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Thaksin gives big party

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2006 at 13:10 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will throw a free feast for 30,000 people in his hometown on Sunday when he pays homage to his late mother and ancestors, said a district official. Surachai Chongrak, chief of San Kamphaeng, said the feast is a special treat for people expected to take part in a Sunday merit-making ceremony at Wat Rongthamsamakkhi. About 160 monks have been invited to perform the religious ceremony. Mr Thaksin will also make offerings to the local temple. Mr Surachai said he has enlisted help from women in San Kamphaeng and neighbouring districts to cook the food. He said the menu will include a variety of local favourites including namprik noom, khaeb moo, kaeng hungle and khanom jeen nam ngiew. "The prime minister wants to meet the people. He also wants to eat with them," he said. Mr Thaksin, whose family just netted 73 billion baht from the sale of a stake in Shin Corp, will foot the bill. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Monkey terror in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2006 at 13:07 PM
According to the Phuket Gazette two monkeys are terrorizing tourists, stealing food from diners in a hillside restaurant Ė and even biting people. News of the primate pests was reported to the Kusoldharm Foundation volunteer rescue service by staff at the Tunk-ka Cafe on January 26, months after the monkeys first appeared. Sukontip Kitsubun, who has a concession to run a small retail shop in the park there, told the Gazette that there are two groups of monkeys living atop Rang Hill. The first is a colony of about 10 monkeys that has lived there for a long time without creating any bother. About three months ago, however, trouble arrived in the form of three pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina), easily recognizable by their bright red bottoms. Not long after their arrival, the macaques began biting and scratching tourists, especially those who tried to feed them. Last month, one of the three macaques Ė the only male Ė died in the most unexpected fashion for a monkey: he fell from a tree. It is a mystery how the macaques had found their way into the municipal park. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Criminal law against improper websites

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2006 at 14:29 PM
Thailand's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry plans to use criminal law as a tool to fight against improper websites, whatever that may be exactly in the mind of the ICT Ministry. Pornographic webpages are enemy number one, ICT Minister Sora-at Klinpratoom said on Monday. The minister said that his Ministry would cooperate with the Minister Attached to the Prime Minister's Office Newin Chidchob, to crack down on electronic media containing pornography and other unlawful activities. Mr. Newin was assigned by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinwatra to oversee the vice websites particularly indecent webpages. The ministry earlier asked internet service providers (ISPs) to cooperate with the campaign and help block unsuitable websites, Mr. Sora-at said, but the problem continues. So, if you have a website that you think may be called "imporper", and you plan to visit Thailand, you have been warned! (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Britain avoids Surat Thani

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2006 at 14:21 PM
The brutal rape and murder of 21-year-old Welsh student Katherine Horton on Koh Samui has caused a 30 per cent drop in the number of British tourists visiting Surat Thani province this year, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The TATís southern office director said even though the crime was solved quickly and two fishermen convicted and sentenced to death, it was obvious the incident had affected tourism. The case was heavily reported in the United Kingdom, and that has frightened tourists, with more than 30 per cent cancelling their trips to Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan during the high season. "This will affect overall tourism for the year as normally 150,000 British tourists visit Thailand a year. A tourist stays on average one week and spends Bt4,000-Bt5,000 a day," TAT said. (Source: The Nation)


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Bangkok Post in criminal proceedings

Posted by hasekamp on 27 January 2006 at 14:33 PM
The Criminal Court yesterday accepted a libel case against the Bangkok Post over its report about severe cracks on a Suvarnabhumi airport runway. The court has scheduled March 13 for the first hearings. The lawsuit filed jointly by the Airports of Thailand (AoT) and the New Bangkok International Airport Co (NBIA) names Post Publishing Plc as the first defendant and Bangkok Post editor Kowit Sanandang as the second defendant. In its report on August 9 last year, the newspaper quoted an anonymous source as saying a team of US aviation experts hired by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to inspect Suvarnabhumi airport had found serious cracks on the runway. The Bangkok Post retracted the story the next day and apologised. But the two state agencies in charge of airport construction filed the libel suit and demanded one billion baht in damages. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Auction of illegal logs

