


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HM the King wins awards for his inventions

Posted by hasekamp on 29 November 2001 at 12:10 PM
HM the King has won several awards again at the Brussels Eureka 2001 inventors fair. His Majesty won a total of three gold medals and a special honorary medal. The international exhibition of inventions (Eureka 2001) was held in Brussels from 13-18 November 2001.
The three gold medals were awarded for his work on biodiesel, artificial rain, and innovative development theories.
Three more prizes were awarded for work conducted by HM the Queen's SUPPORT foundation, in particular for her community development.
Other Thai inventors won 16 prizes, among others for a fire-dousing ball invented by Mr Woradech Kraimat. This is not the first time His Majesty has been awarded in Brussels. Last year he was among other things awarded for his water aerator. He also received several prizes then. Use our search box for details.
Given the fact that 16 more Thai inventors were awarded, we may conclude that the Thais are inventive people. Having visited the country many times now, this does not surprise us. We always see the latest novelties there first and shops ands department stores are always loaded with original Thai products. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Durex sex survey

Posted by hasekamp on 28 November 2001 at 14:21 PM
Durex, the condom International, has organized a survey about sex in the world, including in Thailand. Here are the main results. Thais are having more sex than before: They have an average of 6.5 sex partners, and they have sex 99 times a year (average), which is just above the global average of 97. But according to the Durex sex survey, Thais are among the slowest in the world at promoting sex education.
Durex said yesterday that the United States remains the sex superpower, with Americans making love more often and with more partners than any other nationality.
Thai youngsters are having their first sexual experience at an average age of 18.7 years. This is later than before, if ones compares the results with earlier polls.
On the other hand Thais are becoming more active sexually. Last year they had sex 70 times a year, now 99. World average is 97 and at the top (the US) the average is 124 times a year.
We believe, however, that the Americans call many things sex that really are not. An average of 124 times a year (including infants and the aged) seems unlikely if people also have to do their work. Or is sex the (real) reason for the American recession that has officially started now?
For your information: Japan is still at the bottom of the lovers ladder, with an average of 36 times a year. (Source: The Nation, with more details)


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Train accident

Posted by hasekamp on 28 November 2001 at 14:02 PM
The Thai railways are very safe. Accidents seldom happen. Yesterday was one of the rare exceptions. Early yesterday morning a train with mainly students and vendors (regular commuters were apparently still sleeping), derailed near Kabin Buri station. It was the train from Aranyaprathet to Bangkok. During the incident 48 passengers were injured. All four carriages of the train went off the track and the belongings of the passengers were scattered all over the place.
The engine supervisors were among the persons injured.
Although the cause of the accident is not yet completely clear, police suspect that a grass fire that was burning alongside the track has damaged the track, causing the derailment.
The 48 persons injured were taken to hospital, but all but two were soon released again. The other two were suffering from neck pain and were kept in the hospital for observation.
The passengers that lost their belongings and valuables in the crash complained about lack of assistance in arranging alternate transportation. This seems to be typical for Thailand. Whenever there is something wrong with trains in the Netherlands (where our editor lives), passengers are mostly completely left on their own and have to see by themselves how and if they can get home. In Thailand people are so lucky that they may consider service as a normal thing. Whenever it lacks, Thai people are entitled to complain. And they will do so indeed! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Lopburi monkey buffet

Posted by hasekamp on 27 November 2001 at 16:54 PM
In Lopburi, about 300 km from Bangkok, around 600 monkeys are living freely in the streets, parks and temples. They simply belong to the city and bring the inhabitants luck. The Lopburi monkeys are (long tailed) macaques.
Once a year the local community feasts the animals with a large buffet. This year this grand monkey buffet was on Sunday 25 November (two days ago).
The banquet was organized -as always- by Lopburi Inn owner Yongyuth Kijwattananuson. He organizes the Monkey Banquet every year to show his gratitude for their contribution to the success of his business. He places a twelve meter long table for the monkeys, and fills it with fruit (bananas in the first place), vegetables carved into flowers, nuts, cakes, fruit salads, rice, and lots more.
Although those who want to see the monkeys feast (and run for the bananas first) have to pay an entrance fee, every year it is crowded and everybody goes home satisfied. The visitors have seen happy monkeys and the monkeys have had a great meal.
Today, two days after the big party, those monkeys who have eaten too much and were sick are recovered, and life takes its normal way again. The monkeys may wonder why they do not get such a feast every day, but such is life. As usual the monkey buffet in Lopburi was a great success this year. If you missed it, go there next year. It always is being held in November. (Our own correspondent)


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Turtles saved from being turned into medicine

Posted by hasekamp on 26 November 2001 at 21:32 PM
On Don Muang airport in Bangkok customs discovered a shipment of nearly 2,000 turtles almost all of them belonging to protected species. The turtles were intended to be sent to China, where they would have been used for ingredients in herbal medicine. We wonder what is herbal on turtles, by the way, but the Chinese seem to have a broad definition of that word.
The turtle shipment originated in Malaysia. The attached declaration document claimed the shipment to contain 300 Red Ear Slider (Chrysemys scripta) turtles, which is a commonly sold turtle as a pet and is not protected under Thai law.
Trading in protected species is punishable by a maximum fine of 40,000 Baht, a jail term of up to four years, or both. We hope the persons responsible for this action get both! (Source: The Nation)


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Fifteen pills makes a dealer

Posted by hasekamp on 26 November 2001 at 21:31 PM
The Senate has voted in very large majority (108:1) for an amendment bill to make a person possessing 15 methamphetamine tablets (speed pills) or more a drugs dealer, liable to harsh penalties.
Several senators even found 15 tablets too many and suggested a number of tree pills as the maximum not to be earmarked as a drugs dealer.
At the moment the law at defines a drug dealer as a person possessing 50 pills or more. So, there are many more death sentences and executions to be expected in the future.
The bill will also impose harsher penalties on dealers. Those caught with fewer than 15 pills should nevertheless undergo a rehabilitation program.
The general public seems content with the new law. For your information: About 2.8 million people nationwide have used or are using speed pills, including an estimated 77,000 teenagers. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Viagra® substitute from herbs

Posted by hasekamp on 25 November 2001 at 22:29 PM
Whenever sex is involved, people seem to be willing to pay any price to be able to have it, whether they are too old, whether they are in fact not really interested or whatever other reason there might be not to have it. As soon as a US company found that men could have sex, if they wanted or not, by using a drug called Viagra®, that drug became on sale everywhere, especially via the Internet, an d the shares of the company boosted. (If the stuff sold over the Net has the same properties as the one distributed by an American multinational remains to be seen, but is beyond the scope of this page).
In Thailand this hunger for sex is also present. But US drugs are far too expensive for the average Thai villager, and so something had to be done about that.
A farmer in Sa Kaew province has now come up with the solution in the form of an herbal mix. He is having a hard time keeping up with demand.
This farmer says that his product is made from a traditional herb known as "Krachaai Dum", that is known to cure impotence and to enhance sexual prowess.
The herb is traditionally cured in liquor, but now the active ingredients are extracted out of the herb without alcohol by boiling it with six other herbs and other ingredients. A bottle of this new herbal drug is sold for 10 Baht. This must be a revelation for those who until now took all their money from the bank to buy Viagra® over the Internet!
An official of Sa Kaew Public Health Office said he had been ordered to oversee the production of the novelty to ensure its hygiene and safety. Local officials are also hoping to patent the brew and hope that it will become one of the province's important products. And who knows, maybe this drug will be sold over the Internet too in the future! (Source: The Nation)


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To execute or not to execute on TV?

