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No more liquids on board

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2007 at 18:16 PM
Suvarnabhumi Airport is ready to implement a ban on the carriage of large quantity of liquids aboard all flights from June 1st onwards. The Director of Suvarnabhumi Airport revealed that from midnight of June 1st, Suvarnabhumi Airport will be enforcing bans on passenger carriage of large quantities of liquids, gels, and sprays on board aircrafts both on international and domestic routes in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization's advice. Liquid enforcement regulations entails passengers not carrying more than 1 liter of liquids on board aircrafts, and storing the liquid and its container in a clear plastic carry on bag which will be provided by airport personnel. The Director of Suvarnabhumi Airport added that duty free goods will be tightly wrapped in sealed plastic by the King Power Duty Free company complete with receipts and passenger flight destination. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Suspected bombers caught

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2007 at 18:12 PM
Police detained six young men at a rented house in Hat Yai district of this southern province, believing them responsible for the bombings in the southern commercial and tourism crossroads last weekend. The six suspects, all young Muslim men from the insurgency-troubled neighbouring provinces of Yala and Pattani, were detained Wednesday night at a rented house in Hat Yai district. Police laboratory technicians found explosive powder traces on the hands and fingernails of two of the suspects, while all six detainees were taken to the police forward office in Yala province for further questioning. Thursday morning, a police team searched for additional evidence at the house, finding electrical wire, traces of explosive powder, chemical substances and a clock timer. Police were gathering more evidence from the house as they believed that the youths were probably involved in the bombing. A series of seven coordinated bombs exploded in Hat Yai on Sunday night, killing one person (who dies in hospital on Tuesday) and wounding 12 others. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin: Respect ruling

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2007 at 18:08 PM
Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has urged his supporters to accept the Constitution Court tribunal ruling which ordered the dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai party he founded - and his own ban from politics for five years. His hand-written statement was read to the media by his legal aide Noppadon Pattama in Bangkok on Thursday afternoon. "As party leader, I humbly accept the ruling and I want to urge the CNS and government to hold general elections as soon as possible," Mr Thaksin, now in London, said in the statement. As founder of Thai Rak Thai - he officially resigned late last year - he also apoligised to the party members for the outcome, and called on them to continue their roles in the Thai political arena. He also wrote that the case was a landmark ruling, which will be studied and researched by generations to come. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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TRT banned, Democrates survive

Posted by hasekamp on 31 May 2007 at 18:05 PM
The Thai Rak Thai party was ordered disbanded by the Constitution Tribunal, and its 111 party executives banned, including deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, from politics for five years for engaging in electoral fraud. The tribunal read out the verdict shortly before midnight, almost six hours after their rival Democrats survived similar charges.
The tribunal found Thai Rak Thai guilty of paying unknown parties to contest the April 2, 2006 polls to avoid a requirement that a candidate standing unchallenged in a constituency must receive at least 20% of the eligible votes to win the seat, and by altering their membership registrations in the Election Commission's database. The tribunal also found the Pattana Chart Thai and Paendin Thai parties guilty of electoral fraud and stripped the election rights of their executives _ 19 and three, respectively.
The tribunal said Thai Rak Thai's offences had undermined the constitutional monarchy and threatened national security. The verdict to dissolve Thai Rak Thai was unanimous, said Supreme Court president Panya Thanomrod, also president of the nine-member Constitution Tribunal. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Waiting for the verdict

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2007 at 11:39 AM
Senior Thai judges began deliberating Tuesday on whether to dissolve the kingdom's two main political parties as thousands of troops were put on alert amid security fears ahead of the court verdict. Thailand's Constitutional Tribunal must decide today (Wednesday) whether Thai Rak Thai (TRT), the party formed by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and the Democrat Party are guilty of a slew of charges of electoral fraud related to annulled elections in April last year. If the parties are found guilty, the nine judges assigned to the tribunal by Thailand's military-backed government have the power to dissolve them and ban their executives from politics for five years. (Source: Yahoo! News)


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Control over radio stations

Posted by hasekamp on 30 May 2007 at 11:34 AM
The Director-General of the Government Public Relations Department (PRD), Mr. Pramoj Rathavinij, has instructed the Public Relations Offices in all provinces to sum up the information concerning the community radio stations and their effects on national security and the violation of technical regulations. The Public Relations Offices can coordinate with the police and armed forces in arresting the community radio stations that have violated the laws immediately. Mr. Manop Ampan, the Public Relations official in Nakhon Sawan province, says the PRD had a meeting with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on May 28th to discuss the operations of community radio stations. Many stations are concentrating on business benefits rather than social benefits. Previously, community radio stations were launched to help publicize news to the local communities. Thus, the supervisors have to ensure that the operations are in line with the policy. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Prepared for unrest

