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Thaksin: New airport among the best

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2005 at 15:38 PM
After spending more than 11 million baht on yesterday's test-landing, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra used the highly publicised event to announce that Suvarnabhumi can match any airport in the world and make Thailand a regional aviation hub. "The new Bangkok international airport can be compared to any other airport in the world and it is set to become the region's aviation hub," he told guests and journalists invited to the landing and systems test at Suvarnabhumi airport. He also promised that the airport, which is five times bigger than Don Muang airport, will be opened in June next year. The event of the test flight was televized nationwide yesterday.
The government had scheduled to open the airport for full commercial operations yesterday but decided to postpone the opening date as it could not finish the construction work in time. Instead, the prime minister used the occasion to showcase the airport's progress and show that planes can now land safely at the airport and most of its equipment has been installed and is operable.
Suvarnabhumi airport is being built with the objective of competing with other regional airports, especially Changi in Singapore, in an ambitious plan to make Thailand the centre of commercial aviation in Southeast Asia. Mr Thaksin said the airport will take over much of the traffic from the existing Don Muang, which reached its capacity several years ago after being expanded several times in the past three decades. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Woman turns herself in

Posted by hasekamp on 29 September 2005 at 15:51 PM
A Muslim woman surrendered to police yesterday after being named a suspect in the torture and killings of two marines held hostage for 18 hours just over a week ago, a military officer said. Meeno Mahama, 33, is a resident of Tanyong Limo village in Narathiwat's Rangae district, where about 2,000 people defied the military on Sept 21 in a standoff that highlighted strains between the government and Muslims in the deep South. Ms Meeno gave herself up to police, making her the fifth suspect in police custody. Police yesterday issued arrest warrants for another four suspects from Tanyong Limo village, bringing the total number of suspects sought to 26. "The suspects have two choices. Either surrender to authorities or we will hunt them down," a police spokesman said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chiang mai: 500 houses under water

Posted by hasekamp on 28 September 2005 at 16:58 PM
An earthern dam in Chiang mai collapsed following torrential rains, unleashing some two million cubic metres of water inundating seven villages. The chief of Mae Taeng district, said the dam collapsed at about 8am. He said the dam had been put under too much pressure after the Damrey tropical depression caused heavy rains in the North. The district chief said the earth embankment of the dam, which was about 30 meters high, but collapsed to a height of only 20 meters. About 500 houses in seven villages in two tambons and about 2,000 rai of farmland were under water, he said.
Meanwhile at least three people have been killed and five are missing after Tropical Depression Damrey crossed the North and caused widespread flooding. The (Interior Ministry said two deaths were reported in Chiang Mai and another in Lampang. It said five people in Lampang went mission following flash floods. The ministry said the depression storm, which was heading from Chiang Rai to Burma, had unleashed heavy rains in six northern provinces, causing widespread flooding. (Source: The Nation)


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Time race for Thaksin to visit new airport

Posted by hasekamp on 28 September 2005 at 16:54 PM
Construction workers are racing against the clock to prepare Suvarnabhumi airport for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's test landing tomorrow. More than 200 local and foreign media yesterday accepted an invitation from Airports of Thailand Plc to witness preparations at the new airport for the visit by the prime minister, cabinet members and guests. The media received a briefing on the progress of airport construction at the office of New Bangkok International Airport Co (NBIA), an AoT subsidiary, and a brief coach trip past terminal buildings. AoT public relations manager assured the press that the terminal complex and its facilities would be ready by tomorrow, but reporters were not allowed inside yesterday because the floors of the complex had been cleaned. Instead, reporters were given CDs containing pictures of the airport, including some inside angles of the terminal.
Tomorrow is Sept 29, the original scheduled date for the airport opening. It was rescheduled to around june 2006. Two planes belonging to Thai Airways International, an Airbus A340-600 and Boeing 747-400, were test-landed at the new airport yesterday to make sure all preparations were set.
The prime minister and his delegation will undergo realistic check-in and check-out procedures and witness the operation of luggage conveyors and customs staff at the new airport. Half of the elevated road leading to the airport terminal will be usable tomorrow. The prime minister plans to take it when he leaves the airport after the event. (Souirce: The Bangkok Post)


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Tsunami memorial competition

Posted by hasekamp on 27 September 2005 at 16:00 PM
Registration for the competition to design the national tsunami memorial opened on September 15. The competition is open until November 15, and the five shortlisted proposals will be displayed on December 26, 2005 at Khao Lak Lamru National Park. The 1.5 billion baht-project – the cost of which has been mired in controversy – is due for completion by December 2007. Deputy Prime Minister Suwat Lipatapanlop said in Bangkok yesterday that the tsunami memorial will be sited at Khao Lak Lamru National Park. The architect of each shortlisted work will receive an award of 1 million baht. In the second stage of the competition, the committee will select the winner on May 2, 2006. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Thai tourists go abroad

Posted by hasekamp on 26 September 2005 at 6:00 AM
Now that the number of foreign tourists to Thailand is still disappointing, the Thai government tries to stimulate Thai tourists to see their own country. But those Thais who can aford holidays, seem to prefer other destinations. Nevertheless Thailand is optimistic about the upcoming high season (starting November).
As an example where Thais go, the number of Thai tourists in Hong Kong is expected to grow by 24 per cent this year and they will spend up to Bt8.6 billion there, according to the Kasikorn Research Centre (KRC). In 2004, the KRC said, Thai tourists spent up to Bt 6.84 billion in Hong Kong. They think that the number of Thai tourist arrivals in Hong Kong will grow 24 per cent on top of last year, or nearly 300,000 by the end of this year, thanks to a new major tourist attraction there: Hong Kong Disneyland, which was officially opened recently. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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More flash floods