Posted by hasekamp on 24 November 2001 at 22:29 PM
There have been publications that executions of drugs offenders in Thailand would be televised, then it has been denied, and then another rumor came up that the broadcast was to be made after all and, well who knows where it will end. But of course it is very interesting what the Thai public thinks of this. A poll has been held about the subject very recently.
And the winner is ….: Nearly 80 percent of the Thai public agrees with the idea of making live television broadcasts of the executions of drug dealers! The (leading) Suan Dusit poll asked the question to 2,502 respondents in Bangkok and surrounding provinces and found that 79.14 percent agreed with live broadcasts, saying they would act as a deterrent and would show that the state was serious in battling the country’s drug problem.
We are surprised by this high percentage. We have given our (negative) opinion about this subject more than once on this page and we thought that the majority of the Thai public would roughly think similar. Seldom have we misjudged our Thai friends more, it appears.
Only 20.86 of the persons interviewed were opposed to the idea, saying that it was too harsh and inappropriate. Apparently none of the respondents (also) thought of Thailand's International image. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Sex tourism promotion should end

Posted by hasekamp on 24 November 2001 at 22:28 PM
Local officials in Phuket of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) want information about any person(s) or company involved in promoting sex for sale on the island. The appeal comes after TAT officers discovered websites offering child sex as part of package tours. One website offered a three days and two nights stay, including sex with one child, for 50,000 Baht. TAT is now investigating who is behind these websites and hopes to have them arrested soon. TAT believes (with us) that this type of tourism will destroy Phuket as a tourist destination. TAT asks the cooperation of the general public to end these promotions of child sex. If you can help, email to tathkt@phuket.ksc.co.th. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Cold temperatures bad for elephants

Posted by hasekamp on 23 November 2001 at 14:12 PM
In northern Thailand temperatures can be low in this (winter) season. Sometimes even below zero in the mountains. This is not only bad for humans (they have been warned already, as we published some time ago) but also for elephants. Several elephants have died of cold already this year, a spokeswoman for the Friends of the Asian Elephant said today. At an elephant hospital in the North steps have now been taken to protect the animals. The current temperatures in the North of about six degrees Celsius can be fatal already for our thick-skinned friends.
All the mahouts have been asked not to give showers to the elephants and clean wounds only in the afternoon, when temperatures are higher.
Two years ago 10 elephants died in Chiang Mai from the cold, so the organization is prepared. They also light fires when the temperature drops. Elephants used for tourist treks in the northern provinces should also not be taken on high-altitude journeys in the mountains now.
The Thai government has said it will supply heaters and blankets for rural humans that suffer from the winter cold that set in two weeks ago. (Source: The Nation)


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10 Baht for 2 Euro

Posted by hasekamp on 23 November 2001 at 13:07 PM
This is not an economic update, but it is good news for Thai visitors to Europe and for smart European visitors to Thailand.
All over Europe the news now has spread that 10 Baht coins are an exact match for 2 Euro coins, as far as paying in automats is concerned. They have the same size and weight and have been made out of the same alloy. And because all twelve Euro countries are free to make their own picture on one side of the coins, it is not really possible to scan the pictures in automats.
So if you want to buy a coke, a train ticket, a parking meter or whatever, from 1 January 2002 on in all twelve Euro countries you can use 10 Baht coins instead of 2 Euro coins.
Now, we re no cheaters and we might not even have mentioned this, if the reactions of the National and European Banks would not have been so stupid.
They say that, when they designed the Euro coins (three years ago, they say), the 10 Baht coin did not even exist. Well, the 10 Baht coins we carry in our purse are dated 2539, which is five years ago. Our opinion is that if the official cannot come up with an honest statement that they overlooked the Thai coins when designing the Euro coins, these officials are not worth our discretion.
So, Thai visitors to the Euro countries, buy all your train tickets, cokes, passport photographs, sweets cigarettes and the parking meters for your rented car with your own coins (which are far superior in design to the ugly Euro coins by the way) and you can have a relatively cheap holiday in twelve European countries! And, smart Europeans, take a roll of a hundred 10 Baht coins home with you. We will use our 10 Baht coins mainly to pay parking meters and to buy train tickets in the Netherlands. The train service there is so bad, that in that way we can earn a bit back from all the times we had a valid ticket but he train was (very) late or did not drive at all. Honest visitors of this site who have not been cheated by companies like the Dutch railways, and who do not object to the high parking rates in Europe, forget that you ever read this message! (Our own correspondent)


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Chimp released in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 22 November 2001 at 13:41 PM
We have written some days ago that four gibbons will be released from the Gibbon rehabilitation center in Phuket, near Bang Pae waterfall. Today the Phuket Gazette publishes that also Tot-men, a young chimpanzee, who spent the first six months of his life in bars in Patong, was released into the forests near the Bang Pae waterfall. Tot-men has astonished animal rehabilitation workers with his ability to imitate bar patrons, for instance by drinking whisky.
Although we are very content about the fact that this chimp will be able to lead a natural life from now on, but we still worry about him. We wonder if this chimp can find any companions of his own kind near Bang Pae waterfall. If not, he might be an easy target to be recaptured, because he might seek the company of humans then. We do trust, however, that that he did get a rehabilitation program at the gibbon rehabilitation center before he was released.


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Htoo twins want to stay

Posted by hasekamp on 22 November 2001 at 13:25 PM
In January this year the Htoo twins, of uncertain age, but guesses do not go higher than 15 years of age, surrendered to the Thai army. We reported about this event (use our search box to find the items). The small guerrillas, because that is what they were, rebelled against the Burmese army and were not afraid to kill. They leaded a group, that called itself "God's Army".
After their capture by the Thai army they were sent to school. Since then U.S. Embassy officials have visited Johnny and Luther Htoo at least twice. This was because the Thai government had asked the United States to consider accepting the twins and their family in their country. Thai officials want to complete the process to get rid of the twins by the end of this year.
The twins now appear to have said that they prefer to stay in Thailand, in order to get on with their lives.
Aid workers say, however, that Thailand remains reluctant to put the boys in one of its border camps where more Karen refugees from Burma are sheltered, because the twins could become a center for discontent with poor camp conditions. They could also be a security risk for the Burmese army, that still might want to capture them. Given their reluctance to move to the US, and given the fact that they are welcome nowhere else, we expect them to remain in Thailand. (Source: Associated Press)


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Silom without traffic a success!