Posted by hasekamp on 29 May 2007 at 17:46 PM
To prevent any outbreak of violence in the wake of a possible political party dissolution verdict by the Constitutional Tribunal on May 30 (Wednesday), the Council for National Security (CNS) chairman Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin has deployed over 10,000 security personnel. The added security is to monitor and control any possible mass demonstrations if the parties are ordered disbanded on electoral fraud charges. Reporting decisions of a CNS meeting Monday, Spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd told a press conference that the committee discussed likely responses to the final political party dissolution ruling to be given by the tribunal on Wednesday. "No deadly weapons will be used to deal with demonstrations," Col. Sansern emphasised.
Intelligence sources indicate that three groups of people - including farmers, opponents of the new charter draft, and political party supporters - would descend on Bangkok to rally on that day. "To prevent untoward disturbances aroused by ill-intentioned groups, the CNS sees a need to adopt the Pitak 1 security plan to ensure peace and order." Pitak 1 is a coordinated security plan jointly involving both the armed forces and police.
Security forces will first try to preempt mass action by helping people in all regions outside the capital to understand the problem, and persuade them to monitor the tribunal's ruling at home (rather than joining a rally) as the verdict will be broadcast on television and radio. The public will be also kept informed of the general situation and political interest groups' ways to lure them to join potentially violent demonstrations. Second is to monitor the movement of people bound for Bangkok by setting up checkpoints along Bangkok-bound routes. Third is to control the situation on the ground. At this stage, military forces are ordered to stay and prepare for operations in their units. Fourth is to take action to ease unrest if demonstrators turn to violent means. However, this stage would occur only after the Emergency Decree on Public Administration is issued. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Foreigners warned for demonstrations

Posted by hasekamp on 29 May 2007 at 17:37 PM
Foreigners in Bangkok were on Tuesday warned to exercise caution amid mounting security fears ahead of a landmark court decision over whether to dissolve Thailand's two largest political parties. Australia, Canada, France and Japan all advised their citizens to show a high degree of personal security awareness as Wednesday's verdict could trigger violent demonstrations in the Thai capital. "You should avoid demonstrations, political rallies and concentrations of military personnel," the Australian embassy in a statement. The Japanese embassy called on its citizens to "stay away from expected political rallies" and "act very cautiously so as not to get involved in possible unrest and terror attacks." Thailand is the fourth most popular foreign destination for Japanese tourists after the United States, China (including Hong Kong) and South Korea. Some 900 police will be deployed on Bangkok's streets Tuesday evening, protecting the Constitutional Tribunal offices and setting up checkpoints to deter party supporters from traveling to the capital from the provinces. Some 15,000 Thai troops were on alert Tuesday across the country to deter possible violence, officials said. (Source: The Nation)


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Airport security beefed up

Posted by hasekamp on 28 May 2007 at 19:08 PM
The Deputy Director of Suvarnabhumi Airport reports that the airport has increased its security to a level three category following mass bombings in Hat Yai district of Songkhla province, with rigorous screening of passengers at all entrances and exits. Suvarnabhumi Airport officials have also requested an additional force of 100 police officers to bolster the airport's existing 900 security staff. The number of surveillance cameras within airport grounds has been increased from 160 to 400. Meanwhile, the State Railway of Thailand has yet to increase security measures but has been instructed by the Ministry of Transport to closely monitor large groups of people who may be traveling into Bangkok to stage political demonstrations against the Constitutional Court's verdict on dissolution of political parties. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Pro-Thaksin websites to be shut down

Posted by hasekamp on 28 May 2007 at 19:05 PM
The Information and Communications Technology Ministry has shut down as many as 17 websites for their support of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra following the September 19 coup. Access to hi-thaksin.org has been denied following Thaksin's legal representative in Thailand, Noppadon Pattama, saying he would post a video of his client's latest speech on the site. Similar action has been taken against saturdayvoice.no-ip.info for reporting the deposed leader's movements. Among other sites established by Thaksin supporters to be blocked are rakchat.org, saturdaylive.org, dday5450.org and saturdaycenter.com. Executives of a banned satellite TV station set up by former members of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party yesterday said they would ask students of Ramkhamhaeng University to act as security guards at a rally they plan to hold on Thursday. PTV executive committee deputy chairman Jatuporn Promphan said the station would enlist some 500 students to keep order at the Royal Plaza, the rally venue. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bomb in Nakhon Pathom

Posted by hasekamp on 26 May 2007 at 10:54 AM
A bomb disposal unit successfully removed a C-4 bomb hidden underneath a pick-up truck parked at a Nakhon Pathom market (just northeast of Bangkok and home of the largest chedi in Asia) on Saturday morning. Police believed personal revenge was behind the planned explosion. Sompong Ditcham, the pick-up owner, said he saw the explosive after finishing a shopping tour with his wife at the market in Muang district. He informed the police at around 8 a.m. Police found the explosive, weighing half a pound, was ready to work. It was tied to a mobile phone with electric wires and placed under the vehicle. Police said the bomb was not a terrorist attack because Mr Sompong told them that he had conflict with a neighbour and this might be an attempt at pesonal revenge. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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TRT to be dissolved?