Posted by hasekamp on 27 January 2006 at 14:30 PM
The state auction of more than 10,000 illegal logs yesterday drew many bidders, including monks, from across the country as worries about deforestation grew, officials said yesterday. A warehouse was transformed into an auction house where 13,657 logs and 29,171 planks of processed wood went under the hammer. "We need them to build a chapel and monks' living quarters," said the abbot of a Chon Buri temple. Tak's forestry conservation office director Sanae Thipburi expected the logs to fetch more than 100 million baht in the bidding although their pre-auction price was estimated at 48 million baht. All the logs, including the prized teak, were seized from forest encroachers, who fell trees illegally in conservation areas, especially in the country's northern forests.
We, at Hasekamp Net, repeat here that we find it - with Thai environmentalists - fundamentally wrong to sell illegal goods. Like seized drugs they should be destroyed. Selling them given the impression that now that they have been seized, they can be considered as legel. The Thai government is now going illegal, in our opinion. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Poultry slaughterhouses to be cleaned

Posted by hasekamp on 24 January 2006 at 12:28 PM
The bird flue epidemic has its positive sides: Thousands of substandard poultry slaughterhouses will be forced to comply with a new food safety regulation introduced to ensure hygiene and disease control amid persistent bird flu scares. The regulation, approved by the cabinet and to take effect within a month, primarily targets small-scale slaughterhouses after a survey found up to 90% of a total of 2,700 did not meet health standards in prevention of avian flu. The slaughterhouse operators are allowed a six-month grace period to complete improvements to facilities. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Buffaloes vaccinated

Posted by hasekamp on 24 January 2006 at 12:25 PM
About 2,000 buffaloes in Thai Muang district have been vaccinated against haemorrhagic septicemia, also know as swollen-neck disease, which has killed at least 80 buffaloes in the district. "The current outbreak is the most severe since the last one five years ago when over a thousand buffaloes were killed in Narathiwat province," said the chief of the Livestock Development Department's disease control division. From Jan 15 to 22 over 80 buffaloes in tambon Na Toey have died from haemorrhagic septicemia, a bacterial disease that causes the animals' necks to swell, high fever and diarrhoea in cattle. Buffaloes often catch the disease when highly stressed or facing an extreme change in the weather. It cannot be transmitted to humans, but people should not touch sick or dead animals as the bacteria that causes the disease could be carried to other places on their clothing. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksinís family sells Shin Corp

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2006 at 13:16 PM
The Shinawatra and Damapong families have sold their combined stake of 49.59 per cent in Shin Corp Plc, at the price of Bt49.25 per share, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the Stock Exchange of Thailand announced. The SET (Stock Exchange of Thailand) announced the sale after being notified by Shin Corp. The sale was the biggest takeover in Thailandís history. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra Monday explained the sale of his familyís controlling stake in telecommunications giant Shin Corp, saying his children wanted him to pursue political career without worry for conflicts of interest. Mr. Thaksin said his children reached the decision on their own accord so that he would not be haunted by allegations stemmed from his familyís business interests, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Systematic poaching of endangered gaur

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2006 at 13:11 PM
Influential people, villagers and illegal wildlife trade operators are collaborating in the poaching of wild animals, including the endangered gaur, says the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department chief. They were obviously working together to kill animals in Kui Buri National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, said Damrong Pidet, the department's director-general. "Poachers need to use heavy firearms to kill these animals, which means they must be influential enough to afford such weapons," he said. Inquiries found these influential people hired villagers as hunting guides. Members of the hunting party would share the animals' flesh, which would be sold to restaurants. The gaur's horns would be sent to clients.
Gaur, also known as krating, are native wild oxes. They stand 1.7-2.2 m tall and weigh 700-1000kg. Mr Damrong said he had ordered increased forest patrols after getting a report that three gaur were killed and their heads taken as trophies last year. The patrols would stand by at salt licks, where wild animals gather. A wildlife protection group called on the department to work more closely with local villagers, who know the poachers but refuse to name them or give any information for fear of dark influence. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Action against Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 21 January 2006 at 12:09 PM
Thai media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul is acting against Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra for some time now. He yesterday said he was willing to sacrifice his life to lead a "peopleís power" uprising to oust Thaksin on February 4 at Sanam Luang. As tensions rose in Sondhiís ongoing tirade pitting his anti-Thaksin followers against government supporters, the tycoon said: "It will be my first and my last action. I will give my life to the struggle". Sondhi called on the people to declare Thailand free of Thaksin by joining the demonstration in Sanam Luang and making it the longest procession. Yesterday between 2,000 and 3,000 people arrived at the park early in the evening before Sondhi spoke. They tried to disrupt the show by loudly cheering and singing military fashion. Sondhiís team called on his supporters to keep calm and not be goaded by Thaksin supporters. As the challengers sang louder, 200 riot police walked to circle them. Sondhi and Sarocha Pornudomsak apologised for the delay and accused Thaksin supporters of disrupting the event. It is not yet clear what will happen next. (Source: The Nation)


