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Phuket open again

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2008 at 21:27 PM
Phuket International Airport resumed services on Sunday, and
protesters later dispersed from the airport entrance, their protest site for three days. Phuket deputy governor Worapoj Ratsima and Wing Commander Wicha Nernlop, director of Phuket International Airport, told a press conference after a meeting that it agreed the airport
resumed operations Sunday afternoon. Deputy Commissioner of Provincial Police Pol.Maj-Gen. Pisan Jundilok said the police tighten security at the airport but won't disperse the crowd of protesters. In the meantime, airport staff opened another entrance for both international and domestic passengers to access the airport.
Meanwhile, the protesters dispersed Sunday afternoon, saying they succeeded to pressure the government and help PAD demonstrators in Bangkok to continue their protest. Methee Thanmanatrakul, chairman of the Thai Hotels Association in the South, said that the protest
caused losses and tarnished the country's image as there are about 15,000 tourists using Phuket's airport each day. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Phuket and Krabi still closed

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2008 at 11:02 AM
Phuket and Krabi airports remained closed yesterday as People's Alliance for Democracy supporters occupying them insisted they would continue their protest until the prime minister resigned or PAD leaders said otherwise. The situation returned to normal at Hat Yai Airport. More train services were also suspended yesterday as part of the workers' strikes to support the PAD, while the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) was reported to have lost Bt51 million in income in the past three days. In Krabi, the provincial airport remained closed for the second day, with six inbound flights, two of them international, canceled. Tourists who have booked outbound flights have been told they can get refunds. Meanwhile, PAD supporters, vowing to keep blocking Phuket Airport entrance until Samak Sundaravej resigns, continued their mission for a second day. Some 400 police and volunteers were there to ensure security and safety. Deputy Phuket Governor Worapoj Ratthasima affirmed that no violence would be used to drive protesters out. The airport occupation has alienated some PAD members in Phuket who were upset that the province's tourism was being affected. Some have disowned the movement and called for an end to the closure. (Source: The Nation)


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Coalition backs Samak

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2008 at 11:00 AM
Coalition parties yesterday threw their support behind Samak Sundaravej, giving the embattled prime minister a new political lifeline amid growing concerns the ongoing crisis would turn violent. Antigovernment protesters led by the People's Alliance for Democracy laid siege to Government House on Tuesday, triggering a national crisis. Speaking to reporters at a press conference, coalition partners of the People Power Party led government rejected any call for the resignation of Samak. "He will continue to be our leader," PPP secretary general Surapong Suebwonglee told the media. He said the government will work to "contribute to the wellbeing of the country" and will work together to look for ways to get out of the current political crisis at today's joint Parliamentary session. "The fact that the Thai Khufa [government seat] was seized does not mean an end to state power," Surapong said. "We had been working all last week and we will continue to work in the coming weeks." Surapong said he believed the Parliament session will be the best way to get out of the current predicament, and ruled out any suggestion of disฌsolving the House. "We are not thinking of any other way out, neither dissolving the House nor resigning. This will not be a guarantee that this kind of crisis will not reoccur," Surapong said. "Does this mean that a government must resign every time a group seizes [Government House]?" Surapong asked rhetorically. "This is like solving a problem on a daytoday basis." Surapong said today's debate would not touch on the issue of Constitutional reform. Chart Thai Party leader Banharn Silpaarcha said, "There is no need to replace Samak." (Source: The Nation)


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PAD leaves Government House

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2008 at 10:54 AM
People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leader Chamlong Srimuang, ordered demonstrators to leave the main building at Government House on Sunday, after widespread criticism and publicity that the grounds had become an unsanitary eyesore. Maj-Gen Chamlong said he feared that "other ill-intentioned people" might set fire to the building and blame the PAD. He told the media that people who refuse to leave the building are not PAD followers. The core leader of the anti-government group asked demonstrators to listen only to senior PAD leaders such as himself, and not to believe rumors that police were about to attack to disperse them. Another PAD activist Pibhop Dhongchai said the anti-government group have agreed that core member Somsak Kosaikul will be the sole person who can command their supporters to rally in different locations. Concerning the charges of insurrection imposed against nine key members of the PAD by the Criminal Court, Mr Pibhop insisted they will not yield and they can sacrifice themselves for their supporters. He also asked them to continue demonstrating peacefully. He asked the PAD followers to stop working until the government becomes paralyzed. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PM reports to the King

Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2008 at 17:01 PM
Thai Prime Minister and Defence Minister Samak Sundaravej was granted an audience with His Majesty the King on Saturday evening at Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan province to report Thailandís current political situation. The premier travelled to Prachuap Khiri Khan via the Royal Thai Air Forceís Jetstream aircraft at around 5pm.
Mr Samak reportedly called a meeting with party leaders of the coalition government at the Peninsula Hotel at 8pm to seek ways to end the political turmoil. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Opposition party leader visits PAD leaders

Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2008 at 11:37 AM
Opposition and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, as well as a group of 30 senators, separately visited People's Alliance for Democracy protesters at various sites yesterday afternoon, making strong pleas for the government and its political rivals to refrain from violence. Abhisit visited PAD members at Makkhawan Bridge, saying he was concerned about the possibility of more violent clashes. Clashes at the bridge yesterday morning had resulted in a number of injuries. He also visited the chief of the Metropolitan Police, Lt General Assawin Kwanmuang, urging him to allow ambulances to have access to Government House. Thousands of police managed to fight their way into the Government House compound in the morning only to be pushed out by the PAD by mid afternoon. No injuries were reported during the Government House incidents. Abhisit consulted with Senate Speaker Prasobsook Boondech about convening a House-Senate session to debate the growing political crisis. Prasobsook said senators would gather 50 signatures requesting such a meeting. Meanwhile, Bangkok Senator Rosana Tositrakul led another 29 senators in protesting to national police chief General Patcharawat Wongsuwan about an incident involving a police officer pointing a gun at the head of a protester. The group, which earlier visited the PAD inside Government House, presented Patcharawat with a photograph of the incident. The Senate earlier in the morning had interrupted its normal session and gone into an urgent debate after police clashes with anti=government protesters exacerbated the tension. Many senators called for their colleagues to travel to the protest site to ensure that no violence erupted. While at Government House, Rosana and the group of senators went on stage for a few minutes to lend moral support. (Source: The Nation)


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Princess is worried

Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2008 at 11:33 AM
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has assigned medical personnel of Thai Red Cross to prepare medial teams and supplies in case more clashes happened in the anti-government protests, a senior doctor said on Saturday. Dr Pichit Siriwarn, rescue chief of the Red Cross Society said that his office now prepared personnel, medical supplies, ambulances as well as emergency mobile communications unit and 25 satellite phones in case of emergency. The preparation is aimed at minimize any loss if there is more clashes. "Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is worried about the situation. The princess assigned medical teams to be ready if some clashes happens," Dr Pichit said. Medical units will be set up at Chamai Maruchet Bridge and the teams will cooperate with Narantorn Rescue Centre to work out emergency plans to come to reach people as soon as possible in case of emergency. Clashes between police and anti-government protesters on Friday left many injured, particularly when police fired tear gas to the protesters. (Source: The Nation)


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Chaos in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2008 at 11:29 AM
Escalated anti-government demonstrations are in their fifth day on Saturday, with the prime minister losing support from the Army amid signs of an increasing government dilemma. "This weekend will be critical," said academic political scientist Thitinan Pongsudhirak. "The government is in a dilemma. If they crackdown, that may cause a boomerang, but if they don't, they look weak," said the director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University. The French news agency AFP reported on Saturday afternoon that about 45 protesters used bolt cutters to break into Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's abandoned office at Government House, occupied for days by the anti-government group. One of the activists told AFP that protest leader Chamlong Srimuang had ordered them to force open the doors so that he could use the offices himself, the report said. On the street on Saturday, and particularly from Government House, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) continued its call for the resigination of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and the entire government. The court ordered protesters out of Government House last Wednesday but on Friday stayed the injunction indefinitely in an order to promote a peaceful solution. Meanwhile, protesters agreed on Saturday to lift their siege of two of the three airports in the South. But the international airport at the important tourist centre of Phuket remained blockaded, after PAD allowed flights to resume for travelers at Krabi and Hat Yai. On Friday, army commander Gen Anupong Paojinda rejected a call by Mr Samak to declare a state of emergency and call out troops. He suggested the use of police instead, or the resignation of the premier to cool tempers. Mr Samak repeated he would not resign. "If the PAD succeeds in ousting Samak, it will be a huge setback for Thai democracy," Prof Thitinan said. "It will be the crowning success for the right-wing conservative contingent who are against election-based democracy." PAD leaders, such as retired Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, have said the Thai electorate is too uneducated to vote in honest politicians and continues to sell its votes to the highest bidders. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Traveling blocked

