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Controversy over artificial island

Posted by hasekamp on 30 October 2005 at 19:10 PM
The plan to build a huge artificial island in the middle of Thailand’#39;s largest fresh water swamp, Bung Boraphet in Nakhon Sawan, will be on the agenda for Cabinet approval tomorrow, amid growing opposition from environmental groups. The controversial project is being developed by the Nakhon Sawan Provincial Administration Organisation (PAO). It is estimated to cost Bt 864 million. The project would involve aggressive measures including bringing in enough soil to create a 2,300-rai (3,680,000 square meters) island. Once the soil has settled, the PAO will develop the island into a luxury tourist resort with various activities, amenities and attractions including a lagoon, health and spa centre, golf course, convention halls and hotels on both the land and the water.
"It would be the worst tragedy for Thailand’#39;s biological diversity management," Harnnarong Yaowalert of the Wildlife Fund Thailand (WFT) said. "The plan will affect at least 238 species of fish as well as 146 bird species in the area. Some of them are migratory species flying from cold countries like China every year for their survival," he said. Among the species which would be affected is the Faying sirindhorn, a rare bird named after HRH Princess Sirindhorn, Harnnarong added.
Ecologically, the area is very important and has been proposed for listing as a world-class wetland site under the Ramsar Convention of the IUCN. Since 2000, Bung Boraphet has been listed as one of the 109 most important wetland sites in Thailand by the Office of Environmental Policy and Planning, and as such, an environmental impact assessment is required before any development project can take place. (Source: The Nation)


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Two more suspected bird flu victims

Posted by hasekamp on 29 October 2005 at 18:12 PM
Two more suspected avian influenza patients have been found in two northern Thai provinces of Chiang Rai and Phichit, doctors said on Saturday. An 18-year-old man has been admitted at a hospital in Chiang Saen District of Chiang Rai Province since October 26 after he came into contact with dead chickens for unknown reasons. Trained volunteers are now closely monitoring the deadly disease in villages in this province, as winter is approaching, when the danger increases. Bird flu prefers cold weather, according to experts.
The second suspected victim is a 49-year-old man and is now receiving a treatment at a hospital in Phichit Province. Doctors have sent his blood for test to the Department of Medical Sciences and the result is expected to be known on Monday. According to doctors, the victim raised a flock of more than 100 chickens and ducks at his home and felt sick after eating his dead birds. The doctors said two women who were also suspected of having contracted the disease and were admitted at the hospital earlier are still in critical condition now. Two boys who were admitted to hospital in Phichit on Wednesday have been released after doctors said the patients suffered from ordinary influenza and not bird flu. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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No BTS extension without Thaksin!

Posted by hasekamp on 28 October 2005 at 15:10 PM
The Bangkok governor must consult the central government before making any move to extend the Skytrain line to Thon Buri, despite city councillors approving funds for the scheme, the prime minister insisted yesterday. Speaking yesterday during his weekly "PM meets the Press", Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that Bangkok administrators – or those in Samut Prakan and Nonthaburi – should not work separately and do as they please without cooperating with other groups. "I don’#39;t forbid it, but why didn’#39;t they [the BMA] come to me for a discussion?" he said irritably.
Bangkok City Council yesterday unanimously approved a Bt2.39-billion budget to extend the Skytrain 2.2km from Taksin station to the Thon Buri side of the river. In response to the PM’#39;s claim that the BMA worked without cooperation, the governor said: "I am ready to meet and talk with the PM but without his official invitation, how could I meet him?" (Source: The Nation)


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Panda celebration

Posted by hasekamp on 27 October 2005 at 11:44 AM
Thailand is extremely proud to accomodate two pandas from China in Chiang Mai Zoo for ten years. The zoo is to hold a series of celebratory events between November 8 and 12, to mark the second anniversary of the arrival of its two resident giant pandas and its own 28th birthday. The events will also mark the coming of age of the giant pandas – male Chuang Chuang and female Lin Hui – who will reach the adult age of five and four years, respectively, and are expected to mate early next year. The first event will be a parade featuring exhibitions about pandas that will begin on November 8 at the multi-purpose plaza at Tha Phae Gate. A special event the following day will feature displays of Thai-Chinese culture and a parade of animals from other zoos in Thailand.
Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui will be given a special three-layer iced cake and iced fruits along with their favourite food bamboo. Several thousand people are expected to attend and take part in the events and the entrance fees charged will help to raise millions of baht. (Source: The Nation)


