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EU wants to monitor elections

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2007 at 18:01 PM
The European Union ambassador to Thailand is scheduled to meet next Thursday to discuss in detail with Election Commission chief Apichart Sukhagganond the EU proposal to monitor the forthcoming general election in Thailand. Election Commission secretary general Suthiphol Thaweechaikarn said the EU ambassador will meet with the polling agency's chief following the community's request to monitor the nationwide election scheduled for December 23. Mr. Suthiphol said the matter will be discussed in detail between the two sides, including the number of EU officials to monitor the races for parliament and the EU suggestion that a formal Memorandum Of Understanding be made between the community and the polling agency.
The Thai polling agency would strictly observe the United Nations rules governing electoral affairs and take into account the comments recently made by an Indonesian poll official about the earlier EU monitoring of an election in the archipelago state. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Herbal medicine expo

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2007 at 17:57 PM
Herbal medicine products are being exhibited in the annual National Herbs Expo, organized by the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, Ministry of Public Health. The fair features Thai massage and yoga workshops and demonstrations on how to make health drinks and herbal products for home spas. There are exhibitions on international and local medicines, medicinal plant gardens and a talk on Thai chilli dips in the age of globalisation, as well as free training courses on how to make traditional chilli dishes from different regions. The event runs from 10am to 9pm until Sunday at Hall 5-6, Phoenix 16, Impact Convention Centre, Muang Thong Thai. (Source: The Nation)


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King wants to promote Thai language

Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2007 at 13:07 PM
His Majesty the King asked the heads of Thai diplomatic missions yesterday to help promote use of the Thai language among Thais abroad. In his speech to ambassadors, consul-generals and senior Foreign Ministry officials gathering for an annual Royal audience at Dusidalai Throne Hall, His Majesty expressed concern over the fact that some Thai citizens in foreign countries could not speak Thai after leaving their homeland for just a short time. "You diplomatic heads must feel uneasy to see that some Thais cannot speak Thai after leaving the country for just a short while. You must help them by making them proud of the Thai language, which has been in existence as part of Thai culture long before that of many other countries," he said. Citing himself as an example, the King said at first he could hardly use the Thai language while spending his childhood overseas since he was five. "When I was back to Thailand at the age of 11, my knowledge of Thai speaking was derived from what my mother taught me. She would only speak Thai to me. I started learning Thai writing and reading at 11 and I could master the written language at 18, while getting fluent in reading took longer," His Majesty said. (Source: The Nation)


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Alert for Mae Hong Son

Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2007 at 13:02 PM
There have been reports that 121 ducks and chickens have mysteriously died in Mae Hong Son province although it is still unclear whether the birds had contracted the H5N1 virus or avian influenza. The latest deaths were reported near a refugee camp at Baan Mae Surin. Public health officials have already been called in to cull the rest of the flock to ensure if the animals had died from H5N1, the virus does not spread. According to authorities at the camp, the first ducks and chickens began to die about three days ago. Two female refugees have also fallen ill. Deputy governor of Mae Hong Son province, Wanchai Suthiworachai said health authorities have been dispatched to monitor the situation very closely to keep the spread of avian influenza at bay. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Larger national parks

Posted by hasekamp on 29 August 2007 at 17:32 PM
Almost 400,000 rai of forest reserves and forested restricted military areas in Kanchanaburi province will be annexed into national parks to prevent widespread encroachment in those areas. Kanchanaburi Governor Amnart Pakarat said a provincial working group on prevention of forest encroachment had resolved to annex Wangyai and Maenam Noi forest reserves as well as forested areas designated by the 1938 royal decree for military use in Muang, Sai Yok and Dan Makhamtei districts into the Sai Yok national park. These areas cover some 250,730 rai of land and 18 villages in the three districts. Another 118,980 rai in four other forest reserves and forest areas restricted to military use Si Sawat and Nong Prue districts covering 16 villages would be added to the neighbouring Chalermrattanakosin national park. Mr Amnart said those forest areas, if left alone, would be at risk of encroachment and illegal logging. Putting them under national parks would help save the forests as the national parks are governed by laws which impose harsh punishments against encroachers. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Sonthi may run for PM

Posted by hasekamp on 29 August 2007 at 17:27 PM
Army Chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratklin on Wednesday said he had not yet decided whether to contest the next election in central Lop Buri province. Reports circulating in political circles said the army chief was likely to run for the post of prime minister by leading a political party based in his old Special Forces stomping grounds. Sonthi, who is also the leader of last year's military coup which ousted the then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, only said on Wednesday that he has never said that he would contest the next election in Lop Buri. But he also has never said he wouldn't. He said he would have to wait until October before he could be certain about his political future, a number of newspapers reported. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai toys better than Chinese?

