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Villagers should use website better

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2002 at 18:55 PM
Most Thai villages have access to the Internet, including a website, now thanks to the effort of the Thaksin government to give Thailand a more leading position on the Web and in e-commerce. The villagers all over the country are not really using the Web as well as they should, NECTEC says. They should bring their local products better to the attention to the visitors of these sites, in order to help them to earn more profit through the modern technology of the Internet.
NECTEC (National Electronic and Computer Technology) provides the websites for the villagers.
The Deputy Director of NECTEC said that trading on the Internet is the way for villagers to gain more profit, because then they don’t have to share their profit with middlemen. Above that, information on products on the Web will help the communities to make their local products unique and different from others, he added.
NECTEC this week held a seminar on using the Internet under the Thaksin government scheme "one village, one product".
Up to now, 500-600 local products are displayed by NECTEC on the web site for this program (http://www.siamvillage.net). If the villagers want to show their products on the website, they can fill in the application form. Villagers in rural areas can register at the site itself and add their products on-line. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Economic recovery?

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2002 at 18:53 PM
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index rose on 29 May to 412 points. This means that the index closed above 400 points for the second time this year. Total trade volume on 29 May was 23 billion Baht. The SET says that the rise was mainly caused by huge purchases among foreign buyers.
Both Thai and foreign investors now seem to get new confidence in the Thai economy. Thaïs mostly overestimate these tendencies, and so we do not value the prediction by Thai experts that the SET index will take the 500 points barrier soon, seriously.
The SET said that attractive stocks in the eyes of foreign players included those in the groups of financial institutions and the real estate business.
Another positive factor is, that foreigners now have more confidence in the Thai economy since the recent revised growth forecast of 3.2 percent from the previous 2.7 percent for Thailand’s economic growth by International Monetary Fund (IMF).
It is indeed remarkable that the Thai stock market giving off positive signs, where the European and US markets are low since a relatively long period. To us it looks therefore as if the Thai economy gets surprisingly much confidence from abroad and investors who are uncertain about the US and European economies, might switch over to Asian stocks. It remains unexplained, however, why the large Asian stock markets are still following Wall Street. The economic recovery, that is so eagerly predicted in Thailand, is not (yet?) shown in the exchange rate for the Thai Baht. That remains around what it has been for a long time. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Monkey HIV vaccine

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2002 at 12:15 PM
A team of Japanese and Thai researchers say trials of two vaccines against the monkey version of HIV have been successful.
The team inoculated three monkeys before infecting them with HIV. After several months, they found two of the monkeys had no detectable levels of the virus and the third monkey had only low levels of the virus, but did not develop further symptoms. Monkeys that had not been given a vaccine, bur were inoculated too, had virus levels that could not be suppressed.
Now the team hopes to carry out clinical tests on people, infected with HIV and Aids, as early as next year.
The two vaccines have been developed by the Thai Public Health Institute and a Japanese group. (Source: Ananova, based on the Japan Times)


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Did Thai prisoners order drugs online?

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2002 at 12:05 PM
US authorities say that they have evidence that Thai prisoners are able to order drugs online, through the Internet that is. The Corrections Department has set up a committee to investigate these allegations. The US say that Klong Prem and Bang Khwang prison are involved. This has been going on since August 1999, according to the US.
The US officials claim that they seized drugs that had been ordered online by inmates from the Thai prisons mentioned.
The director-general of the Corrections Department, said the committee would check whether the allegations are correct.
Thai authorities recently seized a computer that could have been used to order drugs at Klong Prem prison. Prisoners probably have connected the computer to the Internet using a mobile phone. Immediately a complete ban on the use of mobile phones within all prisons has been ordered. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Suicide for a PlayStation® game

Posted by hasekamp on 27 May 2002 at 17:41 PM
A 12-year-old Thai girl from Ratcahburi committed suicide on Saturday night and police say that her Sony PlayStation® game console is the cause for this deed.
It is being assumed that she took her life because she was frustrated not to be able to win a popular video game on the machine, police say. The girl has complained repeatedly about her problems with the game. However, in her suicide note to her mother, she made no mention of video games. Her sister, 14, found her in their bedroom. Some more details about her death have been published in the Thai press, but we feel no need to repeat them here.
We wonder if this serious incident will give rise to some kind of ban on video games in Thailand. If these games can even lead to suicide, this would certainly be worth considering. (Source: The Nation)


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Elephant killers caught

Posted by hasekamp on 27 May 2002 at 17:40 PM
Seven men have been arrested, who allegedly have killed a pregnant elephant at Dong Yai Wildlife Sanctuary in September. They were arrested yesterday by police and forestry officials.
The police acted on a tip-off. A shelter at the sanctuary was raided and 12 weapons, including four shotguns, were seized along with the seven men and ammunition rounds.
According to the police the men are suspected to have sold wild game meat to nearby restaurants. We wonder, when we read things like this, what kind of people want to order elephant meat for dinner. Possibly more elephant killings will be solved during the interrogation of the suspects. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Fancy an insect?

