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The fight against the wildlife trade

Posted by hasekamp on 31 October 2003 at 14:20 PM
Anti-money laundering laws will be invoked to seize the wealth of illegal wildlife traffickers. Thailand has become one of the world's largest centres for the illegal trade in wildlife, according to the Forestry Police. The Army and the Anti-Money Laundering Office will now become active in the fight against wildlife poaching. To start with, following a tip-off, forestry police on Tuesday raided an illegal slaughterhouse specialising in wildlife meat in Nonthaburi. They found six bear carcasses, seven live tigers, a hoard of slaughtered endangered animals and a skull of Saola, a rare indigenous hoofed animal, less than 100 of which are believed to still exist. We become sick when reading this!
The slaughterhouse is suspected of being part of a region-wide trafficking gang, that includes Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore based wildlife traffickers.
Some wild animals are suspected of having been poached in Indonesia, processed in Thailand, and supplied to Asian markets, mainly in China and Vietnam. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was reported as giving his full attention to the matter, instructing to root out the wildlife trade within three months.
Based on a World Wildlife Fund report, wildlife poaching in Thailand is a "business" with a revenue of 199 million Baht last year. Among the seized animal products were 61,278 elephant tusks and 4,237 crocodile hides. On its front page The Nation publishes two orangutan babies, recently seized. as we akl know, these babies can only be gaught if one kills the parents.
Luckily the House committee on the protection of wildlife and plant varieties yesterday called for stricter law enforcement rather than amending the law to increase the penalties for poaching. Hopefully the penalty will be set high. (Source: The Nation)


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Apec over, trees gone!

Posted by hasekamp on 31 October 2003 at 14:07 PM
Bangkok has many trees, although you may not have noticed them. And now you won't notice them any more, because most are gone. City hall started to chop them right after the Apec summit was over. Help comes from an unexpected side: Prime Minister Thaksin Shinaweatra tries to help, although his help comes too late for many trees.
The PM has called on city hall and electricity authorities to stop the chopping of trees in city streets. Mr Thaksin told his cabinet he was shocked by the sight of so many bare trunks and branches on his return from a trip to England.
A government spokesman said that the Metropolitan Electricity Authority had asked city hall to cut away all tree branches which were touching power transmission lines. Mr Thaksin said the trees should not have been cut back to the point where there was almost nothing left of them. He instructed local authorites to talk about ways of keeping the city green without interfering with power lines. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Death for wildlife traders?

Posted by hasekamp on 30 October 2003 at 14:35 PM
Thailand should copy China's wildlife protection laws and sentence to death people that hunt and trade endangered animals, a senior official said yesterday. The permanent secretary at the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry criticized the 1992 Wildlife Reserve and Protection Act as too weak to prevent the hunting and trading in endangered species. As an example, he referred to the owner of the house where forestry officials and police seized carcasses and body parts of tigers and bears on Tuesday. It was the second time this man had been arrested for such a crime.
Courts can currently only impose fines of 40,000 Baht or four years in jail on those who kill or trade in endangered wildlife, as well as on those who posses animal parts for trade.
China has imposed the death penalty on those who commit crimes against giant pandas and golden monkeys, he said, which are classified as the two most important species to that country.
For Thailand, however, the elephant should be classed as the most important species - and those who hunt and trade them should face the death sentence. Environmentalists such as members of the World Conservation Society supported this proposal. Although we are enthusiastic environmentalists, we believe that the death penalty is one step too far. We would welcome higher prison sentences, however. (Source: The Nation)


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Trilingual Schools for Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 30 October 2003 at 14:34 PM
Phuket province is introducing trilingual schools, to help meet the demands of the growing number of international tourists. The province is now starting a scheme to offer education in Thai, English and Mandarin, as well as providing additional schooling in information and communications technology. Most employment on the island is tourism-related, and so the new scheme should enable people to better communicate with international visitors. While English is the dominant language for tourists anywhere, Phuket also has a substantial number of Chinese speaking visitors, and in the future it is likely that the trade with China will expand. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Loy krathong on Internet and SMS

