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Bangkok governor election

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2004 at 22:08 PM
It may have passed you completely. It passed us almost completely, because we found the Olympics more interesting at the time, but in Bangkok a new Governor was elected. And the governor-elect is not one of PM Thaksin Shinawatra's political friends.
Bangkok governor-elect Apirak Kosayodhin is now arranging an appointment with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to seek the government's cooperation in implementing his election promises. After his poll victory Mr. Apirak said he would lose no time soliciting Mr. Thaksin's support in delivering six urgent traffic-related election pledges. Ready for immediate implementation are the so-called smart bus stops, smart taxi ranks, smart road signs, smart taxi stand informing drivers about parking capacity, special bus services and special right lanes for buses and bicycles.
Mr. Apirak, of the opposition Democrat party, said his leadership of the city hall would transcend all political barriers. He pledged to work together with the government to best serve the people. Mr. Apirak said he would keep politics and city affairs separate. His party had given him independence in running the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Spa service standards

Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2004 at 21:44 PM
The government has increased its efforts to register local spa and massage businesses, in an effort to incorporate them into the government’s integrated control and management system by the end of September. Through this scheme, the government hopes to improve the standards and services of the Thai spa, massage and other health-related businesses. The aim is to make sure that the Thai businesses offer the highest standards of services in the region, to help establish Thailand as the healthcare service hub in Asia.
Health officials will thoroughly check the quality of services, hygiene and personnel of each registered business before issuing a government certificate which guarantees its quality of services. The scheme is aimed at boosting confidence in Thailand’s spa and massage businesses, to attract more tourists to try the services. Places which open without a government certificate will be definitely closed down, and their owners will face penalties. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thailand wants the 2016 Olympics

Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2004 at 21:40 PM
In its euphory after Thailand's best medel score at Olympic Games ever, the Thai government has said that Thailand is planning to bid to host the Olympic Games in 2016. The tourism and sports minister said the plan would cost many billions of baht, but the price would be worth paying.
A parade will be held in Bangkok this week for the returning athletes, with medal winners awarded cash prizes. However, he said that in order for Thailand to host the Olympic Games in 2016, the road would be bumpy with many obstacles to overcome along the way. The idea would be fraught with difficulty, notably because of traffic problems, despite its increasing role on the regional stage. We will wait and see if this plan sticks. Several countries have similar plans after good results in Athens! And indeed, how can athletes and the public ever be in time at all the events in the worst traffic jams in the world? (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Olympic update for days 15 and 16

Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2004 at 23:27 PM
DAY 15: Manus Boonjumnong has won a gold medal for Thailand after winning his final in the light welterweight boxing division in Athens. He defeated Cuban Yudel Johnson Cedeno after making a great start and leading every round. In the last round the Thai did not much more than avoiding his opponent, but given his supremecy in every round that is forgivable.
DAY 16: Worapoj Petchkoom boxed his final against defending champion Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba in the bantamweight (54 kg). Worapoj did his best, but the Cuban was too strong. Worapoj lost 22-13 and now has the siver medal.
Thailand has won three gold, one silver and four bronze medals in this year’s Olympics.
Weightlifters Udomporn Pol-sak and Pawina Thongsuk dominated the women’s 53 kg and 75 kg divisions respectively to win the Thailand’s first two gold medals in Athens, the most the country has ever received in a single Olympics.
Two other female weightlifters won bronze. Aree Wiratthaworn in the women’s 48 kg division and Wandee Kameaim in the 58kg division. Taekwando athlete Yaowapa Boorapolchai won a third Thai bronze after winning last match of the women’s under-49 kg division.
This was our last Olympic update. We will come back on the Olympics for the festivities in Thailand on the return of the athletes. (Sources: The Nation and Eurosport television)


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Cancer drug from sea squirt

Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2004 at 19:31 PM
Thai scientists have successfully extracted a chemical substance from sea squirts that can effectively treat cancer patients. The substance was extracted from sea squirts in a joint research project between the Institute for Research and Development of Marine and Coastline Resources in Phuket, and Chulalongkorn and Mahidol universities. The sea squirt is a marine animal found in abundant numbers around the coasts of Thailand. International science research has shown that the animal carries a chemical substance that can block the growth of cancer cells in humans. The Thai sea squirts have a higher amount of the substance than those in other countries. With further study and research, the Thai scientists hope Thailand can produce enough of the substance for domestic use and for export within the next four years. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Olympic update for day 14

Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2004 at 19:19 PM
Thai boxer Manus Boonjam-nong assured Thailand at least a silver medal in the Olympic boxing tournament after he thrashed Romanian Ionut Gheorghe 30-9 in the light welterweight semi-final yesterday. In the final Manus will face favorite Yudel Johnson of Cuba. He is Thailand's last hope for a boxing medal.
In another semi-final, underdog Suriya Prasathinphimai was stopped by Russia’s Gaydarbek Gaydarkbekov in the middleweight (75 kg) category.
No further good news from Athens: Nucharin Sukkongdam-noen missed a chance to fight for an Olympic bronze medal when she lost to Spaniard Sonia Reyes in the match of the women’s taekwondo featherweight division last night. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin visits the south, despite bomb

Posted by hasekamp on 26 August 2004 at 18:15 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will continue his trip to Thailand's 14 southern provinces despite a bomb attack in Narathiwat today. The Thai leader told journalists that he would descend to the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani tomorrow as earlier scheduled.
"I will continue my trip, and I will arrive in Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani tomorrow as planned despite the bomb attack this morning", he said. A bomb, reported hidden in a motorcycle, went off at around 07:30 a.m. today in a busy market place in the province's Sukhirin District. The explosion resulted in over two dozens casualties, with one dead and at least 25 injured, including six policemen, seven marine officers, students and bystanders.
The attack came a day before Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is scheduled to arrive in the province, and the nearby Yala and Pattani Provinces on his five-day tour to the southern region this week, which will end tomorrow. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Olympic update for day 12

Posted by hasekamp on 26 August 2004 at 13:41 PM
Manas Boonjamnong and Worapoj Petchkoom have saved the boxing team by securing at least bronze medals and the duo aim to redeem some pride for the squad with wins in the semi-finals tomorrow. With favourite and world champion flyweight Somjitr Jongjorhor crashing out of the tournament in the second round, Manas and Worapoj, the pre-tournament’s underdogs, have fought their way into the semi-finals. "With my fitness, I’m confident that I can win the gold medal," light welterweight semi-finalist Manas said.
Bantamweight Worapoj, who has cried with happiness every night since receiving blessings from His Majesty the King, said: "Although my rival is a southpaw boxer, which I don’t like, at this moment I have no choice but to beat him.
Further news: Although Boonsak Polsana, Thailand's first Olympic badminton semi-finalist failed to win any medals in Athens, he still received 1 million Baht from the Siam Cement Company. Is a good sponsor worth more than victory? (Source: The Nation)


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King suggests solutions for flooding

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2004 at 14:37 PM
His Majesty the King has made public his concern over the flood problems nationwide. He suggested the government could help to prevent flooding by using data from the Meteorological and Naval Hydrographic departments for analysis before launching any construction projects. A government spokesman said the King expressed his concerns about several issues, especially flooding, to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Monday. His Majesty suggested digging a canal in Chanthaburi to help ease flood problems in the eastern province. He also advised that before launching any road or other construction projects, the government should analyse them with the help of ecological and weather information to make sure they will not obstruct water flows. In response, Mr Thaksin yesterday instructed Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suvit Khunkitti and Science and Technology Minister Korn Dabbaransi to look into flood problems in Chanthaburi and other stricken areas. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Olympic update for day 11

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2004 at 14:31 PM
Thai boxer Worapoj Petchkoom is certain to win Thailand's second boxing medal after a great performance against Nestor Bolum of Nigeria (29-14) in the bantamweight (54kg) quarterfinals on Monday night. Worapoj, 23, can now expect at least a bronze medal as he faces former European champion and strong contender Aghasi Mammadov of Azerbaijan in the semifinals.
Manas Boonjamnong was the first Thai to reach to the semifinals, in the light welterweight division. He will face Ionut Gheorghe of Romania.
Mammadov outclassed Maksym Tretyak of Ukraine 32-12 and is on course for a rematch with Olympic champion Guillermo Ortiz Rigondeaux of Cuba, whom he beat in last year's world championships in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, His Majesty the King’s deputy principal private secretary extended His Majesty’s blessings to Worapoj after the King watched him box on Monday night. His Majesty the King praised Worapoj, saying he is talented, but also told him not to overlook his opponent. His Majesty also gave encouragement to the Thai boxing team and told them he will keep an eye on their progress.
Finally, boxer Suriya Prasarthinpimai will take on Oleg Mashkin of Ukraine in his next match.
On the athletics front things are not good. The poor form of Thai track and field athletes in Athens has resulted in calls for a new coach. And officials of the Athletics Association of Thailand also are not happy with the form of shot putter Juthaporn Krasaeyan and hurdler Trecia Roberts at the Athens Games. Meanwhile food still seems to be the main concern of the Thai athletes. We reported about this before the games started already. The Thai athletes consider it not spicy enough. (Source: The Nation)