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2002 at 20:33 PM
In Northern Thailand insects are a delicacy for years, if not ages, already. Now they are slowly but steadily invading the Bangkok supermarkets. In canned form or in glass, that is. One of the food stands in Central Plaza Shopping Mall has started to sell the new delicacy.
Crickets, grasshoppers and lots of other varieties, they are all there. Not to be destroyed, but to be eaten. A small tin of crockets is 30 Baht. Along with the insects comes a new spicy chili sauce for dipping. The sales department says that a daily selling of 4,000 Baht a day seems to be normal.
At the moment the capital still has to get accustomed to the new snack but who knows, maybe we all will be eating them in a few years from now! (Source: Reuters)


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Snakes as rat catchers

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2002 at 20:31 PM
A number of lucky snakes from Bangkok (most of them living in Dusit Zoo) will soon get a holiday in clean and fresh air, and lots of fresh rats. Thirty Bangkok snakes (all non-poisonous) will take part in a scheme to export them to Ayutthaya province to get rid of the rats that are causing crop damage in that province each year there.
This is an idea of an expert on reptiles at Dusit Zoo in Bangkok. The 30 lucky snakes will be released in Ayutthaya province in areas reasonably distant from human dwellings. It seems that the lucky snakes that go on holiday will have an endless supply of food, as the rat population of Ayutthaya province is exploding at the moment. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Elephant registration

Posted by hasekamp on 24 May 2002 at 13:09 PM
In other countries dogs are registered. In Mae Hong Son province the authorities now want elephant owners to register their animals, in the hope that this will to help to prevent elephants attacking tourists.
The Mae Hong Son Office of Livestock Development said yesterday said that a total of 54 registered elephants work in the province’s tourist industry, but 91 elephants have not yet had their health checked by the provincial authorities, so that these elephants could be a potential problem.
The provincial vets will regularly check all registered elephants. The vets will then be able to declare whether or not the elephants are fit to be used in the tourist industry.
About 90 percent of foreign tourists to the province go on some form of elephant treks. Therefore the owners of the remaining 91 elephants should take their beasts for registration and record their medical details, thus ensuring that all elephants that are used used in the tourist industry are healthy. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Germans grow marijuana

Posted by hasekamp on 23 May 2002 at 15:40 PM
Two German brothers and the Thai girlfriend of one of them were arrested on charges of producing illicit drugs in northern Thailand . The three (41, 39 and 35) were growing marihuana in a hilltribe village 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Mae Sot. Police seized 15 marijuana plants, three kilograms of dried marijuana and 380 grams (0.8 pounds) of raw opium., as well as an instruction manual in German on how to cultivate marijuana.
The suspects face a penalty of between two and 15 years in prison if convicted of producing illicit drugs.
This may be another lesson for those of our visitors who think that growing marijuana is not so bad: It can cost you (up to) 15 years in a Thai prison. If you have ever seen "Bangkok Hilton" you should know that this is no pleasure! (Source: Associated Press)


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Monk goes nuts

Posted by hasekamp on 23 May 2002 at 13:47 PM
A monk, as it appeared later, armed with an AK47 assault rifle, walked into parliament yesterday, firing one round into the air after demanding he be allowed to submit a petition to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The monk, 37, had come to Bangkok by bus from Chanthaburi. His weapon was hidden under his robe. His request was not granted.
After another shot in the air, he then demanded to see a Democrat MP, promising to lay down the weapon after they had spoken.
Meanwhile anti-riot police began to arrive at the scene. Somehow the weapon was taken from the monk and he could be taken away. He was taken to a police station, disrobed and questioned.
He said that he wanted to draw attention to a land dispute in which he had become involved. In 1996, he was found guilty of land encroachment, and received a suspended jail sentence and a 12,000 Baht fine. He said, however, that the confession in that case was given under torture. It remains a strange case for a (now former) monk and therefor police suggested that he might be under the influence of drugs. He denied and said he was prepared to be tested. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Elephant killed on the road

Posted by hasekamp on 22 May 2002 at 14:19 PM
A five year old wild elephant was killed on Monday night in Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary, when a pickup truck collided with a herd of elephants. The driver of the pickup truck was also killed. The wife of the driver lost consciousness but was only slightly injured after all.
The (baby) elephant was crossing the road with six or seven other elephants when the driver hit and thereby killed him.
According to the first reports in the Thai press the elephants had attacked the vehicle, but police said that they now believe that the herd had simply surrounded the pickup truck before leaving.
An official of the sanctuary said that about three elephants a year are killed by vehicles. The sanctuary has appealed time after time to motorists to slow down while driving through the area, but Thai drivers are not very good listeners as far as warnings are concerned. This driver now has paid for this with his life.
The elephant was buried in a ceremony, led by Buddhist monks. (Source: The Nation)


