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Not in my back yard

Posted by hasekamp on 29 March 2006 at 11:25 AM
Merchants from the internationally renowned shopping strip along Rama I Road, which is targeted for a anti-Thaksin rally today, called on the protest leaders yesterday to select a new venue, fearing the huge gathering will scare away customers. The shop owners from Siam Square, Siam Paragon, Siam Centre, Siam Discovery Centre, Central World Plaza and MBK Centre issued a joint statement outlining their concerns. Earlier in the day, Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery and Siam Centre announced they would shut their doors today and tomorrow. Gaysorn Plaza, another fancy shopping attraction at the nearby Rajprasong Intersection, said it would also consider closing temporarily if the situation became critical. Siam Piwat Co Ltd and Siam Paragon Development Co Ltd, which manage the three adjacent malls, based their decision on reports of possible chaos along Rama I Road to the Pathum Wan Intersection and probably parts of Phyathai Road. The closure will force the postponement of several functions and the loss of tens of millions in baht in sales. (Source: The Nation)


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Phuket Airlines still confident

Posted by hasekamp on 29 March 2006 at 10:47 AM
How stubborn and shortsighted people can be. This was it the Phuket Gazette today:
Phuket Airlines, recently blacklisted by the European Commission (EC) as one of 93 airlines barred from flying to the European Union (EU) and Switzerland, is confident that it will be reinstated soon, a senior official of the airline said. As if to reinforce that confidence, Phuket Airlines has applied to launch another airline, to be called Holiday Airlines. The application is currently being considered by the Thai Aviation Department (TAD).
Phuket Airlines was included in the EU ban list on safety grounds. This was done because of numerous safety incidents, that were all called "minor" or "non-existent" by the airline. See our archives.
The European Commission (EC) has also advised passengers to avoid flying with the 93 airlines anywhere elswhere in the world. Phuket Airís Vice-President said: "We are ready to let EC inspectors audit our aircraft" and "the EC list is to be revised every three months and we want to get off it as fast as possible." But (we believe for the first time) the airline admitted: "It has seriously affected our business."
Phuket Airlines has now employed Air France to revamp all systems, especially those relating to safety, to bring them up to international standards. "We have checked on progress and believe that the airline is now up to standard." We have no further comment. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Demonstration on Siam Square

Posted by hasekamp on 28 March 2006 at 19:11 PM
Hours ahead of a planned mass rally against caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at Bangkok's key shopping district Wednesday and Thursday, more police are being deployed to facilitate traffic movement in the area. Bangkok's Mass Transit System Pcl (Skytrain) has also stepped up security at its stations as mass crowds are expected. Police worry about redirecting the traffic flow in front of the Siam Paragon luxury shopping complex since the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) will rally there starting Wednesday. Some bus passengers may travel by BTS Skytrain instead, but some might not be able to afford higher ticket costs, and others may have to transfer to more buses than they usually did until arrivng at their destination. The police will deploy an estimated 100 traffic policemen at Prathumwan and Ratchaprasong intersections, both nearby Siam Square, starting at 1pm Wednesday. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin suggests national unity government

Posted by hasekamp on 27 March 2006 at 12:57 PM
Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has offered to form a government of national unity that will include the Democrat, Chart Thai and Mahachon parties, his nemesis Chamlong Srimuang and media firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul. His leading opponent's immediate reaction was to question Mr Thaksin's sanity.
"I will form a national government after the April 2 elections because it is the way to bring unity back to the country," Mr Thaksin said. "You people can also fix the country's divisions by voting in the elections, because it is an easy way to make the protesters end their protest," he told an estimated 20,000 supporters at King Taksin Monument in Thon Buri. Nearly half his audience were motorcycle taxi drivers. Mr Thaksin said his "national government" would have a quota reserved for the Democrat, Chart Thai and Mahachon parties and any small parties that win seats in the general election. "Maj-Gen Chamlong and Mr Sondhi are welcome to join, but must follow the law by registering with parties if they want seats in a national government," he said.
Mr Thaksin's surprise offer was immediately rejected by the Democrat party and the People's Alliance for Democracy. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Should the King solve everything?

