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Turtle populations critically low

Posted by hasekamp on 31 March 2003 at 14:14 PM
The Fisheries Department has proposed a ban on trawler fishing near beaches where turtles lay their eggs, after research showing that the turtle populations of Pang-Nga and Phuket are at critically low levels. The situation is extremely worrying, with very few turtles laying eggs. On beaches in Phuket there are only three turtle nests this year and only two on Thai Muang beach in Pang-Nga. Only on the Similan islands turtles are laying eggs in large numbers, with 20 nests discovered so far this year.
Turtle breeds will be dying out, with only four different breeds laying eggs on Thai Muang and Mai Khao beaches. The Loghead turtle in particular is nearing extinction, with only one such turtle left in the whole of Thailand. The Fisheries Department is keeping a close watch on the rare turtle, which lives in Rayong province, in the hope that it can use it for breeding purposes.
The main cause of the problem is trawler fishing. If turtles are being caught in fishing nets, the fishermen kill them and sell their meat. Furthermore tourism development is a cause of destroying turtle nesting grounds.
So, what will Thailand do? Probably nothing. Tourism is considered as the most important source of income and we do not believe that the Thai government is willing to do anything that may affect this source of income. Fishery too, has much to do with the tourism industry. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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The "Asia"?

Posted by hasekamp on 30 March 2003 at 17:54 PM
The Governor of the Bank of Thailand has proposed the use of a common currency among nine Asian countries so as to lessen their dependency on the US dollar and to promote free trade in the region. He is probably inspired by the Euro. He thinks that South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand could benefit from a common currency. The growth of trade among the nine countries could be witnessed by the expansion of export and import volumes each year in the past. In the near future, consumption capacity in the region, especially in China, is likely to increase dramatically, thus pushing up the volume of trade among countries in the region, he said. These ideas ar no more than ideas at this moment, but will they lead to the "Asia" in -say- a decade's time? Frankly we doubt this, but who knows. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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War on drugs in its last days

Posted by hasekamp on 29 March 2003 at 11:38 AM
Now that the intensified war on drugs is in its last days, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday led more than 10,000 people in taking an oath against drug use. The ceremony was attended by Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Sikh spiritual leaders, as well as military personnel, students and the public from central provinces.
More than 2,300 Buddhist monks formed the largest religious group at yesterday's oath-taking ceremony which was also attended by Deputy Interior Minister Pramual Rujanaseri.
It is alwys doubtful what an oath like this,by a drugs addict is worth, but the idea is appealing.
The war on drugs will be followed by a war on piracy, starting 1 April (no joke). (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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E-Government does not work properly

Posted by hasekamp on 27 March 2003 at 12:23 PM
All government departments must establish permanent websites by the end of this year to facilitate e-government initiatives and the formation of a central database for information exchange. This is what Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said at a workshop organized by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
He told the participants representing all ministries to make sure their system could be linked together so that, in the next six years, Thailand would keep pace with global changes. By that time Thai government units must possess a modern and efficient IT system that could provide any service precisely and speedily. The Prime Minister reiterated on the occasion to all ministers to give priority to the creation of the websites by giving close supervision and support.
Recent preliminary study showed that most departmental websites fail to update their information. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Iraqi Embassy closed