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Prawn farm worker arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2002 at 13:56 PM
After the murder of a Dutch prawn farmer one of his workers was arrested yesterday on suspicion of being the man who killed the owner of the farm on Saturday night.
The man, 24, disappeared from the farm in Nakhon Si Thammarat province on the night his employer, Sebastiaan Lodewijk, was shot dead. The worker has a criminal record. A warrant was issued in 2000 for his arrest on an arson charge, police said. He denies to have committed the murder.
Police said that the Dutchman was known as a stern master, and the suspect may have killed him in a fit of anger. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Heavy rain in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2002 at 13:55 PM
Heavy Monsoon rains hit Bangkok early yesterday morning causing floods and traffic chaos in many areas. Especially the rush hour traffic was more than hectic.
An amount of rain of 80 millimeters fell in 30 minutes. The water pumps can only manage 60 mm an hour. The high tide, over one meter, made the situation even worse.
In some areas traffic came to a standstill and The Mass Rapid Transit Authority closed some lines since water could not even be pumped out onto the main road.
The Meteorological Department said the rain is expected to continue until tomorrow.
This is an quite early attack by heavy rain on Bangkok, with the rainy season just about to start. Normally the worst flooding is in October. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Massage by criminal ladies

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2002 at 14:48 PM
A massage parlor has been opened in Chiang Mai, opposite the provincial women's prison. That is not a coincidence, because the parlor has a staff, completely consisting of by (female) jail inmates. It appears that the parlor is very popular with local people as well as tourists.
The idea behind the project is to give the inmates a chance to build up a new life after they have finished their sentences.
The new massage parlor (traditional massage only!) opens every day and charges only 100 Baht an hour. Ten chairs are available for customers. The director of Chiang Mai women's prison said that the prisoners serve 30-40 customers a day.
More than 90 prisoners with less than two years to serve have been trained in traditional foot massage. We hope that the ladies will indeed stay in the traditional massage business, and that they will not switch to the "modern" Thai massage business instead.
Other possibilities, given to the female inmates are courses in dressmaking, cooking and craft-making. A beauty treatment course is in the pipeline. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Dutch prawn farmer shot dead

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2002 at 14:47 PM
There are reports about foreign businesspeople and tourists being murdered in Thailand quite often lately. We do not report about all these cases, because we concentrate on news, interesting for travelers and environmentalists. This time one of our countrymen is the victim. Therefore we report about the case.
A Dutch prawn farmer has been shot dead at his farm in Hua Sai district, Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The body of Sebastiaan Lodewijk, 45, was found beside a breeding pond on his farm yesterday afternoon, police said. He had been shot twice, in the chest and in the arm, and had been dead for six or seven hours, when he was found, police said.
The victim had invested in the prawn farm with a Dutch business partner who had returned to the Netherlands three days previously to arrange fresh funding for the farm, which was running at a loss. According to the Nation this business partner was his wife. Two farm laborers disappeared after the murder.
Mr. Lodewijk was known to have about 80,000 Baht in cash in his possession before his death, but the money was not on his body. A small gold necklace he wore was untouched.
As can be read from former reports prawn farmers are nor really liked by Thai environmentalists, so we think that the police should also look for the killer in those circles. What the motive for the murder may have been is unclear so far. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin talks too long

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2002 at 14:19 PM
A Thai radio DJ is threatening to sue Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, because his weekly radio speeches disrupt her programs too long. Every radio station in Thailand has the obligation to air Mr. Thaksin’s weekly 15-minute lectures since he came to power last year.
The Saturday morning speeches on his policies have recently been reaching lengths of 30 to 45 minutes.
Thai DJ Natthakarn Panniam says her show's sponsors are now threatening to withdraw, because the Thaksin broadcasts interrupt her weekly music program. The lady in question says she will start legal proceedings against Mr. Thaksin if necessary, as four of her five sponsors have now threatened to withdraw their financial support for her show.
We wonder what the result of these (possible) court proceedings will be! (Source: Ananova)


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Money for the school year

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2002 at 14:18 PM
Many Thais live by the day and many have to do so, due to their low income. On the last day of the month you will find (long) rows before ATM machines all over Thailand, because many Thais need their salary desperately. And on that day it is being paid, and cashed immediately.
Now that the new school year is beginning, many families need money to pay for their children’s school fees. And this causes long queues before Bangkok’s pawn shops. Even essential attributes as rice cookers are being brought there now. Bangkok’s government pawnshops had a turnover of 150 million Baht worth of pawned goods.
People are even pawning irons that are still hot, as if they have just pressed the last suit of clothes, and rice cookers that have just been rinsed out after the last use and still haven’t dried yet, the owner of a pawn shop said. Over 80 percent of pawned items, however, come in the form of gold and jewelry. After this school pre-term rush the s pawnshops mostly stay quiet until October, when the second semester of the academic year begins! (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Royal Barges Ceremony

