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Government wants hotels in deep South

Posted by hasekamp on 30 June 2004 at 10:56 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is ventilating an idea to attract private sector investment in proposed luxury seaside hotel projects in three southern border provinces, where violence often strikes, with 99-year public land lease contracts. A Government spokesman said the prime minister told yesterday's cabinet meeting that he wanted relevant agencies to study how to attract the private sector to invest in proposed seaside hotel projects in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, with the aim of promoting tourism there. The Cabinet has set a goal to increase the number of tourists to 20 million per year and raise income to 700 billion baht a year within 2008. We wonder if tourists will be willing to visit the southern provinces, even if four- or five-star hotels will be built there. (Source: Tha Bangkok Post)


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Aids treatment centers tour

Posted by hasekamp on 29 June 2004 at 19:15 PM
As a lead-up to next month's International Aids Conference, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday hosted ambassadors and international non-governmental Aids organizations on a tour of Thailand's successes in fighting the deadly disease in the North. The tour group included ambassadors from China, India, Nigeria, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Canada and the European Commission's Delegation to Thailand, as well as representatives from the UN Children's Fund, UN Development Program, UN Population Fund, UN program on Aids and the World Health Organization. The delegation started off in Chiang Mai's Chiang Dao district, where it learnt about the province's efforts to care for HIV-infected adults and children born with the virus. Chiang Dao's community-based anti-retroviral treatment program is part of a government initiative to give the infected drugs to help them lead normal lives. Mr. Thaksin did not give any interviews during the tour. The Public Health Minister, who joined the trip, said the tour was aimed at promoting to the world the success of HIV and Aids work in the country before the Aids conference on July 11-16 in Bangkok. (Source: The Nation)


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Violence during PM tour to the South

Posted by hasekamp on 28 June 2004 at 19:06 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's trip to the deep South was marred yesterday by continued violence that claimed two more lives and injured seven more people. A fatal shooting took place in Pattani in the morning, just hours before the premier's visit to the province. As Thaksin presided over a special football match in Yala in the afternoon, an explosion erupted at a football field in nearby Narathiwat. The explosion killed a marine officer and critically injured six others.
Thaksin and some of his Cabinet members flew to the South yesterday with a pledge to tackle poverty. Before his departure from Bangkok, the premier was unshaken when reporters raised the possibility that his trip might be subject to sabotage. "There's no problem. I am ready to die. It'll be cool to die on duty," Thaksin said. (Source: The Nation)


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War on corruption

Posted by hasekamp on 28 June 2004 at 19:06 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has started a new war: the War on Corruption. He believes that if he dies more to lift the standard of living for low-level officials, corruption can be fought effectively in his next term. Mr. Thaksin said that corruption would drop if low-ranking officials who serve the public had enough income to take care of themselves and their families. If he was re-elected, he would launch projects to improve the life of these officials. Police will be among the first to receive such attention.
And this is the way the Thai election campaign for 2005 starts. Fact is that Thai government workers have a lower salary than workers for the private sector. However, they have other advantages like low-interest loans.
Mr. Thaksin: "We must place more importance on low-level officials because they deal with people. They must have enough to eat and spend." The state would have more income in the 2005 and 2006 fiscal years to realize his policies. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin visits the South once more

Posted by hasekamp on 27 June 2004 at 12:41 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has arrived in the southern province of Pattani today to help boost morale among the residents of the South. The Prime Minister is scheduled to travel to Yala province later today to preside over the inaugural match of a new soccer league.
Prior to the visit, police in Pattani said that a former village leader was ambushed by gunmen on a motorbike and shot dead. The victim was killed while driving his motorcycle to go shopping. A female bystander was also shot and wounded by a stray bullet. The identity of the attackers has not yet been known. Nearly 300 people have been killed in the south this year. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Back to Siam?

Posted by hasekamp on 27 June 2004 at 12:40 PM
A former political activist called on the government to accept the existence of ethnic Malays by changing the country's name back to Siam. The -now- old man, Supoj Dantrakul, said accepting ethnic Malays and other ethnic groups was key to ending unrest in the troubled South. The 81-year-old man was speaking at a forum on sustainable peace in the deep South to mark the 72nd anniversary of the June 24, 1932 revolution. He said love of one's ethnic origins and motherland was a key factor contributing to southern unrest. He said that the name "Thailand" is based on an obsolete concept of ethnicity. The name "Siam", on the other hand, is up to date, and reflects reality because it is the land on which people of various ethnic origins live. We doubt if the wish of this old man will be granted, but we find it interesting enough to mention on this page. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Nearly 3 tons of seized drugs burnt

