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Thai-Burmese talks

Posted by hasekamp on 30 December 2002 at 10:23 AM
Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh will lead a delegation to Burma in January for a meeting with Rangoon on drug suppression, migrant labor and development projects in border areas. Another deputy premier, Korn Dabaransi, who oversees foreign affairs, will accompany the delegation during its one-day visit on January 27. Drug suppression will top discussions.
Thailand and Burma have set an agenda to drastically curb the cross-border drug trade in the next two years, Mr. Chavalit said. But how many times have similar limits been set in the past and Rangoon ignored them? Still Thailand appears to be optimistic, as follows from statements by Mr. Chavalit.
Burma rejected former allegations and called for constructive dialogue with Thailand to fight the problem. This dialogue will. start in January.
Migrant labor also be is a major problem for Thailand. Thailand has an estimated one million illegal workers, mostly from Burma, Mr. Chavalit said. (Source: The Nation)


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Death toll rises

Posted by hasekamp on 30 December 2002 at 10:16 AM
The New Years' holidays have so far left 157 people dead and 7,647 hurt on roads, in just two days. These are the official figures by midnight Saturday. The holiday period will end on 2 January,. So there is almost one more week to go. We dare not extrapolate the figures!
The deputy public health minister said 97 people died in crashes on Saturday. A total 4,276 people were injured on Saturday.
An official said the two-day death toll was sharply up on last year's corresponding period.
Last year "just" 127 people were killed during the first two days of the holiday, official statistics show.
A total number of 19,320 motorists had been stopped at 1,144 checkpoints nationwide in random checks to improve road safety. A total of 180 drivers were found to be under the influence of alcohol. This proves once more that alcohol is still one of the main causes op the holiday period death toll. Police stopped 19,196 motorcyclists, and fined 3,624 for not wearing crash helmets, another well-known cause of accidents in Thailand. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Strays become Sniffers

Posted by hasekamp on 29 December 2002 at 17:24 PM
Narcotics police are actively turning more stray dogs into drug sniffers, following His Majesty the King’s suggestion during his birthday speech that Thai dogs could be trained for such operations.
The Justice Minister said during his visit to a dog shelter of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration that 70 stray dogs aged between 1 to 2 years would be selected from the 700 dogs at the centre. They would undergo a preliminary test to see if they have the potential to be trained for the operations.
Selected dogs will then undergo a 20-week training with the first half of the period concentrating on obedience and acceptance of orders and the latter half on drug sniffing.
The Minister said the project would help to save the expense on importing foreign sniffer dogs and would reduce the problem of stray dogs. He should have added that these points were not his, but of His Majesty's! Dog masters would also be recruited from the locality where the dogs would be stationed as they would have to work together all the time. The Office of the Narcotics Control Board has agreed to provide one million baht to support the training. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Harry Potter at the Jamboree?

Posted by hasekamp on 29 December 2002 at 17:17 PM
Lots of Thai (and other) scouts at the World jamboree in Chon Buri were very excited to be able to obtain an autograph of Harry Potter himself, of Daniel Radcliffe that is, who plays the part in the movies.
Indeed, the little wizard himself was at the camp! Dozens of excited girl scouts and reporters were running all over the enormous campsite yesterday searching to see Radcliffe.
But eventually all fans and reporters were disappointed. There were several Harry Potter lookalikes at the jamboree, but the real superstar was definitely not there.
The Nation shows a picture of a Belgian lookalike, giving autographs to fans. How they -the fans- must be disappointed, when finding out the truth later!
One thing that made the fans suspicious was that Harry at the Jamboree did not speak English... (Source: The Nation)


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Bad start for holiday season

Posted by hasekamp on 28 December 2002 at 19:55 PM
Forty-six people have died and 2,641 injured in road accidents around the country during the first 36 hours of the extended New Year holidays. The Public Health Ministry compiled the road accident toll. The figures are based on accidents from Thursday morning up to noon yesterday.
Eleven of those killed were in a collision between a tourist bus and an oil tanker truck on the in the early hours of yesterday morning. Another 46 people were injured in that crash. We will follow the numbers of dead and injured in the holiday traffic and report the –doubtlessly sad- final result. (Source: The Nation)


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Who will sing the National Anthem?

