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Warning system for Chiang Mai night bazaar

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2006 at 15:55 PM
The government's plan to install an early warning system at Chiang Mai Night Bazaar has raised eyebrows among local business operators and academics. "We want clarification about what types of early warning system they want to install, or else tourists would misunderstand that the Night Bazaar is a risky area," said Sittichai Techajongjittana, the managing director of Night Bazaar - one of the leading tourist attractions in Chiang Mai. He added that if the water level in the Ping River was monitored properly, warnings could be sent to business operators at least seven hours in advance. "That gives us plenty of time to use sandbags and prevent floodwater from damaging our business places," he said. Last year, however, floods ravaged the Night Bazaar three times, causing damage to property of more than Bt100 million and Bt1 million per day in lost business. (Source: The Nation)


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Rembrandt exhuibition

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2006 at 15:52 PM
In addition to his extensive oeuvre of paintings and drawings that are famous worldwide, the renowned Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), also produced around 290 prints. Now there is a rare opportunity to see a selection of them under one roof at "The Rembrandt Exhibition" being held at Central Chidlom's event hall from Friday until June 20. To celebrate two events - the 60th anniversary of His Majesty the King's accession to the throne and the 400th year of Rembrandt's birth - the Netherlands Embassy is presenting his original prints from the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam and from two private collectors - the Voute and Rumbler families. The overall value of the 88 prints has not been disclosed. The artist's prints on show are varied: biblical scenes, self-portraits, landscapes, scenes from everyday life, nudes and tronies - the term used for the pictures of human heads that Rembrandt painted to practise capturing facial expressions. Among his important and famous prints are "Three Crosses" (1653), "The rat-poison pedlar" (1632) and "The Three Trees" (1643). To maintain the quality of the prints, the temperature of the Chidlom event hall must be kept at around 20 degrees Celsius, the humidity level at 50 per cent and the light must not exceed 50 Lux. (Source: The Nation)


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King's thoughts as a musical

Posted by hasekamp on 29 May 2006 at 17:32 PM
His Majesty the King's "sufficiency economy" philosophy has come to life in a 10-minute musical, which runs 40 times a day, at the "Historic Exhibition to Mark the 60th Anniversary Celebrations of the King's Accession to the Throne" at Muang Thong Thani. Inside an exhibition hall featuring the King's alternative agriculture and self-sufficiency theories, a stage has been set up which draws large audiences to watch the performance. It is the first time the sufficiency economy philosophy has been turned into a stage musical since the King laid out the idea 25 years ago. The sufficiency philosophy focuses on the middle path of life, observing moderation, reasonableness, and self-immunity in the face of rapid global change.
The musical features a conversation between an ambitious businessman in pursuit of wealth but who neglects ethics, only to find his life collapses, and a rural villager, who lives a happy life in a paddy field. The farmer told the rich man that his "father" had taught him to take the middle path under the guidance of a righteous mind. Eventually he finds out that the "father" is the King. The play and the exhibition will continue at Muang Thong Thani from 9am to 9pm until Sunday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Possible flood in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 28 May 2006 at 13:10 PM
The Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) announced its readiness to tackle a possible deluge, forecast to hit the capital later this year and to be worse than those in the previous years. Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said water has been drained from major canals in preparations for water run-off from the North. The BMA has closely coordinated with the Royal Irrigation Department in monitoring the volume of water in Bhumibol, Sirikit and Pasak Cholasit dams, said the governor, adding that a 70-kilometre dyke has been built on the Chao Phraya riverbank to prevent flooding. Sewers have been cleared up and water pumps will be available but, Mr. Apirak said, more pumps are needed if the amount of rainfall exceeds 60 millimetres an hour. The governor made his remark in light of a warning on floods in Bangkok by Mr. Smith Tumsaroch, Vice Minister Attached to the Prime Minister's Office, who blamed the La Nina phenomenon for the excessive amount of rainfall this year. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Abuse of gibbons in Patong

