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Safari world faces charges

Posted by hasekamp on 30 July 2004 at 19:47 PM
About 100 orangutans in Safari World, an entertainment park and zoo just outside Bangkok, are believed to have been illegally imported from Indonesia. The owner of Safari World will therefore be charged with illegally importing orangutans, police said yesterday. The two offences suspected so far are punishable by up to four years in jail and a 40,000 baht fine. A team of Indonesian forestry officials and police are due to tour Safari World, on the eastern outskirts of Bangkok, at 10 am today to inspect the orangutans seized by police late last year that have been kept in captivity at the zoo. The owner said the orangutans - only about a dozen of which were registered - were either bred in the zoo or donated. But activists say there is no way the small number of females legally registered at Safari World could have bred so many babies, given that well over half of them are only a few years old. At a press conference, Thai and Indonesian wildlife groups spoke of the urgent need for an Asean taskforce to combat the illegal wildlife trade. We hope that at last this will be done. The groups also discussed a raid conducted several days ago by Forestry Department officials on the Wildlife Friends Rescue Center in Phetchaburi. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai Airways wants to buy 14 new aircraft

Posted by hasekamp on 29 July 2004 at 17:22 PM
This deal is worth 96.36 billion baht (2.3 billion US dollars) ands includes six super-jumbos able to carry 500 people, according to a statement lodged with the Thai stock exchange. The move, which also includes buying eight smaller planes, is subject to approval from the government, the major shareholder in the national carrier, it said.
The first aircraft is due for delivery next year but airline officials said that it has yet to choose between Airbus and its rival Boeing. The carrier already has 83 aircraft and the airline said talks with Thailand's finance ministry would resolve funding issues.
The super-jumbos will be used for Thai's European routes, one medium-sized long-range aircraft will service US flights and the remainder will operate on routes to Australia. The company expects to generate high profits, grow continuously, have a solid financial position and maintain market share, it said in its statement. In addition, it will also permit the company to be in the top ten leading airlines of the world and the top three leading airlines in Asia, both in terms of quality and service efficiency. (Source: Associated Press)


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Thailand wants to be regional bird flu center

Posted by hasekamp on 29 July 2004 at 17:14 PM
Thailand yesterday proposed itself as a contender for the regional coordination center for a diagnostic laboratory and surveillance network to fight the avian influenza that has reemerged in the Kingdom, Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang was speaking at the opening ceremony of the inaugural workshop for such a coordination effort for control and prevention of the bird flu. He said that regional efforts on the matter could not bear fruit without technical support on an international basis. He also urged that regional strategies for surveillance, control and prevention should be implemented because the avian flu rapidly spreads from country to country. We find a regional approach for the bird flu a good idea, if the countries concerned are willing to openly communicate. So far this seems not to be the case. So, if Thailand should become the regional center is a question for which the answer can be postponed. (Source: The Nation)


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Crackdown on annoying persons

Posted by hasekamp on 29 July 2004 at 17:05 PM
Police yesterday evening arrested about 30 people in a crackdown aimed at reducing the number of street peddlers pestering tourists to buy trinkets, plastic flowers, garlands or, in some cases, sex. We strongly support this kind of action. Walking in Patong can really be a nuisance, being hindered every minute!
Police said that some vendors had been going into bars and disturbing tourists who were trying to relax, by begging them to buy goods. More and more tourists have been complaining to the police about this, and now at last the police want to solve this problem. Some parents were also arrested for sending their young children out to sell flowers until the early hours of the morning. "Children should not be out at that time of night," a police spokesman said.
The vendors were fined 500 baht apiece for causing a public nuisance. There also have been an increasing number of complaints from tourists about people selling porn and ladyboys offering themselves. It looks as if Phuket is taking all these complaints serious now. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Investigation committee criticizes April killings

Posted by hasekamp on 28 July 2004 at 21:19 PM
The head of an inquiry into the killing of 32 militants in a mosque in southern Thailand, earlier this year, has accused security forces of using excessive force. Suchinda Yongsunthorn said heavily armed personnel stormed the Krue Se mosque, opening fire on militants armed only with knives and a single gun. The incident happened on 28 April, during an uprising in three southern provinces that left 108 rebels dead. Mr Suchinda heads a six-person committee investigating the killings. The resulting 30-page report was due to be delivered to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Wednesday. Asked by reporters if he believed too much force had been used inside the Krue Se, mosque in Pattani province, Mr Suchinda said: "Yes, I do feel that way."
The inquiry does not blame any particular individual and clears the military from blame, saying that the region had already been placed under martial law at the time of the uprising. (Source: BBC News)


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Tri-lingual personal computers

Posted by hasekamp on 28 July 2004 at 21:12 PM
Thailand always is ahead where computers are concerned. And they can do with computers what you and I cannot do. Today tri-lingual computers were announced for the country. The computers will have Thai, English, and Arabic operating systems. These computers will especially be of interest to Muslims and anyone doing business with the Middle Eastern countries, the managing director of the Islamic Bank Of Thailand (IBOT) said on Tuesday. The computers are to be produced by a joint venture between the IBOT and Saha Viriya Office Automation. So it looks as if Microsoft will not participate. We wonder if the new computers will be Windows® operated. It was only announced that there will be Cerelon-operated units and Pentium-operated machines. A notebook version of the tri-lingual computer could be available next year. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Floods hit Yasothon province

Posted by hasekamp on 28 July 2004 at 21:02 PM
Storms caused severe flooding in seven districts of Yasothon province yesterday and marooned more than 3,000 families in a tambon of Muang district when roads became impassable. Four days of heavy rain and runoff from Phu Phan range in Sakon Nakhon flooded Muang, Kham Khuen Kaeo, Kut Chum, Loeng Nok Tha, Pa Tiu, Thai Charoen and Sai Mun districts of Yasothon, and left some farmland under more than one meter of water. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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EU extends ban on chicken

Posted by hasekamp on 27 July 2004 at 12:10 PM
The European Union (now counting 25 member nations) yesterday extended a ban on chicken products and pet birds from nine Asian countries – including Thailand - due to the potentially deadly bird flu. The ban runs until December 15. "The Commission has adopted a decision to continue the suspension of imports into the EU of chicken products and pet birds from several Asian countries where avian influenza has been confirmed since the beginning of the year," the executive European Commission said in a statement. Including Thailand, the countries are Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Pakistan, China, South Korea and Vietnam. Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang said yesterday that the government was willing to disclose bird-flu information. There would no cover-up, he said. Mr. Chaturon said culling teams had killed poultry in 107 areas in 31 provinces, but found the virus in only 47 areas in 18 provinces. Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Somsak Thepsuthin once more said the government was confident it had the virus under control. But he added: "No one can give a guarantee, especially when it rains and becomes cold." (Sources: Reuters, The Nation)


