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Serial killer suspect arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 30 June 2005 at 13:52 PM
Police yesterday arrested a suspected serial killer at a house in Chaiyaphum’s Muang district where he had been hiding for the past week. Somkid Phumpuang, 41, was wanted for the killing of five sex workers in several provinces. Somkid, who also goes by a number of aliases, admitted to killing four women, allegedly because of arguments over fees for sex. "I killed them out of anger because sometimes they overcharged and double-charged me after I had sex with them," he told reporters calmly, according to Associated Press. "I spent the money that I robbed from them to buy more sex from prostitutes."
Somkid faces numerous charges of murder and theft, and is in detention pending an investigation and assessment of his psychological state. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin: Bill Gates will help us

Posted by hasekamp on 30 June 2005 at 13:49 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra today disclosed that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, was willing to help Thailand develop the information and communication technology (ICT) system. The premier gave Mr. gates and a management team of Microsoft, who begain visit to Thailand, a reception and hosted a welcome breakfast this morning. He said he exchanged a vision with Mr. Bill Gates on the ICT development, particularly on how to use ICT to help developing countries. The Microsoft founder proposed to help Thailand develop the ICT system in three areas.
- First is to facilitate the implementation of the E-Government Program.
- Second is to develop a website service or Thailand.net, which could contribute to the inspiration of the software development.
- Third is to support the E-Learning Program by delegating the company’s staff to help train 20,000 teachers and 60,000 students.
The proposed assistance is considered huge in value, he said, adding that the website service development is a concept he had proposed with Mr. Bill Gates’ representative, who paid great attention to supporting it. On the availability of Internet in schools around the country, Mr. Thaksin said all schools would be accessible to the Internet system within the next two years. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Angry with EU

Posted by hasekamp on 29 June 2005 at 14:57 PM
Thailand is considering adopting trade retaliation measures
against the European Union (EU) in response to the EU’s decision to delay restoring its trade privilege on Thai shrimps. The Council of EU Ministers earlier this week decided that the Generalised System of
Preferences (GSP), which offers lower import tariffs on shrimp exports to Europe from Thailand and other developing countries, would be restored on 1 January 2006, while least developed nations would be granted the trade privilege from 1 July 2005. Thailand had hoped that the EU would grant Thai shrimp exporters the GSP in July 2005 as part of its assistance to countries hit by the last December tsunami.
We have three remarks to make after reading this news item:
- Thailand has refused financial help from other countries after the tsunami, because it said it could cope with the damage itself, which - we find - should be praised. It seems strange, however, that now, for the benefit of the shrimp exporters, Thailand wants to forget this statement about its financial strength in relation with the tsunami damage.
- Shrimp farming in Thailand has destroyed virtually all the mengrove forests in Southern Thailand. We therefore believe that nobody should ever eat Thai shrimps. Financial support - from any country - for Thai shrimp production should therefore be out of the question.
- We also remind our readers that shrimp farmers in Thaland have a very strong lobby with the Thai government. It is therefore that - for instance - within Phuket people sometimes speak of the "shrimp mafia". It is not for nothing that shrimp farmers were allowed to destroy an important part of Thai nature. (Source for the first part: Thai News Agency)


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Australia: Do not visit (Southern) Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 29 June 2005 at 14:39 PM
Australians travelling to Thailand were warned today that bomb attacks by Moslem extremists in the south could spread north to the capital Bangkok. The Department of Foreign Affairs urged Australians not to visit the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla or go overland to Malaysia.
"There have been numerous security incidents in these provinces since early 2004, including bombings of public areas and facilities," the advisory said. "While so far this violence has been limited to southern Thailand, the escalation of violence in the south may result in attacks elsewhere in Thailand including Bangkok and other tourist areas."
More than 800 people have died in attacks or clashes with security forces since January 2004, when a bloody raid on a weapons depot triggered an uprising in the three southernmost provinces bordering Malaysia. (Source: DPA)