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2006 at 15:00 PM
The problem of gibbons being hawked around Patong for photo opportunities has returned after a two-year absence. Over the past two weeks gibbons and their handlers have started to reappear, particularly around Soi Bangla. The problem had previously been cleared up by the Wildlife Conservation Office (WCO) which carried out a campaign to confiscate illegally-held gibbons and house them in rehabilitation centers. Any individual who wants to own a wild animal must apply for a permit from the WCO. The Office, however, stopped granting permits in 2004. Therefore, the only legally-kept wild animals are ones that were registered in 2004 or before. Because the gibbons used in the tourist trade are all young animals they are most likely to have been caught illegally in the wild since that time, explained Awat Nitikul, the Chief of the WCO in Phuket. "We know the animals used in the tourist trade are not held legally because they are not old enough. We are hindered in our work by owners who claim that they have permits for their animals even though we are sure the permits they have are for different animals. We then have to take the owners to court." He also complained about the lack of assistance from police.
To contact the WCO, whenever you see a gibbon being used for tourist purposes, please call Tel: 076-311998 during government office hours or K. Awat, at Tel: 06-6897040, after hours. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Yet another date for the election

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2006 at 14:40 PM
The Election Commission yesterday proposed October 15 as the new election date, but failed to dispel doubts over whether the determination process was above board. A source close to the country's top courts said the Administrative, Constitution and Supreme courts had agreed to meet on May 31 to consider the legality of the EC's proposal. The EC came up with the new date after the three courts ruled that its earlier proposal for the election to be held on Oct 22 was illegal because the meeting had lacked a quorum. It remains in doubt whether yesterday's meeting met the quorum under the Election Commission Act of 1998 even if all three of the remaining commissioners had attended. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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King wants more and better help for flood victims

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2006 at 14:38 PM
His Majesty the King last night suggested the three armed forces use the full extent of their communication networks to speed relief work in Uttaradit, the worst-hit of five northern provinces stricken by floods. As the King spoke, relief workers and troops continued working around the clock to provide emergency supplies to an estimated 120,000 people stranded by the floods that have already claimed 48 lives and left 66 missing, presumed dead. Searchers employed dogs, helicopters and their bare hands in the ongoing search for victims. A thousand soldiers joined the grim task in Uttaradit, where teams sifted through mud and debris for bodies in the province's hard-hit Tha Pla district, which was devastated by a landslide. Heavy rains that started Sunday triggered flash floods and mudslides in five northern provinces of Lampang, Nan, Phrae, Sukhothai and Uttaradit. It is being described as the worst monsoon-wrought disaster in the area in six decades. Uttaradit was by far the hardest-hit province, accounting for 41 of the dead and 62 of the missing. By last night, train and road links between Bangkok and the North had largely been reconnected as floodwaters receded.
The King made his suggestion on improving communications to armed forces leaders during a meeting at Klai Kangwon Palace in Prachuap Khiri Khan that was broadcast live on national television. He said the deputy principal private secretary, whom he had sent to coordinate relief work with the military, had forgotten to point out the usefulness of military radio transmitters in deep forests where mobile phones were out of range. The armed forces should set up a central communications nerve centre where portable transmitters from each force can be installed and put to work, he said. The air force could fly its aircraft to link up communications while the army establishes channels on the ground. The King stressed the importance of getting help through quickly. If the armed forces needed money to finance the relief operations, he could help because he knew it could be costly. He said food must be delivered to mudslide victims but it may be hard to organise air-drops as some villages may not exist on the map. Here, the navy could come in useful, he added.
Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday called an urgent meeting to discuss relief measures. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Their majesties urge for flood help

Posted by hasekamp on 24 May 2006 at 12:15 PM
Their Majesties the King and the Queen have instructed the armed forces to help people in the northern provinces who were affected by the recent heavy floods, said Office of HM the King's Principal Private Secretary. Their Majesties are deeply concerned about the situation in the northern region where many provinces - Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Phrae, Lampang and Nan - have been hard hit by flash floods. The flooding has claimed many lives and caused extensive property damage. Therefore Their Majesties instructed the Army, the Navy and the Air Force on Tuesday to provide all assistance to the afflicted populace. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin has taken back the chair completely

