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Thaksin does not want criticism over journalist case

Posted by hasekamp on 28 February 2002 at 9:34 AM
Thailand's prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, has warned the United States not to get involved with the issue of two foreign journalists who have been ordered to leave the country.
We have reported recently about the threat for four journalists to be sent away. Mr. Thaksin now after all is at the point of sending two of them away. They work for Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER). Mr Thaksin could not bear remarks by the journalists about the "reprimand" he received from HM the King in December, during the birthday speech of His Majesty. The FEER further referred to alleged differences between Mr Thaksin and King Bhumibol Adulyadej over business links between the prime minister and the crown prince.
A White House spokesman said on Tuesday that the US was concerned that Thailand may bar journalists who are critical of the government. Mr. Thaksin says he will not bow to pressure
The Thai government is coming under increasing criticism over the expulsion, both from politicians and journalists inside Thailand and from abroad. We too have shred us in the army of persons who believe that the freedom of press is one of the highest values in a democratic society. But Mr. Thaksin insists that his decision was taken by the police, not by the government, on grounds of national security.
The two journalists have been given 30 days to appeal against the decision, and the police have said they may be treated more leniently if they apologize. However, FEER magazine says that the Thai authorities have not yet explained in what way the article was inaccurate, or how it threatens Thailand's national security. In order to keep the reports about this case as objective as possible, we this time used a foreign source. (Source: BBC News)


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Dog eaters still active in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 27 February 2002 at 13:39 PM
The head of the Wildlife Protection Foundation of Thailand (WPF) has said that there is no law forbidding the sale of dog meat, and dog meat is still being eaten in Thailand. He said this after the (Thai language) Thai Rath newspaper published a report on "crispy dog meat", that is considered to be a delicacy in Nan province in Northern Thailand. WPF denounces the sale of dog meat and dog hides. "Those people who eat dog meat must be somewhat perverted", a spokeswoman for WPF said. After all, dogs are man’s best friend! And who eats his best friend?
Above that, the sale and consumption of dog meat could damage Thailand's International reputation. In the United States Thai leather products have been banned already on suspicion that dog hides were used in making them. Thai Rath yesterday reported that dog farmers in Nan province breed dogs commercially and send between 10 and 20 a day to the provincial capital to be consumed. The dish is reported to be so popular that it must be ordered in advance. We hope that the Thai authorities will end these practices soon. Indeed the reputation of Thailand is harmed, as far as we are concerned, by dog eaters. (Source: The Nation)


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AIDS patients should eat tamarind

Posted by hasekamp on 27 February 2002 at 13:38 PM
Patients, who suffer from virus-related diseases, including AIDS, tuberculosis, and flu, should consume makhampom (indigenous tamarind), since the fruit is proven to be effective in strengthening the immune system, a Thai pharmaceutical expert said yesterday.
Makhampom is a herb that is easily grown in all regions of Thailand and is commonly available in markets. It is full of vitamin C and tastes sour, but it should be able to reduce phlegm. The fruit can be eaten immediately or can be ground and mixed with other kinds of herbals for consumption. Thai researchers claim to have found that the fruit could strengthen the immune system for AIDS patients and curb the spread of this disease. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Today is Makha Bucha Day

Posted by hasekamp on 26 February 2002 at 17:11 PM
Like so many other Thai words, the name of this major Buddhist Festival day is being spelled in English transliteration in several ways. So you may encounter it in a different English spelling.
This day marks the following four events: - the paying of homage of 1250 people to the Buddha; - the enlightenment of all of them on that same day; - their ordination by the Buddha himself and - their assembly on that full moon day. The Buddha laid down the three principles of his Teachings on that night: -Do good, -Abstain from bad actions and Purify your mind.
The Thai authorities have asked the population to behave as good Buddhists today. Places that normally serve alcohol have been asked not to do so today. All entertainment venue owners and gambling house operators have been asked not to open their businesses today. Furthermore the general public has been asked not to mistreat animals today.
Entertainment establishments that do not comply with these suggestions face punitive measures, the police say. It has not been specified what these measures might be. We just wonder why everybody has been asked to "behave well" just today, and not always! (Several Thai sources have been used)


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Cleaning up the Chao Phraya river

Posted by hasekamp on 26 February 2002 at 15:48 PM
The Chao Phraya river could be cleaned up within 10 years, but Thailand would have to spend 10 billion Baht on this task, senior officials from the Pollution Control Department said yesterday. The lower part of the Chao Phraya river (say the part that flows through greater Bangkok) is by far the most heavily polluted part. About 75% of the wastewater dumped into the river comes from urban communities. Only the remaining 25% comes from industrial factories. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is now operating three wastewater stations in the Bangkok metropolitan area. But that is not enough. Three more stations would be needed to achieve a 80% improvement in the quality of the water. Eventually the cabinet will have to decide upon the cleaning up of the "River of Kings", that in its present condition hardly deserves that name. Go to the pages of this site about the Chao Phraya river by clicking the link. (Source: The Nation)


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Elephants seriously endangered

