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Global warming through paddy fields??

Posted by hasekamp on 31 July 2007 at 13:29 PM
The government's move to combat global warming by cutting methane emissions from paddy fields is misguided because agriculture releases only small amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, a leading environmentalist says. Methane from paddy fields accounts for only 10% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions, said Sirinthornthep Taoprayoon, chairperson of the Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment(JGSEE), King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi. Farms produce much less greenhouse gases than the energy sector, she said. WE bet that Bangkok traffic contributes even far and far more.
The academic indicated that greenhouses gases from the farm sector were a "necessary evil" as the emissions were an inevitable byproduct of the production of rice, the staple food of most Thais. She was responding to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry's new policy to cut rising methane emissions from paddy fields. Rice farmers across the country will be asked to comply with the ministry's policy aimed at combating global warming. We find this not a well-considered plan. The ricr farmers are among the poorest people in the Kingdom. It would be better to ask a contribution of the motorists, for instance by tripling the tax on gasoline. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Propaganda for and against the new charter

Posted by hasekamp on 31 July 2007 at 13:22 PM
The Council for National Security (CNS)is pulling out all stops to rally support for the draft constitution ahead of the referendum on Aug 19, according to a military source. CNS chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalinhas instructed around 400,000 armed forces members and police officers and their families, through their commanders who sit on the CNS, to endorse the draft charter, the source said. The officers are expected to take on the role of "charter ambassadors", and more than 120 military-controlled radio stations have been told to publicize the charter, according to the source.
In last week's cabinet meeting,Gen Sonthi asked the government to urge state officials to cast their ballots in the Aug 19 referendum. Gen Sonthi has also ordered the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc),which has 700,000 staff nationwide under its command,to promote proper understanding of the constitution among rural people. Focusing on two elements: -people's involvement in politics and -medical welfare they are expected to reach out to "millions" of voters. The trainers and campaigners are pitted against canvassers of the dissolved Thai Rak Thai party, who are campaigning against the charter, especially in the North and the Northeast. However, the anti-charter camp led by the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and former Thai Rak Thai party members are also gearing up for the referendum.
Meanwhile, deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra criticized the military-sponsored draft constitution and urged voters to reject it in the referendum, the Financial Times reported yesterday. Mr Thaksin described the new charter as the "fruit of the poisonous tree" and a "step back for democracy". He said it was less democratic than the "people's constitution" adopted in 1997 and abolished in last September's military coup against his government. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thais are less happy

Posted by hasekamp on 29 July 2007 at 13:16 PM
The gross domestic happiness index (GDHI) for Thais between May and July this year continued declining to 5.02 points on a scale of 10 points, according to a recent survey conducted by the Assumption University ABAC Poll. Poll director Noppadol Kannikar said inquiries made between June 15 and July 28 on 3,962 people in 20 provinces nationwide found that the GDHI for Thais continued to decline since late 2006. Out of 10 points, the Northeasterners enjoyed highest happiness index at 5.13 points followed by people in the Central region at 5.08 points, the Northerners at 4.93 points, the Southerners at 4.33 points, despite the insurgency, while Thais living in Bangkok scored the lowest mark at 3.71 points. Major reasons behind the least happiness obtained by people living in Bangkok and in the South were attributed to continued demonstrations in the Thai capital and the insurgent violence in the three southern provinces. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New party to follow up TRT

Posted by hasekamp on 28 July 2007 at 13:28 PM
Members of (now forbidden) Thai Rak Thai group have decided to join the People Power Party which would enable them to contest in a general election scheduled to be held later this year. Surapong Suebwonglee, a leading member of Thai Rak Thai group, and Pol. Lt. Col. Karn Thienkaew, advisory chairman of People Power Party, jointly told a press conference that members of Thai Rak Thai group had unanimously agreed to join the People Power Party to meet requirements which called for election candidates must be members of political parties at least 90 days before an election is held in case the draft constitution is rejected in the national referendum on August 19. So far more than 300 people have applied to become members of People Power Party and the application will be open until July 30. Insisting that his party was not bought, Pol. Lt. Col. Karn said his party was willing to continue policies of Thai Rak Thai Party, founded by ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and disbanded on May 30 by the Constitution Tribunal for election fraud in April 2006. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Government defends intervention by BOT