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Serial killer

Posted by hasekamp on 29 June 2005 at 14:33 PM
A serial killer who preys on women in the sex trade is now believed to have claimed at least five victims. Police said Patcharee Amata-niran, 39, a masseuse, was found murdered at the Caesar Hotel in the southern province of Trang. A massive manhunt is underway for the prime suspect, Somkid Pumpuang, 41, originally of Nakhon Si Thammarat's Thung Song district. An arrest warrant has been issued for him for the alleged murders of a cafe singer and three other masseuses in Mukdahan, Lampang, Udon Thani and Buri Ram between Jan 30 and June 21. Patcharee was found dead on June 11 in the hotel room where she reportedly went with a customer. The suspect is believed to have also used other aliases, including Chuchart Kingkaew and Chuchart Charnchai. "We believe these five women were killed by the same man," Police said yesterday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New boats for tsunami victims

Posted by hasekamp on 27 June 2005 at 11:28 AM
The Chai Pattana Foundation and the Thai Red Cross Society have presented fiberglass fishing boats to tsunami victims in Ranong Province. The Chai Pattana Foundation said that HRH Princess Sumdej Phrathep Rattana has graciously presented tsunami victims with fiberglass fishing boats constructed by the engineering corps of the royal Thai navy, and the polytechnic school of Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya. A total of 60 boats were constructed, and presented to people in 6 provinces in the Andaman region, of which these areas lost many fishing boats due to the tsunami. The boats will be tested for 3 months. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thai economy slows down

Posted by hasekamp on 26 June 2005 at 11:11 AM
Whatever the government may say, the Thai economy is likely to slow down in the next six months, as a result of rising global crude oil price and foreign exchange volatility, especially in Chinese yuan, according to the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Thailand (BOT).
We believe that the tsunami also still has an effect on the economy.
Businessmen and investors should be cautious in the next six months because the factors mentioned could severely affect the Thai economy, accorfding to the BOT. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Police website hacked

Posted by hasekamp on 26 June 2005 at 11:03 AM
The Royal Thai Police Office's website has been attacked by hackers both inside and outside the kingdom, but police said no classified information has been put at risk. Some of the website's pages are currently inaccessible, including those of the traffic police division. An announcement has been placed on the damaged website stating that the server has been "intruded upon by ill-intentioned people". An anonymous police spokesperson said up to 1,000 hackers had intruded into the Royal Thai Police Office's Internet network. About 750 intrusions had been detected this year. The hackers penetrated the security system and made changes to web pages and texts. They left a message on the websites to let people know what they had done, the officer said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Patong gets 20 Baht tuk-tuk service

Posted by hasekamp on 25 June 2005 at 13:05 PM
A fleet of 24 tuk-tuks will drive a circular route through the streets of Patong for 20 baht per passenger by the time the next high season arrives, Phuket Provincial Transportation Office announced today. The tuk-tuks will pass along the route every five to 10 minutes, although details of the plan have yet to be decided on – including the route itself and how the tuk-tuks will be decorated so they can be distinguished from those currently serving the resort town.
As visitors of Patong know, "normal" tuk-tuks there are quite expensive. So a bit of competition would be healthy, whatever the current tuk-tuk drivers may say!
The drivers – and the tuk-tuks – for the new service will be recruited from the freelance tuk-tuks currently serving the Patong area. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Once more drugs were burned

Posted by hasekamp on 24 June 2005 at 11:47 AM
The Thai authorities burned more than two tons of illegal narcotics Friday morning, worth nearly three billion baht, to ensure they did not end up again in the hands of drug dealers. The illicit drugs, confiscated in some 3,000 raids, were burnt at 850 degrees Celsius at the Bangpa-in Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya Province, 70 kilometres North of Bangkok. The Public Health Minister presided over the official ceremony. Ten million speed pills, 1,200 kilograms of marijuana, nearly 50 kilograms of heroin and 47 kilograms of opium were burned. The Thai government occasionally stages drug bonfires of seized narcotics to show it is serious about stamping out the illegal drugs trade. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Old movies to be restored

Posted by hasekamp on 24 June 2005 at 11:43 AM
Leading local film lab Technicolor (Thailand) Co recently announced plans to help the National Film Archive (NFA) – which has an insufficient budget – restore hundreds of Thai classic movies. Wednesday’s agreement marks the first public-private cooperation for the NFA since it was founded in 1984. Under the plan, Technicolor will restore two damaged films annually and hand them over to the NFA. The first two classics are "The King of the White Elephant" and "Reua Pae" (The Boathouse). The original negatives of the first two films are in very bad shape. But the restoration shouldn’t be too expensive for those two, because "The King of the White Elephant" had been restored in 2001, although there were problems with sound quality that the film lab could help to enhance. Technicolor’s modern technology will be of great use in restoring the films. Technicolor offers a full-service motion-picture film libraries, including cleaning, repair and sound refurbishment and is the first Asian film lab to carry out restoration work. (Source: The Nation)