Posted by hasekamp on 27 December 2002 at 22:08 PM
The Defense Ministry has invited all professional recording artists to audition for an updated version of the National Anthem that will be broadcasted by military radio stations and television channels (TV 5) at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. from March 2003 on.
The ministry had chosen four Grammy Entertainment artists Thongchai MacIntyre ("Bird"), Sek Loso, Palapol Kongseng and Nanthida Kaewbuasai to sing the Anthem, but it was criticized for this choice. Therefore the defense permanent secretary said yesterday that singers from all recording companies were welcome to audition as additional vocalists.
The plan to produce a new arrangement of the national anthem with a symphony orchestra has received support from Defense Minister, the Supreme Commander and the armed forces' chiefs. We agree that it is getting time that the daily broadcasts of the National Anthem will be modernized. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Paradorn is Person of the Year

Posted by hasekamp on 26 December 2002 at 12:54 PM
Thai newspaper The Nation has chosen Thai tennis player Paradorn Srichaphan person of the year 2002.
During 2002 Paradorn's star rose after he won match after match and reached high rankings on International tournaments. He was unanimously named The Nation's Person of the Year not just because of his tournament successes, but also because he set a good example. He appears to be a good professional and a good celebrity all at the same time, according to The Nation. When Paradorn declared that his father is his best coach, amid suggestions he had become too good for his father to coach him, his popularity rose.
Some of his tennis achievements: In March he beat Michael Chang and a month later he led the national team to an unprecedented World Group Play-off for the David Cup after beating Japan. In May he defeated Thomas Enquist at the French Open.
Then he beat Andre Agassi at the Centre Court, at Wimbledon in June. Furthermore he became the first Thai to capture an ATP title at the TD Waterhouse Cup in August. His second ATP title came in Stockholm in October, where Chile's best, Marcelo Rios, was the beaten finalist.
He went up and up, and tennis in Thailand has received a boost.
World number one Lleyton Hewitt of Australia was defeated in Tokyo in September, Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten and England's top player Tim Henman were defeated in Madrid.
October was Paradorn's best month anyway. Apart from the second ATP title, he beat Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero (world number 4), Argentina's Guillermo Canas (world number 15 and America's Andy Roddick (world number 11) in consecutive matches in France. He ended a fantastic year losing narrowly to Hewitt in the semi-final of the same French tournament. (Source: The Nation)


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Siamese twins separated

Posted by hasekamp on 25 December 2002 at 11:20 AM
Some good news from for this Christmas day: Doctors at Siriraj Hospital have separated a pair of four-month-old Siamese twins. This is the third successful operation of this nature in 36 years.
The babies, named Fire and Volk, were joined from the chest to abdomen, and were separated in an operation lasting 10 hours. The head of the hospital's surgery department said that the twin girls did not share any inner organs, making the operation less complicated.
Although the surgery was done on 20 November already, the news was not made public until today.
Doctors had been concerned about cardiac complications as the twins' hearts were very close to each other, divided only by a thin membrane. Planning for the surgery started when the girls were two months old. Silicone bags were inserted into the twins' chest and abdomen cavities and saline was injected into them each day to cushion the membrane to ensure a safe operation.
The mother of the twins, 35, was of course very happy that the twins, now weighing 10kg each, had been separated. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Crime figures for 2002

Posted by hasekamp on 23 December 2002 at 14:03 PM
Every year the Thai police publishes crime figures. Here they are: Police seized almost 25 million methamphetamine tablets and arrested more than 230,000 drug suspects this year.
A spokesman said that police from all units nationwide had arrested 550,224 people this year, of which almost half (231,052) were caught on drug-related charges. A total of 24,992,420 speed pills were seized from them.
The number of murder cases has reduced to 669 cases this year, which is down 15.48% compared to last year.
Police arrested 17,038 people, in 16,689 cases regarding the illegal possession of firearms.
The national police chief has instructed all units to search particular areas for drug trading at least once a week. This must be a follow-up of the birthday speech by HM the King. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Proms in the Parks

Posted by hasekamp on 20 December 2002 at 14:03 PM
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will hold a "Music in the Parks" festival in the public parks of Bangkok, to foster the love of music among young people and to strengthen the family institution. The festival will be held for the tenth time.
Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej, said that this festival would be organized on weekends from December to January in Lumpini Park, the State Railway Public Park and other parks. The project would be expanded to every park in the city, the governor added.
The event is aimed to elevate people’s quality of life and will be free of charge. The activities will also serve the public to support family ties.
The music will be performed by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra and the Bangkok Wind Symphony. It will start on 21 December 21 2002 and will last until 26 January 2003. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin want to control the Web