Posted by hasekamp on 22 November 2001 at 11:47 AM
The closing down, on Sundays, of Silom Road in Bangkok is just after just one week a big success already. The word of success is even spreading nationwide. Tourist spots like Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Hat Yai are considering already to follow Bangkok in closing streets down for traffic.
And also in Bangkok the success is such, that local authorities consider to close more streets on Sundays. Khao San road may the next candidate, and in this case the road may be closed for traffic every day. City officials are working already on a beautification project for that street.
And then Phra Athit Road could be turned into a walking street on Sundays, like Silom road. The areas surrounding Sanam Luang and the Royal Palace, could be designated as a (traffic-less) Royal Square, and outdoor activities could be held there every weekend, authorities say. We wonder if all these good plans will be turned into reality. As we have written before, in Thailand there are loads of plans, but many disappear again noiselessly
Anyway, Silom on Sunday is now called "Healthy Silom". On the first Sunday of December, Silom will become a musical street marking His Majesty the King's birthday. And there are many more plans for Silom. As we wrote, we hope that they will all become reality, but we have to see it ourselves first! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Surcharge for Harry Potter

Posted by hasekamp on 22 November 2001 at 11:20 AM
The Harry Potter hype will now come to Thailand. The movie will be premiered soon and will be shown in 120 theaters all over Thailand. Warner Brothers are apparently not yet earning enough from the picture, because in a developing country like Thailand tickets will be surcharged 20 Baht. For what? We do no know. Just for greed of Warner Brothers, we suppose. Advertisements have been made extremely extensive for Thailand. You can see the posters on buses, on the skytrain, and where not.
But is that a reason to ask more for a movie ticket in a developing country? We think it is not. These advertisements are supposed to bring in more moviegoers, which will generate more profit, but do all the moviegoers have to be surcharged for that? We find this a very unfair step and we hope that the effect will be contrary to the greedy wishes of Warner Brothers, although we fear that the Thai children also will be able to convince their parents that they have to see the Harry Potter movie.
A spokeswoman from Warner Brothers in Thailand said that the higher ticket price is necessary(!) because of the high cost of making the film (5.5 billion Baht) plus the high promotional budget of 15 million Baht.
As far as the promotional budget is concerned, we have given our opinion already a few lines higher. As far as the making cost of the movie is concerned, we are not impressed by this argument. We all know that every (major) film is more expensive that the former one, but that has so far not been a reason to make movie tickets 20 Baht a seat more expensive every year. Our final opinion: Ban the Harry Potter movie! (Source for the figures: The Nation)


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CD ROMs about Buddha teachings

Posted by hasekamp on 21 November 2001 at 12:38 PM
The Bangkok Post reports today that a lecture will be held to introduce a set of three CD ROMs about the teachings of the Buddha, on 29 November at the Siam Society.
The set of three CD ROMs is based on the mural paintings of Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha). The mural paintings in Wat Phra Kaew that depict the Buddha's life are situated on the inside of the Royal Chapel of Wat Phra Kaew. Around 120 episodes of this pictured biography have been used for the interactive project, that gives an animated exposition, with a soundtrack and five hours of narration. Also links to the sites of India and Nepal where the events originally occurred are provided on the CDs.
The author and creator of this project -who will give the lecture on 29 November- is film director Dr Titus Leber. The project to create the three CD ROMs took over three years. The article in the Bangkok Post -sadly- does not state where the CD ROMs can be bought. They seem a highly valuable introduction to Buddhism, that should certainly also be interesting for non-Thais. Those of our readers that can supply us with the information where and how the CD ROMs are available are requested to do so on our message board, by clicking the link right below this news item.


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Living on 21 Baht a day

Posted by hasekamp on 20 November 2001 at 21:18 PM
Thai people in the poorest village in the country live on 1.21 Baht a day, the Interior Ministry said yesterday on its study on poverty nationwide. The ministry released the information in response to a recent World Bank report, which said that the poverty in Thailand was worsening.
According to the report, 16% of the population lives on less than 900 Baht per person per month. The World Bank defines 900 Baht a month as the poverty line. In simple words: 16% of the Thai population is (really) poor.
The Interior Ministry's Community Development Department revealed that the average income of people in about 1,500 villages is lower than 20,000 Baht per year, or 666 Baht per month.
This figure is used by the Thai government to define poverty.
The poorest village in the country appears to be Kork Village in Nan province. The average annual income there is 442 Baht.
Mae Hong Son is the province with the lowest average income, while Phuket is the richest province. (Source: The Nation)


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Elton John concert

Posted by hasekamp on 20 November 2001 at 13:51 PM
The Thais are always very enthusiastic for famous pop stars. They have enough stars themselves (that hardly ever can be heard or seen abroad) but when World stars come to Bangkok, the city is on its feet. A few years ago everybody went crazy when Michael Jackson arrived, yesterday it will be Elton John who gave one single concert.
In fact this was the Bangkok (and Thai) debut of the star. He arrived in Bangkok in the afternoon, a few hours before his performance at 8 p.m. at Impact Arena in Muang Thong Thani.
Sir Elton's crew of 74 prepared the stage as he wants it to be and the performer's grand piano was be flown in from London for his Asian tour, which ended yesterday night here in Bangkok. "Just" 9,000 seats were sold for the show. A few 7,000 and 3,000 Baht tickets were still available in the afternoon, but the 1,000 Baht tickets were sold out already then. These prices do not sound very Thai to us. Nevertheless in the evening the concert was completely sold out. After the show in Bangkok, Sir Elton John went to Don Muang directly, to fly back to England. (Source: The Nation)


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Leonids were spectacular this year

Posted by hasekamp on 20 November 2001 at 10:12 AM
Every year the Leonids meteorite shower can be seen –in principle- in Thailand. When the weather permits, that is. Often the weather does not permit so, because it is cloudy (when we were there a few years ago during this time for instance), and then all the tour operators who want to bring people to places outside cities where there is more darkness, have bad business. This year they had a better year, however.
Thai people in all provinces could watch the spectacular meteorite shower and could count 1,000 Leonids an hour average, according to the Astronomy Association of Thailand.
In Bangkok alone, over 30,000 people came to the Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT)’s headquarters on Chaengwattana Road and they were able to could count 576 Leonids from 11:40 p.m. to 06:00 a.m. this morning, or two per minute.
At the TOT headquarters a center was arranged for watching the meteorite shower in Bangkok and metropolitan area. All Bangkokian families were invited to witness the spectacular phenomenon there. In Bangkok the sight was not as spectacular as upcountry, but still better than many other years. One of the best places to see the Leonids in Thailand was Chiang Mai. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Japanese Emperor sends regards to Thai King

Posted by hasekamp on 20 November 2001 at 9:56 AM
Yesterday we wrote the Mr Thaksin would be granted audience with the Japanese Emperor. That audience probably took place at the very moment we wrote about it. During the audience the Japanese Emperor Akihito has sent his warm regards to His Majesty the King and the members of the Royal Thai family. Emperor Akihito also wished His Majesty the King a good health.
Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra said "When I was granted an audience with Emperor Akihito, he asked me about His Majesty the King’s health, and he was happy to know that His Majesty is in good health. He also asked me to send his warm regards to His Majesty the King and other members of the royal Thai family". Mr Thaksin further said that he talked with Emperor Akihito about the background of community-based products in Oita province. The Emperor said that his father, Emperor Hirohito, brought in traditional vocations for Oita people. Mr Thaksin is scheduled to visit Oita province, as we wrote yesterday, where successful projects on community-based products will be observed by the Thai delegation.
For further details about the visit of Mr Thaksin to Japan we refer to our former posting about this issue. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin visits Japan

Posted by hasekamp on 19 November 2001 at 12:09 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visits Japan at the moment (18-21 November). He will be granted audience with the Emperor of Japan during his visit.
Mr Thaksin wants to promote trade liberalization with Japan during this visit. He wants Japan to fully open up its market for Thai products and especially for some specific Thai products first.
He hopes that Japanese experts will suggest Thai manufacturers and exporters how to improve their products to meet the demands and requirements of the Japanese market.
Mr Thaksin will also visit Oita province, which is a prototype of successful community-based products. Mr Thaksin has selected a group of experts from the Ministries of Commerce, Interior, and Agriculture and Cooperatives to accompany him on his Japanese trip, especially for his visit to Oita province, where successful projects on community-based products will be visited. Mr Thaksin will also invite Japanese investors to invest more in the Thai economy. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Rubbish for the environment

