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Heavy rain in June

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2005 at 22:53 PM
Thailand will face torrential rain in early June due to the influence of the southwest monsoon, the Meteorological Department warned on Monday. Most parts of Thailand, particularly the northern, southern and eastern regions, will face heavy rainfall between 2-5 June, according to the weather bureau. The regions could face 80-90 percent of the rainfall during the period, from 60-80 percent currently, said the Meteorological Department. The rainy season has started in Thailand and heavy down pours of rain have been reported across the country over the past days. The weather bureau warned people to be aware of floods and flash floods in coming weeks. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Soon: Two-baht coin

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2005 at 22:48 PM
The Thai Cabinet has given the go-ahead for the introduction of a two-baht coin to improve the country's coin circulation. The two-baht coin would help balance the economy because it would not only fill a large gap between one-baht and five-baht coins, but also help solve the supply shortage of one-baht coins which were in heavy use. He said a private company would be contracted through a bidding contest to mint the coins. The Deputy Finance Minister said around 500-600 million baht worth of two-baht coins would be issued before the end of this year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Woman cuts off her husband's penis

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2005 at 10:28 AM
It has happened again. Somewhere on this site we wrote that it happens several times a year and reaches the press at least once a year:
An enraged woman almost completely severed her husband’s penis with a pair of scissors in Bangkok yesterday, after the man tried to leave her for his lover. The wife (31) turned herself in, telling police that she had almost cut off her husband’s penis after her husband threatened to leave her for another woman.
The couple had sex and afterwards the man said that he wanted to leave his wife to be with his new lover. This is not the wisest thing to do after having had sex with your wife, we belive. The lady said she attacked her husband shortly after he went to bed. The man then took a taxi to hospital. Police said doctors were able to perform reattachment surgery on him and that he should recover. However, he will not have sex for some time, we supose. The couple will be offered help with their domestic problems. The woman could face charges of armed physical assault and receive up to two years in prison and a fine of up to Bt 6,000, if her husband chooses to press charges. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin: Stop smoking!

Posted by hasekamp on 29 May 2005 at 12:08 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has urged Thais to reduce or quit smoking for the sake of their health. "Smoking is harmful to your health. You must remember His Majesty the King's advice in his birthday speech last year that smoking destroys your lungs and ear nerves," Mr. Thaksin said on Saturday. Thailand will observe the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s 'World No Tobacco Day' on 31 May by launching a new major campaign to encourage smokers to reduce or kick the habit completely. "Smokers also disturb people around them, making them unhappy and causing them unwillingly breathe secondhand smoke," Mr. Thaksin said. "Smokers should, therefore, reduce or quit smoking for the sake of their own health and others", the Thai leader urged.
Thailand has became the fourth country in the world to make it compulsory for cigarette packets to carry shocking and graphic pictures and messages warning smokers of the health risks of smoking. The new labels, with six different pictures and six severe warning messages, were officially launched last Wednesday to mark the World No Tobacco Day. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Investmant in human intelligence

Posted by hasekamp on 28 May 2005 at 10:19 AM
The Thai government is fully prepared to invest in the development of human brainpower in order to ensure a scientific and technologically adept workforce, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced today. "I urge all intelligent people to come together. And if we need to make investments, such as the construction of laboratories, I am ready to invest. Even if the investments run to billions of baht, this is something we need to do. If we don’t invest now, we’ll lose trillions in the future, as we will need to compete with other nations", the prime minister told delegates to the 4th Science and Technology Assembly. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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No underwear for prisoners

Posted by hasekamp on 28 May 2005 at 10:13 AM
A bit queer posting today: Budget shortfalls at prisons nationwide have forced some female prisoners to go without underwear, said a senior corrections official yesterday. Why the female proisoners are the first victim of money shortage is not specified by our source. The director of Central Women Correctional Institution, said each inmate, male or female, normally receives two pieces of underwear a year. Women receive an additional 10 sanitary napkins, but no brassieres are provided. "Normally women inmates prepare their personal items before they arrive at prison and their relatives buy bras and panties for them when needed," she said. But relatives often stop visiting, and stop bringing supplies, after inmates have been in jail longer than five years.
The Corrections Department along with Channel 3 television and the Mall Group yesterday launched a truck caravan to distribute bras and panties to women inmates around the country. Currently, there are more than 29,000 women prisoners in jails nationwide, including 300 foreigners in the Central Women Correctional Institution. There are about 74,000 donated bras and pairs of panties, 60% which are new, so the inmates will receive about two items each. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Breaking news: Policeman gets life