Posted by hasekamp on 25 March 2006 at 18:15 PM
The Democrat party last night called on caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to appeal for royal intervention to break the political deadlock, in a stand which it said would safeguard the constitution. Party sources stressed this was different from the People's Alliance for Democracy's appeal for His Majesty the King to appoint a new prime minister. In a position statement, the party said Mr Thaksin and his caretaker cabinet could seek an audience with the King, and then resign so that the King could appoint a new government under article 7 of the constitution. The proposal would maintain the integrity of the constitution and end a political crisis that might lead to violent confrontations, it said. The party also suggested the new government allow for an open and transparent investigation into allegations against Mr Thaksin, and that it address problems involving the Election Commission to ensure fair elections. The interim government should also lay down guidelines for the political reform process that would be led by a non-partisan individual and open to public participation. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket Air completely banned from EU

Posted by hasekamp on 25 March 2006 at 12:57 PM
Phuket Air has been included in a list of 93 passenger and cargo airlines barred from European Union countries and Switzerland, on safety grounds. It is the only airline in East Asia included in the list. Most of the list, made public on Wednesday, comprises airlines from Africa, with a sprinkling from Central Asia and one from Bangladesh. The European Commission (EC) has also advised passengers to avoid flying with these airlines elsewhere in the world. The list, issued on Wednesday, is a first step, the EC noted in an official release. "The list will be updated as often as is n ecessary and at least every three months." Airlines may be added to the list at the request of European Union member states, or by the EC itself. Airlines may also apply to be taken off the list if they believe that their safety standards have been improved to meet EC requirements. A spokesperson for the airline said that management could give no comment on the EC announcement at this point. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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King calls privy council

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2006 at 14:45 PM
His Majesty the King called the biggest gathering of privy councillors in many years for consultations on the political situation yesterday. Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, the privy council chairman, and Gen Surayud Chulanont, former army chief, were among the 17 privy councillors who attended the audience at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin. The meeting lasted about three hours, ending shortly before the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) issued an appeal for His Majesty the King to appoint a new prime minister. A sources said His Majesty was very concerned with the political situation, but the source could not provide any further details of what was discussed at the meeting. The PAD yesterday formally called for a royally-bestowed prime minister to replace caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as the 48-hour deadline it imposed on Mr Thaksin expired last night. Before that, Mr Thaksin belittled the deadline set by the PAD for him to resign, saying the line was drawn with a pencil. The PAD said the only way to defuse the crisis was the use of Article 7 of the charter, which states: "Whenever no provision under this constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional practice in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State." The PAD called on the people to appeal to His Majesty to exercise his power under Article 7 to appoint a new prime minister, to set new political reforms in motion. The group voiced confidence that a royally-bestowed prime minister would form an ad hoc government to push for swift political reform with the people's participation, and then call a fresh general election. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Botulism in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 23 March 2006 at 19:00 PM
Thailand flew 17 people infected by severe botulism to Bangkok on Thursday while dozens more were being treated in rural hospitals after one of the world's worst outbreaks of the muscle-paralyzing disease.
The 17, including 12 women and a young girl, were among 160 villagers who fell ill after eating contaminated bamboo shoots during a festival in the northern province of Nan. More than 100 are in hospital, including 42 who needed respirators after they became too weak to breathe on their own. "This is one of the largest outbreaks, that we are aware of, in decades anywhere in the world," said an expert sent from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
In the last major recorded outbreak in 1991, 90 people in Egypt fell ill from the disease which can occur after eating food containing a nerve toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. (Source: Yahoo! News)


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Does Thaksin want to use force?

Posted by hasekamp on 23 March 2006 at 18:12 PM
Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday met army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin who told him the current situation does not yet warrant the use of military force. Gen Sonthi revealed that Mr Thaksin asked him about the current situation without asking for his help or mentioning a plan to declare a state of emergency, but he as army chief was obliged to tell the prime minister that use of military force is not yet necessary. "I told him [Mr Thaksin] that it would not be good for soldiers to come out too soon and do things that would be damaging to the government," the army chief said. Gen Sonthi said soldiers would come out only after a state of emergency was declared, and he personally believed the situation right now did not warrant such an action. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Will the situation improve?

