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Dengue fever in Bangkok. 48 dead

Posted by hasekamp on 31 July 2008 at 19:33 PM
Dengue fever has spread across the country, killing 48 people and infecting more than 40,000 so far this year, Public Health Minister Wicharn Meenchainant said yesterday.
Up to last Saturday, 41,307 patients have been diagnosed nationwide with dengue haemorrhagic fever and Bangkok was the hardest hit with 3,763 patients, according to the Disease Control Department's Bureau of Epidemiology. Ratchaburi suffered the second worst outbreak with 1,710 victims, followed by Nakhon Sawan with 1,582, Phetchabun with 1,304 and Rayong with 1,291. Vichan said the risk of catching dengue fever from mosquitoes this year was running high compared to last year, which saw 29 fatalities out of 60,000 cases. Authorities have ordered provincial public health offices to strictly control and monitor the transmission of dengue fever among people in the local area. Local authorities should spray insecticide to eradicate the adult Aedes aegypti mosquito, which bites humans in the daytime. Residents should drain off any stagnant water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and use abates sand, a pesticide, to destroy their larvae. (Source: The Nation)


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Mrs. Thaksin found guilty

Posted by hasekamp on 31 July 2008 at 19:24 PM
The Criminal Court on Thursday, in an historic verdict against power-holders, found the wife of ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra guilty of tax evasion, and sentenced both Khunying Potjaman and her brother Bannapot Damapong to three years in prison as an example. The pair and Khunying Potjaman’s secretary Karnchana Honghern were all found guilty of tax evasion in the transfer of Shinawatra Computer and Communication shares worth 738 million baht in 1997 - about $16.4 million at that time, and now valued at about $22 million. Mrs Karnchana was given a two-year prison term for her lesser role in the case. "The three defendants have high economic and social status," said judge Pramote Pipatpramote. Then he announced the verdict of jail terms. The 51-year-old former first lady, in a pale blue suit and strand of pearls, looked stunned. Mr Thaksin, who was in the courtroom throughout the proceedings with his children, was grim. The former premier,overthrown in the Sept 19, 2006 military coup and faces several criminal charges himself. The prison sentences will likely not be carried out any time soon. All three convicted defendants were later released on bail of 5 million baht as their lawyers prepared to appeal the verdict, a process which could take years. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Another case for Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 30 July 2008 at 13:30 PM
The Supreme Court's section for political office holders on Wednesday agreed to open a new case against ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra on charges of abuse of power in pushing a state loan to Burma to help his family's telecoms empire. The court set September 16 as the first day of the trial which will examine whether Thaksin abused his position as prime minister when he ordered the state-owned EXIM Bank to extend a loan of 1 billion baht (30 million dollars) to Burma's military regime in 2004 to develop its telecommunications infrastructure to the benefit of Shin Corp, then owned by the Shinawatra family. Thaksin and his wife Pojaman are already on trial at the same court on charges of abusing power in the purchase of a plot of land on Ratchadaphisek road in Bangkok at a government auction in 2003. On Monday, the Supreme Court also named Thaksin and one of 47 defendants in a malfeasance case involving the government lottery. And so the cases against Thaksin go on and on. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Economic growth expected

Posted by hasekamp on 29 July 2008 at 23:04 PM
Despite local political uncertainty, coupled with rising inflation and high oil prices, the finance ministry on Tuesday maintained that Thailand's gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year would meet the target of between 5-6 per cent, a senior ministry official said. Pannee Sathavarodom, director-general of Fiscal Policy Office, said this year's growth could meet the target if GDP during the second half of this year expanded to around 5-5.5 per cent as projected earlier. Inflation in 2008 is now projected at 6-7 per cent, down from the earlier projection of between 7-8 per cent, said Mrs. Pannee, adding that the government's six economic measures which will be implemented for six months could slow down inflation in the country. Most of the six measures will be implemented on August 1. Private consumption in June and second quarter of 2008 grew 7.6 and 9.4 per cent respectively, she said. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Cambodia does not ask the UN

Posted by hasekamp on 29 July 2008 at 22:59 PM
Cambodia has decided not to seek help from the United Nations to end the border row with Thailand after progress in talks between their foreign ministers. Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong said in Siem Reap on Monday night it was unnecessary for Phnom Penh to forward the issue to the UN Security Council because the negotiations had made progress. In Bangkok, the cabinet yesterday expressed its satisfaction with the outcome of the talks between Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and Hor Nam Hong on easing the tensions in the overlapping border area between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket province and Cambodia's Preah Vihear province. National Security Council secretary-general Lt-Gen Surapol Puen-aiyaka said after the cabinet meeting that the prime minister was happy with Mr Tej's performance and confident that the talks had provided a good start for the two countries to solve all their border-related problems. Army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda said reducing troop numbers would certainly ease tensions, but approval was needed from the government to pull them out of the area. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New foreign minister gets briefing