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Royal barges procession this year

Posted by hasekamp on 19 January 2006 at 15:47 PM
Royal Barge preparation Workers of The Royal Thai Navy are already carrying out maintenance for the Royal Barges at the navyís headquarters, to prepare for a special procession on the occasion of His Majesty the Kingís 60 Years on the Throne. The Navy has announced that 2,082 oarsmen will row 52 barges in the procession on June 12. Try to attend this unique sight. We can assure you that it is worth changing your holiday plans! (Source: The Nation)


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THAI building in flames

Posted by hasekamp on 19 January 2006 at 15:40 PM
Thai Airways International's catering plant under construction at Suvarnabhumi airport caught fire while about 200-300 people were working there last night. One died in the blaze and three were injured. THAI's vice-president supervising the airline's investments at Suvarnabhumi airport, could not confirm whether the fire would delay the opening schedule of the airport tentatively set for June. Three workers were seriously injured after jumping from an upper floor to escape the flames. The fatality was Jessada Chanram, an air-conditioning mechanic. Twenty-fire engines were deployed to control the fire. The 3.9-billion-baht catering plant is three kilometres from the airport terminal. Deputy Transport Minister Chainant Charoensiri said the fire started as welding sparks set fire to insulating material. The blaze took a little over an hour to put out. Damage to the building would be examined today. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Judge wanted to give fishermen life in prison

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2006 at 15:04 PM
The judge presiding over the trial of two Thai fishermen charged with raping and murdering a 21-year-old Welsh tourist said - before the trial - that he would consider her mother's appeal to spare the lives of the accused. "The court listens to all opinions, but the court will sentence the suspects based on the witnesses and the evidence. The court also has to consider the appropriateness of the sentence," Pongsak Tragulsilpa, chief justice of the Surat Thani provincial court, told reporters. "The victim's mother has one opinion, but different people have other opinions. I understand Katherine's mother's feelings. The court carries out this case swiftly and promptly because it is under public scrutiny, but the court's power is independent. The panel of judges will make their decision, and no one can interfere," he said. After suspects are sentenced to execution or it they were convicted to life in prison, Thai law requires an automatic appeal within 30 days. The appeals court in Bangkok could then take several months to consider the case.
As we just reported, the fishermen were sentenced to death. So now we have to wait for the sentence under appeal. (Source: AFP, through Yahoo! news)


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Horton murderes get death sentence

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2006 at 14:54 PM
The two Thai fishermen who confessed to have raped and murdered British backpacker Katherine Horton were sentenced to death a few hours ago today for the rape and murder. As we reoprted etralier, Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra publicly demand the maximum penalty, because the crime was harmful for Thailands international image.
Bualoi Posit, 23, and Wichai Somkhaoyai, 24, pleaded guilty to the New Year's Day slaying of Katherine Horton, a 21-year-old student from Wales. She was attacked while walking on a beach at an island resort and talking to her mother on her cell phone. Her mother told police she heard her daughter scream before the line went dead. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had made an unusual public appeal for the killers to receive the "hardest punishment" possible, saying the slaying had hurt the country's image and could damage its tourist industry. Thai courts usually reduce death sentences to life in prison or less in cases where defendants plead guilty. (Source: Associated Press, through Yahoo! news)


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Chiang Mai pandas have mated

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2006 at 14:43 PM
After arriving from China more than two years ago, giant pandas Xuang Xuang and Lin Hui yesterday delighted Chiang Mai Zoo officials and hordes of visitors who witnessed their first mating. On Sunday, staff noticed the zoo's most famous residents had begun to engage in mock wrestling bouts. Later examinations by veterinarians confirmed they were ready to mate. The Zoo director said a special observation team was set up immediately. "We mobilised both veterinarians and experts to keep a round-the-clock vigil, and about 2pm today (Tuesday) we saw Xuang Xuang and Lin Hui mate for the first time." The zoo director said the mating ritual was expected to continue for the next two or three days after which the two pandas will be under close observation for signs of reproductive success. The zoo director said a pregnant giant panda usually has a gestation period of about four or five months. Mating takes place only once a year. (Source: The Bangkok Post, with a picture there)