Posted by hasekamp on 15 May 2002 at 12:01 PM
A special Royal Barges Ceremony will be organized by the Royal Thai Navy in October this year to welcome the heads of state that are attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) pre-summit meeting in Bangkok. The date of the ceremony is not yet known to us.
The event will be similar to the procession that will be held in November next year when His Majesty the King travels to Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) by Royal Barge to present robes to the monks, on the occasion of Kathin (the end of the Buddhist Lent).
The Thai Government has reserved a budget of 500 million Baht for the construction of an auditorium and a grandstand on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, for the ceremony in October.
This is a very uncommon decision by the Thai government. Normally a Royal Barges Ceremony is only held on very special occasions, such as the 50th anniversary of His Majesty’s ascension of the throne and the 60th birthday of His Majesty. Apparently the Thai government, including His Majesty himself, considers this APEC summit an occasion as important as the ones mentioned.
Although the Kathin ceremony is every year in November, His Majesty mostly travels from his Palace to Wat Arun for it by car. Be there if you can to see the Royal Barges! For an impression of a Royal Barges ceremony visit our wrtten but also illustrated "experience" about the Ceremony in 2000. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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International Trade Fair on Horticulture

Posted by hasekamp on 14 May 2002 at 12:14 PM
Thailand will host the first international trade fair on horticulture, fruit and flowers in Bangkok, this weekend, with the aim to make Thailand the Southeast Asian regional center for trade in these products.
The fair will be held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center from 17 to 19 May. The exhibition will show the ability of both Thai and foreign producers of the products.
Thailand currently exports vegetables, fruit and flowers worth more than 10 billion Baht per year.
The Royal Horticultural Society of Thailand said the association will show rare species of orchids and trends in decorative pot orchids in the United States. Thailand exports about two billion Baht worth of orchids a year, with Japan buying half of the total.
Thailand is, it appears, always widely interested in showing its horticultural products at home and abroad.
We were able to see this last weekend in the Netherlands. There the International agricultural and horticultural exhibition called "Floriade" (held only once every ten years) is in full swing now until 20 October 2002. Thailand has one of the finest stands there, with an old style Thai house as a housing to promote its products. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Gold area for tourists

Posted by hasekamp on 14 May 2002 at 11:55 AM
As we reported recently, the Forestry Department wanted to exploit the area where tiny bits of gold have been found in Kanchanaburi province.
The department had asked the Mineral Resources Department to verify the gold claim. Forestry officials have closed off the area, after 7.5 grams of gold were seized from a group of Burmese.
If geologists find out that gold mining is not be worth the investment, the Forestry Department wants to make a tourist attraction of the area. "Leaving the precious mineral in the jungle is nonsense," the Forestry chief said. The Mineral Resources Department, meanwhile, said that its staff had already surveyed the site and found only (very) small amounts of gold.
We find the plan to turn the area into a tourist attraction (probably with a high entrance fee for non-Thais!) a silly plan. It seems that the Thai government, of which the Forestry Department is a part after all, wants to shake money out of tourist pockets in any possible way.
We hope that the tourists will be wise enough to realize that the chance to find any gold is almost zero and that they will not use this new "service"! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Doubts about killings on Deters gibbon sanctuary

Posted by hasekamp on 13 May 2002 at 12:52 PM
The man who has been arrested yesterday, as we reported a few hours later already, in connection with the murders on the gibbon sanctuary of Mr. Deters, appears to be a Burmese laborer.
The man, Maung Htwe, 19, was arrested in tambon Chong Kab along with three alleged accomplices, his brother (23), and three friends.
Police say Maung Htwe has confessed having shot William Deter, 72, at his home in the Private Gibbon Conservation Project Center in Phop Phra and four others. The suspect said that he worked for Deters for three years until being fired three months ago. He was stealing a gun and a pistol when Deters caught him. He shot Mr. Deters and on his way out he saw Ratchanee Sonkhamlue and her three-year-old daughter. He killed them both as well as two other center workers, to silence them.
His accomplices helped him –according to the police- in taking the firearms to Ma Kyi and selling them for 33,000 Baht. Police say Maung Htwe killed Deter out of vengeance for sacking him and he wanted the money from selling the weapons to buy drugs.
This seems a straightforward confession and a straightforward solution of the case, but animal-rights activists suspect another motive behind the murders.
Roger Lohanant, secretary-general of the Thai Wildlife Conservation Foundation, has said that it is known that Deters had come into conflict with a neighboring rose-farmer whose pesticides spilled over into Deters' farm. After Deters complained, they got into a physical fight, with Deters receiving head injuries and the other a suspended jail term.
Furthermore Lohanant said that Deters has had problems with many local ethnic Hmong because they often stole animals from Deters' farm and polluted the farm's water resources. He is not content with the published confession as the solution of the case.
Lohanant further said he would invite Pharanee (Mrs. Deters) to stay in Bangkok for safety reasons and ask for permission to take care of Deters' 36 gibbons. This is the first published indication that the gibbons are unharmed.
In the Nation, however, some readers have placed comments under the article in the on-line version of that newspaper, in which they write about their strong doubts that the police investigation, including the confession are the solution to he drama.
They believe that police has been bribed and ask several questions, such as why did the Burmese killer not flee into Burma and why were five people killed in a simple robbery. We believe –having read these comments- that the last word about the fivefold murder has not yet been spoken, and that we will have to come back to these gruesome facts. (Sources: The Bangkok Post and The Nation)