Posted by hasekamp on 27 July 2008 at 17:28 PM
Admittedly facing an uphill task as Thailand is enveloped in a diplomatic and military standoff with neighboring Cambodia, newly appointed Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag attended a briefing Sunday intended to bring him up to speed for Monday's meeting with his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhongin in Siem Reap which will focus on the historic Preah Vihear temple and its environs. Mr. Tej returned from Sweden before dawn Sunday, saying he would attend a briefing at the foreign ministry before having an audience with His Majesty the King at the Klaikangwon Palace, in the southern Prachuap Khiri Khan province in the evening for a customary swearing-in ceremony before officially taking up his post. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Bot: No economic crisis

Posted by hasekamp on 25 July 2008 at 11:15 AM
The Thai economy in the first half of 2008 is not in crisis as it was in 1997 although it had experienced difficulties from surging oil prices, global economic slowdown, and political uncertainties, according to the Bank of Thailand (BoT). Speaking at a seminar BoT deputy governor Atchana Waiquamdee said the country's economy managed to grow 6 per cent in the first half of the year amid the fuel price surge, world economic sluggishness and political turmoil. But the bank expected the economy in the second half of the year would expand slightly less than that in the first half. Asked whether the bank would raise the policy interest rate further following the rate hike by 25 basis points at the last meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee, she said the bank served like a doctor who prescribed a first set of medications for patients suffering from the inflation surge by increasing the interest rate. However, the treatment must have side effects. That meant the economy could grow at a slower pace. Whether a new regimen of medications would be prescribed depended on the health conditions of patients, which need to be monitored. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Commercial castration no longer allowed

Posted by hasekamp on 25 July 2008 at 11:11 AM
Health authorities will take legal action against clinics providing commercial castration services after the Council of State ruled the surgery was unlawful and could cause health risks. The Deputy director-general of the Health Service Support Department said yesterday the agency was investigating whether it could prosecute the owner of Pratunam Kanpaet clinic, which offered castration surgery. The Chairman of the Medical Council of Thailand said the council will discuss if the clinic had violated medical ethics. The council warned that castration can damage hormone growth and inhibit physical development. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai language also difficult for Thais

Posted by hasekamp on 24 July 2008 at 15:07 PM
Just days ahead of National Thai Language Day, a survey shows that most Thais do not know how many vowels are in their language. Of 2,452 respondents, only 13.3 per cent knew the correct answer: 21. National Thai Language Day falls on July 29 every year. Only 9.9 per cent knew about this fact. "Most Thais don't know the Thai language well," said Dr Noppadon Kannika, head of ABAC's academic network for community happiness observation and research. His network conducted a survey among people aged 18 and over in Bangkok and its adjacent provinces from July 1823. Noppadon believes language problems are now reaching crisis point. "Of those polled, 73.7 per cent don't know how many intonation marks and intonation levels their national language has," he said. Most respondents could not define prose or verse. According to the survey, many respondents misspell Thai words, pronounce them incorrectly and even misunderstand some words. Asked who should take the flak for language problems, respondents blamed teenagers, actors, actresses, singers, politicians and media. Up to 89.8 per cent of respondents want urgent measures to conserve Thai language. Good TV programs are among their recommended measures. Respondents also mentioned language contests and activities that encourage reading and speaking Thai. (Source: The Nation)


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Temple dispute to the UN

Posted by hasekamp on 24 July 2008 at 15:02 PM
The UN has decided to hold an emergency session over the border row. Cambodian defense Minister Teah Banh and Thai Supreme Commander General Boonsrang Niempradit met at the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet on Monday in an attempt to defuse the temple dispute bilaterally but failed to find a solution to the legal obstacles involved.
The problem dates back to a map drawn up in 1908 by French cartographers to define the Thai-Cambodian border when Cambodia was still a French colony. Thailand's failure to officially object to the questionable map-making led to their losing the temple in 1962 when a dispute over the temple's ownership was settled in the Hague at the International Court of Justice. The United Nations Security Council will now convene a special session, probably next week, to try to prevent a border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia from escalating into a military confrontation. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Border talks with no result

Posted by hasekamp on 22 July 2008 at 10:57 AM
Talks between Thailand and Cambodia went nowhere yesterday after both countries refused to back down from claiming sovereignty over the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple. But Supreme Commander Gen Boonsrang Niempradit and Cambodian Defense Minister Gen Tea Banh promised not to take any further military action that might heighten tension on the border between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket province and the Cambodian province of Preah Vihear, where the 900-year-old temple is located. "The two sides affirmed there will be neither a withdrawal nor reinforcement of their troops," Gen Boonsrang said. After eight hours of intense talks at a hotel in the border district of Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaeo province involving the two generals and selected officials, the two countries called it quits and agreed to adjourn the General Border Committee (GBC) meeting to next month. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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More problems for One-Two-Go

