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Concern about global warming

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2007 at 21:49 PM
Some 97.1 per cent of all respondents in a poll conducted recently by Assumption University are now worried by global warming. The poll, conducted among 2,191 people aged above 18 in Bangkok and surrounding areas and four other major cities from September 21-29, found that nearly all - 98.4 per cent - believed that global warming resulted from deforestation, followed by 97.6 per cent pointing their fingers at smoke emitted by coal-powered electricity plants, 96.5 per cent to smoke released by industrial plants, 91 per cent to smoke emitted as automobile exhaust and 89.9 per cent to a wasteful use of electricity. As many as 97.8 per cent of the respondents said the impact from global warming on Thailand during the past year could be easily seen on changes in weather, damages on infrastructure and livelihood of people became more difficult. Two-thirds of the respondents said they were worried about changes in weather in Thailand which might cause a decline in agricultural production in future. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Bomb in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 30 September 2007 at 21:45 PM
A bomb exploded next to the Army Survey Department's fence off Rajdamnoen Avenue Sunday night, causing injuries to two ordnance disposal officers at the scene. The explosives was in a black cardboard box placed at a phone booth in front of a small soi between the Army headquarters and the Army's Survey Department. The box was spotted by bystanders at the Rajdamneon Boxing Stadium across the Army headquarters and after the explosion, another box was found 50 meters away from the first one. After being informed, the bomb disposal unit rushed to the scene at around 9pm. But while inspecting the box, the bomb went off. The explosion seriously damaged the right wrist of a bomb disposal officer and injured another in the chest but not seriously. Both were sent to Hua-Chew hospital. The site has not yet been sealed off, just barricades erected around it. Sniffer dogs have been used to detect more bombs at the scene and nearby areas. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding in Phuket, Phangnga and central plain

Posted by hasekamp on 27 September 2007 at 11:12 AM
Some areas of Phuket and Phangnga were flooded yesterday following torrential rain on Tuesday. Low-lying areas in tambon Rawai in Phuket's Muang district were under 50 to 80cm of water and about 10 houses were inundated. In nearby Phangnga, mountain run-off flooded 25 houses and cut off roads and bridges in Khura Buri district. Several sections of a road through Kao Sok mountain were made impassable by landslides.
In the central plains, the Chao Phraya and Noi rivers burst their banks and flooded riverine communities in Ayutthaya and Nakhon Sawan provinces. Hardest-hit was Ayutthaya's Sena district. A temporary bridge was built for students to walk to Wat Ban Pan school. Locals called on the district office to speed up construction of a flood dam. In Nakhon Sawan's Krok Phra district, about 6,000 bags of sand were used to shore up the flood wall along the rising Chao Phraya river. Water pumps were installed in six locations.
In Bangkok, City Hall said it expected high sea tides to push the level of the Chao Phraya river up to 1.75m above the mean sea level around 6.30pm yesterday. People living along the river, and along Bangkok Noi and Mahasawat canals outside the city's dikes, were told to take precautions. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Possible influx of Burmese refugees

Posted by hasekamp on 26 September 2007 at 13:00 PM
Leading Burmese dissidents urged on Wednesday the Thai government and the international community to prepare for the possible influx of refugees in case of bloody clashes between authorities and pro-democracy demonstrators in Burma. Charm Thong, a member of the Shan Women Action Network (Swan), said a clear policy is Thailand needed in order to avoid any confusion if and the Thai border is flooded with Burmese fleeing crackdown. Cham Thong pressure from the world community is welcomed but added that all eyes are on China, a member of the UN Security Council and Rangoon's closest allies. The international community has urged the UNSC to pass a binding resolution to "put an end to the suffering of our people". There are already about 150,000 refugees in Mae Sot district. Most are ethnic Karens who came with stories of rape and torture. (Source: The Nation)


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Inventory of biological resources

