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Death toll rises

Posted by hasekamp on 31 December 2001 at 15:24 PM
The death toll of the New Years holiday traffic has raised to 284 since New Year festivities began on Thursday, the Public Health Minister said yesterday. A total of 33,509 injuries were reported between Thursday and 4 pm yesterday. Of these, more than a half, some 16,966 were the result of road accidents. The total death toll was 393, but "just" the road accidents accounted for 284. The figures showed seven times more men than women were killed and three times more men were injured.
This means that an average of 200 people have been injured and three have died of road accidents every hour during this New Year festival began.
With 1,035 injuries related to road accidents alone, Nakhon Ratchasima is still on top of the list, followed by Chiang Mai with 595, Buri Ram with 545, Surin with 532 and Khon Kaen with 493. Nakhon Ratchasima also had the highest death toll with 24 deaths recorded during the period. With New Years Eve still to come prospects are very dark. Alcohol still is the main cause of the accidents. (Source: The Nation)


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What happened in 2001? (Editorial)

Posted by hasekamp on 30 December 2001 at 23:16 PM
We give a short overview of some news items that reached this page in 2001, on this last day of the year. (On our server it may still be 30 December. In Thailand it definitely is 31 December now!)
Shortly after the year began a general election was held in Thailand, with the Thai Rak Thai party, led by Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as the great victor. Other parties were wiped away and Mr. Chuan Leekpai had to hand the government over to Mr. Thaksin. A new government was formed relatively fast.
In February skirmishes and clashes around the Thai-Burmese border took place and the tension there rose. PM Thaksin chose to search peace by diplomacy. He visited Burma later in the year and the two countries became (to the outside world) the best of friends. Drug problems from within Burma remained, however.
On 3 March a Boeing 737-400 plane, flight TG 114, which was planned to go to Chiang Mai with PM Thaksin aboard, exploded just before the plane was to take off from the Don Muang Airport. U.S. experts later said that an accident was likely to be the cause of the blast, not a C-4 bomb as initially reported by local police. Te final word still has not been spoken, but sabotage is highly unlikely.
In July all telephone numbers across Thailand became nine-digit, from seven- digit.
After the NCCC (National Counter Corruption Committee) had found Mr. Thaksin guilty of submitting incorrect assets (in 200 that was), on 3 August the Constitutional Court ruled that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra did not intend to conceal his wealth.
After September 11 Thailand also felt the effects of the attacks on the US. Thai Airways International (THAI) announced to change the knives in the on-board mess kits of the first and business classes on Bangkok-US round-trip routes (later also to Europe) from silver or stainless-made to plastic-made ones; while spoons and forks are still silver or stainless-made. It appeared that there also were around 5 Thai victims in the New York World Trade Center. In October a dispute with the US started about a US researcher who appears to be developing and patenting a new rice strain, believed to have its original seeds from a Thai jasmine rice strain. Emotions rose (ands still rise) high and Mr. Thaksin spoke about the matter withy US President Bush, during his visit to the US in December. The U.S. government will look into the case, but we do not expect much of that.
Mr. Thaksin not only visited the IS during 2001, but also several members countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China and India. Leaders of neighboring countries also paid official visits to Thailand this year, including leaders from Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos.
A matter still unfinished is the murder accusation of two sons of a politician. A few days ago the brothers were brought before a magistrate.
Was this all that happened in 2001? No, it is only a small selection. His Majesty the King gave Mr. Thaksin a reprimand during his Birthday speech, And from the environmental issues: Thai fishermen found it handy to catch fish (and everything else that died with the fish) with dynamite, the drug offenses went on, illegal logging also went on, the population of water buffaloes kept lowering and elephants were shot because farmers did not like their looking for food. Also several environmentalists have been killed in 2001.
Some tiny positive events: Four gibbons could be released into Nature after many years of "dehumanification", many drug offenders could be caught (there was a discussion whether the executions should be shown on TV or not), this news site went through its first birthday.
This site now hopes to have found a modest place among its big brothers in the Thai news media. Our aim still is to specialize in news that can be interesting for foreigners. Another of our priorities is to pay attention to environmental issues. Although we use other sources, we do not simply copy them. We always try to comment the news.


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Bad start of the holidays

Posted by hasekamp on 30 December 2001 at 18:26 PM
The Public Relations Department reports, that traffic accidents at the beginning of the New Year holidays on December 28 already recorded a rise, with 3,345 cases reported. This represented 139 cases per hour. Most, or 1,117 cases, of the accidents occurred in the Northeast, followed by the central region, the North and the South. The province that recorded the highest rate of accidents was Nakhon Ratchasima with 195 cases. The traffic accidents resulted in 105 deaths, with the Northeast claiming the highest number of six deaths. In Bangkok, there were 16 traffic-related injuries, two to three folds higher than the normal daily rate. Half of the injuries were found to be under alcohol or drug influence. And this, dear readers, is just the beginning. Just one day of the long weekend is claiming a record high number of accidents already, with many of them -as could sadly be expected- caused by alcohol and -as the PRD adds- by drugs. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Sukhumvit Hotel burns out