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End for opium crop in sight

Posted by hasekamp on 24 August 2004 at 13:15 PM
For the first time ever, the end of opium production is in sight in the entire Golden Triangle area, United Nations officials believe. Antonio Maria Costa, director of the UN Office of Drug and Crime (Undoc), says in a report on Laos' anti-drug campaign that the only barrier to the end of the opium trade within a few years is a lack of alternative crops for farmers, as in Thailand. The whole region, namely what used to be called the Golden Triangle area, is heading toward an opium-free status within the next few years, according to the UN.
Opium and heroin smuggling continues out of the Burmese part of the Golden Triangle, but Mr. Costa said he believes Laos has joined Thailand on the sidelines of the world drug trade.
Opium farming was introduced in the Golden Triangle around 1850, and for a century and a half production and smuggling has generally increased. In the 1970s, Thailand began a program that eliminated most opium growing in less than 20 years; a success attributed mainly to a program that provided new, more profitable crops and markets for farmers.
Experts say the chances of eliminating opium depend almost entirely on getting crop substitution programs in place in both Laos and Burma. Otherwise, farmers will go to ground to start up or continue their opium plantations. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Olympic update for day 10

Posted by hasekamp on 24 August 2004 at 12:55 PM
Thai boxer Manas Boonjamnong will at least win a bronze medal after he beat light welterweight world champion Willy Blain of France in the quarterfinals on Sunday night. Manas dominated the French champion and took a 5-1 lead at the end of the first round. He continued building up the score gradually. The final round ended with only 2 new points for Manas, but the result of 20-8 for the match was enough to get him into the semi-finals. "The King rang me this morning, which made me feel stronger in the contest," he said. So it appears that His Majesty personally supports the Thai athletes!
Manas will next meet another tough nut in Ionut Gheorghe of Romania, who overpowered Michele Di Rocco of Italy 29-18 in another quarter-final.
Thailand still has two more hopes in boxing. Woraphot Petchkoom faced Nigeria’s Nestor Bolum late last night (Bangkok time) in the quarterfinal of the bantamweight division, while Suriya Prasarthinpimai will box Oleg Mashkin of Ukraine tomorrow.
Thai hurdler Trecia complained she was prevented from being able to perform to her best. Her effort in the women’s 100m hurdles was far from good, with a result of 13.8 seconds, which meant that she finished at the bottom in the heat.
Nuengruethai Chaipetch remains the last hope of the Thai athletic team in Athens. She is scheduled to compete in the women’s high jump tomorrow.
Finally: Thailand’s Yaowapa Burapolchai, the Asian Games taekwondo silver medallist, stands a good chance of winning the Kingdom’s first medal in that sport, and all eyes will be on the draw in Athens today.(Source: The Nation)


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Martial law in deep South

Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2004 at 13:29 PM
Thailand's Defense Minister said on today that he would tighten up the martial law in the country's deep South after three latest bomb attacks in the region late Saturday night injured more than a dozen people. At least three bombs went off at hotels and Karaoke bars before midnight in Yala Province, one of four southern provinces plagued by violence since early this year. However, no one was killed in the explosions.
The minister said he would re-enforce the martial law, put in place for months to control the violence, which has already claimed more than 250 lives so far.
Meanwhile, police and soldiers would be deployed at car parks in hotels and other possible targets to fence off attackers. The government needs to solve the violence first, before trying to rid the region of religious misunderstanding. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Olympic update day 9

Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2004 at 13:23 PM
Medal hopes in boxing: Middleweight boxer Suriya Prasathinphimai has given fresh weight to Thailand's hopes of an Olympic boxing medal. As reported, Suriya edged out Javid Taghiyev of Azerbaijan, winning on count-back. He faces Ukrainian Oleg Mashkin in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. Two other Thais are already in quarter-finals. Light flyweight Suban Pannon was eliminated by Cuba's Yan Bhartelemy Varela early yesterday. Bantamweight Worapoj Petchkoom was to meet Nigeria's Nestor Bolum in the quarters early this morning. Light welterweight Manus Boonjumnong was fighting world champion Willy Blain of France.
Wheelchair racing: Yesterday Thai athlete Rawat Tana won a bronze medal in the 1500 meter wheelchair race for men, after Robert Figl from Germany and Saul Mendoza from Mexico, holder of the Olympic record (since 2000) Wheelchair racing is a demonstration sport in Athens, which means it will probably be featured in the mext Olympics, in Athens. (Sources: The Nation and the official Olympic website)


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Olympic update for day 8

Posted by hasekamp on 22 August 2004 at 13:10 PM
World flyweight champion Somjit Jongjohor yesterday sadly lost from Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa Toledano and is out of the Olympic Games boxing tournament now.
Somjit was one of Thailand's hottest medal prospects. The 29-year-old from Buri Ram had built up a 19-16 lead and was already eyeing a quarterfinal spot when the Cuban fought back too well. Somjit started to wrestle rather than fight. The referee gave him a warning and awarded two points to Toledano. That was just what the Cuban needed and he won.
On Friday night (Saturday morning Thai time), bantamweight Woraphot Petchkoom became the second Thai to reach the last eight round. The little-known boxer from Surat Thani continued his Olympic debut campaign by winning from Khavazhi Khatsigov of Belarus 33-18.
On Thursday night, Manas Boonjamnong was the first Thai into the quarter-finals. Two more Thais were to enter the ring late last night. Suban Pannon was to fight favourite Varela Bhartelemy of Cuba in the light flyweight division Suriya Prasarthinpimai advanced to round of last 8 boxer in his middleweight (75 kg) match with Jarvid Taghiyer.
Meanwhile Boonsak Ponsana, the Thai badminton player, was beaten by Soni Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia after he wasted leads in both games in the bronze battle yesterday. He was doi8ng well at first, but was beat closely. (Source: The Nation)


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Government gives green light for GMOs

Posted by hasekamp on 21 August 2004 at 11:52 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday gave the government's blessing on the planting and trading of genetically modified (GM) crops by revoking an earlier ban on their commercial use, in defiance of wide opposition from farmers, environmentalists and consumer networks. In contrast to the current policy that only permits GM crops to be grown in laboratories for experimental purposes, the revision will allow for open planting and commercialization of GM crops provided they receive approval from the Bio Safety Committee (BSC), the premier said.
The announcement was made yesterday after Thaksin chaired a meeting of the National Biotechnology Policy Board (NBPB) at the Science Ministry. "We are not going to promote GM crops, but we will not slam the doors shut on their development. We will allow for their plantation and commercialization as we do for other crops," a spokesman said.
The Bio Safety Committee has been tasked with issuing suitable safety measures within three months in a bid to implement the new policy as soon as possible. The premier's political turn has upset farmers, environmentalists and consumer networks. (Source: The Nation)


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Energy saving proposal

Posted by hasekamp on 21 August 2004 at 11:46 AM
The government's energy-saving measures could affect about 300,000 employees: 200,000 at department stores and hypermarkets and another 100,000 at petrol stations nationwide, the Labor Protection and Welfare Department chief said yesterday. Under the measures, department stores must close down at 8 pm, discount stores such as Tesco-Lotus and Carrefour at 10 pm, and petrol stations at midnight. Employers may have to reduce staff wages but would still have to pay at least half the normal rate. The cuts would need the consent of their employees and must be only temporary. A poll surveyed 1,192 people in Bangkok on Thursday and found the majority disagreed with the early closure of department stores, hypermarkets and petrol stations but supported the requirement for billboard lights to be turned off at 10 pm. Fifty-three percent believed the early closing hours was unfair to big shopping malls and discount stores, but 55.6% thought the measure did not clash with the government's tourism promotion policy. Convenience stores, such as 7-Eleven outlets, can still open 24 hours. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Olympic Update day 7 (updated)