Posted by hasekamp on 26 July 2007 at 12:02 PM
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont on Thursday defended the Bank of Thailand’s (BOT) intervention in the movement of the baht, which led to losses of 170 billion baht, saying it is necessary for the bank to supervise the currency exchange. His defense came after the National Legislative Assembly is scheduled to debate, early next month, the BoT's mismanagement of the baht's value, which caused repercussions on the country’s economy, early next month. Gen Surayud said the government was ready to explain about its supervision of the baht volatility and the overall economy, and affirmed the central bank managed the currency in a transparent manner. Previously, Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn conceded the central bank suffered losses of up to 170 billion baht from intervening in the baht movement in the past. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New Thaksin website

Posted by hasekamp on 26 July 2007 at 11:58 AM
A new website of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s will be ready for view on Friday, his legal aide Noppadon Pattama said. Mr Noppadon used Mr Thaksin's birthday on Thursday to officially announce the launch of the website, www.truethaksin.com, which will replace www.hi-thaksin.net which was closed down. The lawyer insisted the website will not contain content deemed detrimental to national security. Mr Noppadon said his client would celebrate his birthday with family in the UK, adding that some former MPs from Mr Thaksin’s former Thai Rak Thai party may fly there to join them. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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More compulsory licenses

Posted by hasekamp on 26 July 2007 at 11:55 AM
Thailand is pressing ahead with its policy on compulsory licensing (CL) with a plan to expand the policy to cover all state healthcare programmes, enabling more people to access affordable life-saving drugs. The plan, initiated by scholar-economist Ammar Siamwalla, was endorsed by the National Health Security Office board yesterday. Currently, the CL policy on three important drugs for Aids and heart treatment, Efavirenz, Kaletra and Plavix, is basically limited to patients under the universal healthcare scheme run by the National Health Security Office (NHSO). Better known as the 30-baht healthcare scheme, it covers some 48 million people, mostly children, the poor, the elderly and the unemployed. Under the plan, the CL policy will in principle cover all schemes. It is believed that patients under the SSO-run healthcare scheme should also benefit from this state policy. The new drug list for the CL policy has yet to be finalized, however. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Supreme Court: Death for Wisut

Posted by hasekamp on 25 July 2007 at 11:43 AM
The Supreme Court upheld on Wednesday death penalty for well-known gynaecologist Dr Wisut Boonkasemsanti for killing his estranged wife, dismembering her and flushing her body parts down a toilet six years ago. The penalty was handed down after Dr Wisut was found guilty on charges of premeditated murder, hiding and destroying her body and forging documents. The court said Dr Wisut, well-known among rich families who wanted to have baby, killed his wife, obstetrician Phassaporn, in 2001, dismembering her and flushing her body parts down a toilet of a dormitory of Chulalongkorn University. We reported about the crime at the time. Find the reports in our archives.
The Court of Appeal in July 2005 upheld a Criminal Court conviction and sentence of the Chulalongkorn Hospital doctor. The victim's father, Chote Wattanachet, brought the case to courts after public prosecutors originally dropped charges, citing lack of evidence as the victims's body was never found. Chote pursued Wisut in a civil action. Public prosecutors eventually took it up again and secured a conviction. Chote argued in court that the lack of a body in the case was outweighed by the discovery of human flesh in a sewer near a Chulalongkorn University dormitory where Wisut lived. (Source: The Nation)


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Cabinet wants measures to against strong baht

Posted by hasekamp on 25 July 2007 at 11:39 AM
The Thai Cabinet has approved a package of measures in its entirety proposed by the Bank of Thailand to rein in the appreciation of its baht currency, which has remained at a worrisome 10-year high for most of the month. Deputy Prime Minister Kosit Panpiemras, Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn and Bank of Thailand governor Tarisa Watanagase told a press conference after a cabinet meeting Tuesday that the measures include allowing listed firms on the Stock Exchange of Thailand to purchase currency for foreign direct investments up to US$ 100 million per year. Under the new scheme, corporations and individuals are allowed to deposit foreign currency with financial institutions. Foreign exchange rules are also relaxed to extend the period of importing receipts in greenbacks from the current 120 days to 360 days. As part of the package, individuals with liabilities can deposit foreign currency In local banks for up to US$1 million and up to US$ 100,000 for individuals without liabilities. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Government: UDD can harm monarchy

