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Thaksin warns stock investors

Posted by hasekamp on 31 December 2003 at 13:32 PM
We have written during the past few months about the great performance of the Thai Stock Exchange. However, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has warned investors to invest in the stock market with caution, saying that they must be ready to take risks of market volatility at the end of the year. Commenting on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)'s index rally to 741 points on Monday, the highest in seven years, he said that the market might fluctuate to a certain extend at the year-end with rumors to be released for speculative purposes. Officials are to closely monitor the stock trading, and to take an action against anyone found trying to manipulate stock prices, he also disclosed. He said he had always warned the investors not to take risks by themselves if they wanted to trade on speculation. Investing in stocks with sound fundamental factors will give investors low risks, and high returns. It depends on investors' decisions on how they want to invest. Should the ratio of any stock exceed that of the market, it means investing in the stock carries high risks. But should the ratio equal or be lower, investing in the share runs low risks and might make profits, suggested the premier. We agree with Mr. Thaksin so far, that it never is wise to buy when stocks are relatively expensive, like now in Thailand. People that have invested in Thai stocks instead of in European or American stocks this year, can look back on a very good year! (Source: Thai News Agency)


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2004: Year of new airport construction

Posted by hasekamp on 31 December 2003 at 13:28 PM
The deputy Transport Minister has declared 2004 to be a «Year of new airport construction», with new airports being built across the country in response to the launch of several low-cost airlines. The deputy Minister said that he had ordered the Department of Aviation Transportation to conduct a feasibility study into the construction of a state airport on the island of Koh Samui. This would be to serve the growing number of tourist arrivals, and to launch a fight with commercial airport already situated there. At the same time the deputy Minister had also called on the Department of Aviation Transportation to regard 2004 as a «Year of Airport Development and Construction». He noted that there were several other suitable locations for new airports, where the high numbers of visitors would make such a construction cost effective. These included a local airport in Pai district of Mae Hong Son, and an airport for Uttradit Province.
He also called for the acceleration of 26 provincial airport construction projects currently underway. All these developments may be useful for us, foreign tourists. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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International telephone rates to go down

Posted by hasekamp on 31 December 2003 at 13:27 PM
The Information & Communication Technology Ministry said that TOT Corp and CAT Telecom Corp are to cut the rates of overseas calls to be comparable to those in Singapore. Though the rates will be reduced as much as 70% in some cases, the state firms will by no means operate at loss, however. Overseas telephone calls are believed to increase by 50% due to the price cut, raising more incomes to TOT Corp and CAT Telecom Corp. So, if you go to Thailand, you might be able to make cheap calls home. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Death sentence for murdering environmentalist

Posted by hasekamp on 30 December 2003 at 11:24 AM
A Bangkok court has convicted Bancha Noppawong, arrested in 2001 for the murder of environmental activist Jurin Rachapol. We have reported about this murder case extensively. Use our search facility to read the original postings. Bancha was given the death penalty but is expected to appeal the sentence. Mr. Jurin was found shot dead on land close to the Wachara Prawn Farm where Bancha worked in Pa Khlok. A number of activists, including Mr. Jurin, had contested prawn farming in the protected mangrove forest. The owner of Wachara Prawn Farm, was also arrested in connection with this crime and charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
The case against him has been dismissed and he has now returned to his farm.
The brother of Mr. Jurin welcomed the verdict, but also expressed some concern that he, his family or other environmental activists, might suffer violence (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Two Thai soldiers killed, 1 injured in Iraq

Posted by hasekamp on 28 December 2003 at 17:50 PM
Two Thai soldiers were killed instantly and one injured yesterday when a truck bomb exploded in front of the gate of their military camp in the southern Iraqi city of Karbala, according to Thai and foreign officials. The government had planned to call an urgent press conference to explain the situation last night, but later decided to postpone it to today when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is expected to address the tragedy himself. Four Bulgarian soldiers, six Iraqi police officers and a civilian were among those also killed in yesterday's attacks. At least 80 other coalition soldiers, including five Americans, were injured, a US Army spokesman said in Baghdad. About 135 Iraqi civilians and police officers were also wounded.
AFP reported from Karbala that two Iraqis lost their lives alongside the three Bulgarians and Thais. (Source: The Nation)