Posted by hasekamp on 26 September 2007 at 12:57 PM
Thailand is set to conduct its first-ever nationwide survey and inventory of biological resources in a bid to protect precious resources from bio-piracy and boost the local economy. The country has been recognized as one of the world's richest in terms of biodiversity, but state agencies have failed to preserve and properly use its valuable resources, said Natural Resources and Environment permanent secretary Petipong Pungbun na Ayudhya. "A systematic database and good management of biological resources will not only help the country protect our resources from acts of bio-piracy, but also bring economic benefits to all sectors including local communities, businesses and scientific circles," he said. The ministry's newly established Biodiversity-Based Economy Development Office will be tasked with conducting a thorough survey and compiling a database on biological resources such as plants, animals, microbes and traditional wisdom. The office will also act as a facilitator for fair access to resources by local and international organizations. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Five plane victims not identified

Posted by hasekamp on 25 September 2007 at 16:19 PM
Five foreign bodies of the Phuket One-Two-Go September 16 air crash victims remain unidentified, while the remains of 11 foreigners are being kept by the Thai authorities, waiting to hand them over to the care of their families. Pol.Col. Nithi Banthuwong, superintendent of the disaster victim identification centre of the Royal Thai police said that out of 89 passengers killed in last week's air disaster at Phuket International Airport, 53 victims were foreigners. He said 48 foreign bodies have been claimed by their relatives, while officials are waiting for relatives of five other bodies, including four Iranians and one Swedish, to claim the bodies. The remains of all 36 Thais have been returned to their families. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin cases in the wait

Posted by hasekamp on 25 September 2007 at 16:16 PM
The Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to suspend corruption cases against ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Potjaman until prosecutors bring them back to court. "The court decided to suspend the case and the trial will resume when the two defendants are found," chief judge Thonglor Chomngam said. The decision of the Supreme Court's criminal division for holders of political positions came after the couple refused to attend the first hearing on charges related to the purchase of a 772-million-baht land plot. Mr Thaksin and Khunying Potjaman, who exiled themselves in London after the September 2006 coup, face arrest warrants and public prosecutors are looking into the possibility of seeking their extradition. Mr Thaksin has said he will not return to Thailand until the country is restored to democracy.
If convicted, Mr Thaksin and his wife face a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Campaign against AIDS

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2007 at 13:10 PM
A massive campaign against Aids will kick off next month after being put on the back burner for four years, according the man behind the war against HIV/Aids, Mechai Viravaidya. He said the Thai Health Promotion Foundation had approved Bt30 million to disseminate information about HIV/Aids prevention. The foundation is expected to allot another Bt470 million for the effort next year. The campaign would comprise television and radio advertising as well as published materials on the subject. Mechai said no action had been taken by authorities to create awareness even though the government had already allocated funds for the purpose. Because of this the incidence of infections was increasing, he said. "We used to distribute free condoms but now they have to purchase them, and many feel embarrassed picking prophylactics from the shelves, so opt to have sex without one." (Source: The Nation)


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Flooding in the lower North

Posted by hasekamp on 24 September 2007 at 13:07 PM
Several of Thailand's lower northern provinces have been hit by floods, swamping hundreds of homes and prompting local schools to close. In the lower northern province of Nakhon Sawan, where the rivers which form the Chao Phraya River come together, the overflowing Nan River has flooded low-lying areas in the provincial seat, prompting a school under one meter of water to close on Monday. In the nearby province of Phichit, three villages in Bangmoonnak district have been inundated and one school was forced to close. The new floods are quite severe, and spreading. Hundreds of homes have been invaded by the floodwaters and about 100 fishponds and orchards have been damaged. The local authorities are conducting surveys to help residents in flood-stricken areas, according to local government officials. Phitsanulok deputy governor Santi Krusuansombat has warned tourists to avoid whitewater rafting for the coming several days as the Khek River in Wang Thong district has rapidly overflowed due to the downpours in the nearby Phetchabun mountain range. Meanwhile, the water level of the Wang Thong River has risen with no sign of stopping, inundating many households. The Phitsanulok's Provincial Irrigation Office is draining floodwaters to the Nan River to ease the public's problems. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Army says it wins the South