Posted by hasekamp on 29 August 2008 at 18:19 PM
Railway workers stopped most trains nationwide on Friday in sympathy with anti-government protesters in Bangkok as PAD activists blocked the vital gateway airports at Phuket, Hat Yai and Krabi in the South, stranding thousands of foreign tourists. Thai Airways International staff threatened to join the anti-government strike. Hundreds of anti-government demonstrators of the People's Alliance for Democracy gathered at the front of the three southern airports on Friday afternoon. They set up stages for a protest sit-in, saying they wanted to demand the government end its attempt to disperse the protesters in Bangkok. Flights continued to operate for a few hours. Passengers found it difficult or impossible to enter the airport buildings at the two tourist-heavy locations and all flights were canceled to all three airports later Friday afternoon. Police said they hoped they could negotiate with the protesters to clear the airport entrances. But the situation looked likely to get worse instead of better, after Krabi International Airport became the third airport to be blockaded. The union of the national airline Thai Airways International told its 15,000 members they can take sick leave to show disapproval of the government actions against the PAD.
Earlier, the State Railway of Thailand workers' union announced a sick-out to halt all trains nationwide for an indefinite period. The union said it wanted to show sympathy and support for the PAD-led protesters at Government House. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Samak does not want to use force

Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2008 at 11:50 AM
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said on Thursday that police would not use force to evict protesters led by the People's Alliance for Democracy at Government House. Samak thanked the Civil Court to have issued the injunction ordering protesters to vacate the compound on Wednesday, saying the court has given the government "a sword" and that authorities would enforce the court order with care. He said he had already given the green light for police to evict the crowds but changed his mind because he did not want violence to erupt. He said he wanted the PAD leaders to surrender themselves instead of facing their arrests. He said there was still time to settle the confrontation in a peaceful manner. He also praised Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva for adopting an appropriate stand to help resolve the situation. (Source: The Nation)


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Bangkok tension prevails

Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2008 at 11:47 AM
Informal talks between Bangkok and Phnom Penh over disputed border areas were halted abruptly and scheduled formal talks postponed indefinitely amid political tension in Thailand, a Cambodian official said Thursday. Defence Ministry Secretary of State Neang Phat said the Thai delegation arrived Wednesday in Siem Reap, 300 kilometers north of Phnom Penh, and the two sides had talked amicably before formal talks scheduled for Friday were abruptly canceled, due to the ongoing anti-government protests in Bangkok by the Thai opposition People's Alliance for Democracy movement, which escalated Tuesday. (Source: The Nation)


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Protesters stay

Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2008 at 11:12 AM
The Civil Court last night ordered the People's Alliance For Democracy (PAD) to immediately move out of Government House and its grounds, at the request of the Secretariat of the Prime Minister. Nine PAD leaders also face arrest warrants approved by the Criminal Court on four charges, including treason. The PM's secretariat yesterday filed a complaint with the Civil Court seeking an urgent hearing of an application for a temporary injunction to disperse the PAD protesters. Police late last night deployed ambulances and vehicles loaded with riot police shields and batons near Government House. Samran Rodpetch, a key PAD member, announced the court order to the supporters late last night, but urged them to stay put. They did not leave. Termsak Jarupran, said the PAD respected the order but appealed to the court to allow them to stay inside the compound of Government House to fulfil their mission to topple the government. The PAD began its siege of Government House on Tuesday, saying it was the "last whistle blow" in its effort to unseat Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. Even though the PAD claimed the right to protest under Article 63 of the constitution, its occupation of Government House prevented officials and cabinet members from performing their duties, the complaint said. The PAD rally, which involved raids on several government agencies including the state-run NBT television station, had caused inconvenience to the public at large. The complaint said the PAD's campaign was seen as an instigation of civil unrest and was therefore a threat to national security. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PAD members (at last) to be arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 27 August 2008 at 13:38 PM
After they have stormed Government building, a tv station and other government property, an arrest warrant has at last been issued for some PAD members. Their actions have - in our opinion - very little to do with democracy.
Metropolitan Police Bureau has asked eight key members of People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to surrender after the Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for them. Arrest warrants were out for nine PAD members, but police can only take legal action against eight of them. Spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Bureau Suporn Phansua said Somkiat Pongpaiboon currently serves as a member of parliament thus he is granted privileges according to law. Pol Maj Gen Suporn vowed that police would try to negotiate with the anti-government protesters. After the demonstrators learned that the court issued the warrants for the group leaders, they formed human wall to protect them in case police break into the Government House compound to arrest them. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PM comes to end of patience

