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Police raids longnecks

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2006 at 17:05 PM
Police raided a long-neck Karen village in Chiang Mai's Mae Rim district yesterday after claims the people were being used to attract tourists. The Karen's work permits allow them to work in agricultural jobs only. The provincial deputy police commander, Colonel Chamnan Ruadrew, said police had been told an entrepreneur was charging tourists Bt300 to Bt500 each to visit the 20-rai long-neck Karen village. (This is true, and they call it "payment for a visa", Hasekamp Net) Police found 18 of the long-neck Padaung people - 11 women, two men and five children - living in 10 bamboo houses surrounded by rice fields. Chamnan said that using migrant workers in tasks other than those for which they had permission to remain in the country is punishable by up to three years in jail or a Bt60,000 fine. Landowner Wibul Chaitham, 47, said he hired the Padaung legally to grow rice and allowed tourists to visit their village free of charge. He said they held work permits for agricultural work. They were hired three years ago to tend a mango orchard in Mae Ai district and two months ago were moved to their present village after informing the provincial employment office. Wibul said he provided the Padaung with homes and paid them Bt135 per head per day to grow rice. He said he believed the Karen village could attract tourists as a home-stay village and restaurant, and he admitted making brochures inviting tourists to visit the village to see the hilltribe lifestyle at first hand. He said he scrapped the plan after being heavily criticised, and insisted that the Karen workers did not hold shows to attract tourists. (Source: The Nation)


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Phuket expects flooding

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2006 at 17:00 PM
Following the recent downpours that caused minor floods and landslides around the island, Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura yesterday warned officials to prepare at-risk areas for potential floods and landslides in October, when more heavy rains traditionally deluge the island. The unusually heavy rain in Phuket in August has led forecasters at the Southern Meteorological Center (West Coast), based at Phuket International Airport, to predict the weather will only get worse in upcoming months. "Officials must prepare for flooding soon and be prepared to pump out problem areas," Gov Udomsak said, adding that several areas were expected to suffer heavy flooding and advised officials in those areas to be especially vigilant. "I am worried about the Samkong area in Phuket City, especially at the Tesco-Lotus Intersection, because it has a lot of construction," he said. "Other places are the lowlands behind the Big C supercenter, and also Komaraphat Rd because there is always flooding there." Heavy rains over the past week caused a minor landslide on Patong Hill and flooding around the go-kart track in Kathu. "There are other affected areas such as Karon, but the problems are not serious, and when the rain stops it will return to normal," Dumri Sungsarb, of the the Phuket Provincial Defense Office, said. However, he added that if the rains persisted he would expect more problems at Soi Siangtai, on Thepkrasattri Rd, an area known for flooding and landslides. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Plans for new province, to honor King

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2006 at 16:55 PM
Interior Minister Air Chief Marshal Kongsak Wanthana has initiated a feasibility study to establish a new province to celebrate the 80th Birthday of His Majesty the King next year. If it comes to pass, the new province will include three districts--Hua Hin, Pranburi in the country's upper southern province of Prachuap Khiri Khan and Cha-am in nearby Petchaburi Province, as well as a sub-district--Sam Roy Yod--in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Marshal Kongsak said. His Majesty the King's Klaikangvol Palace is located at the seaside district of Hua Hin. The elevatation of the three districts to provincial status is anticipated to take place before the end of 2007. The study will be forwarded to the new government for its consideration. Permanent Secretary for Interior Sucharit Patchimnun said the ministry is now surveying the population in the targeted and nearby areas. Establishing Thailand's 77th province will increase the capability of the local authority in management, Mr. Sucharit said. The matter will be discussed by the cabinet and His Majesty the King may be asked to bestow a name for the new province. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Half Bangkok does not believe in the attack

Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2006 at 18:34 PM
Half the people in Bangkok do not believe the alleged bomb plot against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was genuine, according to an opinion poll. The finding came as academics predicted a more confrontational society, regardless of the election outcome. A Bangkok University poll found 49.8% of people surveyed in the capital and the surrounding areas believed the alleged plot on Mr Thaksin's life was a hoax. And 60.6% of them were convinced the government itself orchestrated the incident, while 20% believed anti-government elements were behind it. Only 20.5% actually believed it was a serious assassination attempt. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Night safari elephants said to be legal