Posted by hasekamp on 22 July 2008 at 10:55 AM
The Civil Aviation Department has ordered One-Two-Go airlines to halt operations for 30 days due to substandard operations and revoked or suspended the flying licenses of nine of its pilots. The Civil Aviation Department has ordered One-Two-Go airlines to halt operations for 30 days due to substandard operations and revoked or suspended the flying licenses of nine of its pilots. Chaisak Angsuwan, director-general of the department, said suspension of the airline's Air Operator Certificate was effective from today. The department had found shortcomings in the airline's aviation operations, flight schedules and maintenance, along with a lack of quality assurance. The low-cost airline had violated aviation safety regulations and lacked proper airline management. The flying licenses of seven of the airline's foreign pilots were revoked, six Indonesians and a Venezuelan, and the licenses of two Thai pilots suspended. The department found the pilots on the airline's MD80 series aircraft had submitted documents misstating their level of expertise. The airline and its pilots were liable to criminal penalties and the department would file charges against them in two weeks, said Mr Chaisak. The announcement follows the department's investigation into the crash of flight OG269, an MD-82, at Phuket International Airport on Sept 16 last year, killing 89 people and injuring 41. The airline was required to correct the flaws in its operations during the suspension period, or the department could either extend the suspension or terminate the airline's certificate. One-Two-Go was ordered to correct its flight schedules, aircraft maintenance and quality assurance system. Mr Chaisak said One-Two-Go's parent airline, Orient Thai, was also warned it must change its flight schedules to allow its pilots enough rest time, as required by aviation safety regulations. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Temple talks not yet started

Posted by hasekamp on 21 July 2008 at 9:45 AM
Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee has not yet started as a four-eyed meeting between Supreme Commander Gen Boonsang Niempradit and Cambodia's Defence Minister Gen Tea Banh is still continuing. Both chairmen of the GBC started at about 10.15am at Indochina Hotel, Sa Kaew province. The GBC's special meeting was called to meet in Sa Kaew to defuse military tension near Preah Vihear Temple. The full GBC meeting will start after the four-eyed meeting finished. The special session of the Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee was conducted to resolve the military stand off near Preah Vihear temple. Cambodia tried to use Asean meeting which is conducting ministerial meeting in Singapore as a mechanism to defuse the stand off. However Thailand rejected the effort, saying the conflict should be conducted on bilateral basis. The Sa Kaew meeting is meant to defuse an intensifying dispute over the ownership of a 4.6-square-kilometre plot of land adjoining Preah Vihear. (Source: The Nation)


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Prize for Thai robot

Posted by hasekamp on 21 July 2008 at 9:39 AM
Thailand made it three-in-a-row at the World RoboCup 2008 competition in China yesterday when its Chulalongkorn University team swept aside the challenge of its three rivals in the finals. A tank-shaped robot, Plasma RX, developed by a team of students at the university’s engineering faculty, proved too skillful when it came to moving along a rugged and bumpy surface to reach victims of a mock disaster scene during the rescue event. Team leader Naowarat Termthanasombat said they found pressure as their major obstacle as Thailand was the defending champion. The two previous titles, in 2006 and 2007, were won by a team from the King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok’s Prachin Buri campus. Ms Naowarat hoped their rescue robot model would be further developed for use for real rescue operations in Thailand. Her team built the Plasma RX with financial support from the Siam Cement Group (SCG). (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Cities vulnerable

Posted by hasekamp on 20 July 2008 at 13:26 PM
The World Bank has urged Asian cities to come up with climate resilient programmes to safeguard people from natural hazards triggered by climate change and rising sea levels. Coastal cities in Burma, China, Thailand and Vietnam are among the most vulnerable to rising sea levels, disaster response and climate change experts told a seminar on climate change impact reduction held by the World Bank in Pattaya this week. Extreme weather caused by climate change has threatened many Asian cities and could undercut economic progress in the region, they said. With climate change causing a rise in sea levels, some Asian cities are at a greater risk from storm surges and annual flooding. A projected one-meter rise in sea levels could lead to a two per cent loss of gross domestic product arising from a shortage of fresh water, the impact on agriculture and fisheries, the disruption of tourism and reduced energy security, the experts said.
"The degree of impact from which cities suffer from climate change will ultimately depend on the actions and initiatives local governments take to build a more climate-resilient city," said Jim Adams, vice-president for the World Bank for the East Asia and Pacific Region. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Ceasefire real or not?

