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Thai man at the top of WTO
Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2002
at 12:43 PM
Starting 1 September Thai former Deputy Prime Minister Supachai Panitchapakdi will be the top man of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Mr. Supachai will be the first director of WTO from a non-Western economy and also the first from a developing country.
This news has been published some time ago in Thailand, but now that the date comes close when his heavy job starts, we want to bring this news to this page too.
Mr. Supachai studied economy in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and therefore speaks Dutch fluently.
Mr. Supachai has had several important jobs in Thailand, the most important probably being Minister of Commerce and Governor of the Bank of Thailand (BOT). In these jobs he helped Thailand to go upward through the deep economic crisis that hit Thailand in 1997 and that seems to come to an end slowly, at the time when the Western economies enter a dip or even a recession. His work at BOT has drawn attention in the Western world, especially the US.
Mr. Supachai has said that he wants to play an active role in solving the economic controversy between the US and Europe. One of his further tasks will be to work out new rules for World trade. Will he succeed? Nobody can tell, but a fact is that his achievements in Thailand cannot be ignored, not even by the economic superpowers. We wish him the best of success. (Source: Trouw, Dutch newspaper)
Snakes and turtles seized
Posted by hasekamp on 29 August 2002
at 11:43 AM
About 100,000 (!) assorted live snakes and 10,000 live turtles were seized and rescued yesterday in Nakhon phanong province as they were about to be smuggled across the Mekong river to Laos. The animals were destined for restaurants in China.
Officials were alerted of the attempt to bring the protected animals on the menu in China by villagers who became suspicious of a group of men who were unloading goods from trucks. A search of the trucks delivered 382 crates containing the animals. The snakes were kept in sacks in 177 crates and the turtles were housed in 205 crates. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
No cancer but twins!
Posted by hasekamp on 29 August 2002
at 11:30 AM
In May we reported about a woman who was diagnosed to have stomach cancer, but after all appeared to be completely healthy, but pregnant of twins.
This woman (37) gave birth to healthy twins yesterday afternoon. In April, a doctor was operating her to remove suspected tumors in her stomach, but discovered during that operation that she was actually carrying twins and no tumors at all. The stomach was closed as soon as possible and the patient was told the news.
The woman gave birth yesterday at the same hospital where the false diagnosis was made. The babies are in perfect shape, as well as the mother. So it seems that the babies were not harmed by the unnecessary operation.
The young mother said that if the babies remained healthy, she would be grateful to the hospital and the doctors and take no action at all. If the twins would become ill, the family might take action against the hospital, she added. (Source: The Nation)
Large speed pills catch
Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2002
at 13:40 PM
Drug authorities have made their largest single seizure of speed pills: 20,250 tablets, worth about 20 million Baht on the street. A Singaporean man in Hat Yai was arrested for it.
The man (46), was arrested and seven kilograms of ecstasy tablets were confiscated from his room at the Regency hotel on Monday. He arrived at Don Muang airport on 23 August on a flight from Brussels, via Zurich. He traveled to Hat Yai, where he planned to deliver the drugs to his customers.
Some of the drugs were destined for local sales and some were probably meant to be smuggled into Malaysia and other countries in the region.
The smuggler confessed that he has been paid US$ 120,000 (about 2.8 million Baht) by a drug dealer in Belgium to deliver the ecstasy to customers in Thailand.
Since January 1998, 179,053 tablets of ecstasy worth 179 million Baht had been seized. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Kyoto Protocol to be ratified
Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2002
at 13:38 PM
The Thai Cabinet has agreed this week to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, belonging to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This has been proposed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. The ministry will act as a central agent in coordinating work under the protocol and will set up a National Authority for Clean Development Mechanism (NACDM) for it. The Protocol has now been signed by 87 countries, if we include Thailand already. In this way Thailand shows concern for the environment, contrary to some larger states. (Source: Public Relations Department)
Posted by hasekamp on 27 August 2002
at 13:17 PM
Phuket province will organize an international seafood festival between 1 November and 6 December in Patong, in order to promote Phuket tourism. Private organizations will join hands with the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization in holding the 37-day event.
In addition, the "Five Wonders of Phuket Seafood Festival" will also be held at Saphan Hin in Phuket Town, between 3 and 6 December, with many special events. Saphan Hin is the area of Phuket Town where you find the seafood restaurants.