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Thai jasmine rice must be popular worldwide

Posted by hasekamp on 27 July 2004 at 12:05 PM
The Thai Government is creating an intensive public relations campaign in order to promote Thai Jasmine Rice to the international market. Success of the campaign will lead to larger volumes of exports, especially to the new market in China. The Chairman of the Association of Thai Rice Exporters said that the Government’s PR campaign is to promptly promote Thai Jasmine Rice, with the aim of creating an awareness of the premium and high standard of Thai Rice to foreign consumers. The PR campaign will aim to help Thai products to penetrate each city in different countries, as well as to motivate and inspire Thai Rice exporters to export rice anywhere in the world. In addition, Thai Airways also is also backing the campaign by serving Thai Jasmine rice as an in-flight meal, to attract the foreign consumers. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thaksin is 55

Posted by hasekamp on 27 July 2004 at 11:59 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra celebrated his 55th birthday yesterday by giving alms to monks with his wife Khunying Pojamarn and their children. Mr. Thaksin wished a long life for himself, happiness for the Thai people and prosperity for the nation. Asked how he kept fit and healthy, he said: "There is lots of stuff to do. If we take everything too seriously we're in for trouble. So I have to learn to let go." He also said he planned out his days to ensure he has sufficient time for family, exercise and work. The premier said he welcomed cards from all well-wishers but that he preferred to have a quiet birthday with his family. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Letter by King Rama V?

Posted by hasekamp on 26 July 2004 at 12:52 PM
A letter, supposedly written by King Rama V 96 years ago, was put up for auction on the popular online auction site ebay earlier this month. The one-page letter, initially listed for US$ 550 (Bt 22,569), shows the letterhead seal bearing King Chulalongkorn's initials under the royal crown, as well as his purported handwriting and signature. A seller on ebay.com, identified as "nino00", listed the item with its photo and description as "19 Sept 1908 letter from King Rama V to his brother. Folded. Good conditions." on the auction site on July 13. But the auction offer expired as scheduled on July 20 without any bids. The seller posted a picture of the letter on the auction page but the text appearing in the image was barely legible as the image was too small in size and a part of the letter was covered with a stain. The Deputy director of the National Archives said after examining a copy of the image appearing on the website, that she could not confirm its authenticity but it is likely that it is authentic. A professional collector of items related to King Rama V, who requested anonymity, said that he doubted the letter's authenticity, as there were plenty of fake items on auction websites. (Source: The Nation)


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PM: Bird flu will soon be under control

Posted by hasekamp on 25 July 2004 at 18:04 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra confirmed today that the government could control the ongoing outbreak of bird flu epidemic. Speaking on his weekly radio program, Mr. Thaksin said both the Ministries of Public Health and the Agriculture and Cooperatives were now working together to take care of avian flu patients, if any, and the spread of the disease. People should not worry too much as the outbreak was now under control, as concerned officials were putting all efforts to stop the disease. He said long-term measures would be implemented in the future after the deadly disease broke out twice in the country since the beginning of this year.
Meanwhile officials have announced that the bird flu is now in 18 provinces of Thailand. Other sources (BBC News) report that a Thai boy and a Thai girl are now being tested, because they are suspected to have bird flu.
But we have seen before that Mr. Thaksin is an optimistic person. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Starving monkeys get a meal

Posted by hasekamp on 25 July 2004 at 17:58 PM
Postgraduate students from Ramkhamhaeng University (RU), Nakhon Si Thammarat campus, organized a free food festival for starving monkeys living on Kaewwichian Mountain and are preparing to raise a food fund for them. The festival is expected to become a tourist attraction. It was held on July 23 at Wat Khaokaewwichian. Ten tables were laden with bananas, rambutans, doughnuts and orange juice for about 150 monkeys. The festival began at 1.30 pm and lasted about one hour. Some monkeys carried leftover fruit back up the mountain. A spokesperson from the University said the idea for the festival and food fund had hit him when he noticed hungry monkeys on Kaewwichian Mountain. He imagined mountain’s location among open fields would attract tourists. (Source: The Nation)


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The real Bangkok Hilton was on TV

Posted by hasekamp on 23 July 2004 at 18:31 PM
We are one day late with this news item, and we are truly sorry. For the first time ever, television cameras have been given access to Thailand's notorious Bangkwang prison, also known in the West as the "Bangkok Hilton". Of its 7,000 inmates - mostly drug offenders - 883 have been sentenced to death. Bangkwang is Bangkok's maximum-security jail; designed for lifers and death row prisoners. The Thai people call Bangkwang the "Big Tiger" because it is a man-eater. Scores of prisoners have been put to death in its notorious execution chamber. After two years of delicate negotiations, the Thai prison system finally agreed to give the BBC access inside Bangkwang. Cameramen spent a tough two weeks inside, discovering harrowing stories from the prisoners battling to remain sane, and also the guards who are struggling to cope with the ever-increasing number of inmates. There is a small sign on the outside wall that says 883... the number of men waiting to be killed. And perhaps the most moving encounter the BBC had was with Amporn Birtling, a Thai prisoner on death row.
After execution (now by injection) the bodies are taken through a tiny red door called the "ghost gate" to a Buddhist temple on the other side of the wall. If relatives are waiting, they claim the body. If not the body is left in the temple cemetery. When there is no space left, a monk will cremate the bodies. The Real Bangkok Hilton was broadcast on Thursday, 22 July, 2004, at 2100 BST on BBC Two in the UK. Doubtless the program will be repeated. So, if you can receive BBC TV, keep an eye on the programs. (Source: BBC's Asia Pacific website)


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Thai Hom Mali rice from Cambodia

Posted by hasekamp on 23 July 2004 at 11:56 AM
A rice sample brought from Cambodia has the same DNA fingerprint as Thailand's famous Hom Mali 105, raising concern over the future of a key Thai export, said a senior bio-technologist. She said the sample was of Angkor Mali rice which had been sent to her office with five other samples to be tested in late May. The office undertook DNA testing of Cambodian rice strains after the department received complaints from farmers and rice millers in early May that some agro-industry companies might have shifted their rice cultivation to Cambodia. Local traders had expressed concern that expansion of Hom Mali rice plantations in Cambodia could damage Thailand's exports of the grain if the Cambodian product was substandard but packaged and labeled as a product of Thailand.
The president of the Thai Rice Millers Association said there were unconfirmed reports that some giant agro-business companies including the CP Group would invest in agricultural business in neighboring countries and that caused concerns among millers. CP denied it was involved in growing Hom Mali rice in Cambodia. But will this open the door to "Thai" rice grown in any country? The Thais are concerned about their rice products being copied for a long time already. The US seems active in this field too. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Need viagra®? Don't buy it in Bangkok!