Posted by hasekamp on 24 May 2007 at 12:17 PM
Thai Authorities are preparing to stop 99 elephants and thousands of villagers from entering Thailand's capital to protest against the possible dissolution of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's TRT political party, the military said Wednesday.
"The authorities are trying to convince the elephant owners not to bring their animals to Bangkok," said Lt.-Gen. Prayuth Chanocha, commander of the 1st Army, which is responsible for peacekeeping in Bangkok. "We have to use all means to stop the elephants from joining the political rally."
He said the protesters and pachyderms plan to enter Bangkok on May 29, a day before the Constitutional Court is due to deliver a verdict that could lead to the disbanding of both Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party and the opposition Democrat party for allegedly breaking the law during an election in April last year. The leaders of both parties have publicly promised to accept the court's ruling but some senior members of Thai Rak Thai are threatening to stage mass protests if their party is disbanded. (Source: AP)


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Airport will not flood

Posted by hasekamp on 22 May 2007 at 20:40 PM
Thailand's Royal Irrigation Department (RID) will dredge 17 canals to increase the efficiency of drainage systems around Suvarnabhumi airport, announcing its confidence that the showcase airport won't be affected by floods this year. Chairing a meeting on the drainage system around Suvarnabhumi airport, Royal Irrigation Department director-general Samart Chokkanapitak said the meeting resulted from the Prime Minister's assignment. Mr. Samart said he was confident that there will not be high water problems at or around the new international airport, which is quite important to the economy, and that waterflow and drainage conditions will be closely monitored. A budget of Bt80 million will be used to improve the drainage system around the airport, he said, and the Armed Forces Development Command will provide support personnel and equipment to carry out the actual dredging of the canals, he said. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Phuket beaches closed

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2007 at 11:35 AM
Following last Wednesday\92s earthquake, felt across much of the country, unusually high tides yesterday created fear of another tsunami among some residents of west coast beaches. Authorities said the waves, which damaged a number of seaside restaurants in Thalang District, were unrelated to seismic activity and were just the result of normal tidal conditions and strong monsoon winds. The waves damaged nine restaurants along Haad Saikaew in Tah Chat Chai, just south of the Sarasin Bridge along Thepkrasattri Rd. Tides there reached their highest at around 9 am, when they overturned tables and chairs and washed away the concrete foundations of the restaurants, constructed of bamboo and corrugated zinc. No injuries were reported. Pointing to a pillar put in place to mark wave heights during the December 2004 tsunami disaster, locals estimated that the waves reached a maximum height of almost four meters at the restaurants.
Later the authorities clo9sed the Phuket beaches. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Academics do not like draft constitution

Posted by hasekamp on 21 May 2007 at 11:29 AM
Academics predict the new electoral system proposed in the draft constitution would bring about a weak, multi-party coalition government, as opposed to the strong governments that formed under the abrogated 1997 charter. Suchit Bunbongkan, of the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA), said charter writers had aimed at a constitution which would make the next government less strong and easy to keep in check. With this purpose in mind, they had come up with a system of multi-member constituencies. This was far different from the single-member constituency and the one-person, one-vote system under the 1997 constitution. Mr Suchit, speaking at a seminar on the draft constitution yesterday, said the idea of multi-member constituencies was to prevent a single political party from winning an absolute majority of House seats, as the Thaksin government did. However, he believed this would not close the loopholes altogether. Big parties such as Thai Rak Thai would still manage, somehow, to make a broad sweep of seats in the House, Mr Suchit said. Thai Rak Thai had shown it was good at finding ways to create and popularize its leader. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flood warning for Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 19 May 2007 at 13:30 PM
Bangkok residents on the banks of the Chao Phraya river are being warned to prepare for possible flooding as a result of sea water intrusion, days of persistent rainfall and run-off from the North over the next four days. The rise in water levels is due to high tides combined with other factors including a southwesterly wind, water flowing down from heavy rains in the North and rainfall in central Thailand over the past three days. The Chao Phraya on Thursday surged to 1.92 metres above sea level. This year, the rainy season has started two to three weeks earlier than usual, Rear Adm Nakorn said. This is an unusual phenomenon. Such river conditions usually take place in September. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Earthquake in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 17 May 2007 at 17:30 PM
An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 with its epicenter in western Laos was reported Wednesday afternoon by the U.S. Geological Survey, and its tremors were felt as far away as the Thai capital of Bangkok, several hundred kilometers to the south. There were no initial reports of damage or casualties. The quake occurred at 3:56 p.m. (0856 GMT) at a point 155 kilometers (97 miles) west-northwest of the Laotian city of Luang Prabang, said the USGS. The region is sparsely populated, with little urban development. The quake caused high-rise buildings in Bangkok to sway, and many offices were evacuated, with their panicky occupants gathered in the street. The quake was also felt in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. A Lao Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yong Chanthalansy, said by telephone from the Laotian capital Vientiane that the earthquake lasted for about 10 seconds. He said their were no initial reports of casualties from the remote area and that there had been no panic. (Source: Associated Press)


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Radio station closed after Thaksin interview

