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Demonstration brings 100,000 people on Sanam Luang

Posted by hasekamp on 27 February 2006 at 18:15 PM
Anti-Thaksin groups came out in force yesterday at Sanam Luang to make their political statement following Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's decision to get the House dissolved. The number of demonstrators was put at 100,000 as the day wore on. Observers believed it would not have jumped this much had Mr Thaksin not called a snap election for April 2. The protesters occupied half of the ground. The entire area can accommodate 200,000 people. Organisers said the rally would press on until Mr Thaksin quits. The rally was as colourful as ever with protesters tying yellow bands around their heads. The protesters gathered under the shade of tamarind trees or sat on mats under umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun.
Chamlong Srimuang, former leader of the Phalang Dharma party, was the first to arrive with 1,000 members of Santi Asoke, walking barefoot from the Royal Plaza to the meeting point. Thousands of people converged at Sanam Luang as the rally was about to kick off. Uthai Pimchaichon, former parliament president and co-founder of Thai Rak Thai, was among veteran politicians to show up. The crowds roared when Maj-Gen Chamlong took the stage after 8pm to address the crowd. In his brief speech, he urged demonstrators to stay put if they were to win the fight. The crowds erupted in cheers again when media tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul took the stage. He gave them a wai as a thank-you gesture for joining the rally that he believed was the reason for Mr Thaksin abruptly dissolving the House. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Opposition to ban elections

Posted by hasekamp on 26 February 2006 at 13:09 PM
The three opposition parties are expected to announce a boycott of the April 2 election. A boycott is favoured by politicians in the Democrat and Mahachon parties, who see the snap poll as a government tactic to "whitewash" allegations of misconduct against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The Chart Thai party was reluctant, but agreed last night their candidates would not run. While the politicians have yet to confirm the move, the anti-Thaksin campaign groups remain adamant on demanding the prime minister's resignation. At a press conference the oposition told reporters that they would discuss the next move with party members. The three parties are expected to announce their final decision today. A spokesman said boycotting the poll was one option but the parties still had to explore other possibilities allowed by the constitution.
Thailand apparently is politically far from stable at the moment and we are not happy with the way on which the Thaksin government is attacked. The result of not participating in the elections is a very strange step, that can only lead to further unrest. Thailand is only a few steps away from serious unrest, which is not in the interest of anybody. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Elections on April 2

Posted by hasekamp on 25 February 2006 at 15:24 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday announced the dissolution of the Lower House, and called for snap elections in a bid to return with a new mandate. The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) slammed the decision, and stood by its vow to go ahead with its rally tomorrow, to stay the course until the prime minister steps down. The opposition Democrat and Chart Thai parties said the prime minister's decision could raise the political temperature because it did not address widespread grievances. Political scientists and students joined the chorus of criticism.
In a nationwide broadcast, the prime minister said: "I cannot allow mob rule to supersede the law." He also cited intelligence reports of "instigators of violence" seeking to exploit the divisive situation as a reason for dissolving the House of Representatives and calling a snap election for April 2. The country could not suffer a new round of "bruises" when it was still suffering from the violent events of May 1992, with relatives of victims still to be healed, he said. The prime minister also cited the impact on the economy of the political situation, pointing to the questions it had raised about the future of megaprojects and the ups and downs on the stock market. "I am ready to accept the decisions of the people. But I will never accept those outside the system who claim to be deciding for the people," he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New coral reef discovered

Posted by hasekamp on 23 February 2006 at 13:01 PM
A new coral reef discovered in Phang Nga’s Tai Muang area covers some four square kilometres and accounts for about 5 per cent of all the coral areas in the Andaman Sea. Lying around five kilometres offshore are more than 30 genera of hard corals providing home to 12 species of fish from 56 families, said Songpol Tippayawong, head of WWF Thailand’s Marine and Coastal Conservation Unit, which discovered the coral site. "The fish living there include such rare species as the parrot fish Chlorurus rakaura, which was first discovered in Sri Lanka and has never before been seen in Thai waters. The reef also has a species of the sweetlips fish, the Plectorhincus macrospilus, which was previously known only from the Similan Islands," he explained. "The discovery helps us understand why sea turtles in the Andaman Sea use the Thai Muang area as their major nest site: the reef is a source of food for turtles and their offspring," Songpol said. Nearby Had Tai Muang is known as the only beach in Thailand where sea turtles living in the Andaman Sea lay their eggs. As many as four species of sea turtle lay their eggs on a 14km long stretch of the beach. (Source: The Nation)


