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Medical equipment for deep South

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2007 at 14:26 PM
HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will visit the deep South on Thursday to hand over medical equipment raised by a royal charity flight earlier this month. The Crown Prince will be accompanied by HRH Princess Srirasmi and HRH Prince Teepangkorn, who are all scheduled to visit Bannang Sata Hospital in Yala, and will present ambulances and sterilising machines to other local hospitals. The Muslim-majority South has been plagued by the violence and close to 2,000 people have lost their lives in the near daily bombings, shootings and arson attacks. The violence has prompted authorities as well as members of the Royal family to provide assistance to the needy locals. Yesterday, violence continued in the troubled region, with a further three people killed and 10 injured. (Source: The Nation)


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Airport waits for investigation results

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2007 at 14:20 PM
A plan to repair the runway and taxiway cracks at Suvarnabhumi airport has been put on hold until a thorough investigation by the board of the Airports of Thailand Plc into the cause of the cracks is completed. AoT board member Tortrakul Yomnak said yesterday that he had also ordered a halt to the tarmac maintenance services to avert wrong repair methods from being employed and to protect visiting aircraft. Mr Tortrakul heads an investigative committee of experts who must find the exact cause of the cracks that have appeared on the runways and taxiways of the four-month-old airport. The probe includes the boring of soil 30 metres deep under the runways and taxiways to collect samples of their foundations. The boring will tell the physical aspect of the soil under the airport, the construction of runways and taxiways and their subsidence level. Damaged areas have been sealed off. The Tortrakul panel, set up by AoT chairman Gen Saprang Kalayanamitr, was formed on Jan 23 and must conclude its investigation by Feb 9. Suvarnabhumi airport director Somchai Sawasdeepol has ordered a separate investigation into the partial and abrupt closure of the western runway last Thursday, which caused the diversion of four flights to U-tapao airport on that day. He said neither he nor the other executives were notified of its closure in advance.
An initial inquiry found that a pilot of Thai AirAsia had informed air traffic controllers of dangerous objects that could compromise flight safety on the southern end of the western runway, Mr Somchai said. Airport flight safety officials then inspected the site and had air traffic control inform other pilots of the need to close one end of the runway. The runway was partially closed at 2pm when Transport Minister Theera Haocharoen and his delegation were inspecting cracks on taxiways at the airport. Large carriers could then only use the eastern runway and four of the visiting flights were asked to land at U-tapao airport for refuelling. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Grenades near Daily News office

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2007 at 14:16 PM
The grenade attack on the office of the Daily News newspaper yesterday will further undermine public confidence in the government and the Council for National Security (CNS), secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Democracy Suriyasai Katasila said yesterday. Yesterday's attack resembled the "plot" of the New Year bombings in Bangkok and Nonthaburi, Mr Suriyasai said. He said the two blasts were an indication the government and the CNS were incapable of tracking down and arresting the people behind the incidents. "The investigation process is not working and is not reliable. The government and the CNS are unable to generate confidence among the public any longer," Mr Suriyasai said, referring to the recent release of suspects detained in connection with the New Year bombings due to a lack of evidence.
In the early hours of yesterday, one grenade from an M79 launcher exploded outside the Daily News office building and another in a parking area of the adjacent Rama Gardens Hotel on Vibhavadi-Rangsit road in Laksi district. Police believed the grenades were fired from the nearby tollway and missed their intended targets. There were no casualties. A security officer at the Thai-language newspaper said he heard an explosion near the office's entrance about 1am. About 10 seconds later, he saw a flash near the wall of the hotel's parking area and heard another explosion. Initial police findings indicated that the attacks were not aimed at causing damage. The grenades were the type used in military exercises. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New bird flu strategy