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Pirates after the tsunami

Posted by hasekamp on 21 June 2005 at 18:49 PM
The national commander of the Marine Police visited Phuket on June 18 to discuss ways of protecting vessels going through the Straits of Malacca from pirate attacks, which he said have become more frequent since the tsunami. "We don’t really have accurate statistics, because not all cases are reported, but I think the trend of attacks has been increasing since the tsunami, as poorer people struggle to recover from it."
On June 1, the Thai skipper of a tanker taking fuel from Rayong, on Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard, to Krabi was captured in the Straits, a long-time haunt of pirates, and held to ransom. The pirates initially demanded US$1 million (about 40 million baht) for his release. Marine Police said, "The captain is safe, but we need to take action to ensure that the sea is safe and peaceful. We don’t want to see this happening again, even outside Thai territorial waters. We have to raise awareness among fishermen and other people on the sea about the danger from pirates." (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Paradorn out of Wimbledon

Posted by hasekamp on 21 June 2005 at 9:51 AM
Thai tennis player Paradorn Srichaphan lost in the first round of the Wimbledon tennis tournament 2005 2-6, 4-6, 4-6 and can go home.
Marat Safin from Russia sent a warning to the rest of the Wimbledon field as his high speed serving beat off the challenge of Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand in their first round match on the Centre Court. Safin's best Wimbledon in five previous appearances was a quarter-final place in 2001. The match lasted one hour and 45 minutes. Safin used his serve as the basis of his victory but nevertheless it was Srichaphan's thirst for the contest which enthralled the Centre Court crowd. (Source: Winbledon's Official website)


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Deforestation problems

Posted by hasekamp on 20 June 2005 at 11:51 AM
Tourism and expansion of monoculture crops pose a grave threat to the western forest complex and people living in the area, conservationists said. About 50 conservationists who represented the Provincial Conservation Forum (PCF) in Kamphaeng Phet, Tak, Nakhon Sawan, Suphan Buri and Uthai Thani, raised concerns about the issue during a meeting in Uthai Thani, saying they would conduct a study on the problem and make recommendations to the government. Deforestation is widespread in the forest complex. "The government's asset capitalisation scheme and inadvertent efforts to regulate land holdings without actual knowledge of what is going on are causing forest loss," a monk said.
About 40,000 villagers live in the forest complex while nearly 200,000 are in the buffer area. Many still keep to the tradition of rotational farming in a self-reliant way which has little impact on the forest. Others, however, are lured into monoculture crops, such as corn and rubber, while land developers are making an attempt to open resorts. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phitsanuloke to rebuild forests

Posted by hasekamp on 19 June 2005 at 15:45 PM
Officials in Phitsanuloke Province are accelerating their efforts to grow trees to rebuild forests, after they have found out that the province has less than 40 percent of forestland. At the same time, the officials have arrested a group of forest trespassers in possession of lots of illegal property. An official from the Natural Resources and Environment Office of Phitsanuloke Province, has revealed that the province contains six million rai of land, in which 2.4 million rai, or 37.41 percent of land, is forestland. Therefore, the province is aiming to increasing the forestland ratio by launching a campaign to grow trees in deteriorating forest areas. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Ceremony for young prince

Posted by hasekamp on 18 June 2005 at 17:53 PM
Thailand yesterday officially welcomed its baby prince in a ceremony rich in tradition. Their Majesties the King and Queen presided over the ceremony titled "Celebrating the Month and Getting into the Cradle" for the newest member of the Royal Family at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. His Majesty the King named the baby prince His Royal Highness Prince Teepangkorn Rasmichoti. The son of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and Her Royal Highness Princess Srirasmi was born on April 29, leading to much jubilation across the nation. The ceremony, televised live across the nation and in 150 countries, marked the welcoming of the baby prince’s good spirit. (Source: The Nation)


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Royal Consort becomes Her Royal Highness