Posted by hasekamp on 30 December 2001 at 17:59 PM
Fire broke out in the Ambassador Hotel on Sukhumvit road early yesterday, destroying much of the hotel. Damage is initially estimated at 20 million Baht.
The fire started on the fifth floor of the nearby, seven-storey Chavalit Building and spread to the sixth and seventh floors of that building. The Chavalit building was used to store hardware, furniture and bedding and as living quarters for hotel staff. From the Chavalit Building, the fire spread to the nearby four-storey Ambassador Plaza and burned this plaze to the ground.
The narrow sois around the hotel made it difficult for fire trucks to access the fire. As if by miracle nobody was hurt, but several firefighters had to be brought to hospital for treatment after inhaling smoke.
The hotel guests, mostly foreigners, run for their lives, out of the hotel. Police had to close Sukhumvit road from sois 11 to 19. It took more than four hours to get the fire under control. Several fires have hit the Ambassador Hotel previously. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Buy Thai, travel within Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 29 December 2001 at 15:05 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has asked the Thai people, particularly those in the upper classes, to travel within the country during the New Year’s festival. The PM also asked Thais to buy locally made products as New Year presents, to prevent currency outflow and to (hopefully) boost the Thai economy. He said that a gift with spiritual value gives the person receiving it a warmer feeling than an expensive present. The Prime Minster said that Thai products nowadays possess the same quality as imported goods but have cheaper prices.
This is in accordance with the Cabinet’s decision to promote 2002 as the "Thais Buy Thai Products" Year.
Because this weekend and the Songkran weekend normally have the highest number of road accidents, especially caused by driving under the influence of alcohol, the Prime Minister also asked New Year celebrants, to exercise special care on highways to prevent accidents. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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This year 16 million speed pills seized

Posted by hasekamp on 29 December 2001 at 15:04 PM
The Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) has seized 16.6 million methamphetamine tablets, 300,000 kilograms of heroin and 55.2 million Baht in cash from drug traffickers during this year (2001), it announced yesterday.
The NSB announced the performance of his bureau at a press conference, where three separate arrests were announced. These arrests led to the seizure of 990,000 methamphetamine pills and 3,000 kilograms of precursor chemicals for making methamphetamine pills.
In 2001 a total of 763 drug suspects were arrested in 409 drug cases and police also seized several vehicles and mobile phones from the drug suspects.
The numbers of (death) sentences in 2001 have –as far as we are aware- not yet been published. (Source: The Nation)


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Cosmic Bayoke experience

Posted by hasekamp on 28 December 2001 at 15:05 PM
The owner of the Bayoke towers has made a simulation of the galaxy on the top floors of Thailand's highest building, the Bayoke towers, in the center of Pratunam market in Bangkok.
He converted the 83rd and 84th floors into areas with a theme where visitors feel as if they were in space. The floors are decorated with dark, supernatural walls painted with the stars and planets. The owner of the towers is known for his interest in astronomy. The current modification of Bayoke Tower 2 is a product of his own initiative and imagination.
At the center of attention is a statue picturing an alien, which the owner bought Chatuchak Market, where everything under the sun can be bought. (Source: The Nation)


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Duangchalerm charged with murder

Posted by hasekamp on 28 December 2001 at 15:04 PM
The Phuket Gazette reports (as the first Thai medium) that prosecutors today will charges Duangchalerm Yoobamrung and his brother Wanchalerm over the killing of a policeman on October 29 in a Bangkok nightclub. We have written shortly after the incident about this case, that is holding Thailand in its grip for some time now. The Yoobamrung brothers are the sons of an influential Thai politician, as we reported. We are probably the second Thai news medium to report about this development in the case.
Duangchalerm, 20, who is still hiding, was charged with murder, while Wanchalerm, who was in court today, was charged with impeding his brother’s arrest and with illegal possession of arms.
Duangchalerm is alleged to have put a gun to the forehead of the (plainclothes) police officer and pulled the trigger, following an incident and a quarrel after one man stood on another men's foot. Further details still lack. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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New projects to stimulate the economy

Posted by hasekamp on 27 December 2001 at 15:57 PM
The Cabinet this week approved nine projects worth a total of 2.24 billion Baht to stimulate the still ailing Thai economy.
Among the projects is a-69-million-Baht plan to train community members in small businesses to reduce unemployment. About 17,000 people will benefit from this training.
Another project, worth 46 million Baht, involves job creation and training for 5,000 Thai workers returning from overseas due to increasing violence where they are working now.
Seven other projects, costing 2.1 billion Baht, call for the improvement of 134 small irrigation systems in 39 provinces, the setting up of electrical water pumping stations in 35 provinces, improvement of water distribution network in agricultural fields in 18 provinces, the development of agricultural products in northern highlands, market expansion for cottage industries and tourism promotion at the sites of royal agricultural projects and in the inner part of Bangkok.
The Cabinet earlier approved 27 projects, costing 16.4 billion Baht, out of the 58-billion-Baht economic stimulus budget. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Arrests in Krabi for fishing with explosives

Posted by hasekamp on 27 December 2001 at 15:56 PM
We have reported about this crime before: It is becoming popular by certain people who apparently have gone out of their minds, to throw explosives in the sea, preferably in protected Nature areas, and then pick up the dead fish. The criminals in question call this fishing. Luckily the Thai authorities find these practices criminal too and try to catch the criminals who do this.
Two men, suspected of this crime, were arrested yesterday in Krabi province. A team of police from the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) yesterday searched the home of a man in Nua Khlong district and found four bars of TNT charge, weighing one pound each.
The man was charged with having explosives in possession without a permit. He denied the explosives were his, and said he had never used explosives to catch fish.
Another police team of the CSD police raided the home another man, also in Nua Khlong district, and found an unregistered shotgun. This man was charged with possessing an illegal firearm. He also denied ever having used explosives to catch fish.
Although we find it disappointing that the persons in question will probably not stand trial for the real crime they committed, we nevertheless hope that they will have to spend enough time in jail to prevent them to use dynamite as a fishing tool again. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Plans for the celebrations

Posted by hasekamp on 27 December 2001 at 15:56 PM
Silom Road and Ratchadamri Road (in front of the World Trade Center) will be turned into pedestrian areas on 30 and 31 December. The festivities on Silom will feature several performances, as has become a familiar sight since Silom has become a pedestrian area on Sundays. There will be large on Silom road and in front of World Trade Center. Participants who cannot come near to the stages will be able to watch the events via a video conferencing system. The prime minister is expected to join the countdown to the New Year.
So if you are in Bangkok and you wonder where to go on 31 December, these streets are the places!
If you are elsewhere, especially in the South, then you might like to know rumors have been spreading that Michael Jackson will join a Full Moon Party in "a famous island in southern Thailand". More than 3,000 hotel rooms in Surat Thani’s Pha-ngan Island have been booked already by tourists who wish to join both the ‘Full Moon Party’, scheduled for December 29th, and share a New Year time there. We do not know if this is just a publicity stunt by hotel owners or real; so do not use us as a source for this rumor! (Sources: The Bangkok Post and Thai News Agency)


