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Cyclone may hit 13 provinces

Posted by hasekamp on 30 April 2006 at 12:07 PM
Tropical cyclone Mala hit five provinces in the North and Central regions yesterday, prompting a warning from authorities. Residents in 13 provinces have been told they could face heavy rainstorms and landslides from today until early tomorrow. The five afflicted provinces are Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Tak, Lampang and Uthai Thani. The other eight provinces at risk are Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Kanchanaburi, Suphan Buri and Ratchaburi. The weather bureau said the worst hit area was Mae Hong Son, which has suffered storms since Friday evening. The latest monitoring showed that the cyclone continued to grow in strength but it is expected to peak tonight before winds slow down from about 4am today. Cyclone Mala formed in the Bay of Bengal and crossed the Burmese coast at 4pm yesterday. The storm, with maximum wind speeds of 120kph, was 500km north of Ran-goon and travelling north at 10kph. (Source: The Nation)


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Abhisit wants to become PM

Posted by hasekamp on 30 April 2006 at 12:04 PM
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday reiterated his readiness to be the people's choice of prime minister, saying he could rule more honestly than the outgoing Thaksin Shinawatra. In a campaign-style speech at the party's general assembly, Mr Abhisit pledged that a government under his leadership would give more importance to education. It would not follow in the footsteps of the Thaksin administration in handling privatisation or tackling debts and corruption, he said. Diplomats from more than 30 countries were invited to attend the meeting, during which the former opposition leader reaffirmed his party's plan to contest a new general election after boycotting the snap poll on April 2. He said his party was an alternative choice which could save Thailand from crises and steer it towards a good economy and a moral society. He said Thailand needed an alternative leader who was moral and absolutely honest, without conflicts of interest or hidden agendas. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Theft in Ayutthaya Temples

Posted by hasekamp on 28 April 2006 at 13:05 PM
Ancient artifacts have been looted from many landmark temples in Ayutthaya, but police appear to have made little headway in finding the thieves. Items stolen recently include an ancient Buddha statue and the heads of two other Buddha images. Gangs of thieves have ransacked centuries-old stupas and temples and made off with antiquities, some of them priceless, in the ancient Thai capital. Police have been criticised for their failure to catch the thieves. Phra Poy Kijrakkho, 83, of Wat Kruttharam in tambon Klongsabua in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district, said a gang of thieves broke into the temple's main chapel yesterday and stole a bronze Buddha statue measuring nine inches wide, and two heads of stone Buddha statues. The stolen items date back to the period when Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam, and are more than 400 years old. Phra Poy said the thieves also took an ornate bronze bowl, measuring 36cm in height and 61cm in diameter. It was one of twin bowls made by a former abbot of the temple in 1820, during the early Rattanakosin era. The other bowl is now kept at the Chao Sam Phraya national museum in Ayutthaya. Phra Poy believed the thieves belonged to a gang which had earlier invaded his living quarters and taken away his ancient Buddha image.
Early in February, the gang also stole many treasured Buddha images from the quarters of the former abbot, who died recently, said the monk. The monk said the temple had been raided by various gangs at least three times but so far police had failed to track down and arrest the thieves. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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More Thai fruits to be exported

Posted by hasekamp on 27 April 2006 at 12:26 PM
Exports of Thai fruits from the eastern region are projected to grow more than 40 per cent this year, while local consumption is expected to grow at least 20 per cent, according to caretaker Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan. The projection is based on this year's Bt220-million action plan on restructuring of eastern Thai fruit produce, including durian, rambutan and mangosteen. The restructuring covers the improvement of the local logistics and research and development (R&D) systems, as well as the creation of more value-added produce through product processing, marketing promotional campaigns and established brand names. Based on the action plan, the ministry had targeted that the country's exports of fresh and processed durian this year would reach 200,000 tonnes, worth Bt4.62 billion, with China and other countries in East Asia becoming the major markets, said Khunying Sudarat on Wednesday. Thailand's exports of fresh and processed rambutan this year had been set to reach 25,500 tonnes, worth Bt1.79 billion, with India and countries in the Middle East being the main export destinations, she noted. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thailand follows King's advice