Posted by hasekamp on 16 June 2005 at 10:43 AM
His Majesty the King bestowed a new royal title yesterday on Mom Srirasmi Mahidol na Ayudhya. She has been granted the title Her Royal Highness Princess Srirasmi, the Royal Consort of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. In a separate royal command issued simultaneously yesterday, His Majesty elevated the status of Her Serene Highness Princess Siriwanwaree to Her Royal Highness Princess Siriwanwaree, the Royal Granddaughter. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra countersigned both royal commands. His Majesty deemed it appropriate to elevate the status of Princess Srirasmi after the Crown Prince’s marriage to her with all the proper procedures, a statement in the royal command said. And she had given birth to a son to the Crown Prince, it said. The prince was born on April 29 this year to much jubilation across the nation.
Her Serene Highness Princess Siriwanwaree Mahidol, a daughter of the Crown Prince, has been conferred the title Her Royal Highness Princess Siriwanwaree, the Royal Granddaughter. In his statement, His Majesty commended the princess for demonstrating maturity in education and in assuming royal duties. The Royal Household Bureau has also announced the date for the royal ceremony of Celebrating the Month and Getting into the Cradle. Tomorrow, His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen will proceed from the Chitrlada Palace to the Ananta Samakhom Thrown Hall at the Royal Plaza to preside over the ceremony, which will mark a welcoming for the newborn prince’s good spirit. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Fake goods incinaration in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 16 June 2005 at 10:33 AM
Some 180,300 items of counterfeit goods, worth an estimated 37 million baht street value, went up in smoke in a mass burning at the solid waste incinerator at Saphan Hin on Tuesday. Presiding over the incineration was the Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Thai Police, accompanied by Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura and Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwannasuppana. All the goods going up in flames had been confiscated in raids in Patong and Karon over the past three and a half years. "If anyone notices counterfeit goods being hawked, they should call Phuket City Police Station at 076-219071", police said. Phuket is one of five "red zones" in the country where fake goods are sold openly, and that the mass incineration was part of an ongoing "war against counterfeit goods". (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Panda breeding attempt

Posted by hasekamp on 15 June 2005 at 10:46 AM
The two Chinese giant pandas in Chiang Mai Zoo are undergoing health checks in preparation for breeding, the Chiang Mai Zoo announced today. The zoo's director said that 'Xuang Xuang' and 'Lin Huey' would be given health checks on 16 June. At four years and 11 months, the male Xuang Xuang weights 147 kilograms and is 165 centimetres tall, while the female Lin Huey, at three years and nine months, weights 107 kilograms and is shorter at 153 centimetres. Both pandas have proved a major visitor attraction at the northern zoo since being sent by China last year. The 24-hour monitoring of the animals had shown that Xuang Xuang was beginning to be sexually interested in Lin Huey. Once the necessary health checks have been conducted, zoo officials will attempt both artificial insemination and natural breeding to increase the chances of pregnancy. If the breeding proves successful, the baby panda will - sadly - be returned to China after two years in accordance with a prior agreement. (Source: Ttahi News Agency)


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Test of malaria drug

Posted by hasekamp on 15 June 2005 at 10:39 AM
Health officials in Thailand have begun a human trial of a low-cost antiviral drug to treat malaria. If successful, the drug could be on the market in two years. The Food and Drug Administration secretary general said that the final phase of the human trial has been approved and will be conducted by a team of researchers from Mahidol University's Tropical Medicine Department.
Malaria has long been a health problem in tropical countries like Thailand and it is necessary to develop effective tools to help treat those infected with the disease. In Thailand, almost 12,000 people have contracted the disease and 19 have died during the current outbreak. It is expected that a low-cost drug against malaria will be developed within the next two years, one the final phase of the human trial is complete. The drug being tested was produced from a Chinese herb. Each dose costs 150-200 baht. If the human trial is successful, up to 500 million people are expected to benefit from the medicine, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)



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Tsunami alarm system soon in operation

Posted by hasekamp on 14 June 2005 at 15:01 PM
Patong, Kamala and Karon will all have world-standard tsunami alarm systems once the tsunami warning satellite receiver at the Tsunami and Disaster Center (TDC) in Nonthaburi is online. The link is expected to be activated within the coming week. The Deputy Mayor of Patong said that the tsunami alarm system at Patong is ready for connection to the TDC. In Phuket there will be two systems: a leased line that will send a signal from the alarm system to the fire station, activating a computer-controlled alarm, and a satellite link from the TDC. The Nonthaburi center is linked with long-established alarm systems in Hawaii and Japan. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Anti-Drug Festivity