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2005 at 10:46 AM
The Thai policeman who was accused of murdering two British backpackers in September 2004 has been found guilty and was sentenced to prison for life. This has been made public around 14 p.m. Thai time today. As reported earlier (see our archives) the policeman was suspected to have killed Vanessa Arscott, 23, and Adam Lloyd, 25, in the tourist town of Kanchanaburi, known for the infamous bridge over the River Kwai, on September 9. The policeman said to have acted in great anger.
More is to follow later. Our source mentioned here seems to be the first to have published the verdict. Other online sources do not yet have the news and details. (Source: Trouw (online version), Dutch Newspaper)
ADDED LATER: Somchai Wisetsingh had denied murdering Mr Lloyd, running over and killing Miss Arscott after a row at his restaurant. After the verdict, the father of one of the victims, Brian Lloyd, said the killer had shown no mercy and could expect none in return. Somchai was convicted to two life sentences for the killings, and convicted on two separate weapons charges. Due to his confession he escaped the death penalty. (Source: BBC English News)


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Four national parks closed

Posted by hasekamp on 25 May 2005 at 12:23 PM
The National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department has announced the closure of 4 marine national parks for the safety of tourists, due to strong winds and waves. The department has stated that as there are violent winds and waves at the moment, and as it is currently the monsoon season, tourists travelling to marine national parks located far from the coast are experiencing harsh journeys, which could result in harm to the tourists. Therefore, the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is closing the Surin Islands National Park, the Similan Islands National Park, parts of the Lanta Islands National Park, and the Adangrawee Islands National Park.
The national parks will be closed until November 15th. This will allow authorities in the parks time to conduct maintenance in order to accommodate tourists during the next season. In addition, the department has asked that all persons planning to travel to check on weather conditions before making their trips. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Four more diseases included on WHO's watchlist

Posted by hasekamp on 25 May 2005 at 12:19 PM
The World Health Organization (WHO) has included four more serious diseases on its watchlist, which requires an urgent report to the organization within 24 hours if there is an outbreak of any of the diseases in a country, the Ministry of Public Health has announced. The four new diseases include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), bird flu, polio and smallpox, according to Public Health Minister. Only three diseases were previously included on the WHO's watchlist, including cholera, yellow fever and bubonic plague.
All the seven diseases have enlisted on the WHO's revised health rule, adopted at the organization's 58th assembly, held in Geneva, Switzerland, between 15-17 May. According to the international health rule, a member country is required to report to WHO within 24 hours if there is an outbreak of any of the diseases in its territory and to have monitoring systems of the serious diseases in good place within five years. "Thailand will continue to develop its monitoring systems of the diseases although the systems have already been established so far", the public health minister said.
To be clear: This entry does not mean thet the diseases mentioned have been signalled recently in Thailand! It means they should be reported, in case they are signalled in Thailand. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Hepatitis A in the North

Posted by hasekamp on 25 May 2005 at 12:14 PM
Health officials reported yesterday that more than 100 people in this northern province had been diagnosed with hepatitis A, with more than 400 others suspected of having contracted the disease. The patients are receiving treatment, with no deaths reported. The head of public health for the province, said yesterday he suspected the widespread infections might have been caused by contaminated food, particularly ice and water. Checks were being done at factories producing ice and water. "Please stick to clean water and ice and fully cooked food," he said. The disease can be passed on to others through bodily fluids, so sterilise your eating utensils and containers when in a high-risk area.
We advise tourists, planning to visit the North, to see that they are immune aagainst Hepatitis A. A simple injection, or set of injections, is effective. (Source: The Nation)


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Popular Thai dogs

Posted by hasekamp on 23 May 2005 at 17:52 PM
Thai Ridgeback dogs, the ordinary Thai dogs that are commonly seen in homes around the countryside or roaming around temples, are finding favour in the US and in some countries of Europe. Their popularity is also reviving in Thailand after a slump of around 10 years, during which the price of puppies has fallen to as little as Bt 1,000.
Many Americans and Europeans are fascinated by them because they are wise, smart and prudent dogs. The price of Thai Ridgebacks in foreign countries was up to 50 times their Thai value. Some good quality dogs could fetch Bt 500,000. However, exporting the dogs is not a smooth procedure because foreign countries, such as England, are very strict when importing Thai dogs. (Source: The Nation)