Posted by hasekamp on 17 May 2007 at 11:09 AM
The Public Relations Department closes down "Confidante" community radio on Thursday afternoon, after ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra called the station to talk to listeners last night. The PRD officials inspected the station, located in Nonthaburi on the outskirts of Bangkok, to seize broadcasting equipment. But staff at the station claim it is out of order so they sent it for repair since the morning. The officials get the recorded tape of the 15-minute talk when Mr Thaksin called in to speak to listeners for further investigation.
The PRD staff insisited that the station stop its broadcast because it was set up unlawfully. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Touristic downgrade for South

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2007 at 11:45 AM
Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has downgraded some major tourism projects in the South, including the reopening of some small airports, and the construction of a convention center in Phuket. The announcement came at a meeting between PM Surayud and the governors of the six Andaman provinces held in Krabi yesterday.
The premier is concentrating more on a tsunami-warning system along the Andaman coast and developing more ferry ports to link with islands.
The government has no plans to proceed in the short term with southern mega-projects, including the Phuket Convention and Exhibition Center, which won Cabinet approval three times during Thaksin Shinawatra\92s era.
PM Surayud and eight ministers also visited Phuket yesterday to inspect the government\92s project on Andaman coastal development. (Source: The Nation)


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Briton free after 17 years

Posted by hasekamp on 16 May 2007 at 11:41 AM
A Blackpool businessman who spent more than 17 years in jail in Thailand, including two years chained up on death row, last night attacked the Foreign Office for its failure to help him and other British prisoners abroad. John Davies, who has just arrived back in England after being freed from a life sentence in Bangkok, said he had always protested his innocence but had received little help from the British authorities. (Source: The Guardian)


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Gold shops should take care

Posted by hasekamp on 15 May 2007 at 13:52 PM
Phuket police have requested local gold shops tighten security and limit their trading hours to help police better patrol the shops. The call follows a reported spike in the number of gold shop robberies nationwide. Police met more than 50 local gold shop owners at Phuket City Police Station yesterday to discuss the request along with other possible ways of preventing robberies and catching robbers when they strike. "We request that every owner set the store hours from 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday because Phuket has a limited number of police officers of which about 80% of them have been commanded to closely watch gold shops. It\92s hard work for them as they have many other daily duties. I want to ask you to help them," a Provincial Police spokesman said. "Every shop should have a warning sticker reading \91Please, take off your helmet, sunglasses and jacket before coming in\92 posted clearly on the glass door. Usually, thieves like to rob small, dimly-lit shops so I am not as worried about big gold shops. I want you to install a panic button that you can press during a robbery to warn others. These should not set off an alarm in your shop as this could provoke the robber, but it should be audible outside the shop for your neighbors to hear the warning so they can alert the police," he added. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Thaksin faces charges

Posted by hasekamp on 15 May 2007 at 13:47 PM
The Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC) yesterday agreed to proceed with corruption and criminal charges against deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Khunying Potjaman, and to hand the case over to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) for prosecution. The charges relate to the 772-million-baht purchase of land on Ratchadaphisek road from the Financial Institutions Development Fund in 2003. The ASC has handled 13 corruption allegations against the Thaksin administration since it was appointed by the coup makers last year. This is the first time it has managed to lay a case for the prosecution of the ousted prime minister before the attorney-general. It could pave the way for Mr Thaksin to return to the country to fight the charges in court, pending a decision by the Council for National Security (CNS). (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding in the North

Posted by hasekamp on 15 May 2007 at 13:43 PM
Flooding was reported from the northern Thai province Uthai Thani as about 100 homes were damaged by a sudden rampage of water. Forest run-off flowed into the Kaewtakdad River, flooding homes and 400 acres of farmland in Tabtan district. The floodwaters are about one meter deep in some areas and one local road was impassable. Tropical Cyclone 01B made its departure for Bangladesh, Thailand's Meteorological Department announced late Tuesday afternoon, and has been downgraded to tropical depression status. Nevertheless abundant and isolated heavy rain is forecast throughout Thailand. People in at-risk areas should be especially aware of flash flooding on Tuesday and Wednesday. Due to heavy weather in the Andaman Sea, small craft should stay ashore or in port during the next few days. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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YouTube removes videos

Posted by hasekamp on 12 May 2007 at 12:37 PM
YouTube today on Friday 11 May agreed to remove all videos that the Thai government regarded as insulting to the country's king, following a month-long stand-off which saw the complete video website blocked to all Thai users. But even as the matter appeared to have been resolved to the satisfaction of the country's military regime, the information and communication technology ministry issued news orders to YouTube to turn over the Internet addresses of those who had uploaded the clips, saying that they would be charged with the crime of offending the monarch, punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment. The Bangkok Post reported that as of Friday night, several of the clips had been removed but others remained. Earlier in the day, in a related developoment, it was reported that Google had rejected a proposal by New York's comptroller not to do business in China or other countries where it is forced to censor its search results. (Source: Yahoo! News)


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Objections against Night Safari

