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Thai beauty products

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2004 at 15:55 PM
The Industry Ministry will promote Thai beauty products to the global markets, in order to support the "Bangkok Fashion City" Project.
The Industry Minister disclosed the cosmetics and beauty products of Thailand will be another mechanism to show that Thailand has the capacity to become the world’s fashion hub. In order to support the fashion industry, the government has set up 3 target fields, namely the textile industry, the leather and shoes industry, and the gems and accessories industry. Beauty products such as cosmetics and skin care products will be included in the target industries, in order to promote the "Bangkok Fashion City" Project. Acording to the minister Thailand will definitely become the centre for the beauty products in Asia. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Snake problem

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2004 at 15:51 PM
Households in Lat Phrao district (Bangkok) often meet snakes in their houses and gardens during the rainy season, including large pythons and boas. When snakes turn up in people's homes, residents can call a rescue center for help. A volunteer at the center said catching snakes has been the center's main task since it opened six years ago. The center gets four to five phone calls a day from residents who find snakes. The total number of snakes caught every rainy season is around 600!
Snake sightings increased as housing estates spread into once-deserted fields. Snakes are driven from land to drains and nearby communities. Pythons and boas are frequent catches. Volunteers usually buy chickens to feed the boas and pythons. The center keeps the snakes for a while, before taking them to Khao Yai national park or the Khao Khieo wildlife sanctuary, where they are released. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Any suggestions?

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2004 at 15:50 PM
Governors in all provinces of Thailand will be told to put up boxes to accept public complaints and suggestions. The move follows the initial public response to a suggestion box set up outside Baan Phitsanulok, the prime minister's official residence, on Saturday. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday 25 people had already dropped their comments into the box. After he met taxi drivers at Government House a week ago, Mr. Thaksin said he felt many people had problems but did not know where to go. When he stopped to buy noodles at Saphan Luang on Friday night a vendor came to him with a petition. The vendor said that when he was sick and his relative took his place, a city policeman asked him to pay 40,000 baht. Mr Thaksin urged people to drop complaints in the box in front of Baan Phitsanulok. The letters will be sorted and sent to state agencies for action. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Man beheaded

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2004 at 0:24 AM
Suspected Muslim militants have beheaded a Thai man early Saturday in southern Thailand. It was the first incident of its kind in a wave of violence that has roiled the Muslim-dominated region, police said. The man, 63, was killed in a rubber plantation a few kilometers outside his village in Narathiwat province, police said. The man's head was dropped in the village street while his body was left in the plantation with a note warning of more attacks if police arrest "innocent" Muslims. We call this an inhuman act but, as you might know, beheading has been part of the Muslim "tradition" for ages. Recently an American was beheaded in Iraq, and a videotape of this incomprehensible act was put on the Internet. (Source: Associated Press)


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Save energy: Go by public transport!

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2004 at 0:12 AM
The Energy Ministry, in collaboration with the Transport Ministry, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, and mass transport entrepreneurs, will implement a new energy saving policy in which the Mo Chit northern bus terminal will be turned into a "Park and Ride" area.
The Ministry and its allies will encourage people to use more mass transport services, in order to save fuel. The government has been urging the Rapid Mass Transit Authority of Thailand, the Bangkok Mass Transport Organization, and the Bangkok Mass Transit System to speed up the construction of connection terminals, in order to facilitate the passengers better. The Energy Ministry is coordinating with the Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning Office, in order to provide more parking spaces for the underground and sky trains passengers. If there are enough and safe car parking areas, more people will be willing to use mass transport systems. As a result, the country will be able to save more energy and expense. Moreover, the mental health of Bangkok residents would also be improved. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thai firms on Greenpeace blacklist

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2004 at 0:07 AM
Nestle Group, Unilever Thai, Betrago and Oleen are among 23 companies blacklisted by Greenpeace's Southeast Asia regional office in a new report. One can have one's doubts if firms like Unilever Thai and Nestle can be considered Thai (getting all its "orders" from abroad), but Greenpeace does so.
The companies on the list failed to state (to Greenpeace) whether their products were free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or refused to return questionnaires, te Thai branch of Greenpeace said. Geenpeace had sent questionnaires asking about the use of GMOs to 90 companies this year. The companies surveyed were categorized as green, using no GMOs; grey, no intention to use GMOs, but without clear policy; or black, insisting on using GMOs or failing to answer questions. The companies on the blacklist increased from 19 in last year's survey, the number of those in the green category increased to 66 from 42 last year. It is not clear to us why no test were being made, and firms were simply blacklisted for not returning forms. (Source: The Nation)


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New tourist attraction

Posted by hasekamp on 28 May 2004 at 15:57 PM
Thailand is always seeking for new tourists attractions. They have found another one now: the "Spa of Asia". The southern province of Krabi is seeking a 400-million-baht budget from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to develop a salt water hot spring to become a new tourist attraction of the province. The Krabi Governor said that the salt water hot spring in Klong Thom district is believed to be the only one in Thailand, as others are, instead, fresh water hot spring.
Under the project, the governor said the Klong Thom hot spring would be promoted to be "Spa of Asia". The private sector would be invited to invest in the project which needs a large sum of money. Tourists from Europe and Russia are target groups of the province's new tourist destination. The temperature of the hot spring is about 42 degrees Celsius. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Foreign movie actors wanted!