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Logs from lake will be returned

Posted by hasekamp on 27 December 2003 at 12:19 PM
A provincial panel investigating the origins of teak logs, that were found dumped in Chiang Saen lake, says it will return impounded logs with official stamps to the owner. But it decided to press charges of encroaching on public land against the firm for storing the logs in the lake. The chairman of the investigation panel said logs bearing the Forestry Industry Organisation stamp would be returned.
About 100 logs bore no stamps. These logs are lept, pending verification from forestry experts. And so we have to accept that most of the logs, that were considered illegal, will nevertheless be given to the company that felled the trees. We would have preferred a deeper investigation into the origin of the logs. Apparently the official stamps are enough evidence for the legality of the logs for the authorities. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Better air in Bangkok at last?

Posted by hasekamp on 26 December 2003 at 17:51 PM
Bangkok's air quality should improve next year, the Pollution Control Department said yesterday.
The urban air should have been cleaner in 2003 already, but because of an increase in the number of cars the target was not reached.
Fine soot particles in the air in Bangkok have reached unacceptable levels for years. Officials are making new efforts to keep them under control, hoping to achieve success like they did in the campaign to phase out lead in petrol. Among new measures are a plan to reduce sulphur in diesel oil, compulsory use of Euro III-standard diesel engines which are more environment-friendly in July next year, as well as a ban on polluting diesel-powered vehicles. After a three-month trial on the very busy Taksin road, the ban could be extended to other areas in Bangkok. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Pangolins saved

Posted by hasekamp on 26 December 2003 at 17:50 PM
It seems never to end, wildlife poaching in Thailand. Highway police yesterday seized 175 pangolins (a sort of ant-eaters) being smuggled to nearby countries, where they would become special New Year dishes. Acting on a tip, police set up a roadside checkpoint. They found the protected animals wrapped in mesh bags, stuffed in 100 plastic cases inside a tall, fully enclosed rear tray of a pick-up truck. The driver (20) and his 16-year-old passenger were arrested. The driver said he was paid 1,500 baht to take the pangolins to Phutthamonthon district in Nakhon Pathom province. The animals were to be smuggled out through the Northeast to nearby countries and would appear on special New Year restaurant menus. The pangolins will now be released in the wild. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Don Muang will become Hi-Tech estate

Posted by hasekamp on 24 December 2003 at 11:35 AM
Bangkok's Don Muang International airport is planned to be transformed into a high technology software industrial estate. The Industry Minister announced that he will instruct the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) to consider turning the aging airport into a suburban estate for high-tech or software industry. Don Muang international airport is to be replaced by the new Suvarnabhumi international airport by 2006. The IEAT will be advised to suspend all plans, and schemes, to build any more industrial estates anywhere in the provinces. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thaksin is 'Person of the Year'

Posted by hasekamp on 22 December 2003 at 10:39 AM
Respondents to the latest Abac poll have overwhelmingly voted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as "Outstanding Politician" and "Person of the Year".
Mr. Thaksin received 86.4% of the votes in the outstanding politician category, with Deputy Prime Minister Purachai Piumsombun second with just 5.6%, and Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan with 2.6%.
The prime minister also topped the person of the year list with 82.5%, with 3.6% support for second-placed Khunying Pornthip Rojanasunan, deputy director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science whose profile was heightened by the revival of the criminal inquiry into Hangthong Thammawattana's death. Third was Gen Prem Tinnasulanonda, chairman of the Privy Council (2.1%).
Respondents were drawn from Bangkok and some major provinces.
The outstanding opposition politician was Democrat deputy leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, with 39.5%. A close second here was former Democrat leader Chuan Leekpai (39.2%).
The government's best-known achievements were the drug crackdown (19.9%), the campaign against influential figures (11.8%) and economic improvement policies (9.7%). Most admired ministries were the Interior (39.7%), Public Health (19%) and Finance (7.5%).
Our comment is that we must admit that the achievements of the Thaksin government have been respectable. The Thai economy is rising like a comet and drug suppression seems to have had effect. The way in which the drug campaign was performed, as well as the recent evaluation of it, deserves our attention, as foreign onlookers. And we should not forget that he Thaksin administration succeeded in restricting the impact of the SARS epidemic on Thailand to a minimum.
We doubt if any of the opposition parties would have been able to achieve a similar result, especially on the Thai economy. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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More Buddhist radio wanted