Posted by hasekamp on 12 May 2007 at 12:33 PM
A local conservation group says it has become disillusioned with the government's handling of the controversial Chiang Mai Night Safari. The group, the Hak Chiang Mai network, told Deputy Prime Minister Paiboon Wattanasiritham during a meeting yesterday that the zoo should be scrapped, together with the cable car and elephant park projects in the Suthep-Pui National Park. The elephant park is part of the Night Safari, which allegedly encroaches upon the national park. Mr Paiboon said the government had decided to solve the Night Safari problems by setting up a state enterprise under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to manage the zoo. "I believe this will help solve the problems to a certain extent," the deputy prime minister told the group. He promised to look into the cable car and elephant park projects. However, the group insisted that the projects should be scrapped as the zoo allegedly encroaches on 800 rai of protected forest while accruing losses due to poor management. The Chiang Mai Night Safari was opened in February last year as a theme park featuring exotic animals. But the project faced protests from conservationists who criticised the previous government for pursuing it without public consultations. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Patent policy fought out on the Web

Posted by hasekamp on 11 May 2007 at 18:01 PM
If you've visit www.Thailies.com, you will be surprised at the international cyber-media offensive that is being played out against the Public Health Ministry as it struggles to make an imported Aids drug cheaper for patients in Thailand. It took a clever US lobbyist to devise the strategy and do the work aimed at discrediting the Thai agency's controversial bid, which has severely upset the powerful US pharmaceutical industry. Last week, Brazil sort of followed Thailand's footsteps when it announced it would also do "compulsory licensing" of a patented Aids medicine legally under World Trade Organization rules. Now, both nations are being seen as "bad boys" in the eyes of USA for Innovation, a non-profit unit said to champion the protection of intellectual property rights. After discrediting the Public Health Ministry's bid with an initial posting of what it calls 10 "Thai Myths", the USA-for-Innovation-sponsored website has said it will release more information to back its accusations over the next two weeks. "Thailand's Health Ministry is misleading politicians, press and patients in an attempt to gain support from misinformed activists and to funnel money into its government-owned drug company," says the website. Besides the so-called Thai myths, USA for Innovation also invites its supporters to write to the US president complaining about the compulsory licensing issue along with the absence of democracy following the coup on September 19, 2006. (Source: The Nation)


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Vulture released into nature

Posted by hasekamp on 11 May 2007 at 17:57 PM
A Thai environmentalist Thursday released a rare vulture back to nature, hoping that the bird would return to its native habitat in Mongolia after a plan to sent it back by commercial air carrier failed to materialize because of the bird flu scare. The Cinereous Vulture was released along with four Himalayan griffon vultures in a mountainous area of northern Thailand near the Myanmar border. Veterinarian Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua, who led a project to oversee the bird's recovery, said the year-old male vulture, not found in Thailand, had been nursed back to health by veterinarians from the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST) and the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department. The bird apparently became lost in late December, and was found dehydrated and near death in Soi Dao district of Chanthaburi province in Thailand's east, he said. However, he said, the plan to transport it back to its origin in Mongolia faced a problem after China and South Korea rejected the request citing avian influenza (bird flu) concerns. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Animated life of the Buddha

Posted by hasekamp on 10 May 2007 at 13:08 PM
Thailand's first animated film on the Lord Buddha, Life of Buddha, will come out at the end of the year. The 100-minute movie, which is made in celebration of His Majesty the King's 80th birthday this year, will open in cinemas on Dec 5. It has received full support from eight state agencies, including the ministries of Social Development and Human Security, Education, and Culture. The agencies signed an agreement yesterday to help promote the production. Producer Valapha Pimthong, of Media Standard Ltd, said the film depicts the Lord Buddha's life story in full including his birth, his marriage, his spiritual quest and the path to his enlightenment, and his teaching of others. The film's content has been screened by Maha Chulalongkorn Rajavidhayalai University to make sure there is nothing that contradicts the Tripitaka (canonical texts of Buddhism). The film will be dubbed into English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and German. Ms Valapha, who has studied in India, said her inspiration for the film came when she visited the Buddha's place of enlightenment. It has taken her four years to produce the film, which is now 80% complete. The total production cost is estimated at 108 million baht. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Increased smuggling from Myanmar

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2007 at 19:04 PM
The Mae Sot Customs House reports that smuggling along the Thai-Myanmar border is increasing. Mae Sot Customs House chief Seri Thaichongrak revealed that customs officials recently seized smuggled goods, comprising of 37 teakwood window sills and 1,800 pieces of teakwood in Pob Phra district of Tak province. Authorities also apprehended Mrs. Karnee Kamdang who illegally smuggled Buddha statues and 31 articles of woodcraft valued at over one million baht in Tak's Mae Sot district. Mae Sot Customs House official reports that smuggling is increasing along the Thai-Myanmar border along Tak province during this period, causing great loss to the state's customs revenue collection, and increasing competition to Thai business operators. The main reason for smuggling stems from fighting among ethnic minorities in Myanmar, and high demand for exotic goods in the Thai market. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Cinton supports Thai drugs patents policy

