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Thaksin wants to buy elephants

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2003 at 12:58 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is willing to allocate funds to buy elephants for 20,000 Baht each to solve the problem of mahouts, bringing them into Bangkok to roam the streets for a living, Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said yesterday.
Chavalit made this statement after a protest march started, staged by mahouts and their elephants against the ban on bringing the animals into Bangkok. We reported about the subject. After repeatedly failing to stop mahouts from coming to Bangkok, police have threatened to issue hefty fines or jail them. The deputy premier said he believed that elephant camp owners are behind the protest.
The elephants bought from mahouts would be placed in forests across the country. The proposal meets with resistance from elephant camp owners, who said that the government lacks knowledge and understanding of the problem. (Source: The Nation)


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Thais evacuated from Cambodia

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2003 at 12:48 PM
There have been tensions between Thailand and Cambodia this week. These tensions are becoming violent now and therefore Thai military planes have flown hundreds of Thai citizens out of Phnom Penh, back to Thailand. The tensions have culminated in demonstrations outside the Thai embassy in Cambodia. These demonstrations that have turned violent yesterday and one man is feared dead.
Thailand therefore has now withdrawn its ambassador to Cambodia. and Mr. Thaksin also will send the Cambodian ambassador to Thailand home.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at one point has even threatened to send troops into Cambodia to protect Thai citizens.
The cause of the tensions? A Thai TV star has said that the famous Angkor Wat temple complex (the pride and the main tourist attraction of Cambodia; Angkor Wat is even represented on the Cambodian flag) was stolen from Thailand. Hence the wave of hostility in Cambodia towards Thailand.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that only nationalist extremists had caused the violence and he has urged the Cambodian people to calm the situation.
Nevertheless a total of 511 Thai nationals left Phnom Penh on four military transport planes. A fifth plane ferried Thai commandos sent to carry out the evacuation.
The actress whose alleged comments started the violence has –in the meantime- strongly denied having made remarks about Angkor Wat. She said that the comments demanding Angkor to be controlled by Thailand were spoken by a character she played in a TV drama two years ago. (Source BBC News)


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Phuket in the war on drugs

Posted by hasekamp on 28 January 2003 at 14:39 PM
Everywhere in Thailand a war on drugs will start soon, after His Majesty the King suggested so in his birthday speech. Here are the plans by Phuket province:
Police will have drug control as part of their duties, even if they are assigned to traffic, administration or management. The drug dealers will be forced to surrender and drug addicts will be helped to find a cure. Addicts will also be followed up to check on their behavior once they are free. This should improve the drugs situation in Phuket dramatically, according to the Phuket authorities.
Police statistics show the number of people arrested in Phuket for offenses involving ya bah (methamphetamine), heroin, marijuana, ecstasy and substance abuse as 612 in 1999, 591
in 2000, 589 in 2001 and 531 in 2002. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Elephant protest

Posted by hasekamp on 27 January 2003 at 15:37 PM
About 70 elephants and their handlers left Surin this morning on a march to Bangkok, where they plan to protest against the plan to ban elephants from the streets, as we reported lately.
A Surin village official strongly criticized the Asian Elephant Foundation (AEF) for promoting the law, which would prohibit mahouts from coming to Bangkok and earning money with their beasts.
"They (the AEF) understand very little about the relationship between a man and his elephant", the village official said. He also called for the immediate release of five elephants confiscated recently in Bangkok, that are being kept at the National Elephant Institute in Lampang.
A spokesman for the AEF said many elephants in the city are owned by businessmen who rent them out for huge sums. Rich businessmen buy the animals and rent them to the poor.
The AEF called for police to intercept the 70 mahouts before they reach the capital. The mahouts are expected to reach Bangkok in about 20 days. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New train starting point