Posted by hasekamp on 22 September 2007 at 11:18 AM
Outgoing army chief Sonthi Boonyaratkalin claims the army is winning the struggle against insurgency in the deep South through community relations and military means. During his announcement in Bangkok of the army's one-year achievement yesterday, Gen Sonthi said the army's work in the restive region was progressing according to plans. The army has launched more offensives against the insurgents. On the political front, soldiers have forged better understanding with local people, he said. The locals no longer staged protests against state authorities and were providing soldiers with useful information on insurgent movements, he said. On the military front, Gen Sonthi said, soldiers have arrested over 500 suspected insurgents. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New army chief

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2007 at 12:57 PM
Thailand has its new military commanders in an annual military reshuffle which sees General Anupong Paochinda as the new Army Chief, ending weeks of media speculation. In a royal command which takes effect on October 1, General Anupong Paochinda, assistant army chief, has been promoted to the new army chief. He will succeed Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, who is facing mandatory retirement age of 60 at the end of September. Another contender for the top post, General Saprang Kalayanamitr, also assistant army commander-in-chief, has been appointed a deputy permanent secretary for Defence. The generals are key figures in the coup-making Council for National Security (CNS) which toppled prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra last year. Earlier, political observers feared tension might escalate should General Saprang not be promoted to the most powerful position in Thai military. General Sonthi, also CNS chairman, however, plays downs fears about political turmoil, expressing confidence there would not be any instability as feared. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin one year after the coup

Posted by hasekamp on 20 September 2007 at 12:55 PM
The following is a short extract of an article, written by ousted Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra:
I awoke on the morning of Sept 19 last year to the news that my government - and Thailand's democratic constitution - had been overthrown in a military coup. The coup came as a shock to me and to most Thais. One year ago I was in New York, preparing to address the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of my nation. I was filled with pride as I looked forward to delivering my remarks. One year before that, I had been overwhelmingly re-elected as prime minister of Thailand. Thanks to the people of my nation, I was the first leader in the near 100-year history of Thailand to be not just democratically elected, but democratically re-elected. Under my administration, we had cut poverty almost in half, provided universal access to affordable health care for the first time, balanced the budget and paid off our debts to the International Monetary Fund. In addressing the United Nations, I intended to emphasize to the world the success and maturity of our democracy. I was never able to deliver my remarks, however, because I awoke on the morning of Sept 19 to the news that my government - and Thailand's democratic constitution - had been overthrown in a military coup. The coup came as a shock to me and to most Thais. Democracy appeared to have become well entrenched in Thailand following adoption of the Constitution of 1997. Also known as the "People's Constitution," this charter was universally acclaimed as the most democratic constitution in the history of Thailand. (More in our source: The Bangkok Post)


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Half of the victims identified

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2007 at 13:40 PM
Of the 89 bodies collected following the plane crash at Phuket international airport on Sunday, 53 have been identified while three persons injured in the accident remain in critical condition. The air crash killed 89 of the 123 passengers listed on board. All 32 bodies of Thai nationals have been identified, while 57 bodies are of other nationalities only 21 of that number have been identified, said Pol. Maj-Gen. Sanyan Chayanon Deputy Commissioner of the provincial police, southern region. Police said they are awaiting evidence from the relatives of the remaining 36 corpses believed to be foreigners. Forensic officials have collected fingerprints, dental records, and DNA samples from the bodies, which have been kept in refrigerated containers at Phuket airport. Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla disclosed that out of 41 survivors in hospital, 38 people are in stable condition while three others remain in critical condition. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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First investigation results

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2007 at 13:36 PM
Transport authorities say the bad weather was probably the main factor in Sunday's horrific air crash at Phuket airport, but pilot error has still not been ruled out. The One-Two-Go passenger airliner crashed while landing, killing 89 people. This is the latest official number. Formerly it was 88, then 90. All the other 41 people on board were injured, many very seriously. The Transport Ministry set up an inquiry into the tragedy yesterday, headed by transport permanent secretary Chaisawat Kittipornpaiboon. The cause of the crash will become clearer after an examination of information on the flight data recorders, which are being sent the United States by the Civil Aviation Department. The Indonesian pilot, Mulyadi, 56, was a former lieutenant-colonel in the Indonesian air force who had also previously flown for Sempati and Star, carriers which have ceased operations, according to a report in Kompas newspaper, AFP reported from Jakarta. Mulyadi joined One-Two-Go about two years ago.
Flight OG-269 from Don Mueang to Phuket was carrying 123 passengers, with five flight attendants and two pilots, when it veered off the runway into an earth embankment, broke up and burst into flame about 3.40pm on Sunday. Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um yesterday listened to the taped conversation between the air traffic controllers and the pilot. He said the controllers advised the pilots there was rain and strong winds at the airport with visibility of four kilometers. The decision to land was then up the pilot, he said. Speaking after the first meeting, of the accident inquiry committee yesterday, Transport Minister Theera Haocharoen and Mr Chaisawat agreed it was likely the bad weather and attendant poor visibility was the main factor in the fatal crash-landing. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Death toll rises to 90

