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Queen pleads for unity

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2004 at 13:52 PM
Her Majesty the Queen made an emotional plea yesterday for unity among security officials in the South and called on them to be courageous and make sacrifices for the sake of the country and the people. The Queen said the pain and suffering from the loss of innocent lives has already been too great. In her speech in Narathiwat to more than 5,000 people at a parade of three battalions of village defense volunteers from Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, the Queen said the country did not want to lose any more lives in violent attacks. The Queen said Thailand has earned an international reputation as "The Land of Peace" because its people of many races, different languages and religions have been able to live together in harmony. She said Thai people are generous and are not prejudiced against those of different religions.
"I beg all of you to cooperate and unite in doing your duties. Be brave and make sacrifices. Do not let people get attacked anymore. Keep in mind that you are doing this for the security and safety of your beloved country. I ask that each and every one of you be determined to give gratitude to your motherland," the Queen said.
A Government House official said Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had cancelled his lunch with his deputies yesterday and flown to Narathiwat for an audience with the Queen. Mr. Thaksin will also make helicopter inspections of other southern provinces. He has just given Gen Chavalit full authority to command security operations in the South. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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War on bird flu

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2004 at 13:47 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday declared a new war: the war on bird flu. The PM gives a one-month deadline for authorities to wipe out the epidemic. Mr. Thaksin demanded joint efforts from provincial governors, and the Public Health and Agriculture and Cooperatives ministries to put an end to the second outbreak of avian influenza by the end of next month. "I have 31 days (for you) to stamp out bird flu, from Oct 1 to Oct 31," he told a meeting of provincial governors in Bangkok. "Bird flu is our common enemy and needs to be destroyed." We do not quite understand how Mr. Thaksin wants to set nature to his will –although we do understand his concerns – by setting a deadline, but here it is. A short review:
Pranee Thongchan died of bird flu on Sept 20, after caring for her ill daughter, suspected of having caught the same disease after staying in bird flu-stricken areas in Kamphaeng Phet. Pranee and her daughter are now dead. The health ministry confirms both caught the virus that re-emerged in July. A third person confirmed as having the virus is Mrs. Pranom, Pranee's elder sister. Her condition was improving at Kamphaeng Phet Hospital yesterday. Her four-year-old son is also suspected of having bird flu, but he was discharged yesterday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New southern region strategies

Posted by hasekamp on 29 September 2004 at 16:51 PM
Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is to convene a meeting of security officials on 1 October to draw up new strategies for solving unrest in Thailand's southern border region. The meeting follows Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's authorization of full powers to Gen. Chavalit to oversee the southern situation. The opposition has continually critisized the government for its persistence in sticking to strategies, which have clearly failed to bring the violence in the southern border provinces to an end.
Meanwhile, Thailand's most prominent Muslim politician, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, today dismissed United States concerns that the situation in southern Thailand was bordering on terrorism, while noting that Muslims across the world were concerned that religious teachings were being distorted for terrorist purposes. Mr. Wan Noor said that while Prime Minister Thaksin had voiced concern over religious teachers in the southern region, the number of teachers in Thailand who were using their lessons to instigate insurgency was in fact extremely low. He stressed that, despite US fears to the contrary, the threat of violent terrorism in Thailand was low, as the issues involved were all domestic ones. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Preserving nature together

Posted by hasekamp on 29 September 2004 at 16:44 PM
The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment has emphasized that it is very important to cooperate with the private sector and non-governmental organizations in preserving wild life and forest plants. He said during the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning the cooperation with private sector and non-governmental organizations in preserving wild life and forest plants, that it might take some time to restore the destroyed forest. The cooperation with non-governmental organizations (NGO) would soon achieve the target of restoring the natural resources, especially wild life and forest plants. The cooperation would cover the natural resource protection campaign and public relations, the preservation of wild life and forest plants and the development of protection and disease curing systems. Several non-governmental organizations joined in this MOU signing ceremony, including the Sueb Nakasathira Foundation, the National Wild Life and Forest Plant Protection Foundation, and the Elephant Foundation. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Bangkok will have model roads

Posted by hasekamp on 29 September 2004 at 16:37 PM
The new Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin will open the city's first environment-friendly road in Thon Buri on Friday. Ten more environment-friendly roads are planned citywide under a project aimed at curbing air pollution, ensuring cleanliness and increasing greenery along these roads. Later, Sukhumvit, Bamrung Muang, Phitsanulok, Ratchaprarop, At Narong, Yaowarat, Rama I, Rama III, Ramkhamhaeng and Samsen roads would receive the same treatment. The governor said the project would be evaluated every three months. A Canal Lover Project, due to be launched on November 1, would also encourage the public to keep waterways clean and beautiful. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket environment said to be protected

Posted by hasekamp on 28 September 2004 at 18:01 PM
Phuket province has drawn up four measures designed to save the resort island's rapidly diminishing forests, the head of the province's Natural Resources and Environment Office revealed today. He said that the province aimed to instill environmental awareness among the island's residents, and set up environmental villages in local communities. Second, the province would establish an operational center to prevent the encroachment and the destruction of forestland, with a focus on participation from state officials. Third, the province would work to plant new trees and revive degraded forests, and fourth, regular aerial surveys and satellite photos would be used to determine the extent of forest encroachment each year.
Recent surveys of the island painted an extremely worrying picture of forest encroachment, with several large hotels worth millions of baht built illegally on forest land. Altjough we have our doubts about the success of these plans, our – positively meant – comment is "better late than never". (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Nationwide bird flu alert

Posted by hasekamp on 28 September 2004 at 17:53 PM
A nationwide health watch has been declared following the second confirmed case of human bird flu, a 32-year-old woman in Kamphaeng Phet. The Public Health Minister announced the widening of the alert from the previous 32 provinces after talks with health experts yesterday. It means patients across the nation with respiratory problems, especially influenza and pneumonia-like symptoms, will be subject to thorough checks. Ill people who have had contact with poultry will be immediately put on the list of suspected bird-flu patients and isolated during medical treatment. The ministry said there were now 18 patients suspected of having avian influenza and two confirmed cases.
A man was confirmed to have died of the disease in Prachin province on Sept 8. The second infection (in Kamphaeng Phet) was confirmed yesterday. The woman is still alive. Her illness sparked fears of human-to-human transmission of bird flu because two of her relatives are suspected of having died from the disease and her son is also ill. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket attracts more visitors