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2007 at 19:00 PM
Public Health Minister Md. Mongkol Na Songkla indicates that former US President Bill Clinton has supported Thailand\92s decision to issue compulsory license (CL). The Public Health Minister said that Mr Bill Clinton has encouraged Thailand and Brazil to enforce CL, therefore to help low-income people have access to medicines. Former US President also says Thailand should not worry the CL enforcement would affect Thailand\92s economy as he believes the CL enforcement is abided by World Trade Organization\92s rules. At the same time, Md. Mongkol says CL enforcement will lift only three patented protection for anti-HIV medicine, Kaletra, anti-clogging agent Plavix, and Efavirenz, the second-line drug used to save the lives of HIV-infected people. He affirms Thailand\92s CL is intended to provide benefit to people in the country. The Public Health Minister says he is scheduled to explain the subject to US Senators by hoping they might help delete name of Thailand in US Priority Watch List. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Seven soldiers killed

Posted by hasekamp on 9 May 2007 at 18:25 PM
A roadside bomb killed seven Thai soldiers instantly Wednesday in one of the deadliest insurgent attacks against security forces this year. The bombing took place as the soldiers were returning from a mission in an army vehicle in Narathiwat province's Rangae district. The special warfare unit from Lopburi province in central Thailand were assigned to carry out psychological operations to win back the hearts and minds of local villagers. Suspected insurgents remotely detonated the bomb by an electrical wire. The powerful explosion killed the ill-fated soldiers instantly and their vehicle was completely destroyed. The assailants shot all the soldier in the head to make certain they were dead before making off with seven M16 rifles and six pistols. The incident occurred in a mountain range near the area which a group of insurgents used as training ground. Army rangers raided the area in February that led to an exchange of gunfire, killing five insurgents at that time. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Scanner scam at airport

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2007 at 12:22 PM
There have been numerous reports of theft at Suvarnabhumi Airport, police say, including at least two from tourists who say their valuables disappeared while they were being scanned. German tourist Dr Richard Chrobop, 60, said his 2.5-karat diamond ring, worth about Bt500,000, disappeared while going through a scanner at the airport when he was flying back to Germany on April 24. Police also received a complaint yesterday from a Japanese tourist who said 800 euros (Bt 35,400) in cash disappeared from his bag while it was being scanned at the airport. Photographs retrieved from the scanning machine show that Chrobop's diamond ring disappeared after it entered the machine, said an airport official who asked not to be named. Chrobop put a jacket and other possessions, including the ring, into a basket to pass through the scanning machine at the departure exit. The ring was gone when the basket came out from the other side. Airport staff refused the doctor's request to meet police but gave him a compensation claim form and rushed him to his plane, Piyarat said. The airport official said photographs from the scanner showed that the ring was in the basket as it passed through the scanner. (Source: The Nation)


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Knowledge of English is getting worse

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2007 at 12:19 PM
The national test for students doing basic education shows achievements in English have dropped significantly. Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) secretary general Khunying Kasama Varavarn blamed the decrease of classroom hours for teaching English. The Bureau of Education Testing provided annual tests for grade 6 and grade 9 students across the country. It revealed students in grade 6 had received their lowest average mark in English, followed by maths, Thai and sciences. Grade 9 students lowest scholastic achievement was in English followed by maths, sciences, social studies and Thai. Records of the past three years show the results in English, Thai and maths had dropped every year, while only sciences had improved. (Source: The Nation)


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New use for crocodile eggs

Posted by hasekamp on 7 May 2007 at 12:14 PM
A team of Thai scientists have found that crocodile eggs provide a goldmine of hydroxyapatite, the bioactive material commonly used in bone and teeth transplants worldwide. The breakthrough by Kasetsart University's department of chemistry followed three years of research on the possible commercial uses for crocodile eggs and bones in collaboration with the Sriracha Crocodile Farm, one of the kingdom's largest exporters of crocodile skins and meat products. The farm, also a major tourist attraction, is looking for a lucrative way to get rid of its crocodile leftovers. By combining the crushed shells with phosphate using a pressurized hydrothermal process, the team found they could make hydroxyapatite powder similar to the imported commercial product. Similar processes are used to make hydroxyapatite abroad using chicken egg shells, but Sutatip claimed that crocodile egg shells were superior because of their natural white pigment and the fact that they are much "bigger and harder" than chicken eggs. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No clue yet about bomb

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2007 at 12:06 PM
Police investigating Saturday night's bombing near His Majesty the King's palace here have found no clue to the identity of the bomber, but have set up 84 checkpoints in risk-prone areas in the capital nightly, senior police officers said Sunday. Following a meeting Sunday morning with senior police officers on the bombing incident which wounded a young man, Pol. Lt-Gen. Jongrak Jutanont, Assistant National Police Chief, said the bomber wished to stir up a sense of chaos in the country. His assumption was based on the fact that the explosive was made in a simple way with the explosion was set to go off at not more than 30 minutes. Five witnesses had been questioned but police were still unable to find a clue to the identity of the bomber, he said.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will install more lights in dark areas here. Moreover, the municipality is considering closing public telephone booths in areas which are unnecessary to prevent ill-intentioned persons from planting bombs. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket beaches closed

