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Britons caught for dealing drugs

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2003 at 14:19 PM
Two British men and four Thais have been arrested and charged with dealing ya bah (methamphetamines) after a series of raids on Monday. The charges carry the death penalty an unlikely but theoretically possible punishment.
The Britons, named by police as James Harry Huish, 21, and Ross Sale, 21, were held in the first of the day?s raids between 7 am and 8 am after informers accused them of dealing in drugs in Patong. Police said they confiscated 1,101 baht in cash, two blocks of marijuana and 93 ya bah pills from a building in Patong. In making the arrests, police were told of two more suspects. Later police raided a house in Jomthong Thani Village in Phuket Town, arresting Payon Thonglim, 38, and his girlfriend, Thanaporn Junkaew, 28, and seizing 435 ya bah pills, 38,101 baht in cash, bank account books showing a total balance of 337,900 baht, and other property believed to have been illegally obtained.
Because the drugs involve an amount of more than 100 grams in each case, the death penalty is possible, but in this case a jail term is more likely. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Subway trains to arrive soon

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2003 at 14:09 PM
The first subway train will arrive in Thailand next month on board of massive Russian cargo planes. A free trial of the subway service will start in April next year, with full service scheduled a month later. The governor of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) told at a press conference yesterday that the first train, comprising three carriages, will arrive by air from the Siemens plant in Austria. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will chair the reception ceremony. The second and third cars will arrive on separate flights. The remaining 18 trains will be sea-freighted by March.
Fares in the first year, after a 15% discount, will range from 12 to 34 baht. The full fares from the second year on will be from 14-36 baht. Thereafter they will rise in line with the consumer price index. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Vegetarian Festival in Phuket on its way

Posted by hasekamp on 28 September 2003 at 12:17 PM
On 25 September the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket started this year. The Festival will continue until 5 October. It will have the usual highlights, of which the processions always attract the most public attention. See an example of thie activities during the Festival on a page of this site (http://www.hasekamp.net/vegetarian.htm). Find all information for this year on http://www.phukettourism.org/festival/vegetarian/ (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Rare ducks born

Posted by hasekamp on 27 September 2003 at 12:17 PM
The birth of a duck hardly ever makes the news, but yesterday the birth of six white-winged wood ducks were born to parents released into the wild as part of a program to save these rare ducks from extinction. The young ducks were discovered near Huay Kha Khaeng wildlife conservation area in Uthai Thani Province, close to where they were originally released.
Environmentalists hailed the discovery as evidence of the success of the white-winged wood duck conservation program. Under the program 25 white-winged wood ducks living in captivity were trained in finding their own food and released into the wild on 26 August two year?s ago in a bid to ensure the conservation of the ducks in their natural environment. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Healthier village, thanks to Monk

Posted by hasekamp on 27 September 2003 at 12:10 PM
Nongdaeng village once was a place where an overuse of pesticides was common. One man died and many fell ill after inhaling the fumes. Now, thanks to a local monk, the health of villagers is improving, and pesticide use has halved. Half the farmers in the village quit using pesticides and started growing organic plants after the monk started a healthy village campaign. Many learned to grow brown rice to improve their diet. Villagers take part in group exercises every day. They also meditate before daily exercises start. All this activity began with a war waged by a monk against overuse of farm chemicals. The Monk, Phrakhru Pibulnanthawit, the abbot of Wat Nong Daeng, started the project three years ago, out of concern over excessive use of pesticides in the community. The Health Promotion Foundation now sponsors it.
The monk thought it was time to stop the use of chemical substances, but convincing villagers was not an easy task. After getting villagers together for exercise, the monk started his anti-pesticide campaign by persuading villagers to start growing organic plants. About 80 out of 173 households agreed to take part. The monk said it was difficult to convince every farmer since pesticides yield better profits. And within the past three years he booked good progress. Other communities will hopefully follow this example. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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The baht is boiling