Posted by hasekamp on 27 March 2003 at 12:22 PM
The Iraqi Embassy in Bangkok has been closed a few days ago. The Thai government says that this closure is only temporary and is made at the order of the Iraqi government, according to the Foreign Minister. The Minister insisted that the closure had nothing to do with the Thai Government, and that he had no knowledge on whether the decision was related to the US-Iraq war. He indicated however that the embassy had recently sent a letter informing the Ministry that it would re-open for normal service. He noted the embassy has the rights to suspend operation anytime. Meanwhile security has been stepped up for the Iraqi embassy. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thai economy to grow 8%, says Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 26 March 2003 at 9:30 AM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra expects the economy to grow with 8% next year, which is nearly double the forecast by (real?) experts. In a cabinet meeting yesterday, Mr Thaksin told ministers that 8% growth was achievable on the back of continued expansion of the local economy, further export growth and new measures from the state.
In the first place the end of the US-Iraq war will help to boost growth throughout the region, according to Mr. Thaksin, with Thailand benefiting extra from strong trade, investment and tourism ties with China and India. A free-trade agreement with China has already been established, with Thai fruits and vegetables already benefiting from tariff cuts.
Although experts believe in a growth of the Thai economy of around 5% for this year, 8% for next year seems only to be believed is by Mr. Thaksin. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Prayers for peace

Posted by hasekamp on 25 March 2003 at 11:43 AM
Our readers might wonder what peace movements in Thailand –if any- are doing in protest of the war in Iraq. Here is the latest: Buddhists, Christians and Muslims converged in front of the US Embassy in Bangkok for an all-night vigil last night, concentrating their minds on world peace. The candlelight vigil started at 8.00 p.m. on Monday evening and was concluded at 8.00 a.m. Tuesday. Participants meditated and offered prayers in accordance with their own faiths. Thai Buddhists recited a passage known as Phae Metta, radiation of loving – kindness, aiming at all involved in the current war, hoping that they attain wisdom and stop the war for the sake of humanity.
Meanwhile also a large peace rally is scheduled at a Stadium in Songkla Province in the South on March 26, open to all faithful from all over the region, calling for peace and an immediate halt to atack on Iraq. (Source: Public relations Department)


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More than 1000 Thais in war zone

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2003 at 12:35 PM
A total of 1,003 Thai workers have elected to remain in Kuwait after the United States and its allies launched an attack on Iraq, according to the Labor Ministry.
A number of Thai workers still in Iraq are working in high-paying jobs at oil refineries, oil drilling platforms, pipeline companies, and oil-related equipment firms. They did not want to abandon their employers during the fighting at the risk of losing their jobs. Many of the Thai workers have contacted the Thai embassy to stay abreast of developments.
If the situation should deteriorate, three C-130 aircraft will be sent to fly them to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates as long as air corridors remained open to commercial flights.
From Abu Dhabi, the evacuated workers can fly to Thailand on Thai Airway flights.
In Israel, where about 26,000 Thais are employed, 600 had been evacuated to a safe haven organized by the Labor Ministry. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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US want action against pirated goods

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2003 at 12:32 PM
Not only has Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced a war on pirated goods, to start on 1 April, also representatives of the US embassy and business groups will meet shopping mall operators today to discuss the problem of piracy. Apparently the US still have time at the moment to discuss these matters.
Thailand's Intellectual Property Rights Protection Department will host the meeting in the hope of finding a solution. The US embassy and foreign and local entertainment business groups have been unhappy with the sale of pirated CDs, VCDs and DVDs at some malls despite repeated police crackdowns. The mall operators are unhappy with threats by some US officials to blacklist and impose sanctions on them for allegedly ignoring the piracy.
Malls and places singled out for selling pirated goods are Pantip Plaza, the IT Mall, Fortune Town, Tawana Plaza, Mahboonkrong, Seacon Square, Zeer Rangsit, Future Park Rangsit and Bang Kae, Patpong, Sukhumvit Soi 3-15, Klong Thom and Saphan Lek.
Some owners are unhappy with reports of embassy staff urging boycotts of their malls. The shopping operators complained they were being unfairly targeted. Illegal products remained widespread at their malls because officials had failed to crack down on shops selling them. We find this hardly an excuse and we await future measures to be taken against piracy in Thailand with interest. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Americans not welcome