Posted by hasekamp on 24 May 2006 at 12:13 PM
After having taken "leave" two days after the snap election, Thaksin Shinawatra has taken up all his former duties again. The Caretaker Prime Minister made two key moves on his first day back in office after a six-week break. Thaksin specifically warned his opponents to stop circulating the so-called Finland Declaration, described by some as his political blueprint to cling to power. He told the Cabinet his opponents had fabricated the declaration to undermine his leadership and prevent him from resuming work. The declaration outlines an action plan for the ruling Thai Rak Thai Party to gain and stay in power, including a scheme seen as offensive to the monarchy. Thaksin denied the declaration's existence.
Thaksin yesterday instructed fellow Cabinet members to prepare information about urgent matters for small-group meetings on Monday. In regard to the formality of Thaksin resuming work, the Cabinet cancelled its April 5 resolution, allowing him to assume his caretaker duties again. When Thaksin took his "political break", the Cabinet issued the resolution to sanction his leave by delegating his caretaker duties to respective Cabinet members. Under the resolution, caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya was empowered as acting caretaker prime minister and respective ministers were allowed to directly dispense various duties that previously needed prime ministerial approval. Following yesterday's moves, delegated duties reverted to Thaksin.
In his comeback speech, Thaksin expressed confidence that the political crisis could be overcome, saying Thais were compromising by nature. He also said his priorities included upholding the rule of law and revitalising the economy. The opposition is preparing lawsuits to declare the return of Thaksin illegal. (Source: The Nation)


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Flooding in five northern provinces

Posted by hasekamp on 24 May 2006 at 11:59 AM
Rescue and relief officials are working against the clock to help hundreds of thousands of people in Uttaradit, Phrae, Lampang, Nan and Sukhothai provinces, trapped by rising floodwaters and landslides, which have so far claimed at least 23 lives. Uttaradit had the highest death toll, with 15 confirmed dead and 47 missing. About 100 homes collapsed. Five were dead in Sukhothai's Si Satchanalai district and three in Phrae, caretaker Deputy Interior Minister Sermsak Pongpanich said yesterday. Many are feared missing. An official in the North said the death toll could reach 100.
Days of incessant rain triggered severe flash floods and landslides which struck early yesterday morning, damaging roads, railways and power lines. More rain is forecast. In hardest-hit Uttaradit, power supplies have been cut off in Muang and Laplae districts, which are submerged under up to four metres of water. Rescuers aboard flat-bottomed boats were evacuating people in Muang, Laplae and Tha Pla districts to emergency shelters. Army helicopters were transporting military medical teams to areas inaccessible by boat and dropping the injured off at Uttaradit Songkro Foundation's convention centre as the provincial hospital was cut off by one-meter deep water. The Corrections Department sent three generators to the inundated Uttaradit prison to facilitate the transfer of all 700 inmates to Phitsanulok prison, said deputy director-general Pittaya Sangkanakin. In neighbouring Phrae province, residents were evacuated to higher ground -as flash floods from mountains and swollen rivers inundated Muang, Den Chai and Wang Chin districts.
Meanwhile, the State Railway of Thailand has cancelled all north-bound trips as long stretches of railway tracks have been submerged. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Medical tourism brings in money

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2006 at 13:24 PM
While doctors and CEOs at hi-tech hospitals are rubbing their hands, "medical tourism" is projected to earn the country Bt36.4 billion this year as 1.4 million foreign patients, especially well-heeled ones from the West, Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, check in at private hospitals in Bangkok and other tourist destinations. The medical tourism business took off more than four years ago, with Bangkok's Bum-rungrad Hospital among the pioneers, Kasikorn Research Centre (KResearch) said in a recent study. Over the past years, the annual growth rate has averaged 14 per cent, said Dr Prapha Wongphaet, president of the Thai Private Hospitals Association. While the tourism sector is happy to see business booming, critics have raised concerns over the potential negative consequences to the country's medical-care system. For instance, more and more physicians will be drawn by higher financial rewards to work for private hospitals, especially those catering to foreign patients, leaving state or lower-end private hospitals understaffed. "There will be a brain drain due to the fact that doctors treating foreigners will get more money than those treating Thais. Unless we have effective measures to manage this problem, there will soon be a shortage of doctors at hospitals serving only the locals," said Dr Damras Tresukosol of state-owned Siriraj Hospital. The type of service that is being provided for foreign patients and tourists is not exactly the same type of service as for the majority of Thais. In the past tourism customers were mainly Japanese; now Middle Eastern patients are dominant. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin is back