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White Workpalces

Posted by hasekamp on 24 December 2001 at 18:07 PM
The Department of Labour Protection and Welfare has been successful in launching a "White Workplace" project. The project aims at wiping out drugs from workplaces throughout the country.
The target was to turn 2,000 workplaces nationwide into drug-free zones. Under the project, both employers and employees were provided with knowledge on drug prevention and control to enable them to effectively intercept the spread of drugs in their working area.
Nearly 2,500 workplaces have already participated in the project, thus surpassing the target set.
So far 1,005 workplaces have passed the criteria to become a drug-free zone and therewith a "White Workplace". (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Deadly Russian roulette

Posted by hasekamp on 24 December 2001 at 17:47 PM
One does not hear often about Russian roulette being played in Thailand. The last time we heard about it, was when we watched the movie "The Deer Hunter". The Russian roulette scenes in that film were shot in Bangkok, be it that they were not real.
The real thing happened one or two days ago in Khon Kaen. A Thai policeman there killed himself by playing Russian Roulette at a party. The 33-year-old Corporal Prapan said he could win the game easily. Then he tried and he lost (his life too)!
Witnesses say he pulled the trigger twice and succeeded to stay alive. The third time he pulled the trigger and the game as well as his life ended. We wonder if we should feel sorry for somebody that stupid. On this Chrismas Eve we have decided to feel a bit sorry for him.
The Kao Sod newspaper that reports the story reports that his friends tried to stop him, but he would not listen. (Source: Anannova, the Internet News Agency)


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Illegal loggers arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 23 December 2001 at 17:40 PM
Nine Thai and Burmese nationals were arrested and more than 10 million Baht worth of illegal wood was seized during raids in three districts on the Burmese border.
Illegal logging seems very difficult to extinct, until the last tree has been logged illegally, for the profit of some brainless illegal logger, who will (at last) be out of work after having cut down the last tree of the tropical rain forest.
The Forestry chief, who led the raids, said in this northwestern province most illegal logging activities are registered.
A task force of 100 forest rangers and forestry police arrested seven Burmese workers and seized 665 pieces of processed wood as well as 294 teak logs, the carcasses of five protected animals and 18 shotgun. As you can see from this list, illegal loggers are also active in other fields of crime, like the weapon trade and the illegal trade in protected animals.
The processed wood had been used to make houses to hide its origin.
We wonder, every time we read about these activities, if they will ever top and we become more pessimistic every time.
The wood seized in the raids will not be sold by the Forest Industry Organization, as often happened in the past, to deter further illegal logging. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Minimum daily wages for 2002

Posted by hasekamp on 23 December 2001 at 17:30 PM
You may wonder how high (or rather low) the minimum wages in Thailand are. Here are the new ones, starting 1 January 2002. Minimum wages for labor will be raised to 168 Baht per day for Phuket (up from 165 Baht a day); 165 Baht per day (unchanged) for the following six provinces: Bangkok, Nakorn Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathumtani, Samut Prakarn and Samut Sakon; 146 Baht for Chonburi, up from 143 Baht per day. All figures come from the Labor Ministry.
We continue: 143 Baht per day for the following five provinces: Chiangmai, Nakorn Ratchasima, Phang-Nga, Ranong, Saraburi; 138 Baht per day for Angthong, up from 133 Baht a day; 137 Baht per day for Chachoengsao, up from 133 Baht a day; 135 Baht per day for Narathiwas and Singburi, up from 133 and 135 Baht a day.
We publish these figures to show you how happy you should be with your own salary and to explain you why many things in Thailand are so cheap to us, Westerners: In Thailand people work for –say- 150 Baht per day. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Heart-shaped speed pills

Posted by hasekamp on 22 December 2001 at 15:15 PM
Drug dealers do everything they can to approach youngsters in Thailand and to get them (and their friends, if possible) on drugs. Their latest idea is to make heart-shaped methamphetamine pills, that should serve as "special gifts" for the holiday season. The new pills are spreading quickly in Chiang Rai, where police recently arrested nine suspected traffickers with a total of 40,490 heart-shaped pills. Two suspects, who both have been seized under the money laundering law recently, held assets with a total value of 10 million Baht. They were arrested on a Bangkok-Mae Sai bus. Other dealers with heart-shaped pills were caught in Ratchaburi. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Many pregnant Thai women are HIV-positive

Posted by hasekamp on 22 December 2001 at 15:11 PM
The Public Health Ministry says that between 14,000 and 17,000 pregnant Thai women are HIV-positive. The figure comes from an official survey. The survey's result has prompted the ministry to expand its care and treatment of HIV-positive mothers to prolong their lives after they give birth. Without such a program there would be a large number of HIV-positive children with many dying before their fifth birthday. And above that they also would be motherless. The majority of HIV-positive pregnant women first learned they were infected after becoming pregnant. Most HIV-positive mothers stopped seeing doctors after giving birth and many returned only when the disease had developed into Aids or after experiencing opportunistic infections, when treatment is virtually impossible.
Not only pregnant women are HIV positive. The total number of Thai women are HIV-positive is around 250,000, the survey revealed.
Under the proposed plan, HIV-positive mothers will be counseled by health-care providers on how to care for themselves. Mothers will also have regular care and treatment, including access to anti-retroviral drugs, and other remedies to prevent opportunistic infections. A pilot project is being carried out in in Rayong and Chiang Rai. This news once more faces us with the fact that HIV and AIDS are spreading fast in Thailand. The region thanks this doubtful "honor" mainly to prostitution. Maybe this should give sex tourist second thoughts about their ideas about celebrating a holiday. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Bush wanted to meet Thaksin Jr.