Posted by hasekamp on 27 August 2006 at 18:22 PM
The Chiang Mai Night Safari insists it has legally procured five elephants from private owners and all have certification to prove that they were captive creatures and not from the wild. The clarification came after the Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation revealed the zoo planned to export the elephants to China under an animal exchange programme. The group opposes the shipment for fear that it would threaten the Thai elephant population. Night Safari said the elephants have been implanted with microchips which contain information about the jumbos, including their names, owners, and vaccination records. "The information recorded in the microchips has been certified by the National Institute for Animal Health under the Livestock Development Department," it said. The Night Safari bought the elephants from their owners on Dec 2. The jumbos have been kept at the zoo for almost a year. The elephants, two males and three females, are between four and nine years old but officials did not put their age in the ID papers because the Interior Ministry's 1939 Draught Animal Act does not require the owners to do so, said the statement. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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ID cards for elephants

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2006 at 16:43 PM
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will collect information about all domesticated elephants in Thailand and issue ID cards for them within two years. Assistant to minister Noppadon Patthama said related laws will be amended to require owners of the elephants to apply for the ID for every elephant calf within 30 days after it was born. Mr. Noppadon said the ID issued for newly-born elephants will be renewed when the animals are five, 10, 15 and 30 years old. The elephants will be taken photographs and have microchips implanted when it is one month old, he said. Mr. Noppadon said the survey and registration of 3,00-4,000 elephants in Thailand should be completed in two years. He also said a law will be issued to ban elephant hunting, elephant exports and abuse of elephants. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Attempt to kill Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2006 at 16:39 PM
A car loaded with explosives that was intercepted by police early yesterday morning was possibly to be used in an attempt to kill caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra while he was travelling in his motorcade, National Intelligence Agency director Jumphol Manmai said yesterday. The police general said he learned that the bomb, containing 14.23 pounds (6.5 kilograms) of a combination of TNT and C-4 composite explosive as well as a type of 64.57 blasting agent, was ready to go off. He said he did not know who was behind the possible assassination plot. Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Lt-General Wiroj Jantharangsee said the explosives in the sedan were completely assembled, equipped with a remote unit sensor and ready to be detonated, and that it would have a radius of impact of around one kilometre. Five uniformed police officers pulled over the silver Daewoo sedan at the foot of a flyover on Borromratchonnani Road near Bang Phlad Intersection and arrested the driver, Army Lieutenant Thawatchai Klinchana, who said he was paid Bt200 by a man to drive it to an area called Suan Oy. Thawatchai, initially charged with having explosives in his possession, was later brought to the Crime Suppression Division compound for questioning, with two military officers present, after police searched his official residence near the First Military Precinct headquarters, where police found and seized two licence plates and a personal computer. A police team later searched Thawatchai's own home in Nonthaburi's Bang Bua Thong district and found no illegal items. A Thai Rak Thai Party blazer was found there. A police barricade was set up around the car and a large crowd was herded away to a 400-metre radius from where it was parked. A team of police ordnance experts were called in to examine the car. They neutralised some of the explosives on the front passenger seat by using a high-powered water gun to disassemble what appeared to be cloth bags with something inside. Police said such types of explosives were the same as those used in terror bomb attacks in the restive South by insurgents, and that the impact would have been massive. (Source: The Nation)


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King worried about floodinhg

Posted by hasekamp on 24 August 2006 at 15:37 PM
His Majesty the King has instructed officials to update him in detail about the flood situation in Nan province and the North. As the flood-hit northern and northeastern regions prepare for a tropical storm due later this month, His Majesty's Private Affairs Division has collected detailed information from the Royal Irrigation Department (RID). RID director-general Samart Choknapitak said the information provided included geological and climatic aspects, and agencies' flood-tackling efforts. The division also had an aircraft inspect Nan River for a better analysis of the problems. Samart said His Majesty instructed the department to clear waterways, to inspect reservoirs in preparation for releasing water ahead of the coming storm, and to update him about progress and problems. The task of releasing water must be well managed because of the risk of inundating houses in low-lying areas or contributing to a water shortage in the drought season, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Escaped wolf is dead