Posted by hasekamp on 20 December 2002 at 14:02 PM
The Thai government said yesterday that it was seeking the cooperation of Internet service providers to block material on the Internet "it does not like". This is a different way to tell the Thai people that Mr. Thaksin want to censor the Web. Of course he cannnot do so, and therefore he wants the ISP’s to block certain websites.
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister said that Internet users in Thailand would soon be blocked from viewing websites containing "obscene" and "subversive" content.
What the government means by "obscene" and "subversive" content seems to be fully in its own hands.
The ICT Minster said that websites featuring explicit sexual content and material deemed subversive to national security and the monarchy would be blocked by the 18 Internet service providers (ISPs) in Thailand.
The minister yesterday discussed the issue with ISP representatives. The move is part of a government plan to "fully embrace information technology development" by first eliminating what it views as "bad seeds".
We are strong opponents to pornography and subversive material. In that respect we do not differ in opinion from Mr. Thaksin and his government.
But on the other hand we believe that the Freedom of Press (which also covers the Internet) is the standing pillar under any democratic society.
Authorities should only be able to interfere with the Freedom of Press whenever the Penal Code is violated. A court should determine if this is the case.
Every Internet browser has the possibility to filter out websites with certain content and the Thai people should determine by themselves if they want to use this possibility.
Preventive censorship –like the Thai government wishes to implement now- is the first step to dictatorship. (Source: The Nation)


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No pictures of the Crown Prince?

Posted by hasekamp on 18 December 2002 at 15:31 PM
News photographers and television camera crews have been banned from taking digital pictures of the Crown Prince, when he opens the 20th World Scout Jamboree in Chon Buri on 28 December (next Saturday).
The Royal Household Bureau was concerned that digital pictures of the prince could be easily doctored and misused.
A spokesperson said, however, that it was not correct that digital cameras had been totally banned from the jamboree. News photographers had protested against reports that this would be the case, saying that most news cameras now used are digital.
It is not clear to us what the Royal Household Bureau wants to accomplish exactly. Any photograph can be digitalized (and will be during the process of making a modern newspaper). So we cannot see that there should be any difference between the allowance of classical cameras and digital cameras if it comes to manipulating pictures. That is our first point.
Our second point is hat we wonder what exactly the Royal Household Bureau is afraid of.
Are they afraid that the "secret" wife of the Crown Prince will be added to pictures for instance? If so, the Royal Household Bureau thanks this fear to its own refusal to be open about the possible recent marriage of the Crown Prince. We wrote about this issue not so long ago.
We do not believe that the Thai press would be interested in changing the appearance of His Royal Highness himself on pictures. He is well-known enough to the public!
So our conclusion is: Where there is smoke, there is fire. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Traffic accidents expected

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2002 at 13:03 PM
As usual, the Thais take long holidays around the New Year. The holiday season has started yesterday already. And because the Thais usually take more than average amounts of alcohol during their holidays, a large number of (traffic) accidents is expected. We have published numbers in the past years and will do so again, early next year.
Meanwhile law enforcement-, traffic management-, transport-, health- and administrative agencies are working in close coordination with to try to reduce the number of traffic accidents. The Royal Thai Police is mobilizing police force in all provinces. More than 1,500 traffic policemen, 1,800 highway policemen, 560 patrol cars, and 40 police motorcycles will be available to do the job in facilitating holiday travels, enforcing traffic laws and cracking down on drunk driving, especially in 15 provinces with high accident rates.
Apart from that, burglars also are more active than during the rest of the year in the holiday period. People who are leaving their houses unattended can call the nearest police stations, giving house numbers, location and the period of their absence. Police will patrol the area to make sure of the safety of their property. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Queen speaks again