Posted by hasekamp on 29 January 2007 at 13:04 PM
Thailand's national committee on bird flu prevention will draft a revised strategy to control and prevent outbreaks of avian and human influenza virus for the long term, according to Deputy Prime Minister Kosit Panpiemras. Speaking after chairing a committee meeting on preparedness for preventing, responding and controlling both bird flu and human influenza, Mr. Kosit said the meeting agreed to draft the new strategy dealing with outbreaks of both bird flu and human flu viruses. A committee headed by the National Economic and Social Development Board secretary general will be appointed to draft the plan, he said. He added that the current strategy, approved by the cabinet in 2005, ends this year and should be replaced with the revised one.
The new plan is expected to have a duration of three or five years and will include poultry vaccination as an added measure should an outbreak reach critical proportions. He reconfirmed that fresh outbreaks were found in only two provinces - Phitsanulok in the north and Nong Khai in the northeast - and that there were still 40 patients under close supervision whose status has not yet been determined. Meanwhile, deputy permanent secretary for Agriculture Yukol Limlamthong said the new outbreaks come from the residual virus and from native birds, not domestic stocks. Flooding in many provinces last year also complicated the situation. There have been 25 bird flu patients in Thailand since the most recent outbreak here in 2004, of whom 17 died of the H5N1 virus. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Airport no longer approved

Posted by hasekamp on 27 January 2007 at 14:43 PM
Confidence over the safety of Suvarnabhumi Airport has suffered another major blow, with aviation authorities yesterday refusing to extend its interim Aerodrome Certificate. The certificate, which shows an airport meets international safety requirements, expired on Thursday. Civil Aviation Department officials said they had received phone calls from international pilots expressing concern after learning about the department's decision to leave Suvarnabhumi in a certification "no man's land". Department director-general Chaisak Angsuwan said the decision stemmed from multiple structural and management problems at the airport. Pavement cracks on runways, taxiways and tarmacs are scattered over about 100,000 square metres of the airfield, forcing partial closure for repair work over the past few weeks. The next closure for repair of the eastern runway was planned for four hours early today. "We also found management problems," Chaisak said. "For example, the aerodrome operation manual that provides instruction for airport maintenance and accidents still contains incorrect information, which could cause confusion for operators, especially in case of emergencies."
The Aerodrome Certificate is a recent attempt by the UN International Civil Aviation Organization to standardize airport operations around the world, but Thailand has not yet issued a law to respond to this new requirement. (Source: The Nation)


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Martial law partly lifted

Posted by hasekamp on 27 January 2007 at 14:39 PM
An end to martial law in all but 35 provinces was published in the Royal Gazette yesterday after it was royally endorsed by His Majesty the King. The publication, which made official the lifting of martial law rule in 41 provinces, including Bangkok, was announced yesterday. Martial law was imposed on Sept 19, the day the Council for Democratic Reform, now known as the Council for National Security (CNS), engineered the bloodless coup which toppled the Thaksin Shinawatra administration. According to the Royal Gazette, 35 of 76 provinces will remain under martial law. In some of those provinces, however, the law is only enforced in selected districts and tambons.
Martial law is still in effect across all of the provinces of Kamphaeng Phet, Khon Kaen, Chaiyaphum, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Narathiwat, Buri Ram, Pattani, Mae Hong Son, Maha Sarakham, Yala, Roi Et, Loei, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Nong Bua Lamphu, Amnat Charoen, Udon Thani and Ubon Ratchathani. The provinces where the law remains in place in some districts and tambons are Kanchanaburi, Chanthaburi, Trat, Tak, Nan, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phayao, Phitsanulok, Phetchaburi, Ratchaburi, Ranong, Satun, Songkhla, Sa Kaew and Uttaradit.
Some of the provinces still under martial law are situated on the borders while a number of others were strongholds of the former ruling Thai Rak Thai party where opponents of the government and the CNS are reported to be active. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin will not return soon

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2007 at 13:23 PM
Ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday he would not be returning immediately to Thailand despite the recent reversal of a travel ban imposed by the current government, a news report said. Mr Thaksin also welcomed the recent detention of several suspects over a string of New Year's bombings, denying the alleged involvement of his supporters during an interview with the regional daily, Nishinippon Shimbun. "I have the right to go back to my motherland anytime I want to. But as a responsible person (my return may) create more conflicts among my supporters and the military. It might not be the right timing for me to go back," Mr Thaksin was quoted as saying in an interview conducted yesterday in Tokyo, a transcript of which was obtained by the Associated Press. "I will wait and give more time for the installed government to bring unity to the country," Mr Thaksin said. His comments came after the Thai government on Saturday said he can return home as long as he promises to stay out of politics, reversing a ban that had been in place since the Sept 19 coup. The interim government has accused Mr Thaksin's supporters of being behind the New Year's bombings, which killed three people and wounded nearly 40 in Bangkok. The government then revoked his diplomatic passport after accusing him of making trips around the region that it dubbed politically motivated. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Airport surfaces construction substandard