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Two THAI flights have landing problems

Posted by hasekamp on 27 October 2005 at 11:37 AM
Two Thai Airways International flights experienced difficulties yesterday, one leading to the temporary closure of Melbourne Airport in Australia. A tyre on the Airbus A-340-600, flight TG 981, shredded as the aircraft landed in high winds at Australia's second-busiest airport. The aircraft had 263 passengers and crew on board. Australian aviation officials said the plane blew a tyre and damaged hydraulic lines in its undercarriage when it touched down. "As a result, hydraulic fluid has leaked onto hot brakes, and there's been two fires. They were extinguished quickly," the spokesman for Airservices Australia, which is responsible for air safety, said.
In Bangkok, flight TG 240 from Hat Yai skidded off the runway after touching down in heavy rain at Don Muang about 6.20pm. The Airbus A300-600 had 240 people on board. The mishap was put down to a slippery runway. Nobody was injured during either of the incidents. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Opening airport may be further delayed

Posted by hasekamp on 27 October 2005 at 11:31 AM
The opening of Suvarnabhumi airport could be further postponed until September next year due to delays in the information management system installation. This, despite the promise by Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra after his test landing. He promise that the airport would be ready in June 2006, for the celebration of HM the King's 60th anniversary of ascending the throne.
A transport source said the possibility was discussed at a meeting of the Suvarnabhumi airport management and development committee, chaired by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, yesterday. If the opening of the new Bangkok airport will be postponed again, it will be for the second time. The government has already postponed it from September this year to June next year. The information management system is the heart of the airport's operation. Developers need three more months to ensure the utmost readiness of the airport before its opening. Mr. Thaksin admitted yesterday the AIMS was delayed, but said contractors insisted it could be accelerated to meet the June deadline. The AIMS is a major concern, as the software is still being written. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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BTS extension approved

Posted by hasekamp on 26 October 2005 at 16:59 PM
The Bangkok Council Wednesday approved Bt2.39 billion for the construction of the extension of the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) of the skytrain. The council voted unanimously to allow the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to construct the 2.2 kilometre part of the elevated railway. The extended Skytrain route will run from Taksin Bridge across the Chao Phya river to the Thon Buri side of the city. BMA Governor Apirak Kosayodhin told the council that the extension was necessary to help commuters on the Thon Buri side to travel to the heart of the city. He said he had surveyed opinions of Thon Buri people and they wanted the extension.
The long-delayed project has become a hot political issue in recent days as Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has shown his reluctance to support the governor’#39;s bid amid dire city traffic problems. (Source: The Nation)


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Bird flu now in 39 provinces

Posted by hasekamp on 25 October 2005 at 14:35 PM
Cases of suspected human infections are on the rise as villagers do not respond to efforts by livestock officials to cull fowl. Avian influenza has spread to more than half the country, with 39 provinces reporting confirmed or suspected cases of fresh bird-flu infections. Last week, the authorities had just 21 provinces under close watch for bird flu, suggesting the virus is spreading rapidly. Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Suphan Buri and Kamphaeng Phet have been put on a list of provinces with severe bird-flu problems. "We are receiving more and more reports of fowl deaths," the livestock chief of Kanchanaburi’#39;s Phanom Thuan district said yesterday. Livestock officials were busy culling fowl suspected of contracting bird flu. At the same time officials were facing resistance from some villagers who had tried to prevent them from taking their birds. Last week, two residents of Phanom Thuan district became the latest confirmed bird-flu patients in the country. One has since died. (Source: The Nation)


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Flash floods now in Hua Hin and Pran Buri