Posted by hasekamp on 27 May 2004 at 19:11 PM
The Thai film production company Hub Ho Hin Bangkok is looking for Thai-speaking foreigners to act in a full-length Thai motion picture to be shot in Phuket over four months, starting in August. Many roles are available for actors and actresses 35 to 55 years of age. Previous acting experience, though preferred, is not essential. Casting will take place in Phuket on May 29 and 30. Movie director Jira Marikul said that the film will be set in Phuket's tin-mining community 50 years ago. Do you think you qualify for a job as an actor and do you speak Thai? Then this may be a nice way to make some money during your stay in Thailand!
For more information, contact K. Jib (Tel: 01-8026702; 02-6625383 x213) or K. Pop (Tel: 01-1704369) between 11 am and 9 pm any day. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Cabinet meeting at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2004 at 19:59 PM
The Thai government will soon hold a special cabinet meeting at the new (second) Bangkok International Airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport, to publicize progress of the country's much-awaited new international airport project to the international community. The idea was proposed by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The meeting, scheduled on any Sunday, to be set later, would be used to also promote any other future projects to accommodate the airport. Relevant infrastructure constructions will be completed in time before the airport becomes serviceable on 29 June, 2005. However, there is a possibilty that a southern outer ringroad section will not be completed in time. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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More storm damage

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2004 at 19:54 PM
Not only Tak province suffered from extremely bad weather conditions. Teachers and pupils at a school in Udon Thani were left without any classrooms or equipment on Monday, after a weekend storm had flattened the school and destroyed nearly everything. According to the headmaster the storm ripped through the concrete and wooden structure of the school, ripping off windows and doors, and tearing the classrooms to shreds. Among the damaged items were three televisions, a computer, documents and other teaching equipment. The storm also completely ruined a nearby school storage room, and up-rooted a large number of trees in the area of the school. The damage toll is expected to run to around half a million baht.
In the vicinity, the storm also damaged dozens of houses. In one case, the storm had taken an entire roof off, and blown it a hundred yards away. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Deforestation was cause of flooding

Posted by hasekamp on 25 May 2004 at 23:30 PM
We reported about illegal logs, discovered during the recent flooding in northern Thailand. Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra has now ordered Army aircraft to patrol forests and demanded harsh action against illegal loggers.
Deforestation is blamed for last week's disastrous mudslides and flash floods in the North. The premier said illegal loggers must be prosecuted. Their assets must be seized to deter others from entering into this illicit business. The disaster killed six people and affected the homes and livelihoods of thousands of others.
The Interior Ministry has already instructed relevant government agencies to provide assistance to victims. The ministry said deforestation was a key reason for the flooding and mudslides. More forestation programs will be introduced and the authorities will seriously crack down on illegal logging, a government spokesman said. (Source: The Nation)


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Talks planned about violence in the South

Posted by hasekamp on 25 May 2004 at 23:28 PM
Muslim leaders in the deep South of Thailand are optimistic about planned peace talks between the government and leaders of the Bersatu separatist group, as proposed by Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra. Muslim leaders say that it will be a good start towards finding a solution to the southern unrest. The deputy chairman of Yala's Islamic Committee, said he would like to see leaders of other separatist groups at the planned talks besides the Bersatu chief. The planned dialogue would make all parties concerned know exactly what were the objectives of the ongoing violence in the Muslim-dominated southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla.
The Bersatu chief himself was not available for comments, but an aide said it was a positive reaction. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh warned the media to be careful with their news reports, saying there were attempts to turn Thai internal affairs into international issues (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Special jury prize in Cannes!

Posted by hasekamp on 24 May 2004 at 14:38 PM
The Thai movie "Tropical Malady", or "Sud Pralad" in Thai won a top-tier award at the 57th Cannes Film Festival. Apichatpong Weerasethakul directed the movie. It shared the special Jury Prize with actress Irma Hall for her role in the movie The Ladykillers. A panel headed by director Quentin Tarantino decided the prize. "Tropical Malady" is the first Thai film to compete for the main award at the world's top movie festival. Mr. Apichatpong was overwhelmed, saying he had not expected the recognition. "I'm super grateful to the festival because I didn't expect to win a prize at all. There are so many big names in the festival, while I am just a nobody from a small country," he said. Critics were divided after viewing Tropical Malady. Those who liked it, including French critics, championed it as the best film in the festival, but those disapproving of the film said its structure was unconventional and the story too complicated to follow.
Mr. Apichatpong made his debut splash at Cannes in 2002 when his "Blissfully Yours" ("Sud Sanae Ha"), a slow gentle movie of unadorned realism, was selected for showing in the Un Certain Regard section, a showcase sidebar to the festival. His success with "Tropical Malady" is expected to give hope to others in the local film industry as no Thai film has ever gone this far at the international level. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Woman cuts off her husband's private parts

Posted by hasekamp on 23 May 2004 at 19:42 PM
This happens about once a year in Thailand. At least: so often it reaches the newspapers. I may happen dozens of times a year, and seems to be part of Thai culture. Today it reached the papers again:
A man was rushed to a Nonthaburi hospital after his wife almost cut off his genitals in rage at his marital cheating, neighbours and hospital workers said yesterday. The man, 31, was admitted with massive loss of blood and scheduled for penile reattachment at a Hospital. One of the neighbours said a violent quarrel had ended not long before Preecha cried for help. The neighbour rushed to Preecha’s rented room and found the victim with a blood-soaked groin. He called an ambulance. Hospital workers, speaking on condition of anonymity, quoted the man as saying that his angry wife had sneaked up on him from behind but he had managed to stop her before she completely succeeded in her grisly attack. He told the workers that he did not want to press charges against her. It seems as if his private parts could be saved. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding in Tak province