Posted by hasekamp on 22 December 2001 at 15:10 PM
Mr. Shinawatra jr. accompanied his father on Thursday to the White House. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday that President Bush wanted to meet his son, when two met for an official discussion in the White House. Thai journalists had said earlier that Mr. Thaksin had "smuggled" his son into the White House. Thaksin dismissed this criticism by saying this was planned and suggested by Mr. Bush himself.
"It was well prepared in advance that my son would be introduced to the US president and to shake hands with him. It is not true that it was for my own benefit to bring my son to the White House to meet the US leader," Mr. Thaksin said. His son also stayed for the photo ceremony, but left before official discussions started.
Thaksin returned on Thursday from his official visit to the US, during which he met Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell.
So, a small incident during the Thaksin visit to the US was solved. (Source: The Nation)


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At last a visa decision has been made

Posted by hasekamp on 21 December 2001 at 12:43 PM
The cabinet (at last, after having announced this about four times) has decided to limit the list of 97 countries whose citizens may obtain a 15-day tourist visa on arrival. The new list of 16 countries is expected to be brought into force about a month from now.
The question "which countries?" cannot be answered yet, however. The Secretariat of the Cabinet in Bangkok said that the necessary paperwork arising from the cabinet meeting is not yet complete and that, until then, details cannot be revealed.
The cuts in the list will be made in order to increase security and to stop undesirable people from entering the Kingdom. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Dog meat seized

Posted by hasekamp on 20 December 2001 at 16:52 PM
More than 240 kilograms of (smoked) dog meat was yesterday found in a pick-up truck near Bang Khae market in Bangkok.
The driver was arrested and the dog meat was seized. The law prohibits to sell dog meat that has been killed and distributed without approval. Violators face a 500 Baht fine, up three months in jail or both. The police acted on a tip-off. The driver said that he was being paid 300 Baht per delivery. He had done this disgusting job twice a week for almost a year. He said that the dog meat came from Sakon Nakhon.
It appears that the meat is being sold in meat stalls and is often mixed with beef.
How do you recognize dog meat? Our source says that it is redder and that it has a stronger smell than beef.
Later it was made pub;lic that the dog meat was being sold as beef. Therefore the government must close all dog slaughterhouses in the country not only to protect dogs, but also to protect to protect consumers and Thailand's image, the Thai Animals Guardian Association says. (Sources: The Nation, The Bangkok Post)


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Alcohol tests

Posted by hasekamp on 19 December 2001 at 15:53 PM
In Thailand one of the activities during holidays is the consumption of alcohol, and often in too large quantities. The police therefore expects road accidents during the New Year holiday.
With that thought in mind motorists will (again) face random breath tests for alcohol during the New Year holiday as part of a campaign to reduce road accidents. Drivers who have more than 50 milligrams of alcohol in their blood will be charged. And in Thailand punishmants are not very mild for this crime.
Highway checkpoints will be set up in provinces that are gateways to the Northeast, the North, the East, and the South, respectively. They include Sarabury, Nakhon Sawan, Chonburi and Nakhon Pathom Provinces. The campaign will also target the ten provinces with the highest accident rates. They are Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Pathom, SaraburiI, Phuket, Chonburi, NaKHON Sawan, Chachoengsao, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, and Udon Thani. As you will have noticed, some of these are already included in the first selection.
So, if you are in Thailand around New Year and you plan to follow the custom to use alcohol, do not drive home. You might end up in jail! (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Use your PC to repel mosquitoes!

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2001 at 16:45 PM
A small program, downloadable from http://www.thaiware.com/software/util/UL00608.htm claims to be able to keep mosquitoes away while you are on the computer. The program has been downloaded over 15,000 times already. It uses the computer's standard speakers to produce a low-frequency sound, which is said to drive mosquitoes away.
The explication of the program on the page mentioned is only in Thai, and the screenshots are in Thai too, so we wonder if Westerners can use it at all without a Thai version of Windows (we did not try it yet).
The programmer got the idea when he saw anti-mosquito devices that use the same concept: generating a zone with low-frequency sounds.
The effect of the program may be questionable, however, as can be seen (in Thai) in a number of messages on a thaiware.com bulletin board. But there have been positive reactions too.
One of the worst complaints so far is that the program caused headaches. The positive reactions say that it works very well. Updates to the program are under development. (Source: The Nation)


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Andaman corals threatened

Posted by hasekamp on 16 December 2001 at 17:23 PM
The Thais talk regularly about protecting the environment, even with eco-tourism. Sometimes -however- there is not so good news about the environment: The illegal use of dynamite to catch fish in Hin Muang-Hin Daeng has caused serious damage to one of the most beautiful scuba diving sites in the Andaman Sea. This is not only bad news for scuba divers (as it seems in our source) but also for the unique coral reefs in the Andaman Sea.
On 5 and 6 December an unidentified fishing boat damaged two giant underwater rocks when it used dynamite to catch fish in the area. The spot in question had a far greater value than the fish collected. (Who could doubt about this anyway?) The site had an abundance of beautiful corals, making it the best fish breeding ground in the area.
The two giant underwater rocks were about 40 feet under water. Hin Muang is covered with purple corals while Hin Daeng, closer to the water surface, has red corals.
We wonder who on earth can have given permission to catch fish in this area by using dynamite. It seems like shooting an insect with a gun. We certainly hope that -if this was legal at all- it will be prohibited right away! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin talked to Bush