Posted by hasekamp on 26 April 2006 at 15:30 PM
Three of Thailand's top courts will meet this week in an effort to resolve the country's political crisis after His Majesty the King said he had no mandate to interfere in the "mess", court officials said Wednesday. The complete text of the adevice by His Majesty was just published here.
Supreme Court Secretary General Jarun Pakditanakul said judges from the two courts and the Constitutional Court would meet on Thursday and Friday to follow up on the king's advice. The courts are expected to decide on the legitimacy of Thailand's April 2 snap election which has failed to provide the country with a 500-seat parliament.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the main opposition Democrats, said his party was ready to contest a new election should the last one be voided. The April 2 election was boycotted by the three main opposition parties as a protest gesture against the allegedly dictatorial rule of populist Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The boycott has led to a constitutional crisis since Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party has had difficulty filling all 500 of the contested seats in the lower house due to a constitutional clause that says candidates must win at least 20 per cent of the popular vote in an uncontested constituency.
A by-election held Sunday failed to fill 13 seats, requiring another by-election to be held on April 29 which is likewise expected to fail to fill the lower house quorum due to strong opposition to the Thai Rak Thai rule in the remaining constituencies.
There are fears that Thailand will not be able to fill all 500 seats in the lower house of parliament within the required 30-day limit following the election, leading to a constitutional crisis. "Without the House of Representatives, there won't be democracy. We have many types of courts and councils. Everyone of them have to work in unity to find solutions," the King told the judges in his audience Tuesday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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King is not content with the current situation

Posted by hasekamp on 26 April 2006 at 15:22 PM
His Majesty addressed the Administrative Court judges during a Royal audience at Klai Kangwol Palace in Prachuap Khiri Khan on Tuesday at 5.42pm. His message, complete and unabridged and translated (unofficially) in English, was:
"Now, I will talk about the election. The court itself has the right to discuss the election, especially the candidates who received less than 20 per cent of the vote. Besides, some of them were the sole candidates in their constituencies, which is critical. The sole candidatures cannot lead to full membership in the House, because a sole candidate must have support from at least 20 per cent. Is this issue relevant to you? In fact, it should be. The issue of the solecandidacy elections is important because they will never fulfil the quorum. If the House is not filled by elected candidates, the democracy cannot function. If this is the case, the oaths you have just sworn in would be invalid. You have sworn to work for democracy. If you cannot do it, then you may have to resign. You must find ways to solve the problem. When referring the case to the Constitution Court, the court said it was not their jurisdiction. The Constitution Court said they're in charge of drafting the Constitution and their job was finished after completing the draft. I ask you not to neglect democracy, because it's a system that enables the country to function. Another point is whether it was right to dissolve the House and call for snap polls within 30 days. There was no debate about this. If it's not right, it must be corrected. Should the election be nullified? You have the right to say what's appropriate or not. If it's not appropriate, it is not to say the government is not good. But as far as I'm concerned, a oneparty election is not normal. The one candidate situation is undemocratic. When an election is not democratic, you should look carefully into the administrative issues. I ask you to do the best you can. If you cannot do it, then it should be you who resign, not the government, for failing to do your duty. Carefully review the vows you have made. I heard on the radio this morning about the case in Noppitam subdistrict in Tha Sala district in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. It is not the only case. There are other places [where there were election problems] that can cause the collapse of the country. The nation cannot survive if the situation runs contrary to the law. Therefore, I ask you to carefully study whether you can make a point on this issue. If not, you had better resign. You have been tasked with this duty. You are knowledgeable. You must make the country function correctly. Otherwise, you must have a discussion with the Supreme Court judges who will come in later. Conduct your discussions with people based on knowledge, honesty and faith in your duty to resolve this situation. The country should function according to the law. I will be grateful if you look into the issue. Otherwise, it will cause a problem, because without the House of Representatives, there won't be democracy. We have many types of courts and councils, and every one of them must work together to find solutions. What I'm saying may seem a bit strange, but I have to urge you. Otherwise people will cite Article 7 of the Constitution. I affirm that Article 7 does not empower the King to make a unilateral decision. It talks about the constitutional monarchy but does not give the King power to do anything he wishes. If the King did so, he would overstep his duty. I have never overstepped this duty. Doing so would be undemocratic. They refer to the government under Prime Minister Sanya Dharmasakti. Then, I did not overstep this duty. At that time, we had a parliament but the House Speaker was away. The Deputy House Speaker countersigned according to the Constitution. At that time, the prime minister was not Royally appointed. It was not against the Constitution. Installing a Royally appointed prime minister means appointing a prime minister without any rules. At that time, Professor Sanya was appointed as prime minister, but a Deputy House Speaker legally countersigned for his appointment. Go review the history. You are knowledgeable people. You know the guidelines and the principles. At that time, other councils, even the Sapha Sanam Ma [the National Convention of 1973] that people laughed at, didn't breach the law because Mr Sanya was countersigned for. I was content because it was according to the Constitution's guidelines. But this time, they will violate the Constitution. I don't know who told them to do so. I myself feel that it's not right. I am asking you to think and act in a way that will not violate the Constitution's guidelines, to help the nation get through these obstacles and prosper." (Source: The Nation)