Posted by hasekamp on 22 May 2004 at 12:26 PM
The flooding season seems to have begun in Thailand. Tak province was the first to be hit by flooding. At the same time the minister of natural resources and environment yesterday ordered an investigation into the more than 1,000 logs found scattered around Tak's Mae Ramat district, following the flash flood on Thursday morning. Searches continued for villagers swept away by the deadly flooding that struck several centers. Investigators are to determine whether the logs had been illegally cut and ordered relevant departments to cooperate. The citizens of Phrae, Chiang Rai and Nan provinces have been earned to watch for similar flash flooding. The flooding swept away 39 houses and heavily damaged 37 others. Another 109 were slightly damaged. Villagers have been compensated financially. The investigation for illegal logging continues, however. (Source: The Nation)


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Compensation for wrongful imprisonment

Posted by hasekamp on 22 May 2004 at 12:16 PM
The Justice Ministry yesterday agreed to pay more than 300,000 baht in compensation to a 49-year-old woman who was imprisoned for nearly two years for crimes she did not commit. The Justice Ministry approved a request for compensation after the police arrested the real culprit who happened to share the same first name and surname. The woman was wrongfully convicted conspiracy to rob by using a vehicle for wrongdoing and carrying a gun in public without permission. The police arrested her after they examined the license plate of the car used in the crime and obtained her name from the vehicle registrar. The lady was sent to prison and spent 653 days, or one year and seven months, in detention. Police found out their mistake when they arrested someone else in another case that confessed having committing the crime in question. So, also in Thailand compensation is being paid for people who have been in jail without reason. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai success in Cannes or not?

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2004 at 11:07 AM
The Thai movie "Sud Pralad" (Tropical Malady), the first-ever Thai film to vie for the festival's coveted Palme d'Or award, was booed during the press screening on Monday, with even audience members walking out, but when it officially premiered at the festival the following day, it received strong applause. Some critics, particularly those from the French media, praised the movie. Therefore the maker of the movie, Apichatpong "Joe'' Weerasethakul will depart to the Cannes Film Festival knowing that he at least made his presence felt. A French magazine called "Sud Pralad" the best movie at the festival. Two leading French newspapers, Le Monde and Liberation, gave special attention to it, while London's The Guardian newspaper called the film "beautiful and strange". US Variety magazine said "Sud Pralad" was "a remarkable experiment in vision and narrative". We have to exercise a bit more patience. (Source: The Nation)


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Tiger exports not so "clean" after all

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2004 at 10:56 AM
Recently we reported about the export of about 100 tigers from Thailand to China. Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra said everything was legal and the tigers were in good health. But now the Thai press reports differently.
The names of at least two officials are allegedly linked to the illegal acquisition of 100 tigers shipped to China. A report will be sent to the National Counter Corruption Commission next week. The officials are accused of approving the possession of the tigers by a private zoo without carefully checking their origin, the forestry police chief said. The management of Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, a private company which bred the tigers and shipped them to China, will also be summoned. They will be questioned about their lack of breeding licenses and the suspicious increase in the number of tigers in their care prior to the shipment. Forestry police believe the wildlife protection law was broken by failing to obtain the required state licenses to breed tigers.
According to an investigation report, the Thai zoo owned 218 tigers and exported 100 of them to China for "research and exhibition purposes" in 2001. However, questions were raised over the origin of the tigers. Our source does not report anything about the fate of the 100 tigers. According to earlier rumors the animals were "worked up" to "medicines" to improve sexual potency for men who cannot make true their promises in this field. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Sea gypsies have adapted eyesight

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2004 at 12:39 PM
In some places in Thailand (Surin, Phuket) you will hear about the "sea gypsies". They are a kind of nomad people, living in their own privacy.
A researcher went to Thailand's Surin islands where she conducted underwater tests on Moken children and compared their scores with those of European children, on vacation in the area. She
found no differences in the children's respective eye structures or in their vision on land. Underwater, however, the Moken children displayed underwater vision twice as sharp as their European counterparts. Their secret lies in the way their eyes adapt to the underwater environment. The refractive power of the eye is greatly reduced underwater. The different densities of air and water cause the problem. Water has similar density to fluids inside the eye, so refraction is limited as light passes into the eye. The Moken seem to be able to accommodate the shape of the eye's lenses, in order to increase light refraction. The Moken children use these adaptations to forage for small clams and sea cucumbers at depths of 10 to 13 feet (3 to 4 meters). Much is still unclear about this phenomenon. Research has to continue (Source: National Geographic Society)


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Famous monk in hospital

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2004 at 11:47 AM
Luang Phor Khoon, described by news media as Thailand's most revered monk, was admitted to hospital today after suffering from fever and exhaustion. The 76 year-old abbot of Wat Baan Rai in this north-eastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima was taken by his disciples to Maharaj Hospital this morning after developing a range of symptoms ranging from a cold and a fever to diarrhea, exhaustion, nausea, and shivering. Doctors, who performed a number of tests on the abbot, have called for no visitors over the next 3-4 days in order to allow the monk sufficient time to recuperate. We recommend Luang Phor Khoon for your prayers. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thai stocks go up again