Posted by hasekamp on 28 October 2003 at 17:00 PM
Thailand?s traditional festival of lights, loy krathong, will enter the Internet this year, thanks to plans by internet service provide Mweb to organize a temple fair on the Internet. Visitors to the site http://www.mweb.co.th/loikrathong2003/ will be able to find friends with whom to launch virtual krathong. (We were not able to reach the site today!) They can do so by sending SMS messages on their mobile phones. They can also vote on-line for their favorite beauty queen. Traditionally beauty queens are chosen on loy krathong day. Visitors of the site also have a chance to win a prize. And for each SMS message sent, Mweb will donate one Baht to a charity for disabled people. If this will be the new dimension to the loy krathong festival that we were waiting for, remains to be seen. However, we pass this news through to our visitors, in case they are intersted. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Palace threatened by flooding

Posted by hasekamp on 28 October 2003 at 16:53 PM
The army is racing to protect Phra Ram Ratchaniwet (Ban Puen) palace from floods in Phetchaburi, as the heaviest flooding in the South in 25 years continues. The palace is a major tourist attraction in Petchaburi and was built in the reign of King Rama V about 100 years ago. The army has been ordered to use sandbags and three pumps to protect the palace. The palace is vulnerable to floods because it is standing on rafts of logs, not piles. More than 1,000 soldiers in Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Ratchaburi are helping local people.
Seven special drainage channels have been dug to send floodwaters into the sea in Phetchaburi. The high tide that started yesterday, and is expected to last until the end of the week, can slow down drainage efforts.
Paddy fields and shrimp farms have also been hit. The Tourism Authority of Thailand section that supervises Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan, said 70% of hotel reservations on Cha-am, Hua Hin and Pran Buri beaches were cancelled last weekend. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Southern train routes blocked

Posted by hasekamp on 26 October 2003 at 10:14 AM
All southern train routes have been closed and tourism in Cha-am and Hua Hin has been badly affected by heavy floods in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan provices after three dams there released water on Friday night. The Meteorological Department is warning that a new depression will cause heavy rains in the upper South and lower Central region. It could cause sudden floods in risky areas of four provinces. Several districts of Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan and sections of Phet Kasem highway in Phetchaburi, Pran Buri and Hua Hin were flooded after the three dams in the two provinces were forced to release excess water on Friday night. Tourists in Cha-am and Hua Hin cancelled hotel reservations and some travellers changed their minds en route and went elsewhere. The State Railway of Thailand suspended operations of all southern-route trains after heavy floods in Hua Hin and Cha-am.
The Meteorological Department said a low pressure belt was moving from Burma into the Andaman Sea and would intensify into a depression. The new storm would cause heavy downpours in the upper South and the lower Central Region and could cause sudden floods and forest runoffs in low-lying and risky areas of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Ratchaburi and Kanchanaburi. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Direct from Sydney to Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 26 October 2003 at 10:08 AM
Thai Airways International (THAI) will launch a thrice-weekly direct service to Phuket from Sydney via Melbourne from October 27 on, it announced on Friday. The service will use Boeing 737 or 747 aircraft, and will land in Phuket on Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays at 5:55 am.
Return flights will not be direct, but will be routed via Bangkok, but the announcement will probably still be good news to our Australian readers. The number of Australian tourists dropped after the Bali bombing last year. Some Australian tourists went to beach resorts in other countries, such as Vietnam. THAI also expects to announce soon the launch of direct flights to Phuket from Osaka. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Massage Tycoon starts political party

Posted by hasekamp on 25 October 2003 at 12:08 PM
Some month ago we published several items about massage parlor tycoon Chuwit Kamolvisit, who caused a storm in the Thai police wold by saying (and partly proving) corruption in the Thai police organization. We did not follow up the endless number of news messages that followed, but here is an interstiong one: Mr. Chuwit said yesterday that he had registered himself as leader of the newly formed Ton Trakun Thai Party. The party has nine executive members. Chuwit has donated Bt5 million to the party, he told at a news conference. He said he would recruit 1 million members by next week. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai Scrabble champion

Posted by hasekamp on 25 October 2003 at 12:07 PM
Every year there Scrabble championchips. That is nothing special. However, Thais participating is a bit special alraedy, given the fact that the game uses the Western alphabet. Yeasterday Thailand stunned the world of Scrabble, when a Thai boy won the world championships in Kuala Lumpur. Burt that is not all. In his champions match he defeated ... another Thai! And on top of that the first two were part of a Thaui taem, of which all team-mates finished in the top six.
Panupol (the winner) and team-mate Pakorn Nemitrmansuk (the number two) created history. They were the first players from Thailand ever to have made it to the final. The first-place prize was worth US$17,000 (about 674,000 Baht). (Source: The Nation)