Posted by hasekamp on 24 August 2006 at 15:34 PM
A grey wolf which recently made a brief break for freedom from Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo died over a week ago, but its demise was kept under wraps until yesterday. Just as zoo officials did not try to alert the public when the three-year-old wolf escaped, they also chose to keep quiet about its death. The wolf's escape came to light only when villagers living near the zoo complained that a strange animal had stolen and eaten about 200 fowls and puppies over the previous month. Zoo officials then admitted that the wolf had disappeared from its enclosure a month earlier, explaining they had kept quiet because it was tame, bred in captivity, posed no threat and they expected to quickly recapture the animal. A team from the zoo finally recaptured the wolf on Aug 5. It was kept under close watch for rabies and other diseases and then returned to the enclosure it shared with five other Canadian grey wolves, the zoo's director for management, Supot Metapiwat, said yesterday. However, the wolf then became sick and was sent to the animal hospital at Chiang Mai University. The animal died over a week ago, Mr Supot said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand goes for oil

Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2006 at 10:38 AM
Permanent Secretary for Energy Cherdpong Siriwit on Tuesday revealed that PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP), Thailand's giant energy explorer--an affiliate of PTT Public Company Limited (PTT), plans to seek cooperation with major power countries in exploring new petroleum sources. He said the company has a plan to cooperate with China in exchanging equity holding in existing oil fields and locating a new oil field in Sudan. Cooperating with the major power countries would benefit the company and the nation in the exploration of new petroleum sources because the countries have higher bargaining power, he added. On the energy price trend on the global market and in Thailand, Mr. Cherdpong projected that fuel prices would continue to stay high since the global oil supply and demand is now balanced. At the same time, oil refining plants in several countries have run in full stream, while it will take a few years for new oil fields to begin supplying fuel. He said risk factors that could make global oil prices fluctuate and should be monitored include Iran's insistence in going ahead with its nuclear programme and a labour protest with work stoppage in Nigeria, where there are many oil-drill fields. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Many schools do not qualify

Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2006 at 10:34 AM
More than 4.5 million students are studying in schools with alarmingly poor standards, according to the Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment (Onesqa). The schools accounted for half of some 30,010 educational institutions assessed in Onesqa's first round of checks. "There are more than 15,000 schools that badly need quality improvements. Most of these are small primary schools in rural provinces," Onesqa director Somwang Pitiyanuwat said yesterday. He was speaking on the basis of assessments conducted between 2001 and 2005. He estimated that it would cost Bt15 billion to raise these schools' standards to meet Onesqa's minimum requirements. Somwang said Oneqsa had assessed the abilities of students, teachers and school administrators before giving marks to each school. The assessments checked the students' academic performances and analytical thinking ability, the teachers' maturity and ability to teach, as well as the school administrators' vision and leadership. The schools' laboratories and equipment were also assessed. The first round of quality checks had three scales of marking: three for good, two for fair and one for needing improvements. Somwang said the Education Ministry had taken action since the findings came out. However, the ministry's initial plan was held up in a Cabinet screening committee early this year, after which the House dissolution took place and nothing could be done since then. In the first round of quality checks, more than 5,000 schools were identified as having fair standards while over 8,000 others were found with good standards on all counts. The Office of Basic Education Commission's secretary-general Pornnipha Limpaphayom said she was not surprised that so many schools seriously needed improvements. She said her office had long reported a serious shortage of teachers in many schools but the problem had not been solved. (Source: The Nation)


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Flood relief urgently needed

Posted by hasekamp on 21 August 2006 at 15:35 PM
Thailand's Armed Forces Supreme Commander Gen. Ruengroj Mahasaranond has ordered urgent relief aid for flood victims in several northern provinces even as the Meteorological Department forecast more rain in the region. Gen. Ruengroj said the disaster relief centre under the Office of the Supreme Commander was to begin relief operations Monday. Flat-bottomed boats were scheduled to be sent to flood ravaged areas. Gen. Ruengroj said the cause of the flooding was deforestation. All agencies concerned have to take it seriously. Soldiers have patrolled forested areas to prevent illegal logging. The flood situation in the northern province of Chiang Rai is still worrying, he said, noting that four schools in Doi Luang district are under water one metre deep. The flood prompted school officials to close for an indefinite period. More than 5,000 villagers have been affected by flooding.
The Meteorological Department had earlier warned of heavy rain and flash floods in low lying areas in the northern provinces ending Monday due to an active low pressure trough across northern Thailand and Laos. The flood-prone provinces are Tak, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun, Nan, Phrae, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, and Phisanulok. (Source: Thai News Agency)