Posted by hasekamp on 20 July 2008 at 10:40 AM
The Royal Thai Army officially refutes having had any ties to the ceasefire announced by the self-proclaimed representatives of southern insurgents on the Army television channel, saying it was a move initiated on his own by ex-Defence Minister Gen. Chetta Thanajaro. Assigned by Army Chief Anupong Paojinda, Deputy army spokeswoman Col. Sirichan Ngathong said the Army had nothing to do with the broadcast, adding that it was done by Gen. Chetta's personal intention to express his good will and care towards the people in the restive south. Army-owned TV Channel 5 supported Gen. Chetta's move as it assumed it was credible and beneficial to the country, Col. Sirichan said. It was not an official statement or binding in any way to the Army. She added that Channel 5's action was a journalistic decision, not reflecting any military status to the decision. Earlier Friday, Democrat party advisor Chuan Leekpai commented it was evident the claimed leaders did not represent all insurgent groups and warned officials to take the story with a pinch of salt. "Those who refuse to believe in this truce might come out and cause more trouble to react to this hoax", said Mr. Chuan, a former prime minister. "The government should clarify this and warn officials and villagers to be cautious," he said. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Talks between Thailand and Cambodia on Monday

Posted by hasekamp on 20 July 2008 at 10:37 AM
Thailand and Cambodia agreed to temporary suspend all armed forces movements along the Thai-Cambodian border at Si Sa Ket province which is adjacent to Cambodia's Preah Vihear province of Cambodia, and Thailand's Second Army Area Command is on round-the-clock alert, according to a senior Thai military official. The Second Army Area Command is responsible for overseeing the northeastern provinces which includes Si Sa Ket. Meanwhile, Pol.Lt-Gen. Vichienchot Sukchokrat, a Thai government spokesman, said he was informed by Don Pramudwinai, Thailand's Permanent Representative to the United Nations that Cambodia has asked for UN help in dealing with the border dispute. The content of the Cambodian petition is not known to the Thai govenment, and Thailand is awaiting the details, he said. Thai News Agency reporters on the scene at Si Sa ket said that both sides of the border in the vicinity of the 11th century temple are quite tense after the two countries built up their armed forces along the border. The military standoff between Cambodia and Thailand entered its fifth day Saturday after the tension build up after UNESCO approved Cambodia's application to list Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage Site. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Troops to Cambodian border

Posted by hasekamp on 20 July 2008 at 10:25 AM
There is a dispute going on for some time already about a Temple near the Cambodian border. Thailand and Cambodia seem not to be able to solve this without the rattling of armor.
A Cambodian official at Preah Vihear temple confirmed Saturday that Thai troops had stood down from a nearby disputed pagoda as a delegation of international military attaches from Vietnam and China flew in by helicopter at Cambodia's request. A Cambodian government official - speaking on condition of anonymity - confirmed local television reports that Thai troops allegedly stationed at a Cambodian pagoda within a few hundred metres of Preah Vihear temple had moved camp to a jungle clearing. On Saturday Cambodia's defense Ministry flew military attaches from China and Vietnam to the temple to view a border dispute first hand, local station CTN said. The Khmer-language private television station said the delegation was headed by Cambodian armed forces chief Sao Sokha. The official said Thai troops had now moved back. Thailand has maintained the temple is in a disputed no-man's-land and that a Thai presence in the area was not breaching Cambodian sovereignty. Cambodia disagreed and asked for the tour by international observers. Although other international attaches including the US were originally rumored to be attending, in the end they were supplied by the two Communist nations, which are also closest regional allies. Tensions have been running high on the border since Cambodia asked UNESCO to list the temple as a World Heritage Site despite there being a dispute over a 4.6-kilometer swathe of land nearby. UNESCO obliged earlier this month, but tensions spilled over Tuesday when Cambodia briefly detained, then released, three Thais it said had illegally crossed the border, prompting first dozens, and then hundreds of Thai troops to follow in an alleged incursion.
If this dispute continues along the military way, there will soon nothing be left of the Temple, and the problem will be solved in that way. Is that what Thailand and Cambodia want? (Source - except for the comments- : The Bangkok Post)


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One-Two-Go stops activities

Posted by hasekamp on 19 July 2008 at 12:20 PM
One-Two-Go Airlines, one of Thailand's three main budget carriers, will cease operations temporarily, starting on Tuesday, to allow time for a financial restructuring. The decision for a 56-day grounding followed mounting cost pressures spurred by ballooning oil prices, fierce competition from rival airlines, falling domestic passenger demand and the poor business outlook. One-Two-Go, which started flying in December 2003, is the first no-frills carrier to suspend operations, while the other two operators, Thai AirAsia and Nok Airlines, are also experiencing difficulties but have yet to make a similar decision. A One-Two-Go statement issued yesterday said that during the suspension, from July 22 to Sept 15, the airline will consider a new financial system that will do away with forward ticket sales which have hurt its financial status. Forward sales of air tickets have become a critical problem for most airlines as the tariff is priced when oil prices are lower but by the time travel actually takes place they have tended to rise. One-Two-Go founder and chairman Udom Tantiprasongchai could not be reached for comment as he was overseas. Earlier, Mr Udom told the Bangkok Post that the suspension was part of what he termed "damage control." (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Inspection of illegally obtained land