Posted by hasekamp on 16 December 2001 at 17:21 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra expressed satisfaction after holding talks with U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday, saying that Washington was willing to support Thailand as an aviation center in the region.
The issues discussed were –among other things- cooperation and enhancing the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), drugs prevention and suppression, bilateral economic issues, and –not to be forgotten- the American experiments to modify Thai jasmine rice genetically. During the an agreement on bilateral economic cooperation was signed, which will help to strengthen ties and cooperation between the two countries in many areas, such as trade, investment, transport, science, technology, and agriculture.
Under the agreement, Washington will support Thailand as an aviation center and also a center for aircraft maintenance in the region, Mr. Thaksin said to reporters.
The U.S. President praised the Thai PM for his role in fighting drugs in the region.
Mr. Bush also said that he would be willing to look into a Thai petition on the ongoing development by a U.S. researcher of a new rice strain, which has a Thai jasmine rice strain as its original seeds. We wonder what Mr. Bush has asked in exchange for this…
After the talks a joint statement on strengthened bilateral ties and cooperation in the agreed areas was signed. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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The Nation and the Phuket Gazette join

Posted by hasekamp on 15 December 2001 at 13:04 PM
The Nation and the Phuket Gazette have announced a wide-ranging cooperation in editorial content, advertising sales, product distribution, marketing, staff training and production.
We regret this cooperation. The Phuket Gazette, though small, is a high quality and independent local newspaper, that is –as far as we can see- quite successful in its area of interest, but also with tourists overseas.
The Nation is a Bangkok based newspaper that also has regional aspirations (in the sense of wanting to cover the whole of the South-East Asia, and possibly the whole world, and therefore is not a real local Thai newspaper, like the Bangkok Post. This cooperation will be bad for the highly specialized news of the Phuket Gazette.
Above that, the Nation operates websites like Thailand.com, which are far less successful than the management of the Nation would like to see.
The Phuket Gazette, on the other hand, has a very good website with everything that is going on on Phuket Island on it. We fear for the quality of that site.
Asked why his newspaper had decided to join hands with the Phuket Gazette, The Nation Editor said that "Phuket is now clearly Thailand’s number two city, and the fastest growing province in the nation. We want a stronger presence and representation there, and we’re confident the Gazette can give us that.". We fear that the Phuket Gazette will loose its independence now and be swallowed by the Nation, with its aspirations it never has made true. (Facts based on the Nation; our own Phuket correspondent for the comments)


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Seven men arrested for theft

Posted by hasekamp on 15 December 2001 at 13:02 PM
Seven Thai men were arrested for stealing money and valuables from foreign tourists while traveling by bus from Koh Samui to Bangkok early yesterday.
Stories like this one can sometimes be read in books and travel guides, and sometimes they are true. Mostly –like in this case- the thieves sell cheap tickets to foreigners. Sometimes guesthouse managers give tips to thieves to hold up a bus with tourists. Luckily both events are quite seldom now, but they still happen. However, the Thai (tourist) police are very active in this field, and so the alleged thieves in this case could be caught.
The police stopped two tour coaches after a tip that thieves were taking groups of foreign tourists to Bangkok. They are now being accused of deceiving foreign travelers into buying cheap tickets for trips between Bangkok and Koh Samui. The tickets were sold for 200 Baht each, but the real cost is around 500 Baht. The thieves stole the money and valuables from the tourists while they were sleeping during the trip.
After searching both buses, police found a gold necklace, German and British banknotes and US dollar travelers' cheques. Police said they had enough evidence to charge the seven thieves. You can be certain that they land in jail. Regrettably thieves in Western countries often come away with no or hardly any punishment. Not so in Thailand, where theft –especially on tourists- is punished harsh. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand plans to send Muslims to Afghanistan

Posted by hasekamp on 14 December 2001 at 16:23 PM
Thailand is planning to send Muslim troops in the Royal Thai Army to join in U.N. peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan, according to the Supreme Command Headquarters.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is expected to raise this idea when talking with U.S. President George Bush in Washington, during his present visit to the US.
Premier Thaksin will offer to send about 100 Muslims medical staff and technicians in the Royal Thai army to participate in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, army sources say. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Terrorists were in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 13 December 2001 at 12:45 PM
Two of the hijackers in the September 11 terrorist attacks against the US appear to have been in Bangkok before they traveled to the United States to prepare for their suicide mission, according to court documents filed in Washington. This was not shortly before the attacks, but several months before.
US authorities say that Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, both Saudi citizens, were in Thailand in January last year. They flew from Bangkok to Los Angeles, where they began their fateful, final membership in the hijacking conspiracy.
The two terrorists in question boarded American Airlines flight 77, bound from Virginia to Los Angeles on September 11. Along with two other extremists, they hijacked the plane and crashed it into the Pentagon.
This is the first time that a connection between the terrorists and Thailand has been mentioned. The significance of this new fact is still unclear. One can wonder if the terrorists considered Thailand as a "safe haven". It is now being investigated if other hijackers and terrorists were using Thailand as a "safe haven" too, because of the open-door tourist policy of Thailand. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin goes to the US

Posted by hasekamp on 13 December 2001 at 12:44 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his companions have started a seven-day official trip to the United States early today. The visit is mainly aimed to strengthen the economic cooperation of the two countries. Accompanying Mr Thaksin on the trip are the finance, foreign, commerce and deputy defense ministers, the secretary-generals of the Board of Investment and the National Security Counci, and representatives of the private sectors.
Mr. Thaksin and his team will be given a stay at Blair House. Washington will be responsible for all expenses of the trip. A discussion between Mr, Thaksin and President Bush is included in the trip. The main topic of that meeting will be the economic partnership of the two countries.
Many agreements are planned to be signed during the visit. They include the US-Thai economic cooperation framework, the double taxation treaty, and the cooperation and promotion of small- and medium-size enterprises. The US government also plans to set up the regional office of the Trade Development Agency in Thailand. We are also certain that research in the US with the aim to develop a new strain of Thai jasmine rice by biotechnological means will be placed on the agenda by Mr. Thaksin. There is no doubt that we will read more about this relatively long visit by Mr. Thaksin to the US.(Source: Thai News Agency)