Posted by hasekamp on 22 July 2004 at 17:00 PM
A large number of drugstores in Bangkok are selling fake medication and illegal sexual enhancement drugs, the deputy secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned today. Recent raids on drugstores in the Sukhumvit and Bang Rak areas of the capital have found 11 pharmacies selling fake products and other medicines for which they had not obtained a license. Legal action is now being taken against the offending stores, and the FDA would continue to carry out checks on drugstores to ensure consumer safety. The stores raided last week were found to be selling several varieties of unregistered sexual enhancement drugs, as well as drugs which are restricted to distribution by hospitals. The stores owners now face prison sentences of up to 20 years, and will have their licenses revoked. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Monks advise PM to calm down

Posted by hasekamp on 22 July 2004 at 16:54 PM
Senior monks yesterday warned Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra not to hastily critique political sermons, saying he should not allow mood swings to cloud his judgment. "A government leader is obliged to stay in control because his rash statements might cause a lot of damage," an abbot said. The abbot of Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai, said Thaksin should review each sermon in full rather than make blanket attacks against all of them.
"Men in the saffron robes have already removed themselves from the secular world," the monk said. "Their sermons are meant to promote moral lessons for everyone, including government leaders." Monks in Bangkok and Chiang Mai have voiced opposition to a government ban against airing sermons that contain political references. Thaksin denied on Tuesday his involvement in the ban, although he challenged monks to defrock and join a political party if they were critical of his government. This is not comprehensible to us. Should everybody, except politicians, agree with the government? (Source: The Nation)


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Woman may have bird flu

Posted by hasekamp on 21 July 2004 at 15:53 PM
A woman in Lopburi province has been admitted to hospital suffering bird-flu symptoms. Lopburi's chief public health officer said the woman (53) was admitted to Lopburi Provincial Hospital last Wednesday, suffering suspected symptoms of the deadly virus. She is reportedly but out of danger now. She was among 29 villagers who touched a dead chicken in an area contaminated with bird flu without wearing protective gear. Of the group, she was the only one who fell ill. Her symptoms are a heavy cough, high fever and breathing difficulties. If lab results confirm the woman contracted bird flu, it would be the first such case since the first wave of the disease subsided in Thailand several months ago. (Source: The Nation)


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Pak Klong Talad to be renovated

Posted by hasekamp on 21 July 2004 at 15:45 PM
A dispute between the Interior Ministry's Marketing Organization and street vendors over a project to renovate Pak Khlong Talat market ended yesterday with the vendors agreeing to move temporarily to nearby areas. The vendors agreed to move their stalls to nearby areas during the renovation period on the condition they would be given first priority to return to their old trading areas. Under the renovation project, Pak Khlong Talad, one of the country's largest wholesale markets for flowers and vegetables, will be refurbished and linked to inner areas of Rattanakosin Island to showcase scenic views of the Chao Phraya River. The organization's three-story building at the market will be turned into a One Tambon One Product shopping center. All three piers in the area will also be renovated. The project model is to be presented to the board on July 27.
We hope that the renovation will not harm the unique atmoshere at Pak Klong Talad! See this unique atmosphere at this page of Hasekamp Net. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No chicken? Then eat beef!

Posted by hasekamp on 20 July 2004 at 12:03 PM
A fast growing economy seems to be the only concern of the Thai government. The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry has urged local farmers to try to meet the (suspected) local appetite for high quality beef dishes, using steers' beef. The local market currently needs about 26,000 steers a year, according to the ministry's officials. However, the local capacity to produce high-quality beef falls far short of the actual demand. Currently, there are only two co-operatives producing most of the steers' beef for the upper-end of the market, fine restaurants and department stores. Their combined production capacity of 9, 000 animals a year meets around a third of the market demand. We suspect the government to seek an alternative for chicken meat that is not available for the moment, due to the bird flu. The economy cannot be held up by such a thing as the bird flu, seems the idea.
Steers' beef comes from steers raised in an enclosed area, fed and fattened before they are slaughtered. As a result, the meat is of a higher quality than that from beef cattle. The steers' beef is a lucrative business. It costs around 80 baht per kilogram to produce and fetches as much as 300 baht a kilogram on the market. The profit margin for this type of meat is around 40 baht a kilogram. There are currently 85 co-operatives with 320,000 cows in Thailand. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Radio ban for monks denied by government

Posted by hasekamp on 20 July 2004 at 11:52 AM
We published two news items about a ban for monks to speak on radio recently. Now this ban is being denied by the government: Deputy Prime Minister Visanu Krue-ngarm yesterday denied that the Public Relations Department (PRD) had barred a monk from hosting a Sunday morning religious radio program. Mr. Visanu, who oversees the PRD, said that the absence of regular host was not politically motivated, insisting it had nothing to do with the monk's recent show in which he criticized the government's CEO governor project. According to Mr. Visanu, the PRD had received complaints that the monk was invited to host the show too frequently, so the PRD decided to introduce other monks. With the 72nd anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen's birthday approaching, the PRD had decided to devote the recent religious programs in her honor, said Mr. Visanu. We pass this message through to our readers as we take notice of it. We cannot judge which story is true. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Protected tropical fish seized

Posted by hasekamp on 20 July 2004 at 11:45 AM
Many people do not care at all for the environment and for the creatures we share this planet with. They only think of making money at the expense of Nature, however high. Here is another example:
Local police and fishery officials seized more than 1,000 protected tropical fish as they were about to be transported off the island of Phuket by truck on Friday morning. Acting on a tip-off, Police and officials from the Phuket Provincial Fishery Office (PPFO) stopped a blue pick-up at the Tha Chat Chai checkpoint. The vehicle was found loaded with 292 bags of tropical fish stored in 39 boxes. Among the fish seized were a number of clown fish, the species of reef fish popularized in the movie Finding Nemo. It is illegal to catch this species, and many others, in the waters around Phuket, the Phi Phi Islands and Pattaya. Police seized the fish and arrested the pick-up driver (47) of Phang Nga. If convicted of breaking laws prohibiting the trade of protected species, he faces a 100,000 baht fine, a year in jail, or both. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Radio ban on monks criticized