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2007 at 11:45 AM
Winds gusting up to 35 kilometers an hour and waves of up to two meters in height crashing along Phuket\92s west coast forced lifeguards to close nearly all of Phuket\92s main beaches today. An official said: "Due to the bad weather, red flags have been put up at Phuket's beaches since this morning. We have posted the red at Kata, Karon, some parts of Patong, Bang Tao, Kamala, Surin, Nai Harn and especially in the north at Mai Khao, Nai Yang and Nai Thorn, where it is dangerous for tourists to swim right now." Tourists were allowed to swim at only some parts of Patong Beach, such as in front of Phuket Graceland Hotel, and at some sections at Bang Tao Beach. Heavy rains and a tropical depression looming off the west coast have prompted all national parks, especially those with waterfalls, to be put on alert for flash-floods and landslides.
Ships\92 captains are also advised to be on alert until tomorrow.
Attractions are advised to close in any area where rainfall exceeds 100 millimeters.
No attraction has yet been closed. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Bomb near palace

Posted by hasekamp on 6 May 2007 at 11:31 AM
A bomb went off on coronation day, shattered glass in a telephone booth outside Chitrlada Palace, the Bangkok residence of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Police said it was only intended to make a loud noise and cause panic. It was not known if Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch who turns 80 this year, was in the palace.
Police have made little headway in finding the culprits of a series of bombs on New Year's Eve in Bangkok that killed three people and wounded 38. In the immediate aftermath of those blasts, the army inferred that Thaksin or his loyalists were to blame. He denied any links.
Investigators later suggested Muslim militants waging a three-year separatist insurgency in the Muslim-majority southern provinces may have had a hand in the bombs. (Source: Yahoo news)


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Train accident near River Kwai

Posted by hasekamp on 5 May 2007 at 20:25 PM
Four passengers were injured early Saturday when a train traveling from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok derailed shortly after leaving railway station here. The ill-fated train with nearly 100 passengers derailed at a curve in Kanchanaburi's Sai Yok district, in which all four railway carriages to slip off the tracks. No deaths were reported but four passengers suffered head wounds, while other passengers were transferred to another train which carried them to Bangkok. State Railway of Thailand (SRT) officials ordered a crane from the capital to lift the railway stock from the accident site, not far from the 'Bridge on the River Kwai' which is a popular tourist destination. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Conclusions of climate conference

Posted by hasekamp on 5 May 2007 at 20:20 PM
It would cost the world less than 1% of its GDP to put in place measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions in order to reduce the impact of global warming and climate change, an intergovernmental panel meeting in Bangkok said yesterday. The panel suggested several measures that ordinary people could contribute to in order to ensure more efficient use of energy. It also urged promotion of renewable fuels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued the report after four days of discussions. The report is expected to have some "influence" on talks about measures to counteract climate change among parties to the Kyoto Protocol in Bali, Indonesia, in December. Bert Metz, the mitigation working group co-chairman, said there was substantial economic potential to cutting greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. All sectors and regions can contribute to reducing emissions, he said. Everyone could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by changing their behaviors and lifestyles. IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri described the report as "stunning, brilliant, and razor sharp," with a remarkable step forward from the knowledge contained in the agency's third assessment report done in early 2000. He said the report would help raise awareness among the public and world leaders about the impact of climate change. But he stressed the IPCC's work was only about evaluating and assessing what happened, and the decisions rested with government leaders. (Sourc3e: The Bangkok Post)


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Posted by hasekamp on 4 May 2007 at 10:24 AM
The Thai government plans to sue the popular video-sharing Internet site YouTube, where someone posted a short clip earlier this year, deemed insulting to the country\92s much-revered monarch, an official said Friday. The government blocked access to YouTube on April 4 after it turned down a request to remove the contentious 44-second video, which shows provocative graffitti-like elements painted over a slideshow of photographs of 79-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej. (Source: Kaleej Times)


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Flash flood warning

Posted by hasekamp on 3 May 2007 at 18:57 PM
A tropical depression over the Andaman Seas is approaching upper Thailand and heavy rains and flash flood warnings have been issued for the northern and western regions, and ships are advised to proceed with caution until the weekend. Thailand's Meteorological Department director-general Suparerk Tansriratanawong said that the depression will bring continuing rain in upper Thailand until May 5. The weather department warned of heavy rains in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Tak, Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet, Uthai Thani, Kanchanaburi, and Ratchaburi.
The tropical depression was centered 600 km southwest of Tak province on Thursday morning. The approaching storm is expected to cause more rain in Thailand's west, northern and central regions until Saturday. In Ratchaburi, overnight rain prompted provincial disaster response authorities to make ready for the evacuation of villagers living in mountaineous areas in case of emergency. Chiang Mai and Kanchanaburi experienced cloudy skies and scattered rain showers. Both provinces issued warnings for some areas including tourist attractions. Heavy rain is also expected in the southern Andaman Sea provinces of Ranong, Phangnga, and Phuket, while strong winds are expected to affect shipping in the Andaman Sea. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thailand tp explain patent violations