Posted by hasekamp on 26 February 2002 at 15:44 PM
We are friends of the Asian elephants. When you enter the word "elephant" in our search box, you will find quite some hits. However, their situation in Thailand is getting worse and worse. Many of them now roam the streets in Thailand, being homeless and begging (mostly with their mahouts) for a living. According to the FIO 134 elephants are now roaming in Bangkok. The Forest Industry Organization(FIO) plans to build elephant shelters to help ease this suffering of elephants. He said the FIO will seek six million Baht in state funds for the plan which would turn the shelters into tourist attractions as a sustainable solution for roaming elephants.
The situation is most urgent in Chachoengsao, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi, Krabi, Lampang, Phang-nga, and Saraburi provinces. Also training for elephants and their mahouts is needed.
Once the shelters are built, the elephants and their mahouts can have a steady income and do not have to beg on city streets any more.
Under the plan, the FIO's elephant center in Lampang would be upgraded into an elephant conservation and protection institute which would focus more on research and development.
Thailand now is losing 154 wild elephants each year, and they could be wiped out in the country within 15 years if no efficient measures are put in place to protect them, the director of (FIO) said yesterday.
A panel will also be set up to inform elephant-owners and mahouts that these beautiful beasts are not allowed, and do not belong, in the city. Eventually elephants found roaming the capital will be seized and become state property, while the mahouts and owners will face legal action. (Sources: The Bangkok Post and The Nation)


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"Suriyothai" to be re-edited

Posted by hasekamp on 25 February 2002 at 14:24 PM
There have been negotiations about a worldwide release of the Thai epic "Suriyothai" since its release in Thailand last year. As things stand now, there will be a re-edit to maker the epic shorter. That is the bad news for the Thai producers. The good news (in our opinion) is that old master Francis Ford Coppola will oversee the re-edit. This news was confirmed by Coppola’s Zoetrope film company. As part of the deal, Suriyothai will come under Zoetrope's banner for future distribution prospects worldwide.
Negotiations have been under way between the Thai director, Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol, Zoetrope and Bangkok-based GMT Entertainment since late last year.
Coppola will fly to Bangkok today to consult the Thais about his suggested revisions, which would reduce the film to between 2 and 2 1/2 hours from its current running time of more than three hours. It is hoped by the parties involved that the re-edited version will be ready for the Festival of Cannes in May. (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)


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Another tourist attraction

Posted by hasekamp on 24 February 2002 at 16:58 PM
Krabi Province is developing its hot waterfalls as new tourist attractions of the South, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The Prime Minister noticed prospects of the sites during an aerial inspection of various island resorts around Phuket and Krabi last week. Mr. Thaksin told listeners of his weekly radio talk that it was his first visit to Krabi, which enabled him to learn that the province possesses two hot waterfalls, one in fresh water and the other in sea water. The sites usually draw a lot of long-stay tourists.
The Prime Minister said that he had asked the provincial governors of Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga to jointly work out a development plan of the sites in order to preserve natural beauty and at the same time provide convenience for visitors at the same time.
At Krabi Mr. Thaksin said that he also had observed problems on the world-famous island resorts of Phee Phee. The major problems there include shortage of water, electricity and waste disposal plants. In Phuket, he said, an international conference center should be useful to bring in more tourists as most of the foreign visitors here are from high-income bracket or the business sector. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Highway criminals are becoming a problem

Posted by hasekamp on 24 February 2002 at 16:57 PM
Highway police want to help local police investigate serious crimes occurring on the highways across the country. The commander of the Highway Police Division said he would ask the national police chief to allow his officers to help local police investigate such crimes.
Criminals are now (too) often targeting motorists driving expensive cars. In some cases criminals follow the cars on the road, shoot the drivers and then steal their valuables and vehicles. He said some gangs throw stones at car windshields from pedestrian overpasses to stop the cars. Most of the incidents take place at night along highways. Highway police could help to speed up investigations if they were involved in the process. Since highway police are positioned along the highways, it would take them less time to get to the scene than local police. Highway police are currently allowed to investigate road accidents and fine motorists who violate traffic regulations on highways across the country. We hope e that this serious form of crime can be suppressed before it will influence tourism to Thailand. The government is doing what it can to boost tourism, but tourists want safe destinations for their holidays. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Journalists to be banned

Posted by hasekamp on 24 February 2002 at 16:56 PM
Thailand is about to blacklist four foreign journalists. This would harm the country's image, a key opposition leader said Saturday. Immigration police said Friday they were considering banning 46 foreigners from the country, including four journalists of the Hong Kong-based news magazine Far Eastern Economic Review. The other persons to be banned are 13 followers of China's Falun Gong sect as well as alleged drug traffickers and passport forgers.
The government has already banned the 10 January issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review, because of a brief news item alleging tensions between Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The news item had mentioned the birthday speech in December by His Majesty, in which he had asked Thaksin to be more tolerant to criticism. As we also reported then, His Majesty was quite clear in his remarks that Mr. Thaksin should take notice of the Royals opinion.
The deputy leader of the opposition Democrat Party, on Saturday asked the Thaksin government to clarify why the four journalists, two of whom are based in Thailand, were included among the blacklisted foreigners. Mr. Thaksin told reporters Saturday that he knew nothing about the issue, but the Immigration Police chief confirmed that the process to possibly ban the foreigners was under way.
Thailand has long been regarded as having one of the freest presses in Asia, but Thai critics have charged that the Thaksin government is trying to control both the domestic and foreign media. The government denies the charges.
We find the freedom of expression, which includes the freedom of press, one of the highest values in a democratic society and we can hardly imagine that Mr. Thaksin is not aware of the fact that this is a common opinion by people who live in a democratic society. It would be different if the foreign press was criticizing His Majesty the King, because he, as a constitutional monarch, for whose deeds the government is responsible, cannot defend himself in public. We hope that Mr. Thaksin will realize in time the high value of the freedom of press. (Source: The Nation)