Posted by hasekamp on 21 March 2003 at 13:12 PM
The Pavilion Resort on Koh Samui is refusing Americans on the grounds that most of them support U.S. President Bush and the war he has waged, the owner of the resort said. The bloody war on the Iraqi people will bring no good to the world, but will instead create more terrorism, is his point of view. He said he feared the war would spark more terrorist attacks on resorts, such as the one on the Indonesian island of Bali.
The protest is meant to send a signal to the Americans that Bush is violating the rules of the United Nations
Most of the Pavilion's guests are German or Swiss, with Americans representing only about 3 percent. Wirat added that he would offer Americans arriving at his 64-room resort free transportation to neighboring establishments. (Source: Associated Press)


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The position of Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 21 March 2003 at 12:58 PM
The Thai government has announced a cautious stand on the US military assault on Iraq and has urged the opposition not to politicize the issue. Thailand's position is to support the United Nations resolution on Iraq, a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry yesterday. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Thailand had long supported UN attempts to settle the Iraq issue through peaceful means.
However, Thailand would closely cooperate with the United States on security matters and in combating terrorism. "But the US has made a decision to attack Iraq. Thailand, as an ally, cannot afford to join the war because we are against it. The only thing we can do is to take part in restoration work after the war," Mr. Thaksin said.
It was correct that Thailand had expelled three Iraqi diplomats and eight tourists, he said.
Mr. Thaksin said he believed the government's position was in the best interests of the country.
The Foreign Minister said that Thailand was not taking a neutral stand. Thailand does not side with those who stock up on weapons of mass destruction or with terrorists or those who support terrorist movements. And the country will cooperate with the US on security matters and in anti-terrorism activities, as well as joining hands in the later reconstruction of Iraq, the Minister said.
All this does not really make Thailand's position very clear. But this is the case with the position of many other countries too. Most of them have nevertheless been placed on the list of allies by the US government. (Source: The Nation)


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Alternative flight routes

Posted by hasekamp on 20 March 2003 at 11:45 AM
Thai Airways International (THAI) has announced five alternative flight paths to Europe now that war has
broken out in Iraq. A suspension of flights to and from Kuwait and Bahrain will also be implemented.
Four of the contingency routes to Europe will fly to the north of the war zone, across Iran and the Black Sea, or still further north, across China and Russia, while the fifth will fly to the south of Iraq, across the Persian Gulf.
As of today all flights to Kuwait and Bahrain have been temporarily suspended.
In addition, safe zones are being established at Abu Dhabi and Dubai where Thai citizens residing in the Middle East may assemble for evacuation.
For details of other rescheduled flights to the Middle East, see http://203.155.121.81/fpi-press-en.htm
We bring this information without further comment. (Main source: Thai Airways International)


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Thailand declared free of SARS

Posted by hasekamp on 19 March 2003 at 13:09 PM
Thailand has been removed from the World Health Organisation (WHO) list of countries at risk from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The clean bill followed an inspection of preventive measures at Don Muang airport on Monday by WHO officials. Thailand was earlier included along with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Canada in the list of countries where risk of infection was high.
The Public Health Minister said extra that measures to counter the possible spread of SARS to Thailand included:
- Airline passengers from countries with SARS cases are being asked to fill out special health forms before arrival;
- Before boarding planes, passengers with respiratory illnesses must show medical certificates confirming they do not have SARS;
- A communicable disease control unit is being posted at the checkpoint in Songkhla to prevent the spread of the virus overland from Singapore.
- Thais and foreigners who have been in China, Hong Kong or Vietnam, especially Hanoi, in the past two weeks are being urged to see a doctor if they had a fever, cough, sore throat or breathing difficulties.
Thai Airways International said it would provide masks to all passengers and crew travelling from places the WHO had declared to be affected. Passengers would be encouraged, though not compelled, to wear them.
Passengers will be watched at check-in counters and boarding gates. Those with flu-like symptoms will not be allowed to board without a doctor's letter stating they were fit to travel. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand about the Iraq crisis