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Poverty eradication starts

Posted by hasekamp on 16 January 2006 at 18:05 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra left Bangkok Monday afternoon to the country's northeastern province of Roi Et for the start of his poverty eradication mission. He visited local villagers and explained government eradication plans himself. Atchsamart has been selected as a model for the government's poverty eradication drive nationwide due to its progress in attempts to solve the problem. Mr. Thaksin's field trip to Atchsamart is scheduled for January 16-20 when he will conduct a fact finding mission in many villages by meeting and exchanging views with both local authorities and villagers. The government's poverty eradication blueprint worked out in Atchsamart will be then applied to other poverty-stricken areas throughout the country. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Mother asks not to execute killers

Posted by hasekamp on 15 January 2006 at 22:30 PM
The mother of Katherine Horton, the British student raped and murdered in Thailand on January 1, has said she does not want her daughter's killers to be executed. Elizabeth Horton said she believes Bualoi Posit, 23, and Wichai SomKhaoyai, 24, should instead spend the rest of their lives in prison for their attack on 21-year-old Miss Horton. Mrs Horton, of Thornhill, Cardiff, said: "I've never believed in the death penalty, but I believe life means life. A life sentence would be appropriate. I don't agree with taking anyone's life and Katherine wouldn't believe in that either. I don't think that serves any purpose. If they are behind bars until they die it will stop it happening to anyone else."
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has called for the killers to be executed to restore the country's reputation. We made a remark then that a judge should be able to give his judgement independently. Sadly also the mother of the victim has now sentenced the killers before they have been judged in court. She, however, cannot be considered to have a legal and political background, like the Thai PM has. Her opinion therefore is understandable. (Source: The Telegraph, London)


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Thailand for computer animation

Posted by hasekamp on 12 January 2006 at 12:55 PM
Thailand can become world famous for its computer animation industry, just like Brazil is famous for football, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Thursday. Presiding at the opening ceremony Thursday of Thailand Animation and Multimedia 2006, which will be held at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre until Sunday, Thaksin announced his intention to promote Thailand as Asean's hub for computer animation. Eventually, he said, Thailand could host the leading animation companies in Asia. Thaksin said that the event's hosts, the Information and Communication Technology Ministry and Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), have already been promoting animation in Thailand for three years, with great potential for the future because of Thai skills, imagination and aesthetic sensibilities. (Source: The Nation)


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Monorail in Phuket?

Posted by hasekamp on 12 January 2006 at 12:51 PM
A consultant to the Phuket Provincial Government said today that his company estimates that a proposed monorail light rail transit (LRT) system linking Phuket International Airport and Phuket City would cost 20 billion baht. He explained that an feasibility study into the LRT proposal began in October last year and will continue until May this year. In its first report to Governor Udomsak Uswarangura PDI proposed an LRT system that would consist of a loop through the Patong area to the City and then through Thalang back to the airport. However, that route would be extremely difficult to develop because it would require the purchase of large amounts of private land, and would need a huge amount of pwer to get the train across mountain areas. It was therefore recommended that the LRT route run only between the airport and Phuket City. It has been estimated that building the LRT would cost 1 billion baht per kilometer for sloping areas of land and and 500 million baht per kilometer for flat land. A one-way LRT ticket price would probably be 100 baht or more. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Thaksin: Kill them!

Posted by hasekamp on 11 January 2006 at 15:32 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday called for the execution of two fishermen if they are convicted of the rape and murder of a British tourist on Koh Samui. "They must be sentenced to the harshest possible punishment," Mr Thaksin told reporters in the northeastern town of Loei where he was travelling. "They have caused serious damage to our country's reputation. By giving them the maximum sentence, it will give remedy to the relatives and the British government and show that we are taking the case seriously," he said. The prime minister also warned police not to target anyone as scapegoats for the murder. Police prepared their case for prosecutors after the two men were charged Monday with the Jan 1 rape and murder of 21-year-old Katherine Horton.
We hope that Thai justice still is independent of the government, as it should be in a democratic society. We do not say that we think the rapers and killers should be treated softly, but we do think that an independent judge should sentence them, not the Prime Minister. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chiang Mai new transport system fails

Posted by hasekamp on 10 January 2006 at 13:16 PM
A new city mass transit system in Chiang Mai has failed miserably as only an average of 3,000 people are using the service daily, causing Chiang Mai Municipality a monthly loss of more than one million baht. Chiang Mai's mayor admitted yesterday that few people were using the services of the 26 city buses, offered by the municipality to relieve the growing traffic congestion and to replace the traditional red minibuses known as "song taew." The new service, launched in May, needs to earn more than 100,000 baht a day in order to stay in business, but it has earned only 50,000 baht a day. On top of that the municipality is also required to pay daily compensation to 100 song taew drivers, who feared the new city buses would draw passengers away from them. The buses have so far run on only two routes. The service will later be extended to cover nine routes. We wonder why a new system was considerd necessary anyway. The "song taew" system worked perfect. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Horton murder solved