Posted by hasekamp on 18 July 2008 at 16:53 PM
Maj Gen Intarat Yodbangtoey, special adviser to Natural Resources and Environment Minister Anongwan Thepsutin, wrapped up his two-day visit to Phuket yesterday with a helicopter inspection tour of suspected illegally acquired land plots on Phuket. “About 20 construction sites believed to be illegal are under investigation by the DSI [Department of Special Investigations]. We expect the DSI to announce the results of their investigations soon,” Gen Intarat said. After his aerial tour, Gen Intarat said he had noticed there were many construction sites on Forestry Department land in the hills at Tri Trang, Patong and Kamala. Following his meeting with Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit Gen Intarat said, “We may investigate local administration organizations, too. We have selected special officers to investigate encroachment cases. To guard against future illegal developments on the island, he said, “We plan to send the rules for approving deeds for land in Phuket to the DSI, embassies, the Land Office and the Royal Thai Police and warn them to check Phuket deeds carefully before approving them. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Patong landslide

Posted by hasekamp on 17 July 2008 at 12:44 PM
Following heavy rains overnight, three Burmese laborers were crushed by a landslide this morning at the site of a new apartment block being built on 50 Pi Rd. The laborers were part of a construction crew who had been working on building a retaining wall at the site, located opposite Rattana Hill Apartments, to prevent such an incident. The owner of the apartment project, who declined to identify himself, told the Phuket Gazette; “It happened at about 11:30 am where we are building a two-meter concrete wall to prevent landslides. Officers from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation tried to use a backhoe to dig them out. Unfortunately, it was too late. They had already died of suffocation. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Can there be peace in the South?

Posted by hasekamp on 17 July 2008 at 12:37 PM
Two men claiming to be behind the war in the South said on Thursday they have called a cease-fire to end four and a half years of violence. Their claims were unverified. The two men appeared in a pre-recorded videotape broadcast without notice by Channel 5, the army-operated TV station based in Bangkok. There was no government participation or reaction to the claim. The unidentified men, with an army reporter seated between them, claimed they had ordered a cease-fire in the South effective last Monday. The claim seemed dubious. There have been several killings and bombings since Monday. More than 3,500 people have died in the ongoing violence since January 2004. The two middle-aged men claimed to be the head of Thailand United Southern Underground group. They claimed they now support peace in the South. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Gold on all time high

Posted by hasekamp on 15 July 2008 at 23:11 PM
Gold prices in Bangkok have surged to a record high upon concerns over renewed Middle East tensions and the weakening of the US dollar, according to an industry executive. On Monday afternoon gold ornaments traded at 14,935.60 baht for selling, 15,650 baht buying for one-baht gold weight. Gold bar prices were 15,150 baht and 15,250 baht respectively. Gold Trading Association president Jitti Tangsitthipakdee said the price of gold ornaments soared to a new high of 15,600 baht per one baht weight of gold when an undetermined number of investors moved their investments to the gold market in response to concerns over the confrontation between Iran and Israel. The investors were also worried about the declining US dollar and economic troubles in the United States. In addition, he said, the baht's weakening had fueled the value of gold in Bangkok, although the price of gold abroad stayed unchanged at around $960 per ounce. Mr Jitti said the local price of gold ornaments is likely to continue to rise and pass 16,000 baht per one baht weight of gold this year if the baht continues to weaken. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Once more birdflu suspected

Posted by hasekamp on 15 July 2008 at 16:20 PM
A Chaiyaphum man is suspected of having contracted bird flu after he ate chicken and fell ill with a high fever, health officials said. Promma Kulkasem, 57, was admitted to Chaiyaphum Hospital yesterday after falling sick with flu-like symptoms on Saturday. Promma told officials one of his chickens had died and he roasted and ate it before he fell ill. Promma is under close observation in the intensive care unit and a laboratory test will determine whether he has caught bird flu. (Source: The Nation)


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Russian diesel not cheap after all