What can you expect? According to the organizers you van expect the world's longest line of international seafood (109 meters) and 109 dishes, displayed on ice by 109 chefs from around the world. Furthermore the world's largest lobster ice sculpture (from over 180 blocks of ice), weighing over 25,000 kilograms and cooking demonstrations by famous chefs from around the world, including such famous Thai chefs as Samak Sundaravej, the Bangkok Governor.
It is being hoped that the 37-day event will generate over 1.2 billion Baht in revenues, top be brought together by 60,000 tourists that are believed to visit the festival. (Source: Thai News Agency)
Rewriting history to please Burma
Posted by hasekamp on 26 August 2002
at 14:18 PM
The Education Ministry has just finished to rewrite Thai history, and is ready to launch a new school textbook that features "modified" accounts of conflicts with neighboring countries (read "Burma") in an attempt to improve bilateral relations.
We were greatly surprised while reading this. Is the(one-sided) love by the Thaksin government for Burma so great that Thailand is willing to re-write its history to please its Burmese invaders and drug smugglers? Are we awake while reading this or are we still dreaming? No, we appear to be awake. In that case we have to continue this news item.
The new textbook for junior and high schools will be launched next month, after a review by historians and teachers.
According to project supervisor, current history textbooks have been the cause of many conflicts with neighboring countries and these current textbooks should therefore be considered "obsolete"!
The book to be launched next month will not completely ignore periods in Thai history that can be considered as controversial, but accounts of these events will be presented in a "more diplomatic manner".
In May, relations with Rangoon sank to a new low after the Burmese state-run New Light of Myanmar published an article critical of King Naresuan the Great, who in 1581 repelled Burmese invaders from the ancient capital of Ayutthaya.
We seriously wonder what kind of historians are willing to work at such a school textbook! We hope that a next government in Thailand will bring history back to its real proportions, whatever the neighbors may say! This really is too crazy for words. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Mass smuggling of speed pills
Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2002
at 16:24 PM
The latest statistics show, that 45-50 million methamphetamine pills are being smuggled monthly into Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and other northern provinces, and another 15 million into the northeast. This seems to show that all the countermeasures and harsh punishments do hardly have any effect.
The production capacity of 40-50 methamphetamine factories in Burma and between 20-30 plants in Laos is estimated to become a total of 800 million speed pills, or even more, this year.
Heroin production capacity will increase 20%, to about 90 tons this year (72 tons in Burma and 18 tons in Laos). About six tons of raw opium is expected to come from Thailand this year.
More drug traffickers have switched their usual routes along the western border to those along the eastern border after the recent seizure of 1.8 million speed pills brought into the country from Burma via Laos.
Given these new figures, we wonder is anything at all can compete to the drug barons, mainly located in Burma. There always should be hope, but this certainly is not given to us by these figures. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2002
at 17:57 PM
Thai customs officials have seized 121 pieces of African ivory worth more than 10 million Baht at Bangkok International Airport, the fourth major seizure in three months.
The ivory was found in seven suitcases that came in on a Gulf Air flight from the United Arab Emirates, said a spokesman of the Customs Department. The shipment was unattended and, so, no one was arrested.
Airport officials became suspicious when they discovered that the luggage had been transported from Nairobi through the UAE, both transit points for the illicit trade in ivory. The ivory was still fresh and weighed about 362 kilograms.
In a recent report, Save the Elephants, a non-governmental group based in Kenya, said Thailand was Asia's largest buyer of illegal African ivory, which is carved into Buddha statues, rings, chopsticks, bangles and other items sold to tourists and businessmen from Asia, Europe and the United States.
The World Wildlife Fund Thailand found that that items containing ivory are among the top three articles, sold in souvenir shops.
Thailand is a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which bans trade in ivory since 1989. Ivory traffickers face a fine of four times the goods' value and a maximum jail term of 10 years in Thailand. Nevertheless the ivory business flourishes in Thailand. (Source: Associated Press)
Pirated goods once more destroyed
Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2002
at 17:57 PM
CDs and DVDs went into pieces once more. This happens regularly in Thailand. The CDs and DVDs were illegally copied ones, a usual. They were mixed with other pirated goods, like watches.
This time the U.S. ambassador helped to drive a steamroller over more than 15,000 fake watches, CDs and DVDs, while cutters were ripping through counterfeit Levi's jeans close by.
Total street value of the pirated goods destroyed: 114 million Bath (say 2.7 million US$). We are talking about 400,000 items that were destroyed.