Posted by hasekamp on 9 January 2006 at 13:32 PM
Police said DNA samples from two suspects matched with those extracted from semen found on the body of British backlpacker Katherine Horton and the two had confessed raping and killing her. The results of the DNA tests on Bualoy Phosit, 23, and Wichai Sonkhaoyai, 24, came out Monday and confirmed the confessions of the two. Police will forward the case to public prosecutors to charge the two in court as soon as possible. Bualoy from Ubol Ratchathani and Wichai from Nakhon Si Thammarat were assigned to watch over their fishing boat by the boat owner on New Year Day. The two drank and watched pornographic video and planned to rape someone. Preaophan said the two swam ashore using small oil tanks as buoys. Coming ashore, they spotted Horton talking on a phone all alone on the beach. One of them knocked her down using the wooden handle of an umbrella beach. They dragged her to behind a rock about 40 metres away from the spot they hit her. After raping her, the two beat Horton, who remained unconscious, several times until they thought she might be dead. The two then dragged her body about 20 meters into the sea and they swam back to their fishing boat, Preaphan said. The two could face the death penalty on charges of rape, premeditated murder, and hiding the body of the victim, police told the press conference. After the very unsatisfactory results on trying to solve the Kirsty Jones murder in 2000 (that was never solved), Thai police has lucklily shown to e able to do better now. (Source: The Nation)


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New Bangkok bus routes

Posted by hasekamp on 9 January 2006 at 13:25 PM
The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) will start revamping bus routes this month and use 4,000 new air-conditioned buses in a major exercise to provide Bangkok commuters with a more convenient and safer bus service. Routes will be shortened from 35-40 kilometres to 20 kilometres each to form a web that will consist of inner, central and outer loops as well as routes to link the loops, the network of expressways and other mass transit services. Nodes or bus terminals will be established to function as connecting points of the shortened routes to enable passengers to change buses at terminals without being repeatedly charged. Terminals for the inner loop will be developed at Mor Chit 2, Victory Monument, Sanam Luang, Wong Wian Yai and Klong Toey. Those for the central loop will be at Bang Khen, Happy Land, Bang Na, Keha Rama II, Bang Khae and Rama V, and those for the outer loop at Rangsit, Pakkret, Bang Buathong, Om Yai, Samut Sakhon, Paknam, Samrong, Suvarnabhumi and Min Buri. Passengers will be charged a flat fare of 10 baht once and can change buses at will for one-way trips. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Useful witnesses in Samui murder

Posted by hasekamp on 8 January 2006 at 13:19 PM
A couple who are possibly the last people to have seen the murdered Katherine Horton alive yesterday gave police "very useful" information, which the authorities believe will help lead them to the Welshwoman's killers. Britons Chris and Gill Burrows identified themselves to Samui police as the ones who had found the mobile phone believed to have belonged to Horton. Chris Burrows said that after finishing their holiday on the resort island they had flown back to Bangkok, where they read a newspaper report stating that police wanted to contact a middle-aged couple who had found a cell phone on Samui's Lamai beach on the night of the murder. After contacting Bangkok police, the couple immediately flew back to Samui to assist in the local investigation.
Burrows said he and his wife had seen a young woman coming along the beach and talking on a mobile phone some time after 8pm on New Yearís Day. They were walking in a southerly direction and passed the woman, believed to be the murdered Welshwoman, walking north. He added that it had been a very dark night with no moon. When they were walking along Lamai beach, about 200 meters from the Buddy pub, the woman suddenly emerged from the shadows. She was chatting on the phone and seemingly very happy. He said there had been other people on the beach, about 15 to 20 metres away from them. After passing her, the couple walked towards the New Hut Bungalows, which is where Horton was staying at the time of her death. Minutes later they turned back, this time walking along the waterís edge. This was when they found an object, which turned out to be a black LG mobile phone, said Burrows, adding that he could not be sure exactly where they had found it. Samui police took them to Lamai beach last night, but Burrows said it had been impossible to give the precise location as the time and sea level had both been different from when they were there on January 1. (Source: The Nation)


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Four suspects in backpacker murder case