Posted by hasekamp on 25 September 2005 at 13:17 PM
There is a high risk of flash floods in the North and Northeast due to expected heavy downpours triggered by tropical storm Damrey, the Meteorological Department warned yesterday. The storm, which is moving from the South China Sea to China's Hainan Island, is expected to cause heavy rains in the two regions tomorrow, it said. The department issued a warning to those living in flood-prone areas, particularly in the upper Northeast and the upper North, to prepare for possible flash floods, forest run-offs and surges of water. Meanwhile, a run-off in a forest area yesterday inundated three villages in Chiang Mai's Mae Rim district, while the Prachin Buri river started flooding some districts of Prachin Buri. In Chiang Mai, a forest run-off from Doi Suthep flooded Moo 1, 2 and 3 villages in Mae Rim district's Tambon Don Kaew, damaging several homes. There were no reports of casualties. Yesterday, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said during his weekly radio address to the nation that the Ping river in Chiang Mai was rising because it was still raining in Fang and Mae Taeng districts, while drainage problems persisted due to the number of mounds located in the stream and river encroachments. In a bid to restore the ecological system, Mr. Thaksin said the government would combat deforestation, especially in watershed areas, and demand that encroachers move out and accept compensation or face legal action. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin: I will solve southern problem

Posted by hasekamp on 25 September 2005 at 13:13 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has reaffirmed the government's plan to use decisive measures to deal with the southern unrest and told people not to vote for his Thai Rak Thai party again if he has failed to restore peace by the end of his term. He repeated his pledge to personally take full charge in closely supervising efforts to quell the continuing violence in the deep South. "I will take responsibility for anything that goes wrong from now. If I don't do the job well during the next three years, don't vote me back in. If I violate the law, you can seek legal action against me," he said. Mr. Thaksin made the emotional comments during his weekly radio address yesterday, three days after the murder of two marines at Tanyong Limo in Narathiwat. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Support for Thai to succeed Annan

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2005 at 17:04 PM
Thailand appears to gain support from more countries in its bid for the top post of the United Nations in 2007, according to Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon. Mr. Kantathi on Friday said in New York that nine more countries showed a good gesture of backing Thai Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai in his bid for the nation for the next UN secretary-general seat after Mr. Kofi Annan, whose term will end at the end of 2006. They include Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Tanzania, Pakistan, Bhutan, Trinidad and Tobeko, Antika and Barbuda and BurkinaFaso. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Flooding in Bangkok less than feared

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2005 at 17:01 PM
Most flood-hit areas in Bangkok have recovered from a week of rain, apart from the eastern suburbs near Suvarnabhumi airport where several housing estates remained inundated. The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said yesterday that Chiang Mai and Bangkok's eastern suburbs along the Bang Na-Trat highway were the only two spots still suffering floods caused by a tropical depression and monsoon rains. Residents near the airport have repeatedly called on agencies to improve the flood drainage system in the area, saying airport construction was partly to blame for this year's severe flooding as it blocks natural waterways. The Irrigation Department chief said concern about flooding was now focusing on northern and northeastern provinces, which could be badly hit by the next tropical storm, Damrey. The storm, expected to arrive in Thailand on Monday, will cause heavy rain in the northeastern region, leading to a sharp increase in the water levels. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Three arrested in connection with Marine killings

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2005 at 16:57 PM
Three men were arrested yesterday by police on suspicion they colluded in Wednesday's killing of two marines, as a combined security force waited last night to raid Tanyong Limo village and capture other suspects believed to be still in hiding there. The Defence Minister said warrants, approved by the Narathiwat provincial court, were out for the arrest of nine more suspects. Some were thought to still be in hiding at Tanyong Limo where the two marines were tortured and stabbed to death. Other suspects may have taken a train to Hat Yai district in neighbouring Songkhla and police were looking for them. Two men, Ul-insan Nikaji and Singchai Salae, were arrested at their house in Narathiwat's Rangae district while they were washing blood-stained shirts. A third suspect, also a Tanyong Limo resident identified as Ropa Mani, was taken from the village and arrested. He denied complicity in the murders, saying he was at home the whole time. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Two marines killed

Posted by hasekamp on 21 September 2005 at 19:19 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra issued a stern warning today that the two slain Marines, stabbed to death while being held hostage in the southern province of Narathiwat, will not have died in vain and that their killers would be brought to justice. Blindfolded, their hands tied behind their backs, the two were executed following an 18-hour captivity. Expressing his strong resolution to see the killer or killers face prosecution, Mr. Thaksin said that the situation does not now warrant any measures more drastic than the existing emergency decree which has already been imposed upon the southern border provinces. Describing the killers as brutal and inhumane, Mr. Thaksin said the murder was the work of ill-intentioned people who often killed innocent people and caused misunderstanding among villagers that the military were behind the killings. Officials said that the Marines - held hostage by hundreds of villagers angered by shootings in a tea shop in Narathiwat - were stabbed to death after negotiations failed to secure their release. Hundreds of villagers were holding the two Marines hostage earlier today after a group of unidentified gunmen opened fire at a tea shop last night in Tanyong Limo village of Ra-ngae district, killing two local villagers. The villagers said they believed the gunmen were soldiers and detained the two hostages in retaliation. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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His Majesty advises