Posted by hasekamp on 26 June 2004 at 11:45 AM
The government has incinerated nearly 3 tons of seized narcotics, worth over 6 billion baht street value, at the Bang Pa In Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya yesterday (June 25th). The mass burning, to mark International Anti-narcotics Day on June 26th, will represent the 31st such exercise in Thailand. Other organizations to take part in the event will include the Royal Thai Police, the Royal Thai Army and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board. Over 2.659 kilogram’s of narcotics from 1,166 cases, worth almost 6 billion baht, have been burnt. Of the total weight 2 tons were Yaba, or methamphetamines, 378 kilogram’s were heroin, and 82 kilograms were opium (still being grown in the "Golden Triangle"), and smaller quantities of codeine, ecstasy, cocaine and cannabis. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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English courses for nurses

Posted by hasekamp on 24 June 2004 at 12:19 PM
The Ministry of Public Health has announced it is pulling out all the stops to ensure that Thai nurses could communicate with foreigners, with intensive English language courses, and training in Australia and New Zealand for final year nursing students. Thailand wants to become a regional healthcare hub. Therefore the Deputy Public Health Minister said the ministry would provide more effective English language training for nurses at its 31 training schools. This year state nursing colleges will train a total of 4,300 students, compared to 1,000 trained in previous years. The ministry will introduce a new English language curriculum, both at bachelor’s degree level and for shorter training courses. Nursing schools would hire more foreign language instructors, and would send final year students for three months of intensive training in Australia and New Zealand, in order to familiarize them with an international nursing environment. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Away with pornography!

Posted by hasekamp on 24 June 2004 at 12:18 PM
The Culture Minister has proposed the establishment of a dedicated agency to clamp down on pornography, warning that problems relating to pornographic materials were getting increasingly out of hand. Blaming the burgeoning nature of Thailand’s pornography industry on the lack of a specialist control force, the culture minister spoke of a lack of dedicated networks and people who could work to solve the problem. At the same time, he said, legal penalties against those convicted of pornography were weak, and few attempts were being made to seriously enforce the law. Cartoons for children and young people, in particular, present inappropriate material. We support this plan by the Thai government. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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His Majesty the King will open subway

Posted by hasekamp on 23 June 2004 at 19:15 PM
His Majesty the King will open Bangkok's new 20 km-long subway system on July 3 at the Hua Lampong station when the system begins operating with fares of 12 to 34 baht and service hours of 5 am to midnight. Subway trains will reach stations every 2-4 minutes during peak hours and every 4-6 minutes at other times. Each train will have three cars and a capacity of 320 passengers. The system can carry 40,000 passengers an hour. The subway is now 100% ready for service, an expert said. The company is awaiting official approval from the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA). It is expected that the Hua Lampong-Bang Sue subway to serve at least 250,000 passengers a day. BMCL has 19 three-carriage trains. If daily traffic reaches 300,000 passengers, it will order at least five more trains. The 12-34 baht fares depend on the distance traveled and increase incrementally from 12 baht by two baht per station traveled to. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Immigration website in 10 languages

Posted by hasekamp on 22 June 2004 at 19:27 PM
The Phuket Provincial Immigration Office (PPIO) has launched its website, which includes information about Immigration regulations and procedures in 10 languages. The website, found at http://www.phuketimmigration.com, has Immigration information in Thai, Swedish, Russian, English, German, Norwegian, Japanese, Italian, French and Korean. Besides general immigration information for foreigners wanting to enter or stay in Thailand, the website holds a copy of the Immigration Act, a list of fees charged for Immigration services, and a list of contact details of other Immigration offices throughout Thailand, including links to those that have websites of their own. We think this may e useful information for our readers. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Ex-abbot jailed (150 years) for rape