Posted by hasekamp on 25 September 2003 at 12:44 PM
Industrial executives said the government should attempt to closely supervise the baht to curb its volatility, otherwise the export of labor-intensive products, including textile, would be adversely affected.
The President of the Association of Thai Garment Industry said that the textile export grew around 8-9% in the first seven months of this year. It was projected that the export of the product would enjoy 6-7% growth for the whole year since the global economic direction had improved, he stated. However, what should be of concern now was the continuous augmentation of the baht. The increase would reduce competitiveness of other export-oriented industries, he warned. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Annual sex survey results

Posted by hasekamp on 25 September 2003 at 12:42 PM
The annual global sex survey sponsored by condom-maker Durex showed that Thai people were the most content with their sex life in the world, with 92% of respondents answering "yes" to the question whether they are happy sexually. Thai lovers are leading a "small but beautiful" sex life, making love less often but feeling more satisfied, according to the latest sex survey.
Vietnam came second this year, with 90%, and China was third at 83%. The survey polled 150,000 sexually active and non-sexually active men and women in 32 countries around the world. In Thailand, 2,631 men and 1,224 women took part in the survey, the largest so far.
The Hungarians replaced the French as the most amorous, making love most frequently at 152 times a year, followed by the Bulgarians at 151 times. But the Hungarians miss quality, ranking as the fourth least happy with their sex life. The Russians, meanwhile, enjoy it least of all, with only 59% saying they are sexually satisfied, according to the poll.
On average, Thai lovers have sex 105 times a year or once every three to four days, down from 110 times surveyed last year, but still more frequently than Singaporeans, who were at the bottom of the chart at 96 times a year.
This year, actor Jesadaporn "Tik" Pholdee was voted the sexiest man in Thailand while actress Patcharapa "Um" Chaichua won in the sexiest woman category. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Skytrain can cross Chao Phraya River soon

Posted by hasekamp on 23 September 2003 at 10:06 AM
Creditors have agreed in principle to a partial moratorium for two years, allowing BTSC to extend its skytrain railway service on the Silom line to Taksin road.
The creditors agreed to suspend half the interest on the loan for BTSC for two years. Therefore BTSC should be able to raise 1.5 billion baht to extend the electric train service across the river to Thon Buri. BTSC earns six million baht a day from its 23 km inner city railway. Half the income is spent on daily operations and the rest on loan interest.
The structure of the 2.2 km extension from Taksin station near the Chao Phraya River to Taksin road is nearly complete. The structure was sealed over the river yesterday in a ceremony presided over by Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej. There have been plans for such a long time for skytrain extensions, that we hope this extension will be realized soon. It will increase the credibility of BTSC. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Organic fertilizer for free

Posted by hasekamp on 22 September 2003 at 13:46 PM
The Department of Land Development is preparing to distribute free organic fertilizer to two million farmer households as part of the government?s campaign to promote 2004 as Year for Food Safety and Organic Farming.
The Director-General of the Department said the fertilizer distributed would help farmers to rely less on chemicals and to improve the soil. He believed that the project would encourage farmers to move over to pure organic agriculture as successfully done by Cuba over the past decade. And in the Netherlands here is a test going on too for farmers to go "back to nature".
Describing soil as the most important factor in organic cultivation, the Department aimed to distribute the fertilizer to two million households next year, and would extend to 5 million units in the following year. This multi-purpose organic fertilizer developed by the Department could not only augment yields by 10 per cent, but also cut the use of chemicals by 30 per cent. He reassured that the use of the fertilizer would boost the value of agricultural products by 11 billion baht per annum. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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New tourist attraction

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2003 at 12:02 PM
Phanom Sapanek was one of Lampang's drugs dealer, operating a methamphetamines and bribery business. His Thai-style wooden house, worth 100 million baht (seized by the authorities), is now to be turned into a tourist attraction as part of the province?s architectural heritages.
The provincial Governor said that the province had decided to open the house, which sits on a large piece of land, in order to pay for its upkeep. He said that the house, thought to be one of the largest Thai-style house complexes in the country, would benefit students of Thai Lanna architectures and cultures, adding that the house would probably be opened up at the beginning of next month. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Rachadamnoen Avenue to be upgraded