Posted by hasekamp on 25 October 2005 at 14:30 PM
Flash floods caused by heavy downpours hit Hua Hin and Pran Buri tourist towns in Prachuab Khiri Khan yesterday, affecting thousands of people. There were no reports of casualties. A number of villages including Saphan Khilek, Nong Kae and Khao Takiap in Hua Hin municipality were flooded after two days of relentless rain. Many vehicles were stalled in the floods. Two dogs were found and rescued from the bonnet of a submerged car in tambon Nong Kae. Many tourists who planned to leave Hua Hin after their long-weekend holiday were forced to extend their stay, as several roads were badly flooded and the rain showed no sign of stopping. Police with flat-bottom boats were sent out to rescue stranded people.
The Meteorological Department, meanwhile, warned people in Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi and other parts of Prachuap Khiri Khan province to be on the alert for possible flash floods as a low-pressure trough was moving into the upper South. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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World Buddhist Summit in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2005 at 11:46 AM
The fourth World Buddhist Summit will take place in Thailand next month when leaders of the two sects will meet and exchange views and opinions, seeking cooperation and overcoming differences, with an aim to bringing about prosperity and security for Buddhism. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside over the opening ceremony November 1 at Chumporn Khatudomsak Buiding Convention Hall, Royal Thai Navy headquarters. The summit will be hosted by Mahamakut Buddhist University.
The leaders of the two major sects of Buddhism (Theravada or Hinayana and Mahayana) are expected to use the summit as an arena to exchange views and opinions for a better understanding and strengthen
cooperation in propagating Buddhism for the sake of the happiness and peacefulness of mankind. Approximately 3,500 participants, Buddhist leaders and delegations from 23 countries, are expected to attend the summit: Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand and Vietnam. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Orang-utans go to Ratchaburi

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2005 at 11:42 AM
Fifty-five orang-utans that were seized from Safari World in Bangkok by officials last year due to charges of illegal smuggling are to be moved to Khao Prathap Chang wildlife breeding centre in Ratchaburi province. The National Park Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department removed the apes from Safari World last December. The zoo owner was later charged with illegally possessing the orang-utans after DNA tests confirmed that at least 12 of them were not the offspring of the zoo’#39;s breeding stock as claimed. The deputy director-general of the National Park Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department said the apes, mostly aged between three and seven years, would be transferred to the wildlife centre within the next two months when the construction of 10 custom-built cages has been completed. He added that the department would look after the apes until it holds discussions with Indonesia’#39;s Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (Cites) to determine whether the apes should be returned to Indonesia. (Source: The Nation)


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Flash floods in two provinces

Posted by hasekamp on 24 October 2005 at 11:39 AM
Flash floods sweeping down from the Tanao Sri Mountain range hit Prachuap Khiri Khan and Chumphon provinces yesterday. Prachuap Khiri Khan’#39;s Pong Prasart sub-district was submerged and traffic was halted on a 500-metre stretch of the road joining Bang Saphan and Bang Saphan Noi districts. Floodwater 40cm deep overflowing from Bang Saphan Canal inundated Wat Khao Bot and Wat Huay Sai.
In Chumphon, officials says as many as 10,000 residents have been affected and the province’#39;s Muang, Pathiu, Tha Sae and Sawi districts are under floodwater. They estimate that 300 roads, seven bridges, nine dikes and extensive farmlands have been damaged.
Heavy rain fell in the area yesterday for the third consecutive day, bringing the total fall in that time to 300 millimeters.
The Meteorological Department warned yesterday that a trough of low pressure from the Andaman Sea and the northeastern Monsoon would continue to bring heavy rain to the stricken provinces. (Source: The Nation)


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Thailand wants to help fighting the bird flu

Posted by hasekamp on 20 October 2005 at 17:34 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has vowed that Thailand is ready to help its neighbours contain the deadly bird flu. Speaking at his weekly press briefing at the Government House, the prime minister confirmed the death of Thailand's latest bird flu victim: Mr. Bang-orn Benpad, 48, a villager from Phanom Tuan district in Kanchanaburi Province, west of Bangkok, citing laboratory tests confirming the H5N1 virus diagnosis. Mr. Bang-orn was hospitalized Sunday shortly after cooking and eating his neighbor's sick chickens. He died after suffering from pneumonia-like symptoms, making him Thailand's 13th fatality from the deadly virus.
The prime minister expressed his confidence regarding Thailand's readiness and capacity to contain the disease, saying the country has not spared any effort in intensively combating the disease. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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The Buddhist Lent has ended

Posted by hasekamp on 20 October 2005 at 17:30 PM
Buddhists throughout Thailand yesterday cerebrated Ork Phansa Day – the end of the Buddhist Lent. The day began with the religious offering of food to monks, followed by a variety of activities. Instead of following tradition and offering rice and food to their monks, local people in the Khok Salung community of Lop Buri’#39;s Phattana Nikhom district followed their practice of more than a decade by offering colourful candy to the monks. In Tak’#39;s Mae Sot district, thousands of monks and nuns, as well as a crowd of beggars, crossed the Moei River from Burma on Tuesday, keen to participate in yesterday’#39;s ceremony in Mae Sot town. Down South, in Satun province, local residents organised a procession, in which respected Bhudda images were placed on boats and floated down a river, allowing local people to show their respect by throwing food and flowers from the river bank. (Source: The Nation)


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Will there be a Suvarnabhumi city?