Posted by hasekamp on 22 January 2007 at 12:52 PM
The head of the inquiry into the construction of Suvarnabhumi airport suspects the cracked and uneven surfaces of runways and taxiways stems from substandard construction. Praphan Khoonmee, head of the inquiry sub-committee set up by the Suvarnabhumi airport committee of the National Legislative Assembly, and panel members yesterday inspected runways and taxiways where surface cracks are mushrooming. They found many surface cracks at holding areas for both the western and eastern runways. The cracks are fine, short and longitudinal and believed caused by the weight of aircraft waiting to take off. Many parts of the taxiways are uneven and cracked. Most of the flaws are waves in the pavement. The cracks are about a palm wide, a few centimeters deep and less than a meter long at each spot. Mr Praphan said he heard from staff of Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) that the problem began only two weeks after Suvarnabhumi opened on Sept 28. It had spread to more than 100 spots with the combined area of taxiway damage more than 100,000 square meters. The problem surfacing just two weeks after the opening indicated it probably resulted from poor construction, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bird flu disaster zone

Posted by hasekamp on 21 January 2007 at 15:09 PM
All 16 districts in this central province have been declared disaster zones to help public health authorities with the mass culling of poultry in bird flu-prone areas. A ban on fowl movements throughout the province, especially free-range ducks from other provinces, has also been enforced. Provincial Governor Cherdpan na Songkhla, who issued the order yesterday, said areas where bird flu had previously been confirmed, such as Bang Pahan, Phak Hai and Bang Pa-in districts, were still at risk because the virus remained dormant in water resources and residential areas. Provincial health official Rattanachai Chullanet said the latest laboratory tests showed that Boonlert Chuenruedee, 43, a free-range duck raiser, was not infected with bird flu virus after he helped bury dead ducks and later developed a high fever and sore throat. Deputy permanent secretary for agriculture Yukol Limlamthong said Thailand should be on alert for a possible outbreak spreading into the kingdom from neighboring countries. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Duck farmers wanted

Posted by hasekamp on 20 January 2007 at 19:07 PM
Phitsanulok health officials are searching for two farm workers who disappeared from the duck farm where the bird-flu virus was found. The two men went missing some time after the infection was detected on the farm in Tambon Chumpol of the province's Muang district on Monday, said Kitti Puthikanont, acting head of the Disease Control Division 9 in Phitsanulok.
The two were among three workers hired to take care of around 2,000 ducks at the farm before about 100 birds fell dead and were later found by livestock authorities to have the H5N1 strain of bird flu, he said.
Neither of them were checked if they had the virus despite having lived and worked inside the farm where the ducks were raised, said Public Health Minister Dr Mongkol na Songkhla. Three others - two farm owners and a hired worker who also lived at the farm - were under a bird-flu observation programme, Kitti said. (Source: The Nation)


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Bombing suspects questioned

Posted by hasekamp on 20 January 2007 at 19:02 PM
Police have a list of potential suspects in the New Year's Eve Bangkok bombings, and have interrogated around a dozen picked up in coordinated police raids on Saturday morning, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont confirmed. Gen Surayud said he could not give details for security reasons. "I can only say that we've got names of some suspects," said Gen Surayud. "More than 10 of them were called in for questioning." Gen Surayud refused to give further information, including whether police or soldiers were among the suspects, saying that the information was confidential. He, however, said that some of the suspects were "officers." "If we discuss what the police suspect," Gen Surayud said, "the case - as well as related agencies - could be damaged. Presently, those are only suspects and not perpetrators."
According to other sources a passenger van organiser, army Col Suraphon Supradit, is the current chief suspect in assembling the nine bombs that went off in two waves on New Year's Eve. About 100 police took part in the raids. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Elections may be held sooner than planned