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2004 at 11:40 AM
Thai local stocks showed an impressive rally yesterday as investors sought bargains among blue chips that had been hammered in recent days. The Stock Exchange of Thailand index gained 5.6% to close at 614.99 points, in line with improvements in markets throughout the region. A modest decline in world oil prices was seen as easing investors' anxiety. This is a lot more than US and European stocks recovered lately! Shares of companies linked to Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra's family were among the top performers yesterday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket may become a free zone

Posted by hasekamp on 19 May 2004 at 11:45 AM
Phuket will probably be transformed into a "free zone complex", in order to promote the tourism industry and to enjoy economic benefits. The Customs Department plans to turn the island into a tariff free province. The project consists of a short-term plan and a long-term plan. According to the short-term plan, Phuket will be transformed to a Free Zone Complex, making the province free from all tariffs. Therefore, tourists staying in Phuket for more than 48 hours will be able to have their taxes redeemed. In the long run, the Customs Department will turn Phuket into a "Free Port". The Governor of the province said that the free port project will be implemented according to the province’s strategy to increase the competitiveness of Phuket. The province is expected to include a shopping paradise, an OTOP plaza, and a world class marina. At the same time, its health services, spas, and information technology will also be improved in order to be the best in the region. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Gibbon mistreating

Posted by hasekamp on 19 May 2004 at 11:39 AM
Police yesterday arrested a 16-year-old boy for illegally owning a gibbon. He misused the animal for charging tourists to pose with the gibbon. He was caught red-handed on Patong Beach. The boy was charged under the animal conservation law of 1992 with possessing an endangered animal for the purpose of business, police said. Police said the boy claimed the gibbon was a long-time pet. After seeing other boys in the neighborhood using gibbons and other monkeys to make money, he said he decided to follow suit. The boy was released and the gibbon was sent to a gibbon rescue project. Since January, five people have been arrested on similar charges and five gibbons have been handed over to the foundation. Once more we, form Hasekamp Net, want to remind our readers that every baby gibbon that has been taken from the forest, could only be caught after killing the mother. There is no other way. No gibbon mother will ever give its baby away. It protects it with her life. (Source: The Nation)


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Phuket is an oasis

Posted by hasekamp on 18 May 2004 at 10:08 AM
The troubles in the four neighboring provinces are something that most people in Phuket don't want to talk about. So far everything is quiet and peaceful on Phuket Island. According to our source, even nature is now left alone. In Phuket they are trying hard to educate people that the giant turtle eggs are better left alone to hatch than being eaten. It took the resort 10 years to win permission to construct buildings with direct access to 17 kilometers of natural undeveloped beachfront and the protected marine turtle nesting area. Even artificial lights are not allowed to shine directly onto the beach and people are not allowed to walk on the beach after the sun drops into the sea.
A Thai female biological researcher is leading the efforts to rejuvenate the eroding coral reefs that first put Phuket on the world tourism map, while a veterinarian raises abalone at his private farm for export. So, why not try the island of Phuket for a quiet place during your next holidays in Thailand? (Source: The Nation)


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Eat seaweed!

Posted by hasekamp on 17 May 2004 at 17:35 PM
Near Patong (Phuket Island) large quantities of seaweed are coming ashore lately. Patong Municipality isn't just sitting and watching at these unprecedented amounts of seaweed. The Municipality is researching ways to put it to good use, including, possibly, promoting it as food. The seaweed is the result of hot-season water temperatures and the introduction of nitrogen and phosphorus into Patong Bay. The Municipality continues to collect the seaweed using boats and netting, as well as by stuffing into plastic bags any seaweed that washes ashore. When asked how tourists have responded to the presence of the algae, officials admitted that there had been complaints. Therefore another plan is to hold a seaweed-eating festival next year. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Thai economy weak

Posted by hasekamp on 15 May 2004 at 20:17 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra today made a rare admission of weaknesses in the Thai economy, warning that issues such as technology and infrastructure needed urgent development if they were not to hamper economic growth. The prime minister remained insistent that despite the fact that the Thai economy was being buffeted from various sides, overall economic growth remained positive. He also noted that a recent study by the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) showed that Thailand enjoyed a high competitiveness rating.
However, he also warned that a number of factors remained weak, most notably technology, education, and infrastructure, and said that these issues needed considerable attention. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thailand free from bird flu at last

Posted by hasekamp on 14 May 2004 at 23:01 PM
The word has been spoken: All chicken farms in Thailand are now free of the bird flu virus and chicken exports can resume if no fresh outbreaks emerge in the next six months, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister said yesterday. There are no red alert zones left. However, this does not mean the country is free of avian influenza because the virus might have embedded in the environment and migratory birds. Therefore, stringent surveillance operations are still needed. The last outbreak took place in a poultry farm in Uttaradit province, which, after culling, emerged from the 21-day surveillance period on Thursday. The ministry's surveillance operations included frequent tests on chickens and migratory birds, poultry movement controls, registration of fighting cocks, and deployment of livestock officials in all districts. The government confirmed the existence of the bird flu epidemic in Thailand on Jan 23. Altogether almost 40 million fowls either died of the disease or were culled in 61 provinces in the past five months, affecting more than 226,000 farmers. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Sale of tigers to China questioned