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UN praises Thai children's rights

Posted by hasekamp on 23 February 2006 at 12:56 PM
The United Nations has praised Thailand's progress in putting into practice measures recommended in the 2nd UN Convention on Children's Rights. The UN, however, called on the Thai government to continue to respond to and protect the rights of children born or living in the kingdom. The comments were at the latest UN Commission on Children's Rights session, held in Geneva, Switzerland, last month, where a Thai delegation led by Social Development and Human Security Minister Watana Muangsook, took part.
The UN called on the Thai government to particularly take care of the problems of displaced children's social status and nationality, as well as access to education and assistance to poor and other underprivileged children in various areas, including nutrition and protection from vices. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Ban asked on HIV drug patent

Posted by hasekamp on 22 February 2006 at 15:58 PM
About 50 activists from the Network of People Living with HIV/Aids called upon the Intellectual Property Department yesterday to ban Glaxo Smith Kline’s application for a patent registration of its antiretroviral drug "Combid". The group met with Commerce Permanent Secretary Karun Kittisataporn and said that the approval of the Combid patent registration would keep more than 100,000 HIV-positive individuals in Thailand from accessing the drug. Generic versions of the drug cost Bt1,500 per course. If the drug is patented, the price would increase to Bt8,000, the group claimed. The company already has a patent for the drug in the United States and Europe, where it is known as Combivir.
In 1997, Glaxo tried to apply for a patent in Thailand but its request was suspended because of opposition from Aids advocates. The activist group also expressed concern about a free trade agreement being negotiated with the US as it relates to the Combid patent registration. "Once the medicine is patented, it will create a negative effect for patients seeking access to the medicine," one activist said.
The Intellectual Property Department recently rejected a patent registration attempt by Glaxo, citing incomplete information. But now the department has agreed to move forward with the patent process, said Kanissorn Navanugraha, director general of the department. (Source: The Nation)


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No fowl from EU

Posted by hasekamp on 22 February 2006 at 15:54 PM
The Livestock Development Department yesterday slapped a ban on poultry products from European countries which have been struck by avian influenza outbreaks. The ban, which took effect yesterday, covers imports of all poultry products from European countries, including Bulgaria, Germany, France, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Slovenia. "The ban will mostly affect imports of breeder stock chickens from France and Germany as Thailand hardly imports any chicken meat from Europe," said Nirundorn Auengtrakulsook, director of the department's disease control division. The ban was imposed for 90 days, but it could be lifted earlier if the affected countries successfully control the spread of the deadly virus and come up with stringent measures to prevent the recurrence of bird flu outbreaks.
In our opinion this is a premature measure, as bird flu has been seen with wild birds indeed within the EU, but commercial poultry farms are free from bird flu and from the virus. It looks to us as if Thai eating Thai poultry poses a greater risk than eating European poultry. In Thailand people have died from the H5N1 virus, but in the EU not. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Tsunami towers to be tested

Posted by hasekamp on 21 February 2006 at 14:58 PM
Twelve of Phuket’s tsunami warning towers will be tested by the Nonthaburi-based National Disaster Warning Center tomorrow morning. Arun Keodsom, Chief of the Phuket Office for Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (ODPM) said: "The 12 towers to be tested are those at Chalong, Laem Tukkae, Rawai, Saphan Hin, Cape Panwa, Kata, Karon, Kamala, Nai Yang, Bang Tao, Mai Khao and Ao Por. The tests will take place between 9:30 am and noon. People do not need to worry about this; we will let everyone know it is a drill. There will be no panic. This test will make people more confident in the effectiveness of the system." (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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School students: Thaksin, go!