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Princess becomes a prosecutor

Posted by hasekamp on 21 August 2006 at 15:31 PM
Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha, who has just acquired a doctorate in judicial science from Cornell University, will begin her career as a prosecutor at the Office of the Attorney-General from the beginning of next month. The princess has expressed a desire to work in Narathiwat or Ubon Ratchathani if she is assigned to work outside Bangkok, OAG spokesman Atthapol Yaisawang said. The princess, daughter of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and HRH Princess Soamsawali, filed an application for the job as a member of the Thai Bar Association and a judge advocate. Her qualifications fully meet the requirements of the Prosecution Act, said Mr Atthapol, who is director-general of the Department of the State Attorney Commission. The princess had to pass an oral test, which she easily did, as required by the State Attorney Commission and the panel has now approved her appointment as a prosecutor which will take effect on Sept 1, he said. The princess will also undergo a five-month training course to fine-tune her legal skills for the prosecutor's job starting in October along with 59 other newly recruited prosecutors. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Ministry needs pharmacists in bird flu fight

Posted by hasekamp on 19 August 2006 at 11:21 AM
The Public Health Ministry yesterday asked drug stores across the country to lend a hand in the fight against bird flu. Caretaker Public Health Minister Phinij Jarusombat urged drug store operators to ask customers who buy cold or cough medication whether they have recently come into contact with sick or dead fowl. Any of those suspected of catching the deadly H5N1 virus should be advised to have a thorough examination at a hospital, he said at a meeting with around 500 drug store operators and public health officials in Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday. He said the bird flu-watch network, covering villages and hospitals, had missed out many potential cases, especially labourers, who turned to drug stores first when they fell ill.
The Food and Drug Administration is working to list aspirin as a special control drug, to be sold only on prescription and no longer available over the counter. The painkiller drug could be dangerous if given to children under 12 years of age, or in patients suffering from common influenza or chicken pox. As of 2005, there were 8,801 drug stores operating under the supervision of pharmacists in the country, in addition to 4,528 other drug stores, 2,096 stores offering traditional medicines and 640 shops selling medicines for animals. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Kirsty Jones investigation hindered

Posted by hasekamp on 19 August 2006 at 11:16 AM
Red tape is preventing UK police from questioning witnesses to the murder six years ago of a backpacker in Thailand, officers were reported as telling London's Daily Telegraph yesterday. This year, Thai police relaunched the hunt for the killer of Kirsty Jones, the daughter of a Welsh farmer, who was raped and strangled in a Chiang Mai guesthouse (in August 2000), after the original investigation was declared incompetent. We have reported extensively about this sad case. See our archives.
But eight months after saying that witnesses would be re-interviewed, authorities have yet to release the paperwork which would allow British officers to question witnesses in the UK. Jones, 24, from Brecon, Powys, had just graduated from Liverpool University and was on a world tour when she was murdered on August 10, 2000, at the Aree guesthouse in Chiang Mai. A string of suspects were charged or arrested, and subsequently cleared and released. Dyfed-Powys Police, who helped the Thai authorities to secure the killer's DNA, say they now have the "key" to the crime and it is vital that they be allowed to speak with witnesses to get the killer's name. According to the genetic profile, the killer is a Thai man. Any of the British witnesses who were in Thailand at the time of Jones' death might hold clues to his identity. Chief Inspector Steve Hughson, of Dyfed-Powys Police, said: "There are witnesses back in the UK and we feel, and the Thais feel, there might be some merit in speaking to them now. In order to do that, on the Thais' behalf, we need a letter of request, an official document." Royal Thai Police are understood to have written to the Thai attorney-general months ago asking that British police be allowed to question "two or three" witnesses, but permission has yet to be granted. (Source: The Nation)