Posted by hasekamp on 14 May 2004 at 18:30 PM
About one hundred tigers have recently been sold from Thailand to China. On criticism, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said that Thailand did not illegally sell these 100 tigers to China, to be used to make aphrodisiacs. He said that Beijing had given him a satisfactory explanation of the affair. His spokesman quoted Mr. Thaksin. This spokesman also said that China had convinced Mr. Thaksin that the sale of the tigers formed part of a wider Thai-Chinese tourism promotion program. Rumors that the tigers were to be used in the manufacture of aphrodisiacs were dismissed. All the tigers in question were still well and intact in every way. The tigers were exported to a zoo in the southern Chinese island-province of Hainan, following a request from Beijing in 2001. The Royal Forest Department, however, was accused at the time of violating international treaties on wildlife protection. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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War on Drugs was successful

Posted by hasekamp on 13 May 2004 at 12:12 PM
A year after the launch of the government?s War on Drugs, a survey has found that narcotics are now impossible to purchase in some communities, although nearly 10% of Bangkok residents fear that drugs are returning to the streets of the capital.
The comprehensive survey of 5,800 people across the country, conducted on March 19th to 26th, found that 72.4% of respondents across the country were confident that the government?s war on drugs had successfully reduced Thailand?s drug epidemic. Although only 3.8% of respondents said that Thailand?s drug epidemic was returning, this figure rose as high as 9.8% among respondents in Bangkok. Nonetheless, the number of respondents who felt that their communities had moderate to severe drug problems fell from 16.6% in November 2003 to only 11.5% in the latest survey. Most encouragingly for the government, the number of respondents who stated that drugs could no longer be purchased in their communities rose from 43.3% in November last year to 54.3% in the latest survey. An impressive 94.3% also gave the thumbs up to the government?s anti-drugs measures, saying that the war on drugs had proved successful. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thai stocks plunge

Posted by hasekamp on 11 May 2004 at 12:05 PM
The Thai bourse yesterday experienced its worst single-day loss since the September 11 terrorist attacks, dropping almost 5 per cent, as global equities sharply fell. Analists blame sensitivity to high oil prices and interest rates. It was the biggest percentage plunge since the 6.7-per-cent drop on September 13, 2001, just after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Foreign investors were net sellers yesterday. The SET was not the only market to suffer yesterday, with all Asian markets plunging following the 123.92-point dive in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday. Despite negative sentiment, which could drive the SET Index below the psychological 600-point barrier, a finance expert said it was a good time to buy Thai stock. (Source: The Nation)


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"No jihad"

Posted by hasekamp on 11 May 2004 at 12:03 PM
Islamic religious leaders have joined the effort to end violence in the deep South, telling Muslims the April 28 clashes were not jihad or holy war but the actions of religious outcasts. Insurgent groups were distorting the principle of an Islamic doctrine to mislead Muslim men into fighting against the authorities in the erroneous belief they would go to heaven if killed in action, said Waedueramae Mamingji, chairman of Pattani's provincial Islamic committee. He said the clashes in Pattani, Yala and Songkhla apparently resulted from the movement, which distorted the "Talikat" doctrine to mislead Muslims that they could be part of a holy war. He denied Islam taught followers to die in such a way or to kill others.
Vinai Sama-oon, vice-chairman of the Central Islamic Committee of Thailand, also told a gathering of 500 Muslims at a mosque in Satun province late Sunday night that the Muslims killed on April 28 were not considered jihadis. Although relatives of the people killed at Krue Se Mosque in Pattani believed the deaths were for a jihad, that belief was personal and no religious organizations condoned this, he said. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's recent visit to the deep South was an attempt to restore local morale but would not end southern violence, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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How to restore tourism?

Posted by hasekamp on 10 May 2004 at 11:30 AM
As we know there is nothing more important than tourism for the Thai government. But ?finally- the Tourism and Sports Minister ha to admit that the number of tourists has dropped by 20 percent, as a result of the unrest in the south. The minister said that the violence in the south has caused considerable impact on the tourism industry. The government, therefore, has set up the short-term plan to solve the problem. As the 3 southernmost provinces have a lot of natural tourist attractions, the government will spend 250 million baht to develop these places and revive the local cultures. Pro-active marketing strategies will be applied to gain back the confidence of the tourists. OTOP (One Tambon, One Product) goods villages will become another choice of the tourists to visit. The government is planning to offer more privileges, such as tax incentives to attract the tourism entrepreneurs to invest in the 3 southernmost provinces. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Pigs killed by lightning

Posted by hasekamp on 10 May 2004 at 11:23 AM
Authorities will today discuss how to assist a large farm where 250 stock pigs were electrocuted and about 200 seriously injured after lightning struck their enclosure on Saturday night. For the pigs this is not very serious. They would have been killed anyway, b y the butcher. But the farmer has a heavy financial loss. The farm owner yesterday said the damage could reach 4 million Baht.
One hundred and fifteen pigs were instantly killed, with another 135 dying by press time yesterday. Around 200 of the animals remained in serious condition. The farmer said he started his pig farm nearly 20 years ago using loans from the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives. He said he later expanded his business and his farm had become one of the biggest in the district. The Buri Ram Governor visited the farm and said he would convene a meeting of relevant agencies today to provide the farmer with assistance. The farmer yesterday had a cook prepare free pork dishes for locals, as the pigs could not be sold commercially. (Source: The Nation)