Posted by hasekamp on 6 January 2006 at 13:16 PM
Police last night detained four men for questioning after taking DNA samples from them as part of their investigation into the murder of Welsh university student Katherine Horton on this popular resort island. The four are employees of a resort close to the bungalow where Katherine Horton, 21, was staying. Witnesses saw the men dining at a food stall nearby on the night of the murder, police said. No charges had been filed so far against the four as of last night.
Police yesterday questioned the four for several hours after taking them into custody. Investigators took tissue samples from the men for DNA analysis after questioning them yesterday and escorting them to Samui Hospital for medical checks last night. They were later brought back to Samui police station for further questioning. (Source: The Nation)


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Seized timber to be sold

Posted by hasekamp on 6 January 2006 at 13:12 PM
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry yesterday called for bids for more than 2,000 high-grade logs seized from poachers, a move opposed by conservationists who fear it might encourage massive illegal logging. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Yongyuth Tiyapairat said the ministry was expected to earn about 130-200 million baht from the auction, which would be held on Jan 25 at the offices of forest conservation and development in 18 provinces. The money would be spent on restoration of degraded forest, he said.
We strongly agree with the opposing conservationists: If the Thai government start to deal in illiegal wood, the end is far. Confiscated drugs are always (proudly) burnt in Thailand. If the government finds the expected revenues important, it should sell its confiscated drugs as well, but it does not do so, for obvious reasons: Drugs are illegal. But illegally obtained logs are illegal as well, and exactly as illegal. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Father of Katherine Horton makes a statement

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2006 at 17:32 PM
The father of Katherine Horton, who was murdered on Koh Samui, has made the statement, which was released by the British Embassy in Bangkok as following:
"Katherine came to Thailand to dance on a beach; to ride an elephant; to have a vacation before her finals at university. She was full of confidence and felt immune to the dangers of this world, as we have all felt when we were young adults. Tragically her faith in her fellow man let her down and she has been taken from us forever. My words cannot express how I feel. Only a parent who has lost a child can know. All I wish is to return Katherine to her home with dignity and privacy, for which I beg the indulgence of the press. On a personal note I urge those who did this to come forward. The perpetrator is too cowardly to offer themselves to justice in Thailand. But there is a person here that knows. A person that can assist the Police. Someone that can maybe save another life. I urge that person to come forward to speak out. Katherine was my little girl. Please help her father. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following for their assistance and their sincere condolences in chronological order ..." (follows a long list of people who were involved in trying to help solving the murder and in assisting the parents so far). (Source: The Nation)


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Another British backpacker murdered

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2006 at 17:26 PM
Killing of another British backpacker attracts widespread international coverage. Pressure is mounting on Thai police to solve the murder of Welsh university student Katherine Horton on the resort island of Koh Samui amid intense international media coverage of the incident. The body of Horton, 21, was found drifting in the sea on Monday a few kilometres from the beach where she had spent her New Year holiday. Samui police said she had been hit several times on the head and body with a blunt object before being thrown into the sea to drown.
Hortonís death has highlighted once again the safety of foreign tourists in Thailand after the high-profile murder of British backpacker Kirsty Jones in Chiang Mai in August 2000 and the fatal shootings of British holiday-makers Vanessa Arscott, 23, and her boyfriend Adam Lloyd, 25, in Kanchanaburi province in August 2004. Responding to the urgency of the Horton case, senior police commanders said yesterday they had sent officers from Bangkok-based units to help local police in the investigation to ensure maximum efficiency in the attempts to solve the crime. Hortonís family were scheduled to arrive in Bangkok from their home in Cardiff last night to claim her body and hear results of policeís investigation into the case. Hortonís mother, Elizabeth, reportedly heard her daughter scream and then the phone cut at the time of the brutal killing on Koh Samui late on New Yearís Day. Ruth Adams, 21, Hortonís friend and travelling companion, told police she had spoken to Elizabeth Horton by phone at her home in Cardiff the following day. When police checked an area just 300 metres from the bungalow where Horton had been staying at New Hut resort on Lamai Beach they found her telephone and red stains in the sand. The red stains turned out to have come from betel nuts.
A tourist spotted Hortonís body in the water on Monday and alerted Watchareon Kongman, a 24-year-old jet-ski rental boss, to bring it in. Hortonís body was found half-naked. Her black dress had been pushed, perhaps by the waves, above her hips. She had bruises on her arms and shoulders.
At the New Hut bungalow resort, where the girl lived, police escorted owners Amnuay and Jintana Dachana and 14 of their staff away for interviews. Hortonís death has received intense media coverage internationally. Several major news agencies and websites of leading British media organisations ran stories on the case. An article on www.icwales.icnetwork.co.uk said Horton was the seventh Briton to have been murdered in Thailand over the past 16 months. (Source: The Nation)