And once more Mr. Yanyong Phuangrach, director general of the intellectual property department was presiding the show.
This time the event coincided with a rock concert, sponsored by record companies and the intellectual property department.
Mr. Yanyong gave a more detailed overview of the collection than we did above: they also included baby clothes and slip-on sandals that were obviously not Gucci or Prada; bags that might have passed as Louis Vuitton or Nike, watches that certainly were not Omega, Rolex or Gucci, as well as one of Thailand's biggest-selling pirated items: DVDs of popular
Producers of fake goods in Thailand face a maximum of a four-year jail term and a 80,000 Baht fine, and sellers a two-year jail sentence and a 40,000 Baht fine.
The fact that the event is still being held regularly proves to us that the illegal business is still attractive enough to continue it and to risk the penalties. After all, pirated computer programs, costing 10 to 20 percent of the genuine ones, are still sold openly in stores nationwide.
Only, as we also have pointed out numerous times before, Thai copyrighted works and articles are really protected effectively. Why does Mr. Yanyong not use the same suppression system for foreign protected works and articles? Next time we see him, we will certainly ask him this painful question. And, sadly, we already know that his answer will not satisfy us! (Source: Associated Press)
Monkey trainer dies
Posted by hasekamp on 22 August 2002
at 12:25 PM
Somporn sae Kow, owner and founder of the Monkey Training School in Surat Thani, collapsed yesterday after giving a training demonstration to a group of tourists. Doctors were unable to revive him. His daughter, Somjai, said her father had put on a monkey exhibition as usual for a group of 80 visitors yesterday morning.
The favourite monkey of Mr. Somporn, Khai Nui seemed to know what had happened and looked depressed, the daughter said.
Mr Somporn's younger brother said the monkey training center might now have to close because there is at the moment nobody with skills to run it. Mr Somporn was 62 and will be buried on Aug 26 at a cemetery behind the center.
Mr Somporn founded Thailand's first monkey training school, where he taught his primate pupils to pick coconuts.
We deeply regret the death of this man, who was known as a kind and patient trainer for the monkeys. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Mekong River flooding
Posted by hasekamp on 21 August 2002
at 16:44 PM
Not only in Europe overflowing rivers cause much problems and damage. This also is the case in Asia. The (possible) causes are different, however. In Europe the probable cause is excessive rainfall as a result of the greenhouse effect. In Asia the probable cause is deforestation, but who knows if the greenhouse effect also takes its toll there. You might also argue, by the way, that in Europe too the real cause of flooding is deforestation in the far past.
Concentrating on Thailand now, water levels of the Mekong River yesterday reached a 30-year high, spreading fear among the residents of the northern, northeastern and eastern provinces of Thailand that their houses will be completely swept away in the flooding.
Many houses in Nong Khai province are under one meter of water already, raising concerns that they will eventually be swept away. Many hotels are temporarily closed.
Flood levels of the Mekong River reached 13 meters and are rising at a rate of 3 meters per hour.
A critical level is feared by tomorrow or Friday. People living near the river have already been evacuated and rescue officials are on a 24-hour alert scheme.
Other provinces are under threat too. (Phetchabun, Roi Et, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Trad and Chantaburi).
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that the hardest hit provinces were Nong Khai, Trad and Chantaburi. (Source: The Nation)
New pets become popular
Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2002
at 16:34 PM
Giant African cockroaches are the latest darlings of exotic pet lovers. At the same time public health officials are worried about the new hobby.
The giant hissing cockroaches from Madagascar can grow as large as 10 centimeters long and have a life expectance of five years in the wild. They are able to give birth to between 20 and 40 new pets at a time.
According to http://www.wildchannel.com adult cockroaches can live for up to seven years in captivity.
The cockroach will probably do well in Thailand, due to the warm climate. They are being sold at Chatuchak weekend market (where else!) for 50 Baht a piece.
An insect trader at the market said that the African cockroaches were especially popular among shoppers looking for something different. They are docile, harmless and easy to raise, he added.
The Livestock Development Department of Thailand will investigate the matter because the giant cockroaches could pose serious problems. Just think of the number of offspring.
Health authorities also warn that cockroaches can spread diseases like typhoid, digestive illnesses and severe diarrhea. Insects being popular as food in the North, a solution might be to have the surplus of the offspring canned and shipped to the North. Who will discover this brand new way to make money fist? (Source: The Nation)
School sinks into river
Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2002
at 16:33 PM
Part of the foundation of a primary school building in Nonthaburi, near Bangkok, slipped into the Chao Phraya River yesterday, leaving two classrooms hanging precariously over the water. There were no injuries.