Posted by hasekamp on 21 September 2005 at 19:15 PM
His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej has suggested a technique for the Agriculture Ministry to use the increased water levels in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Lam Takhong Dam, in order to ease drought problems in the area. Agriculture Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan said HM the King late last week graciously instructed the ministry to readjust the artificial rain-making operation plan to use dry ice to pressurise clouds to help increase water levels in the Lam Takhong Dam, as it currently holds only 24 per cent of its capacity. A sufficient supply would entail 30-40 per cent of capacity. (Source: The Nation)


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Storm Vincente causes serious problems

Posted by hasekamp on 21 September 2005 at 19:12 PM
Tropical depression Vicente has caused plenty of flooding in the North, especially in Chiang Mai where 2,000 houses were submerged. Since the heavy rains started falling in northern regions earlier this week the Ping River has risen, prompting authorities to warn Muang district residents of floods and send 300 soldiers to pile sandbags along low-lying riverside areas. After the Ping River rose to a critical level of 4.2 meters, low-lying areas near Sacred Heart College and the Provincial Police Region 5 Office areas were flooded.
Meanwhile in Bangkok, Governor Apirak Kosayodhin yesterday checked the Chao Phraya River’s concrete flood embankment under the Krung Thon Bridge and instructed officials to lay 5,500 sandbags at unfinished parts of the barrier to protect Rajvithee Road and Bang Phlat areas, where 4,000 people live. He also ordered 2.2 million sandbags (up from a previous 1.7 million) for the city to prepare for floodwaters and arranged 24 mobile units to help tackle flooding around the clock. Apirak said a 77 kilometer-long concrete embankment would be complete in 2008 and would prevent the river from overflowing into nearby houses. (Source: The Nation)


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Thailand and China cooperate on IP issues

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2005 at 17:53 PM
Thailand and China have agreed to cooperate in helping develop and protect intellectual property of each other. The agreement was clinched at a meeting here on Monday between Thai Deputy Commerce Minister Preecha Laohapongchana and a visiting Chinese minister in charge of trade and industry management. Under the deal, the Chinese government will support a Thai government request for patent registration of Thai rice and silk in China, according to Mr. Preecha. "The issue is expected to be concluded by the end of this year," he said. There are now about 2,000 items of Thai products having been patented in China. The agreement would also cover bilateral cooperation in addressing the problem of similar trademarks and paying attention to geographical indicators which are considered a key factor in the protection of intellectual property and a major condition for international trade in the future, Mr. Preecha noted. "The agreement is a good prelude of the upcoming meeting between the Thai and Chinese delegations in Thailand's northern resort province of Chiang Mai from September 21-23," the minister said. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin content about meeting with Bush

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2005 at 17:49 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the President of the United States have agreed that an acceleration of peace and stability in Burma, and the release of Aung Saan Su Ji, would be in the best interest of the region. Other talks between the two leaders have also proved successful. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra revealed that after bilateral discussions with US president George W. Bush at the White House, that the atmosphere was very receptive and accommodating, with a straightforward exchange of ideas on various topics, including economics, politics, and social issues. On this occasion, the Prime Minister has also asked for the support of America in pushing for Mr. Surakiart Sathirathai, deputy prime minister, to be appointed secretary of the United Nations. In addition, both governments agree that to support peace in the region, Burma should release Aung Saan Su Ji. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Possible floods in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2005 at 17:46 PM
Tropical storm Vicente passes, but rain in the North could still cause floods in Bangkok. Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said the city is not out of the woods yet as downpours in the North could still have a detrimental effect on the capital. Northern provinces were battered with heavy rains as the depression swallowed up much of the region before drifting into neighbouring Burma, where it began to lose steam. Dams in the North have been pumping water into the Chao Phya River, causing it to flow at a rate of 1,900 cubic meters per second and pushing it near its maximum capacity of 2,500 cubic meters. Apirak said the situation has raised fears that the overflow could still create an unmanageable situation in Bangkok. Dozens of homes were swallowed up in the upper Central province of Nakhon Sawan last night, prompting Apirak to initiate discussions on flood prevention measures with the Interior Ministry and related agencies.
Flash floods were reported in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Chiang Mai, Phrae, Nan, Tak, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Uttaradit, Phetchabun, Loei, Nong Khai, Nong Bua Lamphu, Udon Thani, Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon and Mukdahan. (Source: The Nation)


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More rain and flooding

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2005 at 12:05 PM
Bangkok is bracing for much more rain Monday, water with no place to go, as season weather moves into Thailand from Vietnam and Laos. A tropical depression moving across Laos and Cambodia from Vietnam is expected to hit the northern, northeastern and eastern regions of Thailand Sunday bearing heavy rainfall and possible flash floods, according to an announcement issued by the Meteorological Department. At least 11 provinces in Thailand's North, Northeast and East are expected to expererience heavy rainfall and flash floods. As the depression moves further inland and then out to sea it will also cause heavy storms in both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea for the next three or four days, the announcement said.
In Bangkok, Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said more than 1,000 pumps were ready for emergency use. Each district office in the capital has 15 to 20 high capacity pumps on emergency standby and embankments built from some of the 1.7 million sandbags determined necessary to protect the city were already in place along the banks of the Chao Phya River. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thailand to help reform the UN