Posted by hasekamp on 22 March 2006 at 18:25 PM
The turmoil in Thailand will subside because the Brahma statue at the Erawan Shrine has made a self-sacrifice and borne the bad luck troubling the country, said Pol General Chidchai Wannasathid, acting deputy prime minister. "I have talked to an astrologer who told me that the incident could be seen as a self-sacrifice of Phra Phrom. The situation should now start to improve," he said. "I have also had a telephone conversation with Bovornsak Uwanno, the secretary of the Cabinet about this self sacrifice of Thao Maha Phrom. This time we have a sacrifice of love in a great way, which should help dispel the bad luck." Chidchai was speaking at the Erawan Shrine yesterday during Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's inspection of the remnants of the four-faced statue, hammered to pieces by a man with a record of mental illness on Tuesday. It was a shocking incident for the Bangkok public, who have worshipped the Brahma statue for the past 50 years. Thaksin took time in the afternoon to visit the shrine, where he was met by Surakiart Sathirathai, the deputy prime minister, and the heads of the Fine Arts Department, Religion Department and Foundation of Thao Maha Phrom.
Mr. Thaksin said it would take about two months to restore the statue to its original shape. "The restoration will have to strictly follow the religious principles and all the rituals. Some parts of the original statue may also be placed at the shrine," he added. (Source: The Nation)


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Erawan shrine statue destroyed

Posted by hasekamp on 21 March 2006 at 14:45 PM
A man described to be mentally-deranged hammered the much-revered statue of Pra Prom or Brahma creator god at the Hyatt Erawan Hotel and reduced it into pieces before he was lynched to death.
A garland vendor said she saw the man standing up on the base of the statue and hammered away the statue into pieces. Only the part of lap and base of the statue were left intact. Its head was broken and fell off to the ground. Officials put up white cloth to hide the statue. The man, who was later identified as Thanakorn Pakdeepol, 27, was assaulted by people near the scene and died about 50 metres away from the Pra Prom shrine. The man fled but was later caught up by some taxi drivers and people started to beat him up. A police spokesman said the man, who suffered severe injuries on his head, was barely alive when police arrived at the scene, which was on the opposite side of road from the Police Hospital. He said police later arrested two garbage collectors and found an iron bar which one of them used to beat the man. (Source: The Nation)


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Who should end this?

Posted by hasekamp on 18 March 2006 at 22:08 PM
The Press Council of Thailand and the Lawyers Council of Thailand yesterday urged the public to join hands in seeking His Majesty the King's power to appoint an interim government leader to end what they called "the crisis of confidence" in caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They backed use of Article 7 of the constitution to restore peace, political and social security in the country, amid mounting pressure on Mr Thaksin to resign. The president of the Press Council of Thailand, said all sectors of society should form a joint resolution for a "People's Assembly" and submit it to the King. As most of our readers may remember, His Majesty the King once ended a political crisis that seemed to ens in violence.
The president of the Lawyers Council of Thailand said Mr Thaksin could no longer remain in his caretaker position. The situation is close to crisis, making it justifiable for the King to invoke Article 7 to quickly bring the country back to normality. Several organisations would be called for consultations this week over the formation of a resolution for the "People's Assembly" for submission to the King. But another group which claims to represent lawyers throughout the country said the Lawyers Council's stance was not representative of all lawyers.
The caretaker prime minister is insistent on holding the general election on April 2 despite the fact that it will cost the state 2.2 billion baht. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin sends spies in the crowds

Posted by hasekamp on 18 March 2006 at 12:57 PM
They wear yellow-white headbands with words "Save the Nation" and shout "Thaksin, Get Out!". But their loyalty lies with caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. This group of men is working undercover. They work as plainclothed policemen scouting for information from the anti-Thaksin protesters. "The information is recorded in detail for the daily assessment of the situation," said a police officer. Around 100 police officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau and Special Branch Police unit pose as demonstrators and mingle with people attending the People's Alliance for Democracy rally at the Misakawan intersection, where Phitsanulok road crosses Ratchadamnoen Nok avenue near Government House. Some sit on plastic mats, listening to heated public addresses by PAD leaders, university scholars and key social critics. Some sit separately at road corners and watch protesters slamming Mr Thaksin on a makeshift stage. With the help of mobile phones and small camera recorders, much of the movement at the rally is recorded. (Source: The Nation)