Posted by hasekamp on 18 March 2003 at 16:43 PM
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said today that Thailand believes that the Iraq crisis could be still resolved through diplomacy, despite US President Bush's 48-hour ultimatum for Saddam Hussein to leave Baghdad or face war.
The spokesman said that in the next 48 hours everyone will cooperate in diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation. Thailand expects that the UN will play a key role in solving the situation (peacefully).
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that the Thai government was in talks with other ASEAN countries for a joint response to Bush's speech. However, he admitted that achieving consensus would be difficult, given that there are Muslim-majority nations in the 10-member regional grouping. The Thai premier also said he had not received any direct request from the United States for help in military action.
Thailand has always maintained a neutral stance throughout the diplomatic bargaining over Iraq, repeatedly insisting that as a member of the United Nations it would stand behind any UN Security Council decision. (Source: the Nation)


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Cambodia pays

Posted by hasekamp on 17 March 2003 at 18:36 PM
Cambodia has confirmed that it will transfer 250 million Baht in compensation to the damage made to the Thai Embassy during the anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the Cambodian response would improve bilateral relations that were below the freezing point since the riots on January 29, 2003.
As we reported, the riots were caused by a Thai TV soap star, who allegedly said that Ankor Wat (the pride of Cambodia) really belonged to Thailand.
The Foreign Minister said at a press conference in Bangkok that the Cambodian compensation was to be transmitted to the Thai Government’s account on March 17, 2003. The amount was the same as proposed by the Thai government.
As for the compensation to the Thai private businesses affected by the riots, the Foreign Minister said the matter was still under negotiation. Talks had made good progress, so there was good hope that the result will be satisfactory to both sides, according to the Minister. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Government to Don Muang?

Posted by hasekamp on 14 March 2003 at 15:33 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra wants to Parliament, Government House and other offices (to be specified later) to Don Muang airport. Mr. Thaksin recently ventilated the idea of moving Parliament to the Don Muang airport site after Bangkok's new airport opens in 2005.
His proposal has not met much enthusiasm so far. The National Economic and Social Development Board said the airport terminals were too narrow and long and should be kept for future use for aviation.
Don Muang airport's two passenger terminals could be renovated at reasonable cost to accommodate the new Parliament House, Government House and necessary government offices. Otherwise the airport would have no future, according to Mr. Thaksin. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bounty on Thaksin's head

Posted by hasekamp on 13 March 2003 at 12:49 PM
Thai and ethnic Wa drug producers and traders have set a bounty on Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's head, national police chief Sant Sarutanond has confirmed. Military intelligence sources, however, were sceptical of the threat. Mr. Sant said that this is the last struggle of the drug networks. They have lost tremendously in the war on drugs.
Police intelligence sources verified that drug barons outside the country have taken up a collection and offered it as a reward for anyone who took Mr Thaksin's life. Police did not reveal the amount, but there were news reports that the bounty was 80 million Baht.
Mr. Thaksin himself said he was not afraid. His campaign against drugs had cost many traffickers dearly so revenge was a natural reaction. Mr Thaksin said the police intelligence told him that drug rings outside the country wanted him dead, but could not confirm the involvement of local drug traders. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Police uniforms too "sexy"

Posted by hasekamp on 12 March 2003 at 15:05 PM
Thai police are complaining of sexual harassment from women and gay men. Websites show pictures of handsome police in their tight uniforms, and feature advice on how to win their hearts. Furthermore policemen taking emergency telephone calls are filing complaints with their bosses about calls from women and gay men that are averaging 400 a month.
"If we talk to them for too long they ask us out, and the gay men always talk lewdly. We cut the line and call them back later to warn them not to disturb police on duty," a spokesman from the emergency center says.
The Metropolitan Police Bureau Commissioner said he had been informed about the problem, but said it was simply something that police had to deal with in the course of carrying out their duties. We wonder how this strange problem, that may be unique in the world, can be solved! (Source: The Nation)