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2006 at 13:16 PM
Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will take the helm back from his deputy Chidchai Wannasathit next week. "I have to work. There are several months to go before the general election. If I don't work, the country will be in trouble," he said. Mr Thaksin took indefinite leave after the April 2 snap election, saying he would return when the new government was formed.
He said security authorities would discuss the situation in the deep South tomorrow following the hostage situation in Narathiwat's Rangae district. Mr Thaksin yesterday accepted a petition from 200 operators of Subaru mini-vans who gathered in front of his residence on Charan Sanitwong road to seek help. The Subaru operators faced a crackdown after being accused by private bus and minibus operators of providing services on their routes and stealing their income.
Meanwhile, Democrat spokesman Ong-art Klampaiboon yesterday raised concerns about the caretaker government's plan to hasten spending of a 30-billion-baht fund. He also demanded the caretaker government ensure the budget is not spent in a way that benefits a particular party.
The government also revived the war on drugs and offered scholarships, in what was seen as a sign that Mr Thaksin wants to take back the national leadership.
Sondhi Limthongkul, leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, said Mr Thaksin had gone back on his word. A few days after the April 2 general election, Mr Thaksin had gone on television pledging to step aside as prime minister to defuse escalating political tension.
We wonder if all this has anything at all to do with the recent audience Mr. Thaksin was granted by HM the King. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin gets audience with King

Posted by hasekamp on 19 May 2006 at 11:59 AM
Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be granted an audience with HM the King this afternoon, a highly-place source said on Friday. Thaksin will meet the King who is now at Klaikangwon Place in Hua Hin. Confiriming the planned audience, Government Spokesman Surapong Suebwonglee described it as a routine meeting. But it comes as parties in and outside government are seeking to resolve a political dilemma. Earlier Thaksin, who first refused to resign, announced his resignation in March hours after he was granted audience with HM the King. HM the King last month called on the nation's three top courts to act to end the deadlock, and they responded by nullifying the results of an April 2 general election won by Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party. The courts as well as opposition parties have called on members of the Election Commission to resign before new polls are held. They claim the commissioners unfairly favor Thaksin's government. (Source: The Nation)


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October 22 inappropriate for election

Posted by hasekamp on 17 May 2006 at 13:07 PM
Thai Cabinet Secretary-General Borvornsak Uwanno suggested that the Election Commission (EC) should change the date for the new general election since its proposed October 22 poll date falls during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He said the date was inappropriate and could cause difficulties for Thai Muslims because their mosques would have to be used for religious observances during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan; and therefore, the houses of worship could not be used as voting locations as they often had been in Muslim communities in previous elections. The Election Commission now says that the October 22 poll date was just a proposal, not a consensus reached by the EC meeting. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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The Da Vinci Code to be cut for Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2006 at 17:10 PM
The Thai Censorship Committee have decided to cut the final 10 minutes of "The Da Vinci Code" as the part effect the faith and belief of Christianity. "The committee also agree that the movie should have a message before opening credit that the movie was produced from a fiction, not a real story," said Chavana Mahitchartkul, a mass communication expert, who is a committee member. She was speaking after attending a review on the controversial movie on Christ which is scheduled to open in Thailand on Thursday. Representatives of local Christian groups also participated in the review. Four major local Christian groups yesterday submitted a request to the Royal Thai Police asking that the controversial Hollywood movie "The Da Vinci Code" be banned from Thailand.
Meanwhile four major local Christian groups yesterday submitted a request to the Royal Thai Police asking that the movie "The Da Vinci Code" be banned completely from Thailand. The movie "distorts the Bible and violates the dignity of the Jesus", Professor Wirach Koidul, an official with the Coordination Committee of the Protestant Church of Thailand, said in a statement released by the four groups. "Our joint conclusion agrees that the novel and the movie deliberately insult Jesus Christ." (Source: The Nation)
(On Thursday the Thai press wrote that the Thai censor has changed its mind on the day of the premiere after all, so that the film will be show in Thailand uncut after all)


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October 22 for new election?