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Three suspects held in gibbon sanctuary case

Posted by hasekamp on 12 May 2002 at 18:48 PM
A few hours after we reported about the disgusting crime in which five people were shot dead at a gibbon sanctuary in northern Thailand, Reuters report that the Thai police has held three men as suspects in connection with the murders.
Police said one of the three suspects confessed having shot dead William Deters at his farm on Friday, after the American found the suspect stealing firearms.
The suspect broke into Deters' house to get his guns and rifles, which he intended to sell in the black market. Deters was a former American soldier who kept firearms for many years after he retired from the U.S. military service. The three suspects are all Karen.
Seven firearms were missing from Deters' house after the incident. Deters' body was found in the kitchen of his Highland Farm and Wildlife Refuge, 410 km northwest of Bangkok, with a bullet wound near his left temple.
The suspect admitted shooting the others because they saw what he did. The girl was crying and "he tried to keep her quiet". The other two suspects are being detained as accomplices and they are believed to have helped sell the firearms.
Also in this report nothing is mentioned about the fate of the gibbons at the sanctuary. (Source: Reuters)


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Gibbon sanctuary murdered out. Five people dead

Posted by hasekamp on 12 May 2002 at 16:59 PM
An American, who owned a private gibbon sanctuary since 1991, and four Thai people, three of who assisted him, and a toddler were shot dead on Friday in a sanctuary in Tak province.
The owner of the sanctuary, William Deter, 72, Laeng Yang, 30, Ratchanee Sonkhamlue, 26, her three-year-old daughter Athitaya Anuwongworavej, and a man identified only as Bin were found dead at Mr. Deter's house. The victims were attacked by at least three people, police said. It looks as if the killers wanted to eliminate all witnesses, including the 3-year old child.
Pharanee, the Thai wife of Mr. Deters, who has been married to Mr. Deters for 25 years, was not at home when the killing took place. She was traveling to Bangkok to pick up two injured gibbons there.
Wild Animal Rescue in Thailand (WAR; the organization that also owns the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Phuket) knew Mr. Deters well and was shocked –as we are- to hear about the killings.
The best available witness for this drama was a volunteer at the center, Mr. Osterloh, 24 from the Netherlands. He said he heard a gunshot at Mr. Deter's house about 4 pm and more firing for the next 20 minutes. He said he locked himself in his room, about 150 meters from Mr Deter's house, and dared not come out of his ambush until Saturday morning, when he went to the police after finding the victims. Police found 40 unused bullets and lots of spent ammunition from several guns. Police also said that an autopsy showed that all those killed had bullet wounds in their foreheads, a mark of execution-style killing.
Investigators suspected a water dispute might lay behind the brutal slayings. Mr. Deter last week filed a complaint with the police that two men entered the sanctuary and cut off electricity to water pumps. However, police said that it was too early to find the murderers as the farm had many neighbors; some of them hill tribe villagers.
Some 30 gibbons live at the sanctuary, which was founded several years ago and developed into a shelter for injured or mistreated gibbons. So far the press has not mentioned hardly anything about the gibbons. Were they stolen in order to sell them? Were they also killed for nothing? One of our three sources suggests that the gibbons might still be alive. We will publish about this as soon as it has been confirmed. Another source says that the area around the farm was dangerous because the neighboring hill tribe villagers lived by hunting animals to sell to the restaurants in town.
This is a black day in the history of Thai wildlife protection. Mr. Deters was a very motivated and experienced savior of gibbons. He gave the maltreated gibbons the care they needed.
Luckily the Thai police is active when these horrible crimes are concerned. So there may be some hope that the brutal killers will be caught and brought to justice. In that case they can face the death sentence. In this case the police at least has a trail: the ammunition found and the addresses of the neighbors, who disputed with Mr. Deters about such a simple thing as water. (Sources: The Bangkok Post, The Nation, and Reuters)


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Another rumor about gold in Kanchanaburi

Posted by hasekamp on 12 May 2002 at 16:58 PM
There have been rumors enough about a possible gold mine in Kanchanaburi. We have erported about these rumors in the past. Once even Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was involved in one of these rumors. Now there is a new rumor.
Forestry chief Plodprasop Suraswadi claims that a large gold deposit had been unearthed in Kanchanaburi's Thong Pha Phum national park. This should be treated with skepticism, a geologist said yesterday. Companies have operated mines in the western forest of the area for decades. Not one gold mine was found. However, Thong Pha Phum forest had many fault lines where several kinds of minerals could be found. So chances are just above zero percent.
Mr Plodprasop on Friday sent 100 forestry officials to close off an area located five kilometers from the border after 7.5g of gold was seized from a group of Burmese. A forestry official yesterday showed reporters a pinch of gold, allegedly taken from the site.
We have to wait and see. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Ploughing Ceremony (2)