The school, Wat Chalerm Prakiat school, ordered all 380 kindergarten pupils in the building to stay home for a week. The 778 students of classes 1-6 were given one day off.
Engineers from the National Primary Education Commission will demolish the two classrooms left hanging. This would prevent the whole building subsiding. According to unconfirmed reports, however, the school building has collapsed in the meantime. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
THAI wants to expand
Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2002
at 13:44 PM
Thai Airways International (THAI) wants to expand its aviation routes to more major destinations in coming years, in order to support Thailand as one of the world's commercial aviation centers, according to a senior official.
THAI has planned to expand its aviation routes to Europe, the United States, Australia, and China over the next five years. Given the planned expansion, the company wants to purchase 12 new aircraft.
The planned expansion of the aviation routes are hoped to help generate more income for THAI. THAI wants to conclude the aircraft procurement process by October. After that, the company will begin to choose aircraft brands and to negotiate with manufacturing firms.
We have one comment about this planned expansion of THAI. We hope that THAI will reconsider its fares. We have flown THAI every year, for over ten years (from Europe to Thailand and back), both economy class and business class, and we have always be content about the fare and the service of THAI, but this year we used a different carrier.
The fare we would have to pay for a ticket with THAI this year was more than double the fare we have been paying for many years. It looks as if THAI simply has changed the NL guilder sign for the EURO sing in front of its fares this year. This goes for the economy class fare as well as for the business class fare.
Our travel agent, nor we have not been able to trace a reason for this extreme increase in price.
We were happy, however, to find a different carrier that appeared to have a good service as well. Nevertheless we hope that the planned expansion of THAI will also bring a reconsideration of the fares, so that we can fly THAI again next year! (Source: Thai News Agency)
Elephant shaped bushes
Posted by hasekamp on 19 August 2002
at 12:36 PM
The median strip of Rama I road, one of the most busy roads in Bangkok, has been changed into a small garden, with elephant shaped bushes. This is a part of the project to improve Bangkok road and encourage Bangkokians to be aware of the environment.
The choice for elephant shaped bushes is the result of a contest.
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has transformed the first prize design into a garden in the middle of the road. More than 20 elephant-shaped Malpiahia bushes have been placed on median strips of the mentioned Rama I road.
Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej said that more median strips will be decorated in the future. The next ones may be giraffe-shaped, tiger-shaped, or even fruit-shaped. (Source: Thai News Agency)
Flowers for 2006
Posted by hasekamp on 19 August 2002
at 12:28 PM
We still have to wait a few years and hope for the best, but in 2006, to celebrate His Majesty the King’s 60th coronation anniversary, 10 million yellow flower trees will to be planted.
This is a project by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and Ramkhamhaeng Hospital.
Under this so-called “Lueng Maharat” project 10 million yellow flower trees will be planted all over the country. Yellow flowers have been chosen because its color represents the birthday of the king, which is Monday. The flowers in the project are Golden Shower, Tabebuia Chrysantha, Yellow Bell, Kalamona, Sunflower, Cosmos, Marigold, Blanket flower and Allamanda. Together nine types, another holy, and lucky, number in Thailand.
The project will already start later this month and should of course be complete in 2006.
Senior officials of BMA and administrators of Ramkhamhaeng Hospital will plant 999 Tabebuia Chrysantha trees along Ramkhamhaeng - Pattanakan Road and Ramkhamhaeng - Srinakarin Road later this month to mark the launching of the project. (Source: Thai News Agency)
Suspect of bus shooting re-enacts
Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2002
at 12:36 PM
Recently we reported again about the school bus shooting in June. Now we can report that a key suspect is in the hands of the police and has re-enacted his crime.
The man (36), a Karen called Jobi (in other media spelled as Zaw Bi), was taken over by the police yesterday, after the local army was ordered to do so by the prime minister personally. The army had kept him in custody for more than two weeks.
Jobi was yesterday presented to a press conference and later put through a crime re-enactment in front of hundreds of Ban Kha villagers. He had to be protected from the villagers, who –understandably- were very aggressive towards him. Two M16 assault rifles and eight rounds of ammunition were also put on display.
Jobi yesterday admitted he was there at the time of the shooting, but he denied having fired shots at the school bus.