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Shoot first, then ask questions

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2006 at 17:17 PM
Police in Thailand will take harsh measures against known gunmen, including extrajudicial killing, in an attempt to bring order to society within three years, Crime Suppression Division commander Pol Maj-Gen Vinai Thongsong said yesterday. The number of gunmen wanted by police had doubled over the past year to 100, he said. Many of the new faces on the list were ex-policemen and ex-soldiers and they were believed involved in many shootings. Those resisting arrest would face harsh action. A year ago there were 50 gunmen on the wanted list when police planned a clampdown. Of these, nine were arrested and two others were shot dead, he said. Police predicts 25 arrests this year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Elephant park in Doi-Pui

Posted by hasekamp on 4 January 2006 at 14:00 PM
With the profitability of the Night Safari still (very much) in doubt without the wild animals from Kenya (after protests in Kenya itself), the Thai government is already thinking about a 700-million-baht elephant park as the second stage of its multi-billion-baht Chiang Mai World megaproject. The park, tipped as the biggest of its kind with more than 200 elephants, will cover 6,000 rai of land in the Doi Suthep-Pui national park, which already houses the 1.2-billion-baht Night Safari park. It is part of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's drive to turn Chiang Mai, his home province, into a world-class tourist attraction to compete with destinations like Disneyland in Hong Kong.
The director of Night Safari who is also responsible for Chiang Mai World, said the elephant theme park would feature a jungle-like habitat. The animals would live in natural conditions, roaming the forest for food. An exhibition area would offer visitors comprehensive information about elephants, the designated symbol of the nation. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Less AIDS deaths

Posted by hasekamp on 3 January 2006 at 11:50 AM
A considerable drop in 2005 in both Aids sickness and deaths was attributed to government provision of (cheap) anti-retroviral treatments, which was elevated to blanket coverage of the population and now covers 80,000 HIV-positive patients nationwide, said the director-general of the Disease Control Department. At the end of 2005, the number of deaths associated with HIV/Aids was 1,640 compared with 5,020 reported at the end of 2004, according to the official figures published on the DCDís website. The number of HIV-positive people developing full-blown Aids was only 8,681 compared with 13,364 reported in 2004. The Public Health Ministry organised a trial of anti-retroviral treatments for Thais in 2004. The ministry also plans to give out about 24 million condoms this year to further reduce the rate of new HIV infections. Unsafe sexual practices among teenagers and men who have sex with men accounted for the majority of the new HIV infections over the past year. Drug addicts, factory workers and sex workers were listed as high-risk groups to receive free condoms under the programme, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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New problems for airport?

Posted by hasekamp on 3 January 2006 at 11:45 AM
It is still not clear when the new Suvarnabhumi airport will become operational. The airport cannot function commercially until all the construction and testing is completed. The government is now aiming at a June opening for the first commercial flights. But even officials in charge of the project believe that will not be possible. While the Sept 29 2005 test landings gave Mr Thaksin some solace, US investigators indicated irregularities in the purchase of the machines in Thailand, China and the Philippines, but the government strongly denied this. The latest bad news was the decision on Dec 28 by the prime minister to put on hold the plan to expand the new airport to enable it to process 45 million passengers annually. It is now expected to reach its capacity in 2010. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Sufficiency Economy projects

Posted by hasekamp on 2 January 2006 at 13:25 PM
Interior Minister Air Chief Marshall Kongsak Wantana indicated that he will follow Sufficiency Economy projects in solving poverty for the people, to improve their quality of life, as the Ministryís New Year gift for Thai citizens. Minister Kongsak said that the National Statistics Office has surveyed the peopleís demands for the government to solve problems in 2006, saying that the people want the government to tackle poverty most. He said that Interior Ministry, as an agency responsible for the task, will solve the problem and will promote a better quality of life. More importantly, he said that the people will be supported to stand on their own feet, adding that the governmentís anti-poverty caravan will be pushed within 3 years. He said that the Ministry will follow His Majesty the Kingís sufficiency economy to campaign for public saving. He said that the Ministry will support proper careers for the people, prevent exploitations, and support other moral values. Provincial governors have been told to survey the people in the areas about their expertise so that appropriate careers can be set up to fit their capabilities. The minister will travel to listen to the peopleís problems during Mid-January, hoping that he will get clear information on how to tackle the problem more efficiently. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Tourism income 800 million in holidays