Posted by hasekamp on 20 October 2005 at 17:27 PM
Since a few days the Thai newspapers are speculating on the building of a complete new city or even province around the new Bangkok airport. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) now has invited interested parties and people affected by the proposed creation of a new province, Nakhon Suvarnabhumi, to air their views at a public forum on the issue. The event will be held next Saturday at the auditorium of King Mongkut Institute of Technology. Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said Thursday that it might be hasty to carve part of Bangkok into a new city. "I see no justification for Nakhon Suvarnabhumi when the city administration has mapped out development plans and earmarked Bt38 billion for the area," he said.
A BMA spokesman said the government should conduct a public hearing before finalising the Nakhon Suvarnabhumi idea. "There is no country in the world that develops an urban centre right next to an airport," he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Retaliation promised

Posted by hasekamp on 18 October 2005 at 5:08 AM
The attack on a Buddhist temple and murder of a monk and two temple boys, two days ago in Pattani, has pushed the government's patience to the limit and there are scores to be settled with the insurgents, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday. The security forces had been too laid-back and would have to shape up. A review of tactics used against the insurgents was being finalised and a new phase of suppression would begin before the end of this month. The killings at Wat Phromprasit were more than anyone could bear. Until Sunday, Buddhist monasteries, being places of reverence, had been off limits to insurgent attacks. Buddhist monks had been murdered by militants before, mostly when they were collecting morning alms. Those killings had not been inside temples. Sunday's raid was obviously a calculated act to turn Buddhists against Muslims. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No flooding for Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 16 October 2005 at 5:53 AM
Day after day, for the past week, flooding has been predicted for Bangkok, and day after day it did - luckily - not come. The Hydrographic Department is now more cautious and forecasted that today's reinforcing seawater will not cause flooding in Bangkok. Despite the water level increasing to 20 centimeters higher than that recorded on October 9th, it would certainly not cause flooding in Bangkok, as northern water being released from dams only amounted to 1,000 cubic meters per second. Besides, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's water barrier was as high as 2.2 meters. Also, only slight raining is taking place during this period due to the approaching winter season. The head of the Oceanographic Division asked people in Bangkok not to panic over news concerned with flooding, as the Hydrographic Department has calculated from reinforcing seawater data and reports from the Meteorological Department and is confident that flooding will not occur. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Regional bird flu center

Posted by hasekamp on 16 October 2005 at 5:45 AM
Thailand could serve as a regional bird flu vaccine centre, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said in Finland yesterday. Mr. Thaksin said that rather than each country building its own stockpile, a network of drugs should be created. "Things will not happen worldwide at the same time," he told a news conference in Helsinki, where he was visiting his Finnish counterpart. "If we would form a networking of stock, and we can borrow each others' if things are happening some place, that might be a better way out instead of every country trying to have their own stockpile," he added. Experts say the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed 65 people in four Asian countries since 2003, is mutating steadily and they fear it will eventually acquire the changes it needs to spread among humans. Mr Thaksin said while it was still only an assumption that the virus would mutate in this way, and there was no evidence that this would happen, Thailand was currently studying ways to produce drugs to combat the disease. "With the help of the countries that have advanced in this knowledge we can set up the network of stockpiles. So Thailand is ready to have our stockpile for that region," he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Swearing to be honest

Posted by hasekamp on 14 October 2005 at 17:19 PM
To mark Police Day yesterday, about 3,000 immigration police officers took an oath against corruption, while police chief Kowit Wattana called on his subordinates to work in strict compliance with the law, refrain from corruption and symbolise public safety, not fear. On July 13, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, at a seminar of police officers from all over the country, lashed out at the Immigration Bureau for indulging in corruption and for demanding kickbacks from people travelling in and out of the country. Mr Thaksin declared Oct 13 the start of new efforts to clean up the police force.
About 1,000 of the police officers lined up and took the oath in front of Luang Phor Khao Muang, the bureau's revered Buddha image, at the headquarters and the rest did the same at their units in the provinces. (Source: The Bangkok Post)



Pol Lt-Gen Suwat then urged his subordinates to adjust their attitudes and adhere to the principles of transparency, speed and virtue. He said the Immigration Police Bureau, which must play a leading role in the economy, security affairs and international relations, had often been criticised for lack of transparency and efficiency.