Posted by hasekamp on 21 December 2003 at 12:15 PM
Monks have demanded more radio frequencies for educating people about Buddhism. Phra Maha Chow Thassaneeyo, director of Mahachulalongkorn Rajavidhayalai monk university's education division, said more radio and television frequencies should be used for Buddhism in line with the government's frequency management policy. Monks had to pay 2,000-3,000 baht an hour to run radio programmes, which was expensive. Spreading the Buddha's teachings on television, radio and the internet was important. The director of the National Buddhism Office said that special radio and television stations, the internet, newspapers and libraries were needed to publicise Buddhism in Thai as well as in English.
The radio stations will have their head office at Buddhamonthon Buddhist Centre in Nakhon Pathom. They will run 24 hours a day and also broadcast programmes in foreign languages on two satellite channels in Asia. The television station will be based at Phutthamonthon Centre and have 30 networks nationwide to broadcast programmes eight hours a day in Thailand and also in foreign languages on two satellite channels in Asia. The internet centre will publicise Buddhism both in Thai and English on the internet and server networks for temples and communities. It will also serve as a channel for people to gain access radio and TV programmes.
Is this a sign that, like Christianity, Buddhism is receiving less public attention than in the past? We hope not, because we believe that Buddhism has a strong positive influence on the Thai people. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Criticism on drugs deaths report

Posted by hasekamp on 20 December 2003 at 12:16 PM
Police have failed to pinpoint the specifics of the war on drugs bloodbath earlier this year when thousands died. At a press conference yesterday, Police Commissioner-General General Sant Sarutanond failed to give names and other specifics in the slayings. His breakdown of the death toll was made by categories, without supporting evidence. The lack of names and details make it impossible for any independent verification or cross-check of police information. Law-enforcement officers have been accused by human-right groups of executing many suspects in extrajudicial killings. The police chief's figures were not much different from the statistics released earlier.
The police chief said there had been 2,598 murder cases between February 1 and April 30 and a total of 2,849 people had died. Of these, 1,329 were drug-related slayings and police killed only 57 suspects during arrest attempts. He said most of those who died, a total of 887 cases, had been drug traffickers. "Most of them were killed because they took the drugs to sell and failed to pay the people they took them from," Sant said. "They were arrested, and their drugs were seized by police, so they could not pay and were killed in revenge." He admitted that police were still in the dark about 1,164 of the deaths that had been classified as related to drug trafficking. He said 1,422 murder cases were unrelated to drugs and half of them - about 700 cases - had been solved, with 1,024 suspects arrested.
The National Human Rights Commission has questioned the high death tolls and expressed suspicion that many of the murders were carried out by police. The commission says it has investigated some complaints and believes that more than 20 cases were summary killings by police, who are now reluctant to investigate the murders. (Source: The Nation)


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SET once more at top level

Posted by hasekamp on 19 December 2003 at 13:52 PM
The Stock Exchange of Thailand index once more closed at an 80-month (all time) high yesterday, breaking through the 700-point barrier with broad-based buying by investors, bullish on economic prospects for next year. The SET index closed at 700.93 points, up 13.05 points, on heavy trading. Overall, the SET index has gained over 80% for this year to date, one of the best performing markets in the region. Leading trade yesterday was iTV shares, which gained 5.2 baht. A unit of telecom giant Shin Corp, owned by the family of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, this firm has announced plans to sell a 20% stake for 3 billion baht to two new partners.
We wonder how the Thai stock market can reach one record level after another, with markets in the US, Europe and Japan showing hardly any performance at all! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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THAI should become world?s number one airline

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2003 at 11:45 AM
The Minister of Transport said that the Ministry has provided a policy for Thai Airways International (THAI) to set up a new strategie. The airline should become the world?s number one airline again. There are 3 key points for Thai Airways to improve: income, production costs, and new opportunities.
The Ministry has also ordered Thai Airways to quickly set up their Low Cost Airline. Thai Airways might not need any business allies for setting up a subsidiary company to run the low cost airline. After all the company has 43 years of experience, and it gets more privileges from the government, than any other airlines. For example, Thai Airways can select its operational areas in the new Bangkok Airport before any other airlines. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Palace to become tourist attraction