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Drugs from Burma (Myanmar)

Posted by hasekamp on 25 April 2006 at 15:02 PM
Military and narcotics officials along the northern border of Thailand are upbeat over reports that their Burmese counterparts intercepted 13 million methamphetamine tablets, bound for Thailand, an army source said on Tuesday. The speed pills, also known as yaba, are believed to have been produced by the 20,000-strong United Wa State Army (UWSA), a pro-Rangoon outfit that has operated with impunity in an autonomous region since it obtained a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese junta in 1989. Since 1999, the UWSA has been forcibly relocating villagers living in their area along the Chinese border to newly built towns across the border from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Wa leaders claim the relocation is part of an opiumeradication programme, but Thai officials see the growing presence of ethnic Wa villagers in UWSA controlled area as a threat to national security. An official from the Narcotics Control Board and an officer from the US Drug Enforcement Agency were invited to Keng Tung, a commercial centre of Burma's Shan State, for a meeting with Burmese officials about the drug situation in the Golden Triangle. (Source: The Nation)


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Too hot in the zoo

Posted by hasekamp on 25 April 2006 at 14:54 PM
Chiang Mai zookeepers sprayed down cages and handed out ice creams and frozen meat to their animals on Tuesday as the mercury topped 40 degree Celsius in the northern capital. When the temperature hit 38C, five water trucks were quickly despatched and zookeepers rigged up temporary shade screens, drew extra water supplies and installed sprinklers in some cages housing animals particularly prone to heat stress. And today is tipped to be even hotter.
The Zoo public relations chief said constant sprays were set up in the panda viewing zone and the roof of their enclosure periodically soaked with water.
Zoo veterinarian Kwanreun Duangsaard said the animals were being given special foods, such as frozen tuna for the penguins, frozen meat for tigers, ice cubes for elephants and icecream for the orangutans. Chiang Mai is particularly affected because it sits in a geographical bowl, surrounded by mountains, which tend to make the city extra hot during the day, but cool at night. (Source: The Nation)


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Still rice exporter number one

Posted by hasekamp on 24 April 2006 at 16:42 PM
Thailand still retains its status as the world\92s largest exporter of rice in terms of volume and value, with Vietnam coming second, according to the Department of Foreign Trade. The price of exported Thai rice is around US$317 per ton on average. The government is confident that the export volume and value will continue to increase. Its volume for this year is expected to reach a target of 7.5 million tons, up 2.7 per cent from that of last year. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Troops to Burmese border