Posted by hasekamp on 19 November 2001 at 12:08 PM
One of Thailand’s most popular monks wants Sanam Luang (the grass area near the Grand Palace in Bangkok where Royal cremations take place) to help organize a mass offering of still useful rubbish to mark Thai Environment Day.
The monk, Phra Phisaldhammaphati, popularly known as Phra Phayom Kalayano, wants to organize the event together with the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) on 5 December in honor of HM the King, who has his birthday on 5 December.
For the event the public would be able to hand over donations of what they consider to be rubbish from the morning of 2 December on at Sanam Luang. In the evening a sermon and concert will be held, which would be broadcast live on TV, if the plans become reality. "The offering of rubbish is intended for the merit of HM the King. We will work together for the environment in order that the King can rest assured in his heart that the country is clean and free from rubbish", the monk said.
The rubbish Phra Phayom is thinking of, could consist of old and broken electrical equipment. Useful materilas (like copper) will be extracted from the rubbish by orphans and the unemployed, and will be sold to their benefit. Another type of rubbish that can have value are old shoes. Somebody else can give them a second life.
Similar events would are planned in Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, and Hat Yai. (Source: The Nation)


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Elephant hurts tourist

Posted by hasekamp on 17 November 2001 at 12:35 PM
We are no fans of Phuket zoo. It is a tourist attraction where animals have been trained to entertain the public. And these trainings are not always what the animals want themselves, to put it mildly. So, it is understandable that now and then accidents happen there.
Lately an elephant at Phuket Zoo picked up and threw its keeper with its trunk, causing a female Scottish tourist to fall from the elephant's back. The elephant then kicked her, resulting in serious leg injuries.
Recovering at Phuket International Hospital, the tourist yesterday recalled the incident before journalists. The incident was captured on video by the boyfriend of the Scottish tourist and was confirmed yesterday by one of the zoo's elephant keepers. The management of the zoo has promised to increase safety measures and they say it will not happen again. They also say it never happened before.
Doctors expect the tourist in question to be able to leave the hospital soon and to make a full recovery in about three months. She still thinks Phuket is beautiful, but she thinks she will never return there! (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Woman raped by taxi driver

Posted by hasekamp on 17 November 2001 at 12:34 PM
This is a seldom-occurring event, but apparently it happens. Women are again being warned to avoid traveling alone at night after a taxi driver raped a customer in Saraburi on Monday. Police said women should write down details of the taxis they use.
A driver on Monday picked up a woman at Mor Chit bus terminal in Bangkok to go to Saraburi. He offered her drinking water, with sleeping pills solved, and raped her in a hotel in Saraburi. He was arrested the next morning and doubtless loose his license and more.
He had been arrested on criminal charges three times before, including a charge of rape in Bangkok. The chairman of the taxi operators group said he was shocked by the incident.
Women should refrain from wearing valuables and revealing clothing, and from accepting offers of food or drink, he said. We repeat that events like this one are really rare in Thailand. Nevertheless it is a old trick in buses and trains to offer people food or drinks with sleeping drugs and then rob them or worse. So the advice to be careful in accepting food or drinks while on the road is one we would like to emphasize. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Warning for cold weather

Posted by hasekamp on 17 November 2001 at 12:33 PM
As everybody who has ever visited Thailand knows, there are two types of weather there: hot and hot. This rule seems not to be valid always. Then Meteorological Department has warned that near-zero temperatures possible in some areas. But we are clearly are talking about mountainous areas, especially in the North. In Bangkok you can still count with 25-30 degrees C.
In the areas mentioned temperatures are now down to an average of 3 degrees C. So Thais have been warmed to prepare for a cold winter.
The winter season normally starts October/November and lasts until February. The coldest provinces will be Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Phitsanulok, where the average temperature will be between 7 and 15 degrees Celsius.
The South will be much warmer. There we should count with an average temperature between 22 and 24 degrees C. (Source: The Nation)


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Four gibbons to be released

Posted by hasekamp on 16 November 2001 at 17:10 PM
As most of our readers should know, we are fierce supporters of the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center on Phuket Island, not only mentally, but also financially. We have adopted two gibbons, the extremely beautiful "singing apes". We et a warm feeling when whenever we hear these creatures sing, which is far less often than we would want. This center is in the news now, because the Phuket Governor will lead the release ceremony of four gibbons on 30 November.
The team will leave the project (in Thalang, near Bang Pae waterfall) at 8:30 am and head about 10 kilometers into the rainforest behind Bang Pae waterfall, where the four gibbons Tara, Fish, Dumboo and Mai –that have stayed in the center for "de-humanification" will be released.
Preecha Sonserm, director of Gibbon Rehabilitation Project said today that this is an extremely unusual event. No gibbons have been returned to Nature from the center for eight years.
The reason is that the rehabilitation program for the gibbons takes a very long time (and love from the volunteers, by the way!). Many have been maltreated by humans for years and have brown accustomed too much to humans to be able to survive in Nature. They have to be trained to be an ape again. Above that, the four gibbons that are ready now, were not healthy enough to be released until now.
We find this a good moment to ask the attention of our visitors once more for the project once more. We also have a page about the project on this site, on http://www.hasekamp.net/gibbon.htm We recommend the activities of the project warmly to our visitors, and we hope they will make a donation to the center. All of the money is spent on the gibbons. The volunteers get no payment whatsoever. It is a work of love that we, humans, should highly respect! More details can be found by clicking the link. Contact the center to see if you may attend the ceremony! (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Executions to be broadcasted live on TV

Posted by hasekamp on 16 November 2001 at 11:27 AM
This has been in the news before, but it has not really been effectuated then. Now again, it is said that executions of drug traders could soon be televised live as a deterrent to other traffickers. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said this yesterday at a seminar.
This year already nine convicted traffickers have been executed. These executions were not broadcasted yet. There are another 50-60 people in jail who have been sentenced to death by the court, so they might be on TV while being executed. Enough material for a lengthy, bloody and deadly TV show, that might seriously harm the International reputation of the country, it seems!
At first, the government only plans to broadcast executions of major drug criminals.
About 60 million methamphetamine pills, 300 kilograms of heroin and about 330 million Baht cash have been acquired from drugs and have been seized this year.
So indeed Thailand's drugs problem remains large, but we have very serious reservations for the plan to broadcast executions live on TV as a measure of prevention. We believe that publication of the sentences and executions should have enough effect. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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THAI in bad financial situation

Posted by hasekamp on 16 November 2001 at 11:25 AM
Thai Airways International is in a crisis, its chairman Virabongsa Ramangkura said. He added that the airliner might go under within three years if its financial problems are not solved. THAI has a debt of 2 billion US$. Due to this burden it cannot borrow money any more. We do not believe Thai government will give away the national carrier so easily (see below for a first confirmation), but still the situation is worrying.
Needless to say that the situation became so alarming after September 11.
The chairman said that surviving was only possible if the company would cut its expenses. The government and the Finance Ministry, the airline's major shareholder, are –luckily- wiling to help. The ministry for instance is willing to issue bonds, but is studying further support too. Krung Thai Bank (the government owned bank) will then handle the sale.
A secondary reason for the high debt is the bad exchange rate. The aviation world pays with US$ and the Thai Baht is weak against the greenback (somewhere near 45 Baht for one US$).
THAI has a large staff of 25,000, compared to 14,000 for rival Singapore Airlines. No new staff will be recruited until further notice.
Overtime would be radically reviewed and fewer aircrews deployed on flights but not to the extent that it would compromise passenger safety and service.
As we are –and will remain- fierce supporters of THAI, we suggest our readers, as far as they do not do so already, to fly THAI, in order to support this great airline. They will not regret it.
The service is superb and passengers are treated as guests, not as passengers! (Main source: The Bangkok Post)