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2003 at 11:37 AM
King Vajiravudh's former royal residence at Sanam Chandra Palace is to be restored as a major tourist attraction in this central province some 50km from Bangkok. The palace was built in 1907 when King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) was still the Crown Prince. After ascending the throne, the king frequented the palace where he produced numerous literary works including a translation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
His successor King Prachadipok gave the palace to the Interior Ministry in 1926 to be used as a government office, and it served as the Nakhon Pathom governor's office until Dec 1, when the Interior Ministry returned it to the Royal Household Bureau. The place was officially returned yesterday along with buildings previously under the care of Silpakorn University. The palace had the potential to become the Montmartre of Thailand, where visitors could be sketched by students. The palace requires renovation, although visits will be possible even during the restoration. Repairs were expected to be completed in April next year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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HM Queen is concerned about Thai plant species

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2003 at 11:31 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra today asked for urgent action to protect species of flora and fauna native to Thailand, after Her Majesty Queen Sirikit expressed concern for native Thai plants and the growing trade in wildlife. The Prime Minister had made his announcement before this morning?s Cabinet meeting, when he had disclosed that HM the Queen had asked the government to supervise a registration scheme for flora and fauna. A spokesman said that Mr. Thaksin had acknowledged that problems remained over the patenting of Thai herbs, and had vowed to expedite registration. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Away with illegal arms

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2003 at 11:30 AM
The Thai government will decisively crack down against those who possess illegal weapons after the amnesty expires, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said. This is oner of the many wars Mr. Thaksin is fighting. Mr. Thaksin said yesterday that after the expiry of the amnesty, those possessing illegal arms were to be suppressed decisively, as they would be considered having intended to be against the law, and did not pay attention to the amnesty. The government's amnesty of illegal weapons nationwide began on 17 November and expired at midnight yesterday. During the amnesty period, people possessing illegal arms were required to hand over their weapons to authorities in their respective provinces with no penalties. The penalties from today on will include both fines and jail terms, with the maximum being a 20,000 baht fine and a 20-year jail term. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Hua Hin solves its stray dogs problem

Posted by hasekamp on 15 December 2003 at 11:23 AM
Stray dogs are a problem in Hua Hin, the tourist resort and spa in the district of Prachuap Khiri Khan. The local municipality has launched a project to find owners for the animals. The dogs are cleaned, vaccinated, neutered and implanted with microchips. His Majesty the King himself has put money towards a shelter to house stray dogs in Hua Hin. As we know His Majesty is a promoter to find homes for stray dogs and owns several of these animals himself.
A shelter was built beside a local temple and 373 stray dogs, aged from one month to five years, live there. The Hua Hin municipality runs the shelter and held a fair yesterday to find owners. Staff gave out dog-raising manuals and will visit the animals to make sure they are happy.
The adopt-a-dog campaign proved so popular that the shelter was still getting requests from people wanting to adopt dogs after the fair. We wish the situation were as positive elsewhere in Thailand. In Bangkok we often see dogs in a condition that tears our hearts. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No democracy needed

Posted by hasekamp on 14 December 2003 at 11:43 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra recently said (in a speech on the occasion of Democracy Day) that was not the foremost thing Thailand needed. Thaksin said that as long as the country could progress and people were happy, he was not concerned about the means used. "Democracy is a good and beautiful thing, but it is not the ultimate goal as far as administering the country is concerned," he said. "Democracy is just a tool, not our goal. The goal is to give people a good lifestyle, happiness and national progress."
Amid threats of total domination by the ruling Thai Rak Thai Party, the minor coalition partner, academics and opposition MPs agree there is an urgent need to sharpen the teeth of independent constitutional bodies and empower a parliamentary system of checks and balances. But, Thaksin said, "I don't think there is a need to amend the charter right now. Maybe they want to because they want to censure me in Parliament."
In fact this statement has not to surprise us, as foreign onlookers. Mr. Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party has a comfortable majority in parliament. So why give this position away? (Source: (The Nation)