Posted by hasekamp on 24 April 2006 at 14:04 PM
The Thai army has deployed reinforcements along the Thai-Burmese border to guard against drug smuggling, which is expected to intensify due to the lingering political uncertainty. A column of heroin traffickers tried to infiltrate Ban Mae Choke in Mae Fa Luang district on Friday, but were intercepted by the Shan State Army (SSA). A battle erupted in a forest, which has alerted the army to possible incursions by the traffickers or SSA members. Soldiers have already been despatched to a Thai border village where eight Muser hilltribe families live. Stray bullets from the gunfight hit the village but no one was injured. Troops from the 3rd Cavalry Battalion are backing existing units along the border to stop drug smuggling in the northern border areas.
The ongoing political stalemate, which has diverted government attention and resources from the suppression of drugs, has increased concerns that drug trafficking is becoming rampant again. The political situation could give the illegal drugs trade more room to "re-generate", and the momentum of the government's war on drugs seems to be slowing down. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Rehearsing for the King

Posted by hasekamp on 21 April 2006 at 21:05 PM
The grand rehearsals of many ceremonies will take place next week in preparation for the upcoming 60th anniversary celebrations of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's ascension to the throne. The ceremonies are scheduled between June 8 and June 13 during which monarchs, or their representatives, from around the world will join the celebrations in honour of His Majesty the King. His Majesty is now the world's longest-reigning monarch. According to caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, the visiting royal members will be presented with either exquisite paintings or beautiful shawls as souvenirs. He said the fact that a caretaker government was preparing the events would not pose a problem. His Majesty established the foundation in 1959 in memory of his brother, King Ananda Mahidol, Rama VIII. (Source: The Nation)


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Health tourism to be promoted

Posted by hasekamp on 20 April 2006 at 13:12 PM
The Tourism Authority of Thailand would like to encourage tourists and the general public to get in touch with nature and loosen up themselves with health tourism. They can also look after their health conditions with Thai herbs. Thailand is one of the top destinations where many tourists from all over the world would like to experience the kingdom\92s warmth, charm, and distinctiveness. Rangsit University has seen the importance of health tourism with the help of Thai herbs and new technology, or even through the application of Buddhism in looking after one\92s mental health. The university has then introduced a 4-year course on eastern medicine. Some of the classes include acupuncture, Thai herbal usage, and other eastern medical techniques.
One of the emerging Thai herbs is the "dream tea". This herb has a free radical characteristic and is free from caffeine. It has a pleasant aroma and comes in a variety of taste. Dream tea can also be used in cosmetics, shampoos, skin care items and other health-related products. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Owner of Safari World will get away with it

Posted by hasekamp on 19 April 2006 at 18:12 PM
The owner of the privately-run Safari World Zoo who allegedly smuggled in over 50 orangutans from Indonesia was likely to escape legal punishment as the country's wildlife protection law did not cover a case involving non-indigenous animals, forestry police officers said yesterday. Former Forestry Police Chief Maj-Gen Sawek Pinsinchai, who headed the investigation of the high-profile case, said the police had filed two charges against the zoo's owner Pin Kewkacha after evidence showed that the orangutans were illegally smuggled in from overseas. Mr Pin was charged with violations of the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act and the Customs Act. But the officers later found that the wildlife law did not cover cases of non-native animals. Therefore, Mr Pin's only charge was illegal smuggling of goods under the Customs Act.
There you have it, the man smuggled orangutans, lied about it time after time, even pretended he had bred the apes in his provate zoo, lied to the police time afer time, he has made big business with his orangutan show, which we qualify as abuse if the apes, and he gets away with it, because "he committed no crime" under Thai law. We have our own thoughts about all the crimes he committed, but apparently the Thai authorities do not want him behind bars. Has this something to do with class-justice? (Source - except for the last paragraph - The Bangkok Post)


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HM the King will receive reward