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2005 at 12:00 PM
Stressing his success in proposing a major overhaul of the management of the United Nations system, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the new president of the United Nations General Assembly may invite Thailand and leaders of 10 to 15 other countries for talks on ways to reform the world body. Mr. Thaksin said he had held discussions with the new president of UN General Assembly, and the latter invited him and leaders of 10-15 countries who shared a similar idea with him on the reform of the UN, raised by him in a speech given to UN members last week. The meeting on UN reform may be held in mid-2006, said Mr. Thaksin, adding that he would act as representative in conferring with Asian government leaders first on ways to completely overhaul the UN. The UN must realize what its responsibilities are, he said. It was established during the cold war era and the disputes between two different politicial ideologies have ceased. The world is now confronting new challenges, such as international terrorism, acute disease, hunger in several parts of the world and unfair trade practices. The world body could not operate as before, he suggested, adding that he saw the UN like a backward organization which could not catch up with changes in the world. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Storks in danger of new airport

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2005 at 11:55 AM
Deputy Transport Minister Chaiyanan Charoensiri expressed concern today (Sunday) that large flocks of openbilled storks living around the Suvarnabhumi International Airport could affect tests of aircraft landings and takeoffs later this month. We like to see things the other way around: Storks are in threat when the new airport is taken into operation.
Chaiyanan said there were between 4,000 and 5,000 storks living in three areas around the airport and they could affect the first landings and takeoffs, scheduled for September 29. As well as the storks, there are other birds living in the area. After the technical testing on September 29, the government will have small planes circling the airport each day to frighten the birds away.
It is a shame that the birds will have to move, but frightening them away is far better anyway than shooting them with machine guns, like the army did last year, when somebody had figured out that the rare and protected Asian bill storks were to blame for the bird flu in Thailand. (Source for the facts: The Nation)


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How about the Bangkok Post?

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2005 at 11:41 AM
GMM Grammy's decision to abandon its bid to take over Matichon Plc is not yet a final victory for the mass media and all eyes should now focus on what the investors would do next with Post Publishing Plc, publisher of the Bangkok Post and Post Today, said mass communications academics. GMM Grammy on Friday announced it had agreed to sell back 12% of Matichon Plc shares to its founder and to keep its holdings in the firm at 20%. GMM Grammy still held a 23.6% stake in Post Publishing Plc. The Bangkok Post was still subject to editorial interference. Attention should be paid to what Grammy would do next with the Bangkok Post. Steps should be taken to ward off investor interference in the Bangkok Post editorial content, because power-holders in the country did not want the Bangkok Post to report news considered negative to the country. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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US asked to help fight bird flu

Posted by hasekamp on 17 September 2005 at 12:42 PM
Thailand will seek US assistance in developing its capacity to combat bird flu, a senior official of the Livestock Development Department said yesterday. He said the US would be asked to help the department develop its laboratory work and capacity-building for epidemiologists, considered to be key elements in combating avian influenza. Thailand now has eight laboratories to perform bird flu tests but only one of them is capable of running internationally-standardised testing, he said. There are no more than 10 epidemiologists working in the field to detect bird flu outbreaks and plan surveillance and containment measures. "Today, we need those resources, especially bird flu specialists, to investigate bird flu cases and plan virus containment and surveillance measures for us. That's why we plan to ask the US for help," he said. US President George W. Bush announced at the United Nations summit in New York this week that Washington would hold talks with Southeast Asian countries to formulate strategies against the virus. Meanwhile the secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration, said the agency has beefed up surveillance of illegal imports of bird flu vaccines as nearly 750 bottles have been seized from ports along the northern border over the past year. The government has banned the use of bird flu vaccines in poultry for fear that they could contribute to the rapid mutation of the virus. FDA officials have been deployed at all major ports and checkpoints nationwide to watch out for illegally-imported bird flu vaccines. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flood warning

Posted by hasekamp on 17 September 2005 at 12:36 PM
Residents in some northeastern and eastern provinces are being warned to brace themselves for heavy rainfall and possible flash floods tomorrow. Mukdahan, Amnat Charoen, Ubon Ratchathani, Chanthaburi and Trat are under threat of flooding as a tropical depression is expected to hit Vietnam. The Meteorological Department has also warned of high waves in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea for the next couple of days. Authorities believe the water will recede and the situation would return to normal in a week.
According to authorities, 12 provinces remained flooded. They are Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Prachin Buri, Suphan Buri, Lop Buri, Phitsanulok, Bangkok, Nakhon Nayok, Chanthaburi, Chon Buri and Rayong. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, speaking in an interview from the US, said he was closely following the flood situation in Thailand. Mr Thaksin said the situation was under control and he had told various state agencies to look after the matter. Irrigation chief Samart Chokkanapitark that Bangkok would be safe from flooding. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Heavy rain for Bangkok, central Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 16 September 2005 at 18:17 PM
The weatherman warned yesterday that while many Central provinces, including some areas of Bangkok, had yet to recover from this week’s torrential rains, another tropical depression was on its way, bringing heavy downpours and possible flash floods. The storm, coming in from the Philippines, would bring heavy rainfall across the country from today till Tuesday, the Meteorol-ogical Department said. Low-lying areas in the Central provinces, as well as in the West, East and Upper South, may face flash floods and overflowing rivers. Commuter boats called off operations, due to high water levels. Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin visited the hardest-hit district of Lat Krabang, which experienced a deluge "not seen in 20 years", and ordered officials to drain the area with 1,000 pumps. (Source: The Nation)


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Grammy reconsiders buying newspapers

Posted by hasekamp on 16 September 2005 at 18:12 PM
The entertainment giant GMM Grammy Group appears to have backed away from its bid to mount a hostile takeover of the Matichon newspaper group, agreeing to sell back some Matichon stock at cost price and limiting its stake in the paper to no more than 20 per cent. The move was announcedtoday at a joint media conference by representatives of Matichon founder and major shareholder Khanchai Boonpan and Grammy Group chairman Paiboon Damrongchaitham. Grammy Group subsidiary GMM Media was said to have agreed to sell its Matichon stock to Mr. Khanchai and to maintain a maximum of 20 per cent of the newspaper’s total shares. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Phuket's flying circus does it again!