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Temples will be smoke-free

Posted by hasekamp on 10 May 2004 at 11:15 AM
Monks will be urged to quit smoking and all temples will be declared cigarette-free zones under an agreement reached during a seminar on Buddhism and tobacco control last month in Cambodia. The representatives of monks and Buddhist organizations from Thailand, Laos and Cambodia have agreed that monks and laymen should, in keeping with the principles of Buddhism, abstain from cigarettes. The representatives decided that to promote this conviction a project should be launched to urge the monks and men wanting to enter the monkhood to quit smoking, and that smoking at temples should be prohibited.
A recent survey on the smoking habits among Thai monks found that 24.4% of them are smoking. The East and Central regions has the highest percentage of smokers. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New plan for the South

Posted by hasekamp on 8 May 2004 at 16:39 PM
A new plan is needed to draw sympathizers away from southern insurgents, says Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Many people that quietly supported the insurgents deserve a second chance, Mr. Thaksin said on the second day of his visit to the South. Sympathizers had been misled into supporting the separatist movement and should be given a chance to join national development. Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh earlier proposed an amnesty for people involved in the wave of violence. However, Mr. Thaksin said police planned to arrest more people involved in the April 28 uprising. Authorities knew who was pulling the strings but they lacked evidence.
Today Mr. Thaksin will visit Krue Se Mosque, where 32 militants, mostly Muslim youths, were shot dead on April 28. He will also talk to Muslim people in nearby communities about what happened at the mosque on the day. Mr. Thaksin is expected to meet 12 ambassadors from Islamic countries who will also visit the mosque today. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin consoles relatives

Posted by hasekamp on 8 May 2004 at 16:31 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday consoled families of some of the suspected Muslim militants killed in clashes with authorities last Wednesday as he began a three-day tour of the deep South amid unprecedented security.
Reporters' cars were blocked from the Army airport in Songkhla's Hat Yai district when Thaksin arrived in the afternoon while hundreds of police - both in uniform and plainclothes - were deployed to check for explosives on all the bridges and roads which Thaksin was to pass over.
Police recorded the license plates of reporters' cars following the prime minister's procession.
Afterwards, Thaksin was driven to a health station at Songkhla's Saba Yoi sub-district, where 19 militants killed in the clashes - who played in the same football team - came from. Thousands of villagers, mostly children and women, turned up to see him, including families of those killed.
Thaksin then moved on to Wat Muang in Yala's Krong Pinang district. He said he would stay there overnight because he wanted to be with villagers where the violence began and where 17 suspected militants were killed. Villagers there asked Thaksin to support Islamic schools as well as funds for water and hospital developments - which he approved.
Thaksin asked the Imam to check if anyone was brainwashing locals and distorting Islam. He said the government would allocate 9 billion Baht for developments in the three southernmost provinces, which he described as having plentiful natural resources and much potential. (Source: The Nation)


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Hotline for transport complaints

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2004 at 11:17 AM
On Phuket island customers who believe they have been overcharged -or otherwise maltreated- by tuk-tuk, taxi, minibus and airport limousine drivers will soon be able to make complaints direct to the Phuket Provincial Transportation Office (PPTO) through a new telephone hotline number, 1584. The new line will be manned 24 hours a day and is due to go into service at the end of May. An investigation will be started after a complaint. Problems associated with motorcycle taxi drivers will not, for now, come under this system. This is because motorcycle taxi operators are currently exempt from rules imposed under the Land Transportation Act.
Any tuk-tuk operator found not to be displaying the fares list or charging more than the maximum fare for a trip is liable to a fine of up to 2,000 baht. Officers should be able to conclude an investigation within seven days of the complaint being submitted, provided that the complainant gives them specific information to identify the offender, such as the operator?s license number or the vehicle?s PPTO registration number (painted on the side of the vehicle). (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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SET on lowest level since 5 months

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2004 at 11:07 AM
In the whole world the stock markets are not performing well, but Asia, including Thailand, has still done relatively well. However, Thai stocks fell to a five-month low yesterday, acording to foreign analistys on concerns that rebels may make further attacks against the government. Falling for the fifth day in a row, the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index closed down 10.09 points, or 1.57 per cent, at 634.01 points. A few months ago the SET index still was above 700 points. (Source: Reuters)


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Thaksin visits bereaved families

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2004 at 11:28 AM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will visit the families of 19 southern militants who were killed in the April 28 attack on a police checkpoint in Saba Yoi district of Songkhla. Tonight he will stay in Yala, at one of the 12 points attacked by militants on April 28. Mr. Thaksin, accompanied by army chief Gen Chaisit Shinawatra, will arrive in Songkhla's Hat Yai district and later travel by car to a village to meet relatives of the 19 men killed in the April 28 clash. Mr. Thaksin first wanted to stay overnight in either a Muslim village or a mosque, but the military disagreed and asked him not to visit Krue Se Mosque in Pattani where 32 militants were killed on April 28. Islamic principles bar Buddhists from sleeping in a mosque. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chickenpox epidemic

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2004 at 11:21 AM
The Ministry of Public Health has warned of a chickenpox epidemic, which is sweeping across Thailand, with over 20,000 people now infected. Figures collected from public health offices across the country show that 22,833 people have been infected with the virus since the beginning of the year, with the highest risk group being children aged 5-9 years old. The highest rate of infection is in the northern region, with an infection rate of 63 per 100,000, while in the southern region the infection rate is 19 per 100,000. Anyone infected with the virus is urged to take around 5 days leave from work or school, in order to help reduce the chances of spreading the infection.
If you are going to Thailand soon, especially when you have small children, be aware that they may catch the disease that usually is quite harmless, by the way. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Another call to the media