Posted by hasekamp on 10 May 2002 at 19:56 PM
As we expected yesterday and as is mostly the result of this Ceremony, this year is going to be marked by abundant food, good communications, prosperous trade with foreign countries and a thriving economy, according to the forecasts made at yesterday's Royal Ploughing Ceremony.
HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, accompanied by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Her Serene Highness Princess Siriwanwaree Mahidol, presided over the ceremony at Sanam Luang in Bangkok.
The forecast is based upon the length of a piece of cloth chosen, from three pieces, by the chief of the ceremony, who is blindfolded. What types of food - from rice, maize, green beans, sesame, liquor, water and grass - the Phra Kho (Sacred Bull) eats first are interpreted as a forecast for the coming crop season as well.
After the ceremony the crowds of waiting people are allowed upon Sanam Luang to collect the sacred seeds. And yesterday, as soon as the sign was given, the crowd stampeded into the area.
Although this never can have been the meaning, one of the spectators sold his sacred seeds at 1 Baht each, making more than 100 Baht. The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is one of the many colorful events in Bangkok every visitor should try to see once. We do not value the predictions very high, but this Ceremony simply belongs to Thailand. (Source: The Nation)


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Ploughing Ceremony

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2002 at 19:20 PM
Thailand awaits news today about how the harvest of the various crops will be this year. This will become clear after the Ploughing Ceremony today. Yesterday the preparations were made.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha was busy then as officials prayed for the fertility of some 40 kinds of seeds (rice, beans and sesame and many more) that farmers will sow this season to feed the Thai people and even the people of countries abroad, where Thai agricultural products are exported to. The Buddhist rites in Wat Phra Kaew were held in the presence of HRH the Crown Prince.
The Ploughing Ceremony is a combination of Brahmin and Buddhist rites and calls on the gods and other sacred beings to bestow a prosperous crop season throughout the Kingdom.
The blessed seeds will be decisive in today's Ceremony, being held –as usual- at Sanam Luang in front of the Grand Palace. Thousands are expected to watch this event and to participate in sacred rites that bestow blessings on the entire year.
The Ploughing Ceremony is –as said- today. Then it will become clear how the harvest will be. Mostly the result is encouraging for the farmers. If possible we will come back with the result tomorrow. (Source: The Nation)


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New Bangkok airport ready in March 2005

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2002 at 19:19 PM
The new international airport of Bangkok at Nong Ngu Hao will open in March 2005, the Transport Minister said yesterday. He called it a public promise. Plans for the new airport have been postponed more than once during the past year.
The Minister added that he will end his political career and the Thai people will not have to vote for Thai Rak Thai in the next elections anymore if this plan fails.
Construction of the new airport would be finished by December 2004. After three months of testing it would be ready to open in March 2005. The year 2005 will also mark the end of the current government term.
The Nong Ngu Hao facility will be Bangkok's major airport, handling both domestic and international traffic. Don Muang airport will only handle aircraft maintenance, chartered and special flights and private airlines, without transit connections. The buildings of Don Muang will serve for conferences, exhibitions and air shows from 2005 on. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Eco tourism should become popular

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2002 at 19:18 PM
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is creating an eco-tourism network. This is in line with the global trend in tourism, as eco tourism is becoming more popular worldwide.
The Director of the Conservation Division of the TAT says that the year 2002 has been proclaimed the International Year of Eco-Tourism, by the United Nations General Assembly. The World Tourism Organization has proposed this. UN member countries now have to formulate master plans on eco-tourism, which Thailand has done already.
Now the Tourism Authority of Thailand is concentrating on creating a nationwide network of tour operators, with workshops and seminars organized in order to explain the meaning of eco tourism to these tour operators. It has to be hoped that this new trend in tourism will serve nature and not harm it. As long as making big money is not the first aim, we have hope. It would be best if the money earned in eco tourism would be spent on the conservation of nature. But this probably will be too optimistic. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Releasing Aung San Suu Kyi is not enough

Posted by hasekamp on 8 May 2002 at 12:04 PM
The release of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi may be a positive sign, but it is not enough to bring about democracy in Burma, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday.
Burma should now try to unite its various ethnic minority groups, said Mr Thaksin.
At first the release of Aung San Suu Kyi was greeted with only positive remarks by the Thai government. The Thaksin government does, if not anything, as much as it can to improve the relations with Burma. This recent hint of criticism seems new to us for the Thaksin government and may be influenced by what human rights organizations say about Burma..
Thai human rights advocates called on the world community to maintain sanctions against Burma under the military junta. Thai human rights activists also say that the release of Aung San Suu Kyi did not guarantee future peace and democracy in Burma. The junta could still put her back in detention if and when she started making political moves. The world community would have to wait until the junta proved it really supported peace and democracy in Burma before lifting the economic sanctions.
The National Human Rights Commission, doubted the junta's sincerity in freeing the opposition leader. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Farmers interested in biogas