As we reported in June, three schoolchildren were killed and several others injured in the attack. Jobi claimed two other Karen men had talked him in to rob a bus, but he had no idea that the target was a school bus, according to his statement.
The man said that, when he saw that the bus was full of school children, that he only fired shots into the air, while the two other men –known to the police, but still on the run- fired directly at the bus.
The villagers who witnessed the crime re-enactment expressed their disbelief over Jobi's statement. (Main source: The Bangkok Post)
Be careful with snacks at food stalls!
Posted by hasekamp on 14 August 2002
at 13:04 PM
Bangkok’s Health Department found that crushed peanuts and dried chili is contaminated by cancer-causing aflatoxin at one out of every five food stalls on the Bangkok streets!
This means simply that you, as a consume, should avoid putting peanuts and chili in your noodle soup, as this might cause liver cancer. That is what the Health Department concludes, anyway.
The report was made after checking of food at 800 vendors in Bangkok.
The food-testing team also found borax contamination in minced pork, sausages and "tabtim krob" (a popular Thai sweet) The survey also detected formalin contamination in squid. All these toxic substances could cause cancer if frequently consumed, according to officials.
Street sellers have been warned to improve their food quality, otherwise they could face a 20,000 Baht fine and a six-month jail term.
For your information: the Thai Food and Drug Administration allows 20 micrograms of aflatoxin per kilogram of peanuts and chili. The average content found in the survey is not mentioned by our source. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Food hub to be realized
Posted by hasekamp on 13 August 2002
at 12:39 PM
One day after Her majesty the Queen suggested so, the government (through the Public Health and Defense Ministries) will develop Thailand as a world food hub.
The Deputy Public Health Minister said that the Ministry of Public Health will start to promote and encourage local farmers, fishermen and food manufacturers to produce high quality food products.
This will follow Her Majesty the Queen's advice that the government should develop Thailand as a world food hub by expanding local food production bases which produce high quality and hygienic food products.
It is usual in Thailand to start a new project immediately after (one of) Their Majesties have suggested so. Whether the suggestion is realistic or not is a mattrer of later concern.
The Deputy Defense Minister said that the Ministry of Defense and the Royal Thai Armed Forces were also willing to cooperate with agencies concerned to set up prototypic farms to be quality food sources for Thais and people of other countries worldwide.
The development and expansion of the prototypic farms would then promote Thailand as a world food hub and would create jobs for Thai people, as suggested by Her Majesty the Queen. (Source: Thai News Agency)
Birthday speech by Her Majesty the Queen
Posted by hasekamp on 12 August 2002
at 11:51 AM
In her traditional speech on the eve of her 70th birthday, given at Chitrlada Palace yesterday, Her Majesty the Queen said young graduates had complained to her about being out of work.
She and His Majesty were concerned, as graduates needed work to enable their families to survive, the Queen said. She said she believed Thais to be capable to make world-class craftsmanship in many fields including silverware, wickerwork and embroidery. The people only need a chance to get trained.
Her majesty thanked the government, the armed forces and state agencies for their support for royal-initiated projects over the past year, especially the operations of her SUPPORT Foundation.
The foundation is not only occupied with handicraft, but is also spending 200 million Baht on training for northeasterners and the Queen herself is implementing a project to allocate mountain land to hilltribe people living in border areas. China had contributed special breeds of pigs, ducks, goats and geese to the project and the villagers were also taught to grow plants suitable for a warm climate. The foundation has also bought land to develop a food farm.
Her Majesty the Queen furthermore expressed her concern over possible shortages of food in the world in the future. She suggested that Thailand should develop and expand its food production sources, so that the country could provide food to other countries, making Thailand become a major food source in the world.
The Queen also talked about cultural projects, in particular about the American Film Institute having invited her to preside over the screening of the international version of the Thai movie "Suriyothai" at the Kennedy Center early in October.
She was proud about this fact, as the center only screens outstanding films. There has been no lobby for her invitation from the Thai side. The Queen will also take the opportunity to present some high quality crafts from members of her foundation.
The Queen also thanked Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his government for the support they have given to the Bangsai Arts and Crafts Foundation.
The speech by Her Majesty can be viewed on the Kanchanapisek site (Sources: The Bangkok Post, The Nation)
Drive like a Buddhist should!