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No talks for Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 17 March 2006 at 23:44 PM
Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday compared his election campaign to a fight to save democracy from rotting and insisted he would not surrender but stand his ground against the "outlaws". "If we want the country run democratically, I'm the symbol of democracy," Thaksin told thousands of supporters during a campaign stop in Kanchanaburi. The April 2 election is judgement day if the people want to see the outlaws overcome those who play by the rules, he said. "If my Thai Rak Thai Party receives fewer votes than the number of abstainers plus votes for smaller parties, I will not accept the premiership. I respect the people's decision in that respect," Thaksin told the crowd. He gave a similar promise during the TRT rally at Sanam Luang on March 3 after three former opposition parties said they would boycott the election and encouraged voters to follow suit, which risks turning the election into a farce. (Source: The Nation)


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Polling on April 2 uncertain

Posted by hasekamp on 16 March 2006 at 19:21 PM
The Election Commission (EC) will decide within five days whether to delay the April 2 election because of fears that pressing on with the present schedule may see the 500-MP quorum failing to be met. EC chairman Wassana Permlarp admitted he was considering postponing the election. But he wanted to wait for a ruling by the Supreme Court on whether it would disqualify any more candidates. Many applicants have been banned from the poll, leaving only one candidate running in the contest in many constituencies. If only one candidate contests, he or she must win at least 20% of the vote in that constituency. This raises concerns some will fail to meet that requirement and there will not be the full quorum of 500 MPs to open parliament. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Crowds against Thaksin in Silom

Posted by hasekamp on 16 March 2006 at 19:18 PM
We have stopped to report all the news about the anti-Thaksin movements. Daily there are new proteste and we are not raelly confident that this will end peacefully. Here is anpother piece of news:
Silom Road saw the largest crowds in recent memory yesterday as office workers in Bangkok's financial district turned out in droves to join the call for caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's resignation. The majority of the protestors came out during their lunch break to listen to Business Democracy Club members speak about how Thaksin was unfit to continue as prime minister. The scene was reminiscent of a gathering during the 1997 financial crisis when hundreds of businesspeople gathered on the road to call for then-Prime Minister General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to resign over his failure to solve the crisis. Although smaller, yesterday's gathering was a portent of things to come after Prasarn told the crowd to rally at Lumpini Park at 5pm today to participate in the "Silom Black Rally", which will go on to join the People's Alliance for Democracy at the Royal Plaza. The event was also spiced up with a short performance by a protester clad in a Chinese opera costume and holding a box to collect funds for the anti-Thaksin campaign. (Source: The Nation)


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Night safari: poor management

Posted by hasekamp on 14 March 2006 at 19:51 PM
Chiang Mai's Night Safari zoo has fallen afoul of wildlife activists again, with claims that 104 animals have died there because of poor management. The claim came after a woman veterinarian was rushed to hospital from the zoo at the weekend after being struck on the head by an iron bar when a white rhinoceros struggled violently in a holding cage while she treated its hurt eye. The woman suffered a brain haemorrhage, but is recovering in hospital. Night Safari director Pisal Wasuwanich said the rhino might have been frustrated at being kept in the cage during the eye treatment. The accident was revealed one day after the Wildlife Fund Thailand claimed that 104 animals have died at the zoo, a casualty rate that has been kept secret. The deaths reportedly include a new-born giraffe. The zoo's project director, Plodprasop Suraswadi, admitted the giraffe and its mother died during the birth of the calf on January 29 because both the mother and calf were in bad health. Moreover, he said several birds died after their wing tendons were cut by unskilled staff to stop them from flying away. Wildlife Fund Thailand director Nikom Puttha claimed to have been informed by zoo staff that 104 animals, including giraffes, birds, hyenas, ostriches and several kinds of deer, died in the period up to January 8 because of poor treatment, tension because of transportation and the inappropriate environment of the zoo. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai animators on the rise