Posted by hasekamp on 21 August 2004 at 0:08 AM
The big news is that a Second Olympic gold went to a Thai woman for weightlifter. Pavina Thongsuk sailed through to victory in the 75 kg division. The 24 year-old from the province of Surin went down in history as Thailand’s fourth medallist, and the second of the ongoing 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, following in the footsteps of women’s weightlifter Udomporn Polsak last week.
In the "snatch" contest, Miss Pavina made 115 kg on the first round, rising to 120 kg on the second round and finishing in style with 122.5 kg on the final round, lower than the 125.0 kg achieved by the Russian Natalia Zabolotnaia. But in the "clean & jerk" category Miss Pavina made a new Olympic record with 150.0 kg on her second attempt, enabling her to clinch the gold medal despite failing on her third attempt at lifting 153.0kg.
Her win has given Thailand four medals for women’s weightlifting – two gold and two bronze – since the start of the Athens games on 12 August.
Badminton hero Boonsak Ponsana yesterday failed to find the winning strokes to take him into the men’s badminton singles final. He performed below his best and lost to Asian and Asian Games champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia 9-15 2-15. So now Boonsak has to play for bronze.
Boxer Manas Boonjamnong took revenge on Romeo Brin of the Philippines with a convincing 29-15 victory on Thursday night and was the first of five Thais to reach to the quarterfinals. In today’s quarterfinal competitions, three Thai fighters will be in action. Flyweight world champion Somjitr Jongjorhor will take on top contender Yuriorkis Gamboa Toledano of Cuba. Then Suban Pannon faces tournament favourite Varela Bhartelemy of Cuba in the light flyweight division. Little-known Suriya Prasarthinpimai takes on Azerbaijan’s Javid Taghiyev in the middleweight category. Thailand’s bantamweight boxer Worapoj Petchkoom beat Khavazhi Khatsigov from Belarus in the round of 16.
Meanwhile Olympic "losers" now have ended their stay in Athens. The first Thai Olympians from the boxing, swimming, shooting, badminton and fencing teams returned home yesterday morning. Though none returned victorious, they still received a big welcome home from sports officials, relatives, friends and a small group of well-wishers.
The government plans a massive celebration for Thai athletes, especially the medalists, when they return from the Olympic Games in Athens. The team will be met at the Don Muang Airport on their return on 31 August, the Deputy Prime Minister, Suwat Liptapanlop has said.
They will then be accompanied by a massive and colourful parade downtown, along one of Bangkok's main routes - Vipavadee Rangsit Road - to a five-star hotel where the medallists will check in and spend time with there families. The government also plans to present them with cash and other gifts. Thailand’s gold medalists will be awarded 9 million baht, silver 4.5 million and bronze 2.5 million baht.
The Olympic Committee of Thailand will also pay each medalist a monthly allowance for the rest of their lives -- 15,000 for gold medalists, 10,000 for silver and 8,000 for bronze. (Sources: The Nation and Thai News Agency)


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Orangutans will be returned to Indonesia

Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2004 at 12:13 PM
Indonesia will have to wait for the return of 69 orang-utans it suspects have been smuggled into Thailand, as the Thai government requires them to undergo DNA tests first to determine their origin. The orangurtans were confiscated in Safari World, near Bangkok. The owner faces a trial, as we reported earlier.
It is assumed that the 69 orang-utans are from Kalimantan. However, the Thai government wants more solid evidence first, thus they decided to perform DNA tests to prove their origins. The Thai government has promised to return the orang-utans immediately once the DNA test results confirmed that they were in fact from Indonesia. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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E-University in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2004 at 12:01 PM
The National Institute of Development and Administration (NIDA) aims to become Thailand’s first e-university, and provide its students with internal internet services. The institution has just signed a deal with a major domestic telecom service provider, CAT Telecom Public Company Limited, to set up its own internet system which will be used as part of the institute’s learning media. Under the deal, NIDA’s existing system will be upgraded to the highest speed possible -- not less than 100 Mbps. The new system will improve the capacity of students to learn, and will help them reach the same educational levels of those in the developed countries, said the Deputy Education Minister, Mr. Sutham Saengpratoom. Students will find searching for information on the world wide web much more convenient.
NIDA is a high-profile state-run institution for post-graduates level education. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Olympic Update day 6

Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2004 at 11:58 AM
Light flyweight boxer Suban Pannon, who got past his first test in Athens on Wednesday night giving Salim Salimov of Bulgaria a boxing lesson, will meet Yan Bharelemy Varela and flyweight Somjit Jongjohor will fight Yuriorkis Gamboa Toledano. Suban, who is ranked an outsider to claim a medal, fought well against the Bulgarian.
After the six Thai boxers fought their first bouts, former Atlanta Games gold medallist Somluck Kamsing was the only "casualty". He should better try his luck as a soap star again!
Manus Boonjumnong, in the 64kg division, was competing in his second bout against Romeo Brin of the Philippines last night.
Bantamweight Worapoj Petchkoom, who defeated South Korea's Kim Won Il in his Olympic debut, will fight Khavazhi Khatsigov of Belarus in the round of 16 today.
In a busy day for Thai boxers tomorrow, Suban, Somjit and Suriya Prasathinphimai (75kg) will be in action in the round of 16.
Pawina Thongsuk will be trying to claim four-in-a-row success for the Thai women's weightlifting team today. Pawina, 25, is expected to do no worse than her three team-mates who each won a medal in the past few days. She will be competing in the 75 kg class beginning at midnight, Thai time.
Boonsak Ponsana today faces the most momentous occasion in his stellar badminton career when he takes on Asian and Asian Games champion Taufik Hidayat in today’s semi-finals. (Source: The Bangkok Post, The Nation)


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International meeting on endangered species

Posted by hasekamp on 19 August 2004 at 11:53 AM
Thailand wants to host the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in October, when the government will urge members to the convention to stop the trade in "jungle food". Over 2,000 delegates from 166 member states are expected in Bangkok's Queen Sirikit Convention Centre to attend the 13th CITES meeting on 2-14 October.
The meeting will focus on reviewing the current list of endangered flora and fauna, and will work to ensure that signatories to the convention strictly enforce its precepts. The Thai Natural Resources and Environment Minister said today that Thailand would call on members to the convention, particularly those in Asia, to reduce, or refrain from consuming "jungle food". Lack of demand for "jungle food" would serve to stifle the illegal wildlife trade. The minster said that crackdowns in Thailand had already proved highly successful. However, he conceded that the complete eradication of the illegal wildlife trade was a virtual impossibility.
Thailand will also propose that Irrawaddy dolphins, which are close to extinction, are placed on the CITES top list of most endangered species.
Thai government figures show that from October 2003 to June 2004, Thailand's authorities have been able to size 1,787 illegally traded mammals, including pangolins and bears, 11,367 birds, 917 reptiles, 414 fish, and ivory weighing nearly 5,500 kilograms. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New port for Phi Phi Islands

Posted by hasekamp on 19 August 2004 at 11:44 AM
Koh Phi Phi in the South, one of Thailand's most popular resort islands, is to get a new ferry port to replace the present one, and to accommodate increasing numbers of tourists. The operation will cost 179 million baht. The head of the regional water transportation office said that the new port would replace the existing one in tambon Ao Nang. Engineers have determined that it will be feasible to construct the new port, which is being jointly financed by the Marine Department. Construction will begin next year, and is expected to take two years to complete. So, it looks as if the days when we visited the Phi Phi Islands with a small tourist boat from Phuket, and when we were able to walk on almost empty beaches and through pieces of tropical forest, are definitely over. One of the (last) pieces of Thai paradise will be turned into a hotel resort. Money and tourists are the only things that seem to count! (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Olympic Update day 5

Posted by hasekamp on 19 August 2004 at 11:35 AM
Boonsak Ponsana moved a step closer to winning Thailand's first Olympic medal in badminton after the Thailand Open champion pulled off a scintillating win over Singaporean Ronald Susilo in yesterday's quarterfinals. But there were mixed fortunes for the rest of the Thai players yesterday. Saralee Thungthongkham and Sathinee Chankrajangwong were sent home at 15-2 15-4 by top seeds and world No 1 Zhang Jiewen and Yang Wei of China, leaving Boonsak as the country's last hope for a medal.
With the boxers hopes also are mixed. Although Somluck Khamsing suffered a humiliating early exit in the first round, Manas Boonjamnong faces Filipino veteran Romeo Brin. This match still has to be boxed.
Thai weightlifting medal prospect Pawina Thongsuk suffered an anxiety attack in Athens after all three of her women teammates won Olympic medals. She has to lift today (Thursday).
The Thai athletic team kicked off in Athens in sluggish style when Chinese-born Juthaporn Krasaeyan was nowhere near her best, throwing only 16.49 meters in the women's shot put.
American-Thai Trecia Roberts will be the next Thai to test her mettle. She is scheduled to compete in the women's 100m hurdles on Sunday. Nuengruethai Chaipetch, the other Thai athlete, will participate in the women's high jump on August 26. However, none are medal prospects. So, for the coming days prospects for medals are moderate. (Source: The Nation)


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Eco tourism? Get to work!