Posted by hasekamp on 19 July 2004 at 15:15 PM
A senator yesterday criticized the government over its reported ban on four senior monks from delivering sermons on a state radio station. He said that the government had made a mistake if the report were true. An official of state-run Radio Thailand said that the station had been ordered to stop airing sermons made by four monks critical of the government.
A source from the Public Relations Department said that the department had earlier blacklisted and banned Phra Thepkitti Panya of Mahathat Temple from making sermons on the air because he liked to cite political problems in his sermons.
Also yesterday in a survey most people disagreed with a ban on monks mentioning political problems in their sermons. (Source: The Nation)


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Radio ban for monks

Posted by hasekamp on 19 July 2004 at 15:10 PM
The Thai government has reportedly banned the country's Buddhist monks from mentioning the administration on state radio. Radio Thailand officials say the decision came after a monk used a radio sermon to indirectly criticize the ruling party's plan to build a casino. Thai rights campaigners say the move - which involves the establishment of a committee to monitor all Buddhist sermons on state-radio - goes too far. The Campaign for Popular Democracy says disagrees in strong words. Normally even the military refrain from meddling in religious affairs, so why should the government do so? (Sources: ABC Radio Australia News, FPA)


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Very limited special amnesty after all

Posted by hasekamp on 19 July 2004 at 15:07 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday that the government would not grant an amnesty for hundreds of Islamic militants who surrendered to security forces. Authorities launched a campaign to encourage militants to surrender in a bid to end the violence that has plagued Muslim-majority provinces in the South in recent months. Thaksin had said previously that they would be granted an amnesty. On Saturday, 332 militants had surrendered. They were transferred to a detention facility at a military camp in Songkhla for re-education. Those who were involved in drugs trafficking or other crimes would face legal action, Thaksin said.
Militants who had committed no crimes would be allowed to return home at the end of the 42-day re-education program, an official with the Fourth Army Region said. Thaksin said they would also receive job training to improve their employment prospects and prevent them from banding together to take up arms against the government. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai Rak Thai at popularity top

Posted by hasekamp on 18 July 2004 at 16:40 PM
The ruling political party of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra party, Thai Rak Thai’s popularity has climbed to its highest ever level, according to the latest opinion poll. This is despite public concern over a series of corruption scandals and the highest ever oil prices. More than fifty per cent of Thai voters would vote for the Thai Rak Thai party led by prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra at the next elections, according to the political survey by ABAC University’s Poll Centre released today. This is the highest rating ever for the TRT since it won the last elections in January 2001. Three out of four people interviewed said the government should remain in office until the end of its term in January next year. Only five percent said they wanted them out before then. The survey was conducted between 2-7 July, when 4,817 Thai voters in 25 provinces across the country were interviewed.(Source: Thai News Agency)


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Slums to be eradicated

Posted by hasekamp on 17 July 2004 at 13:34 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra today announced that he had set himself a timeframe of five years to eliminate slums from Thailand, saying that he would transform overcrowded housing areas into 'secure villages'. Mr. Thaksin spoke of the need to create more 'secure villages', in which cheap payment options allowed even 'sellers of boiled sweetcorn' to own their own property. The first pilot 'secure village' was opened by the prime minister in the infamous Klong Toei slum district of Bangkok on 11 July. The land for the project has been leased by the government from the Bureau of the Crown Property for a 15-year period, with residents paying 1,200 baht per month in mortgage payments for the properties.
The secure village project will allow slum dwellers to have secure and hygienic housing, with infrastructure such as water, electricity and sewage. This will warm the lives of these people, and lead to greater social cohesion, according to the PM. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Extended Thai Airways discounts

Posted by hasekamp on 16 July 2004 at 14:59 PM
In the interest of our visitors we take the following information from the Phuket Gazette:
Thai Airways (THAI) has announced that it is extending its "Smile around Thailand" discount fares campaign until September 30 due to keen interest from the travelers. THAI’s District Sales Manager for Upper Southern Thailand said that the price of the tickets is at least 20% cheaper than standard fares. There are, however, conditions attached. Passengers must confirm journey dates and not change their flight plans. They must also pay for their tickets within 48 hours of booking the seats. Journeys must be completed on or before September 30.
The routes and discounted fares from Phuket are as follows:
Bangkok: One-way 1,800 baht, return 3,600 baht.
Chiang Mai: One-way 3,130 baht, return 6,260 baht.
Chiang Rai: One-way 3,315 baht, return 6,630 baht.
Khon Kaen: One-way 2,670 baht, return 5,340 baht.
Phitsanulok: One-way 2,670 baht, return 5,340 baht.
Ubon Ratchathani: One-way 2,855 baht, return 5,710 baht.
Udon Thani: One-way 2,855 baht, return 5,710 baht.
Prices do not include airport tax or insurance. Contact THAI for prices from other starting points or visit www.thaiairways.com (Source: (The Phuket Gazette)


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Bird flu now in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 16 July 2004 at 14:58 PM
Eight districts in Bangkok are suspected to have been hit with the bird-flu virus after officials reported many chickens' deaths in small farms, a source in the Metropolitan Administration's Livestock Office said yesterday. The eight districts have been declared suspected bird-flu areas, and movement of poultry in them is banned. The livestock office has not yet released the results of tests for avian influenza in the districts. A Bangkok deputy city clerk said (as officials always do) that the bird-flu situation was under control and not be a cause for alarm.
Police will be asked to check on the movement of poultry without veterinarian licenses. Will this include movements of the "sacred" Thai fighting cocks or are they "protected" again? (Source: The Nation)


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Annan praises Thailand's anti-AIDS policy

Posted by hasekamp on 15 July 2004 at 11:25 AM
The United Nations’ Secretary General Kofi Annan has praised Thailand’s role in battling against AIDS, but has conceded that the deadly disease-related problems would not be completely solved by the end of 2005, as many had intended. Delivering a keynote speech at the 15th International AIDS Conference now being held, Mr. Annan said Thailand’s efforts in its anti-AIDS campaign were commendable. He praised the nation’s commitment to fight against the communicable disease. Mr Annan said governments of all countries pledged three years ago they would jointly fight against AIDS, and would come to the assistance of its victims. With the support from the Global Fund, there has been some progress made in the move. However, he admitted, the problems on AIDS could not yet be solved in many aspects. So, the governments’ promises to completely cope with the problems before the end of 2005 might not be met. The UN chief said the number of HIV-infected women had gradually risen, as more than half of adult victims are now female. He suggested three approaches should be made to accelerate solving the AIDS-related problems. Firstly, all countries must give more support to basic facilities for medical treatment and recruit new personnel to help promote an anti-AIDS drive, as well as come to the aid of its victims. Secondly, women and children should be educated on how to protect themselves from the deadly disease. Thirdly, leaders everywhere should demonstrate that speaking up about AIDS is a point of pride, not a source of shame. Their leadership could be witnessed by the role in budgeting and pooling cooperation in all sections of society. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Fighting cocks drop dead