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Chulalongkorn Day

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2003 at 11:17 AM
Yeasterday was Chukalongkorn (King Rama V) Day. One of the events on that day always is that students pay their respects at the equestrian statue of King Rama V at the Royal Plaza during an official memorial service marking King Chulalongkorn Day yesterday. Dignitaries and government officials were among the thousands who joined the ceremony in honour of the monarch yeasterday. You will also see people paying respect to king Rama V at the statue near the entrance of Lumphini Park. (Source: The Nation)


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Royal audience for Putin too

Posted by hasekamp on 23 October 2003 at 12:28 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin ended his state visit to Thailand yesterday with a banquet hosted by His Majesty the King and an agreement to forge closer cultural and military links. Thailand may consider taking Russian military equipment offered by Moscow in exchange for a rice debt owed by the former Soviet Union. The two countries signed an agreement on Tuesday to waive the debt owed to Thailand for rice purchases, since it was incurred under the Soviet Union. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is eyeing Russia as a source of knowledge on high technology, notably space technology, which Thailand wants to exploit for commercial and communications purposes. Thailand has also asked Russia to send a ballet show to the Kingdom in December to celebrate HM the King's birthday, as part of a cultural cooperation agreement between the two countries. Putin became the first Russian leader to visit Thailand since Crown Prince Nicolas Czar visited King Chulalongkorn in 1891 - when the country was still called Siam. Thailand then established formal relations with Russia in 1897. So the APEC summit has ended woth Royal audiences with president Bush as well as with president Putin. And now we know for the first time that Thailand wants to go into space technoplogy. (Source: The Nation)


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Special silk shirts

Posted by hasekamp on 22 October 2003 at 11:07 AM
The APEC leaders received Thai silk shirts, specially woven for them and the occasion. The shirts made in Surin province They were full of appreciation and wore them at yesterday's official summit at the Ananta Samakom Throne Hall. The 2003 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok ended yesterday.
The final day began with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra welcoming the 20 leaders to the Ananta Samakom Throne Hall. Mr. Thaksin wore a dark red Thai silk shirt featuring gold-woven animals as found in the mythical Himapan forest. The other Apec leaders wore similar shirts in blue, green, purple and red. The shirts for leaders of Muslim countries featured Dok Puttan flowers. After arriving in alphabetical order, the Apec leaders posed for group pictures in the main hall, wearing their new Thai silk shirts, before proceeding to a hall on the second floor for the signing of the visitors' book and a briefing on the Throne Hall. The leaders remarked on the beauty of their silk shirts and the throne hall before a final meeting.
From what we have seen and read in the past weeks we may say that Thailand did its utmost to make the summit into a success. We believe that the country succeeded in this, seeing some of the many reports in the local and international news media. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bush gets private audience

Posted by hasekamp on 22 October 2003 at 11:06 AM
Their Majesties the King and Queen gave a state banquet in honor of President of the United States, Mr. George W. Bush, and Mrs. Laura Bush, in the evening of October 19th at the Chakri Throne Hall. The President and his wife are paying a state visit to Thailand from October 19th - 20th, as guests of Their Majesties the King and Queen. Mr. Bush attends the APEC meeting on 20-21 October. Mr. and Mrs. Bush arrived at the Throne Hall in a special, modernized, version of the traditional Thai tuk-tuk.
In the royal address of welcome, His Majesty underscored the close friendship between the two countries that is based on freedom, justice and equality.
Mr. Bush, in his response, expressed gratitude towards the Thai people for their hospitality. He said the United States deeply valued its alliance with the Kingdom of Thailand. Over the decades, the two countries had worked together to build the foundation of liberty in the region and will continue to strive towards the same goal in the face of different challenges.
Prior to the APEC summit, President Bush also held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel. The two leaders discussed bilateral and regional cooperation in security, a plan to establish US-Thai Free Trade Area (FTA) and the situation in Myanmar. President Bush said the FTA could be initiated in the year 2004. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Some APEC results