Posted by hasekamp on 26 August 2008 at 13:15 PM
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej announced Tuesday that government restraint is almost over in its dealings with the PAD, and would do all it can to restore peace to the country. Mr Samak said he gave Interior Minister Kowit Wattana - ex-national police chief -direct control of police to restore order. "I assigned Pol Gen Kowit to oversee the national police office and the Interior Ministry," Mr Samak said in an address carried on national television. "Police will use all means to restore normalcy as soon as possible. Police will take decisive action against the protesters." The premier added he would look at several other ways to quell the unrest such as security bills. "I do not want to spoil the atmosphere now," he said. "I do not want the government to be branded as those using their power to suppress the protesters." He then vowed to stay on as the premier. Mr Samak also called on supporters of People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to reconsider their action and return home to avoid trouble. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PAD storms Government House

Posted by hasekamp on 26 August 2008 at 13:13 PM
Core leader of People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) Chamlong Srimuang led a group of People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters into the Government House on Tuesday afternoon. The group began blocking roads leading to the venue since 5am in an attempt to remove Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his cabinet. The move caused Mr Samak and the ministers to shift the weekly cabinet meeting to the Royal Thai Armed Forces headquarters. The protesters climbed over the wall of the Government House and opened the fences for the core leader and the group members to enter the venue.
Meanwhile many demonstrators led by the Peopleís Alliance for Democracy (PAD) marched into the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday, in an attempt to bring down the coalition government led by the People Power party (PPP). According to PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila, the Finance Ministry is one of the channels for the current government to reap the benefits of the country. He called on the Finance officials to work justly, as he claimed that the governmentís spending is not transparent. Mr Suriyasai said the PAD plans to protest in front of the ministry for at least three days to pressure Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Surapong Suebwonglee to resign. The water and electricity supplies to state agencies will be cut off, he added. Civil servants nationwide may receive their monthly salaries slower than usual due to this action (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PM not disturbed by rally

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2008 at 15:11 PM
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said his cabinet's weekly meeting will take place as usual on Tuesday despite the threat from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to lay siege to Government House, pressing his government to call it quits. In a press conference Monday, a grim-faced prime minister assured his audience that his cabinet meeting will be carried out intact, no matter what the anti-government PAD does. The democracy protesters have mobilized anti-government demonstrators at Makkawan Bridge since May 25, and the new moves bring speculation that the protesters would seal off Phitsanuloke Road on one side of Government House, bringing traffic to a standstill and pressing his government to resign en masse. Mr. Samak cautioned that those who break the laws or otherwise resort to violence during their street protests will be faced with legal action by the police though the authorities will not use force to disrupt or impede their planned blockade at Government House Tuesday. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Silver for amother boxer

Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2008 at 17:51 PM
Manus Boonjumnong, who was aiming for two gold medals in two consecutive Olympic Games, could not make it as he was outclassed by Felix Diaz of Dominican Republic 4-12 in the 64 kg division. He was gold medalist in the light welterweight division in the Athens Olympics.
But his accomplishment is real, just the same: Mr. Manus has become the first Thai to win medals - gold and silver - at two successive Games.
Mr. Manus, 28 is notorious at home for being a playboy who squandered prize money worth about Bt20 million within months after claiming the light welterweight gold in Athens in 2004. But he returned to the limelight by winning the Asian Games gold medal in 2007, vowing his bad habits would be a thing of the past.
Thailand overall won two gold medals and two silver medals in the Beijing Olympic Games. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Gold for boxer

Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2008 at 17:50 PM
Thailandís flyweight boxer Somjit Jongjohor has won Thailand the second gold medal at the Beijing Olympics 2008 after overpowering Andris Laffita of Cuba with a score of 8-2 on Saturday evening. Prior to the bout, the 33-year-old Buri Ram native said this will be the last fight of his career, and if he wins, he wants to dedicate the gold medal to his son, Kampan, whose birthday is on Saturday as well. The Thai boxer opened up a 6-0 lead after two rounds with effective counter-punching, using his speed to stay out of harm's way and then kept out of trouble in the last two rounds. "All my life I've been waiting for today. I went through so much, hurt so much but I have tried my hardest," said Somjit. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Gold for boxer

Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2008 at 17:43 PM
Thailandís flyweight boxer Somjit Jongjohor has won Thailand the second gold medal at the Beijing Olympics 2008 after overpowering Andris Laffita of Cuba with a score of 8-2 on Saturday evening. Prior to the bout, the 33-year-old Buri Ram native said this will be the last fight of his career, and if he wins, he wants to dedicate the gold medal to his son, Kampan, whose birthday is on Saturday as well. The Thai boxer opened up a 6-0 lead after two rounds with effective counter-punching, using his speed to stay out of harm's way and then kept out of trouble in the last two rounds. "All my life I've been waiting for today. I went through so much, hurt so much but I have tried my hardest," said Somjit. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin passport not to be revoked

Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2008 at 11:16 AM
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said yesterday that the government had no policy in revoking passports, when asked if former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's travel documents would be rescinded. "We don't have such a policy, at least for now," Samak told reporters. The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has been rallying for authorities to terminate Thaksin's travel documents since he jumped bail while being tried over the Ratchadaphisek land-purchase deal. The Foreign Ministry is authorized to revoke the passport of any Thai citizen facing criminal charges and stop them from traveling overseas. However, Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag said Thaksin, as a former premier, could not be treated like an ordinary citizen and that Samak should be the one making decisions in this case. Tej said he had sent all the necessary documents to Samak enabling him to make the decision. (Source: The Nation)


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Another demonstration planned

Posted by hasekamp on 23 August 2008 at 11:09 AM
The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), dedicated to removing policies and personalities in government who have been associated with or having on behalf of the ousted government of Thaksin Shinawatra, will hold a major demonstration at several places here next Tuesday, said a PAD core leader Saturday. It is optimistic that there would be a change in the present coalition government of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. Maj-Gen. Chamlong Srimuang urged the 'democracy activist' coalition PAD, which has been demonstrating in the capital since May 25, to converge at the group's semi-permanent venue at the Makkawan Bridge near the United Nations Asian and Pacific regional headquarters, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) early Tuesday. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Wealthy King

Posted by hasekamp on 22 August 2008 at 12:20 PM
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the world's richest royal sovereign, Forbes magazine reported Friday. His Majesty, the world's longest-serving head of the state, has an estimated fortune of 35 billion dollars. According to Forbes, His Majesty was pushed to the top of the richest royals list by virtue a greater transparency surrounding his fortune. It said the Crown Property Bureau, which manages most of wealth of the Thai royal family, "granted unprecedented access this year, revealing vast landholdings, including 3,493 acres in Bangkok." Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi came in second. Currently serves as president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Khalifa, 60, was estimated to be worth 23 billion dollars, on the back of Abu Dhabi's huge petroleum reserves. In third was the sovereign of the world's biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, 84, who inherited the Al-Saud family throne in 2005, came in with a fortune of 21 billion dollars. The previous king of kings, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, 62, of Brunei, fell to fourth place with 20 billion dollars. "The sultan, who inherited the riches of an unbroken 600-year-old Muslim dynasty, has had to cut back on his country's oil production because of depleting reserves," Forbes explained of his dwindling fortune. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chiang Rai under water