Posted by hasekamp on 2 May 2007 at 18:15 PM
Washington's decision to shift Thailand from its intellectual property "Watch List" (WL) to its "Priority Watch List" (PWL) on Monday may cause some psychological impacts on investors in both countries, but will not really affect the Thai-US trade relationship, according to a senior official. To clarify all doubt and to push to lift the kingdom from the list, Thailand's Intellectual Property Department (IPD) will meet with US IPD representatives on May 11 to jointly prepare an action plan, Thai IPD Director-General Puangrat Assawapisit said Wednesday. Ms. Puangrat said she believed that Thailand's application for compulsory licensing of anti-AIDS drugs was the main reason for Washington's decision, which took effect on May 1. However, the senior official said, she thought it was a measure that the U.S. officials hoped would push Thailand and other 11 countries in PWL to adjust their policies. Thailand's Public Health Ministry stated that before taking action to exercise the compulsory licensing, the ministry consulted US agencies and drug manufacturers. She said that the consultation covered only one of the three drugs and that US manufacturers uncertainty about other possibly targeted drugs might be the reason for Washington's decision to put Thailand on the priority watch list. Moreover, she suggested, despite the prior consultation, the US may not be happy to see Thailand carry through as an effective, and replicable example for other countries to exercise the right of compulsory licensing. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Freedom of press sliding down

Posted by hasekamp on 2 May 2007 at 18:12 PM
Thailand's press freedom has been labeled as "not free" by the continued declining for the sixth years and now ranked 127 out of 194 countries surveyed, according to an international media index on press freedom. New York-based Freedom House notes that the press freedom in Thailand has worsen followed the coup of September 2006 because the coup makers, which called themselves the Council For National Security, has largely treated the press as a potential threat to the new regime and restricted it as such. The report was released on the eve of the World Press Freedom Day on Thursday. This represents the worse assessment of Thai media ever done by a foreign organization. In 2000, Thailand ranked 29th as the country which had one of the freest press in the world. Under deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the overall media freedom deteriorated rapidly. Last year, Thailand ranked 107th and was listed "partly free." After the coup, media restrictions have been concentrated on broadcasting and online media, most of them were dealt with criticism of the coup leaders as well as the monarchy. Freedom House said in its report that the CNS took a very proactive and direct approach to securing media compliance, calling a meeting with senior media representatives to convey a host of coverage directives on September 21. Also included in the assessment was the events that followed after the coup when troops were positioned outside all broadcast stations, and broadcast executives were ordered not to air materials that might challenge the new regime. It also added that restriction on media coverage during the coup itself were largely limited to disruptions of CNN and BBC broadcasts featuring background on Thaksin and a local broadcast airing a statement from Thaksin himself. (Source: The Nation)


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Be aware of waterfalls

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2007 at 14:51 PM
The Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation in Satun Province warns tourists to check weather forecasts before visiting waterfalls while alerting areas with waterfalls or caves to be prepared for flash floods and landslides. Chief of the Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation in Satun, Somkiat Intharakham informs that frequent rains in the province during this period might cause flash floods and landslides. As a result, the office has geared up for possible natural disasters although the Meteorological Department reported that Satun might not be affected much by tropical storms. Mr Somkiat also warns residents of inundation in lowlands which is expected to occur after heavy rains. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Elephants treated well in Australia

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2007 at 14:43 PM
All eight Thai elephants now living at two Australian zoos are being treated well by zoo officials, Thailand's envoy 'down under' said Tuesday. Ambassador Bundit Sothipalarit said five Thai elephants are now at Sydney's Taronga Zoo and another three at Melbourne Zoo. Zoo officials have been treating them tenderly, the envoy said, and are hard at work encouraging the large Thai guests to serve as unofficial Thai ambassadors. The elephants themselves are also teachers of a sort, conveying knowledge about the world of Thai elephants to Australian families, to schoolchildren and their teachers, as they visit the zoos. Ambassador Bundit said he had visited the Taronga Zoo and was pleased to see that a Thai-style pavilion had been built there, while elephant housing was built with an investment of about Bt1 billion, donated by animal lovers. The Melbourne Zoo also has a Thai restaurant, with Thai food and a Thai name. The Thai elephants arrived in Australia in December following a long legal dispute between the Australian government and Thai-based animal welfare groups, a dispute that was resolved in February when agreement was reached regarding several conditions guaranteeing the elephants' welfare. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Climate top: Nuclear power not to be advised

Posted by hasekamp on 1 May 2007 at 14:39 PM
The world scientific body assessing the health of the world's climate yesterday dismissed speculation that it will recommend nuclear power as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) insisted that energy efficiency as well as renewable energy was still a central issue in the Bangkok meeting which continues until Friday. The meeting began yesterday. Rajenda Pachauri, head of the IPCC, maintained that the agency had never said that the world should go for any particular options or actions as claimed by some media. In fact, it was not the agency's work to recommend particular actions, he said, adding that it would provide facts to governments to decide. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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