Posted by hasekamp on 27 September 2004 at 9:50 AM
The number of visitors arriving at Phuket International Airport in the year to date is up by no less than 27% on the figure for the same period last year! This fighure has astonished and - also - delighted tourism bosses. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket office had predicted that the number of passengers – foreign and Thai – arriving in Phuket would increase by 10% this year compared with 2003. But instead, arrivals have risen by 27% already. Phuket focused on tourists from Asia and the Middle East for the low season. There are many charter flights that come to Phuket from the Middle East because people there want to experience the rain. a TAT official from Phuket said. Phuket also had become more popular as a short haul destination for people in Asia, partly because of terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world.
Visitor numbers could be boosted still further if an Australian Airlines Boeing 767 charter flight between Sydney and Phuket, which is being tested this month, becomes a regular feature of the low (rainy) season. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Enemies of Thaksin gather

Posted by hasekamp on 27 September 2004 at 9:41 AM
People calling themselves Enemies of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra gathered at a Bangkok hotel yesterday and declared their mission: to oust him from power. They included key figures from pro-democracy groups, academics, human rights advocates, labour unions, parliament, the Assembly of the Poor, and the anti-corruption network. Respected social critic Sulak Sivaraksa kicked off the meeting with a speech, attacking the prime minister and calling on the people to unite to topple the Thaksin government. In his speech Mr. Sulak condemned the prime minister, alleging corrupt practices that allowed him and his cronies to reap benefits from the country. The government also had methods to divide the civil sector from non-governmental organisations. Those who rose up to protect natural resources for their communities had gone missing, been kidnapped or killed without the government showing any concern. "This prime minister, who claims he has a vision, has followed the US economic and political system, taking George W. Bush as his model", was one of the accusations. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Tourist murder suspect wants to surrender

Posted by hasekamp on 26 September 2004 at 18:56 PM
A police officer, suspected of fatally shooting two British tourists in Kanchanaburi, has contacted authorities to arrange his surrender, a senior police officer said yesterday. The suspect, Somchai Wisetsing of Kanchanaburi police, who allegedly killed Adam Lloyd, 25, and Vanessa Arscott, 24, after an argument while off duty on the morning of Sept 9, has contacted his office in a bid to turn himself in. Somchai went into hiding after the killing. A search for him has been fruitless. A police official said it was believed the killings happened when the suspect was in a fit of rage. But the real motive will only be known after the suspect has been found. The British embassy was reportedly satisfied with progress in the case. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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WHO fears for virus

Posted by hasekamp on 26 September 2004 at 18:51 PM
A new suspected bird flu case was admitted to Kamphaeng Phet Hospital yesterday as the World Health Organisation echoed concerns of Thai health authorities that the disease may be spreading from human to human.
The acting public health permanent secretary said a six-year-old boy whose mother was being treated at the same hospital as a suspected case, fell ill on Sept 22 with bird flu-like symptoms. He was sent to the hospital on Friday. The boy's condition improved after taking a drug used to treat influenza.
A lab test of another flu suspect also showed she did not have the H5N1 virus. However, the Public Health Ministry decided to repeat the test at Siriraj Hosptal and the Medical Sciences Department to counter-check the results which were expected to come out tonight.
Meanwhile the WHO acting Thailand representative told AFP he suspected human transmission had occurred in a case in Kamphaeng Phet province, where a girl and boy are thought to have died from the virus.
Laboratory tests on these people, as well as on the girl's aunt, were being conducted to see if the virus was present.
The public health minister yesterday tried to downplay fears of human transmission, stressing preliminary test results from the aunt showed no bird flu. Health ministry officials, however, have confirmed the girl and the 13-year-old boy in Kamphaeng Phet came into contact with sick household chickens.
The WHO fears the H5N1 virus could mutate into a highly contagious form and trigger a global human flu pandemic. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Best planetarium in SE Asia

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2004 at 10:17 AM
Thailand is to get Southeast Asia's most advanced planetarium after a private company won a bid to build a space simulator and projector, the Department of Non-Formal Education (NFE) said yesterday. Advance Avionics & Aviation had won the bidding proposing a high-quality facility using a German opto-mechanical design for a simulator for solar and stellar observation with a price of Bt 160 million, within the Bt 180-million budget. It will also supply 14 films on space and astronomy. The facility will be set up at Thailand Science Park in Rangsit, Pathum Thani. The planetarium is expected to open to the public free of charge in April 2006. (Source: The Nation)


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Two suspected bird flu deaths

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2004 at 10:13 AM
Two children died in Kamphaeng Phet yesterday of bird flu-like disease while being kept under the Public Health Ministry's surveillance. An officials said the two children, an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, died of immediate pneumonia and lung infection before they were officially listed as suspected bird flu cases. The ministry was waiting for lab test results before confirming whether or not the children had been infected by the H5N1 strain of avian influenza. They were put on the ministry's watch list because their families raised chickens, all of which died last month. However, it remained unknown –so far- if they had touched any of the dead poultry before they developed bird flu-like symptoms. Until now there was only one confirmed human death from avian flu in the country since the disease re-emerged in July. Eleven people in nine provinces have been placed under surveillance.
Meanwhile, Crime Suppression Division police yesterday arrested a man, accused of smuggling 72 bottles of bird flu vaccine into the country in January, at his house in Don Muang district. He was yesterday charged with producing and importing unregistered medicine without an official permit. One bottle of the vaccine could be used to treat 1,000 chickens. The official policy, however, is not to vaccinate, because that would not make chicken meat acceptable for export. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Wash your hands often!

Posted by hasekamp on 23 September 2004 at 11:41 AM
A senior official at the Public Health Ministry yesterday recommended regular hand washing to reduce the risk of contracting influenza, as nine people are now under observation after exhibiting symptoms associated with bird flu. We believe that this advice also is valid for tourists. The ministry is conducting tests to see whether the nine people are infected with bird flu. The suspected victims are in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Saraburi, Prachin Buri, Chon Buri, Rayong and Chaiyaphum. Furthermore 112 people were removed from the watch list between July 1 and September 21, after lab tests confirmed their illnesses were unrelated to avian influenza. There is only one confirmed case as of now. (Source: The Nation)


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Entertainment venues blacklisted

Posted by hasekamp on 22 September 2004 at 12:48 PM
The "entertainment" industry in Thailand -like in other countries- is often linked to illegal and even criminal activities. Now ten Bangkok entertainment venues in the Makkasan area and on Kasetnawamin Road have been blacklisted for breaking almost every social order law, Deputy Interior Minister Pracha Maleenont said yesterday. These "entertainment" venues allow drugs on the premises, admit people under the age of 18 and ignore enforced closing times. The ministry’#39;s new entertainment venue zoning laws took effect on September 16. It would take some time for officials to inform all venues before strictly enforcing the law., although the social order team has frequently checked venues to ensure they were in compliance. On Thai TV video was shown of Krung Thon entertainment venue, which showed patrons engaged in a number of illegal activities, such as gambling on slot machines and watching explicit sex shows. Police raided the venue and seized a quantity of gambling equipment. The venue was subsequently closed for 30 days and local police were summoned to explain why action was not taken sooner. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai elephants are smuggled into Burma