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Visakha Bucha Day ceremony

Posted by hasekamp on 23 May 2005 at 17:48 PM
More than 100,000 people came to Sanam Luang in Bangkok last night to pay respect to Buddha relics in the traditional wientien (triple circumambulation) ceremony marking Visakha Bucha Day, or the Day of Vesak. People walk three times around the Buddha's relics in this ceremonny. The relics were taken from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha last Monday and enshrined at Sanam Luang for the weeklong ceremony. They were to be returned late last night. The ceremony at Sanam Luang was led by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and senior government officials. The secretary-general of the Parian Dhamma Association of Thailand, said this year's event was a great success. It received high public and media attention, particularly to the "One Person, One Pledge to Truthfulness" campaign initiated by Mr Thaksin. At least 100,000 Buddhists had attended the ceremony at Samam Luang each day. Thousands of monks from 50 Bangkok districts and nearby provinces such as Suphan Buri, Nakhon Pathom and Pathum Thani also turned up to pray or preach every day.
All Buddhist temples in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat were instructed to start the ceremony one hour earlier than usual for security reasons. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bus drivers need new license

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2005 at 17:20 PM
Worried by bus accidents that have occured frequently, the Ministry of Transport today came up with a new measure, requiring every bus driver to obtain an extra driving license, which specifies that the drivers have received a special training on bus driving. The Deputy Transport Minister said he had ordered the state-run Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) and the Transport Co., Ltd., as well as operators of private-run buses that their drivers would need to undertake a special training on bus driving service and to strictly follow traffic rules.
Currently, bus drivers have licenses issued by the Land Transport Department and the second license will - hopefully - boost confidence for bus passengers. The requirement for the new locense will be enforced soon. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Do not eat crickets!

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2005 at 17:14 PM
Health authorities yesterday warned villagers not to eat crickets or sell them as food after more than 100 people in Ban Phai district were hospitalised with nausea and diarrhoea this week. The patients all had eaten fried crickets that were bought either from a local market or from street hawkers. Fried-cricket samples have been sent to the Medical Science Centre to determine if people got sick because of unsanitary cooking conditions or toxic contamination, the doctor said.
A woman, 73, who has been eating fried crickets for decades, said her son had bought raw crickets from Ban Phai market and then fried them. Family members later developed nausea and diarrhoea after eating the insects and had to go to hospital, she said. (Source: The Nation)


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Phuttha Monthon to become World Buddhist Center

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2005 at 11:39 AM
During the International Buddhist Conference being held at the United Nations Conference Centre yesterday, religious leaders and monks from many countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Korea and Australia discussed the idea of having Phuttha Monthon to be the centre of Buddhism in all affairs. The Most Venerable Zin Ting suggested that Phuttha Monthon is a suitable location to organize the Ceremony of United Nations Day of Vesak. Phutta Monthon is situated in Nakhon Pathom Province, not far from Bangkok, and it is one of the largest sacred places for Buddhism in Thailand, with more than 2,500 RAI of land. Find our page of the center by following this link. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Bird-flu adapts to humans, WHO fears

Posted by hasekamp on 20 May 2005 at 11:31 AM
Thailand is beefing up its preparedness in response to the latest WHO study showing that bird flu is becoming more capable of spreading between people. The World Health Organisation report was based on a recent study of the H5N1 avian flu virus in northern Vietnam and other genetic evidence indicating that the deadly strain’s potential to infect people and generate a pandemic could be growing.
The Thai Public Health Ministry plans to call in more than 800,000 village health volunteers from around the country in two weeks to instruct them on how to educate their communities about the threat of an influenza pandemic. Late next month, the ministry will hold a meeting of "Mr Bird Flu" medical specialists from every province to update them and exchange information on the latest development in Vietnam. (Source: The Nation)


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Software piracy not yet terminated

Posted by hasekamp on 18 May 2005 at 11:27 AM
Thailand continues to be a major centre for software piracy, with 79 per cent of all programmes installed on personal computers in 2004 obtained illegally. However, according to new international research released by the software business alliance BES, the figure does represent a slight, one per cent fall on the previous year. BES said software piracy hurt the Thai economy and cost the Thai government around US$ 183 million in lost tax revenue. A BES spokesman praised the increased cooperation between Thailand's public and private sectors in cracking down on the problem. BES also announced it was joining forces with a number of major agencies in Thailand, including the Stock Exchange, to launch an awareness campaign among private firms about the need to protect intellectual property rights.
In our humble opinion the problme could be solved by regular raids on the well-known centers of software piracy. We, as simple tourists, know them, so the government and police know them too. Therefore we have to conclude that a really effective fight against software piracy does not have a high proiority with the Thai authorities. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Tsunami victims become tour guides