Posted by hasekamp on 22 October 2003 at 11:05 AM
Contrary to whet we wrote earlier, we will after all give a short background on the APEC conference here. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra gave the following account of the conference results yesterday in his radio address:
The ongoing Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leadership summit will focus on the use of the strengths of each country in the 21-member grouping to generate regional security.
Thailand had proposed a focus on the diversity of each APEC member economic areas, with this diversity employed to generate a regional partnership.
The meeting is also looking at subsidiary issues, such as the development of a knowledge-based society, the promotion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), human security, disease epidemics, terrorism, the development of human resources, and financial issues, he said.
Disputes with China and Taiwan over the "One China" policy will be avoided on the meetings.
The leaders will not only engage in formal meetings, but will also meet one another on a social basis, and will sign various agreements to concrete relationships among the 21 members.
Mr. Thaksin also spoke with pride of the fact that all 21 leaders were attending the meeting in person rather than sending representatives, noting that this indicated a large degree of confidence in Thailand?s security measures.
Speaking of his discussions with leaders over the past two days, Mr. Thaksin said that the world was becoming increasingly smaller as international leaders met on an increasingly more regular basis. This has led to greater understanding and cooperation. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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APEC / Security problem?

Posted by hasekamp on 21 October 2003 at 15:29 PM
Security arrangements surrounding US President George W. Bush's visit to Thailand to attend the APEC summit have been so extraordinarily tight that even the president was tripped up by them Monday. As 20 APEC leaders arrived in 60-second intervals at Government House to greet Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and head into their first retreat, Thai security officials were on hand to open their car doors. But when a US official specially designated to open Bush's door attempted to let him out, she found his door was firmly locked. The official could not open the door so President Bush quickly had to shuffle across to the other side of the car and let himself out. Viewers of the APEC Channel which broadcast the arrivals live on television could clearly see the security officer struggling with the door handle and peering inside the vehicle. (Source: The Nation)


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APEC / World's leaders meet the King

Posted by hasekamp on 21 October 2003 at 15:28 PM
The Apec leaders were yesterday treated to a stately Royal reception and the majestic spectacle of the Royal Barge Procession, as we already reported. Arriving amid rains that were a blessing rather than an inconvenience, the world leaders and their spouses, some dressed in national costume, gathered for an historic photo session hosted by His Majesty the King and members of the Royal Family at the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall. His Majesty the King chatted with several of his guests while his son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, actively ensured the occasion went smoothly. The leaders and their spouses arrived at the throne hall escorted by Thai attendants carrying umbrellas.
The group photo was taken using the Chakri Dynasty's crest and a nine-tier, gold-white umbrella, the symbol of the monarch, as a background.
And the climax of the evening, at 9 pm, the seldom-staged Royal Barge Procession took place. (Source: The Nation)


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APEC / Royal Barges Procession

Posted by hasekamp on 21 October 2003 at 15:27 PM
Today much of the news is again about the APEC meeting in Bangkok. We do not cover the political side. The world media do that adequately.
We therefore restrict ourselves to the side effects. The high gusts received the spectacle of a Royal Barges Procession yesterday. Less beautiful buildings along the river, in the view of the high guests, were covered. It was not the meaning of the Thai government to show the less bright side of Thailand.
However, normal citizens too were able to see the Royal Barges procession. For the occasion restaurants along the Chao Phraya River, in particular those on good locations were packed last night with customers. The Thai business instinct had made the restaurant owners to put high surcharges on the menu prices (300 to 2,500 baht a head).
The restaurants in Soi Wat Rakhang, opposite to where the Apec leaders were seated, started filling up at 3 pm with customers. All of those who viewed the barge procession at the restaurants in Soi Wat Rakhang last night had made reservations and had to pay in advance! Very uncommon for Thailand! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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APEC, APEC, APEC

Posted by hasekamp on 19 October 2003 at 12:20 PM
Today hardly any news can be found in the Thai media that is not related to the APEC summit, now being reality. We restrict ourselves in giving some short highlights:
The United States stole the show at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting yesterday, announcing a $5 anti-terror plan.
In-bound Sukhumvit road from Chidlom to the Ratchaprasong intersection and out-bound Ratchadamri road from the Ratchaprasong to the Sarasin intersections will be closed to traffic until 4pm on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has told the Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday that Thailand will take good care of China's precious gift: two giant pandas for Chiang Mai Zoo.
Criticism greeted the arrival of US President George W Bush last night after harsh words about the government's support for Washington were aired at a public forum earlier in the day.
Peruvian first lady Eliane Toledo delighted her Thai hosts yesterday with her keen interest in the safeguarding of knowledge on indigenous medicines.
And so on, and so on. Look at any Thai newspaper and you will find it filled with details like the ones above. Judge for yourself if you find them relevant. Our source for this short selection of headers was The Bangkok Post.