Posted by hasekamp on 18 September 2007 at 13:36 PM
The death toll of the One-Two-Go Airlines passenger jet that crashed and burned while landing at Phuket Airport in foul weather Sunday afternoon, rose to 90 on Monday. Both the Indonesian pilot and Thai co-pilot died. There were at least 42 survivors, including 11 Thais, six Irish nationals, six Britons, three Australians, three Iranians, two Swedes, one German and a Dutch national (Dutch media say two or three Dutch nationals). They were admitted to various Phuket hospitals. Five survivors are in critical condition. Some have burns to 60 percent of their body.
The pilot and co-pilot were said to be among the survivors, leading to a statement by Phuket deputy governor Vorapot Rajsima that 88 people were confirmed dead. On Monday, the airline said both cockpit crew had died along with most of the passengers in the front part of the MD-82, a twin-engined jet evolution of the popular DC9 workhorse. However, the toll seemed likely to rise further, with an announcement on Monday that seven passengers still were missing and presumed to have perished in the burned-out fuselage. 55 of the passengers were foreign tourists. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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88 Dead im crash

Posted by hasekamp on 16 September 2007 at 19:46 PM
Of the 130 passengers and crew aboard One-Two-Go flight OG269 that crash landed at Phuket International Airport about 3:45 pm today, only 42 survived the crash and fire that followed it. Of these, 15 were Thai nationals. At a press conference at the Airports Of Thailand office about 9 pm, Phuket Airport Director Sq Ldr Pornchai Eua-aree said the crash was the result of a 'mis-approach' landing, after which the pilot tried to regain enough speed to take off again but failed. Most of the survivors were either thrown from the fuselage when the plane crashed into a berm alongside the taxiway or managed to escape before the intense fire that followed, he said. All 42 survivors were rushed to hospital. Thirty were sent to Bangkok Phuket Hospital, 10 to Phuket International Hospital and two to Vachira Phuket Hospital. Five escaped with minor injuries that did not require treatment. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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To the roof of the world for the King

Posted by hasekamp on 16 September 2007 at 13:47 PM
A Thai television station is planning a lofty birthday gift for His Majesty the King by organizing the country's first expedition to the peak of Mount Everest next month, news reports said Sunday. Thai television station TITV (formerly iTV) has sought permission of Nepal's Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry for the expedition up Everest, the highest mountain in the world, IANS news agency reported from Kathmandu. It plans to sponsor a nine-member team of Thai climbers, supported by Nepalese sherpas, who will plant the Thai flag, a Buddhist pennant and a flag with the king's emblem on the 8,848-meter Everest summit. "We want to show the Thai people's faith and loyalty towards the king, country and Buddhism," TITV's letter to the Nepal government said. This would be the first expedition to Mount Everest by Thais. State-run TITV said it wants to organize the expedition in October. King Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch, turns 80 in December and is highly revered by Thai people. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Plane crash on Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 16 September 2007 at 13:43 PM
A One-To-Go Airlines passenger jet with 128 people aboard crashed and broke in two while landing at Phuket Airport in foul weather late Sunday afternoon. Rescue workers said the death toll could be high. An officila said that "more than 30" passengers were killed. The plane of the budget airline skidded off the runway after landing and crashed into trees, bursting into fire, she said. "The fire was throughout the aeroplane," said Phuket Deputy Governor Worraphot Ratsrimaa. "We expect that at least 90 per cent of the passengers died." But there was hope for survivors. A TV channel showed two foreigners being carried away to local hospital. The plane was landing and slid off the runway. The director general of the Air Transport Authority of Thailand said the aircraft broke in two as it attempted to land at Phuket airport in bad weather. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New metro line