Posted by hasekamp on 18 April 2006 at 17:45 PM
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan will visit Thailand next month to present this year's United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Award to Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej for his decades-long dedication to the country's development through a number of royally-initiated projects, Thai government spokesman said on Tuesday. "On his three-day visit to Thailand from May 25 to 27, Mr. Annan has requested an audience with HM the King to present him the award to honour him for his activities to promote the well-being of the Thai people since he ascended to the throne 60 years ago," Dr. Surapong Suebwonglee said. His Majesty King Bhumibol, now the world's longest-reigning monarch, was born on Dec 5, 1927, in Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States. He became the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty in June 1946. The kingdom celebrated his Golden Jubilee in 1996. His Majesty the King spent decades initiating development projects, especially those in agriculture and water management in impoverished rural areas. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Orangutans to go home at last

Posted by hasekamp on 18 April 2006 at 13:29 PM
After two years of investigation and DNA testing, 54 orangutans that were forced to entertain tourists at "Safari World" in a Bangkok suburb, will eventually be returned to their homeland in the Indonesian jungle. Schwann Tunhikorn, deputy director-general of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, said recent DNA tests by Kasetsart University veterinarian confirmed 54 of the 100 apes forestry police seized from Safari World in 2004 belonged to Indonesia. Safari World zoo's managing director Pin Kewkacha also admitted that the zoo illegally obtained the endangered apes from Borneo and Sumatra islands. But a public prosecutor had yet to lodge a charge against him, said Mr Schwann. "The decision [to return the orangutans to Indonesia] reflects Thailand's responsibility as a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), which aims to crack down on the cross-border illegal wildlife trade," he said. The decision was based on the DNA testing and discussions with Cites officers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand as well as wildlife experts, he added. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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All Phang Nga tsunami victims helped

Posted by hasekamp on 18 April 2006 at 13:19 PM
All Phang Nga (this includes Khao Lak) residents who were in need of financial aid after the tsunami have received it, either through government assistance or in the form of private-sector donations, a senior provincial official has told the Phuket Gazette. "We can say that 100% of the people who lost homes and fishing boats have had them replaced," the Vice-Governor said. However, he admitted that there were still some problems with post-tsunami recovery in Phang Nga, the Thai province hit hardest by the killer waves. Among those problems, he said, were people using low-quality donated boats to go out to sea.
"Some of the donated boats were not built of hardwood and were intended only for use on klongs, but people have been taking them out on the open ocean in order to make a living,". (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Thai clothing: Made in China

Posted by hasekamp on 17 April 2006 at 12:47 PM
Thailand is legendary in the region for its tourism and shopping. Summer clothing is one of the favorites in shopping areas. However, like many other countries, Thailand is now being overrun by cheap Chinese products. Most tourists and clothing traders know downtown Pratunam area well. Located close to Baiyoke 2 high-rise building, Pratunam is one of the two biggest clothing wholesale centres (alongside Bo Bae) in Bangkok. But it is well possible that the Thai clothes from these locations are "Made in China", so watch the labels (for what they are worth!). (Source: Farang Pai Nai)


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Songkran: The final figures

Posted by hasekamp on 17 April 2006 at 12:42 PM
Officials said today (Monday) that 476 persons died and 5,985 were injured nationwide during the 10-day Thai New Year Songkran celebration, with 15 per cent fewer casualties than expected. While the overall figures are sobering, Thai authorities expressed satisfaction that the number of casualties was lower than earlier projected, indicating that public education prior to and during the
holiday achieved a measure of success. Air Chief Marshal Kongsak Wanthana, caretaker Interior Minister, said police had recorded 5,327 road accidents during the past 10 days, about 325 less than last year's record during which 522 people were killed.
Chiang Rai, Phitsanulok and Chiang Mai provinces in the North and Sri Sa Ket in the Northeast were listed as the places in where most road accidents happened. As usual, drunken driving was the top cause of accidents.
Police have charged some 34,300 drivers and motorcyclists for violating traffic laws, as some failed to produce driving licenses and others did not wear helmets. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Songkran death toll 441