Posted by hasekamp on 27 August 2007 at 12:05 PM
The export prospects for Thai-produced toys is expected to pick up in the second half of this year in response both to increasing global demand and better reliability of the Thai product in comparison to Chinese-made toys, according to Kasikorn Research Center. The leading think tank reported the Thai toy market had experienced many negative factors in the first half of this yea, including political uncertainties, stronger baht, and oil price hikes that affected production costs. In addition, the United States, a major export destination, had this year experienced economic woes and imported fewer toys from Thailand. It resulted in a slowdown in the Thailand's toy exports with their value clearly reduced in the first half of the year.
The Thai toy is more reliable than the Chinese product in terms of quality as a lot of toys made in China had been recalled by many producers in the global market since late last year. At the same time, the government had a more coherent policy to expand the toy market and private companies had given importance to risking distribution by attempting to locate new markets with strong economic fundamentals. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Elections on 23 December 2007

Posted by hasekamp on 27 August 2007 at 11:53 AM
A general election has been officially set for Sunday, December 23, to begin to return the country to democracy after 15 months and four days of military rule. Prime minister Surayud Chulanont assured full government support for a peaceful, orderly election. He said the police referendum monitoring center would be extended, and continue to function to oversee the general election in peace and order. The election date was announced by Election Commission chairman Apichart Sukkhakanont at a press conference at Government House. The Dec 23 date was approved - as expected - after a number of other possibilities were discussed and discarded. The EC chairman said Dec 23 was simply the most suitable. The Commission considered both January 6 and January 13, but these were ruled unsuitable because of possible problems regarding advance voting around the New Year\92s holidays. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bangkok International Festival of Dance and Music

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2007 at 14:46 PM
The annual International Festival of Dance and Music kicks off this year with His Majesty's Blues Concert, featuring performances of HM the King's compositions by more than 100 artists, including Sobchai "Ford" Kraiyurasen, Jennifer Kim, Radklao Amaradit and Surachai "Ta" Wongbuakao. Other highlights include Anuradha Pal's Street Shaki and Pallabi De, Kathak Dance from India, the National Ballet of Portugal, the Zurich Ballet, Russia's Ekaterinburg Symphony Orchestra and Opera and Argentina's No-Bailaras Tango Company. The event closes with "Flamenco and Spanish Dances" performed by Spain's leading dance company, Ballet Nacional de Espana. (Source: The Nation)


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New charter endorsed

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2007 at 14:43 PM
His Majesty the King yesterday endorsed the 2007 Constitution which passed the Aug 19 referendum with a 57% approval rating nationwide. His Majesty signed the constitution as he granted an audience to National Legislative Assembly president Meechai Ruchupan and Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) president Noranit Settabutr at Chitralada Palace. The country's 18th constitution was published in the Royal Gazette yesterday and took immediate effect. Speaking after the audience with the King, Mr Meechai said His Majesty complimented the CDA for its hard work and efforts. "His Majesty the King paid the CDA a compliment for a job which was very difficult," he said. According to Mr Meechai, the charter contains eight elements: upholding the nation's sovereignty and security; support for all religions and faiths; upholding the monarchical institution; sustaining the democratic system under the monarchy; protecting civil rights and liberties; promoting public participation in national administration and checks and balances; supporting and sustaining the checks and balances of the legislative and executive branches; and ensuring the independence and impartiality of the courts of law and independent public agencies. (Source: Thew Bangkok Post)


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New coins to be expected

Posted by hasekamp on 7 August 2007 at 18:54 PM
The Thai Cabinet yesterday agreed that adjustments be made to all nine coins in circulation, expecting to cut minting costs by Bt1.9 billion a year. A deputy government spokesman said the resolution would affect all new coins. "The changes are to reduce minting costs, which is higher than the nominal value. The changes will cut costs by Bt1.9 billion per year," he said. "To continue producing the current coins, the Treasury Department will have to bear Bt1.1 billion in losses. As of April this year, the price of metal rose sharply against the levels during the same period last year - nickel by 280 per cent, copper by 121 per cent and aluminium by 107 per cent", he explained. He said the current cost of minting was 40 per cent more than the coins' face values. New coins will also bear an updated image of His Majesty the King, replacing the one that has been used since 1987. New coins will be smaller, lighter and coated with cheaper metal, like copper for 25- and 50-satang coins and nickel for Bt1. The Bt2 coins will be made of a copper-colored bronze-aluminium composite, while the Bt5 coins will be coated with a silvery metal such as nickel. (Source: The Nation)