Posted by hasekamp on 15 September 2007 at 11:26 AM
The government has decided to invest in the Purple Line metro to speed up implementation of the long-delayed project considered a crucial tool to boost the economy. Finance Minister Chalongphob Sussangkarn said yesterday that to push through investment in the Purple Line rail route, the ministries of finance and transport, as well as the National Economic and Social Development Board had agreed to separate the investments in the rail system and the rolling stock. "The government will proceed with the investment in the rail system. We're asking for the Cabinet's approval within a month," Chalongphob said at the annual seminar by the National Economic and Social Advisory Committee in Pattaya. Meanwhile, Deputy Transport Minister Sansern Wongcha-um yesterday insisted that despite delays, a number of local and foreign investors are still interested in bidding for the mass-transit projects. "The projects are still on and they show progress, though not in line with the original schedules. There are some obstacles in the details which need to be addressed," Sansern said. (Source: The Nation)


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Prosecutor wants Thaksin from UK

Posted by hasekamp on 13 September 2007 at 13:52 PM
Public prosecutors will head to the United Kingdom next month to scrutinise legal avenues to extradite deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on graft charges in connection with the purchase of land near Ratchadaphisek Road. Thaksin was indicted by Attorney-General Pachara Yutithamdamrong, who accused him and his wife Khunying Pojaman Shinawatra of malfeasance for seeking personal gains from a state contract, breaching Article 157 of the Criminal Law. Foreign Affairs Department director-general Sampan Sarathana said after a meeting Thursday of a special committee that there was only one legal avenue to extradite Thaksin, but it largely depended on UK authorities. (Source: The Nation)


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Junta chief will probably go into politics

Posted by hasekamp on 13 September 2007 at 13:50 PM
Council for National Security chairman Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said Thursday he would enter politics if Thailand continues to face political problems. However, Gen Sonthi, who will retire from his post as Royal Thai Army commander-in-chief post on reaching the compulsory retirement age of 60 on October 1, said he would apply successful strategies developed by late Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong if he enters politics seriously, including, he said, having a political party and supporters who were members of parliament. "But it is too soon to say whether I will join politics now," Gen Sonthi said. "I may not join it this time if it is too late." The military-installed interim government of Prime Minister Gen Surayud Chulanont and the CNS have tentatively agreed to hold the election on December 23. Gen Sonthi said he believed that no political parties or political groups were waiting for him to retire from his army post first, and planning to then invite him to join their parties. "If I want to enter politics, I'll have to see the situation in the country first. At present, everything seems to look okay," Gen Sonthi said. Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said his party has never invited Gen Sonthi to join his party. "Gen Sonthi has every right to enter politics on the condition that he leaves every post (he now holds) and joins the race without any favouritism just like other election contestants," Mr Abhisit said. "If the people support him, they will vote for him," said Mr Abhisit. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New political party

Posted by hasekamp on 12 September 2007 at 12:29 PM
A group of more than 200 veteran Thai politicians on Tuesday launched a new party which they claimed would play a neutral role in the deeply divided country. "Our stance is to be nobody's enemy," said former foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai, announcing the platform of the newly created Pua Paendin (For the Motherland) Party that plans to contest the general election scheduled on December 23. Surakiart claimed that the new party would neither be a nominee of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra nor a supporter of the junta that ousted Thaksin with a coup on September 19. The coup has left Thailand deeply divided between supporters of Thaksin, whose populist policies won him a massive following among the rural and urban poor, and his detractors, who claim he was undermining Thailand's political elite. "Thai politics is in a special situation so we need to come together (as a party) in a special way, with no sponsor, but with everyone following a system of decision-sharing," said Surakiart. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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EU may monitor, but no MoU