Posted by hasekamp on 22 September 2004 at 12:39 PM
Many female elephants and their calves have been smuggled out of the country in the past two years. Some of the animals and their Thai mahouts have been spotted at tourist venues in Burma. The commander of a navy patrol unit said the Mekong river was the most popular smuggling route. There were reports about Thai elephants having been smuggled out through Chiang Rai's Chiang Saen district to the Burmese border provinces. Smugglers can make handsome profits as the beasts could be purchased at low prices and disposed of at high prices. Thai authorities were looking into reports, saying that the elephants were being used to provide elephant rides to tourists visiting Burma. Border towns in Burma have casinos, and are popular by visitors. Muangla (Burma) is attracting more tourists by the day, particularly Chinese tourists. Since January this year, more than two million tourists visited the town, 80% of them from China. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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More tourists, please

Posted by hasekamp on 21 September 2004 at 12:10 PM
The tourism industry seems to be the only spear point of the Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The PM has announced a new tourism policy, entitled the "Open Sky Policy," to attract more foreign tourists to visit the southern tourist attractions, especially Phuket Island. However, environmentalists are very concerned about the ecological problems of Phuket, and not without good reason. Therefore, they are urging government to issue the environmental protection measures.
The Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment said that the growing influx of tourists to Phuket has created an urgent need to issue new protection measures for Phuket’#39;s natural resources. A survey conducted this year shows the amount of litter in the sea is increasing by ten percent, because of the rising number of irresponsible tourists who dump their garbage in the sea. Therefore, he has prepared to launch a new "In and Out" campaign, to encourage tourists to bring their garbage back after visiting island. The main purpose of this campaign is to reduce garbage in the surrounding seas. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Flooding worst in 10 years

Posted by hasekamp on 21 September 2004 at 12:01 PM
Parts of the North of Thailand are suffering their worst floods in 10 years as water levels continue to rise. In Chiang Rai, officials said they could not yet release water from Mae Srauy Dam because residents of Tambon Mae Srauy would be affected. Officials have distributed 1,200 packs of medicine for diseases, which are often spread through flooding.
In Uttaradit, five are under water. The Uttaradit Governor said he had ordered officials to install scales to measure rain in 20 spots, around three districts that are prone to landslides.
In Sukhothai, the water level in Muang district rose to more than two meters yesterday, with more than 500 soldiers deployed to help evacuate villagers from flooded homes. Residents of the province were in a critical situation as water levels continued to rise. The Yom River’#39;s water level was at 6.8 meters yesterday, above the critical level.
In Lampang’#39;s Muang district, 20 sections of a 10 kilometer stretch of a road have been blocked by landslides and uprooted trees. Officials said it would take three days to clear the roads.
The situation will be worse when water from Sukhothai reaches more southern provinces next week, officials warned. In Phitsanulok, three districts are under water. Roads connecting villages are impassable. (Source: The Nation)


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DNA testing of orangutans

Posted by hasekamp on 21 September 2004 at 11:50 AM
Veterinarians from Kasetsart University yesterday performed DNA tests on the first batch of orangutans seized from Safari World, in a month-long mission to determine the origin of 102 apes found at the private zoo. Safari World's vice president said 50 orangutans were descendants of the 14 acquired before the 1992 ban on trade in endangered animals; some of the apes had been donated by the public. This, of course, is big nonsense. Orangutans get one baby per –say- three years. And donations by the public?? Too idiot to comment on.
DNA testing will be performed first on the 50 orangutans that the zoo has singled out as descendants of the original 14, as well as all the original females, believed to be mothers of the apes, to see whether the DNA types match. The rest will be done after the laboratory results of the first batch are concluded. This seems a sensible order. Tests on the first batch would take five days, or 10 orangutans a day, and another 30 days would be spent in the testing lab. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket’#39;s reefs in danger

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2004 at 9:08 AM
At last the Thais are recognizing it. You and I knew it for a long time already. But we were not allowed to speak up loudly, because the tourism industry comes before everything else. But now at last here it is officially: Heavy tourism and fishing leave just 25% of the coral around the resort island of Phuket in good condition; almost half is already destroyed. The beautiful island reefs of Phuket that once attracted location scouts from the James Bond movie franchise are showing signs of wear after decades of tourism and fishing, with alarming rates of coral damage and sea-born litter. Almost half of the 14.4 square kilometers of coral reef around Phuket has been destroyed and only 25 per cent remains relatively well intact, while the surrounding seas play host to 10,000 tons of garbage. This is what researchers said at the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources yesterday. Most of the damaged coral was located in popular diving sites for tourists, such as the Hae Noi Islands, Koh Ngum, Koh Tapao Yai, Koh Tapao Noi and Koh Rang Yai. Meanwhile, the slightly more expensive island destinations of Koh Phi Phi (where project for large hotels and a new harbor are being planned right now), Koh Surin and Koh Similan (a protected archipelago) displayed also coral damage, be it more moderate so far.
There were 4.2 million visitors to Phuket last year and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’#39;s
"open sky" policy is intended to attract more. Wouldn't it be time now to reconsider the government policy to attract tourists at all price? (Source: The Nation)


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Thai anti-aging cream

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2004 at 8:56 AM
There has been higher -than-expected demand for a new anti-aging cream, produced by the Thai government. Demand has been so high that the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), which makes the product, has run out of stocks of the cream. Launched earlier this month, orders for the GPO Curmin cream have already reached 800,000 units. The GPO can only produce 8,000 units a day. It expects to be able to deliver the back orders to all the customers by the end of September. The rejuvenating cream will also be on sale at GPO shops from 15 October. There are also plans to export the cream, made from the Thai herb, Curcuma zedoaria or Ka Min Chan. The government therefore plans to expand the product line. Thai researchers are further looking into the developing of facial foam, lotions and sun-care products. GPO Curmin costs Bt 450 for 15 grams and Bt 1,300 for 50 grams. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thai-made Antarctic diver robot