Posted by hasekamp on 26 January 2003 at 11:25 AM
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will move four train services out of Hua Lamphong station to Bang Sue junction on Wednesday, under its plan to ease traffic congestion in Bangkok.
The new service includes an ordinary train to Phitsanulok, two rapid trains departing for Nong Khai in the morning and at night and one rapid night train to Ubon Ratchathani. Their return trips will also end at Bang Sue.
SRT said the relocation of long-distance train services out of the Bangkok central station would be done gradually to avoid passenger confusion. About 10 more rapid lines will start from Bang Sue by mid-February.
The state enterprise plans to move all long haul rapid and express trains to the junction by the first half of this year. Only trains commuting passengers in and out of Bangkok for work from the suburbs and nearby provinces and some short distance lines will use Hua Lamphong station.
SRT is also launching a campaign to inform passengers of the change and free shuttle bus services to Bang Sue would be available from Hua Lamphong. The idea behind this free shuttle bus service is not completely clear to us. Should one first go to Hua Lampong, then by shuttle bus to Bang Sue and then get on the train? That seems a big diversion! Or is the shuttle service just for those passengers that still do not know about the new service at Bang Sue? (Source:The Bangkok Post)


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Quick justice

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2003 at 12:56 PM
Only recently we reported about a Finnish tourist who was not willing to give off his camera bag and then was killed by the robbers. We could also report that one of them was arrested and the others were known to the police. The four (young) men have now been given life imprisonment by the Nakhon Si Thammarat provincial court. This is what we call quick justice! The four, Chaiyarat Arunjit, Preechapon Duenchamrun, Morakot Chanawan and Durongrit Yodrabam were initially sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life because they confessed. So it appears that murderers get a harsh and quick sentence in Thailand, if caught. This must give some satisfaction to the wife of the Finnish tourist, but of course it will never bring back her husband. The same men will, however, not be able to do the same thing to others. Life imprisonment in Thailand is what it says: Being in prison until you die. No nonsense like getting free after ten years or something like that.
As reported: The four stabbed Muuranto Kaimikael, 31, from Helsinki, repeatedly in the chest and stomach after he refused to surrender his bag containing a camera on Jan 11. Kaimikael and his Thai wife were walking to a restaurant. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket movie site

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2003 at 12:42 PM
Thai movie-goers up-country are familiar with the phenomenon of sudden, unannounced cancellations. Foreigners normally are not aware of this typically Thai problem, which can be very inconvenient.
Against this background the Coliseum Paradise cinema in Phuket Town and the Phuket Gazette have created a set of pages on the Phuklet Gazette website. The pages can be found at http://www.phuketgazette.net/movies
Each listing contains a classification (Action, Comedy, Suspense, etc); a summary of the plot; a rating (General Audience, Restricted, etc); a list of lead performers; a sound track language; and screening times. The screening times are posted directly into the listing by the cinema itself - daily at 11 am. These times remain in effect for 24 hours only, so movie-goers are advised to check the schedule again on the day they wish to go. Anyway, the problem of finding a closed door or a different movie should now be solved. For Phuket Town, that is.
The Coliseum Paradise is a five-screen cinema, located next to Robinsons in Phuket Town and can be considered as a state-of-the-art cinema, even to foreigners. It now is Phuket's only motion picture venue. In the past there also was Pearl Cinema (next to the Pearl Hotel) and a cinema opposite the Metropole hotel, but they have been closed and -to be honest- were not state-of-the-art. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Pedophiles now prefer neighboring countries

Posted by hasekamp on 22 January 2003 at 14:36 PM
Pedophiles nowadays prefer Cambodia and the Indonesian island of Bali to Thailand, a global report says. The shift began after 1996, when more legislation against sex tourism became operative in Thailand, forcing pedophiles to move to other countries where child sex was easier to buy.
They went to Cambodia because the population is poorer, and to Bali because the island is fully open to tourism, and because tourism there has dropped dramatically after the attack last year.
The report says the commercial and sexual exploitation of children is still growing worldwide, with an estimated one million children being abused annually.
It is worrying, however, that people in Cambodia and Bali seemed unaware of the shift.
Apart from that, the destination change does not mean child sexual exploitation had vanished completely from Thailand. Rather, the problem has gone underground.
Pedophiles are using new ways to abuse children. In the past it usually involved children being trafficked from rural areas due to poverty, but nowadays –surprisingly- children from well-off families in big cities now are also being targeted. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Extended routes for skytrain?