Posted by hasekamp on 12 March 2006 at 12:27 PM
Tha local film-makers are now breaking into the new frontier of Hollywood standard animations with two 3-D feature films set for launch this year, one about King Naresuan's valiant war elephant and the other about a ghost based on the late comedian Lor Tork. "Khan Kluay", the first 3-D full-length animation produced here, will be screened in two months by Kantana Co. It tells the story of a wild elephant called by destiny to be the war mount of King Naresuan. The film about a ghost is scheduled for completion by the end of this year. The title has not yet been disclosed, but some film industry sources said Sahamongkhol Co should call it "Dracula Tork".
"After working for years on short animated TV series, we felt it was about time to move to a bigger screen," said Auchara Kijkanjanas, the producer of "Khan Kluay". The production of "Khan Kluay" has taken almost five years. "Khan Kluay" is based on Thai history, the great war between King Naresuan and the Burmese army.
Kompin Kemgumnird, director of "Khan Kluay", who left Walt Disney to work on this project four years ago, said human resources was one major difficulty he had encountered as he had had to develop both the work method and technical skills for each of his crew by himself. "We had a film school in our company to train personnel. Fortunately, it has now grown into an official programme at Mahidol University, co-developed by Kantana," he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin wants to talk behind closed doors

Posted by hasekamp on 12 March 2006 at 12:21 PM
Talks between (since the House dissolution) caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the opposition parties and media firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul appeared doomed yesterday after Mr Thaksin - after initially agreeing - reversed his position on a live broadcast. During an election campaign in Nakhon Pathom yesterday, Mr Thaksin said he would opt for a closed-door meeting. This contradicted what he said during a talk show on Thai TV Channel 9 on Friday night, that he was ready for a one-on-one debate, to be broadcast, with either Dharma Army leader Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang or Mr Sondhi, core leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD). The political talk show was monitored by the PAD and Mr Sondhi who, addressing the anti-Thaksin protesters at a Sanam Luang rally, was quick to accept Mr Thaksin's invitation.
Meanwhile, the latest poll by Rangsit University found that the Thai Rak Thai party's popularity dropped after the House dissolution. Compared with the poll conducted on Feb 15-16, before the House dissolution, the number of Thai Rak Thai supporters shrank to seven million, from 10 million. About 57% of the respondents said they wanted a royally-bestowed government. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Storm warning

Posted by hasekamp on 11 March 2006 at 17:13 PM
People living in many parts of Thailand, including Bangkok, are warned to be aware of and prepared for summer storms over the next couple of days. The Meteorological Department issued its warning on Saturday, 11 march, saying that the country's northeastern, northern, and central regions, as well as Bangkok and its surrounding provinces, would face summer storms early next week, as a cool front from China moves in to envelop the warm parts of the kingdom. The weather bureau said the country's northeastern region would be first affected by the summer storms Sunday evening, following by the other areas. The Meteorological Department also warned of high waves (over two meters high) accompanied by strong winds in the Gulf of Thailand from March 13-15, especially in the evenings. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Tsunami fear after 31 (moderate) earthquakes

Posted by hasekamp on 11 March 2006 at 17:10 PM
Thailand's National Disaster Warning Center have alerted Phuket and other provinces in the country's southern Andaman Sea region to pay close attention and monitor any earthquake in the Andaman Sea after 31 earthquakes occurred beneath and off Ranong Province between Thursday and Saturday morning (March 9-11). Phuket Governor Udomsak Asavarangkura said that the National Disaster Warning Center had warned that 31 earthquakes measuring from 4.0 to 5.3 on the Richter scale took place on the seabed, some 400-600 kilometers west of the Ranong coast. According to the center, the quakes were at irregular intervals, but the epicenter was located at an undersea mountain, which has probably resulted from a new undersea volcano. If a huge explosion occurs, it could cause a new tsunami. The center urged residents to pay attention to earthquake and tsunami indicicators, and to closely monitor earthquakes in the Andaman Sea. The authority also advised fishermen and other coastal and deepwater shipping in the region to take particular note of peculiar movements of ocean waves and the behaviour of marine animals.
However, Phuket authorities have not announced an evacuation, the governor said, or set off other alarms, as the intensity of the earthquakes at just over 5 on the Richter scale is not considered very dangerous. In case there is a high probability of a new tsunami disaster, the center would immediate announce the news to the public, especially those in the southern Andaman provinces with a series of siren alarms so that they would have at least 40 minutes to evacuate from areas at risk. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thailand ready for human flu