Posted by hasekamp on 21 February 2006 at 14:48 PM
In an unprecedented humiliation for Prime Minister Thaksin, a group of secondary school students held a press conference to demand him to resign on ground that he had done a lot of damages to the country. Three students from the prestige Triam Udom Suksa School held a seminar at the October 14 Memorial, a symbol of the country’s struggle for democracy, on why Thaksin should leave his post and held a press conference to announce the group’s stand. The three students are identified as Yos Tansakul, chairman of the group, Sirawut Sitthiwet, deputy chairman, and Phattaranan Limudomporn, spokesman. Phattaranan told the press conference that his group did not make the move in the name of their institution but do it on their own. He said the fellowship had over 100 members from some 30 schools. The student move was seen as a severe setback for Thaksin as it was the first time that a group of secondary school students made a public call for him to resign. (Source: The Nation)


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King asked for help in orang-utan case

Posted by hasekamp on 17 February 2006 at 12:34 PM
Three British wildlife-protection groups launched a campaign early this week to ask for His Majesty the King’s help in returning to Indonesia 75 orang-utans confiscated from Safari World (where they were held illegally) more than two years ago. Sean Whyte, founder of Nature Alert, a UK-based wildlife-conservation group, wrote in an e-mail sent to newspaper 'The Nation' that he believes "only the King can now help these orang-utans". Whyte said that some 10,000 postcards addressed to the King have been freely distributed to people all over the world requesting His Majesty’s help in the matter. The postcards, which feature pictures of captured orang-utans and a message asking for His Majesty’s help in freeing them, were published by Nature Alert, Orang-utan Appeal (UK) and the Borneo Orang-utan Survival Foundation (UK). In his e-mail, Whyte said that along with the other organisations involved, he has already taken every "reasonable" approach to both the Thai government and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) Secretariat in order to try and help the orang-utans, but has had no response.
Forest Police and the Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Plant Varieties Conservation raided Safari World, a privately owned zoo in Bangkok, in November 2003. They confiscated 75 baby orang-utans, which were proved to have been procured through illegal trading. Wildlife conservationists have requested that the animals be sent back to Indonesia, where the orang-utans are believed to have come from. (Source: The Nation)


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International celebration for jubilee King

Posted by hasekamp on 17 February 2006 at 12:28 PM
Thailand is welcoming visitors from across the world to join the country's grand celebrations of the 60th anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's ascension to the throne this year, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced here on Thursday. Delivering a speech at a ceremony to launch the "Thailand Grand Invitation 2006" Project at the Government House here, the prime minister said Thailand is now welcoming the international guests from the world over to honourably take part in the "Diamond Jubilee" celebrations nationwide. "The Thai kingdom is now ready to warmly receive and impress international guests from all races and positions with the charms and colourfulness of the Thai cultures, society, breathtakingly scenery of natural and attractive tourist sites, as well as the friendship of the Thais," Mr. Thaksin declared. The premier noted that 2006 is considered a most historically importance year for the Thai kingdom when His Majesty the King becomes the country's and the world’s longest reigning monarch. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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UN top post: Thaksin does not give up

Posted by hasekamp on 16 February 2006 at 18:03 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Thursday revealed he would personally seek a support from French President Jacques Chirac, who is due to visit Thailand on Friday as a guest of the country, for Deputy Prime Minister Surakiate Sathirathai as the next United Nation’s Secretary-General. Giving an interview with the France-based AFP news agency, he said he hoped France, which is one of the UN’s Securities Council members, would back the Thai deputy premier in a competition for the UN top post. He viewed the next UN Secretary-General should come from Asian countries because the region had begun to have a more active role in the international arena. "A Thai candidate has a great opportunity to win if the top post actually turns to an Asian person," he said. Mr. Thaksin added he hoped President Chirac and the French government would give a support to Mr. Surikiate because he is a capable candidate who could do the job for the much benefit of the UN if elected. (Source: The Nation)


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One million anti-Thaksin postcards?

Posted by hasekamp on 15 February 2006 at 13:10 PM
Midnight University will launch a campaign on Saturday to get 1 million people to send postcards to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra asking him to step down. Prince of Songkhla University has already started a signature campaign calling for Thaksin to step down and Thammasat University’s student union is collecting signatures to launch impeachment proceedings. At noon today, Rangsit University’s student association will hold a forum calling on Thaksin to stop evading questions from the public. Speakers will include Supinya Klangnarong from the Campaign for Popular Media Reform, Wuthipong Priabjariywat of the Millennium Institute and representatives from other civic groups. Midnight University rector Somkiat Tangnamo said academics from his university and Chiang Mai University, where he also works, had decided to launch the postcard campaign. The postcards might not carry any legal weight, but they would have symbolic power, he said. The signatures will be a more honest reflection of public opinion than the 19 million votes Thaksin so frequently uses to defend his legitimacy because the postcards will express individual opinions unfettered by corruption, Somkiat said. (Source: The Nation)