Posted by hasekamp on 21 January 2003 at 12:01 PM
Few things have been more confusing to us than the continuous stream of contradictory news in the Thai press about possible extensions of the skytrain. We have published several of these news items here, not knowing how serious they have to be taken.
The latest addition to the news about an extension of the skytrain is a message in the Bangkok Post today. It states that construction of the foundation for a rail track in the middle of Sathorn Bridge is under way, which foundation should become part of an extension of the skytrain route from Sathon to Taksin road. This extension is expected to be completed next year.
Meanwhile the bidding for an extension from Onnuj to Samrong will start soon. This is what the head of the Bangkok traffic and transport department appears to have said. Construction of the skytrain route linking Sathon with Taksin is already 75% complete and expected to be finished next year.
The two projects are to be funded partly by state budgets, totaling 760 million Baht and 740 million Baht from Bangkok’s budget.
The extension of the skytrain's northern route from Mor Chit station to Ratchayothin intersection is expected to begin next year.
So whatever may have published in the past, at this moment it really looks as if the skytrain will be extended. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Novel by His Majesty to be made into a movie

Posted by hasekamp on 20 January 2003 at 14:58 PM
The storyboard for an animated feature film will be presented to the King for approval, an official from the National Youth Bureau said yesterday.
The film is based on "Mahachanok" ("The Great Father"), written by His Majesty the King. The story is about a king who reaches enlightenment and becomes a Bodhisattva (the Buddha in one of his former lives) and sacrifices himself for his subjects.
The book, as sold in Thailand since several years now, is beautifully illustrated and is bi-lingual, that is it has Thai as well as English text. A cartoon version has also been made of the book, and is for sale in Thailand too, but we prefer by far the "normal" version, which truly is a work of Art. Do buy it when in Thailand.
The animated characters of the story, music samples and samples of the screenplay have also been finished and will also be submitted to present to His Majesty for approval.
The movie is expected to be ready for screening in 2006. That is the year of the 60th anniversary of His Majesty's accession to the throne.
The movie will very likely present Mahachanok as a great king who took care very well of his subjects. He will also be depicted as an intellectual and spiritual leader who leaves his kingdom to study hard and reach enlightenment. (Source: The Nation)


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Skytrain bridges blocked by vendors

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2003 at 12:28 PM
It is forbidden at the stations and signs clearly show it. Vendors have to stay out of the skytrain area. But is has happened nevertheless. The pedestrian bridges at skytrain stations in Siam Square and the Victory Monument have slowly been reduced to narrow walkways as vendors compete more and more every day with commuters for space. And now the problem will be how to reduce the number of vendors.
Vendors spread out blankets to display their wares, anything from T-shirts, mobile phone accessories to eyeglasses. They disappear in in no time at all whenever they catch sight of the city inspectors.
The bridges are owned by BTS and under the supervision of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. Vendors caught selling items on pedestrian bridges can be fined up to 2,000 Baht. But the income seems to be worth the risk. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket wants health tourists

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2003 at 12:27 PM
The government wants Phuket to become Asia’s medical and health tourism hub, offering medical services ranging from spa treatment and massage to complicated hospital surgery, dentistry and cosmetic surgery.
Phuket is already one of Thailand’s top tourism destinations but the government is worried that tourists are increasingly traveling abroad for reasons other than simple tourism, such as medical treatment, and without such services Phuket could fall behind its competitor tourist destinations elsewhere.
The director of the Department for the Promotion of Health Services said that Phuket was already home to high quality health services, particularly those offered by the private sector, and that its transformation into a health tourism hub for Asia would be a smooth one.
Bangkok Phuket Hospital, one of the foremost on the island, already provides interpreters in 15 languages, a department to deal with tourists, and a ward building especially for international patients, who number around 20,000 each year. So, if you need a check-up or an operation, Phuket is the place for you, according to the Thai government, that is. Although we know that medical care in Thailand is very good, we believe that this news plan, to make Phuket one of the world's top health resorts, is a bit too ambitious! (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Brit arrested for porn and child abuse