Posted by hasekamp on 18 August 2004 at 14:17 PM
According to strategic planning for development, Phang-Nga is positioning itself as Asia’s leading Eco tourism destination, but it will not get anywhere near its goal if it doesn’t get cooperation from all sectors in the province.
Phang-Nga governor Samatcha Photavorn stressed this during his remarks at a seminar, attended by officials, businesses operators and members of the press in Khao Lak yesterday. The governor stressed that the government agencies need to stick to their strict policy and that law enforcement should be applied thoroughly.
Former Phang-Nga tourist Association President pointed out that in the past Phang-Nga’s tourism development only focused on building and laying down basic facilities, but it lacked a key database, resulting in poor understanding in tourism for both officials and operators. He said proper knowledge needs to be promoted among young people, to raise awareness, so that Phang-Nga could avoid following the mistakes of other deteriorating tourist destinations.
A visitor who has been fascinated by the enchantment of Phang-Nga, Gerard Meeuwsen, pointed out that in order to step up to meet its goal of Asia’s leading Eco-Tourism destination, Phang-Nga needs make itself stand out against the already famous neighbouring destinations of Phuket and Krabi, by offering different products.
So it appears that a lot of work has to be done before the inhabitants of Pang Nga may look in the mirror at the $-signs in their eyes! (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thai Olympic athletes (updated)

Posted by hasekamp on 18 August 2004 at 14:01 PM
The list, as we took it from the official Athens Olympic site, just before the start of the games, appears to have been far from complete. Today the site mentions 72 Thai athletes:
AUMPIWAN Vorrawuti - THA Swimming
AUTUS Pirom - THA Athletics
BOONJUMNONG Manon - THA Boxing
BOONJUMNONG Manus - THA Boxing
BOORAPOLCHAI Yaowapa - THA Taekwondo
BUNLUEWONG Pongsiree - THA Equestrian
CHAIPETCH Noengrothai - THA Athletics
CHINNAPASAEN Arwut - THA Swimming
DARASURIYONG Siriroj - THA Athletics
DATTUYAWAT Suriya - THA Weightlifting
HOMRARUEN Arun - THA Sailing
HUSSLEIN Hermann Ludwig - THA Canoe/Kayak Slalom
INSAWANG Meerit - THA Diving
JAKSUNIN Sangwan - THA Athletics
JANDANG Pacharin - THA Athletics
JANTHANA Ekkachai - THA Athletics
JONGJOHOR Somjit - THA Boxing
KAMEAIM Wandee - THA Weightlifting
KAMSING Somluck - THA Boxing
KLOMDEE Orranut - THA Athletics
KOMWONG Nanthana - THA Table Tennis
KOTHNY Wiradech - THA Fencing
KRASAEYAN Juttaporn - THA Athletics
KUNTATEAN Junpim - THA Weightlifting
MAHAWONG Prajak - THA Cycling Track
MAJCHACHEEAP Tevarit - THA Shooting
MINGKHAUN Witoon - THA Athletics
NGERNSRISUK Patapol - THA Badminton
NIKREE Phuttharaksa - THA Rowing
NOIKOED Kriangkrai - THA Taekwondo
NONTASIN Chanpeng - THA Cycling Track
PANICHPATIKUM Jakkrit - THA Shooting
PANNON Suban - THA Boxing
PANVISVAS Tesana - THA Badminton
PETCHKOOM Worapoj - THA Boxing
PHUKSACHAT Boonyarit - THA Athletics
PICHI Suchart - THA Diving
POLSAK Udomporn - THA Weightlifting
PONSANA Boonsak - THA Badminton
PONSANA Salakjit - THA Badminton
PRAPAKAMOL Sudket - THA Badminton
PRASATHINPHIMAI Suriya - THA Boxing
RATHPRASERT Siriroj - THA Fencing
RATIWATANA Sanchai - THA Tennis
RATIWATANA Sonchat - THA Tennis
ROBERTS Trecia - THA Athletics
SAENGSRI Charnvudth - THA Swimming
SANRAT Nongnuch - THA Athletics
SAYOTA Pichai - THA Boxing
SIRISANONT Ratapong - THA Swimming
SOOKUDOM Pontep - THA Sailing
SRICHAPHAN Paradorn - THA Tennis
SUKKA Sujirat - THA Athletics
SUKKHONGDUMNOEN Nootcharin- THA Taekwondo
SUTTHIKUNKARN Ussadate - THA Taekwondo
SUWONPRATEEP Sittichai - THA Athletics
Sathinee C - THA Badminton
TACHAKITTIRANAN Pilin - THA Swimming
TANA Rawat - THA Athletics
TANASUGARN Tamarine - THA Tennis
TAWONCHAROEN Jutamass - THA Athletics
TEERAWIWATANA Pramote - THA Badminton
THAVEESUPSOONTHORN Nimitta- THA Swimming
THONGSUK Pawina - THA Weightlifting
THUNGTHONGKAM Saralee - THA Badminton
TOMMAOROS Sukrutai - THA Diving
TONGSALEE Napaporn - THA Tennis
UDOMCHOKE Danai - THA Tennis
VIRATPRASERT Suchanun - THA Tennis
VORATHAMRONG Chonlathorn - THA Swimming
WIRATTHAWORN Aree - THA Weightlifting
WONGSALA Seksan - THA Athletics
We hope that this list of 72 athletes is complete!


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Olympic update day 4

Posted by hasekamp on 18 August 2004 at 13:47 PM
The boxing career of former Olympic medallist Somluck Khamsing came to an end in Athens on Monday, but Somjitr Jongjorhor and Woraphot Petchkoom won their bouts yesterday.
Somluck, 31, became an instant hero when he won the country’s first Olympic gold medal in Atlanta in 1996, but on Monday Canadian Benoit Gaudet 17-32 outclassed him in the featherweight division. After losing his first bout in Athens, Somluck announced his retirement after a 12-year career, which took in four Olympics.
However, world amateur champion Somjitr managed to stay in the contest in Athens, despite a moderate start. He won from his first round opponent, Kim Ki Suk of South Korea, 22-12.
In a bantamweight bout yesterday, Woraphot became the fourth Thai to advance to the last 16 after he comfortably overpowered South Korean Kim Won Il to take an RSCO decision and a 29-9 victory.
The Thais were not successful in equestrian, fencing, rowing, shooting, swimming and table tennis on day four of the Athens Olympiad.
More luck for badminton player Boonsak Ponsana. He defeated South Korean fifth seed Lee Hyun Il in Athens yesterday to become the first Thai ever to reach the quarterfinals of the Olympic men’s badminton singles, while teammates Saralee Thungthongkham and Sathinee Chankrajangwong also made it into the round in the women’s doubles. The Thai duo will have a Herculean task in the quarterfinals when they play top seeds and China’s world No 1s Zhang Jiewen and Yang Wei. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai government wants plant patents abroad

Posted by hasekamp on 17 August 2004 at 10:56 AM
The government wants to speed up Thailand’s patent registration application for the prachinburi 2 rice strain in the United States, the European Union, and Viet Nam. The Thai government has made these applications in order to prevent foreigners from trying to patent the new rice, and claiming credit for creating this new Thai rice strain. The government had earlier applied to register the patent for the pathum thani 1 rice strain with the US Agriculture Department’s Patent Protection Office, which would offer a 20-year patent.
With the rice patent registered internationally, it will be easier for Thai farmers and agriculturalists to apply for patents for other new crop strains, which have been developed. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has released a list of 26 newly developed crops strains, which are eligible for patent registration according to the Crops Strains Protection Act of 1975. These crops include rice, sugar cane, mango, orchid, vetiver grass, crown of thorns, tomato, hot chilli, giant chilli, sweet chilli, cucumber, watermelon, bitter gourd, Chinese water spinach, Chinese kale, lettuce, yard long bean, corn, soya bean and snap bean.
We want to point out to our readers that "plant patents" should be distinguished from what we call "patents" in daily life. Patents are only for technical inventions, not for plant strains. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Olympic Update day 3

Posted by hasekamp on 17 August 2004 at 10:48 AM
Wandee Kameaim continued the Thai women's weightlifting team's success in Athens by taking home a bronze in the 58 kg class last night. It was Thailand's third medal at the Athens Games with the other two also won by weightlifters (see former Olympic updates). Wandee, 26, lifted 102.5 kg in the snatch and 127.5 kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 230 kg. China's Chen Yanqing won the gold with 237.5kg and Ri Song Hui of North Korea the silver with 232.5kg.
The Si Sa Ket-born lifter started brightly in the snatch and was successful in her three attempts of 95, 100 and 102.5 kg which put her in a good position to win a medal. Wandee was successful in her first two attempts of 125 and 127.5kg in the clean and jerk before failing at 130 kg. The Thai said after the competition that she failed at 130 kg because she suffered a slight injury to a leg during her second try in the clean and jerk which needed a pain-killing spray. Wandee missed last year's World Championships weightlifting tournament and SEA Games due to injury.
For tennis player Paradorn Srichaphan the gamers ended at the first hurdle, losing 6-2, 6-3 in the first round to Joachim Johansson of Sweden in a one-sided match yesterday. The Swede is ranked 30th in the world, 14 places behind the Thai.
In badminton, Boonsak Ponsana beat Chris Dednam of South Africa 15-1, 15-0 in the round of 32 of the men's singles. In men's doubles, Pramote Terawiwatana and Tesana Panvisvas beat Ashley Brehaut and Travis Denney of Australia 15-3, 15-9 in the round of 32. But Pramote and Tesana were eliminated in the round of 16 when they lost to fourth-seeded Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah of Malaysia 15-10, 15-13. The other Thai men's pair, Sudket Prapakamol and Patapol Ngernsrisuk, failed at the first hurdle, losing to Anthony Clark and Nathan Robertson of Germany 15-5, 15-9.
In swimming, Pilin Tachakrittiranan finished first in her heat in 2:05.29 min. for 35th place overall among 41 starters in the women's 200m freestyle.
In shooting, Tevarit Majchacheep shot 587 points in the qualification of the men's 10m air rifle for joint 35th place among 47 shooters.
We do our best, but we cannot guaramntee that these updates are 100% complete! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Free hospital offered to Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 16 August 2004 at 12:02 PM
A Japanese doctor who owns 200 hospitals in Japan has offered to build a multi-million-baht hospital in Bangkok to treat the poor free of charge on the condition that former Bangkok governor Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang is project coordinator.
Maj-Gen Chamlong, the prime minister's human resources development adviser, said Dr Torao Tokuda asked him via representatives several months ago to help find a land plot in Bangkok for the construction of a 500-bed hospital for the poor. But he did not begin looking for land as he thought then it was just a joke. Then the doctor sent representatives to follow up on progress on Aug 1, he said. He said he found several private hospitals which had non-performing loans that the Japanese doctor could buy for his Chamlong Memorial Hospital project.
The 50-something Japanese doctor was born to a poor family and lost his ill mother after failing to find a doctor to treat her in time. So he was determined to become a doctor when he grew up. After graduation, Dr Tokuda worked in a public hospital and tried in vain to get the hospital to serve more patients. So he quit and built a hospital using his own money from life insurance programs since no one would give him a loan. All this sounds too good to be true. We hope that the Thai government will track Dr. Tokuda thoroughly and we hope the results will be positive. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Seven people drowned