Posted by hasekamp on 21 August 2008 at 10:57 AM
Homes and business areas in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district are under one-meter deep floodwaters, as the water level of the Mae Sai River crested at 3.88 metres, greatly over the critical level of 2.50 meters following heavy rain in Thailand and Burma, overflowing its banks and flooding residential and business areas in Mae Sai municipality. Local authorities in Chiang Rai are helping residents to move their belongings and goods to higher ground. Manop Thailor, head of the provincial hydrology office warned residents along the Mae Chan River to brace for floods due to continuing rainfall. Four areas including Ban Khwao, Nong Bua Daeng, Pakdeechumpon, and Muang districts are now considered at-risk of flooding. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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The Baht is low

Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2008 at 17:19 PM
The Thai baht hit a nine-month low against the dollar Wednesday, trading at 34.15 to the greenback, bank sources said. The sharp decline in the currency was attributed to heavy buying of dollars by foreign banks in Thailand and importers, said the Kasikorn Research Center, a think-tank attached to Kasikorn Bank. Like most Asian currencies, the Thai baht has steadily appreciated against the dollar, gaining almost 20 per cent over the past two years before starting to weaken in June in the wake of rising inflation, growing political instability, declines on the stock market and slowing growth projections. KRC projected the baht would continue to depreciate against the dollar in the short run, in tandem with other Asian currencies which have also been weakening against the greenback. (Source: The Nation)


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Cambodian border closed

Posted by hasekamp on 20 August 2008 at 17:15 PM
Although talks with Thailand over disputed border territory achieved modest progress, the border crossing at the ancient Preah Vihear temple would remain closed indefinitely, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Wednesday. Cambodia remained firm in its stance that Thailand had sent troops into Cambodian territory, he told a press conference at Phnom Penh International Airport upon his return from Thailand after talks there Tuesday. However, he said he remained convinced that bilateral diplomacy remained the way forward and Cambodia could yet avoid taking the matter to the UN Security Council for mediation. "We two countries should solve this issue by peaceful means and avoid war," he said. He said his Thai counterpart, Tej Bunnag, wholeheartedly agreed. "When the situation is normal in Preah Vihear, then we will think about reopening the border," he said. Cambodia has reported that tourism to the clifftop temple has doubled since the crisis began despite the border closure. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Can Temple dispube be solved peacefully?

Posted by hasekamp on 19 August 2008 at 18:53 PM
Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong agreed on Tuesday to settle the dispute surrounding the Preah Vihear temple peacefully, but made no specific progress. "This is the 21st century. We are beyond the stage of resorting to military confrontation," Hor Namhong told a joint press conference. The ministers met for hours at Cha-am in two separate sessions. Their final decisions:
- Talks rather than military might must be used
- Border disputes will be discussed and finally settled by existing commissions
- A parallel argument over ownership and care of the 13th century Ta Moan temple would be submitted to a future bilateral meeting. "Both sides agreed to consider raising the issue of Ta Moan at the next foreign ministers' meeting," said Mr Tej, reading a joint statement. Hor Namhong said that Cambodia would remove all its troops from the disputed area around the temple, leaving only police to guard the temple. The Thai side said it would need to consult the military about a similar complete withdrawal. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Dinosaur footprints discovered

Posted by hasekamp on 18 August 2008 at 22:51 PM
Experts yesterday confirmed the discovery of (more) dinosaur footprints in the Northeast. The "new" footprints are from Late Triassic period, which makes them about 210 million years old. Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Nakhon Ratchasima Rajabhat University rector Saowanit Saonanon said the discovery was significant because some of the prints were likely to be the oldest ever found for sauropod dinosaurs and Carnosaurs. "Also, we have also found that some footprints belonged to a species not known before," Saowanit said. She said the ancient footprints were found early last month in Ban None Toom, in Chaiyapum's Nong Bua Daeng district. (Source: The Nation)


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Second Beijing medal for Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 18 August 2008 at 22:47 PM
A reformed Manus Boonjumnong punched his way into history when he became Thailandís first two-time Olympic medalist with his quarter-final triumph on Sunday night. The defending light-welterweight boxing champion sealed a thrilling 7-5 victory over hot favourite Serik Sapiyev of Kazakhstan to reach the semi-finals and guarantee himself at least a bronze medal. Manus' win has earned Thailand its 19th medal since the country first took part in the Olympics in 1952. He is the second Thai medallist in Beijing after weightlifting champion Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding help for Chiang Rai