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2004 at 10:30 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday warned the media over its news coverage of violence in the deep South, saying it could be damaging to the economy and tourism. He urged the media to avoid reports that were based on unconfirmed rumors or questionable sources.
The premier lectured the media while dismissing press reports, quoting a National Intelligence Agency report, which should state that insurgents planned violent attacks in Bangkok, with Government House and Parliament among the prime targets. According to the PM these press quotes were not according to the facts. The prime minister was speaking to reporters at Government House before his meeting with visiting the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister. Thaksin also said that he would begin a three-day tour of the South on Thursday (today). The prime minister has instructed local authorities not to provide extra security measures. (Source: The Nation)


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Royal decorations for 82 men and women

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2004 at 10:29 AM
A Muslim philanthropist, an educator, a city clerk, an ambassador and a Cabinet member?s wife are among 30 ladies joining 52 knights to be decorated on yesterday's Coronation Day. His Majesty the King will bestow the Most Illustrious Order of Chula Chom Klao to 82 men and women in recognition of their meritorious services to the Kingdom. Unlike other decorations, the list of Chula Chom Klao Order recipients is given for Royal discretion. This means that His majesty may choose the recipients personally, without approval of the government. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin now admits that separatism played a role

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2004 at 10:28 AM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, while preparing to visit the South this week, has now admitted that separatism plays a part in perpetuating southern violence. Still he says that tackling poverty should solve the problem. We believe that His Majesty the King, in an earlier audience, before the killings, suggested this to Mr. Thaksin.
This was the first time the prime minister has attributed the on-going unrest in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat to separatist insurgency. "I never said separatism was not the factor." Mr. Thaksin now said. The government would find a permanent solution to southern peace. Job creation schemes would work in the long run, he said. The government has committed billions of baht to the southern development programs, which it promised would bear fruit in the next few years. The policies are mostly about job creation, wealth distribution and security improvement.
Mr. Thaksin will visit the far south from Thursday to Saturday to assess the security situation following the April 28 attacks. He urged the media not to report the southern unrest in a way that disturbed the investment climate. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Mosque clash investigation

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2004 at 10:28 AM
Thailand has appointed an independent commission to probe last week's mosque killings, amid international concern about it. The announcement was made as Malaysian senior officials arrived in Bangkok for talks on the violence, which has damaged the ?not always very good- Thai-Malaysian relations. Malaysian public opinion is sensitive to the plight of fellow Malay Muslims in southern Thailand.
The UN and local Muslim leaders have questioned the degree of force used by Thai security forces in quashing the violence. More than 30 Muslim militants died in the mosque shoot-out and a further 70+ elsewhere in the deep southern provinces. The independent commission, which will be headed by a former judge, Suchinda Yongsoonthorn, is required to find the persons or agencies that should take responsibility for possible legal implications. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Support from the US

Posted by hasekamp on 4 May 2004 at 11:27 AM
The United States has offered to set up a military base in Thailand following violence in the deep South, attributed to Islamic separatists. This was said by a source familiar with security affairs. US President George W Bush made the offer to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to help solve regional security problems amid increased fears about the involvement of international terrorists.
Another source said Bush had also secretly offered to send anti-terrorist forces to fight alongside Thai soldiers in the South, an arrangement similar to the military assistance the US provided to the Philippine government to help it suppress an Islamic rebellion on the island of Mindanao.
Whatever you may think of this offer, it makes the opinion of the US about the recent killings clear. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin repeats: No innocent people were killed

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2004 at 15:11 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has once more said that no innocent people were killed during the clash in the southernmost provinces on April 28th. The Prime Minister said that the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand should have asked for the information from the government before concluding that the militants were physically assaulted before they died. He reiterated that no innocent citizens were killed during the clash. DNA samples of all of the people who died are kept for further investigations. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Tourism minister is confident

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2004 at 15:10 PM
Despite criticism from around the world and an official warning from the Australian government, the Thai Tourism Minister today dismissed suggestions that tourism numbers could fall this year as a result of the latest round of violence in the southern border region. The minister pointed at newly released figures showing an increase in visitor arrivals at Bangkok?s Don Muang Airport throughout April. The minister added: "In the last three days of April, when violence occurred in the south, we still had an average of 24,400 visitor arrivals, up from 10,800 during the same period last year, and 19,200 in 2002". The latest figures from the Immigration Police Bureau show that last month 625,998 tourists arrived at Don Muang Airport, up 62 percent from the same period in 2003, when tourism numbers had been slashed by fears over SARS, and up 8.3 percent from the same period in 2002.
On 5 May the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is due to meet with a number of private sector tourism associations to assess the latest tourism situation and draw up approaches to stimulate the tourism market for the remainder of the year. We wonder if these statistics say anything about what we really would like to know: Did the killings in the south influence tourism? Arrivals on 28 and 29 April can hardly have been affected. Separate figures for 30 April and the first two days of May have not been published!
But anyway, this news item proves once more that only one thing seems to count for the Thai government: "How can we attract tourists?" (Source: Thai news Agency)


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Australia gives travel advice