Posted by hasekamp on 16 January 2003 at 12:29 PM
A British national, Robert Errol Wood, (24) was arrested at Don Muang airport on Tuesday night on charges of sexual abuse of Thai children and distribution of their pornographic pictures on the Internet. The criminal was arrested around midnight as he was waiting to board a flight to Dubai. Police also seized his video camera and digital photo camera.
The man entered the country as a tourist on 17 August last year.
During his stay at an apartment in the Sukhumvit area, the man paid Thai boys to have sex with him. He also produced pornographic photos of them, which he posted on his website for purchase by his "customers".
British police wanted him arrested after some \F3f the photos he made turned up in Manchester, England.
This low criminal has produced more than 300 child porn photos during his stay in Thailand. He mainly abused poor boys, who were selling flower garlands in the street.
Police have already found six of the boys, abused by Wood. One of these boys told police that Wood paid him (just) 100-200 Baht for each photo session. Police later identified David Lee Leach (30), also a British national, as a probable second suspect in this child porn case. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Too much garbage

Posted by hasekamp on 15 January 2003 at 12:28 PM
The Bangkok Council yesterday warned the city administration that new ways to handle the garbage of Bangkok will soon be necessary. About 9.4 tons of garbage are being produced in Bangkok every day and the amount is still increasing.
The infills in Nakhon Pathom and Samut Prakan are able to handle the garbage for up to three or four more years, but then it it over, and that is it.
So the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration should start to look for new methods of garbage disposal or should build new furnaces soon. Everybody who has ever visited Bangkok knows that the city has a garbage problem. As the number of Bangkokians is still growing, the problem increases every day. We should realize that Bangkok is one of those cities with over one million inhabitants. To be more precise: The number of Bangkokians is around 10 million now. (Source The Nation)


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Tourist killed for camera

Posted by hasekamp on 14 January 2003 at 13:05 PM
A Finnish tourist was stabbed to death on Sunday night after he refused to hand over his camera to four young thieves, police said yesterday.
The tourist, Mr. Kai Muuranto (31) from Helsinki, was walking with his Thai wife to a wedding reception at about 10.30 p.m. on Sunday when a motorbike carrying the four young criminals stopped in front of him, police said.
When taking the camera bag did not succeed, he was stabbed. The criminals went off with the camera bag, which contained a camera and accessories worth about 40,000 Baht.
The victim was brought to hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. He died of injuries to his lungs and heart.
Police acted quickly and well, and was able to located the four suspects in a karaoke bar in Muang district, about one kilometer from the scene of the attack. One of them (20) was captured, but the other three managed to escape. The man tat was caught confessed to the crime and identified his accomplices.
Mr. Muuranto was a frequent visitor to Thailand and worked as a freelance journalist.
This hardly credible story teaches us that under some circumstances it is better to give one’s property than to risk one’s life. It also teaches us that Thai police can work efficiently. The criminals will not escape a harsh judgement! (Source: The Nation)


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Elephant-free zone in and around Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 14 January 2003 at 13:04 PM
Bangkok and neighboring provinces were yesterday proposed by the "Friend of the Asian Elephant Foundation" to become an elephant-free zone. Elephants have been roaming the streets for a long time now, and this has recently led to incidents and maltreatment of the elephants.
The governor of Bangkok should declare Bangkok as an elephant-free zone. Those who bring in the animals would be subject to punishment, the director of the Forestry Industry Organization explained. Police cooperation will be needed to solve the problem.
A lawyer of Friend of the Asian Elephant said that at least nine laws could be enforced to prevent elephants from roaming the streets, among them the Cleanliness Act, the Public Health Act and the Highways Act. But instead of fining the mahouts, police should ask the court to seize the animals and make them state property, the Foundation said.
Friend of Asian Elephant believes there are around 500 stray elephants nationwide, and 40 in Bangkok. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Movie watching record broken