Posted by hasekamp on 25 July 2007 at 11:35 AM
The United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) is carrying out its actions with the obvious intention of damaging the highest institution, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said in a statement released yesterday. The statement was released to the press as Gen Surayud took his cabinet ministers to meet Gen Prem Tinsulanonda to extend moral support to the Privy Council president following Sunday night's riot involving the UDD outside his Si Sao Thewes residence. Gen Surayud said in the statement that a certain element with an ulterior motive who had lost "political advantages" continually tried to discredit Gen Prem through mudslinging tactics. According to the government, the constitution clearly stipulates that His Majesty the King appoints the privy councillors and the council president, all of whom provide him with advice. The Privy Council, therefore, represents a crucial component of the highest institution. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No baht for export?

Posted by hasekamp on 21 July 2007 at 14:28 PM
The Director of the Department of Export Promotion (DEP) in the Northern Region, Ms. Jiraporn Tunyanont, suggests exporters to fix its product prices in foreign currency instead of baht currency due to the baht appreciation. Ms. Jiraporn says the baht appreciation has affected exporters nationwide; therefore, she suggests an alternative solution for the baht situation. She views that exporters should inform their customers that they will fix prices of product in foreign currency and explain the reason to use foreign currency. Meanwhile, exporters should develop their products’ quality to reach customers’ demand. Some exporters say that they have hired foreign designers to design the product packages to attract more customers. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Flash floods in the South

Posted by hasekamp on 21 July 2007 at 14:25 PM
Flash flooding, triggered by heavy rains, has affected a number of villages in the southern provinces of Surat Thani and Phangnga. Flash floods occurred at Banbanglud village in Surat Thani's Phanom district, where more than 30 houses are in waters 60 cm to two meters deep. Officials were helping local residents evacuate to higher ground. It is expected that the flooding will subside and the situation will return to normal on Saturday afternoon. Local authorities are surveying the damage in Banbangban village, which has been cut off from surrounding communities.
Meanwhile, in Phang Nga, forest run-off inundated five villages, affecting more than 600 houses. Residents in the flood-hit areas need drinking water as the water supply system was damaged by the flooding. Many roads and bridges are impassable. The present flooding is the worst in 40 years in Phang Nga, according to local officials. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Baht is too strong

Posted by hasekamp on 13 July 2007 at 13:21 PM
Or is the US dollar too weak? Anyway: Up to 300,000 workers could lose their jobs in the apparel industry if the baht continues its relentless strengthening against the dollar, industry sources warned on Friday. Phongsak Assakul, president of the Thai Textile Manufacturing Association, has warned the government that Thailand's apparel industry, which employs more than 1 million people in the weaving, garment and textile sectors, was heading for a "genuine crisis" unless something is done about the baht, reported the Bangkok Post. Boosting by huge inflows of foreign investments in the local bourse, the baht currency has already appreciated 7 per cent against the greenback this year, on top of the 12 per cent appreciation in 2006. Despite the appreciation, Thailand's exports grew 18 per cent in the first five months of 2007, but economists have pointed out that this surge was essentially in exports of high-tech items such as electronic, electrical appliances and automobiles, which account for nearly 70 per cent of all exports but all of which have a high import content. Thailand's lower-tech export items such as garments and agricultural products are suffering from declining price competitiveness. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin safety once more ensured

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2007 at 16:46 PM
General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, chairman of Thailand's Council for National Security (CNS), said Wednesday that ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's safety is assured if he returns home to fight corruption charges next month. Gen. Sonthi gave the assurances after the Supreme Court Tuesday agreed to hear the high-profile corruption case involving a 2003 land deal in the capital. The first hearing has been set for August 14, and as the former prime minister and his wife are the first and second defendants in the case, respectively, they are required to appear in person. The junta chief made the comments after the Shinawatra family's legal advisor said Tuesday there was only a slight chance for the couple to attend the opening hearing on the case. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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No more karaoke or movies in the car

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2007 at 16:44 PM
Justice Ministry moved further Wednesday to ensure safety while driving by proposing ban on karaoke singing and playing motion picture in moving cars, alongside cellphone use. Justice Ministry permanent secretary Jaran Pakdeethanakul said these activities were even more dangerous to drivers than the use of cell phones. On Tuesday, the Cabinet approved draft legislation prohibiting motorists from using mobile phones or any other communication apparatus while driving. The draft is now being forwarded to the Council of State for review. "The review process should not take a long time given that this is an urgent government policy," Jaran said. He said that this draft would be written in a way that covered activities that would affect motorists' driving abilities. "It will thus cover karaoke singing and playing motion pictures in the vehicles too," he said. (Source: The Nation)