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Putin in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 17 October 2003 at 15:49 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife arrived in Phuket today for a two-day private holiday. Security measures were ready at the Phuket Airport when the Russian president and his wife, Madame Lyudmila, arrived. President Putin and his wife visit Phuket on 17-18 October before flying to Bangkok on 19 October for the APEC meeting. The Russian leader has planned to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at the Government House on 21 October, apart from the APEC meeting. The two leaders will talk about cooperation in trade, education and culture. The Russian President will pay a state visit to Thailand on 22 October, one day after the 11th APEC, scheduled on 20-21 October. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New Thai medical gloves

Posted by hasekamp on 16 October 2003 at 12:49 PM
A Thai invention holds the promise of opening up the global medical market to exports of allergy-free latex gloves. So far Thailand has virtually no share in the market of medical rubber gloves. With the support of the Thai Research Fund, scientists from Prince of Songkhla University have developed a safety test that can pinpoint allergens in natural rubber and human blood within 10 minutes with 100% accuracy. The research team leader said the test kit has an immediate application in the diagnosis of latex allergy.
A venture capital fund plans to market the test kit and work with manufacturers in developing hospital gloves. It is seeking a licence from the US Food and Drug Administration and needs to complete 2,000 clinical trials for the test kit. We hope the team has secured its patent rights! (Source: The Nation)


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Gay Thais: highest risk for AIDS

Posted by hasekamp on 16 October 2003 at 12:43 PM
Bad news for our gay readers: The HIV-infection rate among Thai gay men has soared more than fourfold over the past decade, making it the highest rate among gay communities in the world, according to the latest study by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of HIV-infection among Thai gay men has risen from 4 per cent 10 years ago to 17 per cent now. Globally, the average infection rate among men who have sex with other men is between 4 and 5 per cent, according to the Thai Disease Control Department (DCD). A UN official said Thailand should target more HIV/Aids-prevention programmes to gay men and intravenous drug addicts. The incidence of HIV infection among intravenous drug addicts had risen from 40 to 50 percent in Thailand. The main factor causing the rise in the infection rate among IV drug users is that the activity is illegal. (Source: The Nation)


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Giant Pandas in Chiang Mai

Posted by hasekamp on 14 October 2003 at 12:25 PM
Two giant pandas fron China are on hiliday in Chiang Mai Zoo. They arrived yesterday and the two (Kham Ai and Kham Eouy) settled in well on their first day. They come from Chengdu, China. The giant pandas, on loan from the Chinese government, were soon eating bamboo leaves, and drinking water. The Chiang Mai Zoo director said the pandas appeared slightly fidgety when they first arrived. They looked over their shoulders, from left to right, and began exploring the cage. The pandas are in fine health. Veterinarians assigned to take care of the pair, who were initially in separate cages, had managed to communicate first with the more docile Kham Eouy, who responded to her new name and a gentle patting on the head. Kham Ai appeared a little tense. The panda house is unlikely to open to the public until next month, because they should get used to their new surroundings and keepers first. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No more easy naturalization for foreign men

Posted by hasekamp on 12 October 2003 at 13:20 PM
This may be interesting for foreigners, married in Thailand to a Thai wife:
The Constitution Court has ruled the Nationality Act regarding restrictions to naturalization of foreign males who have been married to Thai females constitutional. The Constitution Court?s judgment was made at the request of the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
The Court deemed it constitutional to grant Thai nationality for foreign females who have been married to Thai males in accordance with Article 9 of the Nationality Act of 1965.
However, it should be decided on a case-by-case basis by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Security Council and other government agencies whether foreign males who have been married to Thai females in Thailand should be naturalized.
Restrictions to the naturalization of male expatriates are internationally recognized and currently effective in other countries as well. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Fireballs are no mystery after all