Posted by hasekamp on 13 January 2003 at 12:26 PM
Thais often are fond of (breaking) records. You will find many entries from Thailand in the Guinness Book of Records.
A new entry will appear in the next edition: Seventy-one film watchers yesterday broke the 53-hour world record for non-stop movie-watching, and set it to 60 hours, organizers of the event said.
The idea was to watch the movies continuously without falling asleep. How this is controlled exactly is not mentioned by our source. The event may be a good opportunity to diminish your movie backlog.
The names of the movies that were shown during the record-breaking show have not been published all, but the former record was broken yesterday evening during the 31st film, "Sawasdee Bannok".
The new record of 60 hours was set during the screening of the 34th film, which was the Thai blockbuster "Nang Nak", at about 2.15 am this morning. Of the 71 marathon viewers 50 were men and 21 women.
The organizers believed that some 50 people would even manage to stay awake past the 60 hours record, which would entitle them to the 600,000 Baht in prize money offered by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). (Source: The Nation)


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Expressway officials took 2 million a day

Posted by hasekamp on 13 January 2003 at 12:26 PM
We have reported about corrupt expressway officials who put the toll money into their own pockets. We also have reported that soldiers have counted vehicles by hand to check the damage done by the corrupt officials who (as we also reported) were fired. The soldiers have counted the traffic for 41 days.
The counting of vehicles by these soldiers at four tollgates of the Bangkok-Chon Buri expressway has revealed about two million Baht was pocketed daily by corrupt highway officials.
Total revenues from the most important toll ways rose from about four million Baht per day to about six million Baht per day, a source said.
And some advances arithmetic thus showed that the total amount of toll revenue pocketed by officials was at least 350 million Baht.
The law requires that toll revenues must be re-invested in the expressway from which they were collected. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Preserve your anthems!

Posted by hasekamp on 9 January 2003 at 11:21 AM
The government plans to hand out videotapes and CD-ROMs containing the official versions of state and royal anthems in order to preserve them. The cost of these CDs has not (yet) been published.
The permanent secretary for the PM's Office said yesterday that the collection would include the royal anthem, the national anthem and other important national songs.
The project is initiated because it has been found that these anthems have been sung and performed, differing from the originals. A panel has researched the official anthems to ensure the current versions are as close as possible to the originals.
Meanwhile Grammy said it would produce modified versions of the national anthem if the public approved. (Source: The Nation)


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Save a water buffalo

Posted by hasekamp on 9 January 2003 at 11:05 AM
For several years a Royal Project is in force that aims at saving water buffaloes (kwais) from the slaughterhouse. People can adopt a buffalo by paying a certain amount of money. The animals will then be lent to farmers who cannot afford to buy one (more details below). Now a program will be started in which the saved animals will be implanted with a microchip, so that their owners can keep track of them.
The director of the animal health office said buffaloes bought with donated money would be handed to the livestock distribution program. They would be fitted with a microchip and the program would lend the buffaloes to needy farmers. The microchip will also the Livestock Department to keep track of the animals and ensure they do not change hands illegally.
The program forbids their sale or transfer. The animals are lent to help farmers. A farmer can keep the first calf. The second must be returned to the program. After five years of breeding the original animal becomes the farmer's property.
As said, the microchip scheme will also assure individuals who have donated money to buy the animals from slaughterhouses that they are being kept safely. The cost of chip implants, about 200 Baht for each animal, will be paid by the donor. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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MPs will be scanned

Posted by hasekamp on 8 January 2003 at 15:28 PM
It happens everywhere in the world: MPs who do not appear. Thailand want to do something about this absenteeism. Plans are to install in the Parliament building a fingerprint scanning system as a way to monitor attendance of the MPs.
The idea came up after it was found that many MPs skipped House meetings and gave their electronic identification card to a colleague to fool the computer system into logging them as present. This should become impossible if only a MP is registered as present after a valid fingerprint is scanned.
Although the scanning system would be slower than the card system, identification would take only about one minute. Parliament has yet to decide whether to replace the current system or combine the scanner with the ID system.
If the project gains approval, the 500 MPs and 200 senators will have three fingers scanned and the images will be stored in the central computer. When attending a meeting they will only have to use one of the three fingers to prove their identity. (Source: The Nation)


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Road accidents blamed on economy