Posted by hasekamp on 13 June 2005 at 12:36 PM
More than 200 artists, celebrities and youths rallied together to support a anti-drug campaign near the Central World Plaza shopping mall yesterday. The Justice Minister also participated, and notified the public that the Ministry of Justice is gathering masses of people to organise an anti-drug festivity at the Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani from June 25th to 27th. The theme of this event is "Don’t Be Careless, Don’t Get Faded, and Don’t Slip". The goals of the event are to increase the public and governmental awareness on narcotics, as well as to stimulate them to jointly eradicate narcotics from Thailand. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Anti-poverty caravan

Posted by hasekamp on 13 June 2005 at 12:32 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday launched an anti-poverty caravan in Thailand's northern province of Chiang Mai. The prime minister said that the 14-household pilot caravan project would help some of the village's 141 registered poor. Speaking with the villagers, Mr. Thaksin gave advice about how to reduce expenditure and boost income. Most importantly, he said, villagers should set up employment networks, which the government would support financially and in terms of giving advice.
The highlight of the occasion came when the prime minister handed over title deeds to landless villagers before officially launching the caravan by artificially inseminating a cow. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Chiang Mai buses to come

Posted by hasekamp on 12 June 2005 at 12:09 PM
A long-awaited municipal bus service will finally be launched this month in response to demand from residents, the Chiang Mai mayor has promised. The service is ready to go now that the Provincial Transport Control Committee has given its consent to the concessionaire of the municipal buses to operate three city routes. But the Lanna Transport Cooperative – the monopoly that oversees more than 3,000 red song taew in town – is doing what it can to prevent the new service being launched. It plans to petition Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra and ask him to overturn the approval of the concession. Local residents and the private sector joined together to call for the governor to resolve the conflict and push for the buses to be in service as soon as possible. The remaining six routes would still be available for the cooperative to operate. But the committee will require the song taew drivers to standardise their services. (Source: The Nation)


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Fees to be paid by TAT

Posted by hasekamp on 11 June 2005 at 11:20 AM
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is preparing to submit a proposal to exempt airport and departure fees for all passengers at the Phuket International Airport, as well as Visa fees for Chinese tourists to the Cabinet meeting, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Thai-Chinese relations. The governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said that during the cabinet meeting on Tuesday 14th, the Tourism and Sports Minister would propose the proposal to waive airport fees for all airlines that come to Phuket International airport, and would waive airport fees for all departing passengers. She said that the proposal also included exemption of visa fees for chinese tourists, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Thai-chinese relations, to promote tourism in the country. She said the measures would be effective from July to October. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Killings by illegal loggers

Posted by hasekamp on 11 June 2005 at 11:15 AM
More than ten forest officials are killed every year by illegal loggers in Thailand’s national parks, the Deputy Director-General of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department said.
“Every year, over ten forestry officials are shot dead by illegal loggers. Our officials are well trained to patrol the jungles, but we don’t have enough bullet proof jackets for all of them”. Illegal loggers are armed and open fire on officials first. The department has asked the army and the police for reinforcement to patrol certain national park areas that are considered most risky and under the control of influential figures. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Koh Chang chief not popular

Posted by hasekamp on 9 June 2005 at 13:06 PM
Koh Chang National Park chief Saran Jaisa-ad, who has dutifully been trying to unmask at least four landowners for alleged encroachment on forest and public land on the resort island off Trat province, has swiftly been transferred from his post. The order was signed by National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department director-general Suwat Singhaphan on June 3, and gives Mr Saran just a week to leave. Mr Saran, 53, said the move was possibly a result of his strong action against forest and public land encroachers on the island since being posted there in February 2004. 'Unfortunately, the encroachers are influential business figures, who are probably very angry at my actions," he said.
Recently, Mr Saran had been trying to take legal action against a resort owner for encroaching on a coastal area at Ban Jek Bae in tambon Koh Chang Tai, where an underwater pipeline is being built to transport fresh water from Koh Chang to a private resort on a nearby island. Mr Saran last month submitted a list of 12 encroachment cases to Natural Resources and Environment Minister Yongyuth Tiyapairat, who later appointed a committee, chaired by the Trat governor, to look into them. The panel has so far gathered strong evidence against four landowners for illegally obtaining title deeds, Mr Saran said.
Mr Saran admitted - however - that he had failed to support the government's policy on the development of tourism. "Forestry officers have a job to protect natural resources, so it's impossible to devote my work toward tourism development as it's the most serious threat to Koh Chang's natural resources and environment," he said.
And sadly, it looks as if tourism - important as it may be for the Thai economy - goes before everything else, including Thai nature. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin optimistic about economy