Posted by hasekamp on 15 July 2008 at 16:16 PM
The claim by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej that he has found a source of cheap Russian diesel raised eyebrows at local oil companies, where experts say high transport costs and low quality could even make inferior Russian diesel more expensive than what's on the market now. Mr Samak announced in his Sunday television program that he had successfully negotiated to buy diesel at eight baht a litre cheaper than local prices from Russia, at a rate of 300,000 tonnes per month. The first shipment would arrive in 60 days. However, local oil executives cast doubt on the Russia deal, pointing out that Thailand rarely imported crude from Russia in the past because the long distance resulted in steep freight costs. Diesel imported from Russia has a high sulfur content of up to 0.05 per cent while Thailand requires domestic diesel to have maximum sulfur of 0.035 per cent. As well, the Euro 4 standard, which the government is adopting, will require all fuel sold in Thailand to have sulfur content of no more than 0.005 per cent by 2012. Local refineries are spending up to 50 billion baht to improve their technology to meet the new standard. An executive of an oil refinery pointed out that Russian diesel did not meet the government's Euro 4 goal. "If the government accepts high-sulfur diesel from Russia, we have to export our locally made high-quality diesel abroad." (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Reducing the cost of living

Posted by hasekamp on 15 July 2008 at 16:12 PM
The Thai government on Tuesday issued a new package containing six measures designed to help low-income earners who have been hard hit by soaring oil prices. Most measures will be implemented starting August 1 and will initially last six months, but the reduction of the excise tax on oil will start July 25. Speaking to a press conference held at Government House, Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said his government has decided to implement the six measures to help boost the economy which has become sluggish due to soaring oil prices, and also to help the poor and low income earners. The measures concerned are cuts in excise taxes for oil, postponing an increase in prices of liquefied petroleum gas used by household sector and free use of tap water by households using less than 50 cubic metres per month. The government will absorb the cost. The other measures are the free use of electricity of less than 80 units per month by households, with the government shouldering the expense, while for households using less than 150 units per month the government can pay half the bill, free travel on 800 ordinary buses operated by the state-run Bangkok Mass
Transit Authority, on 73 routes within Bangkok and outlying areas, and free travel on third class railway carriages. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Diesel from Russia

Posted by hasekamp on 14 July 2008 at 15:46 PM
Low-quality diesel from Russia will be on sale to members of cooperative organizations within 60 days and will be eight baht a liter cheaper than the present pump price. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej announced the Russian deal in his weekly television broadcast yesterday. The Russian fuel will be distributed through farmer, transport and fishery cooperatives, he said. Mr Samak added that the Energy Ministry has inspected the fuel and found it to be of slightly lower quality than that now sold in Thailand. At present, the diesel retail price is 44.24 baht per liter. The amount of imported Russian diesel would be 300,000 tonnes per month, or 25% of the total domestic demand. Mr Samak said the importer of the Russian fuel is a local oil company. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Opium is coming back

Posted by hasekamp on 14 July 2008 at 15:44 PM
Contrary to the popular belief that the illegal growing of opium has dwindled in Thailand, the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) reports the opposite is true for this source of heroin. Authorities are having a tough time suppressing narcotics in the North, with illegal opium poppy fields increasing but being better hidden and a new breed of high-yield poppy being grown. Pitaya Jinawat, the deputy secretary-general of the ONCB, told a recent workshop on opium control in Chiang Mai that in the past two years the poppy growing areas in Southeast Asia had decreased, except in Burma and Thailand, where more is being grown. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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66 billion baht in Thaksin lawsuit

Posted by hasekamp on 12 July 2008 at 11:25 AM
The attorney-general has filed a criminal lawsuit against Thaksin Shinawatra, accusing him of abusing power while serving as prime minister by converting telecom concessions to benefit Shin Corp and causing damage to the state worth Bt66 billion. After an initial delay, the attorney-general yesterday took up the policy corruption case involving Shin Corp, which was investigated by the Assets Examination Committee (AEC). Seksarn Bangsomboon, director of Special Criminal Cases, lodged the lawsuit - contained in three large cases, 20 files and almost 20,000 pages of documents - at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders. The lawsuit, signed by Attorney-General Chaikasem Nitisiri and including his written opinion, alleges that Thaksin violated the law by holding state concessions through his stock-ownership concealment in Shin Corp while he was prime minister. Thaksin gained unusual wealth in Shin Corp, it said, by having state agencies convert the telecom concessions to excise tax to benefit Shin Corp. TOT and CAT Telecom, who awarded the concessions to the subsidiaries of Shin, stood to lose Bt41.95 billion and Bt25.99 billion respectively from the conversion of the concessions. (Source: The Nation)


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Earth quake detector in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 11 July 2008 at 18:27 PM
Phuket will initiate the second phase of its earthquake detector installation in November to increase the efficiency of Thailand's disaster warning system. Chamnong Chitpakdee, director of the meteorological center in the southwestern region said the second phase of the earthquake detector project will be built on Racha Noi island in Phuket. Both a seismic station and a strong motion aecelerograph station will be set up on the island, which presently has two existing seismic stations. He said the Royal Thai Navy has allowed the disaster warning system to be installed in its area, and that the system, when complete, will cover all disaster prone areas. Mr Chamnong said that Thailand's tsunami warning system is considered 100 per cent complete, with various systems including disaster warning towers, tsunami detection buoys, and automatic weather stations installed across the country to ensure efficiency. (Source: The bangkok Post)