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Skytrain reduction

Posted by hasekamp on 14 November 2001 at 21:57 PM
Starting this weekend Silom Road will be walking area on Sundays. The skytrain wants to promote this event by giving skytrain travellers a 30% discount on Sundays, and all children can even ride for free.
The Sunday discount will apply to all adults who hold so called "value-ticket cards" and get off at Sala Daeng or Chong Nonsi stations, both on Silom road.
Free parking will also be available for skytrain travellers, at the Bitec centre and Central department store in Bang Na. From there car travelers can can take free shuttle buses to the Onnuj train station.
Parking will also be available at the Shangri-La hotel and at the UBC II building on Sukhumvit road, close to Prom Pong station. There, however, 40 Baht a day will be charged, which is practically free, compared to European parking fees!.
By introducing this reduction the skytrain management hopes to promote the skytrain. The skytrain is not popular in general, but on Sunday its popularity is lowest, with just 150,000 passengers. The skytrain operators hopes to double the number of travelers on Sunday, by giving the mentioned reduction of 30%, which will -if effectuated- still give them extra profit! (Source : The Bangkok Post)


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Salt-licking for food

Posted by hasekamp on 14 November 2001 at 13:16 PM
In Ban Bo village in Prang Koo district of Si Sa Ket province the population is very poor. Although the government and some public organizations have tried to do something about this, all attempts have failed. Villagers are still chewing earth and licking salt stones.
Sixteen years ago this caused quite some tumult in Thailand, but it still has not changed. Today newspaper The Nation publicizes a picture about a child, licking a stone.
Last week be cabinet held a mobile meeting and came in the area (about which we reported) but Ban Bo was not on their agenda.
"The best thing I have ever eaten in my life is eggs. We don't have them very often though", a child in Ban Bo said. It seems that the government is not able to find a way to end this extreme poverty. (Source: The Nation)


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Crown Prince inspects water systems

Posted by hasekamp on 14 November 2001 at 12:50 PM
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn yesterday inspected Bangkok's water drainage station in Phra Khanong district.
Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej, who accompanied the Crown Prince, said that the Prince has shown great interest in the flood prevention system.
Bangkok has several water problems. On one hand too much water is being taken from the ground, which makes the city sink every year, and on the other hand the loads of rain water that enter Bangkok every year from upcountry, cause flooding every year, mostly in October.
The Crown Prince has planned to inspect road construction projects initiated by His Majesty the King, in order to ease city traffic in Bangkok, later. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Government agrees with buying and breeding rare animals

Posted by hasekamp on 12 November 2001 at 22:49 PM
People in (illegal) possession of protected animals will be allowed to turn them over to the government without fear of prosecution. The government will even reward them by buying them back at low prices. We criticized this plan, but the Thai Cabinet approved it yesterday.
As we reported, the Agriculture Ministry wants to resolve the problem of illegal possession of protected species. At the same time the government wants to promote the breeding of rare animals for commercial purposes. We criticized this plan even more.
The Forestry and Fisheries departments will not take legal action against people who hand over protected animals, on the condition that they agree to surrender ownership of the animals to the state. Rare animals will be worth 20 to 2,000 Baht. Some examples: Rare partridges will go for 100 Baht, Siamese fireback pheasants will be worth 200 Baht, green peafowl and Great Argus pheasants will give the unlawful owner 500 Baht. Our source does not state how well the illegal owner of a white-handed gibbon will be rewarded. We expect that gibbons will be at the top range of the scale mentioned, meaning that the illegal torturer of these beautiful apes (near relatives of humans) will be rewarded with 2,000 Baht.
We still strongly oppose against this plan that rewards the illegal possession of rare animals. But as the government does not really pay the "market price", we fear that the selling to the government will not be too successful. And as far as the breeding of rare animals is concerned we still seriously wonder what good the government sees in that idea. We fear that the newly bred rare animals will end up where the other plan starts: in the illegal trade! (Source: The Nation)


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Two Yumbamrung brothers surrender

Posted by hasekamp on 12 November 2001 at 22:48 PM
Two of the three Yumbamrung brothers, sons of politician Chalerm, have surrendered to the police. However, the third one and the youngest, Duangchalerm, is still on the run. He is the one that is suspected of having murdered a policeman. We have reported about this case recently.
The two who handed themselves over said that they did so to prove their innocence. A team of lawyers accompanied them. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Boat accident in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 12 November 2001 at 14:30 PM
One sometimes wonders, when one travels by boat over the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, why so few accidents with boats happen there. This seems indeed a miracle, given the extremely busy boat traffic there.
But today, sadly, we have to report that an accident happened. A large oil ship, with a capacity of one million liters, hit a small tourist boat, in front of Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn). One passenger of the small boat sank. She was the wife of the driver of the small boat. Her body has not yet been recovered, so it has to be feared that she has drowned. This is very sad, but it seems like a miracle that no more people drowned after this collision between a large oil tanker and a small passenger boat.
Eyewitnesses say that the small passenger boat was a 40-seat boat, of the type that often is used by tourists who visit Wat Arun. The Harbor Department authorities have seized the oil ship and its captain for further investigation. For the moment authorities suspect that bad visibility has caused the accident. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Surin elephant round-up

Posted by hasekamp on 12 November 2001 at 12:38 PM
The famous elephant roundup in Surin (400 km north of Bangkok) is being held from 10 - 19 November (inn other words: right now) this year. The Surin elephant round-up is organized every year by Surin Province and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, to show the abilities of elephants, which have played such an important role in Thai history. Especially the people of Surin have always been famous for their expertise with elephants in Thai history.
Nowadays elephants are mainly put to work in Thailand\E2€™s northern teak forests. In the past they were animals for warfare, transport and other tasks.
The Surin elephant round-up is being held since 1960 and it attracts tourists from all over the world every year.
Normally more than one hundred elephants participate in the festivities and shows. Colorful processions, a tug-of-war between elephants and men, demonstrations of log-pulling, and other shows can be seen then.
In recent years several messages have reached us (and this page), revealing that elephants are not always wanted any more in Thailand. They even seem to be threatened by extinction. For this reason we want to bring this event to the attention of our readers.
If also in Surin there would be no interest in elephants any more, we would have to fear seriously for extinction of these symbols of Thailand on a short term. As long as there is an interest in this mass elephant shows and parades, elephants will be wanted in Surin at least. As far as we are aware of, this elephant round-up has never met opposition of animal rights organizations.
So we want to stimulate our readers to attend this colorful and impressive event. Not only ton support the Asian elephant indirectly, but also to enjoy a very impressive sight in beautiful and festive surroundings. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Hostage drama: videotapes to be studied