Posted by hasekamp on 17 August 2008 at 17:07 PM
Representatives of His Majesty the King yesterday delivered 2,000 relief packages to flood-affected Chiang Rai residents. The police sent 10 lorries with drinking water and dried food to assist victims in six North and Northeast provinces. From August 10 to 15, floods hit the two districts and Wiang Kaen, affecting more than 5,000 families in 105 villages. National police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan oversaw the dispatch of 10 lorries of relief items for flood victims in Nan, Phetchabun, Sakhon Nakhon, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Phanom and Nong Khai and opened a relief center at police headquarters. In Nong Khai, Mekong River levels receded slightly. The Princess Pa Foundation delivered 1,000 relief packages to flood victims in Tha Bo and Si Chiang Mai districts yesterday. Municipality workers started pumping out floodwaters which are nearly one meter in some areas. (Source: The Nation)


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The Thaksins on list of wanted people

Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2008 at 22:23 PM
Police have added deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Khunying Potjaman, to their "wanted list", distributing warrants for the couple's arrest to authorities concerned nationwide yesterday.
Assistant national police chief Pol Lt-Gen Watcharapol Prasarnratchakij said the arrest warrants for the couple have been updated in police criminal records after the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions forwarded the warrants to national police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan. He said the warrant for Mr Thaksin had a statute of limitations of 15 years, while the one for Khunying Potjaman had a statute of limitations of 10 years. Pol Lt-Gen Watcharapol said since the couple are known to be living in England, it is the job of the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) and related agencies to bring them back to stand trial here. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PPP could be dissolved

Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2008 at 11:46 AM
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Friday said it would be up to the law whether his People Power Party (the party of the PM) would be penalized by disbandment although he deemed the punishment as unjustified. "The party dissolution hinges on the law although it is not right to punish the party for wrongdoing committed by one man," Samak said in reference to the electoral fraud conviction against party executive Yongyuth Tiyapairat. Samak said the political system would collapse if People Power, Chart Thai, Matchima Thipataya and Puea Pandin parties were dissolved. "I have heard that the Democrat Party might be disbanded too, and this will really be the end of politics," he said. The fact-finding panel completed its report on Friday recommending to seek the Constitution Court review on whether to dissolve the People Power Party.
The political system could still continue to function because MPs could find new banners to retain their House seats even if their parties were dissolved. (Source: The Nation)


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Gasohol with 85 pct alcohol

Posted by hasekamp on 14 August 2008 at 13:29 PM
PTT Plc will begin selling E85 gasohol at one of its stations on Aug 29 and aims to make the fuel available at 15 of its stations in Greater Bangkok by the end of this year. The fuel, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% petrol, will make its debut at the PTT station near the Sukhumvit 62 expressway exit. The only vehicle currently available locally that can run on E85 is the Volvo S40, for which import duties have been waived to encourage the fuel's use. The Finance Ministry has announced its support for the new ethanol-based fuel by eliminating import tax for flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs) while offering a tax incentive for FFV production. (Source:The Bangkok Post)


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THAI wants to shrink

Posted by hasekamp on 14 August 2008 at 13:26 PM
Thai Airways International Pcl has offered early retirement to 400 to 500 staff after notching up a second-quarter net loss of 9.3 billion baht ($276.8 million), the national carrier said Thursday. President Apinan Sumanaseni said the airline's executive board had approved a budget of 700 million baht to encourage employees to opt for early retirement as part of its cost-cutting efforts this year, the Manager newspaper's website said. On Wednesday, Thai Airways announced its second-quarter results, which were its worst performance in 10 years. The loss was attributed mainly to higher fuel prices. Besides the staff cuts, Thai Airways also has announced the cancellation of several unprofitable routes, such as Bangkok-New York and Bangkok-Oakland. The airline, however, has boosted its daily flights to Sydney and Melbourne to accommodate rising tourist traffic from Australia to Thailand. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Queen gives birthday speech