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2004 at 8:50 AM
Scientists at the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) have invented the world’#39;s first underwater robotic explorer for the Antarctic region, capable of diving to depths of up to 50 meters. The announcement comes as Chulalongkorn University marine scientist Dr. Woranop Wiyakan prepares to become the first Thai ever to take part in a southern polar expedition. The robot had been invented to help Dr. Woranop collect data from the Antarctic waters. Dr. Woranop, who has been undergoing intensive training in Japan, will work in Antarctica with Japan’#39;s National Institute of Polar Research.
Currently based in Thailand, he will test the new robot next week before returning to Japan for more training. The robotic explorer, that weighs less than 50 kilograms, has been designed to withstand Antarctic weather conditions. It is fitted with instruments to record salinity, speed, and temperature. Using remote control, it will also be able to use the robot’#39;s cameras to record marine life.
The Thai robot costs around 2 million Baht to produce, had received a huge level of interest from Japan. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Investment Forum

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2004 at 8:45 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra presided over the opening of an international investment forum, the "Thailand Focus 2004", hosted by the Kingdom, this morning when he assured foreign investors of the country's stability and steady growth with high potential and sound economic fundamentals.
We must agree that Thai stocks -generally spoken- have performed better lately than Western stocks, although the SET (Stock Exchange of Thailand) index made a fall from around 700 to around 600 this year. On Friday, however, the SET index was 675 again. This is a good performance.
The prime minister said in his keynote speech delivered at the opening of the "Thailand Focus 2004" that the Thai economy had continued to expand since 2001 despite the impact of both internal and external negative factors. The country's steady growth had been driven and backed by growing exports of quality Thai products and the government's dual-track policy to stimulate the economic growth from both urban and rural sectors. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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National Youth Day

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2004 at 8:35 AM
Children should have a chance to learn proper behavior themselves because grown-ups cannot act as their role models, according to the secretary of the Child Protection Foundation. On the occasion of National Youth Day today, he would like young people to behave and act as role models for adults to emulate. "We usually criticize teenage behavior on sex, gangs, violence and materialism but if we consider a wider view, we will find that teenage behavior only reflects that of adults. Grown-ups also exhibit violent behavior, and sometimes more subtly. People on the street and people in national politics alike exhibit their own forms of violence," he said. Young people needed adults who could introduce them to valuable activities such as the arts, music, religious practices, sports and traditional games. Without such leaders, young people could be attracted to vice, he said. National Youth Day is, like Children's Day, a typically Thai occasion. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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First confession in judge killing

Posted by hasekamp on 19 September 2004 at 14:04 PM
A 20-year-old has confessed to being part of a three-man hit squad that gunned down the highest-ranking Thai official killed during months of separatist violence, police said yesterday. Abdulloh Pashe was arrested after provincial judge Rapin Ruenkeow, 37, was shot and killed by three men on motorbikes as he waited at traffic lights in the trouble-hit province of Pattani on his way to work. The man confessed after a lengthy interrogation.
The judge became the 310th person to die during the violence in the Muslim-majority south of the country since January this year, according to a toll based on official figures released yesterday. (Source: AFP)


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New shopping Center in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 19 September 2004 at 14:01 PM
The Vice President of Central Retail Cooperation Company, has said to the press, that since its opening on the 1st of September, there have been about 50,000 shoppers per day, which has allowed the company to meet its target. The company also aims to promote local Thai community products, like One Tambon One Products into the world market, and expects to generate around 3 billion baht per year for Phuket. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Judge shot in the South

Posted by hasekamp on 19 September 2004 at 13:55 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday vowed to break up a network of Islamic teachers he accuses of planting the seeds of hatred that have resulted in a spate of killings in the South, including Friday's assassination of a judge.
According to reports, a suspected militant, Abdulloh Pasi, 21, who acted as a lookout during the attack, told a suspect that he would receive combat training abroad if he carried out three attacks. Arrest warrants have been issued for two other suspects. Judge Rapin Ruangkaew, 37, was shot seven times in the head and torso on Friday by men riding a motorcycle in Pattani town. He was the most senior official to die in a wave of violence that has hit southern Thailand this year, leaving more than 300 people dead, mostly officials and security men. His death sent shock waves through the civil service in this trouble-plagued region.
Muslim teachers play a part in the violence, according to the government. PM Thaksin said that, although the teachers were a minority in the three predominantly Muslim provinces, their number was significant and posed a serious challenge to the security agencies. The teachers, locally called ustad, went around luring young men of good standing in their community into their network without the knowledge of the young men's parents, Thaksin said. The premier also vowed to tackle Islamic boarding schools. (Source: The Nation)


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Sukhothai under water

Posted by hasekamp on 17 September 2004 at 11:20 AM
Flooding problems are bad this year. The main cause, of course, is the disappearance of the forests. We wonder if governments will ever see that there is the point to act and to educate. Anyway, Sukhothai town was under at least 80 centimetres of floodwater yesterday, closing all 50 downtown shops, making most roads undriveable and disrupting government operations. City hall, the courthouse, prisons and the governor's office were inundated, and at least six schools were closed indefinitely. The worst-flooded area was about two metres deep.
The Governor said he had already issued a warning to everyone living near the Yom River to be on high alert as it was rising steadily and might burst its banks. On Wednesday night, officials tried to hold back the overflowing river but the current proved too strong and washed all the sandbags away.
Rainstorms also lashed other northern provinces yesterday: In Lampang and in Chiang Rai province flloding also was heavy. (Source: The Nation)


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Anti-corruption plan next month

Posted by hasekamp on 17 September 2004 at 11:13 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has pledged to come up with a concrete plan in the war against corruption next month. The plan will stipulate rules for the anti-graft campaign scheduled to kick off on October 3rd. A Deputy Prime Minister and the Justice Minister will be in charge of the campaign. The chairman of the Transparency Thailand Foundation has estimated that the country lost 1.2 trillion baht to corruption related construction mega-projects. We must admit that Thailand is not the only country with problems in this field. Also in European countries corruption is well-known in mega-buildig projects. The building world seems to be a vaset source for corruption and cheating, especially towards governments.
To ease the burdens of the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC), the Justice Minister said that his ministry would propose draft amendments to the cabinet, which would empower the police, or a special agency similar to the NCCC to look into corruption cases against lower-level state officials. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Phuket to Singapore for 11 Baht

Posted by hasekamp on 16 September 2004 at 17:24 PM
The Thai AirAsia airline yesterday launched a promotion for flights on its new Singapore-Phuket route by offering 3,000 one-way seats at just 11 Baht each. The fares do not include airport tax and other fees. Ticket purchases must be made online at http://www.airasia.com between September 15 and 30 for flights starting on November 5. Once the low-fare tickets are sold out, one way tickets will be sold at 900 Baht. Thai AirAsia said, "We received tremendous response to our 11 Baht fares for Singapore-Bangkok flights. Our latest promotions demonstrate that Thai AirAsia is not only offering one of the lowest fares in the market, but also that we are committed to providing low, affordable fares to enable more people to fly." (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Mushroom to save rainforests