Posted by hasekamp on 12 October 2003 at 13:10 PM
Recently fireballs have been seen at night near the Mekong River. The mystery behind the appearance of these "Naga fireballs" on the Mekong River has been finally solved, and it is a natural occurrence, the Science Ministry said yesterday. The phenomenon is caused by flammable phosphine gas, the ministry said. The ministry launched a scientific expedition on Friday to measure and observe the annual manifestation in Nong Khai province. A thermo-scanner was set up near the riverbank and specialists were stationed at various points along the river, including at the Temple where thousands of curious spectators had seen the event.
The Naga fireballs appear annually at the end of Buddhist Lent, leading many to believe it is not the result of natural causes but something more mystical. But the equipment picked up the movement of the gas, floating off the water surface, before people could catch with their eyes the glowing orange bubbles igniting into fireballs. Fireballs have been sighted at various times throughout the year in the Mekong and nearby areas with a high concentration of phosphine, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Attempt to kill rival: 22 years in jail

Posted by hasekamp on 11 October 2003 at 11:57 AM
A university student was sentenced yesterday to 22 years? imprisonment for attempting to murder a rival in romance by planting a bomb under his car. The student (20), studying engineering, denied the charges of attempted murder and illegal possession of explosives and bullets, arguing that he was not at the scene, even though he had earlier confessed to police.
According to the accusation the student set a powerful bomb underneath a car owned by his rival in love. The bomb was triggered, injuring three people and damaging five cars. A security guard at the university testified that he saw the student acting suspiciously in the car park before the explosion. Since he was just 19 when he committed the crime and had cooperated with police, his sentence was commuted from 33 years and four months, to 22 years two months and 20 days. So he will be free when he is 42 or 43 years old... (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Protected by motorcycle taxis

Posted by hasekamp on 10 October 2003 at 12:22 PM
Almost daily there are complaints in Bangkok about assaults and robberies on pedestrian bridges in the city. Taxi motorcyclists will now be asked to help prevent possible crimes on pedestrian bridges, by relocating themselves closer to the underside of the bridges. A Metropolitan District police commander commented that taxi motorcyclists may be asked to move their standby spots from inside streets to the pedestrian bridges, so that they could watch out for suspected criminals who might possibly prey on women on the bridges. There are not enough policemen to watch over all of the pedestrians in the streets of the capital, following reports of snatching and mugging on pedestrian bridges, especially at night. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Dinosaurs found in north-east

Posted by hasekamp on 9 October 2003 at 13:37 PM
Palaeontologists working in this north-eastern province of Kalasin have discovered herbivorous sauropod fossils dating back hundreds of millions of years. The fossils were found in a stone hollow around 40 centimetres in diameter. The head of the Phu Khum Khao Dinosaur Research Centre said that the new find was probably of the leg bones of a long-necked herbivorous sauropod which lived 120-150 million years ago.
Over 750 sauropod fossils have already been found in the Phu Khum Khao area in Sahatkhan district, the most complete dinosaur fossil site in Southeast Asia. Authorities, however, expressed concern today that smugglers were already trying to steal the fossils, and called for urgent action to make sure that they were conserved for the locality. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Best food in Phuket jail

Posted by hasekamp on 8 October 2003 at 11:18 AM
The jails of Thailand are infamous for their harsh regime. There is a bit of light, however. The provincial prison in Phuket was recently awarded a "clean food, good taste" certificate by the Public Health Ministry. The chief warden said the Phuket provincial prison was the country's first to have received such a certificate.
Meals are being served three times a day at this prison, which houses more than 1,200 inmates. The food is prepared by the inmates themselves. The cooks are required to undergo medical check-ups every month. Ingredients and materials are examined to ensure they are clean and safe. A panel examines the food before it is served.
Even operators in the hotel industry are interested in this scheme! Cleanliness and hygiene are the key at every stage: preparing, cooking and eating. Hot water is prepared for the inmates so they clean their spoons and forks before use. The inmates also have personal glasses and are required to wash them properly. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Rare birds smuggled and caught

Posted by hasekamp on 6 October 2003 at 11:28 AM
Highway police found 1,500 protected birds hidden in boxes on a tour bus heading for Bangkok yesterday morning. The bus was stopped at a checkpoint in Muang district. The red-whiskered bulbuls (Pycnonotus jocosus) or parod hua chuk were contained in 21 boxes found in the luggage compartment. The bus driver said the birds belonged to the bus attendant, who was arrested. He denied he was the owner of the birds and said the birds belonged to a buyer from Bangkok who paid 100-200 baht each and then sold them for 300 to 1,500 baht each in the market. The birds are found mostly in Mae Sai and Chiang Khong districts of Chiang Rai. It is a big shame that criminals, who are only out for making money may be guilty of the disappearance of rare animals, birds in this case. What we also do not understand is that the authorities in news messages like this speak of the "owner". Nobody can be the owner of forbidden, protected animals! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Good fore mice, good for Bush!