Posted by hasekamp on 12 September 2007 at 10:33 AM
The Election Commission made a unanimous decision yesterday not to sign an agreement with the European Union on electoral observers. Thailand welcomes all foreign observers but will not sign an MoU [memorandum of understanding] on the matter," EC chairman Apichart Sukhag-ganond said. "We have nothing to hide but we don't need international recognition or an endorsement for our election," he told reporters. Apichart said negotiations on the MoU terms would cease and that he would officially notify the EU of the commission's decision within the next few days. "The Election Commission is confident it can supervise a free and fair election and meet the international standard on voting," he said. The EU or any country could dispatch observers to check on the polls, provided they abided by Thai laws. The commission believed the decision would not jeopardise ties with Europe, as the EU representative in Bangkok had said previously Thailand had the right to make any decision on the matter, he said.
The EU previously insisted the Kingdom would have to sign an MoU to formally allow a team of European observers to monitor the general election, scheduled for December 23. (Source: The Nation)


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Flash flood warning

Posted by hasekamp on 12 September 2007 at 10:25 AM
Residents of southern provinces of Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket and Krabi were Wednesday 12 September) warned of flash foods.
The Meteorological Department said the provinces could face heavy rains Wednesday and Thursday because of the influence of the southwestern monsoon over the Andaman and Gulf of Thailand. (Source: The Nation)


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Airport too noisy

Posted by hasekamp on 10 September 2007 at 19:46 PM
Thousands of residents affected by aircraft noise rallied at Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday in what they said was the "last peaceful move" to pressure aviation authorities to answer their demands. Unless Airports of Thailand (AoT) comes up with solutions to their problem within nine days, the protesters said, they would hold another large protest. Many protesters, who marched from a housing estate about five kilometers from the airport, carried balloons which they threatened to release to disrupt flights. However, they did not do so after senior government officials, including the Samut Prakan governor, went to the airport to talk to them. The protesters, who came from about 32 housing estates to the north and south of Suvarnabhumi airport, say AoT has been slow in making compensation payments and mitigating the impact of the noise that has haunted them for a year now. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chuan: Thai may be the last coup

Posted by hasekamp on 10 September 2007 at 19:44 PM
Former prime minister Chuan Leekpai sees reason for hope that the Sept 19 coup will be the nation's last. Former leader and adviser to the oldest political party in Thailand Chuan Leekpai lays out how to make the Sept 19 coup the last one. Question: Do you think democracy with its roots in the West is suitable for Thailand? Chuan: I do not think that anyone can claim to be the rightful owner of democracy, not even the West. However, it was developed there and became an example for developing countries to follow. In our case, we have a long experience of absolute monarchy. For over 800 years we were governed by a single system. That is why Thai people are so attached to the monarchy. Our country has survived many crises because of the monarchy. At the same time, if we look at the development of democracy in Western countries, we realize that they took a longer time than we did. It seems that we have adopted an instant product of their systematic development, but we do not share the basic understanding. We seem to take democracy for granted, and we do not really appreciate what we have.
Several other questions and answers were omitted here.(Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Protecting National Parks

Posted by hasekamp on 8 September 2007 at 22:30 PM
Due to the high number of tourists that move through Thailand's protected areas each year, five national parks have suffered severe damage to their ecosystems, said Dr Chumpol Sukkasem, director of the National Parks Office, at a meeting held last week to discuss the issue. The national parks currently at risk include Khao Yai on the border of Nakhon Ratchasima, Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok and Prachin Buri provinces, Erawan in Kanchanaburi, Doi Suthep-Pui in Chiang Mai, Khao Laemya on Koh Samet in Rayong and the Surin islands in Phang Nga. The meeting discussed the capacity of the parks to handle a large influx of visitors. The National Parks Office found that tourist quotas in these five areas had exceeded capacity, causing damage to the environment as a result of toxic emissions from vehicles, noise pollution, careless waste disposal and lack of respect for natural ecosystems and restricted areas. Most national parks cannot support large numbers of tourists using public utilities, accommodation areas, restrooms and garbage bins simultaneously, which has led tourists to enter restricted areas in search of privacy.
Be this as it is, we do not believe that Thailand wants to discourage foreign visitors to visit the National Parks, because the entrance fee for foreigners is ten times the fee for Thais! (Source: The nation)


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Small EU team may monitor elections