Posted by hasekamp on 16 August 2004 at 12:01 PM
A body of a man was found this Sunday morning in an overflowed canal in the northeastern province of Roi Et which has been hit by a severe flood, bringing the total death toll to seven since the flood inundated the province more than three weeks now. Three villages in this province have been under severe flood for more than three weeks as water level in the villages is as high as 80-100 centimeters while floodwater in the rice fields is between 1-3 meters. Rowing boats and flat-bottomed boats, supplied by the Thai Red Cross Society, were the only means of transportation. Villagers have to take their personal belongings, vehicles and cattle to live temporary near water gates, between one to five kilometers from their villages. Realizing that the flood victims do not have enough food, water and medicines, the abbot of a temple in the province has been able to receive 150 sacks of food and other necessities from his devotees living in Bangkok which were later handed out to 150 flood stricken families. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Warning for human bird flu

Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2004 at 22:10 PM
The government has warned Thais to be on the alert for cases of people contracting the bird flu, after the disease recently killed three children in Viet Nam. So far, there have been no actual cases of humans being infected with the disease in Thailand during the fresh outbreak of bird flu, which re-emerged recently. However, the Ministry of Public Health has warned Thais to be cautious when they are close to, or touch sick fowls. There have been 50 suspected cases of the disease reported in provinces across the nation. However, laboratory tests on these patients have revealed no confirmed cases of bird flu.
The Permanent Secretary for Public Health has said that 90% of humans contracting the disease in Thailand had caught the virus through holding their fighting cocks too close to their bodies, and sneaking them out of restricted areas in the hope that they would be able to save them.
We wonder when the Thai government will do something about fighting cocks in Thailand! (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Olympic update for day 2

Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2004 at 22:01 PM
Udomporn Polsak brought cheer to Thailand on Sunday when she captured the Kingdom’s first gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games, stepping onto the victory podium with tears in her eyes. Her triumph in the women’s 53 kg weightlifting category was Thailand’s second medal in the 28th Olympic Games. She became the country's first female athlete to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games. It was also the first Olympic triumph of the Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association. In the snatch, Udomporn hoisted 97.5 kg in her second attempt but tried unsuccessfully to lift 100 kg on her third effort, but her second lift was enough to give her the lead. She made no mistakes in her three attempts in the clean and jerk competition later, lifting 117.5 kg in her first try before increasing to 122.5 kg and 125 kg – an Olympic record.
Earlier, as we reported, teammate Aree Wiratthavorn also cheered her Thai supporters. The small but brave weightlifter from Kanchanaburi, who stands only 149 cm tall and weighs 48 kg, clinched the bronze in the women’s 48 kg category on the very first day of the Athens Games.
Further Thai Olympic news in a nutshell: Thai tennis hope Tamarine Tanasugarn made an early exit, equestrian rider Pongsiree Bunluewong finished poorly, the swimming team was hopeless and badminton’s best bets were blown away.
But table tennis player Nanthana Komwong sprang a surprise by reaching the third round today.(Source: The Nation)


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Olympic update for day 1

Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2004 at 13:43 PM
Woman weightlifter Aree Wiratthavorn won the first medal for Thailand, snatching a bronze in Women's 48-kilograms Weightlifting while breaking an Olympics record - successfully passing a 115-kg Clean & Jerk lift in a 200-kg effort. Aree has secured a bronze for passing a 85-kg Snatch lift.
She won two silver medals in 48 kg - Clean & Jerk life and 48 kg - Snatch in last year's world championship in Vancouver Canada. The 24-year-old from Kanchanaburi also won a silver medal at the Asian Championships in April.
Nurcan Taylan from Turkey won the gold medal - for passing a 97.5-kg Snatch lift and a 112.5-kg Clean & Jerk lift. China's Li Zhuo came second for passing a 92.5-kg Snatch lift and also a 112.5-kg Clean & Jerk lift.
Worse news for the swimmers: Thailand’s Rattapong Sirisanont was disqualified after jumping the gun in his 100-metres breaststroke heat, while other Thai efforts at the Aquatic Center went down the drain as the swimming competition started yesterday.
Two Games debutantes, Nimitta Thaweesapsunthorn and Chanvuth Sangsri, completed in their events yesterday, but had poor times.
Teenager Nimitta managed to finish first in the first heat of the women’s 400m individual medley, but her unimpressive time of 5:00.06 was not enough to make the final cut and was also worse than her qualifying time of 4:59.18.
However, better news for badminton: Salakjitr Ponsana cleared her first hurdle in the Olympic Games badminton yesterday, but she now faces an uphill task in the second round against world number one Gong Ruina of China.
And bad news, finally, for fencing: Wiradech Kothny yesterday failed to make his mark in his second Olympic Games after going down 15-11 to top seed Vladimir Lukashenko of Ukraine in the elimination round of 16. Source: The Nation)


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Pre-Olympic update

Posted by hasekamp on 14 August 2004 at 12:02 PM
Thailand's Olympic campaign gets underway today with the main focus on badminton star Salakjitr Polsana, fencer Wiradech Kothny, marksman Jakkrit Panichpatikum and weightlifter Aree Viratthaworn. The four are not the main medal prospects of the Thai squad but with their potential and a little bit of luck, there might be a surprise at the end of the day.
Thailand’s six boxers at the Olympics will have to dig deep into themselves when they begin their campaigns as none has scored a first-round bye. The boxing starts today with Suriya Prasarthinpimai. He is the first Thai to take action in the tournament in the light-middleweight division, and he will Joseph Lubega of Uganda.
Tomorrow, Manas Boonjamnong not only faces a skilful fighter as well when he begins his campaign, but will have his nerve tested to the full as his opponent is Spiridion Ioannidis of Greece.
On Monday, it will be the time for action not talk for the boastful Somluck Khamsing. He steps into the ring against Canadian Benoit Gaudet, a bronze medallist at the 1999 world championships. Although it’s a long way to the final, Atlanta gold medallist Somluck aims to finish in the top four despite having suffered from a back injury for weeks. (After his triumph in Atlanta he became a soap star on Thai TV. Now he is back in the ring).
In the flyweight category, Thai medal prospect Somjitr Jongjorhor will face Kim Ki Suk of South Korea on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, Woraphot Petchkoom will fight South Korean Kim Won-Il.
In the 48kg category, pint-sized Suban Pannon will face European Boxing champion Salim Salimmov of Bulgaria.
We will keep you informed, as well as we can (Source: The Nation)


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Missing apes not dead, but hidden

Posted by hasekamp on 14 August 2004 at 11:50 AM
Forestry Police yesterday discovered 36 out of 41 orangutans believed to have disappeared from Safari World in Bangkok. The 36 were relocated to another zone within Safari World and police were not notified during past inspections. The other five have been verified as dying from apparent natural causes some months ago. The 41 were among 110 orangutans impounded at Safari World, pending an investigation into how the zoo came to possess so many examples of the endangered species. The apes will now be transferred to wildlife research stations in Ratchaburi and Chon Buri. Safari World assistant manager Vincent Chua said that the orangutans were kept at the zoo all the time. He didn't understand why police said some were missing. And so one lie in piled upon the other in this disgusting case. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai summers will get longer and hotter

Posted by hasekamp on 13 August 2004 at 16:46 PM
The weather in Thailand might seem unbearably hot already, but the latest climate projections predict temperatures will rise further and the summer season will be longer, scientists said. The changes will occur nationwide, particularly in the Central provinces and Bangkok, researchers said, based on recent simulations. Like everywhere else, the rising carbon dioxide content in the air, part of the global-warming phenomenon, is causing the increases. Average temperatures in Thailand will increase, except during the rainy season. The study is scheduled to finish officially by the end of this year. Two other notable facts drawn from the study concern changes in the day-night temperature gap and seasonal changes. Night-time temperatures will increase by around five degrees Celsius on average by about 2040, when carbon dioxide has risen to 1.5 times the current level. At that time, the daytime temperature will increase by about 2-3 degrees Celsius. (Source: The Nation)


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12,000 inmates set free on Royal birthday