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No more large scars after operation

Posted by hasekamp on 23 February 2002 at 12:39 PM
A doctor at Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok is now able to perform endoscopic surgery on thyroid tumors by operating through the armpits, meaning that patients will no longer be left with large scars on their neck. This innovative surgery method is new to Thailand and to the World.
So far, surgery on thyroid tumors required operations around the neck, which left such large scars that the patients were often so ashamed of it. All that is needed now are three incisions, made in the armpit. However, the new technique has not yet been tested on malignant tumors.
It is also being studied if the new technique can be applied to operations on cancer of the digestive tract and of the brain. Over 20 patients have been treated with this new surgical method. (Source: The Nation)


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Olympic hero quits

Posted by hasekamp on 21 February 2002 at 14:08 PM
Prawat Nagvajara (43), the first and only Thai competitor in the Winter Olympics ever, came in action again yesterday. This time he started ... and finished ... in the cross-country skiing 1.5 km sprint. In his first race (the 30 km cross-country) he did not finish. Now he finished 68th, just ahead of his fellow sportsmen from Costa Rica, Ireland and Nepal. Not really what one should call the best possible result, but to be honest: he participated and we did not!
After this success, he has decided to spend the rest of the Olympics as a spectator. We believe that this is a wise decision! His last words, before he announced this decision were: "I will remember this for life, once I settle down and realize I was actually here". (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Woman gives birth on the bus

Posted by hasekamp on 20 February 2002 at 15:12 PM
A Thai woman (29), who gave birth on a bus in Thailand, plans to call her son "Tour" or "Bus" in honor of his birthplace. English words are popular as names in Thailand, so the boy’s name will be the English word, not translated into Thai. The bus company has granted mother and son free bus travel for life to mark the event.
The woman wanted to give birth to her child in her home town (a 615 km journey), but, as these things are not completely predictable, the child arrived in the bus, about 30 km from her home town. All the other passengers were asleep, because the event took place at 5 a.m. Mother and child are in good condition. After the driver had realized what had happened, he drove to a hospital and left the young mother and her son there, to have medical care, if that appeared to be necessary. (Source: Ananova, referring to Thai Rath newspaper)


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Eight bus passengers killed in accident

Posted by hasekamp on 20 February 2002 at 14:05 PM
We have written on several pages of this site that public transport in Thailand is cheap and good, and we still think this is true. However, public transport in Thailand has a shadowy side too. Bus drivers sometimes are too tired to drive. This happened yesterday, when a passenger bus crashed into a tree, killing eight passengers and injuring more than 30.
The accident occurred to the Bangkok-Khong Chiam air-conditioned bus. As is usual in these situations, the driver fled the scene and has not been seen since. Police said the bus driver asleep at the wheel. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Internet cafes forbidden for youngsters

Posted by hasekamp on 20 February 2002 at 14:04 PM
The Education Ministry has used a 30-year-old regulation to make internet cafes and computer game outlets forbidden areas for youngsters under 18, after 10 p.m.
The regulation from 1972 was designed to bring wayward teenagers back on the moral path by keeping them out of nightspots and other entertainment outlets. Now Internet cafes have been added to these obscure entertainment areas. The move was made after a flood of complaints from parents about their children's obsession with cyberspace. As we have reported in the past year, many teenagers have skipped classes and stayed out late, in order to play computer games.
The new regulation does not affect youngsters visiting internet cafes for study purposes. We wonder how and by whom this will be checked... (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Widow of Prince sentenced

Posted by hasekamp on 20 February 2002 at 14:03 PM
Mom Luk Pla (literally "Fish Child", whatever may be the meaning of that in relation to her!), the widow of Prince Thitiphan Yugala, has been sentenced to six years in jail for killing her husband with poisoned coffee seven years ago. At that time he was 60 years old and she was 23. So one might imagine that the chances for a perfect marriage were less than 100%.
The court has accepted her statement that she did not intend to kill the prince. She intended "just" to send him to hospital in order to be able to meet her lover. The Court also took into account the police report that she had confessed under interrogation, but she retracted the confession during her trial. Mom Luk Pla, whose proper name is Chalasai Khwanthiti, now 30, was found guilty of putting a fatal dose of insecticide in her husband's morning coffee at Asawin Palace on Aug 21, 1995. The prince vomited and collapsed and was taken to hospital, where he died. An autopsy revealed that there was nothing in the prince's stomach but caffeine and a poison in the carbamate group. Carbamate compounds were also found in vomit stains on a carpet in the palace. The conclusion was that the poison was in the prince's coffee.
Upon hearing the verdict (six years in jail), the widow burst into tears. She said she would appeal the verdict. Luk Pla went to live in Asawin Palace when she was a little girl. In her teens she became the prince's wife. However, she later fell in love with a seller of roast chestnuts in Siam Square. They saw each other secretly but the prince found out and forbade her from leaving the palace. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Plans for a ski resort!