Posted by hasekamp on 12 August 2002
at 9:53 AM
Bangkok has a traffic problem. There is no way to deny this. However, the way the city tries to do something about the annoyance is novel to us: The city hall has launched a campaign to encouraging motorists to keep Buddhist teachings in mind when they get behind the steering wheel. The Education Ministry, official in charge of religious affairs, strongly supports the campaign.
As part of the campaign, many billboards around Bangkok are currently displaying messages such as "Have the wisdom to prepare your journey before leaving home" and "Have mercy and lend a helping hand to motorists with car trouble".
The first reactions by the public are positive. Many people have called in to say that the campaign is useful.
A taxi driver said that the billboards were good to read while stuck in traffic, but he admitted that putting the messages into practice is difficult and will require some training (meditation?).
A senior police officer said he believed most motorists were in too much of a rush to take in the messages. But one of his colleagues expects traffic violations to be reduced.
As a coincidence, it seems, police in Bangkok have recently increased their efforts to punish traffic offenders, writing almost 127,000 tickets in the first half of this year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Final jump into crocodile pond
Posted by hasekamp on 12 August 2002
at 9:40 AM
We are not a site that concentrates on sensation. However, this news item is so unusual that we report about it, although details should be looked up in the tabloids by our readers who are interested in sensation.
A visitor to the famous Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo committed suicide yesterday by jumping into a pool of more than 100 crocodiles in front of the usual large crowd on a late Sunday morning.
Police said that the woman (40) died after serious suffering. One of the reptiles bit her and dragged her into the water. It happened so quickly that there was no time for anyone to stop the woman.
The woman's 19-year-old son said that his mother had been suffering from stress, but had never talked about family problems. He believed his mother took her own life because his father had flirted with other women.
It is not clear from the newspaper reports if the son was present when his mother jumped towards her death.
Later police confirmed that the suicide had been carefully planned in advance and definitely was no accident. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Exhibition for the Queen
Posted by hasekamp on 11 August 2002
at 18:31 PM
Chiang Mai Town Hall is showing the largest exhibition of northern handicraft products ever, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 70th Birthday on Monday.
The Public Relations Department says that this is the first time that all the popular handicrafts made by members of Her Majesty the Queen’s SUPPORT Foundation (Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques) are being displayed in one place. The products include hand-woven cloth, basketry, ceramics and silverware. All SUPPORT handicrafts are always of the highest quality.
This is one of many activities and exhibitions in honor of Her majesty. The Queen's births\day is also Mother's Day in Thailand. Her Majesty is expected to give a birthday speech tonight, on the eve of her birthday. (Source: Public Relations Department)
Thai police make statement in Jones case (editorial)
Posted by hasekamp on 10 August 2002
at 22:32 PM
The search for the murderer of British backpacker Kirsty Jones, who was raped and murdered in a Chiang Mai guesthouse on 10 August 2000 –exactly two years ago- is not yet closed. The Thai police now say that they know who the killer is.
We find it a shame in the first place that they say so without producing concluding evidence. The same thing has been said numerous times in the past two years, but never appeared to be true. Therefore we have the greatest reservations when reporting about this recent statement. Nevertheless, we have reported about the case from the beginning, so we should mention this new statement by the Thai police.
The statement tells us that the investigation into the rape and murder is still in progress but the Thai police need more evidence before they can take the case to court. This is what a Thai police officer said yesterday
He was responding to the report that Ms. Jones' parents were frustrated with the Thai police for failing to find any firm leads in the case (and with reason!).
The police spokesman said that investigators believe they are on the right track and have identified the killer. Nevertheless, they need more time to gather evidence because they do not want public prosecutors to dismiss the case again.
As we reported, public prosecutors refused to indict previous suspects, saying that evidence presented by police was not convincing enough.
The police officer said: "We are working in collaboration with the British police. Our British counterparts understand our situation very well. We are doing our best".
In their statement, the Jones family said: "We have become increasingly frustrated by the misleading reports that seem to emerge from Thailand through the press. No sooner do we get our hopes of ever catching the killer raised than they are once again dashed.
The one thing we want, we cannot have, so we must continue to keep pushing to ensure that the guilty person is brought to justice . . . We just hope that one day there will be a conviction. We just keep fighting on for Kirsty."
So, after having read this new statement by the police you can draw your own conclusions.
In our opinion the statement is hollow and once more the Thai police should realized how terribly they lost face in this case.
The whole case is a shame for Thailand. The victim was foreign and raped and murdered in the privacy of her own Thai hotel room. Thai hospitality has received a bitter taste after this case and especially when one sees how the police handles is.