Posted by hasekamp on 11 November 2001 at 10:58 AM
The Interior minister has said that police are examining videotapes, in order to see who in the mob actually attacked hostage-taker that was lynched by a mob last week.
The Minister said yesterday that the lynching of a drug-crazed man who had held a university student hostage before killing her was illegal and that those who participated in it would face charges. Police, on its turn, said that anyone who kicks a hostage taker after he surrendered would face legal action.
Although we too find that any person who kills another person is to be held responsible for his deeds and has to stand trial, we find it strange that it still has not entered the minds of the police that negligence on the side of the police may have been an important cause of the lynching. We hope that the judge that has to decide the e case eventually will take this aspect into consideration. It may be a circumstance to reduce the possible sentence considerably.
When journalists asked why the police did not shoot at the suspect (hostage taker) before he stabbed the student to death, the answer was that the criminal law clearly stipulates that police are not allowed to use guns to shoot a suspect who was just wielding a knife.
We believe that this is not yet the last thing to be sad about this case! (Source: The Nation)


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US lawyer hired for rice patent case

Posted by hasekamp on 11 November 2001 at 10:57 AM
The problem of the Thai jasmine rice, that might be genetically transformed and patented in the US, still is one of the hottest items in Thailand. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Friday that the government has hired an American lawyer to file a complaint against any attempt by US researchers to patent new rice varieties based on Thai jasmine rice. He said the lawyer would work with the Department of Intellectual Property to prepare the necessary documents. We hope that Mr. Thaksin has ever seen the bills by these highly specialized patent lawyers in the US. We -being patent examiners- have seen them professionally and we doubt if Thailand will be willing to pay these bills for the complete patent battle that may take (many) years. But of course, principles are principles and Thai rice is Thai rice. Probably Mr. Thaksin can spend money that was reserved for other projects, like the never-to-be extensions of the Bangkok skytrain for the purpose!
Mr. Thaksin said he would also raise the issue of the modified Thai jasmine rice for discussion during his official visit to the United States, which has been rescheduled to next month.
In a statement released by the US embassy in Bangkok yesterday, the US Department of Agriculture said that American researchers had not broken any Thai law or applicable procedures in acquiring the germplasm for research. Statements like that have, of course, a value of zero or lower. Eventually that has to be decided by a judge.
Thai farmers have demanded from the US to end its research for new rice varieties of Thai jasmine rice, as its (possible) success would have severe effects on Thai farmers. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Mobile Cabinet

Posted by hasekamp on 11 November 2001 at 10:55 AM
The cabinet, under the inspiring guidance of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, left Bangkok by train from the Hua Lamphong railway station at 7.30 a.m. yesterday for a mobile cabinet meeting in the Northeast. There have been one or two mobile cabinet meetings before. This is an idea, initiated by Mr. Thaksin. The idea is not only to see some less known parts of beautiful Thailand, but in the first place to see the local problem with the own eyes of the cabinet members. And this time, during the train ride, there will be a cabinet meeting already. At first we thought these trips were mainly for pleasure, but the first few times have shown that they are serious and useful.
The trip to Buri Ram will take six hours and during this time the ministers will hold a workshop to review the government's performance. Among other thing guidelines for the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) will be discussed then, as well as measures to stimulate the property sector, and how to ease unemployment.
In Buri Ram the ministers will visit a rice factory and a rural development center in Nang Rong. The cabinet members will leave for Surin tonight for their second leg.
Mr. Thaksin also wants to add a tour to the Phanom Rung Historical Park into the schedule. He thinks that this will boost local tourism of Buri Ram, if the Cabinet members went there.
Today the cabinet will visit a fertilizer plant, a pesticide-free rice demonstration plot, and a "one tambon, one product" exhibition. Then they will take the train to Si Sa Ket for an overnight stay. The regular cabinet meeting will be held on Monday. After that meeting the ministers will travel to Ubon Ratchathani and they will take a plane back to Bangkok. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Villagers to breed rare animals?

Posted by hasekamp on 9 November 2001 at 13:15 PM
A Thai minister, the deputy agriculture minister, wants poor villagers to breed endangered gibbons, snakes and lizards. He believes that people in the north-east of Thailand could make money from this new trade. At present it is illegal to farm and sell wild and endangered animals in Thailand.
Therefore the deputy minister wants to change the law, to allow 57 endangered species to be farmed. He also says people who keep wild animals as pets should be given an amnesty and be allowed to sell them to the new farms.
We have strong reservations with respect to this plan and most strongly oppose to the amnesty part for illegal traders or keepers of gibbons. Anybody who visits our page about the gibbon rehabilitation center in Phuket can read there that gibbons that have ever been kept as pets are very difficult to "dehumanify" again. The same will be true for the other species, the deputy minister wants to be farmed. And what should be done with these animals, breeded on farms? Sell them as pets? Sell them to zoos? We see nothing reasonable in this plan and we hope that it will never become effective, except when it could be worked out in cooperation with animal rescue organuzations, to be given a reasonable and useful aim.
If the government wants to support poor villagers in the north-east, they should buy crops for guaranteed prices, for instance, and not start them to breed rare animal species! (Source: Thai Rath Newspaper)


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Police: Better next time

Posted by hasekamp on 9 November 2001 at 12:48 PM
In response to the public uproar over the death of a young female hostage on Tuesday, Bangkok Police held a meeting yesterday in order to see if their hostage rescue procedures should be amended.
As we reported, a female student (19) was taken hostage and was killed by her hostage taker during this action. The crowd lynched the killer afterwards.
Police have been severely criticized for failing to save the girl and her attacker, despite the constant and near presence of policemen.
After the meeting police said that the policemen that had tried to rescue the girl had followed all hostage rescue procedures correctly. This was the first time that the victim had been killed under these procedures, a police spokesman said
Nevertheless, police admitted at the meeting that there were gaps in the current hostage rescue procedures. These have now been identified and the guidelines have been changed for better operations in the future, the police spokesman further said.
Of course it would not be wise to publish the amended procedures. Nevertheless we find that the police made things very easy for themselves by just stating that they followed the procedures correctly and that they would amend them and do it better next time. It seems as if the fact that the police committed serious negligence did not enter the minds of the policemen present at the meeting. We believe that this might have been a point for discussion too. (Source: The Nation)


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Hostage drama

Posted by hasekamp on 8 November 2001 at 11:55 AM
We normally are not so interested in publishing stories about killings but this time we make an exception. The drama in question is so gruesome and the consequences could be so serious, that we think we should inform our readers. First we will, give a short relation of the facts as far as they are clear.
A first-year student at the economics faculty of Ketsetsart University was held hostage by a drug-crazed man, while waiting for the skytrain at Mor Chit station. The man made some demands to the police, that were not honored. The detailed train of events is not completely clear (see below, however), but the next thing that is certain, is that police –obviously- did not have things under control, and the student was stabbed to death. On her body fifteen stabbing wounds were found. Onlookers could no longer stand what they saw, jumped on the man and beat him to death. The man’s blood appeared to contain high concentrations of amphetamines. He eventually died from severe brain injuries.
This horrible train of events of course has two sides. Killing a hostage in the way it was done is a very serious crime and should be punished severely (which in Thailand doubtless would have been done). But can the police allow the mob to lynch the killer? Certainly not in a state where the Rule of Law is practiced. And so now the police is under fire in the media. The Law Society says that the police, who allowed a mob to beat a man to death should be charged with negligence.
The situation is quite serious for the police, because at a certain moment during the train of events a pick-up truck was driven by a policeman, with the killer and the girl (who had been taken hostage then) on to the back. The policeman drove them slowly along the road, followed by several police on motorcycles. The killer refused to get off when the police told him so. He told the police driver to continue instead.
Somewhere along the road, with the killer and the girl still on the pick-up truck, the killing (or seriously wounding) of the girl took place. Also, while he was still on the police-driven vehicle, onlookers killed (or seriously wounded) the man.
We too –with the Thai lawyers who reached the press- believe that the policemen who are directly or indirectly responsible for one or maybe even two killings should indeed be held responsible and should be brought to justice, however gruesome the crime committed. The Rule of Law demands this. We now wonder what the Thai authorities will eventually do about this event, that might also have political consequences. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand to be promoted in several ways