Posted by hasekamp on 18 May 2005 at 11:17 AM
About 30 youngsters whose lives were thrown into turmoil by the tsunami will be trained as tour guides. They will attend a two-day leadership development course beginning on June 4, the director of the provincial tourism, sports and recreation centre said. They will learn about the One Tambon One Product (Otop) scheme, traditional Thai massage and the lives of fishermen, so they can explain them to tourists. The leadership programme, for 9-16 year-olds, is being organised as part of the province's effort to develop the local tourism industry.
Although we can understand this initiative, we fear for the quality of the tours, guided by kids with just a two-days training. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Tsunami tourism causes income loss in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 17 May 2005 at 16:47 PM
Phuket province has lost at least 20 billion baht in revenue from tourism between January and March because of the December tsunami, the Tourism Council of Thailand President said. "Phuket makes on average 70 billion baht a year from tourism. Generally, the province makes around twice as much revenue in the high season as it does in the low season – a ratio of, say, 45 billion baht [in the high season] to 25 billion [in the low], or 50 billion to 20 billion. We lost at least 20 billion baht between January and March – the high season – and if you consider that in the light of the ratios [I just mentioned], you can see just how significant this is."
According to the Tourism Council the banks have been too slow in distributing soft loans to people who lost businesses and homes to the tsunami, and the province faces an uphill battle in persuading tourists that Phuket is not as devastated as TV coverage may have them believe. Another possible cause for concern among foreign tourists is the continuing unrest in Thailand’s deep south. People think that there could be a bomb or something similar in Phuket too. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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English pages by Phuket Labor Office

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2005 at 18:24 PM
The Phuket Provincial Employment Service Office (PESO) has created several English-language web pages on its www.phuketwork.org website in order to help foreign workers understand the complexities related to obtaining and extending a work permit. The website includes translations of the 1978 Working of Aliens Act, the 1979 Royal Decree listing professions that aliens are prohibited from engaging in, and other information useful for those looking to work in the Kingdom. To view the pages, click on the English/American flag banner at www.phuketwork.org. So if you are looking for work in Phuket provinceand related subjects, you know where to go. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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School begins: Traffic congestion

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2005 at 10:09 AM
Bangkok motorists may find it difficult to welcome the opening of the new school semester today. A total of 2,091,226 students will have to find their way to more than 1,600 schools across the capital, probably bringing nothing less than a traffic nightmare. However, up to 391 city police officers will be on duty in front of schools, while traffic police and other authorities promised yesterday to deliver the best traffic flow possible. Last Tuesday, Bangkok’s traffic police officers were instructed to prepare to ensure that traffic flowed in front of schools, especially the 22 schools in the heart of the city. Teachers and parents have been asked to volunteer as attendants in front of schools to help traffic flow. The volunteers will wear recognisable vests. Construction companies have also been asked to remove unnecessary equipment from roads and equipment to deal with broken-down vehicles will be standing.
It is obvious that that the traffic problems in Bangkok could only be solved if peopla had the guts to use public transport. Now the (very long) traffic jams mainly consist of cars with just one person inside, because every Bangkokian wants to use his or her own car, and he or she wants to use it alone! (Source: The Nation)


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Visakha Bucha festivities begin

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2005 at 10:02 AM
The first in this year’s series of Visakha Bucha celebrations begins at Sanam Luang today. At 9am, a relic of the Lord Buddha will be carried from the Royal Palace to the park as part of a flower-covered procession, which will be broadcast live on television. It will remain there until the end of the festivities on Sunday, giving faithful Buddhists plenty of opportunity to pay their respects. At 5pm this afternoon, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside over the official opening ceremony. She will also hand out awards to those deemed to have made a contribution to the promotion of Buddhism, among them Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The week-long event, which has been organised by the Culture Ministry and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administra-tion, will include a number of exhibitions and activities including a Dharma speech-giving competition, a Buddha biography-telling competition in English and mass prayers. A subsequent event, an international Buddhist meeting, will take place from Wednesday until May 24 in Buddhamondhol in Nakhon Pathom. (Source: The Nation)


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Award for Tak Bai TV coverage