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Thaksin to visit Red Wa

Posted by hasekamp on 13 December 2003 at 12:14 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will visit a Red Wa area opposite Chiang Rai on Dec 26 to inspect an opium crop-substitution project, which was funded with a donation of 20 million baht from the Thai government. Accompanied by Burmese military leaders, Mr. Thaksin would be greeted at the town of Yongkha by Red Wa leaders who were keen to prove they had ceased drug production, said a source. Talks will be held on the joint efforts on drug suppression, as well as the success of crop-substitution projects at 20 villages in Tak, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son provinces. The Thai government is expected to enter its first agreement on joint border patrols with Burma at a Regional Border Committee meeting next week in Chiang Rai. Given the facts and events of the past few years we still have serious doubts about the possible success of the program. One should realize that the Burmese economy is strongly dependent on the drugs trade. But one should always have hope, of course. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flash floods in the South

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2003 at 11:09 AM
Thousands of homes have been hit by flash floods in many parts of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Songkhla, Surat Thani and Yala provinces on Wednesday, after several days of heavy rain.
Hundreds of people were forced from their homes to higher ground. In coastal districts strong winds and waves of 2-3 meters damaged several homes. Provincial authorities warned residents to reckon with further floods as several canals, streams and dams were being pushed to breaking point. In Songkhla province, more than 3,000 people's homes were flooded out.
Local rail authorities were forced to suspend the Hat Yai-Sungai Kolok service as part of the track was submerged. The Hat Yai-Bangkok route was unaffected, but many motorists in Hat Yai opted to leave their vehicles at high-rise parking lots as floodwaters continued to rise. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Police say now that most killing were not drugs-related

Posted by hasekamp on 10 December 2003 at 18:11 PM
Over half of the 2,500 murders originally attributed to drugs dealers during the government?s war on drugs were, after all, not related to the drugs trade at all, according to National Police Chief. He said that a committee to investigate the deaths had determined that 60 percent of the deaths were not related to drugs, while the cause of the remaining 40 percent of the killings was now being investigated, with the final results expected over the next seven days. The investigative committee was dividing the cases into general murders, murders relating to the drugs trade, and extra-judicial killings caused by the police in self-defense. The 2,500 murders were always said to have been carried out by large-scale drugs dealers trying to silence petty traders and potential informants. We wonder where the truth is, if in such a short time after the start of this new investigation the police know (suddenly) for certain what was the cause of all these deaths. These killings have been attributed to drugs offenders for months and months and the second day of the re-investigation everything suddenly is different. A strange and sudden re-writing of history, we think! We now strongly support a really independent inquiry, as human right groups in Thailand have asked. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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PM seems untouchable

Posted by hasekamp on 10 December 2003 at 18:09 PM
Today is Constitution day in Thailand. How does the Thai democracy look today? Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, in which the King has hardly any power. In theory, that is, because any suggestion made by the King will be translated into action immediately.
Mechanisms have been installed in the (not too far) past to prevent the return of military dictatorship and end political sabotage. But at the same time these mechanisms have made Mr. Thaksin unbeatable and have shielded him from political attacks, observers said on the eve of Constitution Day.
The prime minister, who commands an absolute majority in the House, can shut the door on any no-confidence move against him. Therefore an MP suggested amendments to the charter to cut down the number of supporters for a no-confidence move against the prime minister by half, or 100 MPs, the amount required for a censure motion against a minister.
Thai Rak Thai will, however, not propose any amendments, because there is no guarantee that changes would benefit political reform. It seems that Mr. Thaksin leads one of the most stable governments in Thailand ever. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Teak logs burnt and gone

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2003 at 19:56 PM
A batch of teak logs, seized from a lake in Chiang Rai province, were set ablaze before they could be inspected by Natural Resources and Environment Minister yesterday. We have reported about the seizure of these logs recently. The fire, which broke out early Saturday night, made it impossible to inspect the identification stamps on the logs. Police suspect that the logs had been stored in the lake because they were illegally smuggled from Burma. Now they can be certain of that! Workers at the site moved quickly to extinguish the blaze shortly after it broke out. A local villager alerted police to the fire. He said his firm had filed a complaint with police, asking for an investigation. (Source: The Nation)


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Not much faith in police investigation