The police furthermore do not seem to realize how deeply they are hurting the relatives of Ms. Jones with hollow statements like this and not being able to track down the murderer in two years. (Based on a report in The Nation)
Hunters in National Park caught
Posted by hasekamp on 8 August 2002
at 13:28 PM
It seems that everywhere in the world one finds irresponsible people. Especially where nature is concerned, some people seem to believe that the best world is one without any animals, plants and trees. Or, at least, personal greed should come before care for nature. This floows from the regularly reported illegal operations like logging and poaching. Here is another of these reports.
Police yesterday arrested seven suspects, including a deputy village headman and a former assistant kamnan. The charge is hunting wildlife in Khao Yai National Park.
A Forestry Department team intercepted the suspects in the park yesterday evening and found a dove, which was recently killed, as well as quills and several guns in a pick-up truck.
The suspects of course "did know nothing about illegal hunting". They claimed that they "accidentally entered the national park's boundaries and were looking for the exit", when caught.
And, of course the guns were never meant to shoot with. What the guns were intended for, if not for the hunting, remains unclear. Charges will be issued against the seven. We hope that they will be punished hard. They deserve it. (Source: The Nation)
Choirs for inmates
Posted by hasekamp on 8 August 2002
at 13:27 PM
Thailand is supplying one service after another for inmates. Did we report recently about meditation centers in jail, now choirs are being set up. Choir singing will become a feature at jails where more than 50% of inmates are drug offenders, following the success of a choir concert at Chiang Mai University. The idea is –as a start- to form choirs at seven jails duringt this fiscal year.
Singing will be a part of the therapy program for drug addicts in prisons. Music helps to keep prisoners calm and relaxed.
At the moment there are two prison choirs in the country: At the Pathum Thani Corrections Institute and at the Chiang Mai Corrections Institute for Women. The two choirs came together recently to give in a concert commemorating Her Majesty the Queen's birthday (on 12 August) at Chiang Mai University's main auditorium. The inmates were joined by Prince Royal School marching band. Apart from Thai songs, the Christian hymn Amazing Grace was performed, with great success. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Burma wants to start all over
Posted by hasekamp on 7 August 2002
at 13:24 PM
Burma wants Thailand to join it in letting bygones be bygones and starting all over with economic and drug suppression cooperation, the Thai Foreign Minister said yesterday. He has had talks with three key Burmese leaders for about an hour and a half in Rangoon yesterday.
Burmese PM Than Shwe suggested to put things behind and look forward to enhancing cooperation in political, economic, and anti-drug areas. The Burmese PM emphasized that past incidents would not hurt the overall relationship between the two countries.
And what are these bygones to be kept bygones and to put behind us without any compensation from the side of Rangoon?
To mention just a few: The closing of the Burmese border for Thais, the anti-Thai sentiments in Burma and the war of words between the two countries.
His excellency the Thai Foreign Minister said that "Now that both sides say confidence is restored, these problems will certainly be resolved sooner or later".
We have reported about so many incidents, that all should be blamed to Burma (the closing of borders, the simply ignoring the drugs business in Burma near the Thai borders, military incidents in which Burma crossed the Thai borders, anti-Thai publication in Burmese media and what not? We know (and have published) that for some reason Mr. Thaksin wants to forgive the Burmese time after time, and wants to be the best of friends with Rangoon, obviously at any price. And we call were able to read that the trust Mr Thaksin has put into Burma was broken time after time by Rangoon.
We now wonder what makes the Thaksin government think that Burma will keep its word this time, contrary to numerous previous occasions. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Plans to help mangroves
Posted by hasekamp on 7 August 2002
at 13:06 PM
The Netherlands government has offered a grant of 45 million Euro (about 1.8 billion Baht) to the Bangkok city administration for coastal protection and mangrove conservation.
Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej said the Dutch government proposed the project to mark the 400th anniversary of Thai-Dutch relations.
But, as usual, nothing goes for nothing: The Dutch aid would be given on the condition that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration adopts the Dutch proposal to build a dyke as a buffer zone to protect the Bang Khun Thien coast from erosion and restore the degraded mangrove.
The entire Dutch project would cost 136 million Euro. So, if our calculating competence has not left us yet, the Thais would still have to pay 91 million Euro (almost 4 billion Baht), for which the Dutch government wants to grant a loan.
Mr Samak said he had to study the Dutch proposal together with a proposal, previously put forward by Japan.