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Armoured motorcycle

Posted by hasekamp on 11 March 2003 at 15:00 PM
Thailand gets another world first: The world's first armoured motorcycle, produced by a Thai company, will be put to the test on Friday. The managing director of the company, which also created the Bangrachan bullet-proof vest, said this latest innovation is effective in hot-pursuit situations.
A bullet-proof shield is installed on the front of the motorcycle, including a bullet-proof window for the driver, with additional shielding on the sides to protect the driver's legs. Another benefit is that a passenger can use the protective cover of the forward shielding to provide return fire.
"This is the first armoured motorcycle in the world. Foreign countries only have armoured cars," a spokesman said. Who will use this innovation? In the first place the police. Police pursuing criminals in the three southernmost provinces are often killed or injured by criminals now. That should end if they use the new motorcycle. The development of the armoured motorcycle was sponsored by the Thailand Research Fund and the Defence Research and Development Office. (Source: The Nation)


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King returns home

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2003 at 15:00 PM
His Majesty the King has returned to Chitralada Villa on Saturday, after the royal medical team at Siriraj Hospital found his condition improving satisfactorily after the hernia operation conducted on March 4.
The Bureau of the Royal Household said that the royal medical team agreed that His Majesty could be discharged from the hospital and take further convalescence at the Palace.
The team however deemed it appropriate to advise His Majesty against performing royal functions for a period of time.
The statement also said that His Majesty the King had learnt with appreciation the concerns shown by members of the Royal Family, foreign diplomats, government officials and people from all walks of life who signed the royal visitors’ book while he was in hospital. His Majesty extended thanks to all those well wishers through the statement. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Saddam buys gems in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2003 at 14:55 PM
According to the (London) Sunday Times, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein recently sent a personal jeweler to Thailand on a secret mission to buy millions of dollars worth of diamonds. This has given rise speculations that he is preparing to flee the Iraq, or that at least send his family will flee.
Rumors say the Iraqi jeweler bought millions of dollars worth gems in Bangkok in a pre-arranged deal. It was the jeweler’s second visit to Bangkok, the London paper reported.
Saddam is one of the world's richest men. Before the 1991 Gulf War, his wealth was estimated at $10 billion. Now it still is estimated at $2 billion. In an interview with CBS TV last month, Saddam said that he would die in Iraq. On this site we regularly warn our visitors that one should be a specialist before it is advisable to buy gems in Thailand. Is Saddam’s jeweler such a specialist? Otherwise there will be a Thai citizen now who has suddenly become a very wealthy man or woman. (Source: The Nation)


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Ceremony for His Majesty the King

Posted by hasekamp on 8 March 2003 at 12:03 PM
As we reported, His Majesty the King was admitted to Siriraj Hospital for surgery this week. Not much has been published about his condition since. Nevertheless we expect that everything is well, otherwise there cerrtainly would have rteports. Well wishers have gathered near the hospital and yesterday five hundred Buddhist monks, led by the Supreme Patriarch, gathered for a blessing chant in honour of His Majesty the King at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace. (Main source: The Nation)


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Drugs rehabilitation program

Posted by hasekamp on 5 March 2003 at 12:25 PM
Parallel to the current war on drugs the Ministry of Justice starts to enforce its drug rehabilitation program in Bangkok and 36 other provinces.
Under the rehabilitation system the Ministry gives two choices to drug patients: joining the programme voluntarily or being forced to enter the programme by the police. The duration for treatment and rehabilitation will last no more than three years.
The Government, meanwhile, denies criticism on its anti-drug policy, saying the police is working hard to track down killers in all cases.
The government also explained that major drug dealers (the big fish) have not yet been arrested because they are not yet implicated by those arrested.
Meanwhile, the criteria for evaluation the war on drugs will be adjusted. The percentage of drug use reduction will now serve as the index of success, rather than the percentage of arrests of people on the blacklist. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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King in hospital for surgery