Posted by hasekamp on 16 April 2006 at 12:54 PM
The death toll in road accidents nationwide during the April 7-15 Songkran festival holiday reached 441 on Saturday, while the number of those injured was recorded at 5,533, caretaker Interior Minister Kongsak Wanthana said here on Sunday. Air Chief Marshal Kongsak, in his capacity as deputy director of Thailand's National Road Safety Command Centre, said that on April 15 alone, the ninth day of the Songkran festival, there were 506 road accidents with 48 deaths and 554 persons injured. Statistically, the northern province of Chiang Rai reported the most accidents and the northern province of Phitsanulok recorded the highest number of fatalities at 19, followed by the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima at 16. Only three provinces have been casualty-free so far, including Phrae, Ranong and Samut Songkram. (Source Thai News Agency)


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Heavy storm during Songkran

Posted by hasekamp on 16 April 2006 at 12:38 PM
A heavy thunderstorm joined the Songkran festival yesterday with torrential rain and powerful winds that claimed two lives, tore down a temple and an old cinema, and blew away hundreds of house roofs. A home in Ubon Ratchathani collapsed on a man and his eight-year-old daughter as the storm slammed the northeastern province, a provincial disaster prevention official said yesterday. More than 100 homes in the province were also damaged by the storm, which affected about 300 people in two districts, the official said. Storms are common during the Songkran festival every year. The Department of Meteorology has warned people of a possible tropical storm today.
Ayutthaya mayor Somsong Sapakosonkul said many parts of the municipality were damaged by a storm which brought hail to the town. The wind swept away more than 50 house roofs and damaged some temples in the provincial historical area. The oldest movie theatre in the province was also reportedly destroyed.
In Chiang Rai, Kasem Suk temple in Muang district also suffered when its chapel was torn down by powerful winds. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Songkran death toll now 343

Posted by hasekamp on 14 April 2006 at 17:29 PM
The death toll in road accidents nationwide during the Songkran holiday from April 7-13 reached 343 on Thursday while the number of those injured was recorded at 4,199. In his capacity of the deputy director of Thailand's national road safety centre, Sermsak Pongpanit, caretaker deputy interior minister said that on April 13, the seventh day of the Songkran festival, there were 1,014 road accidents with 89 deaths and 1,161 persons injured. The number of road accidents on April 13 increased by 184 compared to the figure last year while the death toll increased by five and the injured by 194. The figures this year are higher than projected.
Drunken driving remains the main cause of accidents, while driving at excessive speed is often the cause, he indicated. Motorcycles are involved in most road accidents. The total number of roadway accidents from April 7-13 stood at 3,736 resulting in 343 persons dead and 4,199 injured. Only six provinces now (still) report no deaths: Trat, Pattani, Phrae, Mukdahan, Ranong, and Samut Songkhram. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thailand gets very hot

Posted by hasekamp on 14 April 2006 at 17:26 PM
Meteorologists predict 42C in Tak next week, as the country really starts to sizzle in the summer. The next few weeks are forecast to be the hottest of the year, with temperatures in Tak, Lampang and Kanchanaburi likely to exceed 40 degrees Celsius, according to Meteorological Department experts. The department said the country usually sees the highest temperatures in the third week of April, unless there are heavy clouds or rainstorms. The average temperature this summer has been around 37-39C for all regions except the South and the East, which have seen rain. The head of Tak's provincial meteorological centre said the province saw historic high temperatures last year, with the mercury reaching 43C. This year, the hottest day - so far - was March 19, when the temperature hit 41.6C. Next week, according to the forecast, it will be 42C. The highest temperature ever recorded in Thailand was 44.5C in Uttaradit in 1960, while Tak saw 43.7C in 1998, the third-hottest day in Thailand's history. (Source: The Nation)


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Songkran road toll update

Posted by hasekamp on 13 April 2006 at 13:21 PM
Today is Songkranm Day and we give an update on the number of road accidents. Nakhon Ratchasima has the highest number of road fatalities after six days of the Songkran holiday period, followed by Lop Buri and Songkhla, as the nationwide toll went up to 254, the Road Safety Centre reported on Thursday. "Nakhon Ratchasima tops the list with 15 people killed in road accidents. It is followed by Lop Buri and Songkhla with 10 each, and Chiang Mai and Rayong with nine each," the centre's secretary said. A total of 694 road accidents took place April 12, claiming 60 lives and leaving 764 injured. The total number of people injured so far is 3,038.
Motorcycles were involved in the most number of accidents, followed by pickups and cars. Most of the mishaps took place between 4pm and 8pm.
So far eight provinces remained free of accidents: Trat, Nakhon Nayok, Mukdahan, Pattani, Phrae, Ranong, Samut Songkram and Amnat Charoen. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin travels