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US murder suspect arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 18 August 2006 at 16:35 PM
An American arrested yesterday for the 1996 murder of a child beauty queen in the US was until recently teaching at a highly respected school in Bangkok. John Mark Karr, 41, was sacked about two weeks ago because he was scaring the children, according to a teacher at the school who asked not to be named. Immigration police yesterday arrested Karr for the slaying of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, the latest development in a decade-old murder mystery that has cast clouds of suspicion over her parents. His apprehension at The Blooms apartments in Soi Sri Bampen, in Bangkok's Sathon district, followed a long and complicated investigation. Karr was tracked for three weeks before his arrest, with the help of agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. Immigration chief Pol Lt-Gen Suwat Thamrongsrisakul said the US embassy had provided information about the suspect, who had been to Thailand five times in two years. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Glaxo does not apply for HIV drug patent

Posted by hasekamp on 17 August 2006 at 16:42 PM
After being pressured by Thai and international activists for years, GlaxoSmithKline has withdrawn its patent application for a key anti-retroviral drug in Thailand and India. In a letter sent to the Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, the giant drug firm's Bangkok office said its headquarters had ordered its intellectual-property division to withdraw patent application for Combid in the two countries. "It is a victory for the people," said Paul Cawthorne, director of Doctors Without Borders' Thailand office. He said the decision was very important to HIV-positive Thais and meant they could continue to use the affordable generic version of Combid made by the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO). And it was very important to the world that India would be able to continue to manufacture the generic drug Zilarvir for developing countries. About 500 Thai and international activists demonstrated outside the office of Glaxo Thailand in Bangkok last week demanding the withdrawal of the patent application. (Source: The Nation)


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THAI starts to move on 1 September

Posted by hasekamp on 17 August 2006 at 16:38 PM
Thai Airways International (THAI) will move around 1.8 million items of its equipment and facilities from Don Muang to Suvarnabhumi airport from Sept 1 onwards. Supreme Commander Gen Ruengroj Mahasaranont said yesterday an equipment relocation centre would start operations on Sept 1 to move THAI facilities from Don Muang to Suvarnabhumi. The task will be concluded in October and afterwards the centre will be dissolved, he said in his capacity as THAI director for relocation of logistical support. He said the relocation will cover 1.8 million items of light and heavy equipment, including aircraft engines. There will be more than 1,000 trips by vehicles carrying the equipment, ranging from vans to heavy trucks. The very heavy parts will be moved by air with up to 18 flights. The relocation of light instruments has already begun. THAI will then be ready to operate flights from Suvarnabhumi when the new airport opens on Sept 28. Gen Ruengroj confirmed that THAI would fly from Suvarnabhumi to Hong Kong and Singapore on Sept 1 and to Phitsanulok, Ubon Ratchathani and Chiang Mai provinces on Sept 15. Those flights, with full service, will serve as a test before the Sept 28 opening. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chumpon in trouble

Posted by hasekamp on 16 August 2006 at 16:52 PM
The flood situation in Chumphon Province is still worrying. Recently, the floodwater from Bang Saphan District has infiltrated the villages in Tambon Khao Chai Rat, and the villagers need immediate help. The Chief of the Chumphon Provincial Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, said heavy rain has continued to fall continuously in the areas of Chumphon and Prachuap Khiri Khan since last night. As a result, forest flood has flown from Bang Saphan district into the villages in Tambon Khao Chai Rat. At the moment, officers have to urgently bring in boats to help out the flood-hit people. The Chumphon Provincial Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation said four districts have been affected from the flood disaster, and floods have stagnated in many areas. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Buddha images shipped for US seized

Posted by hasekamp on 16 August 2006 at 16:47 PM
A container carrying more than 100 Buddha images and artefacts that were about to be smuggled to the United States was impounded yesterday. Makkasan railway police officers and Bangkok customs officers broke open a container carrying the artefacts belonging to 45-year old Jack David Porter, said Customs Department director-general Sathit Limpongpan. Inside the container, officers found 58 Buddha images, two Buddha head images, 63 images of Buddha's great disciples, 14 images of Thai traditional guardian angels, three sacred bookcases and a bag of holy beads, which were hidden among furniture and home decoration items, Sathit said. The investigation found that the items - allegedly bought from the North and Bangkok by Porter - were falsely declared as jewellery boxes, lamps and dolls that were to be transported by ship to the US. Sathit said an initial examination by the Fine Arts Department showed the items were authentic, adding that ancient Buddha images - be they authentic or copies - were prohibited from being exported without permission from the Fine Arts Department. Since the items were wrongfully declared, authorities had seized all the property, said Sathit, adding that the items were priceless. Smuggling prohibited items out of Thailand is punishable with a fine worth four times the item's value, or up to 10 years in jail. (Source: The Nation)