Posted by hasekamp on 5 March 2003 at 12:15 PM
His Majesty the King was admitted to Siriraj hospital yesterday for hernia surgery, the Royal Household Bureau announced. The operation was advised by a team of royal physicians, after it was discoveredthat the King's right inguinal hernia had progressed.
The King had experienced pain after spending four hours observing a reforestation project in Pran Buri district of Prachuap Khiri Khan on 16 November last year.
However, surgery had to be postponed because of royal engagements in January and February, including a recent state visit by the king and queen of Sweden. His Majesty earlier underwent a left inguinal hernia repair at the same hospital last year. We place this news item without comments. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New rules for motorcycle taxis

Posted by hasekamp on 4 March 2003 at 12:00 PM
New regulations, in order to to improve the safety and services, for motorcycle taxis will be introduced by the Land Transport Department in May this year. Motorcycle taxis will have to be equipped with passenger hand-holds, there will be a standard rate of fares, and drivers will have to apply for public-transport licences. Insurance fees will also be higher because taxi motorcyclists cause more accidents than private motorcycles.
For your information: There are about 15 million motorcycles nationwide and the department does not know how many are taxis.
We find it a good idea to get clear rules for motorcycle taxis. Especially safety (motor helmets, hand holds) is at the moment not always as it shold be. The new regulations will improve safety, we hope. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Drug arrests continue. Protests rise

Posted by hasekamp on 3 March 2003 at 15:22 PM
The Thaksin war on drugs remains the main issue in the news in Thailand. Police have now arrested 29,501 suspects on drug-related charges in the past month of the government's war on drug. The death toll of the campaign now is 1,035, with four policemen killed and nine others injured, a police spokesman said yesterday.
The Interior Ministry now tries to increase its provincial arrest target to 45 or 50 per cent of blacklisted suspects for the rest of the campaign.
A police spokesman said police had made 28,702 raids and 29,501 arrests. He said investigators were now trying to use information provided by those arrested to track down and arresthe bigger fish.
The arrests included 184 methamphetamine-manufacturers, 745 major distributors and 7,558 retailers. He said most of the suspects - 6,628 - had been arrested by the Metropolitan Police, adding that the Provincial Police Bureau 2 had come second with 3,176 suspects and the Provincial Police Bureau 7 third with 3,055.
While this war on drugs by the Thaksin government continues, foreign criticism grows stronger and louder.
Also in Thailand protests against the campaign grow stronger. Mr. Chuan Leekpai, the opposition leader in Parliament, has publicly uttered his concerns about the internal and external criticism. Meanwhile the killings go on and villagers in the North do not sleep well any longer. A government patrol may enter any village unexpectedly. (Source: The Nation)


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Wireless Internet

Posted by hasekamp on 2 March 2003 at 11:20 AM
Thailand may walk in front once more. In some countries local tests are being made with WIFI, but Thailand goes countywide: Internet service provider Loxinfo plans to transform Thailand into a wireless society through the nationwide launch of its wireless Net-access service, known as Hot Spot. A spokesman said the company would implement Hot Spot in 100 popular locations across the country, including all branches of the Central shopping mall. And when will this world-first be ready? In just three months, the spokesman said! Take your laptop with you and access the Internet everywhere in the country!
The its first Hot Spot service has started in Gaysorn Plaza, one a luxurious shopping mall in Bangkok, near the World Trade Center. Go there by skytrain.
By using the signal of Thaicom 2 satellite, Hot Spot can offer a fast Net access speed of 256 kilobits per second. The main target users are businessmen and tourists. After the Hot Spot is implemented countrywide, it is expected to notch up 1,000 users in the initial phase.
Loxinfo uses equipment from Cisco Systems to offer the Hot Spot service. The service requires an investment of 20 million Baht. So far Loxinfo has given no pricing picture. Keep an eye on the Loxinfo site (http://www.loxinfo.co.th) (Source: The Nation)


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