Posted by hasekamp on 7 January 2003 at 12:57 PM
The government says the high number of road deaths during the New Year was due to the improved economy and the extra-long holiday period.
The first point is plain nonsense in our opinion. The second point might have some truth in it. But the government forgets that one of the main causes –if not the first cause- of the holiday accidents always is the (mis)use of alcohol.
To remind you: There were 11,438 road accidents nationwide between 27 December and 2 January, of which 3,399 occurred on main roads and 7,439 on smaller roads. The death toll stands at 562. A total of 32,451 people were injured.
The improving economy should have put more new vehicles on the roads (which we do not believe –if relevant at all- is a serious factor for the accidents).
Thailand has one of the highest traffic death tolls in the world, based on 1995 and 1998 statistics. Again, this has nothing to do with economy, it has to do with alcohol abuse. In 1995 and 1998 the economy was still bad in Thailand.
Useful information for the evaluation of the data is missing. There are no records, for example, of whether those killed in the accidents had been under the influence of alcohol, on which roads most accidents happened, or whether motorcyclist victims were wearing crash helmets.
Ass we reported earlier, a committee on accident prevention will be set up to produce such data. Hopefully more sensible conclusions can be drawn then. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Soon it will be Children's Day

Posted by hasekamp on 7 January 2003 at 12:56 PM
On 11 January Thailand celebrates Children’s Day, a Festival typical for Thailand. This year Bangkok will pick an anti-drugs theme for the day. This is an idea by Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej, to encourage parents, teachers and the youngsters themselves to fight against drugs.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will also hold activities under its anti-drugs project on 19 January at The Mall department store in Bangkok's Bang Kapi district. The BMA is also launching its project in all 50 districts of the city.
This year's BMA Children's Day fair will be held at Chatuchak Park, formerly known as the State Railway Authority Park.
Apart from visiting the fair, families have been invited to camp overnight at the Park where the BMA will set up a temporary campground. Those who visit the park on Children's Day will also be able to adopt stray dogs.
Children that are not higher than 140 centimeters and accompanied by a guardian will have a chance to sit in the control room of an electric trains. To make the fun complete, the Chao Phaya Express Boats Co will offer free boat rides along the Chao Phaya River to children accompanied by guardians. (Source: the Nation)


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Maltreated Elephant on the run

Posted by hasekamp on 4 January 2003 at 13:56 PM
A bull elephant went on rampage early yesterday, injuring a three-year-old female elephant, attacking a taxi and causing crowds of people to stampede. The incicdent happened on a vacant plot of land between Soi Ramkhamhaeng 7 and Soi Ramkhamhaeng 9 in Bangkok. A veterinarian said he thought the elephant's rampage was caused by hunger and the fact it was entering its rutting period.
Dozens of people, including several mahouts, reportedly ran for their lives as the elephant violently hit nearby trees and advertising boards. An anaesthetic shot calmed the elephant. He began foraging for food in garbage bins on Soi Ramkhamhaeng 9. After another shot the elephant accepted food from a rescue team.
Now the sad part of this story: The owner of this beast was found drunk yesterday. It took officials four hours to wake him. He had "forgotten" to feed the elephant. The beast had been without food from Thursday to Saturday. We can only hope that the elephant will get a better owner and that the present owner will not escape his just punishment! (Source: The Nation)


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Final road accidents figures

Posted by hasekamp on 4 January 2003 at 13:37 PM
Here are the final figures after completion of the New Year's holiday: A total of 514 people lost their lives and 29,485 were injured during the holidays in road accidents around the country. These figures can be translated to an average of four road deaths and 204 injuries per hour from Dec 27 to Jan 1 inclusive, according to a report compiled by the Interior Ministry. As usual, many of these accidents are related to drunk-driving, but it was also found that a number of those involved, particularly motorcyclists, did not possess driving licences.
The death toll represented only a slight drop from the 536 road deaths reported during the same period last year.
The deputy Interior Minister said the fatalities comprised 414 men and 100 women, while 21,977 men and 7,508 women were injured. Chiang Mai province heads the list with most acidents. This is also a usual situaton.
After the figures were published the cabinet declared 2003 a year for improving road discipline. The Transport Ministry will work together with police to ensure that people who violate traffic laws do not go unpunished.
The government has ordered research into the underlying causes of the traffic accidents during long public holidays with the aim to cut the number of casualties and dead. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday assigned Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng to chair a panel that will analyze the cause of traffic accidents, from the 2002 Songkran festival to the present. The findings should improve road safety during this year's Songkran festival in April, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Modern ID cards