Posted by hasekamp on 19 September 2003 at 15:28 PM
Ratchadamnoen Avenue and its environs will be transformed into the "Champs Elysees of Asia" at a cost of 13 billion baht.
The 10-year plan would develop the historic area of Bangkok as a tourist attraction on par with the famous Paris landmark, with beautiful shops, buildings and activities. Development is to be strictly regulated to preserve the distinctive culture and architecture of Rattanakosin Island, with no tall buildings allowed. Instead, there are plans to renovate existing buildings together with small construction projects to facilitate pedestrian use.
The 10-year plan will consist of two phases. The first, costing three billion baht, would involve investments by government agencies to improve public infrastructure and facilities such as construction of underground pedestrian walkways. The work would be completed before 2007, the 225th anniversary of Rattanakosin Island and the 80th birthday of His Majesty the King.
The second phase should be completed by 2012. It would involve 10 billion baht in investments, mostly by private companies. The project would be supervised by a new public organization with representatives from the Crown Property Bureau, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Town Planning Agency and Public Works Department.
About 4.5 million foreign tourists visit the area each year, with the Grand Palace as their main destination.
In our eyes this plan ?whatever the details- is far too ambitious. We do like to walk on Rachadamnoen Avenue, but it never crossed our mind that it could ever be compared to the Champs Elysees in Paris! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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SET falls after a gain of 60% in twelve months

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2003 at 12:33 PM
The Stock Exchange of Thailand saw volatile trade that passed all previous records yesterday, as investors dumped positions after the exchange warned of an imminent downfall.
The SET index yesterday closed at 558.70 points after heavy trading in the past few days. The index has hit a high of 577.48 before the fall started.
Remember that the SET has been one of the strongest markets in the region, gaining 61.6% in the past 12 months and 32.3% during the past three months. This contrary to the leading world markets that gained modestly. We have suggested buying Thai stocks not so long ago. Our readers who followed this suggestion are now rich man, but probably should reconsider their positions now. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chao Phraya River polluted

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2003 at 12:32 PM
Industry is taking a heavy toll on the lower section of the Chao Phraya River, which is falling in depth and becoming increasingly polluted with untreated factory waste, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said yesterday. Problems related to levels of the Chao Phraya during dry and monsoon seasons, as well as the dumping of untreated waste into the river, required urgent attention. Around 2 million cubic meters of water per day was required in the Central region for industry alone, he said. Only around 1.6 million cubic meters per day was available from the Chao Phraya for industrial, agricultural and household consumption combined. We believe that this level of pollution in unworthy for the "River of Kings"! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Samak thinks the homeless are like strays

Posted by hasekamp on 17 September 2003 at 16:28 PM
We have criticized Bangkok Governor Samak several times in the past for his uncommon ideas. Today it is time for another item about the governor.
Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej has said that the homeless in Bangkok are a nuisance and that they should be treated like stray dogs. Building shelters for them would only attract more people to the city, he said yesterday. If a shelter for the homeless was absolutely necessary, he would build it in one province, put all the drifters under one roof and provide them with food, and nothing else. This is the very same way the city handles stray dogs.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration plans to begin moving homeless people off downtown streets on Sept 22, according to city officials. According to Mr. Samak there is no excuse for being a vagabond. "Everybody must have a place to live. If we help them by feeding them and providing shelter more will only leave their homes, come to the city and drift around."
Mr. Samak said the city would set up reception areas at Hua Lamphong and at Sanam Chai, adjacent to Sanam Luang. Officials would be stationed at Hua Lamphong to advise people arriving in the city and help them contact their relatives. Tents would be put up at Sanam Chai where the homeless could clean themselves and their clothes. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Pirates' apparatus targeted