Posted by hasekamp on 8 November 2001 at 11:13 AM
The Thai government plans to promote Thailand as one of top five investment attractions in Asia. The investment promotion strategies of the Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) will gradually be altered from focusing on tariff incentives to supporting and enhancing competitiveness of investment projects.
With the adjusted strategies, investment projects in Thailand should be able to compete better with those in neighboring countries, especially Singapore and China, a government spokesman said.
But the government wants even more promotion for the country: over 138 journalists from 11 countries in Asia will come and visit Thailand from 12 to 18 November as guests of the Thai government. This should lead to a promotion of Thailand’s image, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The idea is that the visiting journalists will publicize about the Thai way of life, about economic prospects, Thai culture, and tourist attractions. The visiting journalists are from Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, India, Australia, and New Zealand. Journalists from the US and Europe were invited too, but their visit will be postponed due to the 11 September attacks. The 138 lucky journalists will meet Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and they will be briefed (or shall we say indoctrinated?) on various aspects of Thailand. The journalists will also taste various kinds of Thai food and will visit many interesting places. Lucky journalists! (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Speed pill dealers sentenced to death

Posted by hasekamp on 7 November 2001 at 13:19 PM
The Criminal Court yesterday sentenced three people, aged 44, 42 and 27, to death for possessing 198,000 speed pills with intent to sell. A fourth suspect (30) has died in the meantime. (We wonder by what cause!)
The four were caught in April 1999 by the police, who contacted tow of them to make a drug purchase at Rangsit Future Park shopping center in Pathum Thani. The drugs later were delivered in a vehicle. The suspects initially confessed the crime but reversed their statement in court. This may have cost them their lives, because a confession can sometimes reduce a death sentence to life in prison, which of course is no holiday too.
We sometimes report these sentences to make our readers clear that drug suppression has high priority in Thailand and sentences -also to foreigners- are very strict. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Emerald Triangle

Posted by hasekamp on 7 November 2001 at 13:03 PM
We all have heard about the Golden Triangle. This area has a bad name and is immediately connected to the drugs trade by everybody who hears about it.
Now a new name, the Emerald Triangle, has been invented for a much larger area. This Emerald Triangle will consist of a group of three ASEAN countries, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
Thailand will host the first summit of the Emerald Triangle. The new triangle will focus on economic issues and tourism. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra suggested this new triangle when he met his Lao and Cambodian colleagues during a summit of ASEAN, in Brunei very recently. The first meeting of the Emerald Triangle will be held in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani in Thailand.
The first objective of the Emerald Triangle is to promote tourism of the three participating countries, particularly between Ubon Ratchathani in Thailand and Champasak province in Laos and Phra Vihear province in Cambodia. Promote of economic cooperation in other areas is to be included in the discussions. No date has been set yet, but the leaders of Laos and Cambodia will be invited to attend the soon-to-be summit. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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THAI not (yet) allowed to stop services

Posted by hasekamp on 6 November 2001 at 11:15 AM
We have reported that Thai Airways International (THAI) plans to discontinue some domestic flights, and wants to transfer them to the private sector. This plan has not yet been approved by the cabinet. THAI must continue its flights on unprofitable domestic routes if no private airline wants to take them over, the transport minister said yesterday.
The minister agreed with the plan to abandon some services, but he said that even if the routes were taken up by another airline Thai Airways still could not halt its services immediately. It would have to continue flying on those routes for at least another three years to see if the airlines which took over could survive, the minister said.
We find this a good decision by the Transport minister, because in this way operations of the routes in question will be guaranteed. The national airline is not allowed just to quit domestic routes which generate little or no profit, because -as a state agency- it also has the duty to serve the Thai public. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 6 November 2001 at 10:59 AM
As usual in October and November, the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok has not been able to keep all the water from the north within its banks, and about 5,000 families living near the river are now affected by flooding, a Bangkok city official said.
The areas hit worst are Bang Plat and Klong San districts and Rama III road.
The floods occurred twice a day for some days and lasted for about an hour every time. There were no serious complaints since the people are more or less used to it. Yesterday the tide, at 1.95 meters above sea level, was this year's highest tide so far. Officials expect the (present) floods to be over by the end of this week. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New anti-malaria drug on its way

Posted by hasekamp on 6 November 2001 at 10:49 AM
A team of Thai scientists hope to develop the first drug that really will combat all strains of malaria within a few years. Human trials are expected within the next two years.
As we all know, the pharmaceutical multinationals have never been interested in developing a drug against malaria, because there is not much profit to gain. Most of the (potential) victims are living in developing countries, and you can't charge them high prices. And those world travelers, well, they are acceptably protected by their prophylaxis, so why develop a drug against malaria then?
Obviously the developing countries have to do this by themselves. And sometimes there are messages, like this one, that give hope that a good drug is on its way.
The director of the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) in Thailand said that the team of scientists that is working on it, hopes that the drug, Dihydroartemisnin (DHA), will be ready for commercial use by 2004. It seems optimistic, but who knows. The Thais are hard workers and they are inventive.
The new anti-malaria drug should help to overcome the problem of some strains being resistant to drugs presently on the market.
If everything goes well, the drug would be the first Thai medical breakthrough that could be used as an international standard for treating malaria. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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THAI gives away local flights

Posted by hasekamp on 5 November 2001 at 15:28 PM
Thai Airways International (THAI) will allow two private airlines - Air Andaman and PB Air - to take over a number of its domestic routes by the end of this month. THAI has to reduce costs and this is one of the steps to achieve this. The agreement should be effective from 28 November on. The plan will first have to be be submitted to THAI's board of directors on November 6 for approval.
Air Andaman will take over southern domestic routes while PB Air will be allowed to fly northern routes. Routes to be transferred to the firms include those from Bangkok to Lampang, Phitsanuloke and Mae Hong Son. Only three of THAI's domestic routes - from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, to Phuket and to Hat Yai - are profitable.
THAI has heavy financial burden from operating domestic flights for a long time now.
THAI also plans to eliminate or to scale down services on unprofitable international routes, especially to the US. The number of flights to Los Angeles will be reduced from seven to three a week and furthermore services to Brunei will stop. THAI will, however, add flights to European destinations, for which it has experienced over-bookings and profit.
Especially due to the worldwide reduction in flights and even in air carriers (like Swissair) flight reductions to the US will free up aircraft for other destinations such as Zurich, Frankfurt, Sydney, Copenhagen and London.
As we reported earlier, THAI will raise its rates for flights to Europe. (Source: The Nation)