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2003 at 19:55 PM
Human rights activists and the opposition yesterday demanded an independent inquiry into the more than 2,500 deaths during the government's war against drugs, after His Majesty the King urged authorities in his birthday speech to provide an explanation for the killings.
After the speech, the government promised a detailed police report on the campaign. There is concern, however, that the police will cover up information in order to back up the government's claims that most of the deaths were a result of drug criminals killing each other.
An activist said that they had been asking the police for information, but the answer always was 'state secrets'. The activists want the involvement from the Justice Ministry, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Human Rights Commission, and not from the police.
A Democrat MP called for new and independently supervised documentation of all the killings.
"If the prime minister is sincere, he must set up an independent panel to look into all cases," he said.
Police said yesterday that the review of all the cases should be completed within a week. Deaths will be divided into three categories: drug-related murders, non-drug murders and extra-judicial killings. The report will be presented to the King and some information will be made public. (Source: The Nation)


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Police will investigate drug killings

Posted by hasekamp on 6 December 2003 at 19:38 PM
The Royal Thai Police Office will investigate the 2,500 killings that occurred during the war on drugs, after His Majesty the King suggested an inquiry in his birthday speech. As usual, the suggestions of His Majesty are followed the next day, if not the same day.
The results of the investigation will be reported to national police chief in seven days. As we reported, the King suggested in his speech that the national police chief should explain the circumstances and exact number of the deaths during the government's crusade against drugs, which he believed might exceed 2,500, otherwise the government would continue to attract criticism. "The government must take responsibility by clarifying the cause of the deaths," the King said. "If the matter is not clarified many people will blame the prime minister. The findings should be made available to the public and to the international community," he also said.
The investigation team is expected to meet for the first time on Monday. The chiefs of metropolitan and regional police will give accounts of individual cases. If more details are needed, officers handling those cases will be called to testify. Police have always said that drug gangsters getting rid of one another were the cause of most killings.
A national human rights commissioner said that the government and the national police office should also explain the arrests of more than 50,000 people in connection with the drug suppression drive. Some were falsely charged with having drugs in their possession and are still in detention, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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His Majesty the King's birthday speech

Posted by hasekamp on 6 December 2003 at 19:37 PM
Traditionally the King has made a speech on the eve of his birthday. The main theme this year was the War on drugs. Here are (only a few) of the highlights, taken literally from the sources:
"Victory in the war on drugs is good. People may blame the crackdown for more than 2,500 deaths, but this is a small price to pay. The lives of many officials are lost in working to bring the drug trade under control. These figures are often not counted, but it could be as high as the number of victims in the war on drugs. There may be only a few deaths for which authorities must be held responsible, so we have to classify those who were killed by fellow dealers, buyers and addicts, and those killed by authorities."
"Under the Thai system, the prime minister is responsible for everything. As the prime minister is the only one who makes decisions, it's natural that he alone should be pinpointed."
"I am the one in the tough position since no one can criticize me. I'm not the one dictating this, those drafting the constitution did."
"I know that the prime minister doesn't like being criticized. Let me tell you this about being criticized. Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother, my mother, told me when I was 40-50 years old that I was doing good when I performed well, but she always added that I must not forget myself. She said I must not let success go to my head and that my name, Bhumibol, meant I had to keep my feet on the ground. She kept reminding me until I was about 60 years old."
On the "sufficiency economy": "A sufficiency economy is not about growing just enough crops for consuming, but has to be more advanced, to have enough space for schools, or even to nurture arts. The country must be developed in every way. No hunger at either the stomach or the heart. What's important about sufficiency economy is priority. We cannot achieve anything too quickly, or too slowly. We have to learn to progress without troubling others. This is the sufficiency economy we have spent much time learning. I have been talking about it for 10 years. We must put it into practice."
"The question was once (on my trips through the country) posed whether I was fighting terrorism. I replied: "What terrorism?" Terrorist activities were everywhere, including towns. I traveled in order to inspect the country: I am not fighting terrorism. To quote the prime minister, I aim to fight poverty and solve the people's grievances. If we can eradicate poverty, then terrorism will dissipate."
"In fighting poverty, it is necessary to develop professional skills and livelihoods. This is not about the planting of crops alone: it is about the overall improvement in livelihood and education. Without a good education, a man is not fit to work. Education should meet the standard at all levels. At a high level, we have scientists. Thais can never attain high-level education if they don't have sound education in kindergarten and primary schools. And people with weak basic education are prone to ignorance and do irresponsible things like making bombs."
"I have been following government education policy since before the prime minister was born. He wants students to teach teachers to the extent that teachers will not have to do any teaching. This is not possible and will not lead to progress. I know the prime minister likes modern things such as IT. I was embarrassed that I didn't know what IT meant and ended up pretending to. So I started using a computer."
These are a few citations, as published in the sources mentioned, of the speech. As usual, the speech also contained much humor. Reading the contents of the speech, it looks like the speech of a person, in the middle of his life. His Majesty still seems far away from the moment of handing over the throne to his son. Long live His Majesty the King! (Sources: The Bangkok Post, The Nation)