Posted by hasekamp on 18 February 2002 at 14:26 PM
The Thais have always been very inventive where it concerns attracting tourists. The latest idea is to open a ski resort near Chiang Mai. A Thai-Japanese group thinks Chiang Mai could be such a resort for three months a year. The contribution of the Japanese (apart from taking home at least half of the profit) is to supply snow-making machines. Obviously there will never, ever be enough natural snow in Thailand! The few flakes that sometime may fall there in winter are absolutely nothing compares to what is needed for skiing.
As said, we admire the inventiveness of the Thais, but we really believe that this more than one bridge too far! Can you imagine going to Thailand with your skis? We can’t! and if you can, you should realize that the temperature in the ski resort-to-be will never be below zero. On a mountain near Chjiang Mai it could reach values around 10 C at times, but we believe that is it. So, we will keep going to countries where there is natural snow, for our ski holidays and definitely not to Chiang Mai. (Source: BBC News)


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Malaria's secrets unveiled

Posted by hasekamp on 17 February 2002 at 14:23 PM
We have reported recently about a Thai professor, Yongyuth Yuthawong, who discovered with his team the way to develop new drugs to combat malaria, which continues to threaten the lives of 40 per cent of the world's population. This work had to come from scientists from a developing country, because the large pharmaceutical companies are not really interested, because there is no large profit in it, with the victims mainly living in developing countries.
While the disease is relatively under control in Thailand due to public-health advances over the past two decades, malaria still plagues most of the developing world. Worldwide about 300 million people fall seriously ill annually.
As we reported, Yongyuth, who is also president of the Thai Academy of Science and Technology, last week announced a landmark discovery after many years of hard work.
What the Thai scientists have found seems to be ending an international race. There are at least four or five groups in the world trying to continue with the findings by Mr. Yongyuth and in that way trying to get all the credits (and patents). The Yogyuth team is expected to publish their result in a scientific journal within a few months, before which they prefer to keep their formula secret. We hope that I the end the credits will go where they belong, to Mr. Yongyuth and his team. (Source: The Nation)


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Another boxer wants to act instead

Posted by hasekamp on 17 February 2002 at 14:22 PM
Olympic boxing champion Wijan Ponlid (Sydney, 2000) prefers to start an acting career and has agreed to play a hero in a television drama in which his wife will also act. He follows the former Thai Olympic champion (Somluck), who also started to act (but his acting career ended after just one soap) and stopped his boxing career.
Wijan yesterday said that his role in "Saming Baan Rai", which features the life of a rural boxer, was close to his real life but his wife would not be his sweetheart in the drama. The television drama will also be a debut for new producer Paphassara Techapaiboon, a former beauty queen and a veteran actress. This seems to be the highest achievement for an Olympic champion, who returns to Thailand. We hope for Wijan that he can manage to play in more than one soap, but we fear for the worst, having seen the poor acting of Somluck. (Source: The Nation)


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Chavalit wants to stop

Posted by hasekamp on 17 February 2002 at 14:21 PM
Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said he feels too old to continue in politics and wants to step down as defense minister soon. So far he believes that he could not resign as defense minister yet because there were still many things to do at the Defense Ministry like military restructuring.
But Mr. Chavalit said ": Not long from now, I will have to step down to pave way for younger men. I found several little brothers [in the military] who want to take my place. Now I am 71. Old and near death. Every morning when I get up, I tell myself that I am still alive. I just work day to day. I feel tired. My father died at the age of 76. This means I have only five years left. But I hope I got a lot of DNA from my mother, who is now 96. I may die before her. I have been through many things, good and bad. And I have done a lot of things for the benefit of the country."
We reprint his remarks literally (as printed in our source). Furthermore we think that every politician should stop when he feels old and not able to renew the country.
If Mr. Chavalit is right about the fact that a person lives as long as simply the average of the lifetimes of his parents, we doubt, however. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Valentine’s craze

Posted by hasekamp on 14 February 2002 at 17:23 PM
In Thailand on this year Valentine’s Day many youngsters have planned to loose their virginity. Will they do so? Condom makers expect a 30% rise in their sales. So who knows?
But also marriage is being stimulated on this day: Several district offices give special gifts for those who marry today. At Bangrak district office ten lucky couples will receive marriage certificates made from pure gold and embedded with 18 rubies (sponsored by a jewelry factory).
The Rajathevi district office will offer 50 couples accommodation and breakfast at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel. And the Jom Thong district office will take couples on a romantic tour down Thailand's canals to a temple where they will be blessed by the head monk.
One couple, that has been living together for more than 20 years, has decided to get married officially today. The total number of weddings registered on Valentine's Day is more than 3,300, as was published later.
In Trang province couples could get an underwater wedding ceremony. Twelve meter below the water surface they signed a marriage certificate, that was waterproof, with waterproof ink, and when they reached the surface again they could kiss each other.
Meanwhile a grassroots activist said yesterday that the Valentine's Day underwater weddings in Trang province pose a serious threat to the declining dugong population.
Furthermore the Day of Love it is a purely commercial occasion: Prices of flowers of all types have increased like a rocket since the Tuesday. To give an example: Roses that usually cost 5 Baht are for sale today at 40 to 60 Baht. But most lovers will give their Valentine flowers anyway. We would therefore advise them to send a card today and to give the flowers tomorrow, when there will be a giant sale of flowers probably. But of course then it is 15 February, not 14... (Several sources)


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Some success in the war against drugs