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Number 15 for business

Posted by hasekamp on 10 July 2008 at 22:14 PM
Thailand is now ranked 15th out of 178 countries throughout the world by the World Bank as the most attractive place to conduct business, according to Gianni Zanini, a leading economist of the World Bank. Mr. Zanini said Thailand's ranking was obtained from the World Bank's world trade indicator for 2008, launched recently and covering global trade. Information obtained from the indicator showed that Thailand stood at 15th place out of 178 countries for doing business. However, there are also obstacles which include too many rules, lack of skilled personnel and poor infrastructure, especially in areas outside Bangkok. According to Mr. Zanini, Thailand's trade and service growth in 2007 earned 7.8 per cent and was ranked at 69th out of 160 nations. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin daughter graduates

Posted by hasekamp on 10 July 2008 at 22:10 PM
While her father is in court, Paethongtan Shinawatra, the youngest child of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, is graduating from Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Political Science on Thursday. Her commencement ceremony will be held in the afternoon. She refused to speak to reporters while taking photographs with classmates. There are still no signs of Mr Thaksin, his wife Potjaman, her brother Panthongtae and sister Pinthongta at the campus. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin in court

Posted by hasekamp on 9 July 2008 at 12:01 PM
The corruption trial of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has begun in Bangkok, almost two years after he was overthrown in a coup. Mr Thaksin and his wife face charges related to a Bangkok real estate deal. The couple deny any wrongdoing, saying the charges of abuse of power against them are politically motivated. Meanwhile, a top member of the main party in the ruling coalition was found guilty of electoral fraud. The ruling could lead to the party's dissolution. The Supreme Court banned former House Speaker Yongyut Tiyapairat, of the People Power Party (PPP), from politics for five years after finding he was guilty of vote-buying in 2007. The ruling will put more pressure on the PPP-led six-party governing coalition, already weakened by accusations that it is too close to Mr Thaksin. (Source: BBC News)


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Tourism expectation lowered again

Posted by hasekamp on 9 July 2008 at 11:53 AM
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has sharply cut its projections for the number of international visitors and tourism revenue next year due to soaring oil prices, which are discouraging international travel and have led to cuts in inbound flights. It targets only a 3.3-per-cent growth in the number of international visitors in 2009, a sharp downward revision from the original projection of 10 per cent. From a projected 17 million, or 10-per-cent growth, the TAT now expects only 16 million travellers to visit the country. About 15 million visitors are expected in 2008. The TAT has also halved it revenue-growth projection for next year to 5 per cent, though spending per head per trip is expected to increase from 38,760 baht this year to 39,375 next year. The revenue projection for this year is 600 billion baht. The authority is maintaining next year's domestic projection of 87 million trips, with revenue of 407 billion baht. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Luxury project in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 7 July 2008 at 22:44 PM
The Thai PM's nephew, a veteran developer, has ambitious plans to reshape an island in Phuket into a luxury place. After becoming the new owner of Koh Raet in Phuket, Dilokpol Sundaravej and his Canadian partner plan to develop luxury villas, a hotel and marina on the island with an investment totaling five billion baht. The Dubai-based hospitality firm Jumeirah Group will be an investor in the hotel, according to Mr Dilokpol, a partner and managing director of TGR Group and a nephew of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. The Jumeirah Private Island Phuket project on Koh Raet covers 175 rai off the northeastern coast of the southern resort island. The group acquired the plots from 2006 until early this year from Anchalee Vanich Tepabutr, a well-known landlord and Democrat Party politician in Phuket. The total land investment was not disclosed, but market prices for plots in nearby locations were around 15-25 million baht a rai, he said. (Source: The bangkok Post)


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Demonstrations to remain limited

Posted by hasekamp on 7 July 2008 at 22:38 PM
Thailand's Civil Court on Monday upheld its order for anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protestors to open two major roads near Government House to permit traffic to flow between 5am and 6pm on weekdays. Citing Article 63 of the Constitution relating to the freedom to hold a rally on the condition that it does not violate other people's rights, the court ordered the PAD assemblage to open the two roads for traffic as directed from morning until evening Monday through Friday, while the demonstrators could occupy the roads on Saturdays and Sundays. The time when the PAD is not to use loudspeakers -7.30am until 4.30pm Monday through Friday - remains unchanged. Monday's court order, made following an appeal by six PAD core leaders, takes effect Tuesday. Complaints were earlier submitted to the court by teachers and parents of students at a school near Government House that the rally has been causing inconvenience to them when traveling to and from school. The PAD has been demonstrating since May 25 demanding that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej leave his post. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Does PAD want a coup?