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Wildlife sanctuary starts new pricing

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2003 at 12:26 PM
Khao Prataew Wildlife Sanctuary (KPWS) will begin collecting standard entrance fees of 200 baht from foreigners and 20 baht from Thais next week. Entrance was free up to now. The park includes the Tonesai and Bangpae waterfalls and it attracts about 4,000 tourists a month. Most of the foreigners are from the Netherlands, Germany, Japan and Taiwan.
Near the Bangpae waterfalls the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (GRP) also is located. It is not clear if visitors will have to pay for the GRP too. If so, that would be disastrous for the donations to the GRP. There also will be a charge for vehicles, depending on their size. It is being said that the proceeds will be used to improve this place by building seats and improving walkways.
Seven other wildlife sanctuaries in Thailand will also start collecting (high) fees. They are Khao Angruenai in Chachoengsao, Huai Tabtan-Huai Samran in Surin, Khao Cheeown in Chonburi, Nong Tungtong in Surat Thani, Tampratun in Uthai Thani, Tamphataphol in Phitsanulok and Bueng Chawark in Suphan Buri. Visitor numbers are expected to fall once the fees are introduced. And, as we said, we fear for the income of the Gibbon Rehabilitation Program! (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Low-cost airline starts next year

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2003 at 12:25 PM
Thai Airways International has announced that it plans to open domestic flights of a low-cost airline in 2004?s second quarter, followed by international flights within the Southeast Asian region in the future. Thai Airways International is currently seeking co-investors, especially those that have a good reputation and have made good profits. THAI indicated that prominent Thai Airways International personnel might be recruited to run the low-cost airline, which is speculated to compete with those of neighboring countries, for regional flight services.
Operational plans for Thai Airways International?s low-cost airline are believed completed next month. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Phuket FantaSea also has illegal wildlife

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2003 at 12:24 PM
About 20 officers from the Forestry Police, the Highway Police and the Tourist Police raided Phuket FantaSea in Kamala today and seized 14 tigers that had been transported there, allegedly without permission. Officers said that the tigers, most of them cubs aged three to six months, had been put on show for tourist photo sessions after being brought to Phuket from Safari World in Bangkok. Laws covering the welfare of wildlife in Thailand require animals to be kept at one registered address, in this case, Safari World in Bangkok.
The multi-award winning attraction Phuket FantaSea doesn't have a license to have wild animals in its possession and so this place is also part of illegally possessing animals. For about two years young tiger cubs have been sent to FantaSea, and as they grew older and larger, they were returned and replaced by other young cubs.
Officers are continuing investigations and charges are to be considered. The penalty for possessing wild animals without permission is up to four years in jail, a 40,000 baht fine, or both. Nobody at Phuket FantaSea wanted to comment. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Submarine tours from Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 3 December 2003 at 11:09 AM
Thailand's first submarine tour has started, off Dok Mai Island and Mai Thon Island. The first submarine took TAT officials on a tour yesterday. The team boarded a ferry at Rassada port to take a tour by submarine of coral reefs around Dok Mai Island. The submarine can hold 48 passengers, a captain and three crewmen. The operating manager of the Phuket Submarine Company, the company that offers the tours, said the unofficial launch of the submarine was already held on Nov 28 at a local hotel. The submarine will make five trips a day for 2,500 baht a head for adults and 1,800 baht for children. During Dec 1-15, Phuket residents showing their ID cards can go for 700 baht a trip for adults and 500 baht a trip for children. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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