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2005 at 9:58 AM
Modernine TV has won a prestigious award from the Thai Association of Press Photographers for its coverage of the Tak Bai riot last October. Taken by cameramen Amnuaywit Samoewong and Mr. Phadung Wannalak from Thai News Agency (TNA), the images earned the television station 30,000 Baht in cash. Mr. Amnuaywit, who will receive his award on 19 May, said that photographing the riot outside Tak Bai Police Station in Thailand's southern border province of Narathiwat - an incident which shot to international prominence when 85 of the protestors died at the hands of the military - was more difficult than covering other riots, as the protestors were speaking their local language, rather than Thai. Both Modernine TV and TNA are key structures of MCOT Public Company Limited (MCOT), together with Radio MCOT Network.
We do not expect the award to be handed over by the Thai PM, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra! (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thailand promotes bio industry

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2005 at 9:48 AM
Thailand’s government is developing a strategy to promote plant-based bio-industry in order to reduce the country's imports of energy and chemicals. The strategy will focus on the development of bio-diesel using natural raw materials, including cassava, sugar cane, rice and oil palm extracts. The government expects the strategy to help reduce Thailand’s huge imports of energy and chemicals costing 40 billion dollars a year. Ethanol made from plants, like sugar cane, can be mixed with alcohol to produce gasohol, a more natural and cheaper form of fuel. Other plant products, like oil palm, can be blended with diesel to create yet another type of alternative fuel. So far Thailand has concentrated on producing energy from plants. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Five dogs slaughtered at temple

Posted by hasekamp on 13 May 2005 at 17:41 PM
Five dogs were killed over the weekend at a Chiang Mai temple where an animal-welfare project has been operating for almost a year. During a visit to Wat Don Chan on Saturday, members of the Lanna Dog Rescue (LDR) organisation discovered that five temple dogs had been beaten to death on the property. Children attending Wat Don Chan school told that two more dogs were removed from the temple on Sunday by employees connected to Wat Don Chan. They are suspected of being involved in the killings. LDR was established early last year in response to the overwhelming problem of Chiang Mai’s stray dogs, many of which find shelter in the city’s temples. LDR has been caring for temple dogs at Wat Suan Dok, Wat Pa Daeng, Wat Buddha Kasaet, Wat Don Chan and Wat Paa Ngiow. The group mainly works with volunteers.
We hope that those responsible for this cruel and senseless deed will be found and punished. We always become emotional when we hear or read that people think they can maltreat or even kill defenseless animals. Buddhists believe that these people will come back as animals in their next life and will have to undergo similar torture theselves then. We hope these tortures will stop definitely. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin promises 5% growth

Posted by hasekamp on 13 May 2005 at 17:29 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday told business leaders his government will make the economy grow by at least 5% this year by speeding up the restructuring of the farming, industrial and service sectors, investing more in infrastructure and fighting corruption. Mr. Thaksin chaired yesterday's meeting of business leaders and core economic agencies. He said the public sector could help speed up the restructuring of the farming, industrial and service sectors by investing in four key areas: human resources development, capital development, product quality improvement and information technology development. The prime minister also asked agencies concerned and the business sector to help fight corruption by moving exclusively to the online bidding and auction processes. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Good harvests predicted

Posted by hasekamp on 12 May 2005 at 11:29 AM
The Royal ploughing ceremony yesterday predicted abundant rains and healthy harvests over the next 12 months. We must say that the outcome of the ceremony hardly ever is different!
The annual ceremony at Sanam Luang was presided over by HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Agriculture Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan was also present. Good crop yields were predicted for high-elevation farmland, with low-lying farmland affected by flooding. The royal oxen chose to eat corn seeds, beans, sesame and grass, which the ancient forecast formula interpreted as indicating an abundant harvest and productive livestock. In another rite, the ploughing chief picked a costume that meant there would be a lot of water this year. The prediction was similar to last year, but the country has suffered a prolonged drought. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai has high chances as UNCTAD chief

Posted by hasekamp on 11 May 2005 at 12:45 PM
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has given a boost to Supachai Panitch-pakdi’s bid to become head of the UN top trade agency by helping him clear up certain “misunderstandings” with the Group of 77 developing countries, a Foreign Ministry source said. The UN chief initiated a meeting between Supachai and the G-77 members in New York on Friday, during which the head of the World Trade Organisation answered questions about Annan’s nomination of him for the top job at the UN Confer-ence on Trade and Development (Unctad). The 77-member grouping appeared to be very satisfied with Supachai’s explanation, the Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity. Supachai’s nomination caused a stir in the international community after Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said publicly that the G-77 was unhappy with the nomination of Supachai because Annan had failed to consult the group. Mr. Supachai is expected to take over as Unctad’s secretary-general in September for a four-year term. (Source: The Nation)