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2007 at 17:51 PM
Thailand's new constitution draft may be completed sooner than its planned six-month timetable, and the long anticipated new general election may be held earlier than originally planned, Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont assured a senior Japanese cabinet member on Wednesday. The prime minister remarked on this issue when meeting Japan's Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeshi Iwaya who is visiting Bangkok to participate in a cultural festival celebrating the 120th anniversary of Japan-Thailand diplomatic relations to be held later this month, according to government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp.
Mr. Yongyuth disclosed that Gen. Surayud told Mr. Iwaya about the progress of drafting the charter in which he expressed confidence it will be completed within six months as scheduled or it may be complete within four months, two months earlier than first anticipated. Upon completion of the constitution writing process, the government will speed up the electoral process, so that the general election will be held at the possible shortest time. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thailand now is a not-free country

Posted by hasekamp on 17 January 2007 at 14:24 PM
Another major setback took place for Thailand's international standing and reputation as it joined Congo as the newly "not-free" countries this year in a major survey of global freedom released Wednesday. Freedom in the World 2007, a survey of worldwide political rights and civil liberties done in New York, found that 45 countries are not free, representing 23 percent of the world's inhabitants. About one-half of those living in Not Free conditions inhabit one country: China. But the same survey said that the percentage of countries designated as free has remained flat for nearly a decade and suggests that a "freedom stagnation" may be developing. The continued weakness of democratic institutions\97even after holding democratic elections\97in a number of countries continues to hamper further progress. According to the survey, the number of countries judged by Freedom in the World as free in 2006 stood at 90, representing 47 percent of the global population. Fifty-eight countries qualified as partly free, with 30 percent of the world's population. Regionally, major findings include a setback for freedom in a number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region, a more modest decline in Africa, and a solidification of authoritarian rule in the majority of countries of the former Soviet Union. Three countries experienced positive status changes: Guyana moved from partly free to free, and Haiti and Nepal moved from Not Free to Partly Free. Two countries experienced negative status changes: both Thailand and Congo moved from partly free to not free. (Source: The Nation)


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New outbreak of birdflu

Posted by hasekamp on 16 January 2007 at 17:15 PM
A fresh bird flu outbreak has been detected at a duck farm in Phitsanulok province, marking the start of the fifth round of avian influenza outbreak in the country. Lab test results confirmed yesterday that ducks raised on a farm in tambon Plai Chumpol were infected with the bird flu virus, said Nirundorn Aungtragoolsuk, director of the Livestock Development Department's disease control bureau. On Jan 11 the farm owner alerted livestock officials of the mass death of ducks on the farm. The officials then collected samples of the dead birds and culled more than 1,900 ducks. The samples tested positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Authorities then put an area within five kilometres from the infected farm under close surveillance. They are also keeping a close watch on flood-hit provinces in the lower North and Central Plains, Dr Nirundorn said.
Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla will go to China next week to sign a technology transfer agreement on influenza vaccine production with a Chinese drug firm, Sinovac. The move is part of the ministry's plan to construct a factory to produce at least two million doses of human influenza vaccine per year in the next two years. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Transparant dustbins

Posted by hasekamp on 14 January 2007 at 23:01 PM
The Bangkok city administration will install 2,000 clear plastic rubbish bins in public parks in Bangkok this week to improve public safety in the wake of the New Year bombings. Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said a total of 2,000 transparent refuse bins will replace the opaque bins at all 22 public parks run by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). So far, about 200 see-through bins have been put in place at four BMA-run parks: Lumpini park, Vachirabenjatat park, Benjasiri park and Queen Sirikit park. Existing garbage bins at the remaining public parks in the city will be gradually replaced with transparent ones this week, said the governor. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Serious railway accident

Posted by hasekamp on 14 January 2007 at 22:55 PM
Three people have been killed and about 70 injured in a collision between two trains in Thailand. The collision happened before dawn to the south of the Thai capital, Bangkok, a railway official said. A Bangkok-bound train took the wrong track and hit an oncoming service near the resort town of Hua Hin, the official said. Hospital staff said two of the dead were railway employees, identified as a female train employee and an engineer. The third person killed was not immediately identified. Among the injured passengers were an Italian man and a German woman, both of whom were treated for minor injuries, rail official Wichai Choochumporn said. (Source: BBC News)