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No death penalty for pregnant women

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2007 at 16:41 PM
Legislators on Wednesday amended the criminal code to exempt pregnant women from the death penalty. The National Legislative Assembly approved an amendment to the Criminal Case Procedural Code to make a life sentence the maximum penalty allowed for women who are pregnant when they go on trial. Under the previous code, pregnant women were eligible for capital punishment but were allowed at least one year on death row before the execution was carried out to spare the life of the child. The death penalty has rarely been carried out in Thailand in the last few years. Another amendment to the criminal code will require Thai jails to provide facilities for prison moms to take care of their children for at least three years after birth. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Mixed marriages not always happy

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2007 at 16:39 PM
Thailand is fast becoming the land full of foreign son-in-laws, with the number of cross-cultural marriages rising at around 10 per cent a year. But they don't always live happily ever after. There are a rising number of Thai women entering into cross-cultural marriages each year. This has raised concerns from several women's organisations about the unfairness of Thai family laws and the lack of legal knowledge among Thai women. Following up on its reputation as the Land of Smiles, Thailand is fast becoming the land full of foreign son-in-laws, especially in the Northeastern region of the country where provinces such as Udon Thani and Roi Et top the list of domiciles for Thai ladies married to Western men, mostly from Germany, Britain and Scandinavian countries. A 2006 study on cross-cultural marriages of Thai women in the Northeast, Thailand's poorest region, funded by The National Culture Commission Office investigated the risks and consequences such marriages pose to cultural and traditional values in Thai rural areas.
Statistics from the Bangrak District Office in Bangkok - the most popular administrative center for marriage registration whose name is translated from Thai as "the district of love" - showed a remarkably high percentage of the cross-cultural marriages registered last year. Out of the total 6,124 married couples registered at the Bangrak office in 2006, about 50 per cent of them were Thai women and Western men. The number of cross-cultural marriages has been rising at around 10 per cent or so every year over the past 25 years. Statistics at the district office also showed that in 2006, out of the 384 registered divorces some 10 per cent were cross-cultural. With rising cross-cultural marriages a seemingly inevitable byproduct will be more cross-cultural divorces, drawing Thai women's rights groups to now pay more attention to the issue. Thailand's divorce laws are clearly chauvinistic. For instance, a husband's adultery is not grounds for divorce unless he intentionally flaunts the relationship to the public, while any form of adultery a wife engages in, even the most discreet relationship, provides grounds for the husband to file for divorce immediately. Thai women's rights activists have been lobbying hard to change the country's unfair family laws, and they recently succeeded in changing Thailand's rape law to include marital rape. They are now planning to draft proposed legislation that would provide more legal protection for Thai women with foreign husbands. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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OTOP continues

Posted by hasekamp on 8 July 2007 at 23:24 PM
Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont says the government will continue its support for the One Tambon One Product or OTOP project to raise the standard of life of people and prevent them from leaving their hometown. The project was initiated by ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra. The premier has visited the 2007 OTOP Midyear Fair yesterday (June, 7th) at the IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center. He affirmed that the OTOP project still focuses on community development and sticks to the marketing-led strategy. PM said further that the OTOP project under the interim government has given communities free reign in their production to create unique products. The 2007 OTOP Midyear Fair takes place daily from 10.00 – 21.00 hrs until July 15th. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Fair trial for Thaksin promised

Posted by hasekamp on 6 July 2007 at 15:16 PM
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont promised on Friday that exiled prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will get a fair trial if he returned home to face corruption charges. "I guarantee the fairness of Thailand's justice system, without any intervention. The government has never been and will not involve at any level," Surayud told reporters. Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup last year and faces several corruption charges, told Kyodo News in Japan that he would return home "only when the justice system goes back to normal" and he could be sure of a fair trial. His lawyer has repeatedly said that he fears for Thaksin's safety and had advised his client not to return home until after a general election, promised by the junta by the end of the year. "The government will do our best to look after Thaksin's safety. But it was up to Thaksin whether he returned," he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai chairman for WHO tobacco group