Posted by hasekamp on 15 July 2004 at 11:25 AM
Bird flu may be threatening to wipe out prized fighting roosters at farms in Bang Pa-In district. We would be happy about that, because we condemn cock fighting for reasons of animal welfare. The beasts are set up against each other in an unnatural way and the spectacle makes anybody with some respect for nature sick.
Fighting roosters, worth thousands of baht, are dying in droves with bird flu-like symptoms.
The owner of a famed fighting rooster pen said he had lost more than 70 expensive cocks in the past week. Thirty more were coming down with symptoms of the bird flu. Residents blamed the open-billed storks found in natural habitat only five kilometers from the village for spreading the virus. Now this really is the reverse world! We expect these storks to be killed, for nothing, because experts say they do not carry bird flu. The fighting cocks that are still alive will be left alive. They spread the disease, not the storks! Normal proceedings to prevent further spread of the disease would be to kill all chickens within an area of 5 km, including the fighting cocks. We hope that the Thai government will realize this and that it will not continue to kill protected bird species, whatever the "value" of the disgusting fighting cocks! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Avian flu spreads to seven provinces

Posted by hasekamp on 15 July 2004 at 11:24 AM
The Thai government is frantically reviving the nationwide bird flu surveillance system to stem the new wave of outbreak in seven provinces, as the virus has jumped to ducks. Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng, who chairs the national committee on bird flu eradication, has ordered the immediate revival of provincial committees set up during the previous outbreak early this year, to fight the fowl virus. The committees would re-institute procedures necessary for controlling the disease. They would also ensure stricter surveillance and monitoring. Irregular developments related to unexplained deaths in fowl would be relayed directly to the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry.
A bird flu coordination center is being set up in affected provinces. Reports from livestock officials would be passed on to the governors, public health officials and the government within 24 hours. The government would organize a meeting on July 28 to gather know-how from livestock experts from countries with experience in handling bird flu. To date bird flu had infected chickens in the central provinces of Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, Sukhothai, Suphan Buri, Nakhon Sawan and Uttaradit. Provinces under special watch are Khon Kaen, Loei, Udon Thani, and Kamphaeng Phet. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Pirated goods seized in Patong

Posted by hasekamp on 12 July 2004 at 19:21 PM
Once more Kathu Police seized pirated goods in Patong, the infamous place for pirated goods on Phuket Island. This time about 1,000 pirate copies of designer shoes, handbags and clothing were seized and one vendor was arrested. Undercover officers posed as customers and bought a pair of sport shoes from a vendor. She was arrested and charged with selling goods in violation of copyright laws. All of her merchandise was seized. Police estimated the value of the haul at 500,000 baht. Among the brands imitated in her goods were Christian Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Puma and Nike. The usual stuff, we would say. Police said the items were sourced in Bangkok and had been on sale in a shop along the beach road for about one week. Then action was in line with the government's policy to get rid of Patong 's counterfeit goods. So far this year about 100 arrests have been made and 80% to 90% of the trade in counterfeit goods was eliminated. It remains difficult to eliminate the trade completely, because small factories in China continue to produce the items, which find a ready market in Thailand. In this case stickers on a Dior box were found, that read "Made in China". Vendors have changed their marketing approach in response to police action. Rather than set up stalls, which are easy targets for officers, many vendors have switched to walking along the beach and peddling their wares directly to tourists. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Subway cuts traffic jams

Posted by hasekamp on 12 July 2004 at 19:21 PM
Although is only in operation only a week, police say already they are seeing improvements in Bangkok's notorious traffic congestion thanks to the new subway system. Traffic flow was better from Hua Lamphong railway station on Rama IV Road to the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, and also on Rama I Road. "We are seeing fewer vehicles queuing at red lights. But we can't provide any specific numbers yet. This was still only the first week of the subway's operations," police said. "Traffic jams are now ending at around 7 pm instead of 8 pm." The underground system began operating on July 3 with a flat 10 baht fare for all distances. The subway's trains can complete the 20-kilometer line in just a little over half-an-hour. Of its 18 stations, passengers can hop off at three and conveniently connect to the Skytrain system. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin accused at AIDS Conference

Posted by hasekamp on 12 July 2004 at 19:20 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's controversial war on drugs, in which more than 2,500 people were killed, came back to him as a boomerang yesterday on the biggest international stage he has seen yet.
Opening the 15th International Aids Conference attended by thousands of delegates, Thaksin's pledges to give equal medical access to all poor Thais living with the disease were hardly noticed when sections of the audience heckled him and unfurled a banner saying "Thaksin lies".
To add to Thaksin's embarrassment, the last official speaker of the opening ceremony, the head of the Thai Drug Users Network and chairman of the Thai Treatment Action Group, said the government did next to nothing to protect intravenous drug users from HIV/Aids. Drug users were seen as criminals and faced stigmatization and discrimination in society and in healthcare settings, as well as police harassment, he said with tears in his eyes. The speaker recalled the difficult times during the country's war on drugs in which over 2,500 were killed, a campaign that drove many drug users underground. The speaker demanded more clean needles and the legalization of methadone.
Along with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Thaksin affirmed the pivotal role of people living with HIV/Aids, and called on the international community to do more to curb the spread of the deadly epidemic. The inauguration was followed by a candle-lighting ceremony for the estimated 20 million people around the world who have died from Aids-related illnesses. The epidemic has reportedly infected another 40 million people worldwide. About 15,000 delegates and journalists from about 160 countries have converged on Bangkok for the weeklong conference.
"Access for all! Access for all!" screamed a protest leader, whose chant was echoed by hundreds of demonstrators marching in front of the conference venue.
As now is generally known, more than 2,500 suspected drug users were killed under questionable circumstances during the controversial three-month all-out war on drugs launched by the government last year. The campaign effectively drove intravenous drug users, who reportedly make up about 40 per cent of Thailand's Aids patients, underground. Criticism from UN officials led to Thaksin's infamous "the UN is not my father" response.
The weeklong conference brings together non-governmental organizations and charity groups from all over the world, as well as Hollywood actors including Richard Gere, Rupert Everett and Ashley Judd, and the singer Dionne Warwick.
Mr. Thaksin will not be happy with his International imago at the moment. Within one week he first orders to kill protected animals, for the sake of the Thai economy, which according to Thai and International experts is a wrong decision, and a few days later he is publicly, before the eyes of the World, reminded of his controversial drugs policy. Next year there will be general elections in Thailand. (Source: The Nation)
UPDATE: In our own (Dutch) newspaper we read later that Mr. Thaksin and all the important guests left the hall after Mr. Thaksin's speech, to enjoy the buffet. This means that the second speech we report about was hardly heard by anybody. Mr. Thaksin later said that he did not know that there would be speakers after him. So he (and most others) left the hall because they though that this part of the conference was over. We were not there, so we cannot judge what happened exactly.