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Tuberculosis is a threat

Posted by hasekamp on 12 January 2007 at 17:23 PM
Tuberculosis (TB) has become an alarming health threat to the country, with the number of new cases continuing to rise and the government's treatment programme unable to cope. Dr Somchai Pinyopornpaitch, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said incidences of the disease had risen for several years regardless of how hard health officials had worked. A higher number of new TB cases has been reported each year, while the results of the TB treatment programme remained well below the target and world standards, Somchai said. New cases of TB now stand at about 50 per 100,000 people, or about 90,000 cases a year, and the rate of successful treatment is still far below the World Health Organisation's standard of 85 per cent. Each year at least 12,000 people die of TB. As a result, Thailand is grouped in with the 22 "high-burden countries", Somchai said. He said it was highly worrying that Thailand was ranked alongside such impoverished countries as Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Cambodia, which had much lower hygiene standards. "This shows there must be some reason why we are being held back from beating this disease," Somchai said, adding that he believed the official figures were just "the tip of the iceberg". As treatment takes about six months to complete, many patients find they must move to other areas for work and lose touch with their medical caregivers, leaving their treatment unfinished, Somchai said. (Source: The Nation)


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Don Muang revisited

Posted by hasekamp on 12 January 2007 at 17:19 PM
The board of Airports of Thailand Plc yesterday approved the use of Don Muang for domestic flights with no international connections and set March 15 as the possible date for the relaunch of services at the old airport. In an attempt to save costs from expanding Suvarnabhumi airport and to fully use its existing infrastructure, the board decided to move to Don Muang domestic flights with no connections to international routes operated by Thai Airways International (THAI) and no-frills carriers. Domestic flights with passengers connecting with international routes will remain at Suvarnabhumi. It targeted March 15 for the resumption of regular services for Don Muang, which was closed on Sept 28, when the country's main airport moved to Suvarnabhumi. The March 15 date was set to allow sufficient time to prepare for an expected surge in air travel to the provinces during the Songkran holiday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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King wants an end to coastal erosion

Posted by hasekamp on 9 January 2007 at 17:18 PM
His Majesty the King has expressed concern over severe coastal erosion in southern Thailand and asked state agencies to devise a long-term plan to save the shrinking shorelines. The King is especially worried about the situation in provinces facing the Gulf of Thailand, where sea waves are currently as high as two to four meters and have become so ferocious that they have sunk fishing boats and eroded many beaches. His concern was reported by Sompon Panmani, secretary-general of the special committee coordinating royally-initiated projects, after meeting with state agencies to find ways to solve the problem, which is posing a nightmare to hundreds of villagers living along more than 100km of coastline in the South. "The King is worried about the strong sea waves in the eastern coast," Mr Sompon said. The King's private work division under the Royal Household Bureau has been assigned to survey damage and to plan for long-term solutions. Mr Sompon said the Marine Department would this year start building a sea wall to shield the severely-hit coastline from sea waves. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Limited foreign influence in Thai industry

Posted by hasekamp on 9 January 2007 at 11:31 AM
The Thai government will limit foreign investors to holding no more than 50 per cent of the shares or the voting rights in companies here under legal changes approved Tuesday, Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula said. "Foreign investors who altogether hold more than a 50 per cent stake in a company must lower their stake within a year," Pridiyathorn Devakula said after a cabinet meeting. "Foreign investors who hold more than 50 per cent of voting rights must also reduce their voting rights within two years,"he added. The 50-per cent cap will only apply to companies that deal with areas considered important to national security, or that have an impact on natural resources or Thai culture, he said. The Council of State is to work out the details to make the law precise and transparent, without any need to be resubmitted for cabinet approval again". Earlier, Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce warned that the amendment might affect their decisions to do business. Foreign business communities in Thailand urged the government to postpone the changes for at least six months. "Why should we withdraw it? They have not yet seen the details. If they had seen the details, I am sure that they would be happy," Pridiyathorn said. "Why should we postpone it when we have worked on it for three months. This is Thailand," he added. The minister was speaking after attending the cabinet meeting which will consider the changes. Pridiyathorn said he had consulted some foreign investors about the changes to the Foreign Business Act and more than half of them had found the new rules acceptable. "I myself will talk with them. I have held talks with many investors but they have not seen all of the details and the commerce minister cannot disclose the bill before the cabinet gives its approval," he said. "We have a record of welcoming foreign investment. We are not hostile to them. Foreign investors have made Thailand develop and we are certainly still adhering to this policy," he said. The revised law is expected to redefine shareholder rights and ownership structures for local subsidiaries of international firms. Companies have traditionally set up their operations in Thailand so that the local subsidiaries are nominally owned by Thais but controlled by foreigners.
We are afraid that the military government in Thailand is about to make its second eeconomic blunder. (Source: The Nation)