Posted by hasekamp on 7 September 2007 at 11:45 AM
Following a meeting with EU diplomats in Bangkok, the election commission said it would now consider accepting a small number of observers if no formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) was required. Participants branded this as a compromise over an EU proposal to send election observers for the kingdom's post-coup polls in December. The EU's offer initially sparked anger from Thailand's army-backed government, with Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont saying that allowing the observers would "amount to giving them control of the election." "Without signing an MOU, Thailand could have a team sent by the EU to observe the election, but not a team of 150 staff," the commission's secretary general Sutthiphon Thaveechaiyakarn told reporters after the meeting. Friedrich Hamburger, head of the European delegation in Bangkok, said EU officials would await Thailand's final decision on their offer, telling reporters: "We expect an answer from Thai authorities very soon." Thailand's military leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, had ordered a probe into the EU proposal last month, saying ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra might be behind the offer. Hamburger tried to ease Thai concerns, stressing that the proposal was not influenced by "any outside consideration." "The EU does not act on behalf of the deposed prime minister," he told reporters. The military has set elections for December 23 to restore democracy after the bloodless coup in September 2006, which toppled Thaksin's government. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Capsized boat overloaded

Posted by hasekamp on 6 September 2007 at 18:07 PM
A capsized boat, King Fisher, which sank off Phi Phi island on Tuesday, was carrying 50 more people than allowed, chief of Krabi Marine Transport Office Suriya Kittimonthon said yesterday. He said police have already detained boat driver Suriyan Soison, 34, for further questioning. The King Fisher was taking the tourists to Maya Bay, a popular diving spot in Krabi, when it capsized. An Israeli man died and another Israeli tourist was seriously injured, said Pol Maj-Gen Choochat Suwannakhom, Tourist Police Division commander. The dead man was identified as Nissim Lugasi, 33. He was trapped under the boat and died. The propeller almost cut off the left leg of another Israeli tourist, Adam Bedbichevsky, 24. Mr Bedbichevsky is now in stable condition. Tourism and Sports Minister Suvit Yodmani said his ministry will ask authorities in destinations where water and marine sports are popular to strictly enforce water transport safety. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Frozen money

Posted by hasekamp on 5 September 2007 at 15:58 PM
Ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra has slammed several commercial banks in Switzerland for having lost their credibility in preserving clients\92 classified data and vowed to file lawsuits against them. "Good old bank secrecy is no more," Mr Thaksin told Swiss newspaper Mittelland Zeitung. \93Absolute discretion is a thing of the past." According to the interview with the paper, some of Mr Thaksin\92s wealth stored in Swiss banks have now been frozen. "Neither my family nor I has done anything illegal," he was quoted as saying. "It is defamation." He insisted that his money is clean. Thailand\92s Assets Scrutiny Committee earlier ordered a freeze on 1.5 billion dollars in his Thai accounts, saying they had been "illegally acquired". Mr Thaksin denied all allegations of corruption against him. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Monitoring elections considered harmful

Posted by hasekamp on 4 September 2007 at 11:06 AM
Allowing the European Union (EU) to monitor the general election could "do more harm than good to the country", election commissioner Sodsri Satayathum said. Mrs Sodsri raised concerns about the consequences if the EU produced a negative report on the poll and declined to recognize the new elected government. (Our comment: What can be the problem if the elections are meant to be fair and correct?) She also said the memorandum of understanding (MoU) the EU wanted Thailand to sign stipulated that it would send 250 officials to rural villages to spy on the election process. She said the government would have had to provide security to the EU officials. "If the EU says it will observe our election at its own expense and won\92t blame the Thai government for any casualties among its observers, then we\92re ready to let them in," she said. The EU has asked permission to observe the general election so the international community could be certain in the knowledge the poll is conducted in a free and transparent manner. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Warrant for arrest Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 3 September 2007 at 15:52 PM
The South Bangkok District Court Monday approved another warrant for the arrest of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Pojaman, in the alleged shares concealment involving SC Assets Co Ltd. They seem not to be able to get enough of it, although Thaksin of course never will be arrested.
The court approved the arrest warrant at 11:30 am at the request of Department of Special Investigation. The DSI sought the arrest warrant after the former prime minister and his wife have ailed to hear formal charges of assets concealment involving SC Asset. The DSI has announced there was evidence the accused conspired in concealing their shares in SC Asset, a listed company, which is in violation of the Securities and Exchange Act. Involved are four overseas funds - Win Mark, Value Investment Mutual Fund (VIF), Overseas Growth Fund (OGF) and Offshore Dynamic Fund (ODF). The DSI said its investigating team also found Thaksin could have violated the anti-corruption law and could have intended to conceal the shares when he was the prime minister. The DSI also suspected that Thaksin had committed actions for control or benefits from the companies. The DSI said it had "convincing evidence" that Win Mark, VIF, OGF and ODF were nominees of Thaksin and his wife. (Source: The Nation)