Posted by hasekamp on 2 January 2003 at 14:58 PM
Thais have always been known for their innovative thinking. Many examples have been given on this page. Whenever you saw a Thai person hand over his or her ID card, you must have wondered whenever this inferior piece if stone-age technology would be replaced by something of our own time. Today we get a sparkle of hope (not more than that) that this long-awaited moment may be near.
The first set of ID cards equipped with a chip to store personal data is likely to be issued in April this year.
According to Ministry of Information and Communication Technology the smart card is expected to store information such as cardholders’ address, date of birth, blood type and other vital medical information. The cards will be only issued on request, so maybe the old ID cards will remain in function until the next century?
A fee will be imposed for the issuance of each card because of the expense on its production.
The ICT Ministry also plans to work with other government agencies in offering more online services to the public.
The further new services, expected to be introduced soon, will likely be birth and death registration, address changes and e-applications for schools.
Who knows, if the cards are a success, the government might decide to introduce then nationwide. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Problem for Thai ladies

Posted by hasekamp on 2 January 2003 at 14:57 PM
Foreign-designed bras are not really appropriate for the Thai bosom. They may be even lead to deformities in the breasts, a study conducted by the Public Health Ministry has revealed.
The study suggests that there is a need for bras to be redesigned, in order to suit the requirements of the Thai market, a spokeswoman of the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Development said.
Many villagers already have experience in making designer bras while working as sub-contractors for foreign firms. From there it is a small step to the ideal bra for Thai women. It would create new jobs too.
The ministry decided to research the needs for specially designed bras for Thai women after a six-month study on the effects of massage on the breast sizes of 40 women. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Massage at petrol stations

Posted by hasekamp on 2 January 2003 at 14:56 PM
We all know the benefits of Thai (traditional) massage. So does the Thai government, because petrol stations will soon be offering traditional massage for road-weary motorists in a novel move to cut the road accident toll.
The Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Development has approached the Bang Chak oil company with this proposal. The oil company would provide rooms at service stations where traditional massage would be available for people on long journeys, by qualified masseurs and masseuses. The idea is to try the new service first at three or four pumps and then extend it along main routes if it proves popular. And why shouldn't kit prove popular? A relaxing massage is better than drinking beverages containing caffeine! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New Year speech by HM the King

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2003 at 14:45 PM
His Majesty the King has given a short speech in which he praised the Thai people and all state and private agencies for their part in helping flood-stricken victims last year.
The New Year's speech was broadcast nationwide yesterday. His Majesty said the help and support in times of trouble was proof of Thais' moral responsibility and generosity.
The King said he was overwhelmed with joy when he saw people coming together and helping one another. His Majesty said the act of giving not only brought people closer to one another, but also strengthened society as a whole. "Giving is also a source of happiness. The givers are filled with joy and so are the recipients," he said.
His Majesty thanked the people for their best wishes and support throughout the year and said he hoped that the Thai people would continue to give as well as forgive at this time of the year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin leads New Year's countdown

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2003 at 14:44 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra led the Thai people for a grand New Year countdown at the Suphachalasai National Stadium.
The Thai leader said at the New Year countdown, attended by cabinet members, senior government officials and a large crowd of over 75,000 people wearing red, white, and blue T-shirts, that the grand New Year celebration, which was live broadcasted nationwide on TV. Channel 9, as well as MCOT Network radio, that Thailand is a safe haven with peace and order, in which people can celebrate the New Year and other auspicious events cheerfully and happily.
He called for Thai people to be united and to join forces with the government in moving the nation ahead progressively in the New Year.
He vowed to make 2003 be the year of dignity of Thailand, as the government would repay all the pending debt of US$ 4.8 billion Thailand had owed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Mr. Thaksin then led all Thais in extending New Year best wishes and blessing to Their Majesties the King and Queen, and all members of the Royal Family.
The New Year event was aimed to mark the 220th anniversary celebration of Bangkok, and the Bangkok Fashion City campaign. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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