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Teak logs found in lake

Posted by hasekamp on 30 November 2003 at 12:17 PM
Illegal logging -sadly- is becoming a more and more "normal" event in Thailand. Here it is again: Divers have hauled more than 300 teak logs out of the water of Chiang Saen lake yesterday. There are more than 100,000 logs sunk in the lake. They allegedly belong to Archa Land Co, run by a Samut Prakan politician. It is believed that the teak logs were dumped into the lake way back in 1998. This coincided with the disappearance of a large number of logs illegally felled in the Salween forest and seized by authorities. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Many wild animals not accounted for

Posted by hasekamp on 28 November 2003 at 12:06 PM
After Safari World last week, Si Racha Tiger Farm, was raided by forestry police yesterday. Several hundred tigers which could not be properly accounted for have been found. Police said the origins of the tigers, that are protected animals, were not clear. Police also found two orang-utans and two chimpanzees. Indonesia has banned the export of orang-utans, so the animals are definitely smuggled into Thailand. Orangutans and tigers are at the top of the list of the wildlife species, most threatened with extinction. An investigation will now also be made into the legality of the export of 100 tigers from the Si Racha farm to China four or five years ago. Tigert parts are being used in "traditional medicine" because they should be able to enhance the sex life of men. This has never been proven ansd is unlikely ever to be proven. The origins of crocodiles at the farm will also be checked. Si Racha Tiger Farm is owned by businessman Maitree Premsiripong. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Drugs burned

Posted by hasekamp on 27 November 2003 at 17:31 PM
Thailand's anti-drug authorities have burned 4,000 pounds of drugs on Wednesday as a controversial campaign against dealers neared its climax. The campaign, in which 2,245 suspected dealers were killed, was launched in February and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra declared victory in May, saying it had cut narcotics use by 90 percent. Thaksin then launched a campaign to make Thailand drug-free before the next birthday of revered King Bumibol Adulyadej on December 5. Thaksin admitted in his weekly national radio address last Saturday that this goal could not be taken literally. He said that drugs can't be eradicated completely in Thailand, but if only 10 percent of it is left from the beginning of this year, it is considered a success.
Officials say the drugs burned on Wednesday were mostly methamphetamines, but included heroin and opium, and had a street value of 2.8 billion baht (US$70 million). They were destroyed at a toxic waste plant in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. (Source: Reuters)


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Thailand wants elite visitors

Posted by hasekamp on 25 November 2003 at 13:58 PM
Thailand now wants travelers, willing to spend a million baht to become a VIP tourist. No more backpackers, at least they are not especially attracted any more. Those who sign up for a "Thailand Elite" card are being promised a lifetime of free entry to top golf clubs and discounts at luxury resorts. Members of the scheme will also be able to buy property, a privilege normally denied to foreigners since land is reserved for Thai nationals. At a ceremony in Bangkok, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra opened Thailand?s doors to the first 80 VIP tourists, a group dominated by Asian business tycoons, almost half of them from China.
Mr. Thaksin predicted that as many as 200,000 rich travelers could be targeted to Thailand by the end of 2004. A US consultant to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said that it?s for people who understand the value of Thailand. These people have worked hard for their money and feel they deserve some of these special privileges. Joe Cummings, author of the Lonely Planet guide to Thailand, said the initiative was not a big shift for the country, which has been moving steadily up the market over the past decade. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Shrimp and prawn farms to shut down

Posted by hasekamp on 25 November 2003 at 13:58 PM
We find this really good news. Shrimp and prawn farmers in the southern provinces have been gradually ceasing farming operations, following a drop in prices for their produce. Why is this good news? Because -as environmentalists have said for years- the shrimp farming business is disastrous for the environment. These people have already destroyed most of Thailand's mangrove forests and, omn top of that, behind the shrimp farming business mafia-like organizations are hiding.
A prominent farmer from Satun said if all the farms raising white shrimp and black tiger prawns in Satun ceased operations, at least 10,000 workers would have to be laid off. This may be the case, but there is plenty of work in Thailand. About 20 per cent of prawn and shrimp farmers in Songkhla seem to have closed their farms already. (Source: The Nation)