Meanwhile, Amorn Vanichvivat, a lecturer of Chulalongkorn University's faculty of political science and director of the Thai judicial procedure study and development centre, said the police still failed to live up to expectations.

Their reputation remained poor even after the force was restructured this year. He called for an improvement in police work, especially investigations, and pay rises for non-commissioned officers.

''Now we see police with close ties to their bosses, cabinet members and the prime minister being promoted fast while those working hard are held back.

''These things have degraded police work and professional ethics,'' he said.


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Stem cell therapy in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 13 October 2005 at 17:56 PM
More stem cells will be made available to state and private hospitals to meet the rising demand for use of the new medical technology to treat patients. Chief of the Medical Sciences Department Paijit Warachit said yesterday that stem cells developed by Mahidol University and the National Research Council of Thailand will be channelled via the department to hospitals where they are needed. "We have already prepared a laboratory to generate more stem cells with a budget of over 40 million baht," said Dr Paijit. The focus will be on limbal stem cells and those used to cure heart disease before expanding the development to heal over 70 diseases in the future, he added. The pledge was made as part of a memorandum of understanding signed yesterday to boost cooperation on research and development in stem cell technology. So, contrary to many other countries, Thailand will be among the first countries to actively apply stem cell technology. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand wants to help Europe with bird flu

Posted by hasekamp on 13 October 2005 at 17:52 PM
One would expect it to be the other way around, but Thailand has offered its assistance to the European Union in controlling bird flu, which is creeping closer to the EU's borders. "Thailand has great expertise in this area," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told a joint news briefing with visiting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, thanking him for his country's offer of help. The deadly H5N1 strain has killed over 60 people in Asia since late 2003. The highly contagious disease has been found in Turkey and may also be present in Romania. Both countries have already culled thousands of birds to prevent the virus from spreading. Mr Thaksin's offer came as livestock officials began a campaign to prevent an outbreak of the virus, which had been found in Kamphaeng Phet and Nakhon Pathom provinces. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Two elephants seriously injured

Posted by hasekamp on 12 October 2005 at 5:58 AM
Two young female elephants, aged six and two years, were admitted to Lampang Elephant Hospital yesterday morning, a week after triggering a landmine in Burma. The explosion on October 5 mutilated six year-old Mojay's right hind leg and Motoo's left front leg. At the time they were following their mother to haul logs in the Burmese forest. The source does not mention if the logging was illegal, but we guess it was. The mother was not injured. For five days the elephants' owner, Pasupo Wiangbunlue of Tak, coaxed the maimed animals back through the deep jungle and across the Moei river into Thailand. Mojay's condition was improving, but two-year-old Motoo's injuries were worrying. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Mangpong wants measures against piracy

Posted by hasekamp on 11 October 2005 at 5:39 AM
Mangpong Plc, a the leading movie retailer in Thailand, has called on the government to enforce tougher anti-piracy measures, saying its revenue from movies on discs could decline by up to half this year. Fake DVDs and VCDs of both Thai and foreign movies have been proliferating, according to the company. They said pirated VCDs of the hit action movie were released just days after the movie made its big-screen debut and sold briskly despite their shoddy quality. Piracy could halve the company's earnings of 300 million baht from the sale of DVDs and VCDs and affect its total estimated revenue of 2.2 billion baht this year. "We have to cut wholesale prices to 40-50 baht per unit, from 70-80 baht to keep our business," the company told officials at the Intellectual Property Department yesterday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New Zealander charged for boy sex

Posted by hasekamp on 10 October 2005 at 5:22 AM
A New Zealander was yesterday arrested and charged with sexually exploiting underage children after police raided his apartment in Bang Kapi. Officers from the Youth and Women Protection Division arrested Ryan William James, 48, manager of James Communication Co, after they found him in the company of six boys aged 13-14 . They also seized hundreds of Videos, four Video players, a dildo, three bottles of Vaseline gel and pornographic VCDs of a middle-aged man having a sex with a Western boy. (Source: The Nation)