Posted by hasekamp on 16 September 2004 at 11:51 AM
A Thai scientist has discovered what could be the key to saving the world’#39;s rainforests – a small, golf-ball-shaped Thai mushroom that smells of aniseed. A team of researchers at John Moores University (JMU) in Liverpool has discovered a species of spherical mushroom, which -when placed next to the root of certain trees- can improve growth rates by at least 20 per cent. The edible fungus, which tastes like a nutty brown mushroom, is found only in the tropical rainforests of Thailand, and has been named Astraeus Oderatus after its distinctive sweet aniseed odor. Thai student Dr Cherochai Phosri discovered it, during the final year of his PhD in Liverpool last year, as part of a long-term, microbiology collaboration between JMU and Chulalongkorn University. The mushroom forms a symbiotic relationship with the tree roots, giving the plant vital nutrients so it can develop. It has been tested on eucalyptus and pine seedlings in the laboratory, and the results have been fantastic. Growth rate improvements of seedlings by about 20 per cent have been found.
Thailand has seen massive devastation of its rainforests since the end of World War II, as trees, mainly teak, have been felled and sold for timber. The discovery was to be presented to more than 200 experts at the British Mycological Society symposium, which started on Monday at Nottingham University. (Source: The Nation)


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Thailand will not inoculate

Posted by hasekamp on 15 September 2004 at 17:30 PM
Thailand, faced with a second outbreak of bird flu, said today its poultry would not be inoculated against the disease because vaccines offer no guarantee of safety. A panel from the ministries of health, agriculture and commerce met for more than three hours before arriving at the decision. The issue has triggered heated debate in the country among those who favor mass culls and others who advocate vaccinating poultry. Thailand is among the top four poultry exporters in the world and has been badly hit by two outbreaks of avian influenza this year.
With no guarantee that vaccinated chickens are completely virus free, it could jeopardize human health a government official said. So, what will be done anbout the fighting cocks now? They certainly pose a danger for new outbreaks, in our opinion. (Source: Yahoo! News)


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Flooding, flooding, flooding

Posted by hasekamp on 15 September 2004 at 12:33 PM
Two men drowned yesterday in Chang Rai after flashfloods unleashed by torrential rains hit several parts of the province as well as Phrae, Chiang Mai and Ubon Ratchathani provinces, affecting thousands of villagers. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, meanwhile, prepared for possible flooding in the capital by setting up a flood operation centre yesterday.
The heavy rains also caused a landslide in Prae province, that blocked the road to the Phu Chifah mountain, a popular tourist destination.
In Chiang Mai, villagers began to pack their belongings when waters rose at about 4.30 am. Floods there had affected some 1,500 families, and two schools were closed indefinitely.
In Ubon Ratchathani the Mekong River’#39;s water level had risen due to heavy rain. The road to a remote village had been washed away, cutting off around 140 families.
In Bangkok the new Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said he set up an around-the-clock flood operation centre to monitor possible flooding. In the center he would use closed circuit televisions installed at major intersections to monitor 26 hotspots on Bangkok streets. (Source: The Nation)


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Super-deadly flu virus to come?

Posted by hasekamp on 15 September 2004 at 12:25 PM
The acting public health permanent secretary said yesterday that blood tests had shown that two suspected patients in Prachin Buri province only had H3N2 human flu, not a human-to-human transferable form of bird flu.
Health authorities were worried, however, that two strains could cross and trigger a huge nationwide outbreak similar to the "Thailand Flu" 40 years ago, which killed scores of people. There was a risk that the H5N1 avian flu human-to-human transmittable virus might come from the crossing of two viruses. So far the H5N1 has been known to jump only from birds to humans. The two new patients were among 71 people from 22 provinces on the bird flu watch list.
The government will decide today whether to administer a bird flu vaccine to chickens, in a meeting of the National Committee on Bird Flu Eradication. It is very clear that the vaccine would not be absolutely risk-free against the bird flu infection. The committee remained divided over the decision on vaccination, as exporters and fowl raisers are worried that their products would be banned by key importing countries, especially in the European Union or Japan, Thailand's two major markets that are sensitive about the threat of vaccines to human health. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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GM papaya has spread

Posted by hasekamp on 15 September 2004 at 12:16 PM
Agriculture Minister Somsak Thepsuthin yesterday confirmed that genetically modified (GM) papaya has contaminated local plantations after a sample from Khon Kaen was tested positive by the Agriculture Department. The specimen was collected from a papaya plantation near the department's horticultural research station, where a field trial of genetically modified papaya was being carried out. The plantation's owner is one of 2,600 farmers who bought papaya strain seedlings from the station. Prior to the test results, the ministry had insisted that no GM papaya plants had spread outside the station. An investigation was launched after environmental group Greenpeace made public its test results on papayas from the province showing GM contamination. It is Thailand's second case of the spread of a transgenic crop after transgenic cotton was accidentally released from the station five years ago.
The minister told the department to suspend transgenic papaya field experiments. He did not say, however, whether GM papayas at the research station would have to be destroyed. A Greenpeace activist said the ministry's affirmation of the GM papaya contamination would affect the country's reputation as the world's leading farm produce exporter. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Spa wars in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 15 September 2004 at 12:08 PM
The Chairman of the Phuket Spa Business Club (PSBC) has called for spas to work together to train staff rather than poaching employees from one another. He said non-members, were having problems with spas belonging to large chains, which were luring away trained staff. Phuket is the first place in Thailand to issue certificates to spa therapists. The number of spas on the island has increased greatly in recent years, and so has the competition for trained, qualified staff. Therapists could not be blamed for accepting job offers with higher pay and better benefits. However, it is not justifiable to take staff. We believe –so far- that the Spa business in Phuket is indeed a business, and not a serious heath resort. Contrary to Spas in countries like Germany and Austria, where first class medical care is available for patients.
We hope, though, that Spas will never reach the point in Thailand that they will be ordinary brothels. The danger that it will come to that is large. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Fighting cocks to be spared?