Posted by hasekamp on 13 August 2004 at 16:41 PM
On the occasion of Her Majesty the Queen's 72nd birthday 1200 inmates have been set free. A Hong Kong woman who whipped up a media storm last year with a fabricated rape story was among the 12,000. The Justice Minister said 12,000 inmates from prisons around the country were released yesterday and 13,000 others would be gradually released over a 60-day period. Inmates released from Bangkok prisons were each given 200 Baht by the Po Tek Tueng Foundation and another 200 Baht from Pojaman Shinawatra, wife of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They also received a travel bag and toiletries. Some inmates also saw their terms commuted.
Meanwhile, members of the public gathered at the Royal Palace yesterday to sign a well-wishers book for Her Majesty. Former prime minister Chuan Leekpai was among the well-wishers. (Source: The Nation)


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31 Thai athletes to Athens (updated)

Posted by hasekamp on 13 August 2004 at 16:30 PM
31 Thai athletes have entered for the Olympic Games in Athens, opening tonight. The names of the athletes and the sports for which they have been entered, are:
BOONJUMNONG Manus - THA Boxing
BOORAPOLCHAI Yaowapa - THA Taekwondo
BUNLUEWONG Pongsiree - THA Equestrian
CHANKRACHANGWONG Sathinee- THA Badminton
JONGJOHOR Somjit - THA Boxing
KAMSING Somluck - THA Boxing
KOMWONG Nanthana - THA Table Tennis
KOTHNY Wiradech - THA Fencing
KUNTATEAN Junpim - THA Weightlifting
MAJCHACHEEAP Tevarit - THA Shooting
NGERNSRISUK Patapol - THA Badminton
NIKREE Phuttharaksa - THA Rowing
NOIKOED Kriangkrai - THA Taekwondo
PANICHPATIKUM Jakkrit - THA Shooting
PANNON Suban - THA Boxing
PANVISVAS Tesana - THA Badminton
POLSAK Udomporn - THA Weightlifting
PONSANA Boonsak - THA Badminton
PONSANA Salakjit - THA Badminton
PRAPAKAMOL Sudket - THA Badminton
ROBERTS Trecia - THA Athletics
SIRISANONT Ratapong - THA Swimming
SRICHAPHAN Paradorn - THA Tennis
SUKKHONGDUMNOEN Nootcharin THA Taekwondo
SUTTHIKUNKARN Ussadate - THA Taekwondo
TANASUGARN Tamarine - THA Tennis
TEERAWIWATANA Pramote - THA Badminton
THONGSUK Pawina - THA Weightlifting
THUNGTHONGKAM Saralee - THA Badminton
VORATHAMRONG Chonlathorn - THA Swimming
WIRATTHAWORN Aree - THA Weightlifting
As ususal boxers are well represented, but badminton players are representesd in even a larger number. Furthermore female weightlifter KUNTATEAN Junpim, who obtained a medal 4 years ago is present again.
we will keep following the results of the Thai athletes on this page.
The Nation reports further that Thailand's Olympic squad is facing two big hurdles in Athens even before the competition starts - a lack of spicy food and trouble adjusting to the weather. After complaints about oily Greek food, some of the Thai contingent have been sending out for dishes at Thai restaurants in Athens. The other big problem affecting the Thai squad is the variations in the weather in Athens - hot through the day, but cold at night. None of the squad have a problem with the heat, but the cold nights are something not many have experienced before. (Sources: http://www.athens2004.com and The Nation)
Please see a later message for a more complete list of 72 athletes!


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Birthday of Her majesty the Queen

Posted by hasekamp on 12 August 2004 at 13:01 PM
Today (12 August) is the Queen's birthday. From Chitralada Palace, Queen Sirikit yesterday (on the eve of her birthday) spoke to an appreciative audience, rendering a candid, vivid and rare account of her childhood as part of a commemoration of her 72nd birthday anniversary. Here are a few citations:
"I saw father travel about by tram. I used to complain to my brothers and sister that father should not run to catch up with the tram. But father taught us all along that poverty was not something to be ashamed of."
"In fact, father and mother had shop-houses given to them by grandpa and grandma, so that the family could get by from the rent fee. When the war broke out, father wanted to raise the rent fee, because he saw his children dressed poorly. But the people who rented the shop-houses pleaded for the rent not to go up. Every time father went out to talk to them, he came back and said he would not raise the rent."
"On the important days of the Chakri dynasty, such as Chakri Day or King Chulalongkorn's Memorial Day, father and mother would bring out the pictures for worship. We took the flowers grown in the house for worship. All the children would kneel down to pay respect to Their Majesties."
"When I grew up, father told me 'just take a look at Thailand, look at Bangkok, the Buddhist temples, the Islamic mosques, the Christian churches, which co-exist peacefully. They do not take advantage of each other. Buddhism is the national religion of Thailand, but anybody can worship any religion. The King is the supporter of all religious faiths'. "
Then Queen Sirikit thanked Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and her subjects for giving her blessings to commemorate her sixth cycle. (Source: The Nation) Long live Her Majesty the Queen!


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First flooding victim

Posted by hasekamp on 11 August 2004 at 11:09 AM
Several Thai provinces remain submerged in the wake of days of torrential rain. Rising floodwaters in Nakhon Nayok have claimed their first casualty, a 38-year-old man who was found drowned yesterday. The man was thought to have been dead for about eight hours when his body was found. Several central and northeastern provinces, including Prachin Buri, Yasothon and Surin remain under water, and flood levels are continuing to rise in the wake of torrential rains over past few days. Most areas of downtown Nakhon Nayok are still under about 20 to 50 centimeters of water. In Prachin Buri, water levels are still high as floodwaters ply their way downstream. All the schools in the province’s Prachantakham district were closed. The hardest hit area of the district was under two meters of water.
In Ayutthaya, people living along the banks of the Chao Phraya River were told to prepare to evacuate their homes because of the rapidly rising water level. Officials in northeastern provinces said many parts of their provinces were still under water yesterday. (Source: The Nation)


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Safari World owner denies

Posted by hasekamp on 11 August 2004 at 11:02 AM
With Forestry Police looking to file additional charges against him, Pin Kewkacha could face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty. Mr. Pin met with the Forestry Police to answer the charges. He talked to the press at the police office. He said he knew nothing about the 41 missing orangutans as he had just returned from a "business" trip to Phuket (where he owns "Phuket Fantasea", and would be able to supply more information tomorrow after speaking with his employees. Safari World last week claimed 41 of the 110 orangutans owned by the zoo had died of pneumonia and been cremated. Kasetsart University, in coordination with Malaysian and Indonesian authorities, was looking to conduct DNA tests on the apes to determine their origin. The authorities suspect they were smuggled in from Indonesia. Police now believed all 41 apes were alive and well, and were hidden somewhere on the zoo premises. "We will find them all. I'm sure of that and I have already alerted Kasetsart University to be ready to perform the DNA tests," a police officer said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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World-class tourism strategies

Posted by hasekamp on 10 August 2004 at 12:36 PM
Central and local government dignitaries yesterday have expressed confidence that strategies to develop the tourism competitiveness of Phuket would catapult the southern resort island into international prominence. Speaking of the "world-class" nature of the island's tourism strategies, Phuket not only had unique selling points in terms of its beautiful scenery, but also in terms of the services it was able to offer visitors. The Phuket tourism development plan focuses on the island as an international conference center to boost visitor numbers during the low season, and as a center for health tourism, with tourists attracted by its high number of top-class spas. In addition, the province aims to attract tourists by developing marinas, with heavy public and private sector investment. Equally important is the island's claim to be a shopping paradise to raise tourist spending. Lastly, the province is endeavoring to set itself up as a center for entertainment, in a bid to encourage visitors to lengthen their stays on the island.
Our comment: Phuket is destroying for years already all its natural beauty and has replaced it with hotels. Now these hotels need tourists. This is a development that highly worries us for a long time.
As for the spas: Do not think that these have anything to do with the spas you will find in some European countries. The Thai idea of a spa is hardly more than building expensive hotels. A formula for a Thai spa has not yet been developed.
As for the shopping paradise: we can hardly think of a Thai province where street vendors are as annoying as in Phuket province. So shopping in a relaxed way is not possible in Phuket. And the larger shops overcharge tourists in a shameful way.
So we believe that the "world-class" status of Phuket still is far away, if ever to be attained. (Source for the first part: Thai News Agency)


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Massive encroachment

Posted by hasekamp on 10 August 2004 at 12:17 PM
"Businessmen" (read: "white collar criminals") and villagers have encroached upon more than 60,000 rai in Nam Nao forest reserve, a senior forestry official said yesterday. A spokesman said encroachers had destroyed a total of 60,300 rai of forest in the reserve. Only 190,000 rai of forest have survived the onslaught. He said seven of the encroachers were found to be "businessmen" from Bangkok and other provinces. They have been arrested and prosecuted, he added. Forestry officials are also taking legal action against 27 villagers for encroaching on the reserve. Officials started arresting and taking action against the encroachers in February. The biggest case involved a suspect from Bangkok, who was found guilty by a court of encroaching on a 40 rai plot. The man has appealed the verdict. Now he will get a second trial. The latest case was against a suspect from Khon Kaen. The Forestry spokesman said his unit also found that a "businessman" from Bangkok had bought a plot covering an entire mountain in the reserve from encroachers for 1.2 million baht, and had cleared the land for building a helicopter pad. Earlier, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra reprimanded the Phetchabun provincial administration for failing to protect the reserve. (Source: The Nation)