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2002 at 13:03 PM
Shortly after she spoke in favor of the hilltribes, Her Majesty the Queen has now entrusted Supreme Commander Surayud Chulanont with the task of protecting the flowering herb dusita found in Khao Yai National Park. Her Majesty is concerned it could become extinct.
The herb grows 6-10 cm tall and bears dark purple flowers, which is the Queen's favorite color. The scientific name of the plant is utricularia delphinioides.
In Khao Yai Park, dusita grows on the rocky cliffs of Samau Poon mountain. It has also been seen in Pha Taem National Park in Ubon Ratchathani.
Geneneral Surayud is chairman of the Foundation for Protection of Khao Yai National Park. He trekked parts of the park on Sunday and again yesterday looking for the herb and will prepare a report for Her Majesty.
General Surayud, who is 59 now, said that after his retirement next year he would continue to serve as chairman of the foundation, which has raised funds for the welfare of forestry officials injured or killed protecting national forests.
After a rest, he plans to enter the monkhood at a monastery in the Northeast and will not become involved in politics any more, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Success for dried fish

Posted by hasekamp on 16 December 2002 at 12:53 PM
Dried fermented fish, or "pla-ra" in Thai, is a successful product on overseas markets in 30 countries, after it has been promoted through a website.
A manufacturer said that pla-ra in a small package under the brand name "Sab" has received overwhelming response from overseas consumers after it was launched in foreign markets last year. These overseas customers live in 30 countries, especially in the US and in France.
Further products from the northeastern cuisine include "jaew bong" (chopped fermented fish), "nam prik plara" (fermented fish paste), powdered pla ra and cubed pla ra. In the future the company plans to add ten more products to its catalogue. Buyers can make online transactions worldwide via the website of the company, a spokesman for the company said.
One reason why France is a large market, is that many Thais and Laotians live there. Thee same probably goes for the US. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Son of Thongdaeng makes a wai!

Posted by hasekamp on 14 December 2002 at 17:55 PM
His Majesty the King's cherished dog, Tongdaeng has captured the hearts of Thais over past months and is a celebrity in Thailand now. But she is not the only star in the Royal Thai canine family: Yesterday her third male offspring, Tongmuan, also became a star. The King mentioned Tongmuan in his latest book, The Story of Tongdaeng, and in his birthday speech on Dec 4.
The King sent the two-year-old dog to perform a special show at the opening of Thailand's Second Grand Pet Show at the Rose Garden in Nakhon Pathom. It was Tongmuan's first public appearance, and the highlight of the event. The show was solen by this dog when he made a "wai". (The picture can be seen on the site of the Bangkok Post)
The dog also impressed by walking zigzag through a row of cone-shaped barriers and jumping through three rings. The head of the royal canine trainers, said he had spent four months training Tongmuan. He praised Tongmuan for his obedience. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Buddha relic on loan

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2002 at 16:53 PM
On the occasion of the 75th birthday of His Majesty the King, a Lord Buddha’s tooth relic will be temporarily enshrined in Thailand for 76 days, from 15 December 2002 to 28 February 2003.
The relic from the People’s Republic of China, will be carried by a special plane provided by the Royal Thai Air Force. The Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Thailand will deliver a speech on arrival, entrusting the Thai Government to take care of the holy relic. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will respond on behalf of the Thai people.
The holy relic will then be carried from the airport to the Victory Monument, where a procession will be formed. The holy relic will then be brought through Ratchadamnoen Avenue to Pin Klao Bridge. Then the relic will proceed on to Phutta Monthon Park, just outside Bangkok in Nakhon Pathom. Worshippers are admitted there every day from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. until 28 February 2003. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Queen backs hilltribes

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2002 at 16:36 PM
Her Majesty the Queen has asked the Third Army to drop its plan to move hilltribes to lowlands, fearing such relocation will affect their way of life. She also suggested their communities to be brought into border-watch villages whose residents are trained to help look out for intrusions by foreign forces.
The Queen's advice was revealed yesterday by the Third Army chief at a security meeting held to discuss ways to reorganize border villages in the upper North. The Third Army had planned to relocate hilltribe villages to lowlands for better control.
Following the Queen's advice, however, the Third Army decided to set up 43 border-watch villages in Tak and Mae Hong Son provinces bordering Burma.
Currently, there are about 700,000 hilltribe people from 11 different ethnic groups, living in 14 northern provinces. It does not often happen that Her Majesty the Queen openly chooses the side of people, opposing governmental officials. This is one of those rare occasions. As with the advice of His Majesty the King, the advice of Her Majesty was promply followed. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Jewelry scams