Posted by hasekamp on 16 September 2003 at 14:50 PM
As part of its effort to stop the pirating of music, film and computer software on CDs the government has turned its focus to the production end of the illegal trade. Tomorrow the House will deliberate a draft bill aimed at regulating the sale of machines and materials used to make the discs and counterfeit CDs. The bill will require manufacturers of such machines to make regular reports to the government on their sales.
Owners of the machines will also be required to inform the Commerce Ministry about where they keep them, the amount of plastic pellets they have for making CDs, and the location of where they stock the pellets, as well as the number of CDs they have made.
Also, if a person wants to start a business printing CDs, he or she must first seek permission from the ministry. Once approval is given, the Intellectual Property Department will issue a logo for the firm to print on all the CDs made by the factory. The factory will also be required to report every lot of CDs made and the names of the clients. Will this at last be an effective means to fight pirated CDs? We doubt it, because all the needed papers can be forged. But we strongly support the intention of the Thai government to end piracy. (Source: The Nation)


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Walkways under camera sight

Posted by hasekamp on 16 September 2003 at 14:49 PM
We recently published about the fact that many crimes happen on Bangkok walkways (crossings).
Nearly a fifth of Bangkok's pedestrian bridges therefore need closed-circuit camera systems to improve safety. They now shield criminals from view. Many of the crimes have occurred on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road
The National police chief said yesterday that there had been 27 robberies on pedestrian bridges this year. Of those, police had made arrests in only 11 cases. There are 853 pedestrian overpasses across the capital.
Thai PM Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra said he blamed teenagers' expensive tastes and former drug pushers for the rising number of crossover-crimes. He said many teens resorted to robberies to pay for their costly lifestyle. (Source: The Nation)


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Death for drugs possession

Posted by hasekamp on 13 September 2003 at 18:19 PM
A former tour guide, who took orders by phone from a jailed drug kingpin, has received a death sentence for possessing 33 kilograms of heroin and 1.8 million methamphetamine tablets.
The Criminal Court gave the man, 25, the death sentence after finding him guilty of possessing the drugs with intent to sell. The man is a Chiang Mai native, who was arrested at a department store in Bangkok's Ratchadapisek area on Nov 2 last year.
He admitted to the drug charges during police interrogation, but changed his story and plea in court, claiming police had forced him to confess. The court, however, found the police had no reason to make false charges against him. As you see, the war on drugs is far from over and sentences are still hard. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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War on drugs to be intensified

Posted by hasekamp on 11 September 2003 at 12:37 PM
The war on drugs in Thailand will be intensified in all communities to ensure Thailand is free from drugs by Dec 2, ahead of His Majesty the King's birthday on Dec 5, the Interior Minister said.
A meeting of intelligence agencies and the national centre to defeat drugs agreed yesterday that efforts would be redoubled during the two months from Oct 2, he said. A long-term plan for combating drug trafficking and for treatment of addicts was also presented at the meeting.
The anti-drug campaign during the 60-day countdown period will be intense, with careful checks on all communities, villages, schools and factories.
The first stage of the government's war on drugs ran from Feb 1 to April 30 2003, and focused on law enforcement and rehabilitation of addicts. The second stage, from May 1-Oct 2, concentrated on strategic adjustment. The final 60 days will start from Oct 2 to Dec 2. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding in the North

Posted by hasekamp on 10 September 2003 at 23:06 PM
It looks as if the annual flooding is beginning right now, and in a heavy way. Flash floods, with two days of the heaviest rainfall in 20 years, covered five districts in three northern provinces, drowning one farmer, ruining farmland and orchards and disrupting schools and traffic.
In Chiang Mai province more than 400 houses and hundreds of farms were under roof-high water. The heavy rains destroyed most of the lychee and tangerine trees, the main cash crops in the area.
In Chiang Rai province 11 villages remained under one meter of floodwater. Authorities were trying to build a dyke with sandbags and pump the water out of the town center.
In Phayao province there also was much damage. (Source: The Nation)