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2002 at 22:23 PM
Nearly 2,000 small-scale farmers across the country are interested in operating biogas systems on their farms, using animal manure. The director of the Department for Energy Conservation and Alternative Energy announced this yesterday.
The Fund for the Promotion of Energy Conservation was initiated as the first phase of the biogas project in 1995, and for the past two years officials have been working on the second phase.
The project was designed to support the construction of biogas tanks with a capacity of 12-100 cubic meters. The cost will be paid for 45 percent by the Fund. The project, as it looks now, will exceed its target of 1,385 biogas tanks. Nearly 2,000 farmers have already contacted the Fund for financial support.
The biogas tanks will help to solve environmental problems on farms and in the surrounding communities by dealing with smells, flies, wastewater and bacteria stemming from animal manure. This project is one of many in Thailand that show that environmental issues are being taken seriously in the country. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New bridge across the Chao Phraya River

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2002 at 22:22 PM
A new bridge across the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok has been opened today. This is one of the main events in the commemoration of 220 years of Bangkok. A mini marathon (10 kilometers) was organized on the event of its opening and later it was opened for traffic.
His Majesty the King opened the new cable suspension bridge, named Rama VIII Bridge, in commemoration of his elder brother, who was King before him.
The new bridge spans 475 meters, with four traffic lanes. It links Arun Amarin Road on the western bank of the river to Wisutkasat Road on the opposite side, which leads to the inner part of Bangkok.
The bridge is part of a royally initiated project to improve traffic around Bangkok and will be able to reduce congestion on the nearby Pin Klao Bridge by 30 percent.
The Permanent Secretary for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says that the bridge is different from other suspension bridges in that it has no supporting pillar in the river. The only pillar that pulls the length of the bridge with the help of 28 pairs of suspension cables is situated on the western bank of the river. With its special engineering and architectural designs, the bridge will be new Bangkok’s landmark, where people can get a panoramic view of Rattanakosin Island, including many historical places such as the Grand Palace. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Help needed for raising quadruplets

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2002 at 23:14 PM
The father of 18-month old quadruplet girls yesterday called on the general public to offer financial help, saying that the 4,000 Baht per month he is earning from his palm oil farm is not enough to feed the family of six. His wife, aged 25, said that he is no longer able to cope with the demands of raising the quadruplets in addition to his five-year old eldest daughter and his wife.
Most of his income goes to buying 15 kilograms (!) of powdered milk each month for his daughters. The father of the quadruplets said that the assistance the family had received from the government and from the private sector in the few months after the quadruplets’ birth had now run out.
He therefore called on members of the public to help the family by donating money for milk powder, future educational expenses, and children’s clothing.
In our opinion it is a pity and a shame that this plea has to be made to the general public. In other countries often deals are made with the media in order to get some extra money for raising multiplets, or the government helps. Apparently this does not work in Thailand; at least it only worked for a short period. Hopefully, as a last resort, this appeal to the general public will work out. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New plan for stray dogs

Posted by hasekamp on 5 May 2002 at 20:49 PM
Bangkok plans a new stray dog control effort next month. Bangkok deputy governor Prapan Kittisin announced this yesterday.
A district-by-district service to sterilize, vaccinate and implant microchips in 120,000 stray dogs will run until September next year. The whole operation will cost 110 million Baht, which is around 1,000 Baht a dog.
We wonder how long a dog could be fed (in Thailand) for this amount of money. In other words, could an alternative for such a costly plan be to feed the dogs properly?
Mr. Prapan further said that the cost to treat a person bitten by a dog with rabies is twice as much as the amount of money per dog in the proposed program.
The city hopes that the new approach will be more effective than previous efforts. We hope so too. When we walk in Bangkok we see many stray dogs that desperately are in need of food. However, if the presumption that we read in the words of Mr. Prapan is correct, that many of the Bangkok stray dogs have rabies, a vaccination program should have priority to a feeding program.
Meanwhile Bangkok is looking for land to shelter 10% of the stray dogs. Some 120,000 stray dogs live on Bangkok streets. The city houses just around 600 dogs now. The 10% mentioned by Mr. Prapan would lead to housing for 12,000 dogs. If this housing would be a reasonable alternative for the dogs, would of course depend on the amount of freedom and space the dogs would have in the housing project. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Royal decoration for Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 5 May 2002 at 20:48 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is among 72 people who have been chosen for royal decorations on Coronation Day today. The list of honors, released to the media yesterday, also features 15 women, with one new thanpuying and 14 khunying.
According to the list, Mr. Thaksin will be made a Knight Grand Commander (Second Class, higher grade) of the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao. The new thanpuying, Nualkae Intarasut, will receive the same decoration. We do not expect that our readers are familiar with the Thai decorations system, so we leave it at this and skip the further details.
It is interesting that His Majesty gives a high decoration to Mr. Thaksin, when we remember the fact that in December His Majesty had quite some criticism for Mr. Thaksin.
The decorations will be presented at a Royal presentation ceremony this evening at the Dusit Throne Hall. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No tumor but twins