Posted by hasekamp on 11 December 2002 at 13:54 PM
Jewelry scams use a slightly different story these days. They offer you a free or cheap tuk-tuk ride and take you on a sight-seeing trip. Then they tell you (lately with the help of a westerner) that the Thai government is promoting a special week for tourists, to buy jewelry at special prices without tax. And on it goes to the jewelry store. They tell you that the store is government approved and that unsatisfied customers can get a 100 % refund.
Two tourists that believed everything up to this point, bought some gems at the shop. Sadly the shop did not accept credit cards, but at a gold shop nearby (that did accept credit cards) they could buy gold and trade it for the jewelry, the shop attendant said. So our tourists did. Nevertheless they had to pay a surcharge for the jewelry. The shop also convinced the tourists, by the way, that the gold-for-jewelry trade was government policy. The jewelry was to be sent home a special mail service in order to avoid paying 90 % tax. Even this was believed by our inexperienced tourists.
Soon afterwards they were at the tourist police station, without gold, without jewelry and without money. The tourist police told them that no action could be taken without the items being present.
Nevertheless the police succeeded in intercepting the package and could confirm that the bought sapphires were fake. When the police arrived at the shop, it had already been shut down.
Soon similar complaints reached the tourist police.
Over the past 10 months, tourist police have received almost 700 jewelry fraud complaints. Stories like this one are in the Thai papers every year, and still many tourists buy jewelry, without the necessary knowledge, despite warnings by TAT, the tourists police and websites like ours. Hopefully this new story keeps you alert! (Source: The Nation)


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Samak knows it best

Posted by hasekamp on 11 December 2002 at 13:54 PM
There is no need for public consultations in drawing up the new city plan. People can always comment on it afterwards, Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej says. Bangkok should go ahead and prepare its five- and ten-year city plans.
By preventing Bangkokians to express objections to the plans, the plans could be implemented right away, according to Mr.Samak. Mr Samak is known to be in favor of the development of green areas into more functional areas, as can be read from our former reports.
He earlier suggested that military bases be shifted to the green belts in eastern Bangkok, and development zones be created for hypermarkets near ringroads, also in the green area. Furthermore he suggested to move Dusit Zoo and he has more similar plans. There is a vast green area still available in Nong Chok district, and that seems to be enough, if we have to believe Mr. Samak.
We hope that others can still have their say, because –as Mr. Samak wants- objections from the public, after the plans have been realized can not be very effective! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Does Thailand want to show its teeth?

Posted by hasekamp on 10 December 2002 at 14:44 PM
Thailand will seek greater participation in narcotics suppression from Burma. Top Thai military leaders have confirmed that more than 28 drug factories are situated in Burma, near the Thai border, and supported (at least not suppressed) by Rangoon.
Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh admitted that the information unveiled by the Deputy Army Commander-in-Chief at a recent seminar at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok about drug factories in Myanmar, had been verified by the government.
General Chavalit believes that this disclosure will not affect the Thai – Myanmar relations, that are caressed so carefully by the Thaksin government. He said the government would promote better understanding while seeking greater cooperation in drug suppression with the Burmese Government. Effective solutions are being worked out by Thailand to disrupt both drug production and trafficking. He said that then Burmese Government has so far rendered very good cooperation through the coordination of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Prevention. This last statement is far from true in our opinion. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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War against drugs starts at full speed

Posted by hasekamp on 10 December 2002 at 14:43 PM
Since the birthday speech of His Majesty the King, the war against drugs is strongly intensified, or at least being intensified. Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh now says that he will present Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra with a new model for drug suppression and prevention on Friday which will focus on unity and clarity.
At a meeting yesterday, Gen Chavalit, told members of a committee from the Interior, Education, Foreign Affairs, Defense and Justice ministries and the police that he will come up with a new model for a national workshop on drugs on Friday.
The model has to create unity among state agencies and have clear ideas on how to deal with drugs. Officials do not have a clear idea of their responsibilities. The meeting was held at short notice in response to His Majesty the King's call last week for a war on drugs. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin also listens