Posted by hasekamp on 22 June 2004 at 19:27 PM
After a nine-year trial, the former abbot of Wat Samphran in Nakhon Pathom province was sentenced to 150 years in jail yesterday for raping nine underage hilltribe girls while he was in the monkhood. Chamlong Konsue, 55, better known by his monastic name Bhavana Buddho, was convicted by the Bangkok Criminal Court for raping the nine underage girls. They were participants in the monk's project to adopt hilltribe children from Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son provinces. Once a popular monk with a large following, Chamlong was disrobed when the sexual offences came to light in a major scandal in 1995. During the long-running legal prosecution, he was granted bail and continued to live at Wat Samphran. Despite the 150-year sentence, Chamlong, who appeared in court throughout the trial wearing a brown robe similar to those worn by certain Thai monks, would "only" have to serve 50 years because of Thai legal limits - if he lives that long. Seven nuns at Wat Samphran were accused of procuring the children for Chamlong between 1988 and 1995. Six of the women were convicted and received jail terms ranging from three to 20 years, while the other woman's case was dropped. After the trial, Chamlong and the six convicted women said they planned to appeal. Chamlong was arrested in 1995 after several of the raped girls' parents complained to police. The trial took nine years due to the large number of accused and the numerous requests for postponements by both the defense and prosecution. (Source: The Nation)


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Grow rice and raise fish

Posted by hasekamp on 22 June 2004 at 11:08 AM
Fish and rice may be the perfect combination on the dinner plate, but according to the Department of Agricultural Extension, they could be a valuable combination in rice paddies too. In order to boost agricultural incomes, the Department of Agricultural Extension is working in conjunction with the Department of Fisheries to encourage organic rice farmers to also raise fish in their paddies. The Department of Agricultural Extension said in a statement that a pilot scheme would run from now until January 2005, with schemes launched in 61 provinces across the country.
Raising fish in paddy fields will not only give farmers a source of protein to eat, but will also help boost rice yields, as the fish will help to eliminate crop pests. Moreover, the participating farmers would be required to avoid the use of chemicals. Fish species participating in the program include Nile tilapia, carp, barb and giant freshwater prawns. It is expected that at least 60% of participating farmers would be able to boost their annual incomes. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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No tourists for Hat Yai

Posted by hasekamp on 22 June 2004 at 11:07 AM
Hat Yai has a problem with the number of tourists. There has been hope that the Euro 2004 soccer tournament would revive the fortunes of the city that is also affected by unrest in nearby southern provinces. However, the Euro 2004 competition has not brought in new tourists to entertainment venues in Hat Yai. Even Thais are staying home to watch the games.
The chairman of Hat Yai-Songkhla Hotel Business Association said that all hotels in Hat Yai have been affected to varying degrees by the unrest, depending on their locations and management methods, saying many hotels were suffering a 50% decline in hotel room occupancy. Some hotels try to attract guests by lowering room prices or through promotions, and others are cutting costs by switching off air-conditioners. The hotels in Hat Yai were not full in summer and during long school holidays this year. Even Thai tourists cancelled their reservations. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Man with 400 geckoes found

Posted by hasekamp on 5 June 2004 at 12:04 PM
Wildlife protectionists and police still meet unpleasant surprises in Thailand. Yesterday wildlife officials have stepped up surveillance of suspected poachers, after one poacher was found in possession of more than 400 geckoes. The man, 41, was arrested by wildlife officials at a forest plantation in Lampang province. The geckoes were found in a sack recovered from the suspect's pick-up truck. The man said that he had been contacted by a trader who paid about 3 baht(!) per gecko. He was charged with violating the Wildlife Protection Act. A senior wildlife official said many northeasterners believed eating geckoes could increase their libido. When will these fairy tales at last be exterminated by proper wildlife education!!
The lizard is also a popular "normal" delicacy abroad, particularly in Taiwan. Forestry and wildlife officials had been ordered to closely monitor the activities of suspected poachers. We hope this will help. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bangkok: 1,000 buildings unsafe

Posted by hasekamp on 3 June 2004 at 23:09 PM
Leading engineers warned yesterday that nearly 1,000 buildings in Bangkok are unsafe, with many at risk of collapse, like the (former) New World department store, that collapsed partially during demolition works. In the wake of the partial collapse of the building, which injured seven people on Wednesday, representatives of the Engineering Institute of Thailand and the Council of Engineers said such risky structures were still being used and serving the general public. Such buildings included a department store and a shoe shop in Banglamphu, a department store in Lat Phrao, a theatre in Siam Square and a tutorial school in front of Ramkhamhaeng University.
Although the Interior Ministry introduced a new building control law in 2000 which allowed authorities to demolish risky buildings immediately, it had not been implemented yet. If the new law would be enforced, any risky building can be dismantled right away without a court order. Deputy Interior Minister Pramual Rujanaseri, meanwhile, said it would speed up demolition work on over 700 buildings around the city which had been illegally modified. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Better late then never