Posted by hasekamp on 15 May 2006 at 12:39 PM
Thailand's Election Commission and 20 political parties, including the ruling Thai Rak Thai Party, today proposed that the new general election should be held on October 22, after the Constitution Court nullified the April 2 snap general elections on grounds that it violated the Constitution. Election Commissioner Prinya Nakchadtree said the majority agreed that October 22 was appropriate and the EC would submit the proposal to the Cabinet on Tuesday. The proposal won approval from representatives of 13 parties but the ruling Thai Rak Thai Party's representative abstained. The TRT representative sought an early poll date, arguing that the poll, if delayed, will cause major problems in administration, particularly, the government's draft budget bill for Fiscal Year 2007 which has yet to go under parliamentary scrutiny. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Visakha Bucha Day

Posted by hasekamp on 13 May 2006 at 13:30 PM
Yesterday was Visakha Bucha Day. Buddhists across the country flocked to temples for candle-lit processions as part of activities on the day marking the anniversary of the birth, enlightenment and death of the Lord Buddha. Other activities included alms offering and listening to monks' teachings. Activities were organised in almost every temple and the ones at Wat Mahathat in Nakhon Si Thammarat, one of the most famous temples in the southern region, drew more participants than usual, young and old alike.
Monks and their followers at Wat Bang Krai in Bang Kruai district of Nonthaburi province - however - were about to mark the day yesterday in traditional fashion, but were stunned to find a three-century-old Buddha image had gone missing. A senior monk said the image was stolen on Thursday night although resident monks noticed the disappearance only yesterday morning. Dating back to the Ayutthaya period and registered as a national artifact in 1999.
In the border district of Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaeo province, many Thais go to casinos rather than temples. They formed long queues at the checkpoint and waited for permission to cross the border and head for nine casinos in Poipet town in Cambodia yesterday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Too sexy university uniforms

Posted by hasekamp on 12 May 2006 at 13:37 PM
Flashy, skin-tight uniforms are the latest rage for female university students while their male counterparts are slipping into loose-fitting jeans with waists cut low enough to reveal their boxers. But as both sexes prepare for the beginning of the new semester next month, university administrators are updating their dress codes and reminding students they will also be graded on their attire. Kasetsart University has banned skirts with low-cut waists as well as jeans that reveal boxer shorts. Offenders will be banned from lecture halls and will lose marks. So far students are ignoring the warnings. As they pore over clothing racks, they are grabbing sexier, attention-grabbing attire, vendors say. Skirts are even more daring this year than last year, noted a vendor at Bang Kapi's Tawanna market. "Some are as tiny as 30cm from waistline to hem, and there are short skirts with front, rear or side slits, depending on your preference," he said. "The SSS size was the smallest shirt size last year, but this year our smallest is the SSSSS," he said. "It's difficult now to find simple uniforms with long skirts and big shirts at shops now," a femele student said. (Source: The Nation)


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Election problems continue

Posted by hasekamp on 12 May 2006 at 13:33 PM
The embattled Election Commission (EC) yesterday came under intense pressure after an investigative panel implicated the Thai Rak Thai Party in major electoral fraud that could see the party dissolved and its leader Thaksin Shinawatra banned from politics for five years. The EC, in hot water since the Constitution Court nullified the April 2 snap election earlier this week, now must respond swiftly to its panel's recommendation that Thaksin be charged for "hiring" small parties to contest the April 2 vote. The offence, allegedly committed to get around an electoral rule requiring candidates running without opposition to receive at least 20 per cent of all votes cast, is punishable by the party's dissolution. Article 69 of the Constitution also bans executives of the dissolved party from forming a new party or holding office in another party for five years.
The panel's report, containing details and bank transaction evidence as well as compelling testimony from witnesses, was submitted to EC chairman Vasana Puemlarp on Monday. Vasana left for Sydney, Australia last night, saying he wanted to visit his son who is studying there. He is scheduled to return on Tuesday. (Source: The Nation)