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Thais go "Condom Crazy"

Posted by hasekamp on 12 July 2004 at 19:19 PM
It is a new sight in Bangkok: Waiters wearing condoms on their heads, greeting guest at the "Cabbages and Condoms" restaurant in Bangkok and volunteers dole out condoms of all shapes, colors and sizes at cash machines, metro stations and the airport. Visitors may think that Bangkok, infamous as the fleshpot of Southeast Asia, has gone condom crazy on the eve of the 15th International AIDS conference. For weeks, bright red banners hanging from walkways, flyovers and trees across Bangkok have been announcing the biennial event, which opened on Sunday, and is being attended by 15,000 delegates from 160 countries. "This looks certain to be the largest AIDS conference in history," said Craig McClure, executive director of the International AIDS Society, the main organizer of an event designed to dramatize the need for all victims to get treatment. Besides armies of scientists, drug company bosses and AIDS victims, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, former South African President Nelson Mandela, Indian ruling party leader Sonia Gandhi and Hollywood heart-throb Richard Gere are due to attend. Police are taking no chances, even though the meeting is not seen as a terrorist target. They will deploy a 5,000-strong force during the conference, and say they will take a "softly, softly" approach to a meeting with a history of vocal, but non-violent, confrontation. (Source: Reuters)


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Thaksin wants treatment for all AIDS sufferers

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2004 at 12:33 PM
These days the 15th International Aids Conference is being held in Bangkok. Thailand used the ''Access for All'' theme on the Conference for the to show its commitment to provide treatment to all HIV-infected people, including the poor, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday. Mr. Thaksin said anyone whose CD 4 T cells, a type of white blood cells, tested below 200 per cubic millimeter would immediately be given drug treatment. "We have money and if that is not enough we will give more," he said.
A Bangkok University poll, meanwhile, found 68.5% of residents would work with people who have HIV/Aids and 13.7% felt uncomfortable with them. About 60% said HIV-infected people should be allowed to keep their jobs, but 16% wanted them out. Forty-eight percent said society should give those with HIV/Aids acceptance while 38.9% said they should be given more chances to live and work in society. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Storks are no flu carriers

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2004 at 12:32 PM
The fate of the Thai storks is still uncertain. Open-billed storks may not have carried the bird flu that caused the latest outbreak in two provinces north of Bangkok after all, Thai officials say now. No reports of storks being infected or killed by the disease have emerged since April following the mass culling of chickens this year, said the Natural Resources and Environment Minister. He met senior zoo and forestry officials and university veterinarians yesterday.
This remark, however, was at odds with Prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's assertion that the storks brought the disease in and he had given orders to cull storks in Thailand. The Natural Resources and Environment Minister said his ministry would ''carry out certain measures'' to deal with open-billed storks. That still sounds alarming.
First, the ministry would devise action plans to cope with possible bird flu transmission from migratory birds (storks are migrating birds!), he said. Infections among migratory birds were reported only during February and April when officials detected H5N1, a virulent strain of bird flu, in samples collected from swamps in Ayuthaya, Nakhon Sawan, Suphanburi, Nakhon Pathom, and eastern Bangkok. Normally open-billed storks in Thailand migrate from Bangladesh, not from China, where migratory birds are suspected to carry the disease. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Will Thailand destroy protected storks?

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2004 at 12:31 PM
The Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he had ordered a cull of wild storks in Thailand, because of concerns that the birds were spreading avian flu. This week two farms north of Bangkok near Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani were hit by a recurrence of the flu. Prime Minister Shinawatra said that he had ordered officials at the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to take drastic action against wild storks. When asked what was meant by "drastic action", he replied: "Some of them have to be culled." We are deeply shocked by this proposed measure.
The Thai Government believes the latest outbreak was caused by wild storks – yet all the scientific evidence points towards domestic ducks being the carriers of the disease. Furthermore, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization explicitly warned the Thai Government neither to restock their poultry farms so quickly after the avian flu epidemic had subsided, nor to declare it over so fast, yet they clearly ignored this advice.
Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife's Director of Science and Policy said, "Wild storks in Thailand are being made into scapegoats. The scientific evidence all points to them being the victims of a highly contagious strain of avian 'flu, which evolved from keeping poultry and ducks in over-cramped, unnatural conditions." And he added: "Killing storks to control avian flu is deeply misguided. Even if the storks really were carrying this disease, shooting would just result in the survivors dispersing and spreading the virus even faster."
We are waiting for official confirmation if the culling has been done indeed. So far we –luckily- have not found this confirmation.
We want to add that the storks living in Thailand, are protected through International treaties and Mr. Thaksin would violate these treaties by having the storks culled. It is a criminal offense, also in Thailand, to kill protected species. We wonder who advises the Thai PM in matter like this, in which he is not an expert himself. The "fighting cocks" are spared, but the (Internationally protected) storks are being killed. Is there anybody out there who can explain this to us? (Source: Several European radio and TV stations and BirdLife International)


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Avian flu in two more provinces

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2004 at 12:29 PM
Bird flu has spread to chicken farms in Sukhothai and Uttraradit, increasing the number of virus-hit provinces to four during the past week. The Agriculture Ministry says it will now make public any suspected infections as soon as it gets reports, after criticism that it tried to cover up outbreaks. The two northern provinces join Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani in the central region, where new outbreaks took place early this week. Livestock officials say nearly 2,000 chickens will be culled in the two provinces where sick and dead chickens were confirmed to have bird flu on Friday.
Hundreds of chickens in Sawankhalok and Si Satchanalai districts in Sukhothai as well as Laplae district in Uttaradit have fallen ill and died, according to the Livestock Development Department. Another 300 chickens have died in the northeastern province of Mukdahan, but test results are not yet in. The culling of more than 9,000 chickens in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani has been confirmed.
Scientists believe the virus has already imbedded itself in the environment where ducks and chickens are raised. This poses a long-term pandemic threat to humans who live near fowl and pig farms. The recent re-emergence of bird flu has prompted the Agriculture Ministry to change its surveillance and warning system, considered too slow to raise the alarm. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Lower international telephone charges