Posted by hasekamp on 2 January 2006 at 13:20 PM
The head of the Samui Tourism Centre revealed that over 75,000 tourists have visited Samui, Pa-ngan, and Tao Islands during the New Year's holidays. The majority of them are from Germany, United Kingdom, Russia, and Scandinavian countries. Some of the visitors are from India, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. The islands have been expected to generate 800 million baht of income during these holidays. As for the flight tickets from Bangkok to Samui Island, they have been fully reserved since last week to the 4th of January. More than 500 flights are being served for travelers during the holidays. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Death toll rises to 283

Posted by hasekamp on 2 January 2006 at 13:17 PM
A total of 283 people were killed in road accidents during December 29 to January 1, the first four days of the so-called seven dangerous New Year holidays, Deputy Interior Minister Sermsak Pongpanit said Monday. So on January 1 another 196 were added to the list. He said a total of 2,915 road accidents occurred during the period. Nakhon Ratchasima saw the highest death toll of 13, followed by Chiang Mai (12 deaths), Si Sa Ket (11 deaths) and Nakhon Pathom (10 deaths). So far, Nan, Phathalung, Yala, Ranong, Samut Songkram, Samut Sakhon, Surat Thani and Nong Bua Lampu were the eight provinces, which reported no deaths from road accidents during period starting from December 29. (Source: The Nation)


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Death toll for New Year: 87

Posted by hasekamp on 2 January 2006 at 13:14 PM
Whenever there are festivities in Thailand, people die in the traffic, mostly because of drunk driving. Nakhon Ratchasima and Surin this time had the greatest number of road accident injuries during the first three days of the long New Year holiday period, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said yesterday. The department said that nationwide 87 people were killed and 999 injured in road accidents on New Year's Eve. The provinces of Nakhon Ratchasima and Surin recorded 35 injuries from road accidents on New Year's Eve, followed by Surat Thani with 34 and Sakon Nakhon with 33. The highest death tolls were in Nakhon Pathom followed by Krabi, Chiang Rai and Phitsanulok. The majority of the accidents were attrbuted to driving under the influence of alcohol, followed by speeding and riding motorcycles dangerously. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Crown Prince to deliver help for Pakistan

Posted by hasekamp on 2 January 2006 at 13:09 PM
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will deliver relief assistance worth 18 million baht from Their Majesties the King and Queen for the victims of the Pakistan earthquake, Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon said. The Crown Prince will be paying Islamabad a royal visit on Wednesday and Thursday and will deliver the aid, which includes canned food, blankets, winter clothing and tents, to President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday, Mr Kantathi said. Pakistan's north and northeast, including the area of Kashmir under Islamabad's control, were hit by a powerful earthquake on Oct 8, which killed 73,000 and left another 80,000 people injured. It is estimated that up to 3.5 million people were left homeless by the earthquake. Thailand has already provided assistance valued at 30 million baht, which was delivered in a series of three shipments.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pledged four million baht in financial assistance immediately after the earthquake.
Thailand's total contribution to the relief effort following the Pakistan earthquake is estimated to total 48 million baht, comprising 20 million baht in funds and 28 million baht in emergency relief items. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New Year speech by His Majesty

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2006 at 15:45 PM
His Majesty the King has conveyed his best wishes to the nation in his traditional New Year speech in which he urges the public to have a clear mind. The monarch has stressed that a clear mind is important and instrumental to helping one find happiness, prosperity, fame and honour that one seeks. "People's wishes do not vary much. They wish for a healthy life filled with fortune, honour, peace and security. Peace and security can be divided into two, external and internal. External peace and security is livelihood and an environment that is free from danger and troubles like floods, fires or conflicts. Internal peace and security is a clear mind free of worries and irritations. A clear and calm mind is very important because it brings about consciousness and right judgements," he said.
His Majesty also urged the public to create understanding and return each other's compassion which will help them carry out their work smoothly and achieve their goals. At the end of his speech, the monarch asked for blessings for his subjects in order to keep them from harm and help them fulfill their endeavours. His Majesty has also given a New Year card to every Thai. The card depicts the picture of His Majesty in a casual outfit with his favourite dog Khun Thongdaeng. The monarch is wearing a green T-shirt with the picture of Khun Thongdaeng on his left pocket, and Khun Thongdaeng has a shirt on to shield him from the cold. The card contains the words "Happy New Year" in Thai and English. The picture frame is made of 696 tiny smiling human faces on three lines. Find this card on http://www.nectec.or.th/users/htk/gr01/hmkcard2006/F1000.html (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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