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Child abuser deported

Posted by hasekamp on 12 May 2006 at 13:29 PM
Immigration Police handed over to US Embassy staff Friday an American teacher who will be sent back to the United States to face trial on charges of paedophilia. Steven Erik Prowler, a 57-year-old English language teacher at an unnamed Bangkok school, has been in jail since being arrested last year on paedophilia charge. Police raided his apartment and found more than 100 photos of naked Asian boys. The raid, which came after a lengthy investigation, also revealed the presence of two teenage boys, from whom Prowler had secured sexual services. The boys told police investigators that Prowler had paid them for their services and had videod and photographed the act for publication in a foreign magazine for homosexuals. Police found diaries detailing the accused's sexual activities with many Asian boys. He had been sentenced by a Thai court to serve a one-year jail term for committing sexual abuse of minors. His name is also on a Thai Immigration Police blacklist of persons who are persona non grata. He will be tried in the United States for sexually abusing more than 100 underaged boys in North America. A US Embassy representative praised Thai police for their cooperation that led to the arrest of the accused paedophile. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Herd of Asian tapirs found

Posted by hasekamp on 10 May 2006 at 19:30 PM
A herd of 8 Asian tapirs has been found in a jungle on Banthad Mountain straddling Trang and Phatthalung provinces. Sutham Suthawatpong, head of the Khao Chong Wildlife Conservation Station, said the tapir is now an endangered species and therefore the herd of 8 found in that area is a precious resource which must be protected. Mr. Sutham said the number of wildlife on Banthad Mountain areas is reducing mainly because of hunting, forest trespassing and illegal logging.
Tapirs are large browsing animals, roughly pig-like in shape but with short, prehensile trunks. Size varies between species, but most are about 2 meters long, stand about a meter high at the shoulder, and weigh between 150 and 300 kg. The natural lifespan of a tapir is approximately 30 years, and a single youngster is born after a gestation of about 13 months. (Source: Farang Pai Nai)


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Judges collide with Election Commission

Posted by hasekamp on 10 May 2006 at 19:28 PM
Political tension rose yesterday after the Election Commission (EC) continued to refuse to quit as suggested by the three top courts. Instead they called for a meeting of political parties on Monday to organise the new election. The move came after the Constitution Court yesterday issued a joint verdict ordering a new royal decree to organise the new general election, within 60 days of the verdict taking effect. Chat Thai chief Banharn Silapa-archa called a meeting of his party, which decided not to attend the EC meeting. "If the EC organises a new election, the country will enter another political crisis," he said. The Democrat Party will meet to decide its stance today, spokesman Ongart Klampaiboon said.
EC chairman Vasana Puemlarp had tears in his eyes and was overwhelmed when 1,000 supporters gathered and urged him to fight on. Vasana has so far refused to go. And so the problems around the elaction go on and on. (Source: The Nation)


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Court: April 2 election was unconstitutional

Posted by hasekamp on 8 May 2006 at 12:37 PM
Thailand's Constitutional Court justices voted on Monday March 8 to nullify the April 2 general election, saying it was unconstitutional and that a new poll should be held. Court spokesman Paiboon Varahapaitoon told a media conference that the court's 14 judges voted 8 to 6 to invalidate the polls based on a complaint filed through the Office of the Ombudsman alleging that the last election were unconstitutional. The court also ruled 9 to 5 in favour of holding new elections. Mr. Paiboon said the court would have to coordinate with the Election Commission to set a new polling date.
The complaint questioned the legitimacy of the election on the basis that the positioning of the polling booths compromised the privacy of voters as they marked their ballots, the scheduling of a voting date less than 45 days after the Lower House dissolution, and charges that a major political party had financed less-known parties to field their candidates in many constituencies. In addition, the complaint alleged that the Election Commission made unlawful decisions regarding the electoral process, including the endorsement of elected MPs, as the decisions were made without a quorum.
This ruling was widely expected following the request of His Majesty the King last month that the three top courts - the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court and the Constitutional Court - find a solution to a months-long political stalemate. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Multimedia Buddha exhibition