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Animal count at zoos

Posted by hasekamp on 25 November 2003 at 13:56 PM
The number of wild animals kept at private and state-run zoos will be checked nationwide, after the raid on Safari World, of which we recently published. Members of the public are also encouraged to come forward with information about suspected trading in protected wildlife. The zoos nationwide will be checked to prevent them from being used as places to hide protected species pending export to third countries.
The government was shocked to learn also from the Forestry Police that about 10 to 15 tigers were exported from Thailand daily. The sale of tigers can never be legalized, as tigers are an endangered species. The National Park Department has now been ordered to trace the route of illegal tiger sales and to check up on the import and export of wild animals by private zoos in an effort to crack down on the trade in protected species.
The owner of Safari World had promised to provide licenses yesterday, but ?as could be expected- he failed to show up. The updated list showed that Safari World had 116 orangutans, 110 tigers and 28 lions, but Saturday?s official count showed the zoo had 115 orangutans, 99 tigers and 27 lions. (Source: The Nation)


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Safari World has 77 orangutans illegally

Posted by hasekamp on 23 November 2003 at 14:08 PM
Safari World and Marine Park, a private zoo in the outskirts of Bangkok, has been raided after complaints it illegally possessed wildlife. About 200 police from the Central Investigation Bureau spent three hours searching the park, after handing a search warrant to the owner.
Police say they found 115 orangutans. Police sources say the zoo held a licence to keep 44 orangutans, 97 Bengal tigers, two cheetahs, eight black bears, two white bears, 14 rhinos, 23 hippos, 23 lions, 143 deer and six red pandas. The owner insisted he held the animals legally and would provide documents to back his claim. This was the first raid at Safari World since it opened 20 years ago. Police also found that the zoo owned electronic game machines which were banned under the gambling law.
Orangutans are among the most threatened animals in the world. It is a shame to keep 44 of them legally in a park, just for entertainment of humans, as Safari World does. But it is incredible to keep another 71 illegally.
We hope the animals will be transported to a place where they get a chance to become real apes again and where they can get a decent life. Transport costs and other expenses should be paid by safari World.
Having read this news, we feel ashamed that we visited Safari World this summer. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No citizenship for drugs villagers

Posted by hasekamp on 22 November 2003 at 11:52 AM
The governor of the northern province of Mae Hong Son has warned that members of local hilltribes would not be able to obtain Thai citizenship unless they renounced all involvement in the narcotics trade and cooperated with the police in offering information. Noting that police officers had recently seized 90,000 methamphetamines tablets from two hilltribe villages, it is concluded by officials that the village of Keut Samsib was used by Wa Daeng drug traders as a hiding place for narcotics. Kuet Samsib village was the last place in the province which the authorities were focusing on as part of the war against drugs. In the past, the provincial authorities had proposed the construction of a road linking Pangmapha district with the village, but the village headman had opposed the project on the grounds that the village would be constantly raided by narcotics suppression officers. Army helicopters are now surveying the area as part of the efforts to crack down on the local drug trade. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Marathon in prison

Posted by hasekamp on 21 November 2003 at 14:59 PM
A Briton, serving 25 years in a Thai prison for drug offences has been allowed to enter Bangkok?s annual marathon. He will have to run behind bars, however, although he is participating officially.
The man will run for 124 laps around his prison?s running track, instead of running within the city. The corrections department has permitted the convict to participate in the 2003 Bangkok Marathon, as he wishes to raise funds for charity, the Department said. The prisoner, 38, has served more than seven years of a 25 year sentence at Klongprem prison on unspecified drug convictions. (Source: The Scotsman)


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Thai cartoon to be shown in Japan and China

Posted by hasekamp on 20 November 2003 at 11:05 AM
If you have ever watched Thai TV, you must have noticed that many of the cartoons are of Chinese and Japanese origin. Now it will be the other way around.
A Chinese television company has paid 10 million baht for the rights to show the Thai cartoon "Hyper Bot" on Chinese TV, while similar negotiations are underway with a Japanese company, the director of Chaiyo Productions revealed yesterday. Both companies will show the cartoon, which has already been shown on Thailand?s Channel 7, on their networks in April 2004.
The cartoon was produced in a live action format, with people dressed up as robots, meant that it was particularly attractive to an international audience. Next year the company starts work on a second series of the cartoon. The company also wants the Thai government to support more animated films. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Oath to give up drugs trade