Posted by hasekamp on 14 February 2002 at 14:39 PM
Fourteen suspected drug dealers have been arrested and nearly 500,000 speed pills seized in separate raids this month, the narcotics police chief said. They have seized a total of 490,415 speed pills smuggled into the country from Burma and Laos. However, as we reported not so long ago, Burma is already increasing its production to compensate for the activities of the Thai police. Specified the actions and results were as follows:
On 5 February, three men, all hilltribesmen from Chiang Mai province, were arrested at a school while possessing 200,015 speed pills and a pistol.
Five more Burmese and Shan men were arrested in raids on two apartments in Bangkok's Suan Luang district. These raids also resulted in 68,400 speed pills and 160,000 Baht cash seized.
In two different actions police arrested two more men in Bangkok's Suan Luang and Huai Khwang districts. Here 2.17 kg of concentrated methamphetamine was seized.
In a fourth case a man was arrested at a restaurant in Mae Chan district of Chiang Rai province, while possessing 92,000 speed pills.
In yet another police action in a house in Chiang Rai's Chiang Khong district three men were arrested. Here the police seized 130,000 speed pills, two motorcycles and a mobile phone.
From 1 January to 13 February this year police have arrested a total of 145 drug suspects, and confiscated 2.12 million speed pills, 2.27 kg of heroin, 16.6 kg of marijuana, and 97 Ecstasy pills. This seems promising, but there are no signs that the sources in Burma have dried up, whatever the Rangoon recently may have promised to the Thai government. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai government wants to protect "tuk-tuk" worldwide

Posted by hasekamp on 13 February 2002 at 12:49 PM
Here is another IP issue: The Thai government said today that it will try to help Thai companies by taking legal steps worldwide against the use of the term "tuk-tuk,". The popular three-wheeled taxis are typical for Thailand, the government says.
The move comes in response to foreign companies registering the term as part of their trademarks in several countries. The Director-General of the Intellectual Property Department was active in this issue too (also see the former message on this page).
After all, here too a Thai product is concerned and therefore IP protection exists not only theoretically, but also in practice. The Thai government plans protests against all registrations anywhere, as part of its policy to promote exports of the vehicle. "We have protect our product.", the DG of the Department of Intellectual Property said.
The tuk-tuk has been a symbol of Bangkok's traffic for a long time. But Thai manufacturers have recently refined the engine and are now hoping to export tuk-tuks, with government support, to such markets as China, India, Pakistan and Africa.
In the British Virgin Islands a retail company had asked to register "Tuk-Tuk International" as its trademark. The company will be sued by Thailand. In the United Kingdom a company has registered under the name of "MMW Tuk Tuk,". This company might get the green light from the Thai government, because it plans to import tuk-tuks from Thailand. We will keep our readers informed about this and other IP issues. (Source: Associated Press)


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Copyright issue around T-shirts

Posted by hasekamp on 13 February 2002 at 12:49 PM
The very popular T-shirts carrying the pictures of Thong Daeng, a stray dog adopted by His Majesty the King, are protected under the 1994 Thai Copyright Law. The T-shirt carries a picture that has been taken by His Majesty himself, and therefore copyright protection for photographic work and artistic work exists, the director-general of the Intellectual Property Department said warned. As we have written several times before, in Thailand copyright is only protected and maintained when Thai products are concerned. But be warned! Now there is such a product again. This means that manufacturers of illegal copies for commercial purposes face a fine of 100,000 to 800,000 Baht and a jail term of four to six years, or both.
So far no illegal copies have been found. That is: according to the Thai authorities. Reuters reports today that the first "copycats" have just arrived on the market.
But if any Thai official finds you selling these shirts, you will wish to be a dead man. This is a Thai product and therefore here the copyright (by His Majesty the King himself) will be maintained! You can copy any foreign product and sell it in the streets, but not this one!
When will Thailand at last also maintain the IP rights of foreign companies and also punish manufacturers of "Harry Potter", "Lord of the Rings" and other T-shirts? Not to speak of software. You can be certain that you can find (illegal) VCDs of these movies on any market and certainly in Pantip Plaza for around 100 Bath. We will keep protesting against this selectively maintaining of Thai IP rights. (Source for the facts: The Bangkok Post)


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Panic over pigs

Posted by hasekamp on 12 February 2002 at 14:33 PM
Lately miniature pigs have been sold as pets in Thailand for around 40,000 Baht a pair. The Thai language press yesterday panicked over this situation by writing that these (miniature) pigs were the products of genetic modification. Therefore it has been stated today by the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec) that this is not true. They are normal pigs, but of a small size. So people who bought them do not need to get alarmed about them, a senior official at Biotec said.
However, he said the relevant government agencies should check if the pigs had been legally imported into Thailand. Otherwise the owners might contract diseases from the pigs. Biotec also warned that the owners should not abandon these animals. In the past iguanas have been sold as pets in Thailand and their owners had enough of them quite soon and simply abandoned them, which gave a problem.
Our opinion is that everybody who adopts a pet should take the responsibility to give it a good life. Respect for other species should be a normal attitude for humans. Pigs can be pleasant companion as pets. We hope that the Thais who bough these pigs will treat them with the respect they deserve. (Source: The Nation)


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First Thai female Buddhist monk ordained

Posted by hasekamp on 11 February 2002 at 16:47 PM
Thailand yesterday hosted its first ever ordination ceremony for women, marking a new chapter in Thai Buddhism. The ceremony was conducted in the Sri Lankan tradition, and was presided over by eight monks from Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Indonesia. Two monks from Tibet and six from Thailand also attended the historic event. So far Thai Buddhist nuns were dressed in white and could not be ordained. Since yesterday they can wear the saffron robe.
Sri Lanka revived female ordinations in the Theravada Buddhism tradition in 1998. Two Thai women have previously been ordained in Sri Lanka already. Until today white-robed nuns in Thailand have always been considered as a kind of second rate Buddhist servants. This is definitely over now.
Before her nine years in (white dressed) nunhood, the newly ordained female monk worked as a secretary and translator. Her two children, she said, were supportive of her decision to live a religious life from now on. She also divorced her husband in order to make it possible to be ordained and to join the female clergy. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai Jasmine rice and Thai tourism for Britain