Posted by hasekamp on 6 July 2008 at 11:46 AM
The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has defended its much criticized "New Politics" platform, saying that it was not an invitation for a military coup d'etat but a way out of dirty politics. "It's untrue that we're proposing the New Politics to invite military coups. The PAD has made it clear that we don't support a coup, and a coup is not a solution to our problems," Pibhop Dhongchai, one of PAD's core leaders, said yesterday. The PAD introduced its new administrative structure at its anti-government demonstration on Friday night. The proposal is seen by political observers and the People Power party (PPP) as a call for military intervention. Mr Pibhop, however, said in fact the group wanted the military to consider their New Politics proposal before taking part in any effort to develop politics - all without staging a coup. We wonder every day what the PAD has to do with democracy, when we read news like this. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Dolphins saved

Posted by hasekamp on 6 July 2008 at 11:43 AM
Three dolphins were found stuck in mangrove in Phuket province on Saturday morning. The dolphins, two female and one male, were more than 20 years ago, and each weighed from 100 to 200 kilograms, according to marine expert who rushed to the scene in Muang district. They were found by fishermen early Saturday. The fishermen and local villagers helped make big holes for them and keep their heads and skins wet. They also informed authorities, who came to give basic treatment for the dolphins while waiting for the tide to wash them back to sea. According to veterinarian Kongkiat Kiatwattanawong, the dolphins were of rare breed and the remain of this breed was reportedly found 15 years ago in Satun province. (Source: The Bangkok post)


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Bush to visit Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 4 July 2008 at 17:27 PM
US President George W Bush will pay an official visit to Thailand early next month to commemorate 175 th anniversary of Thai-US diplomatic relations before he attends the Beijing Olympic Games, informed sources told The Nation. The sources said that Bush will arrive in Chiang Mai on 6 August and spent a night there. His schedule in Thailand would be very light with a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. Bush is also scheduled to have an audience with HM the King, who is residing in Hua Hin. Bush also plans to give a major policy speech on US policy towards East Asia during his visit in Bangkok. Last September, his plan to hold a summit meeting with the Asean leaders in Singapore to celebrate the 30 th anniversary Asean-US relations was canceled. (Source: The Nation)


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PM Samak fears he will be captured

Posted by hasekamp on 4 July 2008 at 17:22 PM
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej yesterday claimed someone had plotted to capture him the instant his plane made a landing at Bangkok airport today. According to Mr Samak, someone possibly in the military planned to arrest him when he returned today from Brunei, which he is visiting on the return leg from his four-day visit to China. He was speaking on the last day of his visit to China before traveling to Brunei. Brunei is the last member country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) which Mr Samak is visiting to introduce himself as a new government leader.
A source close to the prime minister said Mr Samak received an intelligence report that a military officer hatched a plot to capture him at the airport and remove him from power, in a similar manner to the 1991 military coup which successfully overthrew then prime minister Gen Chatichai Choonhavan.
When Mr. Samak arrived in Bangkok today, he appeared to be safe. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PAD actions restricted

Posted by hasekamp on 1 July 2008 at 21:12 PM
The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) today will appeal the Civil Court's ruling that ordered the anti-government group to unblock traffic on Rama V and Phitsanulok roads and lower the volume of its loudspeakers during school hours. PAD lawyer Suwat Apaipak said he will ask the Civil Court to call an urgent hearing and allow the alliance's leaders to defend themselves before a hearing on the complaint begins. The move comes after the Civil Court yesterday ruled on a complaint filed by a group of teachers and parents of students from Rajavinit school that the PAD rally on Phitsanulok road infringed on their rights. In their complaints last week, they said the continuing rally to oust the government had caused them inconvenience when travelling to and from school, as well as disturbing classroom activities. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Less tourism expected

Posted by hasekamp on 1 July 2008 at 21:08 PM
Several major airlines including Thai Airways International are cutting long-haul flights into Thailand next year in line with a forecast 12-per-cent drop in the number of inbound tourists, said the Association of Thai Travel Agents. ATTA president Apichart Sankary said that although the Tourism Authority of Thailand targets 17 million visitors next year, only 15 million may arrive. Starting from today, THAI will suspend its New York-Bangkok service. The company has also reduced flight frequencies, re-routed flights with particular impact on its US operations and introduced other cost-cutting measures. "Other airlines such as Lufthansa are also considering reducing long-haul flights between Thailand and Europe," said Apichart. Thailand is expected to miss this year's visitor target of 15.7 million. ATTA, which encompasses inbound travel agencies, expects the number to reach only 15 million. (Source: The Nation)


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