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2006 at 13:55 PM
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is combining multimedia technology in an exhibition about the Lord Buddha's life, to make the religious theme appeal to a wider audience. The exhibition is taking place at Sanam Luang until May 12, during Buddhism Promotion Week, to commemorate World Visakha Bucha Day, which the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation recognises as a World Heritage Day. TAT's deputy governor yesterday said his agency has spent 10 million baht on sprucing up the exhibition recounting the Lord Buddha's life with state-of-the-art technology. The exhibition will be aided by so-called conceptual contemporary multimedia art and many forms of virtual outlets such as Video art, installation art and media art, the TAT deputy governor said. The exhibition is open from 10am until 10pm every day and admission is free. The TAT-sponsored presentation hall at the exhibition covers 1,000 square metres, and is divided into six air-conditioned rooms, each chronicling different periods of the Lord Buddha's life, such as enlightenment. A group of guides well-versed in Buddhism are also on hand to give detailed explanations about the exhibits to visitors. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Rainy season hits Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2006 at 11:57 AM
The annual southwest monsoon has arrived, dumping millions of tons of water on Phuket yesterday and flooding part of Karon. The director of the Southern Meteorological Center (West Coast) Phuket said that more heavy rain can be expected in the coming few days, especially in the afternoons and evening \96 along with more flooding. He said that the rain is unlikely to be heavy enough to cause landslides but warned people in exposed or landslide-risk areas to be on the alert nevertheless, and to listen to weather forecasts. \93Some areas such as Patong, Kata, and Karon may have to watch out for flooding because there is a lot of construction [in those places] that impedes drainage,\94 he added. Heavy rain yesterday afternoon caused flooding to a depth of around 50 centimeters in the area around th e Nong Harn Circle in Karon, making the area impassable to smaller vehicles. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Digital tipitaka's to honor King

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2006 at 12:37 PM
Thailand has launched the latest digital international edition of the Tipitaka, the Three Baskets [divisions] of the Buddhist canon [scriptures], to honour His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne. The computerised edition of Tipitaka entitled, Budhir: International Edition in Multi-Scripts, is the tenth of its kind since 1988 when a team from Mahidol University's Computing Centre, Thailand's Ministry of Culture, and two Thai Buddhist universities announced completion of the project to compile 45 volumes of the Pali Tipitaka in Thai script into computers in Bangkok, as the world's first digital edition of the Tipitaka, together with development of an application programme, BUDSIR, for searching it. The newest edition contains 194 volumes of the Tipitika with characters in seven languages in addition to Thai. It is now even more convenient for searchers since it is presented on the platform in which as many as 15 windows can be opened and read at once, simply as one might open many different volumes of scriptures at one time for comparison, said Mahidol University vice rector Supachai Tangwongsan.
In addition to honouring HM the King on the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne, Dr. Supachai said the development of the computerized international edition of the Tipitaka is to promote Thailand as the world's leading centre of Buddhist education and to provide a database to be used as the authoritative reference for international scholarly use of the Scriptures. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Worldwide broadcast planned

Posted by hasekamp on 4 May 2006 at 18:08 PM
The government is organising a televised tribute to His Majesty the King to be broadcast worldwide. The tribute is scheduled for May 26, but the venue is yet to be finalised. Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai unveiled plans for the tribute yesterday. He said it could be broadcast from the Foreign Ministry, or Impact Arena at Muang Thong Thani. Surakiart said a working panel was discussing with the Office of His Majesty's Principal Private Secretary the possibility of inviting HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to chair the show. She would also be asked to make the opening address. Surakiart said United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan would deliver an address explaining why His Majesty was granted the United Nations Development Programme's inaugural Human Development Lifetime Award this year. "The seminar will let the world know of His Majesty's great contribution to Thailand," Surakiart said.
The country is preparing for a major celebration next month of the 60th anniversary of His Majesty's accession to the throne. The King is the world's longest-reigning monarch. (Source: The Nation)


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High-tech drug fight

Posted by hasekamp on 4 May 2006 at 11:01 AM
The Thai military is deploying the latest technology in its efforts to deter drug trafficking across the Thai-Burmese border, and has also increased its presence in the area. Pa Muang task force commander Wanatip Wongwai said a new remote sensor device was helping the unit suppress the drugs trade across the border more effectively. He was speaking during a patrol operation at the border in Chiang Rai's Mae Fa Luang district, in response to reports that smugglers were planning to bring 200kg of heroin across the border to Ban Mong Kao Lang. Maj-Gen Wanatip said the sensors could detect anyone crossing the border and transmit the data instantly to the main surveillance centre. "This device is of tremendous benefit to the anti-drug operation in Mae Ai district in Chiang Mai. We've been able to intercept six drug dealers and confiscate the illegal substances that came with them, including speed pills and heroin, on the spot," said one soldier, who declined to be named. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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THAI to launch new airline