Posted by hasekamp on 11 February 2002 at 16:43 PM
In Britain promotion of Thai jasmine rice looks promising, thanks to the Thai government’s policy to promote Thai restaurants, the Commerce Minister says. He said yesterday that he had discussed the idea with the Thai Restaurants’ Society in Britain, and had received a good response.
The Thai government now plans to support Thai restaurants in Britain and wants them to become outlets to promote both tourism to Thailand and Thai jasmine rice. Representatives of the Thai Restaurants’ Society in Britain are willing to cooperate with the Thai government in this respect, the Commerce Minister, who is visiting Britain right now, said.
Currently, there are about 600 Thai restaurants in Britain. About 250 of them are in London. But there still is growth. The number of Thai restaurants in Britain is expected to double over the next five years. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Pantip Plaza to be cleaned up

Posted by hasekamp on 10 February 2002 at 17:48 PM
Illegal business operators in Pantip Plaza have had to temporarily close down their shops for the past three days after police looked successfully for pirated VCDs, CDs and computer software. But pirates said yesterday they would start a cat-and-mouse game with the police and return to normal business. Plainclothes police officers go to Pantip Plaza daily since Thursday, but they can only force pirates to temporarily stop selling pirated software. If this is so, we wonder why the government does not change the law. If they can fight piracy of Thai products successfully, why can't they do this for foreign products? Pirated software is highly profitable. Profit margins of 80% are no exception. But who is thinking that companies like Microsoft are going to tolerate this much loner? MS® Office® and MS® Windows® products are no freeware and everybody knows this. Illegal software sellers say: "Legal CDs cannot help our business survive". If this is the case, they should try to find some way to run a legal business with profit prospects, like millions in other branches do.
Police say that the campaign is also being carried out at other IT malls, such as Tawanna Plaza in Bangkapi, the Klong Thom area, Fortune Plaza on Ratchadapisek road and the Pratunam area.
The arrest campaign would be carried out daily, police officers say. Things being as they are in Thailand, and given the limited power of the police, we have to wait and see if anything will change. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Olympic update

Posted by hasekamp on 10 February 2002 at 12:22 PM
Bad news for the only and first Thai competitor ever in the Winter Olympics: Thai University professor in engineering Prawat Nagvajara (43) started in the 15 km freestyle cross country skiing competition in Dalt Lake City, but he did not finish. He pulled out before the 15-kilometer mark and so could not make a good impression for his countrty. He resides in the United States, by the way. (Source: Associated Press)


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Malaria breakthrough

Posted by hasekamp on 9 February 2002 at 14:46 PM
The National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotech) in Thailand has discovered how the malaria parasite mutates its key enzyme to resist drugs, thus making it possible to find ways to neutralize the enzyme’s resistance to drugs. Yongyuth Yutthawong, chief of the protein study group at Biotech, has announced that his group has found a way to modify structures in anti malaria drugs. Anti malaria drugs need to use DHFR as a receptor to kill malaria parasites, but because of the enzyme’s ability to mutate and change anti malaria drug molecules were unable to attach themselves to the receptor and thus became useless against the disease.
Now that it is understood how the enzyme develops itself to resist drugs, it is possible to modify the structure of certain drugs to be able to use the new structure of DHFR as receptors. More time is needed, but results are very positive.
Biotech has received about 10 million Baht a year from World Health Organization, European Union, Welcome Foundation and the office of the committee providing research funds.
This is the first time that scientists have been able to understand how malaria changes its enzyme structure to fight drugs, Biotech said. (Source: The Nation)


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Trying to protect the coral reefs

Posted by hasekamp on 9 February 2002 at 14:45 PM
The sea off the Similan Islands will be divided into different zones for diving to stop inexperienced divers from damaging coral reefs. According to the Chief of Similan Island National Park, zoning is needed to prevent further damage to coral reefs in the Andaman Sea. Two kinds of zones will be established, for basic dives and advanced dives. The zones will be drawn up during the respite. Divers have destroyed almost 40 percent of the coral off Kho Jed, and Kho Pad islands already. The Similan Islands have been rated among the top ten dive sites of the world. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Less gold bought for Chinese New Year

Posted by hasekamp on 9 February 2002 at 14:43 PM
Normally the sales of gold rise sharply shortly before the Chinese New Year. But this year, with the Chinese New Year to be celebrated next week, the market moves contrary, as a result of the high gold price. A gold shop owner said there were more people selling than buying. The gold price now is 6,250 Baht for 15.2 grams of gold, whereas last year the price was 5,500 Baht.
And because Thais (including Chinese Thais) also buy gold as an investment, this seems a good moment to sell the articles back to the shop top make some profit. Even those who bought gold for 5,900 Baht two months ago can make a quick profit.
Despite this tendency in the gold market, the government is planning the biggest Chinese New Year festival ever to promote Thai-Chinese culture and to boost tourism. The government hopes to turn Yaowarat Road (Chinatown), into an internationally famous landmark like Times Square in New York, said Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. This is another example of non-realistic thinking of Thai officials. It is nice to walk through Chinatown in Bangkok, but to compare it to Times Square in New York is just a bit exaggerated. Nevertheless the celebration of Chinese New Year on Yawarat Road in Bangkok is an impressive experience, which we can recommend to our visitors. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Burma and Thailand agree to cooperate