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Flash floods

Posted by hasekamp on 15 February 2006 at 13:07 PM
Flash floods struck the eastern coast of the southern region in the early hours of yesterday morning, forcing hundreds of families in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Narathiwat to evacuate, Several communities were cut off as roads were struck by floods and mudslides. At about 3am yesterday, water run-off, triggered by several days of persistent downpours, swept through 10 districts in Nakhon Si Thammarat and three districts in Narathiwat, where several cities were more than one metre under water. In Nakhon Si Thammarat, after flash floods struck at a scale not seen in the past decade, officials boarded flat-bottomed boats to rescue villagers who were trapped inside their houses and distribute relief supplies. Flood-hit districts include Lan Saka, Phrommakhiri, Sichon, Ron Phibun, Chulabhorn, Tha Sala, Phra Phom, Thung Song, Cha-uat districts, and Nop Phi Tham sub-district. Worst-hit Phra Phom district was totally submerged, said Vichit Maneeloak, chief of the provincial disaster mitigation office. Over 40 flood-hit schools had to close. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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10,000 signed petition against Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 14 February 2006 at 13:19 PM
More than 10,000 people have so far signed a petition to launch impeachment proceedings against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the first four days of the campaign, a student leader said yesterday. The campaign would collect the 50,000 signatures needed to launch impeachment proceedings by February 26, said the deputy chairwoman of Thammasat University’s student union Assaree Jarukosol. She said 10,390 signatures had been collected already. Thammasat students were determined to oust Thaksin through the parliamentary process and would not join the protests called by student leaders from other universities and the People’s Alliance for Democracy, she said, including the next one scheduled for February 26 at Sanam Luang.
Meanwhile, two newly established anti-government networks in the Northeast announced action plans in a meeting in Khon Kaen province ahead of the mass demonstration on February 26 to consolidate the overall anti-government movement.
And local academics and residents in Songkhla have formed an action group called "Alliance for Salvation of the Country and Democracy: Songkhla". The group will hold seminars to inform local people of projects initiated by Thaksin it deemed a failure, including the Thai-Malaysia gas pipeline project and the government’s handling of the violence in the deep South. (Source: The Nation)


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Thailand becomes polarized

Posted by hasekamp on 11 February 2006 at 14:53 PM
Thai Society is becoming increasingly polarised and the 'Pro and Contra' Thaksin attitude of many supporters and opponents of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is making a confrontation imminent, some observers fear. Media firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul's protest last week has opened a political chasm, with the prime minister's supporters massing at Government House and opponents orchestrating a campaign for his ouster in the lead-up to today's mass rally likely to be staged at the Royal Plaza. Today's rally, expected to be shorter than the previous one, will be led by a coalition of civic groups strengthened by lecturers and students who insist that Mr Thaksin's days are numbered. Petition sign-up booths are being set up on various campuses including Thammasat and Chulalongkorn universities. Members of the public can download a form from a website and send it along with a photocopy of their ID card by mail. Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said that today's demonstration is no longer something personal between Mr Sondhi and Mr Thaksin. "The fact that several organisations have stepped forward to take over the rally today should tell the prime minister that the people's rally is not, as he has claimed, Mr Sondhi's move alone," he said. Mr Abhisit said that ousting the prime minister is now being pushed as a national agenda item. The rally will begin at noon when the demonstrators will gather on Makhawan Bridge and head to the Royal Plaza. Mr Thaksin has apparently decided to compete with the anti-government campaign. He opened Government House for a third straight day yesterday to greet supporters bussed in by Thai Rak Thai MPs and government agencies. The grounds were crowded with people who were treated to free meals. Today's rally is expected to draw as many people as the previous one. About 6,400 police will be deployed to keep law and order. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Website about King banned

Posted by hasekamp on 10 February 2006 at 19:34 PM
Thai communications authorities have blocked a Web page, run by a U.S. university publisher, that promotes an unauthorized biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The page on the Web site of the Yale University Press contains a short summary of the book "The King Never Smiles," scheduled to be to be published on May 29. The book, by American journalist Paul Handley, is the first comprehensive biography in English of the 79-year-old King, the world's longest reigning monarch. The country already has banned imports of the book, which the royal family considers insulting to the King.
In a statement, Yale University Press said it was aware of the concerns but stood by the author. It said that the book has been thoroughly vetted by leading scholars and Yale faculty and that the author has expertise, having spent 13 years living in Thailand and reporting on the region.
According to the Royal Thai Police Web site, some 32,467 Web sites have been reported as illicit since censorship of the Internet was launched in April 2002. It does not say how many concern the monarchy.
(Source: Yahoo! News)