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The King walks well

Posted by hasekamp on 16 August 2006 at 16:43 PM
The Royal Household Bureau yesterday reported that His Majesty the King was continuing to recuperate well after spinal surgery. He can walk longer distances with the help of a walker and is able to stand for a short time and walk short distances without aid. In a statement, the bureau said the improvement showed His Majesty's weak muscles were improving. Teams of doctors were satisfied with the development. However, it will take quite some time before His Majesty's muscles will be at full strength. He has been advised to cancel his schedule. (Source: The Nation)


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Flashfloods in Chiang Mai (again)

Posted by hasekamp on 14 August 2006 at 15:08 PM
Dozens of Chiang Mai residents had to scramble out of their windows to escape raging flash floods Monday that ravaged their hometown for the second time this month. About 30 houses along the Mae Hia waterway were submerged under as much as 1.2m of floodwater for more than four hours early Monday morning. The floods damaged hundreds of electrical appliances. A lot of vehicles also broke down after being submerged for too long. Runoff water from Doi Suthep and Doi Kham had caused the flash floods. With the vast boundaries of the Chiang Mai Night Safari and the International Horticultural Exhibition sealed against floods, running rainwater caused by a heavy downpour could only go down the Mae Hia waterway. A landslide temporarily blocked the route to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep early Monday. However, officials had cleared the road by 8am. In the northern province of Lampang, more than 150 houses in Hang Chat district were flooded. Some bridges were also damaged. (Source: The Nation)


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You cannot get married in Phuket!

Posted by hasekamp on 14 August 2006 at 15:02 PM
Want to get married in Phuket City? Thalang? Then you\92re out of luck. Both offices have run out of marriage certificates. The only district office that still has supplies \96 now in very limited numbers \96 is Kathu. An official from the Muang District Registration Department, who asked not to be named, admitted that her department ran out of certificates two weeks ago. She added that the shortage of certificates is not confined to Phuket but is a national problem \96 the entire country is gradually running out. An officer at Thalang District Office, who also requested anonymity, said that his office, too, had run out of marriage certificates. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Skytrain better monitored

Posted by hasekamp on 12 August 2006 at 12:20 PM
The Skytrain in Thailand's capital has resumed its service with tighter security after a temporary suspension following a failed suicide attempt by a student. Bangkok Mass Transit System Co. (BTS), the operator of the city's elevated mass transit system, temporarily suspended its service for some hours after the student, identified as Thirasak Jitdamrong, jumped from the platform into the electrified rails at its Asoke Station in downtown Bangkok Saturday morning. He was injured and has been admitted to a nearby hospital. "It's the first undesirable incident since BTS has operated the skytrain service over the past six years," Dr. Anat Arbhabhirama, advisor to the company's board of directors, told journalists. He admitted, however, that the company's security staff had failed to prevent the youth from jumping, although they had been prepared and successfully prevented other unexpected incidents and accidents so far. (Source: Thai News Agency)

Dr. Anat promised that BTS would further tighten its security measures with more arttention to passenger behaviours to prevent any repetition of the incident in the future.

However, he dismissed a proposal that BTS add glass doors and barriers to its system, like that of the city's underground train, saying that no world elevated rail services have used such the system.