Posted by hasekamp on 9 June 2005 at 13:00 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is confident overall growth of Thailand's economy this year will be at least 5% despite the first-quarter slump to only 3.3%. Mr. Thaksin thinks that the growth slowdown was only temporary.
On Monday, the National Economic and Social Development Board announced growth in the first quarter at a rate of 3.3%, the worst performance in four years. Mr. Thaksin admitted that the figure had fallen below the government's target. He claimed the shortfall was caused by record-high oil prices, the tsunami disaster which had a negative impact on the tourism industry, low exports due to the global economic slowdown and high imports of capital goods as a result of rising investment in the country. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Dengue fever

Posted by hasekamp on 8 June 2005 at 10:41 AM
We have to report about another health issue: After hovering between life and death in hospital for six days, the seven-year-old son of Surat Thani MP Sinit Lertkrai died of dengue fever yesterday. He developed a severe fever last Wednesday and was sent to Hospital. He died of shock early Monday morning.
He is the latest casualty in a dengue-fever flare-up that has health officials worried. Between January and June 4, at least 396 people have contracted dengue fever in Surat Thani, compared to 130 in the same period last year. In a related development, Disease Control Department officials yesterday sprayed mosquito-killing insecticide in and around a house in Nonthaburi’s Muang district that belongs to a young actress, who was hospitalised with dengue fever on Monday. (Source: The Nation)


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Malaria in the South

Posted by hasekamp on 8 June 2005 at 10:37 AM
Malaria is ravaging three upper southern provinces even as the number of cases of the mosquito-borne disease has dropped in other parts of the country, officials said. The number of malaria cases in Chumphon, Surat Thani and Ranong remain at alarming levels, said Dr Thawat Suntharacharn, director-general of the Disease Control Department. Chumphon was the worst affected with a 140-per-cent jump in reported cases. The province reported 465 cases last month compared with 185 in the same period last year. Illegal workers from neighbouring countries have been among the worst hit by the disease. (Sourcde: The Nation)


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Thailand still a popular destination

Posted by hasekamp on 8 June 2005 at 10:32 AM
Thailand has been ranked the most popular tourist destination in Asia by readers of the Conde Nast Traveller magazine, according to the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Nearly 96 per cent of the readers by the Conde Nast Traveller last year voted Thailand their favourite destination. It finished a close second to Australia which received almost 97 per cent of the vote. 40 percent of readers surveyed who were planning a vacation in Asia over the next six months said they intend to travel to Thailand. The magazine’s readers ranked the Banyan Tree, Phuket and the Chivasom in Hua Hin as the top two favourite spa resorts. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Residents: Koh Chang should remain as it was

Posted by hasekamp on 6 June 2005 at 17:36 PM
Koh Chang residents have quietly formed a group to protect natural resources on the island, which they say are threatened by the rapid changes that come with tourism development. They are worried about changes of land ownership after residents sold their property to developers, who turned it into resorts and hotels. Only a few residents have refused to give up their property. One is Sombat Salakpetch, 62, a native of Koh Chang. Sombat said few people lived on the island during his childhood. Boats were the only mode of transport. The first road was built 30 years ago by soldiers. A few residents owned vehicles which they used to take crops to a pier. Now it is a resort and the seaside plots that are expensive.
Sombat has formed a group that meets once a month to discuss problems and exchange views. "We keep telling residents not to sell their land. If they really have to, they should sell some, and not all they have. We ask them to keep some land for their children to cultivate. There are more newcomers living near us. That changes our life. We cannot trust anybody. Robbery and theft are no longer uncommon", he says. "People used to share food and water. Now we have to buy drinking water at 10 baht a bottle. The cost of living is also higher now as tourists put upwards pressure on prices."
The problems of Koh Chang can be seen in many Thai resorts, but nowhere public action to stop the tourism industry has been taken. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Contest in honor of the King