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2004 at 15:08 PM
The Australian government has warned its citizens in Thailand to exercise particular vigilance in the southern provinces of Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga, Phatthalung and Satun for safety reasons. The warning, posted on a government website, included Phi Phi island in Krabi province. We wonder if this does not go a bit further than necessary, but here it is.
Australians are also advised to postpone non-essential travel to the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla, including non-essential overland travel to and from the Malaysian border through these provinces, the Australian government further said. The warning also said that Australian citizens should exercise extreme caution in places popular with foreign tourists and expatriates. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Senators want an explanation

Posted by hasekamp on 2 May 2004 at 16:11 PM
A group of senators plans to seek a Senate resolution to demand that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra explain the government's handling of violence in the South. A number of senators are gathering signatures to support a motion seeking the resolution. The motion will be submitted to the Senate tomorrow. If the resolution is approved, the prime minister will be required to give his statement to the Senate under article 210 of the constitution. There are indications, according to some senators, that the government knew in advance what would happen on April 28. Those masterminding the raids might have leaked the secret, so that the government could prepare itself. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin is not impressed by foreign criticism

Posted by hasekamp on 2 May 2004 at 16:10 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has defended the government's handling of the violence in the South, saying he does not care if some foreign countries do not understand. Mr. Thaksin said people overseas had raised questions concerning the violence last Wednesday in which 106 Muslim militants were killed and 17 arrested. He said those arrested after the attacks had admitted they were fighting to advance the cause of separatism. People wanting to expand their influence in drugs and contraband had used them, according to the Thai PM. Their attack on government positions, and the military's response, was reported worldwide, damaging the country's image. Mr. Thaksin said critics should remember that 97 people had been killed and more than 90 injured in violence in the South in the last four months. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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UN wants investigation

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2004 at 14:16 PM
The Thai government has defended the killings last week, saying security forces had to take "strong and decisive action". But the UN now demands that measures be taken to ensure full respect for the human rights of all concerned, including those detained following Wednesday's confrontations, UN spokesman Jose Diaz said. The UN is not alone in questioning the level of force used by the Thai security forces to quash the attacks. The New York-based group Human Rights Watch said on Thursday that Thailand should investigate whether "such a high level of lethal force was necessary", and Muslim leaders have also questioned the severity of the authorities' response. Also Thai human rights workers have demanded respect for human rights right fater the killings. (Source: BBC News)


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Tigers attack zoo worker

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2004 at 14:12 PM
A young female worker at Chon Buri's Sriracha Tiger Zoo is in intensive care after being attacked yesterday by the six Bengal tigers she was feeding. The attack occurred yesterday afternoon after the zoo worker (18) hit one of the tigers with a stick to force it to sit for tourists, according to visitors who witnessed the incident. The tiger then turned towards her and attacked, while other tigers joined in behind a glass-covered enclosure at the zoo, the witnesses said. Co-workers aided by scaring the tigers away with clubs. They gathered her up and rushed her to hospital, the witnesses said. A tour guide said the incident took place in front of more than 100 tourists from China and South Korea. He said that he realized something bad was happening when he heard loud shrieks coming from the glass cage. Employees said the young woman was not a qualified animal trainer. The zoo owner has not yet commented, because he was in a meeting. (Source: The Nation)


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Government briefs foreign envoys

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2004 at 12:19 PM
The Foreign Ministry yesterday said the government regretted that the crackdown on Muslim militants on Wednesday had resulted in a high death toll, but it was necessary to preserve public security and safety. The ministry spokesman further said that the death toll is indeed unfortunate. He was speaking after a briefing of foreign diplomats on the bloody clashes in Yala, Pattani and Songkhla provinces in which 108 Muslim insurgents were killed. (The number of victims still seems to change a bit every day).
"Given the scale and intensity and swiftness of the attacks carried out by the militants, the government security forces had to take strong and decisive action, otherwise overall public security and safety could have been severely affected," the ministry said. It was added that the clash at the mosque, where 32 militants seeking refuge were killed, had been threatening to escalate after a six-hour standoff, compelling the security forces to take decisive action to bring the situation under control.
The foreign envoys were told that the militants had been well trained and had attacked police outposts in those provinces systematically. The militants, aged between 19 and 23, were divided into groups, and each group had a chief aged about 50 when they attacked. Asked about reports that some countries had offered to help solve the problems, the spokesman said that it was an internal problem and Thailand could handle it by itself. However, he said the country welcomed any cooperation on the exchange of information that could lead to the mastermind of the incident. (Source: The Nation)


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Ban on foreign media. Plea to local media

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2004 at 12:17 PM
Reporters from foreign news agencies have been barred from entering military precincts in the South after their reports on Wednesday's uprising upset Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The southern army also asked the Thai media, in particular iTV (Independent Television), to avoid showing sympathy for the militants killed during the violence in Yala, Pattani and Songkhla provinces on Wednesday. A military source said the ban was imposed after the prime minister said he was unhappy with foreign news reports criticizing the authorities' use of lethal force against the militants. About 60 reporters from foreign news agencies including CNN, BBC, Reuters, AP and AFP flocked to the deep South following Wednesday's clashes between security forces and the militants, mostly young Muslims. We have given overviews of most of these reports and we wonder what has upset the PM so much about them. A military official yesterday called on the local media to support military and police officers instead of taking the militants' side. "Please sympathize with us and report news for the benefit of our country," he said.
It was also made public that the army commander-in-chief, had ordered the transfer of a news editor from the (Thai army-run) Channel 5 on grounds that the station was too slow in reporting about Wednesday's events. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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