The capital's skytrain resumed its service before noon Saturday. (TNA)--E002


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Airport security tightened

Posted by hasekamp on 12 August 2006 at 12:17 PM
Soldiers have been mobilised to help secure Don Muang airport and major airports in the provinces following British police raids to foil a terrorist plot to blow up US-bound airliners. Air force chief Chalit Pukpasuk said yesterday that the air force has deployed commandos and bomb experts at Don Muang airport at the request of the Airports of Thailand Plc (AOT). ACM Chalit said although Thailand is off the terrorist target map security protection cannot be eased. He also urged the public to alert the authorities if they come across unusual activities. According to an air force source, over 100 commandos from the Air Force Security Forces Command and bomb experts, in uniform and plainclothes, are policing Don Muang airport. Chiang Mai and Hat Yai airports are also on security alert. Caretaker Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal said passengers were banned from carrying any liquid on board. However, the items can be packed in luggage which pass X-ray checks before being placed in the aircraft's cargo hold. Somchai Sawasdeepon, general manager of Suvarnabhumi airport, said hand luggage posed a concern and special X-ray machines would scan it. Sniffer dogs would help with random checks of bags. For luggage destined for the cargo hold, the computed tomography X-ray (CTX) machines at Suvarnabhumi airport would be able to detect all kinds of explosives, he said. Public tours of the Suvarnabhumi terminals will be cancelled from Tuesday. Thai Airways International has imposed a security clampdown on flights to the United Kingdom and the United States. Under the new rules, many carry-on bags must be unpacked and the goods put in transparent plastic bags before they are allowed on the plane. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Turtle festival in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 11 August 2006 at 6:54 AM
Traffic Police have advised motorists that Ranong Rd will be closed today and tomorrow for the annual "Por Tor" Chinese Festival. The Por Tor Festival comes every year in July or August and is intended to make merit for the dead and for spirits. It centers around the making of large cakes in the shape of turtles, following the Chinese belief that the turtle is the symbol of longevity. Mass prayers are held on the first day, from 9 am to 3 pm. It is believed that people who pray to the gods at this time will live longer. At the end of today\92s prayer sessions, the turtle cakes will be sliced up and given away to anyone who wants to live longer to eat. The festival also includes many stalls selling local food and handicrafts, and there will be a stage, with a Chinese show performed by students. Another, much longer Por Tor Festival will be held at Saphan Hin from August 12 to 23. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Bids asked for rail extensions

Posted by hasekamp on 9 August 2006 at 6:36 AM
The state-run Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRT) and the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) have opened bids for investment firms interested in developing the kingdom's three extended mass rail transit routes. The bidding process for the three electric mass transit route extensions began from August 8 and will last until September 12, during which the interested firms are welcome to join, according to both the MRT and SRT official websits. The MRT is responsible for developing the electric train's extended purple and blue route projects. The 23-kilometre extended purple route, worth Bt40.79 billion, extends from Bang Sue Station to the Bang Yai area in Bangkok's suburban Nonthaburi Province. The extended blue route, worth Bt62.35 billion, on the other hand, will start from Hualampong Station to Ta Pra and Bangkae in Bangkok's Thonburi side, across the Chao Phraya River. The SRT is in charge of developing the electric mass transit system's extended red route project, which is divided into the red route and the light red route. The red route will begin from Rangsit in Bangkok's northern suburban Pathum Thani Province to Mahachai in Samut Sakhon Province southwest of Bangkok, while the light red route will start from Talingchan in Thonburi to Suvarnabhumi Airport. Contruction of the three projects is set to be complete over the next 3-5 years. (Source: Thai news Agency)


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Chicken sales drop after new bird flu alert

Posted by hasekamp on 7 August 2006 at 15:03 PM
More poultry deaths occurred in Uthai Thani yesterday, the province where the bird-flu outbreak claimed another human victim last week, as vendors reported a plunge in the sale of chicken meat. After culling all the chickens raised in the 27-year-old victim's backyard, livestock authorities in Uthai Thani yesterday received a report saying another 200 chickens had died in the province. The man was the 16th person to die from avian flu in Thailand and the second fatality in the latest outbreak of the virus. Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan said she had ordered the culling of 20,000 remaining chickens at a farm in the province's Muang district that is suspected to be infected. For the moment, she said, culling of chickens would not be carried out until laboratory tests confirmed there had been an outbreak. This rule will apply to all 29 provinces considered as high risk for a bird-flu epidemic, she said. (Source: The Nation)


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Escaped wolf caught

Posted by hasekamp on 7 August 2006 at 14:58 PM
Villagers living near Chiang Mai Night Safari slept soundly last night after a grey wolf, which escaped from the park one month ago, was netted in the Doi Suthep foothills on Saturday night. "After we paid homage and prayed to forest spirits, the wolf eventually walked out before us," said park director Plodprasop Suraswadi, who named it lhong, which means lost. News of a carnivorous animal on the loose came to light late last week after villagers living near the 819-rai park heard reports of a strange animal said to have gorged almost 200 of their fowls and puppies. The zoo later admitted its three-year-old grey wolf escaped from a cage about a month ago, but it did not alert the public, "because the wolf is tame". (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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His Majesty thanks the people