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Best public toilet wanted

Posted by hasekamp on 11 May 2005 at 12:39 PM
The search is on for the country's most outstanding public restrooms at tourist attractions, hospitals, schools and transport terminals. The chief of Lampang's public health office said the ministry was campaigning for awareness of the importance of hygienic toilets in the workplace. The public is invited to send photos of impressive(!) toilets by the end of this month to their provincial public health offices and to specify qualities that impress them such as convenience, cleanliness, design or services. Workplaces and establishments in both the public and private sectors were eligible. Provincial winners would qualify for regional and national contests by the year's end.
This seems a good initiative. However, we hope that the (possible) cost to use the impressive new toilets will be the same for Thais and foreigners, unlie the current situation in places like Ayutthaya! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Old practice to be revived

Posted by hasekamp on 8 May 2005 at 11:40 AM
Thailand plans to revive the traditional practise of sending Visakha bucha cards to respected and elderly people. The Culture Ministry will distribute the cards on Visakhabucha Day, 22 May, so that people can send them to each other. By publishing the cards on Visakhabucha Day - the day that the Lord Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and Nirvana (passed away) – the government hopes to encourage Buddhists to realise the importance of the actual day and to strictly follow Lord Buddha's teachings. Visakhabucha cards used to be sent as a form of well-wishing between people during the reign of King Rama VI (1920-1922) to draw attention to the importance of the day and the teachings of Lord Buddha, according to the National Archives. The practice later died away. But between 1986 and 1988, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn asked the Fine Arts Department to revive the tradition and publish Visakhabucha cards in order to preserve the custom. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Phuket Air also banned from UK

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2005 at 11:43 AM
Just days before being banned from flying to the Netherlands, Phuket Air was also (quietly) banned from flying to the UK, it has emerged. One of its aircraft has also been seized for non-payment of landing fees at London’s Gatwick Airport. The website of the UK Department for Transport (DFT) says that “the Secretary of State has suspended the permit of Phuket Airlines (Thailand) because of operational safety concerns.” The statement was last modified on April 28. One of the airline’s aging Boeing 747 jets is still at Gatwick Airport, impounded by the airport’s operator, BAA, for non-payment of landing fees. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Pool for treatment of dogs

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2005 at 11:16 AM
His Majesty the King took his favourite pet dog, Khun Tongdaeng, to Kasetsart University yesterday to open a pool for hydro-therapeutic treatment of dogs with bone or joint disease. The King had given 2.1 million baht from the sale of Khun Tongdaeng T-shirts and polo shirts towards the construction of the pool. The King is interested in clinical treatment of animals, particularly dogs, that suffer from bone, joint or neurological disease. Arriving at the pool at 4.30 pm, the King led his favourite pet by the leash to a weight-scale prepared for Khun Tongdaeng to step on. Once the scale was pressed, a sensor sent signals to pull open the curtain and reveal the pool's nameplate. The King, accompanied by Khun Tongdaeng, then strolled around the pool to look at its facilities. The pool has two sections. The first is a swimming pool, and the other a therapeutic pool equipped with four bubble jets for massage treatment of animals. Every dog that goes into the pool must carry a lifebuoy to ensure its safety. Dogs undergoing hydro-therapeutic treatment will spend 4-5 rounds in the pool per visit, each lasting about 5 minutes. The charge is about 100 baht per dog per visit. (Source: The Bangkok Post)



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Thailand declared free from avian flu

Posted by hasekamp on 5 May 2005 at 18:13 PM
Thailand is now free of avian influenza for the first time since the second outbreak of the virus in July of last year, officials said yesterday. Yesterday marked the end of the 21-day bird flu surveillance period at a farm in Lop Buri province, the last place in the country to have reported the disease. This is the first time since the second outbreak last July that the country has been declared free of the disease in farms and other areas of concern. But the ministry will remain vigilant for any re-emergence of the H5N1 virus and officials will conduct bi-weekly checks for bird flu. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Ceremony for King's 60th anniversary