Posted by hasekamp on 9 February 2002 at 14:43 PM
Burma and Thailand have agreed to cooperate in various areas, including tourism, fishery, link of land transport, and narcotic suppression, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This new agreement was reached during a three-day official visit to Burma by Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, which ended yesterday.
Rangoon expressed its readiness to cooperate with Thailand in tourism, and agreed with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s proposal to develop Chiang Mai as a new aviation hub of the Thai Kingdom, linking with Rangoon, Mandaley, and Pukam in Burma, indicated the statement.
The two neighbors also agreed to cooperate in narcotic suppression, with Rangoon announcing that the Wa minority group, known as a largest production source of drugs, had agreed to stop its narcotic production, including methamphetamines, by 2005 following negotiations between the military junta and the ethnic group. We have seen (and posted) many reports abot joint narcotic suppression plans of Thailand and Burma, but none so far has had any effect at all. Contrary, we reported a few weeks ago that Burma is increasing its production as of drugs, as a result of the suppression measures by the Thai border troops. Can we now take this agreement serious, as far as drug suppression is concerned? We do not believe so. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Profile of the Thai Olympic athlete

Posted by hasekamp on 9 February 2002 at 13:36 PM
We have reported that one athlete from Thailand will participate in the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics. This information was correct, but we just mentoioned "skiing" as his sport. It appears that Mr. Prawat Nagvajara will participate in Cross-Country skiing, in the following events: Men's 10 km Classical, Men's 15 km Classical, Men's 50 km Classical, Men's Sprint, Men's 30 km Free Mass Start. The Thai athlete is a University professor in his daily life and he resides in Philadelphia, USA. He qualified with points during races that included Idaho Spring Series in Sun Valley, the Swiss Cup in Goms and the USA National Championships in Bozeman, Montana, USA. As we already reported, he is the first Thai athlete to ever participate in the Olympic Winter Games.


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When will the subway train ride?

Posted by hasekamp on 8 February 2002 at 18:05 PM
For years Bangkok (since 1998) has worked on the construction of a subway railway system. Work on this six-billion-Baht project for the Mass Rapid Transit Authority has finished now on Rama IX road but the service will be delayed for at least a year.
The job of laying the tracks is almost over now. Work on subway tunnels and underground stations have been finished almost as well. Still underway, however, are interior decoration, ventilation, water supply, and lighting for underground buildings. So that causes the delay of the start of the service. Sand furthermore the buying of subway trains and operating systems are behind schedule. Under these circumstances we predict a start for the Bangkok subway on 5 December 2003. Shall we say "better late than never"? (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Everybody wants a T-shirt with Thongdaeng

Posted by hasekamp on 8 February 2002 at 18:04 PM
His Majesty the King has adopted a stray dog, named Thongdaeng. Recently a T-shirt with the dog and its family on it has been issued. And now suddenly this T-shirt appears to be a must have item. The shirts are being sold at 300 Baht each at the "Golden Place" stores. This store chain is a Royal Project that retails local products and is run by a venture, which His Majesty owns mainly (for charity purposes only!). More than 1,000 Thongdaeng shirts were sold within the first hours of opening yesterday morning. The sale started at an outlet inside Siriraj Hospital, where His Majesty underwent a successful operation on Sunday. Maybe this connection with the recent successful surgery on His Majesty is one reason why suddenly everybody wants the shirt.
His Majesty the King first introduced the dog Thongdaeng in his birthday speech in December. The public was captivated immediately by Thongdaeng’s story. His Majesty in his speech called on city authorities to stop marking the ears of neutered stray dogs, holding Thongdaeng as an example. The dog was rescued by a Palace doctor and presented to the King, who adopted him.
Thongdaeng has mated with another Palace dog, and gave birth to nine puppies. The number of her puppies coincided with the monarch’s reign (Rama IX). As said, Thongdaeng and his whole (dog) family are on the now so strongly wanted T-shirt. (Source: The Nation)


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His Majesty leaves hospital, "lively"

Posted by hasekamp on 7 February 2002 at 13:09 PM
His Majesty the King yesterday left Siriraj Hospital at 8.30 p.m. His Majesty greeted people waiting outside the hospital and reportedly looked lively. His Majesty was accompanied by all four of his children: His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Maha Vajiralong-korn, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Valayalaksana, and Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya.
Yesterday evening, the Royal Household issued its latest statement about HM the King's recovery. It said His Majesty was to leave Siriraj Hospital and return to Chitralada Villa at the Dusit Palace. According to the statement, the medical team agreed that His Majesty had recovered well after undergoing his operation on Sunday and therefore could continue his respite at the Royal Palace.
His Majesty also thanked all well-wishers who paid visits and signed the official visiting books during his stay at the hospital, the Royal Household said. Long live His Majesty the King! (Source: The Nation)