Posted by hasekamp on 15 September 2005 at 22:57 PM
Phuket Air did it again, less than a week after the former incident! A Phuket Air plane from Bangkok skidded off the runway at Tak Airport shortly after 9 am yesterday during landing. None of the 30 passengers on board - luckily - were injured. The decades-old Japanese YS-11 twin-turboprop aircraft with a 64-seat capacity barreled into the airport’s perimeter fence. The starboard wing and propeller were damaged in the accident. Immediately after the plane came to a halt, the two pilots reportedly broke a cockpit window and jumped out, then rushed back to open the aircraft’s doors to allow passengers and cabin crew to escape. Capt Chawanit Chiamcharoenvut, Executive Vice President of Phuket Air, said, "The rain might have affected the plane’s braking system. The aircraft stopped 10 meters farther from where it should have stopped." But a passenger had a different story. "If you ask me, the plane should have touched down at the beginning of the runway rather than around the middle,".
We seriously wonder how long the flying circus of Phuket Air will be allowed to go on with its performance. Do the authorities in Thailand really wait until people have died, before they stop this embarrassing performance? And - on the other hand - we wonder what people still buy tickets from Phuket's flying circus! (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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THAI performs better

Posted by hasekamp on 15 September 2005 at 17:44 PM
Thai Airways International, the national flag carrier, has earned more profit with better business performance in the 2005 fiscal year. Acting THAI President Somchainuk Engtrakul told journalists, after a meeting of the THAI board, that the national airline had earned more profit, especially in August, due to its recent increase of surcharge per flight to be on par with other airlines and rising number of passengers. Mr. Somchainuk also revealed that the national flag carrier had earned a profit of Bt 7 billion so far in the 2005 fiscal year, which ends on September 30. The figure is, however, far short of its earlier target of Bt19 billion, dampened by global oil price hikes. He said the company would soon report to the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) on its better business performance and projected net profit for the 2005 fiscal year. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Public wants to keep newspapers as they are

Posted by hasekamp on 15 September 2005 at 17:39 PM
According to our source, the Bangkok Post, many members of the public find GMM Grammy's plans to take over two leading newspapers unacceptable, fearing it will destroy the papers' reputation as professional media along with their editorial independence. "I am stunned. There must be a hidden agenda in this matter," said a 35-year-old government official, who has been reading Matichon and the Bangkok Post since he was a student at Saint Gabriel school. He did not believe the papers could maintain their professionalism under the new structure as GMM Grammy boss Paiboon Damrongchaitham would inevitably want to influence the papers' editorial content. "Even though I am working for the government, I don't want to see the newspapers side with the government, or to help groups with vested interests. Neutrality is important," he said. A 32-year-old businesswoman said the takeover was not in the public interest. "It's just about Grammy making money. This is about profits, not the public interest," she said. The public and media advocates should keep a close watch on the management of the papers once Mr Paiboon assumed major ownership to ensure his promise that there would be no editorial interference, she said.
More opinions by members of the public are being cited, but we don't know how they were gathered. fact is, however, that we would not like the Bangkok Post to change. We have to wait and see what will happen with the freedom of the p[ress in Thailand. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New airport ready foer test

Posted by hasekamp on 14 September 2005 at 17:42 PM
Bangkok's new international airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport, is now ready for the inaugural flight of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on September 29, Airport of Thailand Public Co., Ltd. announced on Tuesday. Preparations for the inaugural flight have nearly 100 per cent completed, according to Airport of Thailand Public Co. They include air traffic control and navigation systems, as well as the construction and surface of the airport's eastern runway, which are now 100 per cent completed, he disclosed. The prime minister and cabinet members' Air Bus 340-600 flight is scheduled to leave the Don Muang Airport at 8:29 a.m. and to land on the Suvarnabhumi Airport's eastern runway at 09:09 a.m. on the day. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Bangkok Post to be sold?

Posted by hasekamp on 14 September 2005 at 17:39 PM
Reporters from the Matichon daily and the Bangkok Post newspapers expressed shock yesterday after entertainment tycoon Paiboon Damrongchaitham and his GMM Grammy Group launched an ambitious Bt2.67 billion take-over bid for the two companies. Senior reporters believe the GMM tycoon is acting for powerful politicians who want to control the newspapers. A senior reporter from the Bangkok Post said the take-over bids marked a new chapter in Thailand’s newspaper industry, and could be seen as both negative and positive. "Paiboon may simply want to benefit from his investment, but even though he can buy everything he wants, it is hard to buy a reporter’s soul," she said. Another senior Post reporter said reporters knew in advance about the take-over bid and were resigned to their future fates. Meanwhile, a senior Matichon reporter said the stock-market move had shocked reporters and he believed that it would cause a change of position on the executive board. Other reporters from Matichon said they were unsure how the take-over bid would affect company policy. "A newspaper business needs to be independent, otherwise, readers won’t trust it," said one. (Source: The Nation)