Posted by hasekamp on 5 May 2005 at 11:30 AM
Samut Sakhon is holding a ceremony to pay respect to His Majesty King Bhumibol Aduljadej, and commemorate the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King's coronation. All government officials and people have been participating in the event. Samut Sakhon governor Somboon Ngam-luck led government officials from all government agencies, including judges, attorneys, MPs, soldiers, police, and local officials, to pay respect to His Majesty the King, on the occasion of the Chartmongkol, or the Coronation day, at the city hall. The participants vowed to follow His Majesty the King's footsteps, and perform their duty as good officials, as well as being good examples for local people. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Phuket Air tries an apology

Posted by hasekamp on 5 May 2005 at 10:31 AM
Phuket Air yesterday apologized to passengers delayed by the recent decision by the Netherlands Department of Civil Aviation (NDCA) to bar the airline from landing at Amsterdam. (Formerly Phuket Air spoke about a temporary "suspension"). The NDCA banned the airline after discovering that an emergency floor light on an aircraft that landed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport was inoperative and discovering that the medical certificate of one of the pilots had expired.
In yesterday's statement the Executive Vice President of Phuket Air, said, “Phuket Air apologizes for any inconvenience caused to passengers. We are now actively working to transfer passengers to other airlines that serve Amsterdam. We will also provide refunds to those who cancel their Phuket Air flight. “We have arranged for food and accommodations for the remaining passengers who are waiting for the next available flights.”
Commenting on the NDCA’s reasons for the ban, Phuket Air commented, “The lights became inoperative during the flight. They could have been easily fixed in Amsterdam before the aircraft departed for Bangkok.” As to the pilot’s medical certificate, the company stated that although international commercial pilots’ regulations specify a 12-month medical certificate for pilots. The pilot was a Filippino. In the Philippines other regulations are valid, according to Phuket Air. Therefore Phuket Air believes that the NDCA did not consider the pilot’s medical certificate to be valid. "Phuket Air is now working with the Thai DCA, the Philippines Civil Aviation Authority and NDCA to confirm the validity of the pilots medical certificate and rectify the situation as soon as possible. We will advise all concerned parties once this process is concluded." A brief statement on the website of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (www.schiphol.nl) reads: “There will be no Phuket Air flights to and from Schiphol until further notice. For more information, please contact your tour operator or call Phuket Air.” Thew website of Phuket Air is silent about the problems in Amsterdam. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Phuket Air is extremely optimistic

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2005 at 15:14 PM
Phuket Air expects to resume its Bangkok-Amsterdam service within days, following a ban of the service by the Dutch civil aviation authorities after it was discovered that an aircraft serving the route had a faulty emergency lighting system and a Phuket Air pilot was found not to have a necessary medical certificate. The public relations department of Phuket Air said that Phuket Air board members met today with the Thai Department of Aviation to try to resolve the problems and resume service as quickly as possible. We believe this "suspension" is nothing less than a (permanent) withdrawal, but please let us read on:
“The reason they suspended the Bangkok-Amsterdam service is still not clear, whether it was because of the emergency lighting or because the pilot did not have the required medical certificate, or both,” K. Sribenja said (as if it is normal not to be able to fulfill these safety requirements!). “There was no need to order the suspension because of the problem with the emergency lighting. It was not a major problem(!) Only one of the emergency lights was not working, and we have fixed that already (but they did bot check it!)
“Regarding our Filipino(!) pilot, I think it was a misunderstanding between him and the Dutch civil aviation authorities. We are clarifying this with the Dutch authorities now,” she said. K. Sribenja explained that the problem seemed to be that the pilot had a current medical certificate from the Philippines but that the Dutch civil aviation authorities did not accept it as comprehensive enough.
“We are clearing this now, but we need a few days because we have to conduct a conversation between three countries: the Netherlands, the Philippines and Thailand,” she said.
We find this remark a of a childish simplicity. Anyway, in the Netherlands these things can not be solved by handing over a few thousand Baht under the table. And we remind our readers that Phuket Air recently has received several warnings from the Dutch authorities already, concerning safety issues, but still one new safety issue after another came up. Flying airplanes is no video game! Lives of passengers are at stake.
“I think we will receive permission to resume the service soon,” she added. “I think we will be able to clear everything tomorrow on what is required and what has been misunderstood.”
Mind you what is being said here: An airlines with International aspirations wants to hear from the authorities that withdrew their licence what the regulations are exactly! "No problem, we will solve it"! This really is simple thinking for people that operate an airline, where safety should be number one!
Now, Phuket Air passengers with tickets for the Bangkok-Amsterdam service are being transfered to Thai Airways International and Singapore Airlines flights. Well, then they are very well off and can see how an airline has to be operated. These airlines come in the top of the region!
we advise our visitors not to fly with Phuket Air, if this airline will be able to stay in the air. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Bamboo rocket kills spectator