Posted by hasekamp on 13 April 2006 at 13:18 PM
Thai Rak Thai Party leader Thaksin Shinawatra left for London on Thursday after casting an advance ballot for next week's senatorial election. "I'll take this chance to relax and meet old friends. I want to take a break. I'm getting old," Thaksin, 56, told reporters before heading to Bangkok's international airport. When asked if he would hold talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Thaksin said, "I'll meet with familiar leaders. We could possibly have some coffee. But my meeting is unofficial. It has nothing to do with politics or business." One of Thaksin's daughters is studying in London.
Earlier this week, a source told The Nation that Thaksin is seeking a meeting with Blair and leaders of some of the other countries he planned to visit. The proposed meetings have caused discomfort among members of the diplomatic community as Thaksin's political status is still unclear.
After his stop in the UK, Thaksin said he would fly to the United States to visit universities in Kentucky and Texas where he received a masters and a doctorate in criminal justice. He will return to Bangkok on April 19 and attend a meeting of his party on April 24 before flying off to China and Japan later in the month, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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No more catfish

Posted by hasekamp on 13 April 2006 at 13:13 PM
Northern fishermen in Chiang Khong district (Chiang Rai) have agreed to stop taking giant catfish, or pla buek, from the Mekong river in a bid to protect the rare fish species. The decision was announced at an annual ceremony to worship the so-called pla buek god held on the banks of the Mekong. The fishermen yesterday put 68 fishing nets, worth over 1.3 million baht, on sale to symbolise the end of pla buek hunting, which has been a staple career for Mekong villagers for decades. The World Conservation Union has agreed to buy half the fishing nets, which cost 20,000 baht each. The revenue from the sale of fishing gear will be used as seed money for a fund to help the retired fishermen pursue new careers.
Wildlife conservationists have called on local fishermen to abandon the activity over the past several years as surveys show that the giant catfish population has dropped sharply due to aggressive hunting and the ecological deterioration of the Mekong river. The Mekong giant catfish was listed on the IUCN's list of endangered species in 2003. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Songkran long holidays with the usual death toll

Posted by hasekamp on 10 April 2006 at 16:17 PM
Later this week it will be Songkran, but the holidays have begun already. Traditionally the Songkran period has a record number of traffic accidents, most of them due to alcohol usage while driving. So far the Songkran road toll is at 68 already, on the second day of the "10 dangerous days" of the long holiday period. So far more than 800 people were injured already. On Saturday alone, there were 445 road accidents across the country in which 38 people were killed and 496 others injured. The number of deaths at this stage were still lower by 18 than the government's prediction. The counting began on April 7, the first of the so-called "10 dangerous days" and will continue until April 16. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Electronic newspapers

Posted by hasekamp on 10 April 2006 at 16:12 PM
As part of its 60th anniversary celebrations, Post Publishing Plc has launched electronic versions of the Bangkok Post and Thai-language Post Today, in agreement with NewspaperDirect Inc of Canada. The pages of the Bangkok Post and Post Today in their electronic formats look the same as the printed versions. The release of the "e-papers" means that the newspapers can be read in their original format anywhere in the world, on the date of publication, using the innovative technology of the NewspaperDirect global network. Same day editions of internationally recognised newspapers are available in print and onscreen in their original layout through the Canadian company's website. The website and e-papers differ greatly, with e-papers having the look and feel of the actual newspapers, using PDF and other web magic, and they can be printed in their original format. To read Post and Post Today onscreen in the original newspaper format, web users can access and subscribe at PressDisplay.com, then click on Thailand. Readers can obtain a seven-day free trial. After those seven days one has to pay (at least) US$ 9.95 per month. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin takes a holiday