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Ceelphone accidents

Posted by hasekamp on 10 October 2005 at 5:19 AM
A third of motorcyclists injured in road accidents admit to using mobile phones when riding their bikes, Public Health Minister Suchai Charoenratanakul said. About 600,000 motorcyclists were admitted to hospital last year, or more than 1,600 a day. Half had not been wearing a crash helmet. Motorcyclists made up the biggest number of road fatalities, averaging one death per hour among adults and 1.5 deaths per hour among children under 15. New forms of risky behaviour, including talking on a mobile phone while riding a motorcycle, were blamed for many of the accidents. Other accident causes included speeding and riding on the wrong side of the road, he said.
We wonder if the same goes (in Thailand) for car accidents. Experience in other countries tells that cellphones are also one of the main causes of car accidents. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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H5N1 virus similar to Spanish flue

Posted by hasekamp on 8 October 2005 at 5:38 AM
American scientists have discovered that the H5N1 strain of bird flu virus shares some genetic similarities with the virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which killed about 50 million people across the world. The discovery has raised growing concerns about the possibility that the H5N1 strain of avian flu may transmit between humans and cause a global pandemic. The scientists compared strains of the 1918 virus with those of the current H5N1 virus and detected that the H5N1 virus has begun to undergo genetic changes in the same way the 1918 virus did, according to a news report of Vietnam News Agency (VNA). They also discovered that the haemagglutinin (HA) protein, found in both the current H5N1 virus and the 1918 virus, is a dangerous protein that enables the viruses to infiltrate into in cells where they develop. The scientists hope that the discovery will help them define the pathogens of the disease and enable them to develop antiviral drugs and vaccines. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin fails tro win confidence

Posted by hasekamp on 8 October 2005 at 5:35 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’#39;s normally personal touch with the people proved ineffectual on his two-day tour of the South, where ethnic Malay Muslims mostly rejected his overtures and shunned his neighbourly "let’#39;s-make-a-deal" approach. His door-to-door visits to the homes of suspected insurgents were met with guardedness and glares of suspicion. He tried but failed to create chit-chat with the wives and children of individuals accused by the authorities of being behind the spate of violence in the region. While his personal touch may have worked with locals in other regions, the deep South is an entirely different cup of tea. Divided by historical resentment, a high degree of suspicion and cultural characteristics that locals say have been either largely ignored or taken for granted by the country’#39;s majority, Thaksin found himself in a number of awkward situations. (Source: The Nation)


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Psycological warfare

Posted by hasekamp on 7 October 2005 at 14:20 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra indicated that he would apply psychological warfare in the three southern border provinces. He said this strategy is designed to win over the hearts and minds of the Muslim populace. Mr. Thaksin said about the tensed situation in the Deep South has caused uneasiness among the people, and because of mistrust people tend to turn away from strangers without giving one another opportunities to differentiate the good and the evil. The premier said he will do all he can to quickly implement psychological warfare into the region. He will exert and enforce stricter rules in regulating and controlling the violence. He added that in numerous other terrorist attacks in the past, it appeared the security forces in the South were caught off-guard. Time and again, security officials in these southern border provinces tend to play down the on-again-off-again campaign of terror, including bombing attacks on civilians, the burning of schools and extortion. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thaksin in the South once more

Posted by hasekamp on 6 October 2005 at 13:53 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is re-visiting Thailand's restive South, vowing to stay overnight in the country's 'most dangerous place'. The prime minister arrived in the country's southern border province of Pattani Thursday afternoon. "I'm going to spend a night at the place they call 'the most dangerous area,'" Mr. Thaksin said, "and I will keep trying to do so as often as possible." Mr. Thaksin expressed confidence that the newly-appointed military commanders who assumed command at their new posts October 1 after an annual reshuffle would co-ordinate efficiently in battling insurgency. More aggressive tactics would be adopted if needed, he said. "I believe they are now at the first stage of working together. Nearly all the commanders have changed their posts. I will look into the situation closely. I know all the problems." the prime minister said. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New War on Drugs in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 6 October 2005 at 13:46 PM
The fourth battle in the so-called "war on drugs" would centre on a more comprehensive policy, involving practical and tactical collaboration among various agencies, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said. While rooting out drugs is now considered impossible by Mr. Thaksin, the problem could be controlled, he said. "The drug problem regenerates itself when you least expect it," he said. The government came internationally under fire during its previous campaigns, which resulted in extra-judicial killings by police of up to 2,500 suspects. The campaign was slammed for bypassing the justice system. Mr Thaksin insisted the pace of the campaign be maintained to contain the spread of drugs. He said the inability of "a neighbouring country" to achieve national reconciliation had perpetuated drugs production there, and those drugs were being smuggled into Thailand. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Vegetarian Festival has begun