Posted by hasekamp on 3 June 2004 at 23:00 PM
At last Phuket seems to have discovered, be it from foreign publications that the island is losing its beauty, to put it mildly. Tourist business figures and environmental activists are, remarkably, in agreement with an assessment by one of the world's top travel magazines that Phuket is getting ugly as a tourist destination. The "ugly" assessment was published by the National Geographic Traveler magazine after it conducted a survey, in collaboration with the National Geographic Sustainable Tourism Initiative, of 200 specialists in sustainable tourism, destination stewardship and related fields. The specialists assessed 115 well-known destinations worldwide. Phuket came third from last with a score of 43 out of 100. Phuket came well behind four other destinations in Southeast Asia: Indonesia's Borobodur scored 61, Bali 58, Angkor 52 and Chiang Mai 51. Destinations were given scores for environmental and ecological quality; social and cultural integrity; condition of built heritage; aesthetic appeal; appropriateness of tourism development and outlook for sustainability. They were also scored from 1 to 10 for overall condition, ranging from 1 for catastrophic to 10 for enhanced. The Vice-President of Marketing of the Phuket Tourism Association said that he agreed with the result of the survey. "We have to accept the reality. We should try to improve Phuket instead of making excuses. We know what is happening, so we should not lie to ourselves. We think too much about attracting tourists but never about protecting the environment or improving public utilities to support tourism."
We have not read such wise words about degrading Phuket for years! The island is turning from a tropical paradise into an ugly place. We wonder what action will be taken now. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Monks warn Chavalit

Posted by hasekamp on 2 June 2004 at 19:29 PM
Buddhist monks in the South have warned Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh that he is heading in the wrong direction with security policy by pleasing Muslims while neglecting Buddhist residents. The abbot of Wat Khao Kong represented 40 other monks in Narathiwat who felt that Gen Chavalit, who oversees national security, had overlooked the plight of Buddhist residents in restoring security in the deep South. He said the prevailing sentiment was that Gen Chavalit appeared so preoccupied with taking care of Muslims that he lost sight of the well being of Buddhist residents. He would raise the matter with Gen Chavalit when the latter attends ceremonies at the temple today to celebrate Visaka Puja Day. The abbot said he was the only monk left in the temple. Six other monks had moved to relatively safer Songkhla since separatist militants began assaulting and killing monks in the deep South. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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High speed railway to new airport

Posted by hasekamp on 2 June 2004 at 19:29 PM
The Thai cabinet has approved the building of an elevated express train system linking Bangkok and its new airport at an estimated cost of 30 billion baht. The project is due for completion in three years. Suvarnabhumi airport is set to open in September next year. The Transport Minister said the airport rail link will stretch 28 kilometers from Phya Thai via Makkasan and Asok to the new airport at Nong Ngu Hao in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan province. The line will be elevated all the way. The service will comprise "airport express" and "city line" trains. Express trains will roll at 160 km/h without stops and fares will range from 150-200 baht.
The city line will service communities and stop at all eight stations on the route: Phya Thai, Ratchaprarop, Makkasan, Ramkhamhaeng, Hua Mark, Thab Chang, Lat Krabang and Suvarnabhumi. City line fares will be the same as the BTS skytrain. This new connection will be a greay help for tourists. Sadly it is ready (axcoding to schedule!) almost three years too late. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Visakha Puja Day

Posted by hasekamp on 2 June 2004 at 19:26 PM
Today is Viskna Puja Day. On that occasion Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra led a vigil walk ceremony at Sanam Luang ceremonial ground in Bangkok. The ceremony, scheduled at 6.30 pm, also commemorated the auspicious occasion of the 72th birthday anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen this year (on October 12). The walk was in circle and in clockwise direction around a piece of the holy relic of the Lord Buddha, which has been put on display for public worship in the middle of Sanam Luang. The Lord Buddha's holy relic was then ushered back to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha Temple. In the morning, Bangkok Governor Samak Sundaravej led over 2,000 Buddhist in an alms offering to 223 Buddhist at Sanum Luang. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Talks called off

Posted by hasekamp on 1 June 2004 at 19:53 PM
Talks between Thai authorities and a Muslim separatist leader have been indefinitely postponed, an army spokesman says, as violence worsens in the Muslim-majority southern provinces. The army chief has confirmed that there will be no talks for the time being. The talks had been expected to take place early this month. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra initially agreed to the talks, saying the government was not recognizing the separatist group but wanted to obtain information to help to stop the troubles that have seen almost 200 people killed this year. The proposal met with resistance, particularly from Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh who is responsible for security affairs and who said the talks were dangerous and would boost the status of the separatists. (Source: AFP)


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