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New tourism master plan

Posted by hasekamp on 7 February 2002 at 13:08 PM
The theme of the new tourism promotion campaign of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is "Enchanting Senses of Thai Living". The campaign was adopted by the government yesterday. The new theme is the heart of the proposed new tourism master plan for 2002-2005, approved by the Cabinet yesterday.
About 10 million foreign tourists visited Thailand last year, but there are a number of obstacles to continued growth in the tourism industry. The new strategy seeks to highlight Thai culture and to attract world travelers, who seek authenticity. To be more precise: the new campaign aims at the growing popularity of natural beauty treatments, exotic boutique hotels, organic food, alternative medicine and Buddhism. The previous national tourism theme "Amazing Thailand" seems to have been left definitely now.
The master plan was conceived because there were signals that the popularity of Thailand as a tourist destination was declining. Thailand saw shorter duration of stay, less spending and more competition from other countries in the region. Especially Hong Kong and Malaysia were strong competitors. We have never considered to choose a different destination in the region, but others apparently have. We hope that the new campaign will appeal to many foreign tourists. After all, we believe that Thailand is the most wonderful country on the Globe! (Source: The Nation)


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One Thai Olympic athlete

Posted by hasekamp on 6 February 2002 at 15:06 PM
In the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games there will be one participant from Thailand. The one-man team from Thailand will consist of Prawat Nagvajara. He was welcomed in Salt Lake City yesterday and received a pipe of peace from a Native American.
The ceremony was witnessed Nat Indrapana, Thailand's representative in the International Olympic Committee.
The Thai athlete will participate in the Games in skiing. Thailand has no skiing association so he has applied through the Thai Olympic Committee for permission to take part in the Games. The proud athlete has discovered skiing when a student in the United States in 1976 and has been training hard in the U.S. for 18 months ahead of his Olympic debut.
With all due respect, we do not expect our Thai friend to leave Salt Lake City with a gold medal. Nevertheless we hope that he will be a representative if Thailand that his country can be proud of. (Source: Reuters)


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Illegal trade at Chatuchak should stop

Posted by hasekamp on 5 February 2002 at 18:01 PM
The director of Chatuchak weekend market wants the Forestry Department to give the municipal police the authority to take action against the illegal trade in wildlife at the market. The most popular items that are on sale illegally are rare birds, mounted rare butterflies, tiger skins and snakeskins, marine creatures and wild orchids.
The law does not allow the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, which oversees the market, to act against this illegal activity. It is the job of the Forestry Department. However, the Forestry department is understaffed and therefore cannot cope with the problem.
Like drug trafficking, the wildlife trade generates huge profits, so it is difficult to get rid of.
Thailand is likely to be boycotted by members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (the CITES convention) if it does not act against illegal trade. And in this case the trade is shamelessly open, at one of the most famous markets in Thailand. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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King is recovering well

Posted by hasekamp on 5 February 2002 at 18:00 PM
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is recovering well after his prostate surgery, Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana said yesterday. We reported about the imminent operation recently.
Speaking in Chiang Mai, the princess said that His Majesty was recuperating and doctors at Siriraj hospital were satisfied with the pace of recovery. The princess further said that the King was in a comfortable state and thanked the people for their concern for his health. Many Thais have shown their constant devotion to His Majesty by standing near the hospital or by signing a guest book at the Hospital. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Kirsty Jones case update

Posted by hasekamp on 3 February 2002 at 12:15 PM
This news service has been intermitted for a few days. We therefore give a delayed update on the re-opening of the Kirsty Jones case. As known, British backpacker Kirsty Jones was found raped and murdered in August 2000 in her guesthouse in Chiang Mai.
The Thai police closed the case, but detectives from Britain came to Thailand and made a fresh investigation. The Royal Thai police re-launched the investigation into the murder after the British detectives presented new forensic evidence. We reported about this. Now we take up the tread again.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has urged Thailand's government to do all it can in bringing those responsible for the murder of a British backpacker to justice.
A number of lines of inquiry were identified, Mr. Straw said, but they could not confirm claims in the media that the new data links a Thai policeman to the murder.
Thai police have now taken DNA samples from a new series of suspects in Kirsty Jones murder case. Officers say that five or six people have been called to give samples. The DNA data look similar to but not exactly match the DNA of a tour guide belonging to one of northern Thailand's ethnic hill tribes. The guide had been one of the original suspects in the case and had even been temporarily detained. Thai officers now believe some of his relatives may be suspects. These people have now been called in to give DNA samples.
We remind our readers that the Thai police did DNA tests on a total of 14 suspects already, but they all failed to track the murderer. (Source: Ananova)


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More plants to be added to GM import ban

Posted by hasekamp on 3 February 2002 at 12:14 PM
Thailand will add another 37 plant varieties to the list of genetically modified plants that cannot be imported for commercial purposes, the Department of Agriculture said. The newly added plants include coffee, barley, wheat, orange, sugarcane and apple. They will be banned under the Plant Quarantine Act.
So far 40 plant varieties are ion the list, including tomato, corn, soybean, chili, canola and potato.
The plants may not be imported without a permit from the Agriculture Department. Restrictions on the import of GM seeds were imposed two years ago. The listed varieties can be imported for research and experiment only.
Worldwide, 52.6 million hectares have been planted with GM crops, mostly in just four countries: the United States, Argentina, Canada and China. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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King in hospital

Posted by hasekamp on 3 February 2002 at 11:18 AM
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has been admitted in the Siriraj Hospital today, the Royal Household Bureau has announced.
His Majesty has been conditioned with Benign prostatitis Hyperplasia since 1993, a team of doctors at the hospital announced. Until now, the size of the prostatitis have grown larger so the doctors decided, when His Majesty’s condition is healthy and well enough, to give him a small operation. The announcement is very recent and has not stated for how long His Majesty might be staying in the hospital.
His Majesty has been under medical care for a heart condition for several years too. The present announcement does not state anything about this, so we can be certain that his heart is in good condition now. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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