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"Buy Thai" festival

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2001 at 12:02 PM
Since the start of the economic crisis in 1997 "Buy Thai" has been a often heard motto. This motto gets a new meaning today, when the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare opens a Thai product festival at its premises, according to the Labor and Social Welfare Minister. The event is not only aimed to promote Thai products produced from regular Thai sources all over the country, but also to help to create new jobs for Thais. This is in line with the government’s policy. Products offered at the festival are selected items such as textile products, handicraft, artificial flowers, furniture, display items, fresh and processed food and fruits. Visitors can also buy Thai wine at a price of just 100 Baht a bottle. The event is open from 10:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Commercial gold mine in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2001 at 12:01 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra today opened Thailand’s first commercial gold mine, located between the stitch of Pichit and Petchbun provinces in the North. The mine belongs to the Chatri Gold Mine of Akra Mining Co. During the opening ceremony, Akra Mining Co. presented nine kilograms of gold and nine kilograms of silver (nine is considered to be a lucky number in Thailand) to His Majesty the King, to be handed over by Mr. Thaksin. The PM also toured inside the gold mine to observe its production processes.
The gold mine will have a production capacity of around 32-33 tons, worth about 10 billion Baht, to start with. If Akra Mining finds more gold at other areas near the present location, the production will be extended to those areas. It is expected that a second commercial gold mine, named Thung Kam, located in Wang Sapung district of the Northeastern province of Loei, could start operation within the next two years. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin looses popularity

Posted by hasekamp on 11 December 2001 at 12:10 PM
Here is -in our opinion- another example of the huge influence of His Majesty the King, although other influences may be included. As we published, His Majesty criticized the Thaksin government quite seriously during his birthday speech on 4 December. Now, just a few days later, a poll has been held and it appears that Mr Thaksin is loosing his popularity fast.
The survey, "Thaksin Administration: Six Months from Now and the Popularity of Mr Thaksin and Chuan Leekpai", was conducted in 22 provinces by Assumption University, Khon Kaen University's statistics department and a network of colleges nationwide.
The poll showed that 65.4% of the respondents were not confident in the government's capability to tackle the country's major problems. People are worried in particular about the Thaksin administration's handling of economic, corruption and drug problems, which are the main issues in Thailand at the moment.
About 48% voted for the prime minister in terms of popularity, compared with 15.1% for Mr Chuan Leekpai, the Democrat party leader. So, Mr Thaksin's popularity dropped by 20% in a short time. Nevertheless 66.5% of the respondents are willing to give the government more time. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Problems at THAI to be solved in two years

Posted by hasekamp on 11 December 2001 at 11:54 AM
The chairman of Thai Airways International has promised to restructure the airline and amend problems with its operation within two years. Measures to solve problems that are now plaguing the airline and to restructure it will be effective within that term.
Plans are to create five business units. Each unit will be asked to separate its profits from the core airline business. The five units to be created are customer service, catering, parking and ground terminals, cargo, and postal services.
THAI reportedly has an annual income of 120-130 billion Baht, but it is making a profit of only 40-50 billion Baht. The board has found many loopholes in the airline's acquisitions and purchases, causing this discrepancy. Loopholes have also been found in the giving of fare discounts to tour agents. And some of the airline's people had been selling utensils and surplus food worth 70,000-80,000 Baht a day to a private firm without recording the earnings. So, much has to be done to bring the airline -our favorite airline- back to profits, but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. At this moment there hardly is any airline that is performing well. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Two million drugs suspects

Posted by hasekamp on 10 December 2001 at 14:43 PM
We know that Thailand, and especially the current Thaksin administration, is serious about catching drugs dealers. One way this is being done is by setting up a database with all known suspects.
A database with these data was set up for the first time in 1981 and now contains two million names. So, two million people are under close watch by the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) for suspected involvement in drug trafficking.
These persons have been entered into the database of the ONCB. The ONCB have screened those listed and believe all of them are involved in drug trafficking. People in the database come from all layers of Thai society.
The information from the database has led to arrests in several major cases already. We wonder if the database will grow much further. Two million drug suspects in one country seems a lot. The database has to be updated from time to time anyway by removing those who were executed. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai researchers develop artificial eyes

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2001 at 14:25 PM
Not only a new strain of chili was developed in Thailand (see our former item), but another group of Thai researchers has successfully developed high-quality artificial eyes, with cheaper costs than the state of the art. The Office of the National Research Commission says that a team of the King Mongkut College of Medicine of the Royal Thai Army's Medical Department developed the artificial eyes, medically called Porous bovine.
The team was inspired by the conflict in the past between Thailand and Laos, in which many Thai troops lost their eyes in the Rom Klao Battle Field.
High-quality artificial eyes produced in developed countries, like the US, cost about 45,000 Baht each. The newly developed artificial eyes are being made from locally made materials, such as burnt cow bones, and are therefore much cheaper.
The invention of a new artificial eye won the award of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) at the Eureka inventors fair in Brussels, where His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej also won several prizes.
The new, locally produced, artificial eyes are now demonstrated at a research fair in Nonthaburi province between 5 and 9 December. Royal projects, initiated by His Majesty the King, are also shown at this fair. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New chili variety

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2001 at 14:24 PM
Researchers at Khon Kaen University have developed a new strain of the so called "bird's eye chili". This news (called hot news by our source) has been received with enthusiasm in Thailand. The cili type in question is known among foreigners as the little red or green devils that can burn a hole in the tongue, or "phrik khee noo". But Thais love it and consider it as one of the ingredients that give Thai cuisine its personality.
The new strain was shown (and tasted) at the "Thai wisdom research market for a sustainable Thai economy" yesterday. Observers said that the kick was even stronger than the kick given by known varieties.
The inventors of the new strain call it "aromatic chili pepper". Research on the new strain has been conducted between 1996 and 1998. The new strain has a long stem, with hot, fragrant fruit, and can be grown in nearly every type of soil, although it is best in loose soil with good drainage. Free samples can be obtained from Khon Kaen University. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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HM donates to strays fund