The City planning chief has a better plan: He said he hoped to integrate the Dutch and Japanese proposals. The Japanese study suggests replanting a 300 meters wide mangrove forest as a natural buffer zone. As far as we understand this, a natural buffer zone is not exactly the same as a dyke, so we wonder how the plans could be integrated. A natural buffer zone of mangrove forest sound better to us that a dyke. We (being Dutch, but knowing that the Dutch give nothing for free) suggest Mr. Samak to study the Japanese plan also very carefully before having a dyke built! (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Still no good clue about school bus shooting
Posted by hasekamp on 6 August 2002
at 13:34 PM
In June an event happened that shocked the nation: Shots were fired at a school bus in Ratchaburi and three young students lost their lives. We reported about the incident. Several speculations were made since about who did this and why, but the killers were not arrested so far.
Is there nevertheless light at the end of the tunnel? Yesterday it has been made public that an ethnic Karen man was detained in connection with the shooting. Authorities have detained the man, Jo Bee, last week. He is believed to be a relative of one of the attackers. An M-16 rifle was confiscated on the man but it is not clear if the weapon was used in the shooting or if Jo Bee had any prior knowledge of the attack. So, there still is non real clue, only a faint hope that the case may ever come closer to a solution.
There still are no answers to the questions why the bus was shot at or whether the killers knew that children were aboard. Nevertheless the police hopes to get a better understanding of the incident when more people are questioned.
The Thai Army has sought help from an anti-Rangoon group, the Karen National Union, in trying to track down the attackers. Jo Bee's older brother, one of the suspected gunmen, tried to contact authorities through a mediator last week in an attempt to surrender. (Source: The Nation)
Meditation in prison
Posted by hasekamp on 5 August 2002
at 13:43 PM
The Corrections Department plans to turn some prisons into meditation centers for inmates after such a center at Klong Pai prison proved a success.
The 10-day meditation course at Klong Pai was so popular, that most inmates continued to meditate every day. Now plans are to open regional meditation centers.
In the North, a center would open at Phitsanulok prison; in the South, at Koh Taew prison in Songkhla and in the Central region, at Rayong prison. Klong Pai prison would be the center for the Northeast.
At Klong Pai prison it appeared that meditation helped inmates to relax and to cope with stress.
Other prisoners said that meditation helped them deal with everyday problems. (Source: The Bangkok Post)
Thailand hopes to become world rubber center
Posted by hasekamp on 3 August 2002
at 15:47 PM
The government plans to promote Thailand to become one of the world's rubber trade and production centers. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told a workshop on the rubber system reform, in Nakhon Si Thammarat yesterday, that the government wants to reform the country's rubber strategy to promote Thailand as a world rubber trade and production center in the future. The strategy would include a new arrangement of rubber plantation areas, the development of related and support industries, the establishment of a tripartite rubber trade joint venture between Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, the opening up of a rubber industrial estate in the southern province of Songkhla, and the setting up of a prototype of rubber town in which facilities and structure would come from rubber products to promote the use of natural rubber. (Source: Thai News Agency)
Japanese investors rank Thailand high
Posted by hasekamp on 3 August 2002
at 15:46 PM
Japanese investors have ranked Thailand as their third favorite investment destination in the world, and will further expand their investment projects into the country over the next three years, according to Thai Farmers' Bank Research Center. A recent survey found that Thailand is at this place for Japanese investors after China and the United States. This is indeed a surprising result, in our opinion.
The report suggests that Thailand is implementing measures and strategies that could help the country gain maximum benefits from opportunities amid higher competition from China and other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). (Source: Thai News Agency)
Thaksin finds Baht too volatile
Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2002
at 16:32 PM
Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday talked to the Bank of Thailand in order to see that the "excessive volatility" in the exchange rate of the Baht would be avoided in the future. The current situation is very inconvenient for exporters.
Mr, Thaksin also told the Finance Minister that the central bank should take greater steps to curb the swings in the value of the currency. The Baht should move in line with market forces, but care should be taken that fluctuations were not excessive or guided by speculators.
The Baht has swung up and down in recent days, reaching a high of 40.4 to the US dollar early last week and falling back to break the 42 mark. Yesterday the Baht traded at 42.01.
The central bank governor insisted that acted as necessary and could not be blamed for anything. The Baht had strengthened due to primarily to weakness in the US dollar. (Source The Bangkok Post)
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