Posted by hasekamp on 5 June 2005 at 14:19 PM
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives will organize a contest on local Thai folk music, in celebration of His Majesty the King on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of His ascending to the throne. The Deputy Speaker of the House is also President of the local Thai Culture and Traditions for Promoting Democracy Committee. This Committee is encouraging Thai people throughout the country to participate in the events to cerebrate the King’s 60th anniversary of His ascending to the throne. A contest in local Thai culture and traditions will be conducted in the form of Thai folk songs of 4 the regions, which will be held on the 9th of June, which marks the 60th anniversary. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Discovery Channel in search of tsunami

Posted by hasekamp on 5 June 2005 at 14:14 PM
An international team of the scientists has just returned from the first ever scientific expedition to the deepest point of the 2004 Asian Tsunami. Photographs reveal seafloor ruptures that contributed to the Dec. 26 tsunami. Filmed exclusively for a special television event on Discovery Channel, BBC One and ProSieben, a team of 27 scientists have spent 17 days at sea exploring the seafloor off the coast of Sumatra in order to gain a better understanding of the forces that led to the devastating tsunami. This expedition marks the first time marine scientists have documented the cliff of compacted sediment at 4,500 meters in the Indian Ocean. The mosaic of photographs the team has released show the cliff that was faulted and up-thrust during the earthquake and contributed to the creation of the tsunami. (Source: Northwest Herald)


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What is the matter with THAI?

Posted by hasekamp on 5 June 2005 at 14:09 PM
Thai Airways International (THAI), which has seen three of its international flights make emergency landings in the past two weeks, announced on Friday that another of its aircraft was forced to cancel takeoff because of an air leak in one of its doors. THAI is known worldweide as a reliable airline and in the past very few incidents hjave been reported.
Technicians from the airline found that the air leak was caused by a faulty seal, THAI said in a statement. The aircraft was grounded and partw were replaced. A different aircraft was used seven hours later to complete the flight. (Source: Associated Press)


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Phuket Air hires safety expert

Posted by hasekamp on 4 June 2005 at 11:04 AM
Phuket Air has recruited a British safety trainer to instill "best practice" throughout every level of the operations of the airline. The deal between Phuket Air and training and development company "The Human Factor" was announced in London by the founder of The Human Factor (ex-British Royal Air Force pilot George Duncan) and Phuket Air Executive Vice-President Captain Chawanit Chiamcharoenvut. Since the middle of April, a Phuket Air plane has been prevented from leaving Sharjah airport in the United Arab Emirates after fuel poured from a wing; a Bangkok-bound flight had to return to London after developing hydraulics problems; the airline was banned from flying into the UK and the Netherlands after safety inspectors found serious faults on planes, and a plane was impounded at London’s Gatwick airport for non-payment of landing fees. In addition, the company cancelled its Bangkok-Bali route, claiming that passenger numbers had slumped because the ban on flying from Amsterdam.
Mr Duncan outlined The Human Factor’s plans for Phuket Air, saying: "A range of programmes will be rigorously implemented across the supply chain, and across the company, to ensure that best practice in Western European safety and service standards are embedded at all levels – and locations served by the airline." (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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New parks planned

Posted by hasekamp on 3 June 2005 at 11:24 AM
Phuket island may get three new public parks under the Cabinet’s “One Tambon, One Park” initiative. The Phuket office of the Royal Forestry Department is to ask the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives for permission to create “Pa Bangkanun” in Tambon Thepkrasattri, Thalang District; “Khao Toh Se” in Tambon Rassada, Muang District, and “Khao Phanthurat” in Tambon Koh Kaew, Thalang District.
The aim of One Tambon, One Park initiative, which was approved by the Cabinet last October, is to have one park of at least 8,000 square meters in each tambon in the country. Phuket has 13 tambons, but just three have been chosen to pilot the initiative in the province. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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GM contaminated papayas found

Posted by hasekamp on 2 June 2005 at 16:41 PM
Papayas in Rayong and Kamphaeng Phet were found to be contaminated with genetically modified (GM) varieties, confirming suspicions of widening GM contamination on papaya farms, the international environmentalist group Greenpeace said yesterday. Samples of papayas from two farms tested positive as GM varieties, a genetic-engineering campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia said. Both farms were supplied with seeds from the Agriculture Ministry research station in Khon Kaen. Greenpeace discovered last year that the research station had widely distributed GM papaya seeds in the northeastern province. Last September the ministry ordered the station to destroy papaya trees in its experimental fields and the Department of Agriculture to destroy papaya trees on hundreds of farms across 34 provinces. Apparently this did not happen. (Source: The Nation)


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