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Coral found, thieves gone

Posted by hasekamp on 9 September 2003 at 10:42 AM
More than 400 pieces of stolen coral were returned to the sea today after police interrupted a gang transferring it from a boat to land on Saturday night. Marine Police were given a tip-off that the gang would be landing their contraband at Rawai at 10 pm. When the officers arrived, they saw four people moving the coral to land from a long-tail boat. The gang slipped away in the dark but police seized three 100-liter plastic tubs containing the coral, along with a motorcycle and sidecar. The coral was taken to the Phuket Marine Biological Center. The staff returned the pieces to the waters of Ao Makham this morning. Police said officers would continue to hunt for the thieves. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Last wild rhesus macaques

Posted by hasekamp on 8 September 2003 at 10:43 AM
A team of researchers yesterday unveiled a study of what it believes to be the last remaining troop of rhesus macaques, a rare monkey species, living in the wild in Thailand (but for how long still?)
The Researcher, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University's Science Faculty, said yesterday that her team had spent 15 years scouring the country before locating the group in Loei in 1998. Japan's Kyoto University joined the study.
"We believe this is the last group of free rhesus macaques in Thailand," a spokesperson for the group said. Human intrusions into the monkeys' natural habitat and the resulting loss of food sources have to be blamed ?as usual- as a main cause of the rhesus macaques' decline in numbers.
The lecturer said this last troop had 142 members, led by a male pig-tailed macaque that had been released into the wild by local people. The troop includes three pig-tailed/rhesus macaque hybrids. The hybrids are fertile and could bring about genetic changes in the rhesus-macaque population, the lecturer said.
The research group is disappointed in the fact that very few Thai researchers had expressed an interest in conducting research on monkeys. The lecturer had hoped that her study would focus more academic attention on the monkeys, which she pointed out are one of the closest species to human beings. Reality appears to be different. Human greed prevails interest in our nearest relatives. (Source: The Nation)


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Soon executions by injection

Posted by hasekamp on 7 September 2003 at 20:48 PM
A lethal injection will replace the firing squad for death sentences from Oct 19, the Corrections Department announced yesterday. No date has yet been set for the first execution in that way.
At the moment 950 prisoners are facing the death sentence, with 44 of them, mostly drug offenders, awaiting execution after exhausting all court procedures. Sixteen of the 44 are appealing to His Majesty the King for royal amnesty.
All condemned prisoners are housed at Bang Khwang Prison, where the facilities for execution by lethal injection have been set up. Three convicts have been executed by shooting this year.
The House of Representatives recently passed amending legislation changing the method of execution after two years of consideration. The corrections department proposed the change after criticism that shooting was inhumane.
The Justice Minister is still worried about the feelings of the executioner. He has proposed using three executioners. Each would push a button, but they would not know who released the lethal drug. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Pedestrians: look out!

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2003 at 13:20 PM
Pedestrian overpasses, as there are so many in Bangkok, may protect people from being hit by speeding vehicles, but they also increase the chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime.
It appears that Bangkok's overpasses have become a favorite spot for criminals looking for easy victims. Assaults, muggings, purse snatchings, sexual crimes and even murders on Bangkok's overpasses have reached alarming rates. Police have labeled 99 of 654 pedestrian overpasses across Bangkok as "dark spots", places where crimes are likely to occur. This is new to us. We knew that the overpasses are favorite stops for beggars, but ?luckily- we never saw any crime-like action there so far.
Sixty video cameras have now been installed at major intersections to monitor nearby pedestrian overpasses. Police patrols have been increased and plainclothes police officers deployed at random checkpoints. Hopefully this will help! (Source: The Nation)


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Thai economy is still fragile