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New coup denied

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2007 at 19:41 PM
In an attempt to defuse rumors of a new coup following the deadly bomb attacks in the Thai capital on New Year's Eve, Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, chairman of the Council for National Security (CNS), today said the military remained united and he believed no one thought of staging another coup. Gen. Sonthi, who led the military coup last September 19 and toppled the elected government of then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said in an interview on an army-run television station that the CNS remained united since it launched the coup until now and he believed the idea of launching another coup would be out of the question. His denial followed rumors on conflicts both within the CNS, and between the CNS and the government of Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont, which it installed, over how to deal with ousted ex-premier Thaksin. The conflicts have reportedly intensified following the New Year's Eve bombings here which, according to Gen. Surayud, three persons died and 42 others wounded, including nine foreigners. Gen. Sonthi, who also is army chief, once more repeated that he strongly believed that politicians who had lost power and benefit were behind the Sunday's bombing although the actual perpetrators tried to shift the blame to insurgents operating in the three deep southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Road death toll: 449

Posted by hasekamp on 4 January 2007 at 16:08 PM
Road accidents nationwide killed 449 persons and injured nearly 5,000 persons during the dangerous New Year travel period. The seven day watch-out period ended Wednesday (January 3). Deputy Prime Minister Kosit Panpiemras, in his capacity as director of the national Road Safety Center, said that on Wednesday, there were 378 accidents, 42 fatalities, and 397 injured victims. The largest cause of accidents -- 29 per cent --involved driving while intoxicated, followed by speeding at over 21 per cent. Of all accidents on Wednesday, over 86 per cent involved motorcycles, followed by pick-up trucks at 6 per cent, and passenger sedans at 2 per cent. In the seven-day hazardous travel period from December 28 through January 3, there were 4,456 accidents, an increase of 6.25 per cent over last year's figure. The death toll totaled 449, an increase almost 2 per cent from last year, the there were 4,943 injuries, an increase of 4 percent. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New incidents feared

Posted by hasekamp on 4 January 2007 at 16:06 PM
Speaking to the National Legislation Assembly on Thursday in the wake of the New Year's Eve bombings, Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont warned the kingdom to prepare for more possible similar incidents. Referring to the "life-threatening events" which took place at the opening of the new year, Gen. Surayud said "I would like to ask everyone in the country to prepare for life-threatening events like this for a while." Gen. Surayud said once more that the incidents were unrelated to the ongoing insurgency in the southernmost border provinces. The prime minister said that intelligence officials believe the recent bombings were aimed at creating panic among the public, as well as causing death and damage to property. "While the incidents may look similar to those in the deep South," Gen. Surayud said, "close investigation of the explosives used and timing mechanisms for the bombs shows no relationship to explosive devices so far used in the South." (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Royal support for victims

Posted by hasekamp on 2 January 2007 at 14:49 PM
Their Majesties the King and Queen yesterday gave bouquets of flowers to injured victims of the New Year's Eve bomb explosions, and extended their moral support to medical staff taking care of the victims. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn delivered the flowers to the wounded victims being treated at Rajavithi and Chulalongkorn hospitals. Yesterday was a day of mourning and worrying for relatives of those killed and wounded in the blasts. Many of the wounded were still in critical condition.
A wounded British tourist said such attacks would not stop him from visiting Thailand again. Paul Hewitt, 55, said he didn't blame Thai people and authorities for what had happened. The Thai authorities, however, fear for a drop in tourism, because several embassies have warned their subjects no to go to crowded places, or even to stay in their hotel (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Government suspects Thaksin followers