Posted by hasekamp on 14 September 2004 at 11:00 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra today stressed that the owners of fighting cocks had not yet been given permission to begin vaccinating their birds against the avian flu virus, saying that the government committee responsible for deliberating the use of the vaccines would not reach a firm conclusion until next week. Mr. Thaksin said while the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) was now advocating the use of the vaccines in rare breeds, the matter was still being hotly debated elsewhere, with scientists divided on whether or not the vaccines would be given to fighting cocks. We do not believe fighting cocks are "rare breeds". They are one of the main causes of the Thai bird flue and should be culled, like all other poultry.
As we reported earlier, even very rare storks have been culled by the Thai government, so why not the fighting cocks? We do not believe that the Thai government is afraid of the gambling and cock fighting mafia in Thailand. So, what are we waiting for? Large economic interests are at stake.
Instead the government has warned owners and breeders of fighting cocks to avoid doing anything that would put them at risk of contracting avian flu virus. Thailand’#39;s Department of Disease Control warned that fighting-cock breeders are among those with the highest risk of contracting avian flu, as they often have close physical contact with their birds. "These people are very close to their fighting cocks. They carry them. They use their hands to clean the chicken's blood and phlegm, and some even suck out phlegm with their mouth. This is very risky and increases the danger of contracting bird flu". (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Net closes around suspected policeman

Posted by hasekamp on 14 September 2004 at 10:48 AM
The national police chief said that within one or two days police expected to arrest the police officer, suspected of killing two young British tourists last week. A red BMW believed to have been used by the suspect was found in Bangkok. There is a Bt 100,000 reward for anyone who gives information leading to the arrest of 39-year-old Sergeant Somchai Wisetsing. Somchai’#39;s wife told police that after the incident she took Somchai to a hospital to treat an injury to his face, but he did not tell her how he got the wound. They parted company shortly thereafter and have not met since, police said. Police said they believed the wife had nothing to do with the crime.
Representatives of the British embassy, on behalf of the families of the two travelers, yesterday met with forensics officials and police in Bangkok, where the bodies of the two Britons had been taken. An official said that the victims’#39; families believed the crime was the act of one man and it would not damage relations between Thailand and Britain. (Source: The Nation)


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Diplomatic passports for Olympic medallists

Posted by hasekamp on 14 September 2004 at 10:39 AM
The eight Olympic medallists will be given one-year diplomatic passports today in recognition of their achievements at the Athens Games. The Foreign Minister will present the passports to the medallists.
The eight heroes will also be given certificates as goodwill representatives in sport while the remaining 34 Olympic athletes will be given certificates of accolade. This is the first time the ministry has given diplomatic passports to Olympic athletes. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Patent law change?

Posted by hasekamp on 13 September 2004 at 20:36 PM
The Thai National Human Rights Commission and Aids advocacy groups have urged the government to speed up patent law amendment, or issue an executive decree to ensure better access to anti-retroviral treatments for people living with HIV/Aids. The groups said the government should change the law so it complies with the Aug 30, 2003 Doha Declaration on Trips (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) and Public Health. In November 2001, the WTO ministerial conference in Doha allowed governments to override patents through "compulsory licensing" or "parallel imports" as provided for under Trips. The declaration pointed to a final hurdle: the effective use of compulsory licensing by countries unable to produce their own drugs.
The Doha meeting removed this obstacle by agreeing to a case-by-case system for waiving the export limitation under Trips so countries producing generic copies of patented products under compulsory licenses can export them to "eligible importing countries." We, having been a patent examiner for over 30 years, do see some legislation problems, but we have not seen the Doha documents. Our point is that we do not see a solid legal basis to set aside patent rights for one (type of) drug, and not for another. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Early closing in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 12 September 2004 at 19:22 PM
Shopping Malls and Department Stores in Phuket have started early closing hours, following the government’#39;s policy to help the country to save energy. The Chief of Phuket Provincial Commercial Office (PPCO) has told reporters that the island’#39;s shops must comply with the resolution made by the national cabinet on Wednesday. However, the PPCO would monitor how the reduced operating hours will affect trade.
Managements of shopping complexes with floor areas of 10,000 square meters or more have been told they must close by 9.30 pm during the regular weekdays, and 10 pm at weekends, to save energy at a time of rapidly rising oil prices. This is not what we call early closing, but in Thailand they do call it that.
All large shopping places in Phuket have agreed to comply with the policy, including those smaller than 10,000 sqm. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Royal audience for Olympic winners

Posted by hasekamp on 11 September 2004 at 12:44 PM
His Majesty the King yesterday granted Thailand's eight Olympic medallists an audience at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin. During the meeting, four of the medallists presented him with their Olympic medals. Boxers Manus Boonjumnong, Worapoj Petchkoom and Suriya Prsarthinpimai, and taekwondo athlete Yaowapa Boorapolchai were surprised when His Majesty gave the medals back and said the athletes should keep them because they worked hard to win them. "I won a medal but it was not this great. These medals are not necessary for me, but worthy of you all," he said. "You worked hard to earn them. Keep them carefully and be proud of them."
His Majesty informed the medallists that he and his favorite pet, former stray dog Khun Tongdaeng, were glued to the television during the Games to monitor the progress of the Thai athletes. As soon as athletes won a medal, His Majesty said ordered his principal private secretary to call them and congratulate them. (Source: The Nation)


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Hunt for police officer

Posted by hasekamp on 11 September 2004 at 12:43 PM
An arrest warrant has been issued for a policeman who is the prime suspect in the killings of two British tourists recently near Kanchanaburi (see our previous report).
Senior Sgt-Major Somchai Wisetsing, a 39-year-old unit head at Muang Kanchanaburi police station, was named the chief suspect in the deaths of Adam Geoffrey Lloyd, 25, and Vanessa Claire Arscott, 24, who were gunned down in the streets of Kanchanaburi. Police were hunting for the suspect after bloodstains were found in his car. According to witnesses, the British couple drank with a Thai man in a food shop, runned by Somchai. The couple later quarreled and the woman ran out of the shop crying. Both men then followed in a blue car driven by the Thai man. The Thai man then drove the car after the couple. Shortly afterwards, shots were heard and Lloyd fell to the ground. A startled Arscott was then hit by the car and dragged along the road for about 150 meters. The driver then left the car and fired a number of shots at the woman. Police searched Somchai's home in Muang district and discovered fresh bloodstains in his car. The suspect was not home and police met his 61-year-old father at the premises. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai police seize pangolins again