Posted by hasekamp on 7 December 2001 at 9:58 AM
Following his remarks about the stray dogs program by Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej (not exactly at the top of the list of Hasekamp Net of favorite Thai politicians, as our regular readers will know), His Majesty the King has donated 300,000 Baht towards City Hall's projects dealing with stray dogs, Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej said yesterday.
The Governor said the money came from the sale of T-shirts with the picture of the King's adopted stray dog Thong Daeng (copper).
Mr. Samak said the donation would go into a fund set up early this year for dealing with stray dogs in the city.
City officials will also discuss ways to mark stray dogs after they were neutered, he said.
As we reported on 5 December, His Majesty heavily criticized the plan to cut the ears of stray dogs, as was proposed by Mr. Samak. The King said that trimming the ears of neutered stray dogs would make them less attractive for adoption.
The King also touched on waste management in big cities, suggesting the use of treatment ponds and bacteria to turn waste into fertilizer. Doubtless this will be the subject of discussions at City hall before the week has ended.
There now are two waste disposal plants, at Onnuj and Nong Khaem district, each handling about 600 cubic meters per day. The city plans to build another two plants to turn waste into fertilizer, he said.
How easy government can be if one has a monarch like the Thai King, who simply has to suggest things to be certain they will be realized in as little time as is virtually possible!
Of course the King in that case has to be as wise as His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. And as far as we know there are not many countries –if any at all- that can fulfill this second requirement. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin has been warned!

Posted by hasekamp on 7 December 2001 at 9:57 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra must throw aside his "ego and partisan approach" if he wants to solve national problems, academics said yesterday. After the birthday speech of HM the King so much is clear and many learned Thai men concluded that Mr. Thaksin should see that he learns a lesson from what His Majesty the King said in his direction in public.
The director Thai Vision Project said that Mr. Thaksin must take His Majesty's warnings in his speech to the nation very seriously. The messages were very clear: the PM cannot be too optimistic and he must not apply double standards. The King wants Mr. Thaksin to see that problems are still serious and difficult to solve. Not one of the economic indices has improved since Mr. Thaksin is in charge. The King also warned Mr. Thaksin against using double standards because this would only cause confusion both at home and abroad about where Thailand was going. Especially these double standards irritate His Majesty, according to sources around him.
On one day Mr. Thaksin says the government is not interested in trade, the next day he said something totally different. Another learned Thai academic said that double standards are dangerous because they help only to hurt others.
We are certain that Mr. Thaksin has to take the warnings by his monarch seriously, if he wants to survive politically. His Majesty has given his warnings in an unprecedented harsh way: During his birthday speech, in the presence of Mr. Thaksin and the Thai people (who watched this speech on TV).
In the meantime Mr. Thaksin -of course- has said that he will follow the Royal advice. He told reporters that His Majesty’s call for suppression of double standard will result in a change in Thai society, where people are less sincere in working together. He also said that he would administer the country in line with the declared policy to the best of his abilities, to ensure the Government’s success. (Sources: The Bangkok Post and Public Relations Department)


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His Majesty the King criticizes Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2001 at 13:30 PM
Today is the birthday of His majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is 74 years of age now, and we, from Hasekamp Net, wish His Majesty a long and healthy life. We also wish that the great wisdom of this unique monarch will remain with the Thai people forever. The birthday of His Majesty is also Father’s Day in Thailand. The day is being celebrated extensively by all Thais.
On the eve of his birthday His Majesty mostly makes a speech, and so he did this year. In his speech he warned the Thai people for arrogance, disunity and double standards. He also sharply criticized the Thaksin government and Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej.
His Majesty the King said that Thailand is stepping backwards to disaster instead of making progress. He warned the Prime Minister to be tolerant of criticism.
His Majesty said that he was aware of the fact that Mr Thaksin was unhappy with his speech. He called on all Thais to unite and solve the national problems together. More than 18,000 well-wishers gathered near Chitrlada Palace to attend the speech. Some literally translated words of His Majesty were:
"I can see the prime minister has a grim look on his face. He might be upset because he has always said he was happy. Perhaps it was happiness on the outside but unhappiness within. He might have no idea what to do because there seems to be no progress with anything. So many people have noticed the country is in a state of disaster instead of prosperity. Everything is getting worse and worse."
The King mentioned several times that Thailand was racing towards disaster due to arrogance, conflict among people and the spread of double standards. He encouraged everyone to keep working together for development by using his old formula of being united. Only unity and tolerance of criticism could help the people to achieve their goal, he said.
About Mr. Thaksin he further said that the prime minister is fond of organizing workshops to brainstorm cabinet members, officials and experts on all major issues, but that does not solve the problems the country is facing.
His Majesty said that double standards had become evident and were leading Thailand backwards to calamities. He compared those with double standards to people who tripped over their own feet and fell since they had conflict within themselves, although they could deceive some people. He stressed that there can be no progress as long as double standards exist.
He objected to Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej’s idea to trim stray dogs’ ears after they are neutered. He suggested alternatives like the use of microchips to facilitate tracking them, to keep the dogs good-looking enough for people to want to adopt them. His Majesty has adopted one of the 40 stray dogs that would have undergone that fate.
Furthermore His Majesty is concerned about the dumping of garbage and waste into streams, and he proposed the use of waste treatment ponds and bacteria to turn it into fertilizer. (We can be certain that the first plans to do this will appear in the Thai press within one week!)
At the end of his speech His Majesty the King asked how he could be happy when people were still fighting and blaming each other. He said that he could not be happy until all of the Thai people know what is right and what is wrong and co-operate to fix things.
Observers say that this was one of the strongest birthday speeches ever made by His Majesty. Although he has criticized previous governments as well, his words about the Thaksin government were uncommonly direct and harsh. (Sources: The Bangkok Post, The Nation, Thai News Agency)


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Herbal medicines to treat AIDS