Posted by hasekamp on 18 November 2003 at 11:47 AM
Although drugs traders do not have good prospects in Thailand, for some offenders there still is hope: Yesterday two hundred drug inmates at the Central Women Correctional Institute took an oath to give up the drug trade in front of portraits of Their Majesties the King and Queen. The inmates then took a course, the first held inside prison, on the danger of drugs. The director-general of the Corrections Department said the training was part of the government's effort to eradicate drug problems.
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) is running the two-day workshop. 200-300 drug inmates will take the course. Another course would be held later. The Corrections Department is considering sending young petty offenders to take six-month rehabilitation and vocational training courses. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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War on poverty bad for nature?

Posted by hasekamp on 16 November 2003 at 12:35 PM
Social activists and environmentalists say Mr. Thaksin is just angling for votes with the new war on poverty. They said the policy would harm the nation's land and forests. According to activists lots of forestland will be exploited to serve Mr. Thaksin's policy, particularly the scheme on land distribution to landless farmers. The scheme aims at transforming forest and public lands into private property, while the scheme on conversion of assets into capital exploits vulnerable natural resources for economic growth. The president of the Foundation for Ecological Recovery, said the Thaksin administration had come up with several dangerous policies, including tourism development in biodiversity-rich areas, promotion of commercial forest plantations, and joint economic development with neighboring countries. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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War on poverty to start

Posted by hasekamp on 16 November 2003 at 12:34 PM
The Thai government has unveiled the pilot phase of yet another "war": The ambitious project to eliminate poverty in six years. The project will give state land to landless farmers and help target groups of poor people with problems, and starts in eight provinces next month. Governors and administrators met to debate the registration process for target groups, before the project starts nationwide on 5 Jan 2004. Eight provinces have been selected for the pilot phase: Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phitsanulok, Songkhla, Surat Thani and Udon Thani. Poor people there will be asked to register and provide information about their problems, to enable government agencies to come up with practical help.
There are seven target groups: landless farmers, the homeless, people engaged in underground businesses, labourers falling victim to overseas job scams, needy students, people facing bankruptcy, and low-income earners in need of housing.
The government also wants to help ex-drug traders and gangsters. They will be offered occupational training and access to capital to start a new life. Information about individuals will be stored on a personal identity card. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Sunflower festival in Mae Hong Son

Posted by hasekamp on 16 November 2003 at 12:33 PM
Many tourists have traveled to this northern province of Mae Hong Son to enjoy the Bua Tong (sunflower) blossom festival, annually held in November. In November, hillsides in Mae Hong Son province are filled with golden Bua Tong or wild sunflower blooms. The Bua Tong only blossoms about 30 days, so be quick if you still want to see them this year.
During the weekend, over 1,500 visitors come to see the flowers in full bloom. The number of tourists was beyond the expectation of the local authorities. Bua Tong has been tried to grow up in other provinces, but crowds still come to Mae Hong Son because they like the mountain climate, and enjoy viewing these flowers grown in the wild. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Filmmakers are active again

Posted by hasekamp on 15 November 2003 at 12:43 PM
In the past filmmakers have often had an eye on Phuket. Most of the time this has only led to damage to the environment on the island. Now a German movie company is looking for some Phuketians to fill out the cast of a romantic made-for-TV drama it wants to shoot in and around Phuket over the next few weeks. The movie, Hotel zum Traumen (Dream Hotel) will run on the German ARD channel and ORF in Austria. The drama revolves around the ownership family of a five-star resort, which is in reality the JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Thalang. Shooting will also take place over the coming few weeks in other locations around the island and Phang Nga Bay. So, if you feel you are the right person for a part, you should look as if you can afford to stay at the JW Marriott. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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No business at expense of long-necked Karens

Posted by hasekamp on 15 November 2003 at 12:42 PM
The provincial government of Phuket has banned the idea to bring long-necked Karen people to the island, following reports that a local businessman was planning to use the refugees to make money for him in the tourism industry. The long-necked refugees could only travel outside Mae Hong Son Province with permission from the provincial governor of the new province. Such permission is unlikely to be granted in Phuket. Any long-necked women found in Phuket, will be sent back to Mae Hong Son. The businessman wanted to gather various ethnic groups and put them on display in Phuket. We call such an idea a human zoo. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Yesterday was Loy Krathong Day