Posted by hasekamp on 2 May 2006 at 13:43 PM
Thai Airways International (THAI) announced plans Today for a new airline on domestic and regional flights as part of its strategy to combat cut-throat competition from budget rivals. The airline, called Euarng Luang, will target the mid-range market and start flying later this year within Thailand and to Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, said Thai Airways new president Apinan Sumanaseni. Euarng Luang, which means Royal Orchid, will be positioned differently from Nok Air, Thai Airways' low-cost subsidiary, and be aimed at drawing customers from premium and budget rivals. "Euarng Luang is targeted to serve the markets between premium and low-cost airlines," Apinan told reporters.
Euarng Luang will fly from Bangkok's existing Don Muang airport before moving to the new Suvarnabhumi Airport which is expected to open after much delay this year or next year. Apinan, a former pilot, was named as the new president last month to head the carrier's battle against growing fuel costs and stiff competition from budget and low-cost carriers. (Source: AFP)


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Inflation surges in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 2 May 2006 at 11:35 AM
A general inflation rate in April surged by 6 per cent from the same month last year due to soaring oil prices and higher prices of vegetables, according to the Commerce Ministry. The Permanent Secretary for Commerce revealed the consumer price index (CPI) in April rose by 1.2 per cent month on month, but surged by 6 per cent from the same month of the previous year. The increase was a result of higher prices of fresh vegetables, fresh chickens, eggs, and sugar, and rising transport costs due to the oil price hike. However, prices of some products such as vegetable oil, seed, and tomato sauce had declined as a result of efficient supervision of product prices by the ministry’s officials. The ministry forecast the inflation rate would stay at 5.7 and 5.8 per cent in the first and second quarters respectively. Then it would move in a range of 4-6 per cent since overall prices of products would not rise considerably. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Buffaloes as a tourist attraction

Posted by hasekamp on 2 May 2006 at 11:32 AM
Farmers in Phan district (Chiang Rai province) who won a buffalo conservation award hope to turn their project into a tourist attraction. Winai Kruangchai, director of the Hua Ngom Tambon Administration Organisation (TAO) which oversees the Buffalo Conservation Project, said project members will soon come together to build homestay-style accommodations for tourists. He said visitors will be taken to see how farmers grow rice and feed animals in paddy fields and swamps. They will ride in carts, touring local communities and talking to people, as well as learning the nature of the buffalo, he said. The conservation project won Best Farmer Award this year from the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry. A representative will receive the award from His Majesty the King at the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony on May 11. The project began in 2001 with 21 farmers and 28 buffaloes in cooperation with the Hua Ngom TAO. It now has 50 members and 261 buffaloes, covering 2,400 rai of land in tambons Hua Ngom, Than Tawan and Muang Kham. The project aims to preserve the health and cultural value of buffaloes. It also helps farmers generate income without harming the environment. For example, some farmers earn 1,000-2,000 baht a month selling buffalo excrement for use as organic fertiliser. Thailand has 1.6 million buffaloes, 1.2 million of them in the northeastern provinces, according to the Livestock Development Department. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Will Thaksin treturn in politics?

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2006 at 10:28 AM
Thai Rak Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra is likely to call off his political holiday and re-enter the race if the April 2 snap election is invalidated, acting Prime Minister Chidchai Wannasathit said yesterday. Mr Thaksin arrived secretly from Hong Kong about 4.45pm aboard an unscheduled, empty Thai Airways International plane ordered back for replacement. Cabinet ministers, and even his team of police security guards, were not informed. Nor were reporters. If a court resolved to nullify the April 2 general election, everything would start afresh and any previous promises would also be nullified. Mr Thaksin announced after the April 2 polls he would not to accept the job of prime minister in the new government, amid mounting pressure from political opponents to resign. That has been nullified by Mr Thaksin apparently now. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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