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2002 at 14:36 PM
A 37-year-old Thai woman who went into hospital for surgery on a suspected stomach tumor found out she was pregnant with twins and did not have any (other) tumor at all. When the surgeons discovered healthy, five to six-month-old twins, the incision was immediately closed. According to the hospital the start of the operation will not affect the health of the unborn babies.
The woman told doctors that she had been on birth control pills for the past six months and urine tests for pregnancy had repeatedly come out negative. She was referred to the hospital by a village medical center, where she was diagnosed in April as suffering from a tumor. A check-up at the hospital also did not reveal her pregnancy.
A Public Health Ministry team, which investigated the incident, ruled it was not a case of wrong diagnosis. It was classified as a "technical mistake," which means doctors will not be held responsible. The woman will be readmitted to the hospital Friday to be kept under close observation until the delivery. (Source: Ananova)


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King tells army not to ignore villagers

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2002 at 14:35 PM
His Majesty the King has told the army to take the interests of border villages at heart, especially those along the Thai-Burmese border, by regularly visiting them and organizing development camps there, the army commander-in-chief said yesterday. The army should keep in regular touch with the villagers, His Majesty reportedly said.
Most designated villages are along the Thai-Burmese border in Kanchanaburi, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai and Ranong provinces.
The army has now recruited about 200 student volunteers from universities to help the army cadets, army medical students and nurse students in the project.
They will help to educate the village children, listen to problems in those villages and also campaign against drug abuse. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Son of Politician in jail at last

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2002 at 14:33 PM
The youngest son of Thai politician Chalerm Yubamrung, Duangchalerm Yubamrung, who was wanted by the police in a murder case (in which a man was shot in a nightclub in Bangkok) for about half a year now has turned himself in to the Thai Ambassador to Malaysia yesterday to be repatriated to Thailand as a defendant in the case. Meanwhile he is in jail in Bangkok, awaiting his trial. We wrote about this case before.
Duangchalerm has asked for the Embassy’s assistance himself, in his voluntary travel back to Thailand, as he had no documents with him.
Former deputy leader of the New Aspiration Party ChalermYubamrung, expressed his confidence that his son could fend off the murder charge. He asked that his son be treated fairly under the law and requested senior police officers in charge of the case to stop giving interviews which fuelled media frenzy and caused the public to prejudge his son as a criminal, not a defendant.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that the police would conduct interrogations and remand the accused to detention. After three days, a request would be made to the court for further detention. He said that in cases of fugitives, the police normally objects bail requests. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Penis repairs

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2002 at 14:20 PM
Chulalongkorn Hospital doctors have successfully used scrotum parts to repair wounds to male sexual organs. This has proven to be a cheap process.
One might wonder why we report about this strange and uncommon looking operation. The reason is that penis damage is quite common in Thailand.
Thai women, especially the hot-headed ones, punish their husbands after they discover that he has (or had) an affair with another woman, by cutting off his penis, while the husband is asleep. If you do not believe this, follow the Thai newspapers and you will find out that every year you can read several times about penises found in dustbins, toilets or wherever. Sometimes the removed parts are fed to the dog or to the ducks. And these newspaper items only cover the published cases!
This really is a serious website and we would never publish this item if it were not true. We -by te way- are (happily!) married ourselves to a Thai wife and she has confirmed the above as normmal practice in Thailand.
Anyway, back to the news. Men with this problem can have operations to repair their penises under the 30 Baht universal healthcare program, Dr Sirichai Jindarak of the Chulalongkorn Hospital said yesterday. Sirichai said three or four patients came in every month to seek treatment for damaged penises. Many of them are the victim –they say- of faulty penis enlargement operations. We know better, and so do you, after having read this news item. (Source: The Nation)


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Kirsty Jones case update

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2002 at 14:15 PM
News keeps coming about the almost two years old murder case of British backpacker Kirsty Jones. The latest is that police yesterday conducted a DNA test on a transvestite after he was implicated in the murder of British tourist Kirsty Jones, who was found strangled and raped in a Chiang Mai guesthouse in August 2000.
Saonoi Moika, 29, was arrested at a hotel room in Pattaya yesterday after Jessada Wiriyasakul, 28, another transvestite working at a gay bar in Pattaya, said that Saonoi's sperm was planted on the body of the 23-year-old backpacker. Saonoi was brought to the Forensics Institute to undergo a DNA test to see if his blood and sperm matched that found on Kirsty Jones' body. The results of the test will be known in two weeks.
Police said Saonoi denied any involvement in the murder, saying that Jessada had wrongly implicated him because they used to fight over foreign clients. Jessada had earlier confessed that he and his transvestite friend Cha Ketsarachai, 26, were hired by Surin Chansinet, who worked as the manager at the guesthouse, to find sperm to put on Jones' body in an attempt to mislead investigators.
A different source reports that eight transvestites will be summoned for DNA tests to find the owner of semen found on the body of Ms Jones. Police –according to that source- said eight transvestites from Pattaya, Chon Buri, were among those to be sent for DNA tests to find a tribesman who allegedly sold semen to the owner of the guesthouse. (Sources: The Nation, The Bangkok Post)


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