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2005 at 11:31 AM
An out-of-control bamboo rocket killed a young woman and seriously injured a man at the annual rocket festival in Sakon Nakhon’s Phang Khone district, police said yesterday. The incident occurred on Sunday evening at the Phang Khone municipality’s bangfai (bamboo rocket) contest when one of the rockets spun and plunged into a group of people 500 metres from the launch-base, police said. He said the rocket rammed into Prapassorn Saiyarat, 19, and Watchara Chaimayo, 20, who were sitting together. Prapassorn died later in hospital due to severe loss of blood and Watchara had his legs amputated. Phang Khone’s mayor, as host of the event, is to be charged with recklessness leading to the death. So, was this the last rocket festival in Sakon Nakhon? (Source: The Nation)


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Reward for finding King's dog

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2005 at 11:23 AM
One of His Majesty the King's pet dogs has been missing from Klaikangwon Palace in Hua Hin since Saturday. Police are offering a reward of 20,000 baht for anyone finding and returning the royal canine. The dog, named Khun Khao Pod Thien, is a Thai-Brazilian cross and a "grandchild" of the King's favourite pet dog Khun Tongdaeng.
He was last seen in front of the palace on Saturday evening. Police search teams had been unable to find the dog.
Public announcements had been placed on cable TV and community radio in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Pran Buri and Hua Hin districts and Phetchaburi's Cha-am district. All areas within walking distance of the palace were being closely examined. Khun Khao Pod Thien is yellow and red in colour with a curled tail, his ears stick up, there is white hair on his forehead and long hair on his legs. Anyone with information can contact Mr Thawil at tel 09-103-5849. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Giant catfish hunt to stop

Posted by hasekamp on 2 May 2005 at 10:16 AM
This year's seasonal giant catfish hunt in Chiang Rai province could be the last, as local fishermen, environmentalists and the Fisheries Department have agreed to end the decades-old practice in a bid to preserve the endangered species. The move emerged after a local environmental group and a Chiang Rai senator failed in an effort to save the first two giant catfish, locally known as pla buek, caught this year. The hunting season runs from April to June. The number caught each year has steadily dropped over the past decade, and environmentalists recently raised funds to buy pla buek from local fishermen and return them to the river. This year, three giant catfish have been caught so far.
Construction of Chinese dams on the upper Mekong river and an increasing number of cargo ships in the river have already devastated the fish population. Ceasing hunting is the only way to protect the species from extinction. A fund would be set up to compensate about 60 fishermen, who can earn almost 100,000 baht for a giant catfish weighing about 250 kg. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thousands attend funeral

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2005 at 13:39 PM
Khun Poom Jensen, the only son of Princess Ubolratana, was cremated at Wat Thep Sirinthrawat in a Royal ceremony presided over by Their Majesties the King and Queen yesterday. Khun Poom, 22, died in the December 26 tsunami disaster in Phang Nga. A merit-making ceremony was held in the morning at Saha Thai Samakhom Pavilion in the Grand Palace, before the royal urn was taken to the temple in a royal procession. Thousands of mourners, dressed in black, lined the footpaths of Ratchadamnoen avenue to bid their last farewell to Khun Poom, and thousands more turned up to present sandalwood flowers at the crematorium. The funeral was attended by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, HRH Princess Chulabhorn, Princess Ubolratana and her two daughters, Khun Ploypailin and Khun Sirikitiya Jensen. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Eight Muslims charged with treason

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2005 at 13:34 PM
Thai authorities have charged eight Muslims with treason, saying they were key figures in a campaign of violence in the country's south. As puyblished before, more than 600 people have been killed in clashes in Thailand's largely Muslim south since January last year.
The men charged now, who officials say belong to an outlawed separatist group, face death by lethal injection if found guilty. All eight defendants, who work as teachers in Islamic schools, deny the charges against them. The teachers stand accused of training young men to kill civilians, attack troops and set fire to schools and government buildings. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has described the men as significant ringleaders in the insurgency. "They have ambushed officials, killed monks, teachers and students, set fire to schools and other government buildings, and stolen weapons," the prosecution said in a statement. (Source: BBC News)


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