Posted by hasekamp on 4 December 2001 at 16:03 PM
The Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) and China World Best, a Chinese state enterprise, will order herbal medicines on HIV/AIDS from each other in a new cooperation project to expand the export for their respective anti-retroviral (HIV/AIDS) drugs.
Representatives of the Chinese organization will visit Thailand this month to discuss details of the cooperation.
A ward for Chinese herbal medicine will also be opened at most Thai hospitals. The new cooperation is the result of a visit to China of the Public Health Minister, during which the two countries agreed to jointly promote research and cultivation of herbal medicines.
The University of Shanghai, which is renowned for its research in herbal medicines and food supplements, agreed to provide technological transfers on the cultivation of medicinal plants for Thai officials. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Modern government administration

Posted by hasekamp on 2 December 2001 at 12:43 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra wants to shown his determination to modernize the administration of the country through technological and personnel development.
He was impressed by the technological advancement he has witnessed during his visit to India last week, Mr. Thaksin said that Thailand could not strengthen its competitiveness in the future, unless it developed appropriate technology, particularly in the government sector and state enterprises.
The Prime Minister cited as an example of his plans the idea of a software park that had been discussed by several governments but still made no progress. He gave as reasons the reluctance of officials to share their power with others.
He said he had instructed experts accompanying him on the trip to India to urgently work out ways to remedy the situation. Thailand being a country tat always has great affection to novel ideas, we believe that Mr. Thaksin can reach his aim. If his analysis of the situation is correct, it simply means that he has to interest some young people for government jobs! (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Another try to respect IP rights

Posted by hasekamp on 2 December 2001 at 12:42 PM
Once more the government says it is serious about violations of Intellectual Property (IP) rights (like trademarks and patents) in Thailand. The police have now been instructed to wipe out intellectual property right violations from the country by January 1, 2002.
The Government has appointed a committee on the prevention and suppression of intellectual property right violations chaired by the Interior Minister. The panel is in charge of ensuring that IP related laws are enforced drastically to suppress violations on CDs, cassette tapes and other patented, trademarked or copyrighted products.
After 1 January 2002, if violations are found anywhere, police officers responsible for that area will face disciplinary rules for their negligence in discharging their duties! The Minister says that the committee is also authorized to directly propose to the Prime Minister transfers of officials at any levels showing such ignorance.
We find this a very strict measure indeed and we are glad that we are no police officers in Bangkok or Nonthaburi, or in places like Hat Yai, near the Malaysian border! In these places IP violations are so numerous, that it will take years to eradicate them, not just one month. In fact we believe that the proposed measures on such a short notice will reduce the police corps in the mentioned (and other) areas to zero! (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Curing with pig tails

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2001 at 17:54 PM
A "doctor" is treating 900-1,000 people a day using pig tails and palm sugar as his only tools and medicines. This woman is making more than 10,000 Baht a day, which is much more than he made when he was still selling noodles.
The fresh doctor says that she was visited by an angel, who told her the secret (of curing and/or of making money). The angel told her to put a pig tail and palm sugar together in a pot and boil them for 15 minutes. She simply wished that all her aches and pains would go away then ate the pig tail. And for her it worked, so why not for others?
She shut down her noodle shop in a small village of Ranong's Kra Buri district instantly. And the good news for her is that the angel also told her that he did not mind if patients insisted on paying her.
The healing process is extremely simple, and the same for every patient. The village is running out of pig tails, because some patients try to do the trick themselves. Local vendors say they now sell 500-600 tails daily.
And of course the first miracles have been seen already: With only one pig tail the witch doctor was able to revive a dying Aids victim, according to villagers. So, if you are a believer in this kind of stuff, go to your local butcher, buy a pig tail and try to do the trick yourself. Do not forget to put joss sticks in your hands, and to make the wish to be cured! Otherwise it won't work. And if it does not work at all, you will have to make a trip to Thailand to be cured by this new doctor. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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HIV drugs in the 30 Baht scheme

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2001 at 17:54 PM
To mark World Aids Day today, the Public Health Ministry has extended its 30 Baht health care scheme to cover anti-retroviral drugs for HIV/Aids. The Health Minister yesterday made this promise to 1,000 Aids sufferers who gathered in front of Government House.
This means that from this month on, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization will make anti-retroviral drugs at cheaper prices. There have been many requests before to do this, but the government so far denied all these requests. Therefore the promise of the Minister has to be seen as a success for Aids sufferer groups.
For this purpose the ministry will have to double the drugs budget to 500 million Baht in 2002. The scheme will cover 6,000-7,000 Aids sufferers.
The plan will not bring Thailand in financial (greater) financial problems, because the price of anti-retroviral drugs is constantly falling and will likely reach the number of 1,000 Baht a person a month in the next few years. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New air services

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2001 at 12:11 PM
A new domestic airline, Phuket Airlines, plans to start its services on 15 December with two routes: Bangkok-Ranong and Hat Yai-Phuket.
The new domestic airline will get its first aircraft, a 103-seat Boeing 737-200 passenger jet, on Wednesday. Two more aircraft are expected to arrive early next year. Phuket Airline’s office on the first floor of Bangkok International Airport’s domestic terminal is open already.
Phuket Airlines is the latest airline to join the growing commercial aviation industry in Thailand. Air Andaman and PB Air are two other domestic airlines that have taken over some domestic routes from Thai Airways International.
This is in line with the policy of the governments, privately run domestic airlines should compete with Thai Airways International, which suffers huge losses on its domestic flights.
PB Air has recently begun flying three routes, from Bangkok to Sakon Nakhon, Lampang and Nakhon Phanom. It plans to expand its services to other provinces including Phetchabun and Nan in the near future.
Air Andaman now operates on the routes Bangkok-Chumpon and Phuket-Krabi with two 19-seat planes. It plans to begin 10 routes early next year with five 50-seat aircraft, to be delivered this month. In the South, Air Andaman's new routes are Phuket-Krabi and Phuket-Hat Yai. From Bangkok, Air Andaman will start services to Buri Ram, Nakhon Ratchasima, Loei and Mae SotChiang Mai. From Chiang Mai, Air Andaman will operate routes to Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Phrae and Phitsanuloke. (Source: The Nation)


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