Posted by hasekamp on 7 December 2002 at 12:53 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday promised to step up efforts to suppress drugs in Thailand, following the suggestion by His Majesty the King\92s call for a national war against the illicit narcotics trade. So this is the second announcement of specific measures after the speech by His Majesty. As always, suggestions by His Majesty are very effective!
The premier said His Majesty had been concerned about the drugs problem in the country all along. Therefore all parties in the state, private, and public sectors (including the Thaksin government) should join forces to fight against the drugs trade. Otherwise, the problem would be out of proportion. In our opinion it is out of proportion for years already, but with this remark Mr. Thaksin obviously tries to save his skin.
More concrete cooperation must be sought from foreign countries in dealing with the problem, Mr. Thaksin said. The family institution would be encouraged to play a greater role in addressing the problem. He said that police must work harder to suppress drugs activities in areas under their jurisdiction. All policemen needed to dedicate themselves to suppressing the narcotics. They must devote themselves more upon being aware that His Majesty the King had been very concerned about the drugs trade. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Samak listens

Posted by hasekamp on 7 December 2002 at 12:41 PM
Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej said yesterday that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) would set up a large shelter for stray dogs outside the city where they can be trained to be police dogs. This is the first, almost immediate, reaction to one of the suggestions in the birthday speech of His Majesty the King.
His Majesty suggested that the BMA procure a large land plot outside Bangkok to house strays. He said the strays could be trained to help in police operations.
Samak said the BMA will create a foundation to raise funds and handle administration of the new shelter. Members of the foundation's board will include representatives from the BMA and the National Police Office, the governor said.
Strays that had been nursed back to good health at the shelter could be adopted, said Samak.
Furthermore, the BMA has been procuring microchips to implant in stray dogs following HM the King's suggestion last year, Samak said. A bit late, but there it is! (Source: The Nation)


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His Majesty the King is 75 today

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2002 at 11:58 AM
On the eve of his 75th birthday, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej King delivered his traditional birthday speech yesterday at Dusidalai Throne Hall. The main subject this year was the war against drugs. The speech lasted for 100 minutes and can be watched on the Internet by making some sensible clicks on http://www.kanchanapisek.or.th .
His Majesty the King called for a national war on drugs. The drugs issue is growing more serious by the day, costing the state and taxpayers huge amounts of money, he said. It was the third time in less than a week that drugs had been mentioned in a royal speech.
Earlier His Majesty has given his consent for an amnesty for 5,600 prisoners convicted of minor drug offences. On that occasion His Majesty urged those who had been freed never to return to drugs.
The King later went on to talk about his favorite dog, "Thongdaeng"', the subject of a millions seller book written by His Majesty. The dog has also been depicted on polo shirts sold to the public. The King said they were relatively costly at 500 Baht each, but he said the shirts had proved extremely popular and aimed a quip at the Chamber of Commerce for failing to keep up with demand.
His Majesty also said that his new book should help Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej to convince the public to look after stray dogs. he said.
As usual The King charmed his audience with his humor while talking about his dog. He aslsop said that dogs, and if looked after properly even stray dogs, could be helpful in anti-drug and landmine-clearing operations.
His Majesty the King urged all his subjects to take an active part in the national effort to eliminate the illicit drug trade, which he described as a scourge of Thai society.
Other suggestions made during the speech ranged from the need to improve English-language proficiency to ways to control the stray-dog population. (As we reported earlier, English language courses for the police have started already. After this suggestion by His Majesty we can be certain that more English courses will follow.)
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra also made a speech, in which he mentioned Royal contributions to a wide range of national development initiatives and their achievements in raising the living standards of the people, eliminating social ills and bringing about the general happiness of his subjects.
The King said, however, that the prime minister had omitted to mention his decades-old dedication to stamping out illicit drugs, which have done so much damage to individuals and society, resulting in rising public health costs, social ills and the deployment of huge financial resources for drug suppression. This is not the first time that His majesty makes critical remarks towards the Prime Minister. (Sources: The Bangkok Post, The Nation and the Public Relations Department)


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Sixth mobile cabinet meeting

Posted by hasekamp on 4 December 2002 at 16:03 PM
The Thai cabinet will hold its next mobile meeting in Hat Yai of the southern province of Songkla. This province is located in the deep South of Thailand. In the deepest parts of southern Thailand many Muslims live and there have been some incidents there in the past months.
Since Mr. Thaksin came to power, regularly mobile cabinet meetings are being organized in different parts of the country.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has invited all cabinet members to join the sixth mobile cabinet meeting, the last one of this year, to be held between 21 and 22 December.
In the evening of 21 December the Thai cabinet will join in a ceremony to end the Ramadan in the Malaysian State of Kedah, as invited by the Kedah State.
On December 22, ministers of the Kedah State will join the Thai cabinet meeting to discuss bilateral cooperation. Thus it has been announced by the government. An agenda of the meeting has not (yet) been published.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra earlier said that Malaysian ministers would join in the meeting to discuss border problems between the two neighboring countries.
The cabinet has now held its mobile cabinet meetings in all the country's four regions. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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King wants army to do more. Book is mega-seller