Posted by hasekamp on 5 October 2005 at 15:35 PM
Phuket’#39;s Vegetarian Festival has begun with the raising of bamboo go teng poles at each participating temple. Gods are then invited down the poles to join in the celebrations. Shrines around the island performed the same ceremony at exactly 5:09 pm Sunday. Minister of Energy Viset Jupibal chaired the opening ceremony at Phuket City’#39;s Jui Tui Shrine, with more than 1,000 white-clad devotees in attendance. Before raising the go teng poles, devotees affixed gold leaf to them. At midnight nine lanterns were hung from the poles to signal the festival’#39;s opening. Ceremonies throughout the October 3-11 festival include the invocation of the gods Lam Tao (god of the living) and Pal Tao (god of the dead). There are planned processions with the gods’#39; images, with mediums bathing in hot oil, climbing sword ladders and walking on glowing coals. The festival ends with merit-making ceremonies at each temple and farewell ceremony for the gods on the last night when the displays of fireworks are at their most impressive. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Resorts under extra security

Posted by hasekamp on 4 October 2005 at 13:01 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday he had put Thailand’#39;s major tourist destinations on full alert following the suicide bombings on the tourist island of Bali that killed 22 people and injured over a hundred. Thaksin said the number of plainclothes police and security officials has been beefed up in major tourist areas, including Phuket, Pattaya and Phang Nga. "We are on full alert," Thaksin said. "We have some information that has caused us to be very cautious." The alert came after suicide bombs on the Indonesian resort island of Bali last Saturday killed 22 people. Thaksin said the terrorists have close links across the borders due to relatives and friends in the areas. While the PM insisted that everything was under control in the tourist spots, authorities have documented almost 1,900 attacks in the three southernmost provinces since the violence erupted 21 months ago. (Source: The Nation)


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King sends condolences

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2005 at 16:45 PM
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has sent a message of condolence and sympathy to Indonesian President Susilo Barnbang Yudhoyono, expressing profound regret over Saturday's Bali bombings. "I feel a deep sorrow in hearing of the bomb explosions in Bali last Saturday, which caused a number of casualties," the Thai monarch said, stating his "profound regret" to President Susilo and the families of the dead. His Majesty the King's message was sent to Jakarta on Monday. The Thai monarch warmly blessed those who were injured, saying he wished them to fully recover soon.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra also sent a message to the Indonesian president, extending his sincere condolence and sympathy to the victims and families of Saturday's blasts on behalf of the Thai government and people and joining the world community in condemning the attacks. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Dams for Chiang Mai

Posted by hasekamp on 3 October 2005 at 16:41 PM
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will consider the plan to construct small-sized dams at the upper part of Chiang Mai Province. The Prime Minister commented about the flood situation in the northern provinces, saying that the levels of floodwater have subsided. He expected that the situation will return to normal by tomorrow (October 4th). He also said there will be plans to deal with flood problems in the long-run, particularly in Chiang Mai as the province plays an important role in the Thai economic sector. The government will consider constructing two 50-60 million cubic meters dams to prevent flood situations in the future. The height of the flood prevention barrier will also be considered, as it can obstruct the scenery of the area. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Supreme Patriarch is 92