Posted by hasekamp on 5 October 2003 at 12:36 PM
As we reported earlier, Thailand will do it very best to impress the Apec delegates in a positive way, later this month. The latest news in this category is that Thailand is going to use mice to test food for poison, before it is served to President Bush and 20 other Asia Pacific leaders at the summit in Bangkok. Samples of dishes served during the October 20-21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit will be injected into mice. The result will be available within a minute. If it's safe, the waiters will be told to start serving. It has not been made public how many mice will be used. (Source: Reuters)


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Pictures of Siam discovered

Posted by hasekamp on 5 October 2003 at 12:29 PM
Century-old pictures of Siam, that are currently kept in the Czech Republic, will be photo-copied and brought to Bangkok later this month. The Permanent Secretary for Culture disclosed that about 150 photographs of Siam, taken between the times of King Rama IV and King Rama VII, are kept at a national museum in the Czech Republic. These old photos, taken and collected by a Czech photographer, feature royal ceremonies, stage shows and the lifestyle of the people in those days. These photographs, that were unknown of in Thailand, will be copied and brought to Bangkok. The Thai government also wants to buy the originals, but so far the Czech authorities do not agree to the sale. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Afraid for missiles

Posted by hasekamp on 4 October 2003 at 12:18 PM
The Thai government is doing what it can make a good impression during the Apec meeting, later this month. One fear of the government at the moment is that terrorists will fire small, mobile, rockets at strategic targets during the summit.
Therefore almost 5,000 taxi motorcyclists operating in Don Muang area now are being briefed on helping police detect shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles and suspected terrorists during the Apec summit. The special training, arranged by Don Muang police, follows rumors that six shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles may have been smuggled into the country.
Police said that they chose taxi motorcyclists for the training as they are in a large number and operate around the clock in many city streets and alleys. Police sought cooperation from the air force's anti-aircraft regiment to put a missile on display during the training session for the trainees to view. The missile was hidden in a PVC tube contained in a golf bag, which surprised many motorcyclists, who thought the missile would be harder to conceal. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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City council supports Sanam Luang car park

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2003 at 12:41 PM
The Bangkok city council decided unanimously yesterday to revive the controversial underground car park project at Sanam Luang, as proposed by governor Samak, in the interests of tourism. We reported about Mr. Samak's plan recently. To our surprise Samak has found support.
The councilors agreed the project would facilitate travel to the many tourist attractions in and around Sanam Luang. The councilor from Sathorn district said the car park should be built as soon as possible, because tourism was a major revenue earner for the country. Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej thanked the council for backing the project.
The governor said he would resubmit the project to the Rattanakosin City Plan Committee in three months. He needed only 13 of the 21 votes (two-thirds) from the committee to go ahead with the project. If Samak gets it his way, at an estimated cost of 900 million baht, the car park would have two floors with capacity for 300 coaches and 999 cars at a time. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chiang Mai night safari project

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2003 at 12:40 PM
The Cabinet's scrutiny committee has approved a night safari project for Chiang Mai. The objective of this project is to study and create the night zoo in the northern province. The night safari will provide a new kind of travel experience and an alternative destination for both Thai and foreign tourists. The night safari will be located on a new area in Doi Suthep national park. So ?apparently- not in the present Chiang Mai Zoo. The construction, with a budget of 1,15 million baht, is planned to take place over the next 12 months. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Samak wants car park under Sanam Luang

Posted by hasekamp on 1 October 2003 at 15:20 PM
Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej ?the man that is known for his controversial plans- is coming up again with the old plan to construct an underground parking under Sanam Luang. The governor will try to get city council support for the project today. The Committee on Conservation of Rattanakosin has already rejected the project because its construction might damage the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The committee also said that a nearby area, the former location of Revenue Department, might be a more suitable site. Nevertheless Samak gives it another try. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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