Posted by hasekamp on 9 November 2003 at 13:37 PM
Presided over by Princess Ubolratana, those in attendance enjoyed traditional Thai dance and other cultural performances, near the Chao Phraya River, on the occasion of Loy Krathong Day. The princess launched two krathongs. Those in attendance placed thousands of other krathongs into the river from nearby piers. Hundreds of police and marine patrol units were on duty to ensure public safety.
Elsewhere, some 30,000 people celebrated Loy Krathong at Saphan Hin on Phuket, where festivities included a parade of floats and a competition for the best traditional krathong, made with a cross-section of trunk and leaves from the banana tree.
And traditionally, many people celebrated the festival in Sukhothai, where the main focus was the ususal spectacular light-and-sound show. Those of our readers who have visited Thailand, but have never attended Loy Krathong Day during their visit, really should go back to see this most beautiful sight in Asia, when thousands of candle-lit krathongs float down the rivers and lakes. It is worth the journey! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Wildlife meat in Thailand too!

Posted by hasekamp on 9 November 2003 at 13:36 PM
We thought this was only a "tradition" in Africa, but three Thai people have been caught and charged with selling wildlife meat and possessing wildlife following raids on two restaurants and a private elephant camp in Kanchanaburi.
Police and forestry officials raided the first restaurant on Friday and found 12 kilogrammes of barking-deer meat and deer skulls. The owner of the restaurant was charged with selling wildlife meat.
In the second raid, a police team found 8 kilogrammes of Sumatran serow (goat-antelope) meat. The owner of the shop was arrested.
Will the time really come that the meat of gibbons and macaques will be served in reataurants in Thailand? We hardly dare to thunk about it. Luckily the police are actively searching for illegal; wildlife in Thailand. we hope these raids will terminate the trade.
On the same day, another police team raided an elephant camp in Kanchanaburi and found four pythons, two heads of gaur, one wild bird and two squirrels. Here too the owner was charged with illegal possession of wild animals. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Donation by the King

Posted by hasekamp on 9 November 2003 at 13:34 PM
His Majesty the King has donated 85,000 baht to Jor Sor 100 radio's fund for providing treatment for injured animals, to mark the fifth birthday of his favourite dog Khun Thongdaeng. The King also gave a birthday cake to the canines he raises at Klaikangwol Palace in Hua Hin. Jor Sor 100, a radio station for traffic news, set up the fund in November 2000 to help veterinarians treat injured and sick animals. We reproduce this news item without further comment. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Newly protected animals

Posted by hasekamp on 8 November 2003 at 11:11 AM
The National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department has announced that the department has added 156 catagories of protected wildlife, including 16 species of mammals, 126 categories of birds, 10 kinds of fish, 3 kinds of reptiles, and 1 invertebrate such as butterfly. Possessors of these newly announced endangered and protected forms of wildlife and their carcasses must inform the associated departments of their possessions between September 30th and December 29th. After the 90 day-period, the possessors of wildlife without a permit will be considered illegal, and the penalty for not disclosing such information could be 4 years imprisonment or a 40,000 baht fine.
It looks as if the Thai government is going to take wildlife protection serious at last. Recently the government also announcesd that it will check Chatuchak weekend market for illegal wildlife every week. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Bangkok gets new website

Posted by hasekamp on 6 November 2003 at 19:06 PM
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) today launched a trilingual website to offer travel information to tourists. The director of the BMA?s tourism division, said that the website, bangkoktourist, would offer data in English, Thai and Chinese, with information on tourism destinations, accommodation, travel within Bangkok, exchange rates, contacts for foreign embassies, airport tax, airlines, contacts for important places, and other essential tourism information. We have visited the site and can recommend it to our visitors. The design is good and the information can be easily found. (Source: Thai news Agency)


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Patents for Thai Hom Mali rice