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Phuket Air keeps licence in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 13 September 2005 at 18:43 PM
The Department of Aviation will not revoke the licence of Phuket Air, pending the result of an official investigation following yet another incident on Sunday, in which a passenger plane of the airline skidded off a runway at the Mae Sot Airport in Thailand's northwestern province of Tak. The airline will be allowed to continue its business operation pending the result of the official investigation. "It's unlikely that the Phuket Air's licence will be revoked, as the airline poses no concerns over its overall safety standard, but some technical problems whose causes are being probed," said an official.
The Phuket Air's flight SR 36, flying from Bangkok, skidded off the Mae Sot Airpot's runway when it was landing Sunday morning. Its 40 passengers and air crew were, however, all safe. The Department of Aviation is conducting the official investigation on the cause of the incident. The pilot and co-pilot of the aircraft were, nonetheless, suspended their operational service, pending the investigation. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Heavy rain once more in the North

Posted by hasekamp on 12 September 2005 at 10:47 AM
Heavy rains at the weekend caused floods in several areas of Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces but the level of the Ping river in Chiang Mai is still under control. Following continuous rains that started in the North on Friday, flash floods were reported in Mae Mo and Mae Tha districts of Lampang. The Wang river in the Muang Lampang municipality overflowed and inundated more than 100 houses, prompting authorities to evacuate those affected. In Mae Hong Son, the Yuam river overflowed into riverside agricultural and residential areas in Mae Sariang, Mae La Noi and Sop Moei districts. In Chiang Rai, flash floods hit more than 30 houses in Mae Chan district. People living near waterways and mountains were warned of possible flash floods and landslides. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Woman charged with attempted murder

Posted by hasekamp on 11 September 2005 at 13:52 PM
Police yesterday arrested a suspected woman stalker who allegedly stabbed and wounded four students at St Joseph's Convent School on Friday. Police said the 36-year-old woman, identified as Jitrlada Tantiwanitchasuk, admitted attacking the girls. Showing no remorse, she said she wanted to be executed by lethal injection. Police said the woman, a native of Nakhon Pathom province, has a record of mental problems and they would send her for a mental check-up after questioning. Police arrested Ms Jitrlada after getting a tip-off from two waiters working at a restaurant in the Chatuchak area where the woman applied for a job as a waitress yesterday. Police released a sketch of the suspect after the attack. The waiters said Ms Jitrlada looked like the suspect in the sketch. Ms Jitrlada graduated from a commercial college near the Victory Monument and was a car saleswoman before resigning due to mental problems. She was admitted to Niti Jittavej psychiatric hospital about 10 years ago and had to report to doctors there monthly before moving to Phra Mongkutklao and Somdej Chao Phraya hospitals. The woman, who frequented first-class hotels and shopping malls, left home on June 11, withdrew 500,000 baht from her bank account, and later called her mother to say she would come back in October. She had no connection with St Joseph's Convent School and her medical record at BNH Hospital was not related to mental problems. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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School drama: four girls stabbed

Posted by hasekamp on 10 September 2005 at 17:14 PM
A woman stabbed and seriously injured four students at a well-known convent school in the heart of Bangkok yesterday, in a case of unprovoked school assault that police suspect could be the work of a mentally ill person. The attacker, whom witnesses described as a lean woman in her late twenties or early thirties, walked into a classroom of the Saint Joseph Convent School in the Silom area just before morning classes started, and randomly stabbed students within her reach with fruit knives before making an easy escape from the school. The assault, the first known case of an unprovoked school attack in Thailand after several other similar incidents earlier reported in countries such as China and Japan, sent a shock wave through the public and prompted an outcry for better school security.
The victims, aged between 12 and 14 years old, remained hospitalised as of last night. Among the three seriously injured victims, one was in critical condition. The vicious stabbing happened shortly after 7am just as parents were dropping their children off for class and many students were exercising and dancing on the open-air ground floor of a school building. Convent Road, where the school is located, was quickly closed to traffic as police officers, reporters and many parents, who later heard of the attack, flocked to the school. The road is off Silom Road in downtown Bangkok. All of the injured students were rushed to Bangkok Nursing Home Hospital, located just 50 meters from the school. Meanwhile police have arrested the woman, suspected of the stabbing. She is being interrogated. (Source: The Nation)


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Government wants casinos

Posted by hasekamp on 10 September 2005 at 10:55 AM
The government has revived its plan to introduce casinos to Thailand as a way to boost the sagging tourism industry amid increased competition from rival Asian destinations, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Pracha Maleenont, said yesterday. The minister said the "one region one casino" initiative was proposed in response to the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland this month and the expected opening of two casinos in Singapore in the next few years. "Thailand needs a new tourism magnet to lure more international tourists and local travelers," he said. We doubt if casinos can do the trick, but who knows.
Pracha said Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had assigned the Government Lottery Office to conduct a feasibility study that should be completed by the end of this year. The government wants to build at least four casinos in the Kingdom, he said, one each in four of Thailand’s six regions. Two of the casinos would be located in existing tourism hotspots such as Phuket or Pattaya, and two would be built in less popular locations. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Thaksin: I am loyal to His Majesty

Posted by hasekamp on 8 September 2005 at 19:26 PM
Speaking out for the first time yesterday against critics accusing his government of challenging royal powers, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra insisted he and his ministers were staunchly loyal to His Majesty the King. Thaksin’s comments came two days after a high-profile debate on royal prerogative was organised at Thammasat University with the participation of such staunch critics of the government as maverick Thai Rak Thai party-list MP Pramuan Ruchanaseree, author of "Royal Powers", and Senator Kaewsan Atibhodi.
During his second weekly "Meet the Press" interview, Mr. Thaksin dismissed statements by critical academics and politicians who had charged that his government was trying to curtail the political prerogatives of His Majesty the King. "People are entitled to their opinions. It is up to their listeners, however, to decide how they like what they hear," Mr. Thaksin said. Mr. Thaksin stressed that his government would remain careful not to act against the powers of His Majesty. (Source: The Nation)