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Referendum Day, Holiday

Posted by hasekamp on 7 August 2007 at 18:49 PM
The Thai cabinet on Tuesday agreed to announce an extra holiday on August 20 to encourage the public to vote in a constitutional referendum on August 19, according to Prime Minister's Office Minister Dhipavadee Meksawan. Khunying Dhipavadee said after the Thai cabinet's weekly meeting that it was decided to declare a three-day weekend in order to help the public make the journey safely with sufficient time to travel without worrying about missing a day of work. The proposal for an extra holiday was submitted by the Election Commission, she said. Meanwhile, at the cabinet meeting, the ministers also discussed the campaign to encourage the voters to exercise their rights as much as possible, Khunying Dhipavadee said, adding that the cabinet had come up with the idea to organize the referendum rally on August 13. Television and radio stations will be asked to broadcast the event to raise public awareness on the referendum. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Poll: Majority for draft constitution

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2007 at 16:54 PM
A clear majority of people surveyed in a recent poll said they were planning to vote in favor of the draft constitution in the referendum on Aug 19, with less than 10% saying they intend to vote to reject the new charter. Over 55% of respondents surveyed in a poll by Ramkhamhaeng University said they were going to give the charter their approval, just over 9% said they were going to reject it and nearly 35% said they were still undecided. The pollsters surveyed 3,470 people across the country during July 29-Aug 2. Some 96.5% of respondents were aware the referendum was set to take place on Aug 19 and 85% were aware they had only two options, to accept or reject the charter. About 61% said they would cast their ballots while 6% said they had no plans to vote. Just under 33% said they were not sure if they would vote or not. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Jewelery traders complain

Posted by hasekamp on 3 August 2007 at 15:16 PM
Thai jewelery traders have complained their markets in the eastern province of Chantaburi have been seized by some groups of Indian gem traders through a price distortion. The president of the Thai Precious Stones and Ornaments' Association submitted a written complaint to a member of Thailand's National Legislative Assembly that the number of Indian gem graders in the province had increased considerably. Some groups of the Indian traders had distorted product prices to such an extent that Thai entrepreneurs including manufacturers and traders could not compete with them. He said the Indian traders had an advantage because they had a larger amount of capital, more branches overseas, and lower trading costs. In addition, most of the Indian traders had often shunned abiding by state rules and regulations. Currently, more than 100 out of 200 jewelery manufacturing plants had closed their business since they could not compete with the Indian traders in terms of prices. As the gem- and jewelery trade in Thailand consists for more than 50% of cheaters (far too high prices, far too low quality) we do not have warm feelings for the traders losing their business now. The interesting question to us is if the new (Indian) traders sell for more reasonable prices and in better quality. If so, welcome! (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Bad times for footwear factories

Posted by hasekamp on 3 August 2007 at 15:07 PM
Sports footwear exporters should step up efforts to locate new markets as local sales and exports of the product are likely to decline due to the economic slowdown and stronger baht, according to Kasikorn Research Center. The leading think tank said some footwear manufacturers had to close business or slow employment since they had been affected by the sharp baht appreciation. In the past, the footwear industry had experienced a lot of difficulties such as labor shortage, wage hike, and higher production costs. In addition, the exports continued to slow down since purchase orders shifted to China and Vietnam where labor wages are lower. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Book about Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2007 at 19:12 PM
Army commander-in-chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin has ordered an investigation into Lieutenant Sunisa Lertpakawat, who is the author of the newly published book "Thaksin, Where Are You?" The investigation will focus on Sunisa's visit to London to interview Thaksin for the book without prior approval from her immediate superiors, Sonthi said. "Thaksin, Where Are You?" hit bookstores yesterday, offering a glimpse into the daily life of the former PM, who is now living in exile in London. Sonthi said Sunisa, who is posted in the Army Secretariat Office, had not received proper authorization from her boss to interview Thaksin in England. Meanwhile, Sunisa told The Nation online that she traveled to England at her own expense and, after "crying and begging" and long negotiations with his secretary, was granted two interview sessions with Thaksin, each lasting about seven hours, in May and June. Sunisa said she had always aspired to become a writer. She had saved her own money and paid Bt100,000 for her travel expenses to London. Learning that the Army would order an investigation into her and the book, Sunisa said she accepted any investigation or punishment from her superiors. (Source: The Nation)


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