Posted by hasekamp on 6 November 2003 at 19:02 PM
Thailand is stepping up its efforts to register patents for Thai jasmine, or Hom Mali, rice, a senior official said. He said that Thailand had submitted applications for the registration of Thai Hom Mali rice patents in the 36 countries, and the patents had already been approved in six countries.
He also said that the Commerce Ministry was planning to put the words "Thai Hom Mali Rice" on every bag of exported Thai jasmine rice to promote our flagship rice in the world market.
Exporters had so far used various wordings, such as Thai Hom Mali Rice, Thai Jasmine Rice, or Thai Fragrance Rice, but once Commerce Minister approves the plan, the wording would be unified to be "Thai Hom Mali Rice".
Major markets of Thai rice exports include Indonesia, the Philippines, Nigeria, the United States, Senegal, Benin, South Africa, Iran, and Ivory Coast. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Netherlands furious

Posted by hasekamp on 6 November 2003 at 19:01 PM
In the Netherlands politicians, the press, lawyers and the general public are furious with Thailand because of the life sentence for Machiel Kuijt (see a former posting). The reasons are various. His lawyers say that the date of the (new) verdict is 1 July 2003, whereas it was not communicated with Kuijt before the beginning of October 2003. Furthermore his lawyers say there are no new facts, compared to the first trial, so that the verdict should not have been changed and the prisoner should now be freed, after six years in a Thai prison.
Meanwhile the Thai ambassador in the Netherlands has given an interview for a Dutch TV station, where he stated that the investigation has been very thorough. Thai officials have observed Kuijt and his (former) Thai wife for a long time, according to the ambassador. The (former) wife is now in prison for the next 33 years for drugs trading.
Whatever of all these statements, it is a well-known fact that Thailand punishes the drugs trade very hard. If one wants to prove that one's wife deals drugs without one's knowledge, we believe that one needs very strong proof for this statement. Apparently this strong proof has not yet been produced.
Politicians in the Netherlands keep themselves a bit quieter, but act pressure on the Dutch government to postpone the coming state visit of the Dutch Queen to Thailand, because of this matter.
We cannot judge all the details about the case. Any reactions, without citations of the verdict and evidence would be welcome to us to form our opinion. (Sources: Various Dutch news media)


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Dutchman gets life in prison

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2003 at 18:03 PM
A Dutch national, Machiel Kuijt, has been sentenced to life in prison by a Thai court for drugs trading. In March last year he was set free by a lower court, but the prosecutor went into appeal. He has been in preliminary arrest for five years already.
His lawyers as well as the Dutch embassy were informed about the sentence only today, days after the sentence.
The Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, called the Thai ambassador to his office immediately. We fear, however, that this will not help to reduce the sentence. The drugs trade is severely punished, especially after the Thai government started its "war on drugs". (Source: Dutch Natiional News Agency)


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Illegal wild trade at Chatuchak

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2003 at 18:02 PM
A team of 300 police and forestry officials descended on Chatuchak Weekend Market yesterday, seizing more than 1,000 creatures, including endangered species, as a the recently announced crackdown on illegal wildlife trade was launched. A spokesman said the government aims at wiping out the illegal trade by the end of this year. We will be happy if they reach that aim!
Yesterday's raid coincided with the end of an amnesty period for owners of legal wildlife to register their pets. Suspects found guilty of trading in endangered species now face a fine of 40,000 baht, and/or a four-month jail term. The official said there were countless stalls at Chatuchak trading in creatures ranging from turtles and snakes, to monkeys and hornbills. Small birds, such as kingfishers, fetched at least 1,000 baht.
Raids will now be conducted weekly at Chatuchak, with other markets in the capital to be targeted in the near future. The World Wildlife Fund has estimated the illegal trade in Thailand to be worth a total of around 200 million baht per year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai stocks jump to all-time high

Posted by hasekamp on 3 November 2003 at 18:01 PM
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index today jumped 20.52 points, closing at a highest recorded level of 659.96 points, boosted by bullish trading of shares in transport, construction, and banking sectors. Particularly the shares of Thai Airways International Plc (THAI), commercial banks, construction firms, and finance and securities companies, led to the 20.51-point jump in one day of the SET index. This means an increase of 3.21% from last Friday.
Annalists believe the SET could reach 690 points this month, stimulated by positive prospect of the Thai economy. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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