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2006 at 19:10 PM
Thailand's medical and public health experts are preparing measures for the nation to prevent a possible outbreak of human influenza over the next couple of years. They are also working out measures to contain the disease from a wide spread in case that the feared outbreak really takes place in the kingdom. The experts use the country's central province of Ratchaburi as a model to conduct research to prevent and control the feared outbreak of human influenza, as the province is a national centre for poultry and cattle raising businesses, according to some experts who revealed the move to local journalists Friday morning. The experts said there is a possibility that Thailand could be affected by a new global outbreak of human influenza, which, according to past records, could take place once in every about half a century.
The experts are seriously finding ways to prevent a feared mutation of the H5N1 avian flu virus strain as an approach to prevent an outbreak of human flu in the country. They cautioned that a spread of human flu would be easier once the H5N1 virus mutates to be able to contract between poultry and pigs or other mammal animals. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Chinese PM comes later

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2006 at 19:04 PM
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China has postponed his visit for the third time due to the uncertain political situation in Thailand, a source said yesterday. Wen's plan to fly to Hua Hin directly from Phnom Penh on April 8 to be granted an audience by His Majesty the King on the first of a three-day visit has been cancelled, the source said. The trip has been delayed three times since it was planned for last December. Continuing demonstrations against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have forced the Chinese government to reschedule the visit. Both Wen and Thaksin are expected to sign a joint action plan highlighting political and security cooperation during his visit. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin gives reasons for not stepping down

Posted by hasekamp on 9 March 2006 at 11:11 AM
The opposition against Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra continues and expands. All kinds of (new) groups now join the opposition. Support for Mr. Thaksin seems to decrease, while tension in Thailand rises. We now only give a partly coverage of this main news in the Thai media.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra now has indicated that he does not want to step down from the premiership position because he would like to maintain the democratic regime. He also would like to continue his poverty eradication policy and strenghthen the country. Pol. Lt. Gen. Thaksin's address on his reason to continue his role as a Prime Minister was made while he was inspecting the people's quality of lives at the OTOP Center in Trat Province. He has also called the general public to excercise their rights to vote during the upcoming general election on April 2nd. He said this would help uphold the democratic rules. (Source -except for the first paragraph-: Public Relations Department)


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Negative Human Rights report

Posted by hasekamp on 9 March 2006 at 11:01 AM
Thailand received the rough equivalent of a C-plus in the latest US report on human rights around the world. The US State Department's annual Report on Human Rights Practices over the past year also slammed China, Iran and several Middle East countries including important American allies. But it said "There were significant problems" in Thailand, and cited the abuse of authority in the southern insurgency, torture of suspects by Thai police, intimidation of the media and "widespread corruption". In addition, the lengthy report said the government was discriminating against hill tribes and minorities, had inadequate protection for workers including child labourers, and mistreated migrant workers, particularly Burmese. And about free perss: "The government continued to pressure those in the media with dissenting views. Threats of libel suits encouraged self-censorship. There were concerns regarding the independence of the press in 2005. Self-censorship, particularly in the broadcast media, was also evident due to fear of political or economic repercussions, such as reassignment to other duties in a publication, termination of a broadcast programme, loss of advertising, politically motivated libel suits, or removal from a role in the production or presentation of a broadcast programme."
So Thailand (and the Thaksin government) this is how the US (and the World) sees you at the moment. If you want to get more foreign tourist, we suggest reading this report carefully. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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TAT says tourism is still going up

Posted by hasekamp on 7 March 2006 at 16:18 PM
The Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor has affirmed that the current political situation has not yet affected the tourism industry, but preparations have been made for direct sales of flights to Thailand to draw even more tourists from the Asia-Pacific region. TAT commented on the current political situation, saying that it will bear no relevance on the number of tourists entering the country, due to the fact that the first tow months of 2006 has seen a steady growth of tourists, with hotel bookings in Bangkok almost full. The governor stated that the Thailand Grand Invitation 2006 Project is set as a contingency plan to draw in even more tourists. She adds that Thailand has made arrangements to conduct direct ticket sales in other nations in the Asia-Pacific region. The cities on the iternary include Peking, Shiang Hai, and Kwang Jao, from March 15th to 25th. Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong will be covered in April. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Massive demonstration