Posted by hasekamp on 10 September 2004 at 19:59 PM
Thai Local police have seized 300 pangolins in a rubber plantation in the southern Thai province of Songkhla. The seizure is the biggest haul so far this year. The ant-eating mammals were wrapped in nylon bags and stuffed into plastic boxes. They were smuggled across the border from Malaysia, and were destined for restaurants in other Thai provinces. Some simpletons in Asia believe that potency for sex increases by eating these protected animals.
The two men guarding the animals in the rubber plantation fled when the police scouring the area approached them. Smugglers use routes through forest areas in the South and along the border to bring the protected wildlife into Thailand, a customs officer said. Police are trying to trace the smugglers and who in Thailand was meant to receive the animals. The 300 pangolins, worth about 300,000 baht on ther black market, will be released back into the wild. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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UK couple shot dead in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 9 September 2004 at 19:58 PM
A British couple has been shot dead near the scene of the original Bridge on the river Kwai in Thailand. Adam Lloyd, 25, and Vanessa Arscott, 24, were killed on a night out near Kanchanaburi, 80 miles west of Bangkok, in the early hours of Thursday. Police said an arrest warrant had been issued for their main suspect, police Sergeant Somchai Visetsingha, who had been missing since the shooting.
Reports say Ms Arscott was knocked down by a car and dragged for 20 yards after trying to stop the gunman who had shot her boyfriend dead. She was shot dead too. The couple are believed to have met their killer earlier in a riverside restaurant when he got involved in an argument which began when Mr Lloyd became upset at the way other customers were looking at his girlfriend. Witnesses saw the victims arguing with Sgt Somchai at the restaurant. And Sgt Somchai has been missing since the shooting. There are witnesses that point him as the killer. (Source: BBC News)


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Papaya patents by US institute

Posted by hasekamp on 8 September 2004 at 16:56 PM
A US research organization has patented the genes of a papaya disease widely found in Thailand. Greenpeace has warned that Thai farmers and researchers might find themselves having to pay for future use of the genes and seeds developed using the patented techniques. We believe that "might" can safely be changed into "will".
The Cornell Research Foundation, which worked alongside Thailand’s Agriculture Department to research genetically modified (GM) papayas, patented the DNA structure of the papaya ring spot virus and a technique to make papayas resistant to the disease, Greenpeace adviser Gerard Greenfield said yesterday. The US Patents and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted the patent to the foundation in June, he said. Cornell Research, part of Cornell University, also applied with the USPTO for two more patents to protect its discoveries related to the protein makeup of another papaya virus found in Thailand, Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico and Venezuela, Greenfield said. He suggested that Thai researchers should oppose against the patent. He warned that life was set to become more difficult for Thai farmers, because at least 14 patents had been registered involving papayas. In the US and Canada, many papaya growers had been sued for patent infringements. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin wants to meet Bangkokians

Posted by hasekamp on 7 September 2004 at 17:50 PM
A Thai Rak Thai (TRT) spokesman said yesterday that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra wants to get closer to Bangkok residents to promote the TRT’s popularity rating. The premier plans to get personal with Bangkok constituents, promising to pay official visits to many areas of the capital and to launch policies which will directly benefit city residents. The measures have been announced to public right after the Democrat candidate Apirak Kosayodhin won the governor election with the significant number of votes. In addition, Thaksin has invited Apirak for a discussion on Thursday, after which the premier will schedule official visits to Bangkok. Has this somethiung to do with the upcoming elections in 2005? (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Royal audience for Olympic winners

Posted by hasekamp on 7 September 2004 at 17:45 PM
His Majesty the King will grant a royal audience to the eight Thai Olympic medallists on Thursday, at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin. They will, however, not present their Olympic medals to His Majesty the King but they will instead present their medals to Her Majesty the Queen during the another Royal audience at the end of this month. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Elephants out of Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2004 at 10:27 AM
The number of elephants wandering the streets of Bangkok and nearby provinces has been reduced thanks to government efforts to solve the problem, a senior official said yesterday. Elephants, wandering the Bangkok streets were -generally- maltreated by their owners. The Thai government brought together groups from several sectors to solve the problem of the roaming elephants and arrest those guiding them. Local police, the Forest Industry Organisation and the Royal Thai Police were among those involved. In the last two weeks, seven elephants and their mahouts have been detained. The animals were later sent to Bang Pra conservation area in Chon Buri. No reports of wandering elephants have since been received, he added. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai anti-retroviral may be used worldwide

Posted by hasekamp on 5 September 2004 at 12:25 PM
The United States is looking to buy GPO-VIR low-cost anti-retroviral pills from Thailand for patients in developing countries under the President's Emergency Plan for HIV/Aids Relief (Pepfar). The order has not yet been confirmed because GPO-VIR, produced by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, a state enterprise under the Public Health Ministry, has to pass standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration. A team of USFDA researchers have already been in Thailand to examine the quality of the locally-made ARV drugs, and plan at least another two visits. The Public Health Minister is very enthusiastic about the move by Washington and hopes the US will soon approve of the standard.
The cocktail drugs, which cost 1,250 baht a month, are being distributed to poor patients upcountry under a pilot project. A new state pharmaceutical factory, which is expected to increase production capacity of GPO-VIR, is currently under construction. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Queen in South of Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 5 September 2004 at 12:18 PM
Her Majesty the Queen arrived yesterday on her annual visit to the southernmost province of Narathiwat with plans to boost morale in the violence-prone region during her month-long retreat. Her Majesty will venture out from the Thaksinratchanivej southern palace to visit residents and inspect royal projects in the predominantly Muslim region, including Yala and Pattani. Agencies are collaborating to provide top security for her sojourn. The visit by Her majesty encourages officials in all offices to work to contain violence in the region, an official said. Violence in the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani has claimed more than 300 lives since January. (Source: The Nation)


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Survey of forest encroachment

Posted by hasekamp on 5 September 2004 at 12:17 PM
A government satellite survey has revealed that nearly four million rai (2.5 rai = 1 acre, 2.47 acre = 1 hectare) of Thailand's forest areas have been lost to human encroachment in the last five years only! The satellite photos taken in 2000 showed that forests represented 33 percent of the country's area. This year’s satellite photos were superimposed onto those taken in 2000, and showed a significant decline in the forested areas. The comparison of the surveys will be fully completed this month. The recent satellite photos show that forest encroachment has occurred in 1,476 plots since 2000, the Natural Resources and Environment Minister said. The government now plans to deploy officials to verify the infringements recorded by the aerial photographs. One thing is certain: If this encroachment continues, Thailand will get more and more flooding. Don't say we did not warn them (here). We find it therefore a very good policy to follow and combat encroachment. This is a good start. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thai economic to grow 7% in 2004

Posted by hasekamp on 4 September 2004 at 12:32 PM
A leading Thai economic analyst has predicted that Thailand’s economic growth will be around 7% this year. Kosit Punpiumrat, a top executive with the Bangkok Bank, said that he believed the country's economic growth this year would be between 6-7% and between 5-6% next year. Thai government officials fear that the economy remains volatile this year, and are closely monitoring the US presidential election because the result could have a major impact on the US economy and to the world as a whole, Mr. Kosit said. China's economy had grown substantially backed by two-way trade with the US. We doubt if the Chinese and Thai econiomy can be compared, but time will show it! (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Money for Olympic champions