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Orangutans feared dead

Posted by hasekamp on 9 August 2004 at 19:16 PM
As we reported, Thai police halted controversial orangutan boxing last week in Safari World, near Bangkok. Bangkok police are now investigating the apparent deaths of 41 orangutans at Safari World. Park officials said the animals died from natural causes, but police suspect they may have been killed or moved elsewhere to avoid DNA tests. We hope that police will find the (bodies of the) orangutans and will be able to investigate the fate of these rare protected animals.
As we reported, the park is already under investigation for allegedly smuggling orangutans from Indonesia and Malaysia. Last week it was forced to suspend its controversial orangutan kickboxing fights due to international pressure. When police went to the park in July with an order to seize all the orangutans, officers found only 69 of the animals, despite records showing that there should have been 110. Safari World claimed the 41 missing animals were cremated after they died of diarrhea and respiratory diseases. But a police spokesman told the French news agency AFP: "We don't believe they have died. We believe they have been moved somewhere else." "We want to investigate whether it is true that they were cremated," he said. Police suspect that the park may be trying to cover its tracks, after allegations were made that it illegally smuggled the endangered animals into Thailand.
To us –until proof of the contrary has been presented by him- the owner of safari World is a criminal. He changes his stories by the day. We hope that our visitors will no longer visit his premises. (Source: BBC News)


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Cultivate rare fish, in order to attract tourists!

Posted by hasekamp on 9 August 2004 at 16:31 PM
The Thai government is promoting the breeding of rare fish in some of Thailand’s southern resorts, to help promote ecotourism. The department of fisheries has already successfully bred various endangered species of tropical fish through natural and biotechnological methods. Krabi and Phuket are to be the centers of future breeding efforts. The residents of these two tourist centers are keen to develop attractive tropical fish for commercial purposes. The Krabi coastal area also has an enormous potential for ecotourism. Krabi’s abundant diverse species of fish and marine life amid the natural setting of nearly a 75 million year old shell graveyard is on par with of the world’s other major marine tourism attractions.
We always thought that ecotourism was meant to show (selected) tourists natural fauna, not cultivated and re-introduced species, but it seems that Thailand has a different view on ecotourism.
We therefore suggest to Thailand to import kangaroos from Australia and introduce them in the Phuket landscape, that is, if there is some space left over there between all the hotel towers. The Phuketians could tell the tourists -as far as they want to believe this- that a new kind of kangaroo was discovered on Phuket Island. It could be the start of some new "ecotourism"!
Seriously, ecotourism could be good for Thailand, but it should have something to do with natural environment! (Source for the first part: Public Relations Department)


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Four million speed pills found

Posted by hasekamp on 9 August 2004 at 16:18 PM
Despite the controversial -now ended- "War on Drugs" by the Thai government, production and distribution of drugs continues in Thailand: A man was arrested yesterday after police found more than four million speed pills in his apartment. Acting on a tip-off, Patrol and Special Operations Division police searched a room on the 14th floor of Bang Na Residential Complex, and found 4.3 million methamphetamine tablets hidden in fruit cans. Pisit na Wichai, 37, of Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district, was in the room at the time of the search and was arrested. Pisit told police he actually lived in another apartment. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket's last piece of mangrove

Posted by hasekamp on 9 August 2004 at 16:13 PM
The murder of Jurin Ratchapol (three years ago; see our archives), a leader of the Pa Khlok Mangrove Forest Conservation Group in Phuket, has not discouraged his neighbors and other local people from protecting the last mangrove forest of this famous tourist destination. Instead, they have been inspired to keep up their guard and fight what they call the greed that would otherwise destroy the ecological system that is essential to their livelihood. Jurin was shot dead in 2001 while opposing a businessman's plan to turn the mangrove forest into a prawn farm. A gunman and the businessman were later arrested and tried in Criminal Court. The gunman was sentenced to life imprisonment, but the businessman -who was suspected of masterminding the murder- walked free because the state lacked sufficient evidence. And these Phuket "businessmen" are what they call in Phuket the local mafia.
Jurin's death was a turning point for villagers in his village. His siblings said encroachment against the mangrove forest and inland forests had since stopped. Prawn farms have faded away and been replaced with coconut plantations, though these changes may also have resulted from plunging prawn prices. More villagers have joined efforts by local people to raise awareness of environmental conservation. The Pa Khlok mangrove forest has been put on a watch list of local and overseas organizations.
Mind you, the small piece of mangrove forest that Phuket has really is the very last piece of it. It this is being destroyed for greed, it can never return! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Pratunam: Fire in small factory

Posted by hasekamp on 8 August 2004 at 11:36 AM
A fire that engulfed a sewing factory in the Pratunam area in Bangkok killed a toddler and two adults, police said yesterday. There are dozens of these small factories in the area. It took firefighters and 20 fire trucks four hours to quell the flames that erupted just after 1 pm. They later said they had difficulty battling the blaze because the building in which the fire spread was enclosed in a small alley and there was only one water source. A helicopter from the Police Aviation Division ferried firefighters to the scene in an attempt to rescue the three, believed to be trapped inside, but the ferocity of the blaze resulted in only an 18-month-year-old boy being removed from the building. He died on the way to the Police General Hospital. After the flames died down, the bodies of two unidentified adults were found on the sixth floor. The fire incinerated sewing machines and clothes before spreading to nearby cars, yet the full extent of the damage has not been calculated. (Source: The Nation)


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Japanese man held for human trafficking

Posted by hasekamp on 8 August 2004 at 11:24 AM
A 32-year-old Japanese man has been arrested in Thailand, and has been charged with human trafficking linked to prostitution, Thai police said yesterday. Yoshiyuki Mizawa was arrested on arrival at Bangkok airport over the alleged trafficking of a 22-year-old Thai woman who was forced to be a sex worker at a Japanese karaoke bar, a police spokesman said. Mizawa, who was arrested carrying two passports, was now being investigated over suspected involvement in large-scale trafficking of women to Japan. In the last two months Mizawa has traveled between Thailand and Japan 54 times and the last time he left Thailand he took two Thai women with him to Tokyo.
Thailand had announced a war on human trafficking on Friday, with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra comparing those implicated in the global scourge to murderers leading their victims to a life of hell. So more arrests can be expected. The campaign came almost two months after the United States put Thailand on a human trafficking watch list for its failure to make progress in stamping out the illegal trade. (Source: AFP)


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New airport finished in time

Posted by hasekamp on 6 August 2004 at 18:28 PM
The major contractor for the construction of Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok's new International airport) has assured that everything will be completed on time. The Executive President of Italian-Thai Development PCL confirmed that the new Bangkok International airport will be delivered to the government before the official opening of the airport, which is scheduled for September 29th 2005. The company would report progress of the construction work to the cabinet at its meeting on September 29th this year, which will be held in the airport. More than that, Italian-Thai Development PCL will also take part in several extension projects over the next 5 years, following the official opening. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Mosque attack will serve as a lesson

Posted by hasekamp on 6 August 2004 at 18:23 PM
The military will take the Krue Se Mosque attack as a lesson, to ensure future operations in a similar situation are carried out with prudence, the Thai Defense Minister said. He insisted, however, the situation on April 28 warranted a tough and decisive military action. A fact-finding committee found the military might have been wrong in using excessive force to deal with the militants. It was hard to say who was right and who was wrong in that situation.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, meanwhile, said the findings should be respected. The committee also accepted that the military had acted under pressure. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand supports Human Rights Commission

Posted by hasekamp on 6 August 2004 at 18:18 PM
Senators and activists have rallied to support the National Human Rights Commission, after the prime minister said its report on human rights damaged the country's reputation abroad. We reported about Mr. Thaksin's receipt of the report yesterday. Mr. Thaksin reportedly said: "Don't they think their criticisms which have been published worldwide will do the country a disservice? If their children happen to become drug addicts, they would then know what it is like to be in that situation." Mr. Thaksin also said the National Human Rights Commission should have come up with constructive advice.
Rallying to the watchdog's support, senators and activists said the commission should resist government attempts to assail its independence. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Commission critisizes Thai government

Posted by hasekamp on 5 August 2004 at 22:47 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been unpleasantly surprised by a report by the Thai Human Rights Commission, warning that the nation is in danger of becoming an authoritarian state. A report by the Commission criticized the government for putting its own interests above those of its people. But the main condemnation was reserved for Thailand's –in the meantime- notorious war on drugs.
Mr. Thaksin has hit back at the commission, saying it should not act as an opposition. The report was the first one produced by Thailand's Human Rights Commission, and it certainly is critical. It said the country was headed towards a culture of authoritarianism, rather than one that respected human rights. It referred to things like interfering with the media and politicians, interfering with bodies that should be independent. The war on drugs was particularly mentioned. As reported, that campaign resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 people last year and was critisized -among others- by the UN. (Source: BBC News)


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Government calls for food safety

Posted by hasekamp on 5 August 2004 at 22:00 PM
As a one of the methods to solve the bird flu problem, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is urging related parties to shift their focus to food safety measures, in order to build confidence for both domestic and foreign customers, by completely prohibiting the use of antibiotics in poultry farming. The Minister of Public Health revealed after a meeting with the Prime Minister, that the prohibition on the use of antibiotics would eliminate a chance of chemical contamination in poultry, which could be extremely harmful to the consumers. In addition, the Ministry of Public Health will invite other international organizations to collaborate in this measurement, so that the new regulations for poultry farmers and consumers will be ready by next week. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thaksin: Save energy!