Posted by hasekamp on 5 August 2006 at 15:15 PM
His Majesty the King appreciated the concern, moral support and good wishes shown by well-wishers and conveyed his thanks to all following his discharge from Siriraj Hospital yesterday, according to the Royal Household Bureau. The post-lumbar spinal stenosis surgery was a success and the Bureau has issued its final update on the King's recovery. Large crowds of well-wishers, including foreign dignitaries, monks and priests from various religious faiths, and ordinary Thais from all walks of life, thronged the hospital to sign get-well books for the King throughout his 16-day stay there. Get-well messages poured in from people across the nation and from overseas, as well as from foreign royalty and dignitaries and these were well accepted and highly appreciated by the King, said the Bureau. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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His Majesty leaves hospital

Posted by hasekamp on 5 August 2006 at 15:10 PM
His Majesty the King left Siriraj Hospital yesterday amid chants of "Long Live the King!" from thousands of well-wishers gathered there. His Majesty waved and greeted some of them as he moved around the hospital in a wheelchair. The King underwent surgery to relieve lumbar spinal stenosis on July 20, and his speedy recovery convinced his medical team by Thursday night that he could leave to recuperate at Chitralada Royal Villa. News of His Majesty's imminent homecoming was greeted with nationwide celebrations. A large number of people flocked to the hospital at dawn hoping to catch a glimpse of their beloved monarch and express their best wishes. Some shed tears of joy, others laughed. The ceremony was broadcasted live on Thai TV and was repeated time after time during the day. (Source: The Nation)


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Three new subway lines planned

Posted by hasekamp on 3 August 2006 at 14:35 PM
The construction of three new railway lines in Bangkok, with a combined length of 82km, should start early next year and be completed in three or four years. Maitree Srinarapiwat, director of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, said the calling of tenders and the announcement of qualified contenders should be finished this month. Bidding terms would be available next month, with tenders to be submitted in December. Winning contractors should start work early next year and the project should be completed in 2010 or 2011. As the cabinet endorsed the design-and-build approach on Tuesday, the state would finance construction with national budgets and loans, Mr Maitree said. The state would borrow from local and international financial sources and repay the money with interest. The three tracks, with an estimated total cost of 140 billion baht, are the 23km Purple Line (Bang Yai-Bang Sue), 27km Blue Line (Hua Lamphong-Bang Khae and Bang Sue-Tha Phra), and 32km Red Line (Phaya Thai-Bang Sue-Rangsit). (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding in Chiang Mai

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2006 at 16:46 PM
Flash-flooding hit several parts of this northern province yesterday morning, prompting many people to point the finger at the Chiang Mai Night Safari and other new developments. "We never suffered floods until late last year," said councillor Prasit Karbkham of the Nong Khwai tambon administrative organisation yesterday. He was adamant tree clearing in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park to make way for the night safari was the cause. The night safari officially opened earlier this year. "We are now increasingly worried that severe flooding may occur because the night safari is reportedly preparing to build an elephant park," he said. Homes in the tambon of Nong Khwai in Chiang Mai's Hang Dong district were yesterday under more than 80 centimetres of water. Flooding reached many parts of Chiang Mai city. Residents queued up for sandbags at the Chiang Mai Municipality. Tourists were stranded in hotels in Sri Ping Muang. (Source: The Nation)


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Bird flu alert for the whole of Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2006 at 16:43 PM
As the number of suspected bird-flu cases increases nationwide, Caretaker Agriculture Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan yesterday declared all 76 provinces of the country animal epidemic control areas, with stricter rules on the transport of poultry and handling of dead birds. The move follows the mass culling of 300,000 chickens at 78 farms in Nakhon Phanom province on the weekend. The Public Health Ministry is closely monitoring 765 people who took part in the slaughtering, fearing they might have been exposed to the potentially deadly bird-flu virus. Caretaker Public Health Minister Pinij Charusombat said all 633 people involved in the culling, plus 111 farm workers, 18 people in the families that operated the farms and three other villagers were put on the provincial bird-flu watch list. All 765 people on the list would be monitored for 14 days.
So far, six people had developed a high fever, Pinij said. Two of them had influenza symptoms and had received oseltamivir, the only anti-viral drug that can be used to treat people infected with H5N1. The other four had tested negative for the influenza virus. (Source: The Nation)


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