Posted by hasekamp on 6 March 2006 at 17:21 PM
The snowballing protests against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra entered their fifth week last night with a new strategy: An indefinite campaign of nightly protests at Sanam Luang, until Mr Thaksin resigns.
The protesters last night marched to the Democracy Monument and then to Government House where they heard a continuing series of speeches from anti-Thaksin speakers, before leaders announced they would return to Sanam Luang to plan and kick off the prolonged resistance early today. Mr Thaksin, meanwhile, remained defiant and told a crowd of about 20,000 supporters in Khon Kaen province that he would not bow to pressure. "Those people have brought down several governments. They are trying to unseat me even though my government has huge support," he told the audience. "Other prime ministers in the past succumbed to their demands. But I won't. I don't want to set a bad precedent," he went on.
In Bankgok, more than 100,000 protesters under the People's Alliance for Democracy converged on Sanam Luang, including students, the public and followers of the Santi Asoke religious centre led by Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang. The crowd looked bigger than the previous rally, despite attempts by state authorities to obstruct people reaching Bangkok from the provinces. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Camping till Thaksin goes

Posted by hasekamp on 5 March 2006 at 15:44 PM
Leaders of this afternoon's public rally yesterday agreed to camp at Democracy Monument until caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra resigns, while Thaksin appealed for national unity. "I want to see the unity of people in our country. Politics should follow the democratic path. It's not about winning over others," Thaksin said. The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is holding its non-violent rally at 4pm at Sanam Luang before it heads down Rajdamnoen Avenue to the monument, a few kilometres away, PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila said. "The rally will go on. And we won't stop unless we win," Suriyasai told a press conference after a meeting of the PAD's "decision-making group". (Source: The Nation)


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Petition to His Majesty

Posted by hasekamp on 5 March 2006 at 15:42 PM
A group of prominent Thai citizens submitted a petition Sunday morning seeking an interim premier from His Majesty the King. The group submitted the petition at the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary at 10:30 am. The petition asked His Majesty to make an intervention in the national crisis by appointing an interim prime minister and government to amend the Constitution and reform politics. Those, who signed the petition, included ex-Permanent Secretary for public health Dr Mongkol na Songkhla, Principal of Vajiravuth School Prof Dr Chai-anan Samujvanit, former Public Health Minister, Dr Pairoj Ningsanon, Former rector of Kasetsart University Prof Rapi Sakrik, Former Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sanoh Unakul and Auditor General Khunying Jaruvan Mainthaka. Others included former Ambassador to UN Asda Jayanama and Kasit Pirom, ex-ambassador to the US. Dr Mongkhol said the petition was signed by 95 widely respected signatories. "The petition does not demand for resignation of the premier but to ask HM the King to appoint a government can be implied that Thaksin Shinawatra must step down," he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin holds his own rally

Posted by hasekamp on 1 March 2006 at 12:12 PM
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is fighting back with a counter-rally on Friday at Sanam Luang, saying he has been made a sitting duck by his opponents for too long and it was high time he set the record straight. "I'll speak my mind on March 3 at Sanam Luang. I've been the target all along. I'd like to ask everyone who wants to hear about everything to come over. I'll tell all," Mr Thaksin said yesterday. The rally is to take place two days before the March 5 deadline set by an alliance of anti-Thaksin groups for Mr Thaksin to step down as prime minister. Mr Thaksin said he had tried to lobby Chart Thai leader Banharn Silapa-archa to come over to the government's side but Mr Banharn had already made a pledge to the core opposition Democrat party. Last week, he also discussed the political situation with Democrat secretary-general Suthep Thuagsuban "to a certain extent", said Mr Thaksin. According to Mr Thaksin, the opposition did not want to negotiate. The bottomline was to have him removed. Referring to the opposition's decision to boycott the April 2 snap election, Mr Thaksin said the opposition should let the people be the judge and should not be afraid of their judgement. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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