Posted by hasekamp on 5 August 2004 at 21:59 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday called on Thai people in all sections to help conserve energy more concretely since global fuel prices had soared beyond control. He said the oil price surge in the world market at present was uncontrollable because all countries had anxieties about possible terrorist attacks, which led to a speculation on fuel prices. "We can do nothing but to ask people in all sections to help save energy since the country has to spend foreign currencies purchasing oil." The premier said the Energy Ministry would attempt to reduce the subsidy on gasoline prices and allow them to move by market mechanism. However, the ministry needed to continue to cap diesel prices for a while since the rise in the prices would fuel product prices and finally affect the country’s economic growth. He said the government was still in a position to cap local fuel prices and had no plan to adopt alternative approaches. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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11 areas removed from bird flu list

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2004 at 14:23 PM
The Livestock Development Department yesterday removed 11 areas from the country’s list of zones affected by bird flu. The department said it was confident the outbreaks of avian influenza in various provinces across the country were under control. Early last month, infections of bird flu were detected in 65 areas scattered across 23 provinces. Mr. Yukol said yesterday that 11 areas had now been removed from the list of affected zones, while about 20 more spots had detected no new infections of the disease. In areas with new infections, he said the number of dead fowl was relatively small, with each area recording no more than 50 deaths. Following the spread of bird flu throughout the country early this year, poultry importers suspended shipments of poultry products from Thailand and are now buying only heat treated chicken from the country. (Source: The Nation)


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Hong Kong woman seeks royal pardon

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2004 at 14:22 PM
A Hong Kong woman who was imprisoned last year after being convicted of filing false rape charges (see our archives) said she had applied for a royal pardon but would not file an appeal with the Supreme Court. So Liang Ying, 32, said she requested a royal pardon on the occasion of Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday on August 12 after learning that she was one of 160 prisoners at the Central Women’s Correctional Institute who met the criteria. The Criminal and Appeals Court sentenced So to one and a half years after she was found guilty of filing a false rape charge against a tuk-tuk driver. The suspect, who has served 13 months of the sentence now, said she would not fight the case in the Supreme Court. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai movie for foreign audience

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2004 at 14:16 PM
Although abroad "Suriyothai" was not exactly the most successful Thai movie ever, to put it mildly, a new, this time English language, historic movie is being planned. It is based on a famous power struggle during the Ayutthaya era will be produced in Thailand with a 280 million baht budget. The cast of "The King Maker", to be produced by actor-turned-director David Winters, will consist almost entirely of Thais including Dom Hetrakul, Cindy Berbridge, Yosawadee Husadeewijit, and Nirut Sirijanya. There are two foreign stars playing leading roles in the film – British actor Gary Stretch, the star from Oliver Stone’s "Alexander" epic, and John RhysDavies, who played the dwarf Gimli in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Winters and Stretch will be at press conference today to announce the project. “The Kingmaker” is a period film portraying palatial infighting during the Thao Srisudachan period of Ayutthaya. The movie is aimed at international audiences. Production has already started, and the film will be completed in the next three months. The producer plans to release "The King Maker" in 80 countries. It is being filmed on location in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Ayutthaya and Saraburi.
We believe that the project is a bit too ambitious for Thailand, but who knows. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai Economy keeps growing

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2004 at 14:06 PM
Thailand's economy continued to grow steadily in June, given a strong fiscal position and an improvement in private consumption, according to the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO). The deputy director-general of FPO, in his capacity as the Finance Ministry’s spokesman, said revenue earned by the government in June totaled 167.55 billion baht while disbursement was 94.59 billion, resulting in a surplus in the budget balance of 72.96 billion baht. He said the increase in the surplus was attributed by the rise in corporate tax collection from net profits by 30%.
Revenue earned by the government in the first nine months of this year totaled 831.41 billion baht, up 113.17 billion or 15.8% from the same period the year before, while the disbursement totaled 835.57 billion, a rise of 121.44 billion or 17% from the corresponding period last year. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Orangutan boxing at last banned

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2004 at 14:01 PM
Forestry police have at last banned the most disturbing "show" at Safari World. They had a "show" there in which orangutans perform Thai boxing. The prohibition follows the seizure of the park's 110 orangutans, which Safari World is suspected of obtaining illegally. Its owner faces a prison term now. (He is also the owner of "Phuket Fantasea".)
Police said the seized orangutans could not be used for commercial gain. Police went to the zoo in suburban Bangkok on Friday and slapped a confiscation order on the apes. The unusually high number of 110 orangutans at the park has raised suspicions. Most of them may have been smuggled from Malaysia or Indonesia; the last two places where these endangered animals still live in the wild. The owner has tried to mislead the authorities by saying they were all born from the two or three orangutan he owned legally (as far as anybody can own an orangutan legally!) Births in captivity are seldom with orangutans. No orangutan ever has bred more than 100 children!
The zoo was accused of smuggling early this year and last week Taiwanese wildlife experts called for a boycott by Taiwanese tourists. Safari World managing director Pin Kewkacha tried to play down the impact the ban would have. He earlier insisted the park's treatment of the apes was not cruel, saying the show was only intended as a ''fun activity''. Fun for the apes, Mr. Pin? Have yourself checked! Orangutans are very quiet animals that in nature live solitary. Mr. Pin also denied the allegation that his company smuggled orangutans into Thailand from abroad. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Northeastern floods worsen

Posted by hasekamp on 2 August 2004 at 18:29 PM
A few days ago we reported about flooding in the northeast of Thailand. Many provinces in Thailand's northeastern region are still deep under floodwater. Continuous heavy rain and the rapidly rising Chee River have left the area heavily flooded. In Yasothorn, the water level rose over the village dams, flooding ten villages in two districts. In some areas the floodwater rose to more than two meters in height. Local residents were evacuated from eight villages, and are currently sheltering in temporary accommodation on higher ground. Five schools in the affected area have been closed and many farmers have lost their homes and crops. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New rules for public footpaths

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2004 at 13:08 PM
The Bangkok municipal authorities have told government departments and private agencies that they must seek permission before digging up public footpaths. Any agency or authority installing phone lines, electricity or water supply and want to renovate or install new facilities on or under Bangkok's public footpath, now needs to have government permission. Under the new regulations, departments and agencies must also submit their renovation plans in detail, with all relevant layouts and designs, to the Bangkok department of public works. The Bangkok municipal authority reserves the right to dismantle any structures that have been installed without permission and to impose fines on the relevant agency. These new regulations are aimed at controlling the use of public footpaths. We, being simple Bangkok visitors, believe that the new rules will also be in our advantage. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Phuket wants Government to help tourism

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2004 at 13:07 PM
Phuket's businessmen have urged the government to help rescue the province's natural tourist attractions from their environmental crisis. They have been gradually damaged over the years by tourism.
Yes, these things happen when tourism is out before anything else, including the environment. We have pointed at this problem for Phuket time after time. Now Phuket calls upon the government to immediately resolve this problem, using law enforcement and providing larger budgets to renovate attractive sites and help create a sustainable tourism business here.
The appeal was made following a recent National Geographic magazine publication, which ranked both Thailand's two famous tourists destinations, Phuket and Chiang Mai, as among the world's worst tourist attractions. The journal predicted the beauty of Phuket's natural attractions would be completely destroyed by environmental problems within the next five years. Illegal trespassing on national reserve land, to enable tourist resorts to be constructed, has already destroyed Phuket's beaches and beautiful scenery. So now, when it is too late in fact already, Phuket wants to amend, but we fear that the main reason for the wanted amendments is to attract even more tourists. And so the downward spiral will start again. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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King asks for fixed rice price

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2004 at 13:06 PM
His Majesty the King has urged the government to ensure this year's farm produce and rice price guarantee programs will help farmers rather than middlemen. Delays in the announcement of guaranteed prices, he said, can force farmers to sell produce to middlemen at low prices if they cannot wait. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told his weekly radio show yesterday that the King was worried that price-guarantee programs helped middlemen more than farmers. He had asked the Commerce Minister to declare guaranteed rice prices for the 2004/2005 harvest from Aug 1-Sept 30. Guaranteed prices for jasmine and Suphan Buri fragrant rice were announced in advance to discourage farmers from rushing to sell rice to middlemen. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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