Posted by hasekamp on 3 December 2002 at 13:39 PM
His Majesty the King yesterday called on the Thai armed forces to do more than protect the country's sovereignty, saying they should work hard for national development and people's well-being. His Majesty yesterday inspected 2,243 royal guards from 13 battalions, gathered at the Royal Plaza for the annual oath of allegiance ceremony to mark the King's birthday on 5 December.
The King thanked all royal guards and urged them to be determined to do their duty well with two ultimate goals: national security and the people's well-being. Thai soldiers had long been performing two major tasks: preserving national sovereignty, and developing the country and improving the people's livelihood, he said.
This was not the birthday speech of His Majesty. That can traditionally be expected on 4 December, the eve of his birthday. Only occasionally His Majesty did not hold a speech on the eve of his birthday.
Meanwhile we can also report that His Majesty's new book, "The Story of Tongdaeng", is expected to become one the best-sellers of all time, with sales exceeding three million copies already, its publisher reported yesterday. There are around 60 million Thais, so the maximum sales will lie somewhere between 10 and 30 million copies. We expect this maximum number to be reached. (Sources: The Bangkok Post, The Nation)


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New visa rules

Posted by hasekamp on 3 December 2002 at 13:22 PM
We have reported several times about an announced cabinet decision to limit the number of countries whose citizens can enter Thailand up to 30 days without a visa or can get a visa for 15 days on arrival. It looked for a long time as if the new lists would never be implemented, but now it seems that the government has finalized this action. The new lists will come into effect on 29 December.
Visitors holding passports from countries for a temporary visit not exceeding 15 days can obtain a tourist visa on arrival at the airport.
This list has been reduced from 96 countries to the following 14: Bhutan, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, India, Maldives, Qatar, Mauritius, China (including Taiwan),
Poland, Ukraine and Czech Republic.
There is also a new list of 38 nationalities (down from 56) that permits them to enter and stay in Thailand for 30 days without an entry visa.
Those countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South
Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, UK, US and Vietnam. (Source: the Phuket Gazette)


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Eat ginger and stay healthy

Posted by hasekamp on 2 December 2002 at 13:43 PM
Once more the Thais have discovered that they have the source of eternal youth and health in their hands almost daily: Plai, a common household herb, which is a ginger variety, has proven to have a wide range of medicinal properties, from anti-asthmatic and anti-inflammatory to cancer prevention.
A coalition of government and private scientists yesterday held a press conference to promote plai as Thailand's "national herb", similar to the internationally known ginseng of Korea. It should become a national herb because the species we found in Thailand has unique properties, scientists say. Plai has found to comprise an extraordinarily high dose of terpinen-4-ol, which can be used in the medical and cosmetic industries.
Plai has long been known and used in Thai households to treat wounds and inflammation. It is also used by traditional medicine men as an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent.
However, it will take time before the herb can be produced as a medicine because of the complicated legal requirements, especially by food and drug authorities. (Source: The Nation)


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Police to be taught English

Posted by hasekamp on 2 December 2002 at 13:40 PM
We have our own ideas of the way Thais speak English, as visitors of our page http://www.hasekamp.net/language.htm know. Apparently we do not stand alone with this opinion, because more than 100 Crime Suppression Division police are going to evening classes to improve their English. Mainly because foreigners do not get the message when they are spoken to by the Thai police.
The number of foreign victims and criminals is increasing, and police needs better English if they are to be of any help. Westerners living in Thailand and visitors have complained that too few police can speak (proper) English.
A two-hour English evening class is to be held three times a week and taught by a native English teacher, Peter Marsh, who has eight years experience in teaching English to Thai students.
Mr Marsh said the emphasis was on basic conversation in everyday situations such as dealing with victims, giving directions and describing criminals and general police vocabulary.
Pronunciation and the stress placed on words (which is the worst problem with Thais speaking English) will bee emphasized. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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