Posted by hasekamp on 9 July 2004 at 19:26 PM
In the interest of our visitors we copy the following news from the source entioned:
The Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) has announced a promotion whereby it has slashed to six baht a minute its charges on international calls to 30 countries, regardless of what time of the day the call is made. The discounted rates apply to calls to: the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Guam, Indonesia, Brunei, Korea, Italy, Norway, Macau, Brazil, Israel, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Kuwait and South Africa. To make a discounted call to any of the above countries using the CAT service, callers must first buy a CAT PhoneNet card. They can then make a discount-rate call by dialing 1544, entering the PhoneNet card's PIN Code (found under a scratch-off patch), then pressing # followed by 009 + country code + area code + telephone number and then pressing # again.
In the past, such promotions have often resulted in the service being so jammed by callers as to be inaccessible, so another, slightly more expensive option is being offered in conjunction with the CAT promotion. This option, applying to the same 30 countries over the same period, is via Thai telecommunications company eFONE, which is offering calls at seven baht a minute. To make a discounted call using the eFONE service from a fixed-line phone, dial 001-809 + country code + area code + telephone number. For more information about either promotion, call CAT's 24-hour Contact Center at Tel: 1322. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Royal Pardon for separatist sympathisers

Posted by hasekamp on 8 July 2004 at 11:57 AM
The Thai government is seeking a royal pardon for separatist sympathisers who turn themselves in to authorities to honour their Majesties the King and Queen, the Defence Minister said. The pardon would be granted to separatist supporters who decided to redeem themselves for "forgiveable wrongdoings". Meant by this are people who did wrong but want to make a fresh start. A pardon would help to ease their reintegration into society. It would be a tribute to Her Majesty the Queen on her 72nd birthday anniversary on Aug 12 and His Majesty the King's birthday on Dec 5. We find this a wise move of the Thai government and we hope that this will indeed help to reduce the tensions in the South. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Ancient community found in Phang Nga

Posted by hasekamp on 8 July 2004 at 11:47 AM
Traces of an ancient community and valuable artifacts from Persia and China's Tang Dynasty period were found in an excavation site in Phang Nga province, a senior official said yesterday. The finds are believed to be remnants of a 1,300-year-old trading port Takola, mentioned by the Greek geographer Ptolemy. The director of Phuket's provincial art office said the excavation site has yielded the ruins of seven buildings, ceramic roof tiles and a well with containers and water pots, both Tang and locally made.
In Ptolemy's accounts, Takola was a trading port that linked the east and west coasts of the Thai-Malay peninsula. Some shards of Persian ceramics were also found, along with Brahman and Buddhist amulets. (Source: The Nation)


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Bird flu is official now

Posted by hasekamp on 8 July 2004 at 11:47 AM
The Deputy Agriculture Minister yesterday said that bird flu has likely returned, after an outbreak devastated the multibillion baht poultry industry early this year. At the same time, outbreaks of the deadly virus have also been reported in eastern China and in Vietnam. The results of lab tests on the Ayutthaya chickens confirming the cause of their deaths should be available soon. Only about 7,000 of the 30,000 chickens raised at the large farm had died suddenly, which was strange as the virus could have infected and killed all the chickens at about the same time, the Deputy Minister said. The Director General of the Agriculture Ministry's Livestock Development Department said he received the reports about the suspected bird flu case on Saturday and alerted the World Organization for Animal Health.
The governor of Ayutthaya has been instructed on Saturday to investigate the reports, as he has the authority to order a mass culling of all fowl within five kilometers of the farm.
Vietnam last week issued an emergency directive urging local governments to prevent a major bird flu epidemic in the wake of new outbreaks in the Mekong Delta. China yesterday also confirmed a fresh outbreak of bird flu. Dead chickens were found on a farm on Saturday, and tests have since confirmed that they died of bird flu, the government said on Chinese television. (Source: The Nation)


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THAI has second best cabin staff

Posted by hasekamp on 7 July 2004 at 19:32 PM
Thai Airways International (THAI), the national flag carrier of Thailand, has won the second prize of the "Skytrax World's Best Cabin Staff 2004 Award". This is a jump up from the 6th place in last year's survey, conducted by Skytrax Research of the United Kingdom. Malaysia Airlines has won the top prize for the third consecutive years. This 2004 Cabin Staff of the Year survey surpassed all the expectations of THAI in terms of the volume of response, and global coverage achieved, with over 93 passenger nationalities taking part, an official commented. The general "warmth and character" portrayed by cabin staff of THAI and Malaysian Airlines won the hearts of the respondents. Asiana Airlines from South Korea was unchanged at the 3rd position, while Air Tahiti Nui, one of the smallest airlines featured in the survey, achieved extraordinary success by taking the 4th position in the final global rankings, and the top place in the Australia/Pacific regional survey. Unchanged from their 2003 rating, Qatar Airways took the 5th place in the global survey, as well as the lead in the Middle East regional survey, where competition has become more intense every year. Singapore Airlines moved into the 6th position in the global survey this year, up from 9th in 2003. All Nippon Airways was ranked the 7th position, moving up one place from their 2003 ranking, but was Japan's top airline for cabin staff service this year. Sri Lankan Airlines stayed in the Top 10 global rankings, placed the 8th position, while Dragonair was the 9th, and China Airlines came in the 10th, slipping from its 4th position last year. It seems that all the winners are located in the Asia / Pacific region! (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Bird flu is back

Posted by hasekamp on 6 July 2004 at 19:24 PM
The Thai government's hopes to declare the country free of bird flu was delivered a fresh blow on Tuesday with a new suspected case of the virus that ravaged its poultry flocks earlier this year. The authorities were anxiously awaiting the results of laboratory tests but officials have sealed off a farm in the central Ayutthaya province where some 7,000 of 44,000 chickens died. The deputy minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives said test results should be known in a few days but added that Thailand was well prepared to control any outbreak. The poultry farmer told local television that he had already been told that it was bird flu, but livestock officials declined to confirm the outbreak. He discovered that some of his birds were developing the symptoms of bird flu two weeks ago.
Thailand slaughtered at least 36 million chickens and other poultry and slapped quarantine regulations on affected zones earlier this year in an effort to halt the spread of bird flu, which hit 41 of its 76 provinces. At least 12 people were infected with the disease, of whom eight died. The four others made a full recovery. The disease swept through 10 countries in Asia.
Farming officials on Tuesday declined to comment on press reports that the authorities were due to cull chickens at five farms around the latest suspected case. But the EU last week extended a ban on importing fresh chickens from Thailand and nine other Asian nations from August to December, in order to protect itself against any possible spread of bird flu. After all this appears to be a wise measure. According to experts within the EU the bird flu has never been away from Thailand and other South East Asian countries. (Source: The Nation)