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2007 at 14:09 PM
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has indicated domestic politics rather than the Muslim insurgency was behind the multiple bomb attacks before and after the New Year's countdown. The Thaksin Shinawatra camp responded by claiming that the violence was a result of failure to heed a warning that southern insurgency was plotting to spread its campaign of terror to Bangkok. Pro-Thaksin and anti-coup groups also insisted the possibility of the bombs being the military's ploy to gain sympathy and discredit the ousted prime minister should not be dismissed.
A man injured from bomb attack was pronounced dead on Monday, becoming the third victim to have been killed in the attacks.
Surayud's broadcast comment - that people whose vested interests were affected by the September 19 coup might have been behind the attacks _ heightened speculation surrounding remnants of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's deep-rooted influence. Surayud did not directly identify Thaksin or his allies as possible culprits. He only said those who lost power as a result of the military takeover may have been responsible. The remark left little doubt as to who he was referring to, though. And speculation was fueled by reports that the coup leaders were trying to summon one of Thaksin's closest aides, Prommin Lertsuridej. Prommin was known to be trying to postpone the meeting. Sondhi Limthongkul, the key man behind the street protests against Thaksin prior to the September coup, has pointed his finger directly at the former prime minister. He was quoted in the Manager newspaper website that the bomb attacks were the latest in a series of systematic campaign to discredit the interim government and coupmakers.
The Thai Rak Thai camp as well as Thaksin's personal lawyer have strongly denied involvement in the violence that cut short Bangkokians' New Year celebrations and dampened those elsewhere. Thaksin's laywer Noppadon Patama said Thaksin had warned coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin some time ago to keep an close watch against the militants in the Malay-speaking south over the possibility of them carrying out bomb attacks in Bangkok. The eight bombs that exploded across Bangkok on New Year's Eve and early Monday also wounded 38 people, including nine foreigners. "Based on the government's information and intelligence agencies, it was the work of people who lost power, but I cannot clearly say which group was behind it," Surayud told reporters. Former Democrat leader Chuan Leekpai backed Sondhi's theory, saying Thaksin's network of supporters, both underground and in the government sector was more than capable of carrying out the attacks. There were reports the interim government might move quick to seize assets of Thaksin and his family in order to cut financial supplies to any underground element bent on creating political violence and trouble. Some anti-coup activists suspected asset seizure to be a possible motive for the military to "stage" the New Year attacks. (Source: The Nation)


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Two more bombs

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2007 at 0:53 AM
Two more bombs exploded in the heart of Bangkok once the new year started, severely injuring many foreign tourists and some Thais. The two bombs exploded nearly at the same time seconds after the new year started.
The first bomb exploded at the Best Sea Foods restaurant on the Saen Saeb Canal near the Pratunam Pier, just seconds after the New Year countdown ended.
Three foreigners and two Thais were injured. One of the foreigners had one leg amputated by the blast. The foreign tourists were having dinner at the restaurant.
Police said the bomb was hidden in a bumper tire at the pier. The second bomb exploded at a public telephone booth at the pedestrian flyover linking Central World and Gaysorn Plaza. Several foreigners were injured and rushed to hospitals. (Source: The Nation)


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King thanks Thai people

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2007 at 0:44 AM
His Majesty the King has called on his subjects to give their cooperation in solving the problems facing the nation and expressed thanks and admiration for the grand celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne in June. In his traditional New Year address broadcast last night, the King said that in the last year Thailand experienced many events which had repercussions on the nation's economic and financial standing, politics, people's livelihoods and security. He urged the people to work together to overcome them. He thanked everybody concerned for organising the royal celebrations in June, which won his admiration for both their beauty and grandeur.
The King said he was impressed with the way that well-wishers from all walks of life gathered and showed their heart-felt concern and support for him when he was taken ill. He said moral support was a vital force which encouraged people to be brave and face up to problems and obstacles, to work and lead successful lives.
His Majesty asked his people to show mutual kindness and good intentions, from which they could draw inner and physical strength, and the power of wisdom to build prosperity and stability for the country. He wished the people happiness and freedom from suffering throughout the coming year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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