Posted by hasekamp on 6 July 2007 at 15:14 PM
The World Health Organisation (WHO) international convention on Framework Convention on Tobacco Control concluded Friday with a selection of a Thai medical doctor as the new chairman of its working group. Thailand's Public Health Minister Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla said in a press conference after the closing of the international convention that Thailand Health Promotion Institute chairman Dr. Hathai Chitanont received a unanimous vote from representatives of 147 countries. During his one-year tenure, Dr. Hathai will play an active role in pushing for a tobacco control policy in signatory countries of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, according to Dr. Mongkol. The top agenda for the new chairman is to push for passing controls on "beyond-boundary" advertisements of cigarettes - including on the Internet. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Draft constitution ready for referendum

Posted by hasekamp on 6 July 2007 at 15:12 PM
The Constitution Drafting Assembly on Friday unanimously approved an amended version of the country's new charter, moving it closer to a referendum planned for Aug 19. The assembly's 98 members attending the vote at Parliament approved the draft of Thailand's 17th constitution, which has been under debate for the past two months. "We will print 19 million copies of the draft charter to distribute to all districts in Thailand to allow people to study it before the Aug 19 referendum," assembly chairman Noranit Sethabutr said. Many of the most contentious articles in the new charter were modified during the revision process. For instance, an article stipulating that senators must be appointees now states that of the 150 senators, 76 would be elected and 74 selected. A push to include Buddhism as Thailand's state religion failed although Article 78 now says, "The state shall provide patronage and protection to Buddhism, to which the majority of Thais profess, and to other faiths." The draft also contains some articles that make it more liberal than its predecessor, the 1997 charter, which was deemed Thailand's most liberal to date. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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This year after all?

Posted by hasekamp on 4 July 2007 at 11:17 AM
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont insisted on Wednesday general election will be held this year. Gen Surayud said he had discussed this matter with Council for National Security chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin on Tuesday and that they both hope the poll would be held this year. The exact date is not certain because it depends on a referendum on the new constitution on August 19, the premier said. "We haven't set the exact date," Gen Surayud told reporters. "But as I've said before, we will try our best to hold the election within this year." The premier also projected the economy this year to grow 4 to 4.5%, adding that he expected it to grow 5% in 2008. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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800 for SET index

Posted by hasekamp on 3 July 2007 at 18:01 PM
Thailand's stock market index Tuesday morning shot past the 800 psychological barrier point hitting a 41-month high. The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index hit 809.43 in the first half hour of trading compared with Monday's close at 792.71, up 16.72 per cent on active trading worth 11.3 billion baht (323 million dollars). Brokers were expecting the SET index to pass the 800 point later this week on an influx of foreign investment in regional bourses and rising confidence in the Thai economy. Bank of Thailand data released last week indicated that the Thai economy was heading for higher growth in the second half of 2007, and could exceed an earlier growth target of 4 to 4.5 per cent for this Year. (Source: EarthTimes)


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Later elections after all

Posted by hasekamp on 1 July 2007 at 14:03 PM
Time after time the junta has promised elections before the end of this year. Now, suddenly, this seems not certain after all:
The Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) controversially approved an extended deadline for the completion of the elections for both the House of Representatives and the Senate by another 60 days. The earlier agreed 90-day deadline for holding the polls, reckoned from the day the organic bills on the election of members of both Houses come into force, was extended to 150 days. The bills can only be drafted after the promulgation of the draft charter. Also yesterday, junta leader Sonthi Boonyaratglin said after consulting the Election Com-mission that it might be difficult to hold an election by the end of this year. (Source: The Nation)


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Low cost Bangkok tours are popular

Posted by hasekamp on 1 July 2007 at 13:58 PM
The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority's popular "low-cost tours" have hit a bump in the road. Private operators are complaining the bus agency is stealing their business. The BMTA's tours began in January last year under the Thaksin Shinawatra government to reduce the financial burden of the debt-plagued agency and promote activities for people in low-income families. The BMTA has about 1,000 buses. One-fifth of its fleet does not run on weekends because of reduced ridership. But each vehicle costs 1,000 baht to maintain on weekends whether its wheels are turning or not. "The weekend trips utilize resources we have," BMTA managing director Pinetr Puapatanakul said. The BMTA's Zone 1 office in Bang Khen district opened its arms to the tour idea, designing 12 one-day trips, covering 108 temples in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces. The Saturday and Sunday trips cost 279-359 baht per seat. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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