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Monks have HIV/Aids

Posted by hasekamp on 6 July 2004 at 11:35 AM
A survey that was made few years ago, but never was revealed to the general public, provides a glimpse of serious HIV/Aids and other physical and mental health problems among Buddhist monks. The research project gave a glimpse of potentially major problems of HIV/Aids infection and mental illness among Buddhist monks. Two out of about 100 monks that consented to HIV tests as part of the health survey were HIV positive. Many other monks tested positive but were regarded to be outside the criteria of the survey. The survey was not exclusively directed to monks, but to an average people between 16 and 60 years in many professions.
One of the two monks who tested positive for HIV had been wearing the orange robes for only one year. The second monk to test positive had been ordained for about 10 years, and had apparently contracted the disease during that time. The monk admitted to the survey team that he had had sexual relations with a woman whom he called his "wife" despite vows of chastity.
The number of monks infected seems few, but this is definitely the tip of the iceberg, according to the researchers. The findings apparently shocked staff in all concerned departments at the Public Health Ministry, yet none dared take any action on the problem. (Source: The Nation)


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Everybody wants to get into the subway

Posted by hasekamp on 6 July 2004 at 11:34 AM
Huge crowds tried to get into Bangkok's newly opened subway yesterday, turning the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) service into chaos. Most flocked to Hua Lampong and Bang Sue, the first and last stations, where enthusiastic travelers were forced to wait in the crowds for two or three trains to pass before they could squeeze aboard. At Hua Lampong, staff had to temporarily close one of the entry gates for 15-20 minutes until those waiting to board the train had gone. A large number of passengers were stuck at the ticket booths, while many appeared confused when dealing with the ticket turnstiles. An officer at Hua Lampong station said the 10-baht fee had attracted too many people. Instead of leaving the station after reaching their destination, many people continued riding, taking several trips back and forth. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Government: Bird flu will not return to Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 4 July 2004 at 13:57 PM
The return of bird flu in Vietnam has raised concern that bird flu is returning to cause havoc elsewhere in Asia once again. The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has said, however, that the department of livestock development has already prepared safety measures to prevent the possible spread of the bird flu virus. Various regions will be given full authority to make decisions so that they may be able to control the situation should the virus spread into their areas. There are now laboratories for testing which are fully equipped with modern equipment, which can establish the causes of death. Officials are being continually trained so that they may pass on their knowledge of the bird flu, to prevent it from happening again. These people are also being provided with more effective measures for raising these animals, such as the making of nets to isolate them from outside contamination. Such a policy should help to effectively prevent any future outbreaks of bird flu. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Wastewater kills fish

Posted by hasekamp on 4 July 2004 at 13:56 PM
A massive volume of oxygen-depleting wastewater from northern farms has polluted the Chao Phraya River, killing many fish along the way. It is approaching Bangkok, threatening a body of the river that provides raw water for tap production. The Pollution Control Department said the pollution sharply reduced dissolved oxygen (DO) in the Chao Phraya where it passed Sing Buri province, from four milligrams a liter to just 1 mg/liter. DO indicate how dirty the water is: The less DO the dirtier the water is. The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority uses part of the Chao Phraya as a source for making tap water for Bangkok. Staff could not be reached for comment yesterday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bangkok metro opened

Posted by hasekamp on 3 July 2004 at 19:39 PM
Today, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulydej opened the first part of the metro network, which officials hope will cut road traffic by 50%. It is also hoped the metro will cut pollution in the city. The trains are expected to carry up to 100,000 people an hour through Bangkok's most densely populated areas.
Building the line has been hard, with tunnels to be cut deep into hard clay. The line, built by a public-private partnership, will run 20 kilometers through the city. The route that was opened today is the first of four planned routes, which officials hope will form part of an integrated transport network in the city. Taxi drivers have complained that the new network will harm their business. (Source: BBC News)


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Special status for the South?

Posted by hasekamp on 2 July 2004 at 19:12 PM
The Thai government might announce the 3 southernmost provinces as a special administration zone, similar to Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket. Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh revealed that the government has been working very hard to solve the violence problems in the 3 southernmost provinces. The decentralization system is being used in the local administration in order to help get rid of the idea of separatism. It is believed that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will soon transfer more power to the people in the area. The Interior Minister said the Ministry welcomed the advice of Gen. Chavalit about adjusting the administrative structure of the 3 southernmost provinces, particularly a plan to adjust Pattani into a special autonomous system. The study on this issue will be done; however, a schedule cannot yet be specified. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Monorail for safari tours

Posted by hasekamp on 2 July 2004 at 11:23 AM
A monorail train will be built to link Chiang Mai night safari, Chiang Mai Zoo and a new elephant camp. The cabinet approved this on Tuesday with a budget of 600 million baht. The elephant camp, which would sit on 6,000-rai (9.6 sq km) land and be possibly the largest in the world, would be adjacent to the night safari and contain up to 200 elephants, and grazing animals such as wild cattle and bison, said Plodprasop Suraswadi, permanent secretary for natural resources and environment. We believe that this new project will be very interesting for nature fans. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai economy keeps growing

Posted by hasekamp on 1 July 2004 at 19:19 PM
Thailand's economy is continuing to grow, with further increases in private investment, public spending and industrial output recorded in May, according to the government's latest economic statistics. Domestic consumption is rising, according to the Deputy Director-General of the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO). The FPO's latest statistics show a rise in the value-added tax collected in May, while there was a corresponding increase in the consumer confidence index. Imports of consumer goods increased by nearly 20 percent. Exports also rose by nearly 20 percent in May, and imports increased by more than 30 percent. As a result, Thailand is enjoying a trade surplus of US$ 130 million.
Inflation rose 2.4% in May, largely as a result of a increases in food prices and a weakened baht. In May, the US dollar stood at around 40.57 compared to 39.44 in April. Thailand's international reserves at the end of April was US$ 42.8 billion, which represents more than five months of imports, or nearly four times the country's short-term foreign debt. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thailand wants to make more cars

Posted by hasekamp on 1 July 2004 at 19:18 PM
Japan has assured Thailand that it supports the Thai government's investment plans for the local automotive industry. The Thai government believes, however, that it is necessary to improve the skills of the workforce in the Thai automotive industry, if it is to expand.
Japan and Thailand now have agreed to initially develop some 400,000 personnel to increase the production capacity of the industry at a cost of more than 1.5 billion baht. Experts from Thailand and Japan will support the industry's human resource development scheme to ensure that the personnel are qualified to start working immediately they finish their course. Initially, the Japanese carmakers will profit from the plan. Honda, Toyota, and Nissan have already expressed their willingness to take part in the initiative. The program will be subsequently offered to car manufacturers from other countries, investing in Thailand. Currently, the total production capacity of Thailand's automotive industry is around 900,000 units a year, but the government expects this to doubled by 2011. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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