Posted by hasekamp on 2 October 2005 at 6:24 AM
His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch gives audience at Wat Bowonnivet despite his 92 years of age. His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch yesterday granted his first public audience in more than a year as part of a three-day ceremony marking his 92nd birthday. More than 300 people attended the ceremony at the Mahamakut Buddhist University in the compound of Wat Bowonnivet Vihara. Among those honouring His Holiness were the bench of Constitutional Court judges, the commander and representatives of the Royal Thai Navy and representatives of Somdej Phra Buddhajahn, the abbot of Wat Saket, who heads a patriarchal caretaker team. His Holiness Somdej Phra Nyanasangvara was in a wheelchair and, although he coughed periodically, the legitimate spiritual leader of the nation's Buddhists looked healthy for his age. After having his picture taken with monks of Wat Bowonnivet Vihara, His Holiness accepted a blessing for his birthday. Three books have been published and will be freely distributed to the public to celebrate the Supreme Patriarch's birthday. The first is a Dharma book written by His Holiness and published by the Office of National Buddhism. There are 100,000 copies of this book. The second is a biography of the Supreme Patriarch published by Suchao Ploichum, an academic at Kasetsart University, and the third is a general Dharma story published by several foundations. Members of the birthday audiences will also receive a portrait of His Holiness and an amulet. (Source: The Nation)


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Another Thaksin war: against corrupt police

Posted by hasekamp on 2 October 2005 at 6:18 AM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged police yesterday to go out and fight society's enemies, vice and corrupt policemen, and set Oct 13, Thai Police Day, for the "declaration of war". "On Oct 13, police will declare their resolve to relieve people's suffering and vow to no longer be a burden on society. We'll eliminate the rotten apples among us so they can no longer cause trouble," he said. The police force needs to improve its public image in order to regain the public's trust, he said, adding that the government would provide support in terms of equipment, budget and improved welfare. Approval ratings on police performances would be regularly checked from now on, he said, adding that the government might ask pollsters to survey public opinion on the performance of the police force every three to six months. "Police need to examine themselves very carefully ... if they want to win back the confidence and trust of the public," he said.
Mr. Thaksin said officers who did their jobs properly but were still treated unfairly by their superiors when it came to promotions could turn to him for help. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flood warnings to improve

Posted by hasekamp on 1 October 2005 at 10:15 AM
Inaccurate predictions of rainfall and mudslides are the chief culprits for the current severe flooding in the North, according to Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, adding that he plans to inspect the rain-soaked region if the situation remains critical. Mr. Thaksin said on Friday that he had been monitoring the flooding situation in the North closely, and that he had also ordered provincial governors in the region to fully assist flood victims.
He said that he would ask concerned officials to solve the problem on a long-term basis, and that he had instructed the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to coordinate with the Meteorological Department on an early warning system so that the local population could be informed in advance before any natural disaster. He mentioned that inadequate predictions of the anount of rainfall coupled with the small capacity of available reservoirs had caused severe flooding in Chiang Mai, his northern hometown. He said the North had been hit by several flood problems and if the situation remains critical he would travel to the region on Sunday. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin: New airport opens June 2006

Posted by hasekamp on 1 October 2005 at 10:11 AM
The prime minister has insisted he would ensure the completion of Suvarnabhumi Airport within June next year, as it would be the month when His Majesty the King reaches his 60th year on the Throne. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the September 29th airport test was a declaration to the world of the readiness of Suvarnabhumi Airport. He said it was a pride of the Thai people, as the airport was only 27 kilometers from the city center and equipped with modern technologies. The airport also possessed the largest passenger terminal and the tallest flight control tower. Prime Minister Thaksin also thanked all parties in helping to contribute to the work, as everyone is a part of history. The prime minister stated that he will try to watch over the construction of the airport to allow its completion by June 2006. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Overview storm Damrey

Posted by hasekamp on 1 October 2005 at 10:05 AM
Tropical storm Damrey left six districts in Lampang under water and caused chaos in many areas as people tried frantically to evacuate the city amid traffic jams. The situation could turn critical as more water is expected to enter the area, spilling over from the Kiew Lom Dam.
Chiang Mai's situation was more stable, with the level of the Ping River holding steady. But the city was reeling from inbound traffic congestion. Flooding was so serious in some areas that a maternity hospital was forced to turn away expectant mothers. Meanwhile the southwesterly moonsoon continued to slam eastern provinces. Among the hardest hit were Kalasin, Loei and Nakhon Ratchasima.
In the town of Lampang, which was badly struck by the storm, more than 1,000 families in the inner city faced rising flood waters of the Wang River that submerged many homes.
Chiang Mai's worst-flooded districts were Chiang Dao, Mae Taeng and Muang. Chiang Dao's townspeople were again faced with serious flooding as more water from surrounding mountains flowed into local streams. Mae Hong Son's Highway No 1095 was cut by a flash-flood. The waters caused landslides which blocked the roads, which were still impassable late last night. (Source: The Nation)


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