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Police ready for anti Thaksin protesters

Posted by hasekamp on 10 February 2006 at 19:29 PM
Police last night set up barriers around the Royal Plaza, the planned venue for today’s public rally against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. About 50 police were stationed at four locations in the area, and 700 metres of traffic barriers were erected from the railings of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall enclosing the plaza and the King Rama V equestrian statue. One policeman said they had been instructed to enforce a ban on the use of the plaza for a public rally. "We will try to avoid the use of force, but if the ban is violated, we will have no choice but to follow orders," said the policeman, who requested anonymity. The government imposed the ban and prohibited all audio devices in the area earlier yesterday. However, Suriyasai Katasila, leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, said the Dusit district office had banned audio devices on the grounds that speeches against the government would not be in the public interest, as the law on using audio devices requires. It would be impossible, Suriyasai said, to communicate with the number of people attending the rally without microphones and loudspeakers, which would also help to keep order. He insisted that the rally would proceed. (Source: The Nation)


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Mahidol (also) wants Thaksin to go

Posted by hasekamp on 10 February 2006 at 19:24 PM
A group of Mahidol University medical alumni on Friday branded Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra "an immoral leader" and asked two Mahidol medical doctor (MD) alumni to resign from his cabinet, saying they should not serve such a premier. Nearly 30 medical doctors and medical professional health workers signed the petition, calling on Dr. Prommin Lertsuridej, Secretary General to the Prime Minister and Government Spokesman Surapong Suebwonglee to quit. Both doctors graduated from Mahidol University. Mr. Thaksin has been under attack over his family arrangement to sell their nearly 50 per cent share ownership in telecommunication giant Shin Corp to Singapore's state-owned investment company. The shares were reportedly transferred into the names of his son and daughter just before the sale was made. The protesting doctors said the Bt73 billion sale reflected a lack of morality in Mr. Thaksin. They said the transfer of shares from him to his children was to avoid taxes. In their petition, the group also called on Mr. Thaksin to resign. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Anti-Thaksin alliance

Posted by hasekamp on 9 February 2006 at 14:06 PM
Sondhi Limthongkul, who is publicly opposing Mr. Thaksin for some time now, yesterday announced a tactical shift in his public campaign to oust Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He has decided that rather than acting as the sole leader of the movement, he will share the leadership among an alliance he will form with other supporters. As Sondhi made yet another attempt to strengthen the anti-Thaksin movement, the prime minister seemed to have been supported elswhere, with thousands of people streaming into Government House all day long to lend him moral support. Mr. Thaksin said he would not give in to those who want to oust him and saw no reason to resign, as his critics have demanded. Sondhi said yesterday: "It’s now up to the alliance. I’m just one of them. I’m no longer the leader". Despite his declaration that the leadership would be shared, Sondhi spoke on behalf of the movement in saying that the next demonstration would take place at the Royal Plaza despite the government’s ban. (Source: Tha Nation)


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Thaksin: Protesters are stupid

Posted by hasekamp on 6 February 2006 at 12:34 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra declared before his hometown (Chiang Mai) supporters yesterday that he was determined not to let "stupid" people unseat him from the premiership. He told the 10,000 Thai Rak Thai party faithful who turned up to offer moral support in San Kamphaeng district that he would continue working hard to end the national problems and gave assurances he would not step down before the end of his four-year term. The prime minister used the opportunity to snub those calling for his resignation amid cheers from supporters who filled the main street of the district town for a free feast being provided by the Shinawatras. "There were only a few stupid people in the country and I don't give a damn about them," he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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At least 100,000 want Thaksin to resign