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Royal power in discussion

Posted by hasekamp on 8 September 2005 at 19:22 PM
The monarchy has been a stabilising force for Thai society, but the most delicate and significant power of His Majesty the King is being costed by politics, speakers at a forum said yesterday. Despite the absence of Privy Councillor Gen Surayud Chulanont - who was advised by Privy Council chairman Gen Prem Tinsulanonda not to attend - the auditorium at Thammasat University's faculty of law was packed to the rafters as thousands crammed into the hall to attend an open forum on "The Power of the Monarchy", the first of its kind to be held. "The unique element of Thai history is that the country has always had a king on the throne as the nation's leader. It is the safety net that keeps the country safe from harm when there's a dangerous shift in the balance of power," said rebellious Thai Rak Thai MP Pramual Rujanaseri. Mr Pramual, whose book "Royal Powers" has become a best-seller, said this government has no respect for anything whatsoever as was evident when it decided on its own during the last parliament recess to enforce an emergency decree to solve the southern crisis. "This country has two options. One is to continue to be the Kingdom of Thailand in which the prosperity of the country is measured not by economic prosperity alone but also by the improved quality of life as suggested by His Majesty the King, and the second option is to become the Thailand Co Ltd where money is everything and everything is money," said Mr Pramual. "Can this country accept the fact that royal power was only a symbol of historical value and had no legislative significance? I for one can't," he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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More warning towers

Posted by hasekamp on 7 September 2005 at 18:04 PM
The southern resort province of Phuket will spend Bt 14 million for the construction of another nine warning towers before the start of the coming high season for tourism in November. Phuket Govenor Udomsak Assawarangkul today signed a contract with a private company to install warning system at nine additional locations in Phuket, with a budget of Bt 14.65 million (about US$ 366,000). The installation will be finished in the next two month to be ready in time for the high season that brings thousands of tourists from around world to Phuket's beaches, the governor said. The warning towers will help boost tourists' confidence, he said. With additional warning towers, the early warning system will cover all areas of the resort island. There will also be observation towers manned with lifeguards to help rescue tourists on beaches in case of accidents, he said. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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2,000 Goats to be killed

Posted by hasekamp on 7 September 2005 at 18:01 PM
Infections in 19 farm workers prompt the largest-ever mass-culling in Kanchanaburi. About 2,000 goats will be culled today at the country’s biggest goat farm, in Kanchanaburi province, to prevent the spread of the infectious disease brucellosis, a senior Livestock Development Depart-ment official said yesterday. The culling at Mahboonkrong Dairy Goats Co was ordered yesterday by the department’s director-general. It will be the first time animals are culled in such large numbers, he said. The transport of all of the farm’s products, such as live goats, dairy products and meat, were also banned under the same order. (Source: The Nation)


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Relatives of tsunami victims to be invited

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2005 at 17:46 PM
The Cabinet today instructed the Meteorological Department to finish the construction of all 62 early warning centres by December 26th this year, when a memorial service on the first anniversary of the tsunami attack in southern Thailand will be held. Of the 62 early warning centres being built, 7 are in Phang Nga, 11 in Trang, 14 in Satun, 12 in Krabi, 5 in Ranong, and 4 in Phuket.
A memorial service has been planned on the first anniversary of the tsunami strikes on December 26th. The event will include the foundation stone laying for the tsunami memorial. Relatives of the dead victims, both Thai and foreigners, will be invited to attend the ceremony, with the Thai government bearing all of the necessary expenses in Thailand, such as airfares and accommodations. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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General wants discussion on King's power

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2005 at 17:41 PM
A member of the Privy Council – the group of individuals who are among those closest to His Majesty the King – will address the issue of royal power in a public speech today, following weeks of widespread debate about the delicate issue. General Surayud Chulanont, a former commander-in-chief of the Army and former supreme commander of the armed forces, is set to deliver a speech this afternoon at Thammasat University on the topic of His Majesty the King’s power. His address precedes a panel discussion featuring three government critics. Surayud is also due to speak at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand tomorrow evening. The planned topic is his initiative to bring Muslim schoolchildren from the deep South to Bangkok in order to encourage cultural education for them. However, questions about royal power are likely to be raised during a question and answer session after his speech at the FCCT.

Our opinion, here at Hasekamp Net, should be clear as crystal.
In the first place Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, a form of state in which the King hardly has any power of his own. So there is no need for a discussion of this nature, because it does not aopply to Thailand.
In the second place we find this discussion - should it be useful contrary to our opinion - very badly timed.
His Majesty the King has done more for his people than you and I together can comprehend. Now that he is an old man, but still very much caring for the Thai people, one should spare him such a duscussion and have more respect for him.
It will not be time for such a discussion in Thailand, before a next monarch should prove not to be worthy of the throne, if that moment will ever arrive, which we do not expect in our lifetime.
Starting this discussion before an old King with a state of service to which nobody in the country can even remotely compare, is a shame. We believe that only a very small minority of the Thai people will be interested in such a discussion! (Source for the first part: The Nation)