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Democrats want martial law lifted

Posted by hasekamp on 2 September 2007 at 19:41 PM
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva on Sunday voiced support for lifting martial law, imposed in Thailand after last year's coup d'etat on September 19, but agreeing that martial law should continue only in the troubled southern provinces. Now that the government and the Election Commission (EC) have tentatively set December 23 for the general election which would help improving political and economic problems, the martial law should be lifted to enable politicians to organize political activities for the upcoming general election, he said. But martial law in the three southernmost provinces – Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat – should be retained because withdrawing it could affect security, said Mr. Abhisit. He said the most appropriate time to lift martial law is after the royal decree on the election is announced and the EC invites political parties for discussions. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Airbus A380 trouble

Posted by hasekamp on 2 September 2007 at 19:37 PM
The Airbus A380, the world's largest commercial passenger aircraft, yesterday scraped the tip of its left wing on a hangar at Suvarnabhumi airport as it was preparing to take off to Chiang Mai on a demonstration flight. The incident delayed the flight, with VIP guests including Thai Airways International (THAI) chairman Chalit Pukbhasuk and journalists on board, by three and a half hours. Flight TG 1380 then proceeded to take off smoothly after engineers removed both winglets. The aircraft's pilot and engineers agreed the megajet could still fly safely as the wings' structure was not affected. Few of the 150 passengers on board noticed the slight bump when the double-decker was pushed back from a parking bay in front of Thai Airways International's maintenance center into the taxiway. Senior executives of the European planemaker Airbus and the Thai national carrier downplayed the situation, describing it as "minor incident" which often happened to aircraft. However, the incident caused some embarrassment especially to THAI whose staff provided the ground handling services for the mammoth jet and some Airbus officials who were helping them on the tarmac. It also raised questions about the proficiency of THAI in offering ground handling services for airlines. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Martial law likely to remain

Posted by hasekamp on 1 September 2007 at 14:57 PM
Martial law in the remaining 35 provinces will unlikely be lifted before upcoming election, Council for National Security chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said Saturday. Martial law is irrelevant to the election, Gen Sonthi said, adding that the law protects the good. He also said that the person who will replace him as the army chief will be made public on Sept 20, as revealed by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont on Friday. Gen Sonthi insisted that he has the appropriate man in mind. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Elections delayed?

Posted by hasekamp on 1 September 2007 at 14:55 PM
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said Saturday that the general election, set just this week for December 23, could be postponed. Speaking during his weekly TV programme, Gen Surayud said the general election was tentatively set on December 23. But he said this could be changed, because the government is awaiting approval of three required "organic laws" required to run the election under the new constitution. As of now, the National Legislative Assembly is expected to pass whose laws by the end of October. Official fixing of the election date will come only after that, Gen Surayud said. The Election Commission announced on Friday it had provisionally set Nov 11-15 as the application period for candidates under the proportional representation system and November 18-22 for the application of candidates in the constituency system for an election it presumed would be on December 23. The elections body said that official dates for the applications await a royal decree on the general election. Under the new constitution, approved in a national referendum last month, there will be 400 constituency seats and 80 party-list seats, down from 500 in the abrogated 1997 constitution.
The prime minister, who was adamant earlier this week that the election would be held on Dec 23, was equally adamant today that the possibility of changing the date of the polls has nothing to do with an appointment of a new army chief. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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