Posted by hasekamp on 5 February 2006 at 12:39 PM
Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, yesterday suffered the biggest setback of his political career as nearly 100,000 Thais gathered at Bangkok’s Royal Plaza to demand his resignation in the largest anti-government rally in over a decade. Thais of all walks of life from the capital and around the country chanted: "Thaksin get out. Thaksin get out". The largely peaceful protesters, many of whom wore yellow shirts, included disgruntled teachers, labour and community activists, environmentalists, provincial people affected by government policies and members of Bangkok’s middle-class. Up to 30,000 protesters reportedly came from the provinces, while the majority were middle-class and working people from Bangkok and nearby areas. Many protesters came with their families. With the massive rally stretching from the statute of King Rama V to Rajdamnoen Avenue, protest leader and media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul said Thaksin no longer had the legitimacy to govern and the country was heading toward a crisis.
In another blow to Thaksin, Sora-art Klinpratoom, the information and communications technology minister, yesterday became the second Cabinet member to quit. On Friday, Uraiwan Thienthong, the culture minister gave her resignation. Sources said last night more Cabinet members could resign in coming days as public sentiment towards the government appears to have worsened. For Thaksin, the political downturn has progressed rapidly over the past two weeks following his family’s Bt73-billion tax-free sale of 49 per cent of the shares in Shin Corp to Temasek of Singapore. Besides the tax issue, the share sale has been severely criticised on other ethical and legal grounds, especially with regard to Ample Rich Investment Co, the tax haven set up by Thaksin in 1999. (Source: The Nation)


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Bomb in restaurant

Posted by hasekamp on 5 February 2006 at 12:33 PM
Twenty people were wounded, five seriously, in a bomb explosion in front of a seafood restaurant in Muang district of Yala last night. Earlier, a bomb blast in Narathiwat province injured four police, and a rubber tapper was gunned down in another attack in the province. In Yala, a powerful bomb went off about 7.30pm in front of the famous seafood restaurant Thara on Pipitpakdi road. The explosion injured 20 people, five seriously, who were eating in the restaurant. They were taken to Yala hospital. Police suspected the bomb was planted in one of the motorcycles parked in front of the restaurant.
In Narathiwat, four off-duty officers were wounded after a bomb went off in a snooker house.
In Cho Airong district, Sudirueman Mueso, 35, was attacked by a pillion motorcycle rider when driving his motorbike home after tapping rubber. He died on the spot.
On Friday night, militants torched a house in Bannang Sata district in Yala province but no casualties were reported. Police said five assailants in a pick-up truck went on a shooting spree and sprayed Chalong Srijan's house with bullets before setting it ablaze with a lit gasoline bottle. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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EU: Thailand does it the right way

Posted by hasekamp on 3 February 2006 at 13:12 PM
The European Union (EU) believes the Thai government is on the right track in its attempts to quell unrest in the country's deep South, Deputy Prime Minister Pol. Gen. Chidchai Vanasatidya said today. The comment was made by the EU's coordinator on anti-terrorism, Mr. Gijs de Vries. "I and the EU official discussed Thailand's cooperation with EU in anti-terrorism and terrorist threats in the region and he expressed satisfaction with the Thai government's policy on counter-terrorism and will send officials to study the Thai policy," said Pol. Gen. Chidchai, who is Justice Minister concurrenly. Asked whether the EU official had linked regional terrorist threats with the unrest situation in Thailand's three troubled southernmost provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani, the deputy premier said: "No. But the EU official said he believes the Thai government is on the right track in addressing the southern unrest." (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Night Safari to be opened

Posted by hasekamp on 1 February 2006 at 21:50 PM
After being postponed many times since late last year, the controversial Chiang Mai Night Safari is to have its official grand opening on Monday. Inauguration of "the biggest night zoo in the country, if not in the world", will be chaired by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during a mobile Cabinet meeting at the tourist attraction on Monday and Tuesday. Plodprasop Suraswadi, director of the night safari, said he would propose the design of two related projects - an elephant park and a cultural theme park - to the prime minister at the inauguration. The two new parks would be constructed on areas adjacent to the night safari, and the three projects, as well as other attractions to be built in the future, will be connected by monorail, Plodprasop said.
The elephant park - to be the biggest in the country - will be home to about 200 elephants, while a cultural theme park aims to rival the Hong Kong Disney-land which opened last September.
Plodprasop, who is also vice minister of Natural Resources and Environment, said he wanted the prime minister to approve the design plans during the Cabinet mobile meeting.
The Chiang Mai Night Safari will be the first part of the Bt4 billion Chiang Mai mega project to be officially opened. More than 1.4 million people have taken advantage of a free entry promotion to visit the zoo since its unofficial opening late last year.
So far nothing has been heard any more about the wild-animal-menu in the Night Safari restaurant and about the controversial import of animals from Kenya. (Source: The Nation)


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