Posted by hasekamp on 5 September 2003 at 12:11 PM
Although Asian economies have rebounded strongly, closer regional cooperation is needed to counter threats posed by terrorism, drugs and epidemic diseases such as Sars, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday.
The country continues to be subjected to various downside risks, like the ones mentioned, Mr. Thaksin said yesterday in the opening address to the Apec finance ministers' meeting. Dealing with such threats demands close regional synergy and worldwide cooperation, Mr. Thaksin added.
Thailand's economy is growing about 6% this year, despite the negative influences. Exports have also been running well, thanks to efforts to open new markets, part of broader policies aimed at strengthening Thailand's presence in international markets.
Mr Thaksin said the improving US economy would benefit Asian exporters in the second half of the year. "I have told the United States that Asia's population accounts for more than half of the world. If these people escape from poverty, they will become a huge market for the US," he said.
This is an interesting idea, but we believe that if the standard of living in Thailand will boost the coming years, Thailand may a less interesting "low wages country", which will on its turn have a negative effect on the economy. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin wants to end all evil

Posted by hasekamp on 4 September 2003 at 18:00 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday, while in Phuket for a top-level meeting focused on eliminating Thailand?s "dark influences" and drug problems, that he would bring an end to evil in Thailand through the government?s current campaign against dark influences.
The PM literally said "I will bring an end to the evil"
He added that currently 35% of all businesses in Thailand are underground businesses. When they would become legitimate, the revenue of the Thai government will be closer to that of the private sector.
Mr. Thaksin thanked government officers who were working to reduce dark influences, especially the drug trade and criminal businesses. He said that he appreciated the success of the current campaign to free Thailand from evil, which he said has led ?so far- to arrests in more than 49,000 cases. He said the campaign should continue. All funds seized from arrested drug vendors and influential people will be used to upgrade the public sector, Mr. Thaksin said. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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900 Billion for mass transit projects

Posted by hasekamp on 4 September 2003 at 17:44 PM
The Cabinet this week has approved a plan to spend 900 billions of Baht on mass transit projects over the next 15 years, which includes a scheme for energy saving.
The energy master plan includes 900 million Baht on underground transit and elevated trains in Bangkok and improving rail network across the country. The plan also calls for a conservation programme aimed at saving 3.1 trillion Baht on fuel. Details of each project must be submitted to the Cabinet by the most concerned minister.
This cabinet dicision seems to include extension of the skytrain in Bangkok, if the message above is interpreted correctly by us. There are plans, for instance, to let the shytrain cross the Chao Phraya River. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Sukhothai stone put on UN list

Posted by hasekamp on 3 September 2003 at 19:08 PM
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has included a stone inscription from the Sukhothai period in its Memory of the World Register. It is this stone that contains an inscription of an old version of the Thai scripture by King Ramkhamhaeng the Great.
The original stone can be found in the National Museum in Bangkok, and (just) a copy can be seen in Sukhothai Historic Park.
The Education Minister said yesterday that the Unesco's International Advisory Committee reached the decision unanimously. The inscription was included for its valuable contents on the administration, trade and culture of the Sukhothai Kingdom.
The stone inscription was among 23 applications, out of 43 submitted by 27 countries, approved for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Second International Film Festival

Posted by hasekamp on 1 September 2003 at 19:50 PM
The 2004 Bangkok International Film Festival is scheduled from Jan 22 to Feb 2, 2004, following a tremendous success of the 2003 event. The governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said the event would feature about 150 distinguished local and international movies. Highlights of the event include competition in nine categories of the films and presentation of the Golden Kinnaree Awards.
The first Bangkok International Film festival attracted more than two hundred thousand attendees and helped promote Thailand as a shooting location to foreign filmmakers (if you consider that as an advantage after the way "The Beach" ruined Phi Phi).
The TAT governor said the festival was expected to draw a large number of tourists again. Thai Airways International (THAI) will launch special tour packages for tourists from Europe and Asia to participate in the film festival. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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