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His Majesty donates rice

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2005 at 17:18 PM
The Thai government has already offered help to the victims of hurricane Katrina. Now His Majesty the King will also make a personal donation in the form of rice to help feed people in hurricane-hit areas of the United States. The King's decision to donate the unspecified quantity of rice came from his concern about food shortages amid the devastation, Mr Kantathi said. The King has also sent a note with his condolences to President George W Bush, expressing his sorrow for the tragedy caused when Hurricane Katrina struck the southern US, the minister said. Washington has already sent a heartfelt thank you to the King for his help.
The Thai government has arranged to send about 60 medical personnel, canned foods and blankets to the US. Several agencies, including the Defence and Public Health ministries, were discussing quantities and types of aid, as well as the best way to ship it to the US, Mr Kantathi said. Thailand is among 60 countries offering humanitarian assistance to the US in the wake of the disaster. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New homes for tsunami victims

Posted by hasekamp on 5 September 2005 at 19:18 PM
Residents of tsunami-devastated Laem Pom community in Phangnga's Takua Pa district take pride in their new homes, which will be finished soon. The buildings, designed and built as they had wanted, are clear proof of the community's strength and unity. Laem Pom community was once a tin mining site. When the concession expired, the mine workers settled down there and turned the community into a fishing village. But after the tsunami the residents, who had fled the waves to safety, returned to the land only to find that a private firm had put up signs warning them to keep off. The villagers fought without assistance from state agencies that the land dispute was being heard in court. They lived on donations from the private sector including overseas organisations, and without freshwater and electricity supplies.
Months later, a new community, a cluster of 24 one-storey houses and another six two-storey houses, is taking shape. The houses, built by private donors and volunteer groups, are expected to be completed at the end of this month. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New flooding in the North

Posted by hasekamp on 5 September 2005 at 19:14 PM
Yesterday heavy rain in the North caused flash floods in Chiang Mai. and Nan provinces yesterday, triggering concern among local residents that last month’s disastrous flooding was about to be repeated. Several main roads in Chiang Mai city were submerged after continuous rain that began on Friday night. Sections of Huay Kaew road, a main thoroughfare, were half a meter deep. Rumors spread across the city that the Ping River was about to overflow once again and many residents and business owners began building sandbag walls to protect their properties. Flooding in many parts of the city was attributed to slow drainage of excess water. Two days of heavy rain has not significantly increased the water level in two dams located north of Chiang Mai. (Source: The Nation)


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Tsunami aftermath still present

Posted by hasekamp on 4 September 2005 at 10:57 AM
A mahout from Phuket, Chavalit Hoisang, 26, was plunged into a 300,000-baht debt he borrowed from a bank to buy an elephant after the tsunami. Before the tsunami, Mr Chavalit sent at least 15,000 baht a month to his parents in Buri Ram. After the tsunami, the money stopped. With a monthly salary of 3,500 baht, Mr Chavalit and 12 other mahouts working at a privately-run safari elephant camp in the Patong beach area were unable to afford the high cost of living in the popular tourist destination. Their main income was not their salaries, but tips from tourists. They earned more than 10,000 baht a month in tips and more during the peak tourist season. "The owner of the elephant camp asked us to stay here and wait for tourist arrivals in October and November. The owner has promised to give us double wages if we stay," said Mr Chavalit. "However, during the past months we haven't received any salary. The other mahouts and I decided to stay here because we believe Phuket still has good potential and that it will be prosperous again."
Lack of state assistance has driven several mahouts in Phuket to take their elephants to other southern provinces to do work such as hauling logs. They knew that taking their animals out of the island province would lead to them missing the chance of getting well-paid jobs in Phuket, such as providing elephant rides. Phuket authorities had a policy of reducing the number of elephants on the island by not following those which left to return. Major elephant camps, like Island Safari, which had around 23 elephants and 80 handlers, have had to shoulder a heavy burden of two million baht a month.
Boosting tourism seems the only way to improve the situation for the mahouts, but tourists decide for themselves. They can be stimulated, but that is all the government can do. We, from Hasekamp Net, have checked the hotel prices in Phuket on some major hotel sites today, but we hardly found any reductions compared to last year. (Main source: The Bangkok Post)


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Muslim leaders warn the government

Posted by hasekamp on 4 September 2005 at 10:47 AM
Muslim leaders have urged the government to quickly improve the situation in the southern border provinces, otherwise more Muslims would flee the country. One hundred and thirty one villagers from tambon Paluru in Narathiwat's Sungai Padi province fled to Malaysia's Kelantan state last week. The chairman of the Islamic Committee of Narathiwat, said he had heard from villagers that they had become tired of the pressure placed on them by the authorities, who frequently mounted searches. This led them to feel unsafe in their own villages and fear the potential of an incident similar to the ones that took place at the Krue Se mosque on April 28, 2004 and in Tak Bai district on Oct 25, 2004, in which scores of people were killed. He further said this explained why the villagers from tambon Paluru had fled to Malaysia. He said it was necessary for the government to quickly improve the situation with the villagers. If the government failed to act quickly, the matter could escalate into a conflict between Thailand and Malaysia, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Death for drunk driving

Posted by hasekamp on 1 September 2005 at 16:43 PM
A 23-year-old man was sentenced to death by a court in northeastern Thailand on Wednesday on several charges, related to a 2004 drunk driving accident in which four people were killed, four injured and five vehicles damaged.
"This is a historic verdict and should set a precedent in cases of drunken drivers who kill innocent people on the roads," a spokesperson of the Don't Drink and Drive Foundation said. Drunken driving is involved in some 80 percent of the deaths and injuries on Thailand's roads last year.
If this will become the new standard in Thailand, hundreds of death sentences will be given around Songkran every year from now on. (Source: Associated Press)


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