Posted by hasekamp on 8 April 2006 at 11:05 AM
Thai Rak Thai Party leader Thaksin Shinawatra said today he will leave for a holiday in London next week. "I am going to England sometime next week and will be there for many days," he told reporters before playing a round of golf with members of his TRT party at a golf course at an outskirt of Bangkok. One of his daughters is studying in London.
Thaksin, 56, has announced that he would step aside as premier despite his party's victory in the April 2 election. His abruptly announcement came just hours after he was granted an audience with HM the King.
Thaksin, who remains party leader and a member of parliament, declined to comment Saturday on demands by his opponents that he leave politics altogether, or on who may succeed him as prime minister.
He said "yes" when was asked whether he would go to see World Cup in Germany in June. "I will travel all over the world, now I am jobless," he said. (Source: The Nation)


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New airport to open later

Posted by hasekamp on 8 April 2006 at 10:58 AM
The contractor has admitted that Suvarnabhumi airport cannot open in July, as caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced, due to delays in construction and cost increases. To speed up construction, parties responsible for the project intend to divert over 40 construction contracts to fast outsourcing, without open bidding contests. The practice could lead to favours of specifications for particular contractors, a source said. All parties know that the airport cannot open this July but no one dare speak out, fearing that it could deal a blow to Mr Thaksin, who made the announcement. Many airlines had expressed concern over the delay and doubted the airport would open in July.
However, caretaker Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal insisted yesterday that the airport could open in July and Don Muang airport would close at that time.
Rumors say the airport cannot open before (well in) 2007. (Source, except for the last sentence: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin resigns

Posted by hasekamp on 7 April 2006 at 19:59 PM
This site is a bit behind with the Thailand news, due to a short holiday of its webmaster during this week. The most important news you missed here, is the resignation of Caretaker PM Thaksin Shinawatra. First he said he would stay PM until a new PM was appointed, but one day later he stepped down.
The resut of the election on 2 April was disappointing for Mr. Thaksin and he took his leave.
New elections have been called for 23 April, because due to the boycot of the opposition no legally acceptable result was obtained.
One could say now that the crowds in the streets had it their way after all. Maybe this is true. The most important aspect of the latest developments is, however, that the stepping down of Mr. Thaksin happened in a peaceful way. (Source: International news sources)


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Academics: Vote the no vote box

Posted by hasekamp on 1 April 2006 at 11:42 AM
A group of 585 lecturers from 41 universities yesterday released an open letter that urged voters to tick the "no vote" (abstention) box when casting ballots in tomorrow's election, saying the outcome of the voting could end the political turmoil by ousting Thaksin Shinawatra from the premiership. The campaign has come at a time when speculation is mounting over how the "No" vote could be the most peaceful and most effective way to edge Thaksin from power. "This is a race between Thai Rak Thai Party and the abstention voters that will prevent Thaksin from resuming his premiership," Thammasat University lecturer Prinya Thewanaruemitkul said, reading the letter. The number of abstained ballots could influence Thaksin's political future because he has pledged not to lead the next government if he obtains less than half of the votes cast tomorrow, Prinya said. (Source: The Nation)


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Thailand ready for election

Posted by hasekamp on 1 April 2006 at 11:39 AM
Preparations for the April 2 snap election tomorrow in every constituency are now 100 per cent complete, caretaker Interior Minister Air Chief Marshal Kongsak Wanthana announced on Friday. Civil servants were asked to support the Election Commission of Thailand (EC) in conducting Sunday's poll, as the general election is being closely watched by independent agencies and foreign institutions and there is a need in making the election fair for the sake of the country's reputation, he said. He conceded that more security officers had been posted to active duty in Thailand's three southernmost provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani on the eve of the general election. "I admit that I'm concerned about the situation in the three southern provinces and have ordered tightened security in the region. So far, everything is peaceful and no serious violence is expected," Kongsak told journalists. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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