Posted by hasekamp on 4 September 2004 at 12:00 PM
Thailand’s eight Olympic stars are well on their way to becoming the country’s newest millionaires (in baht, that is!), after the private sector and their home provinces gave them cash, prizes and gold. The weightlifting team received grand prizes from many sponsors worth millions of baht. Some examples: Pawina Thongsuk, who returned to her home in Surin by train, received a grand welcome from locals and was given at least 157 baht weight of gold (worth about 1.2 million baht) and a car. Weightlifter Udomporn Polsak received prizes worth more than 10 million baht, as well as 131 baht weight of gold and a car.
The boxing team, led by their three medallists Manus Boonjum-nong, Worapoj Petchkoom and Suriya Prasathinphimai, went to the Thai-Agri Food Company to receive prizes. Gold medal winner Manus was handed a cheque for 1 million baht, Worapoj 500,000 baht for his silver medal and Suriya 300,000 baht for his bronze medal.
The list continues, but the message is clear: In Thailand sport (literally) pays, provided one is a winner. (Source: The Nation)


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Europe does not want Thai papaya

Posted by hasekamp on 4 September 2004 at 11:59 AM
Several European Union importers this week stopped importing canned fruit products containing papaya from Thailand, fearing possible contamination from genetically modified (GM) papaya, a Thai exporter said. The "stop" order was received on Wednesday by a major Thai manufacturer, from one of its main customers in Europe. The company has been importing canned fruit salad and fruit cocktail products from the Thai company for years. Another Thai company received a similar notice from a European customer.
The EU importer had asked for a GM-free certificate for the papaya the company uses. The Thai manufacturer tried to explain to its customer that Thailand has no policy to grow and trade GM papaya and sent them copies of English-language news report about this week's Cabinet resolution to support the explanation. But it failed. The importer still insisted on sticking to its stop order. Annually, canned fruit-salad products generate about 1 billion Baht in export revenues to the Kingdom. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin: No GM crops

Posted by hasekamp on 2 September 2004 at 15:56 PM
Facing strong opposition from consumers' rights activists, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has halted plans to introduce genetic modified crops to farmers in the country. Mr. Thaksin ordered a special committee to be set up to study if GM crops are safe. He said the committee members must come from university academics, government scientists, and GM crop experts. Early last week, the prime minister approved the government's plans to allow GM crops to be grown commercially. However, protests from activist groups promoting bio-crops have forced the Thai leader to back down his decision. The activists claimed that the Thai government has secretly experimented several crops of genetically modified organism (GMO) such as papaya, tomato, coton, soybean, guava and corn for years, but has never informed the general public about the experimental results. To calm down these concerns, Mr. Thaksin ordered tight surveillance over GMO test plots to prevent any leaks alleged by activists. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Chickens for missiles

Posted by hasekamp on 1 September 2004 at 12:30 PM
Thailand’s prime minister, Thaksin Shinwatra, has said that the Thai government was considering to trade Thai chicken products for Russian military equipment, especially missiles. So, is this the next way to solve the bird flu problems? The government was considering trading agriculture goods, especially chicken products for Russian hi-tech weapons, Mr. Thaksin told journalists on Tuesday. Russian imports more than a million tons of chicken products every year from other countries. Thailand is one of the world’s top chicken exporters. But now the export is stagnating due to the bird flu. Many countries have banned Thai chicken at the moment. "The needs of both countries might be matched," Mr. Thaksin said. The Thai ambassador in Moscow has been instructed to propose the scheme to the Russian government. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Chickens for missiles

Posted by hasekamp on 1 September 2004 at 12:29 PM
Thailand’s prime minister, Thaksin Shinwatra, has said that the Thai government was considering to trade Thai chicken products for Russian military equipment, especially missiles. So, is this the next way to solve the bird flu problems? The government was considering trading agriculture goods, especially chicken products for Russian hi-tech weapons, Mr. Thaksin told journalists on Tuesday. Russian imports more than a million tons of chicken products every year from other countries. Thailand is one of the world’s top chicken exporters. But now the export is stagnating due to the bird flu. Many countries have banned Thai chicken at the moment. "The needs of both countries might be matched," Mr. Thaksin said. The Thai ambassador in Moscow has been instructed to propose the scheme to the Russian government. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Olympic heroes return

Posted by hasekamp on 1 September 2004 at 11:14 AM
Bangkok prepared a huge welcome reception for Thailand’s eight Olympic heroes, who returned from Athens with the biggest medal haul in the Kingdom’s history. Even the weather cooperated. The welcome home party started at the Don Muang Airport, where gold medallists Manus Boonjumnong, Udomporn Polsuk and Pawina Thongsuk, silver medallist Worapoj Petchkoom, and bronze medallists Suriya Prasathinpimai, Yaowapa Boorapolchai, Wandee Kameiam and Aree Wiratthaworn, were presented with garlands from Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. Hundreds of fans were gathered patiently waiting to catch a glimpse of them.
Boxing gold medallist Manus, a father of two, hugged his wife after a three-month absence. Children shed tears of joy at seeing their parents for the first time in a month. Manus had in fact never seen his 43-day-old second son, Nong Athens, after departing for Cuba and Romania for several months of training before the Olympics.
The Thai weightlifting team, led by gold medal winners Udomporn and Pawina, received a warm welcome from hometown fans that made their way from Surin, Sisaket, Nakhon Ratchasima and Kanchanaburi to the airport before dawn. Women’s under 75 kg champion Pawina said yesterday was the most memorable day of her life.
Taekwondo exponent Yaowapa, who recently broke her male fans' hearts by saying she was already in love, said she had no plans to become a television or movie actor despite her pretty looks.
Bantamweight fighter Worapoj said his aim was to win a gold medal at the next Olympic Games after losing to a Cuban boxer and having to settle with silver.
In the afternoon, the medallists rode in a procession of convertibles from Sukhumvit to Government House and again thousands of enthusiastic fans gathered along the way to take pictures or shake hands with them. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra welcomed the athletes as they arrived and shook hands with all of the gold medallists. He presented royal decorations, together with Bt 21 million (from the government's coffers only) to all medallists and coaches. The premier announced a plan to bid for the 2016 Olympics, claiming the country had the potential to meet the International Olympic Committee's standards, especially after the stunning success of this Olympic squad. (Source: The Nation)


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