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Crocodiles escaped

Posted by hasekamp on 4 November 2001 at 13:24 PM
An unknown number of crocodiles have escaped late last week from a breeding farm in Chonburi Province, following heavy floods. Only three were recaptured so far.
Flooding, caused by heavy rain, had damaged one of the breeding ponds of the farm and the crocodiles preferred their freedom above farm life. More than 2,000 crocodiles lived in the pond that was damaged. They were 15-20 years old and about 3-4 meters long, a farm official said. The farm had two more ponds that also were inundated. The total crocodile population of the farm is around 10,000. Local residents have been told to be careful. Teams of crocodile hunters have been dispatched, but there are not many of them available. And, as far as we know, Tarzan of the apes, who was an excellent crocodile hunter, has retired in the meantime.
Today provincial authorities have stepped up the hunt for the crocodiles further. Some crocodiles may have escaped into the sea.
The provincial authorities are studying the law at the moment, in order to find out if it is possible to take legal action against the farm management over the incident. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New Thai way to produce heart drug

Posted by hasekamp on 4 November 2001 at 13:23 PM
Thai scientists have developed and patented a revolutionary process to produce a heart-attack medicine that could cut the cost of such a drug by almost 90 per cent, the Thailand Research Fund said yesterday.
Dr Chatchai Tayapiwatana of Chiang Mai University, discovered a new way to produce an artificial form of t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator), an enzyme naturally produced in the human body, which is highly effective in dissolving arterial blood clots that cause heart attacks. Existing technology uses genetic engineering to turn E coli bacteria, a common laboratory workhorse, into microscopic factories producing a smaller but equally effective version of t-PA.
So far this drug was made in the form of clumps of deformed enzyme molecules inside the bacteria. The Thai scientists invented a way to make the bacteria yield intact molecules, making the expensive further procedures unnecessary. This will make a cost reduction up to 90% possible.
The necessary research was completed at Tuebingen University in Germany, with support from pharmaceutical giant Boehringer. The German company helped the researchers to file patents in more than 55 countries and has also signed an agreement with Chiang Mai University to pave the way for further collaborations to develop new drugs and help bring Thailand's pharmaceutical industry to international standards. Royalties from the patents will go to the two researchers, Chiang Mai University and the Thailand Research Fund. (Source: The Nation)


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Mobile phones not safe for health

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2001 at 14:57 PM
Thailand was the first country where we saw mobile phones in action. Those large and heavy apparatuses, that made the belts of the carriers seriously damage. This was several years before anyone had even heard about them in Europe.
Now Thailand might be the first to positively identify their health hazard. On a seminar in Bangkok, organized by the Medical Association, participants were told that mobile phone users should always use hand-free devices rather than pressing the handsets to their ears. This is –by the way- the first time we hear about hands free mobile phones.
Although a lecturer at the department of telecommunication engineering of the King Mongkut Institute of Technology said no research showed that the electro-magnetic wave given off by mobile phones was proven to be harmful, just to be sure, people should use devices keeping the phones at some distance from the ear.
Although in Thailand no systematic research on mobile phones has been carried out yet, the government should look into the possible of health impact, for instance by making a label warning of the possible health risks, compulsory. This is what was concluded at the seminar. We are eager to see if this seminar will result in measures. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Osama a popular name in the South

Posted by hasekamp on 2 November 2001 at 23:15 PM
The name Osama has become popular for in southern Thailands, predominantly inhabited by Muslims, since 11 September. Officials said this a few days ago.
The name Osama can be applied to both boys and girls, and there now are many newborn babies receiving this name.
The names of other prominent anti-US Muslim figures such as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi are also popular in southern Thailand among parents choosing names for their children.
Many Thai Muslims are fiercely against the strikes against Afghanistan. As we reported. They have been holding (peaceful), they have been calling for a boycott of US-made goods and they have been holding prayer meetings.
Muslims make up just 4% of Thailand's predominantly Buddhist population. Most of them live in the five southern provinces bordering Malaysia. (Several sources)


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Evaluation of a murder case

Posted by hasekamp on 2 November 2001 at 13:27 PM
The Thai media have been full, during the past days, of a murder case, of which we did not report so far. Now that the justice system is failing too, we want to report about it after all. The Thai people and the Thai media are outraged, to state it softly.
The suspect of this case is one of the sons of politician Chalerm Yoobamrung, former Deputy Interior Minister. Chalerm is closely associated with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Chavalit Yongchaiyudh. The three sons of Chalerm have had problems in following the law for quite some time already. Over the past four years, the Yoobamrung brothers have been involved in 12 cases of assault, mostly involving beating up people who had crossed their paths. None of the cases against them have ever been successfully prosecuted because witnesses had gone missing or had suffered from lapses of memory that could not be explained by normal reasoning.
Chalerm is thought to have been able to manipulate the country’s justice system in favor of his sons. Police did not act when necessary and possibly was afraid.
Duongchalerm Yoobamrung now is wanted for the killing of a police officer at a nightclub in Bangkok on Sunday. Only yesterday, when the whole of the political leadership in Thailand came out to assure police that they could indeed perform their duty without fear of reprisal, police issued a warrant for the arrest of Duangchalerm (one of the infamous sons) and began the manhunt. Now that we have updated you so far, we will be evaluating this case further. (Source for this evaluation: The Nation)


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THAI increases its fares

Posted by hasekamp on 2 November 2001 at 13:26 PM
Thai Airways International has raised its airfares to Europe and North America. This seems inevitably for any airliner after September 11. So far nothing to be worried about. The interesting, and in our mind also worrying, thing about this affair is, that THAI found out that passengers consider the airline as a safe carrier. According to THAI officials one reason for this is that THAI now flies a different route, avoiding the Middle East and Central Asia. And the airliner used these rumors as a reason to raise the fares. We wonder if we can be happy with this policy.
If the airline indeed is safer than others, there is nothing wrong with advertising this and —in that way- trying to get some passengers from other airlines, considered to be less safe.
However, raising the fares just on rumors (it is no more than that, in our mind, does not appear to us as a wise policy. On the other hand, it would have been perfectly understandable if the fares had been raised because the new route is longer and therefore more expensive. We would have preferred this to the reason that has been chosen now, even if the result would have been the same.
The result: effective yesterday, the airline began charging 3-4% more for flights between Bangkok and major European destinations. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bangkok on its way to 2002

Posted by hasekamp on 1 November 2001 at 18:12 PM
Preparations for the Bangkok Countdown celebration for the year 2002 are underway, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) said today.
BMA's organizing committee told reporters that the festival will be divided into two parts.
The first part, called "Happy Stars — Happy Streets" will be held from the 1st of December this year until the 15th of January 2002. Lights decoration will be seen all around Bangkok, while department stores will hold their grand sales in this period.
The second part of the countdown will be held between 19.00-24.00 hours on 31 December. Participants will then count down the time to zero, and the New Year will start in celebrations together. Several on-stage activities will be performed in front of the Bangkok's World Trade Center in the Pratunam area. Source: Thai News Agency)


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International rice convention

Posted by hasekamp on 1 November 2001 at 18:12 PM
The question with the Thai jasmine rice seems to be the most important issue in all layers of the Thai community. Newspapers publish almost daily about it.
Now Thailand organizes an international rice convention, on 1-3 November 2001. Representatives of rice exporting and importing countries, as well as other parties involved in the rice trade from all regions around the world are gathering in Bangkok. The "First Thailand Rice Convention" will be held at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel. Participants will discuss issues concerning international rice trade, including problems and ways to cooperate in boosting rice trade and developing the global rice market. But we have no doubt that the possible research on Thai jasmine rice will also be high on the agenda.
Also small private firms, who works with rice, are welcome to attend the convention, the organizing committee has said. These experiments in the US really seem to have touched the soul of Thailand. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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