Posted by hasekamp on 12 August 2008 at 11:49 AM
Her Majesty the Queen has impressed upon Thai people the importance of preserving forests and fresh water resources and said that fresh water shortages could trigger conflict and wars. The Queen gave her birthday address yesterday to a gathering of cabinet ministers, dignitaries, high-ranking government officials and members of the public who went to the Dusitdalai Pavilion to wish her well on the eve of her 76th birthday today. "I have read foreign publications and learned that in the next 15 years fresh water will be scarce. I think this will be a big problem for the world," the Queen said. "I am worried that our country lacks large fresh water resources. There are only forests. Forests are where water is collected underground. Forests will soak up rainwater which will otherwise flow to the seas. They are a good source of water," Her Majesty said. She urged people to realize that forests are not for commercial purposes. They also have other uses that we should be aware of. "In the next 15 years, fresh water will be difficult to come by and will be expensive," she said. Even though the world can now distill and change sea water into fresh water for consumption, the process is costly and Thailand cannot afford to do so, the Queen said. It will be better if we preserve forests to get fresh water from them, she added.
The Queen also voiced her concern about the cleanness of the Chao Phraya river, saying when she was young, the river was rich in various species of fish and shrimps and there was enough for everyone to eat.Nowadays, there is only striped catfish, or pla sawai, in the Chao Phraya, which the Queen described as "not tasty at all". Factories along the banks of the river should not be allowed to release chemicals into the river, the Queen added. Her Majesty urged government agencies and city residents to work together to save the polluted Chao Phraya river and make sure the river will be restored as a source of food for poor people in the city, as in the past. The Queen also stressed the importance of mangrove forests, which serve as nurseries for baby fish and young marine life which in turn become food for people. She also suggested farmers switch back to using water buffaloes instead of mechanical ploughs, given the ever-increasing fuel costs. The Queen asked the government to support the rice bank project initiated by His Majesty the King. Rice banks are set up in villages across the country.
Long live Her Majesty the Queen! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Arrest warrants

Posted by hasekamp on 11 August 2008 at 11:19 AM
The Supreme Court Monday issued arrest warrants against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Khunying Pojaman. The Supreme Court issued the warrants after the couple fled to England instead of returning to Thailand to attend a court hearing in the Ratchadapisek land purchase case. The Supreme Court's Criminal Tribunal for Holders of Political Positions said the couple broke their promise to return to the country to attend the trial so the courts issued arrest warrants against them. (Source: The Nation)


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First gold for Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 11 August 2008 at 11:17 AM
While people all over are savouring Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakon's Olympic triumph in claiming Thailand's first gold, her parents are the happiest of them all. Even though the 24-year-old Prapawadee was regarded as the country's best bet for a weightlifting medal, the crowd wasn't sure. People watched the broadcast of the women's 53-kilo division with a sense of trepidation, with Prapawadee's ill-fated World Championships campaign at Chiang Mai still fresh in memory. However, their confidence grew each time Prapawadee, better known as Junpim Kanthatien, successfully negotiated the weights. Not only did Prapawadee comfortably negotiate 120 kilos, she went on to set a new Olympic record of 126 kilos. (Source: Daily Xpress)


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Statement by Mr. Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 11 August 2008 at 10:59 AM
Deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra faxed a written statement to the media on Monday, saying he and his wife, Khunying Potjaman, are in Britain and will not return to Thailand to fight the corruption charges, citing political interference in the justice system. Mr Thaksin claimed that he was being defamed and threatened. The former premier said he will always be loyal to the royal constitution, and is not an evil person as being accused. If there is a chance, he would like to live and die in Thailand, according to the statement. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin prefers not to return

Posted by hasekamp on 11 August 2008 at 10:57 AM
Ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and Khunying Potjamarn have fled to London and will not be back for their court cases, a close supporter said on Sunday after the couple failed to catch their scheduled flight back from Beijing to Bangkok. The couple were to catch Thai Airways International Flight 615, which arrived on time at Bangkok at 9:45pm on Sunday without the high-level passengers on board. The Samut Prakan MP told reporters at Suvarnabhumi airport that Mr Thaksin will make a statement from London at 9am Thailand time on Monday, an hour before he and his wife were ordered to return and report to the Supreme Court on charges they face separately and together. The couple were due to report to the Supreme Courtís Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on Monday morning for a hearing on their trials in the Ratchadaphisek land deal. Flight to London and semi-permanent exile may cause Mr Thaksin and his wife to lose their bail and even cost them them 69 billion baht in frozen funds, it might also be good for the country. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Will the Thaksins stay away?

Posted by hasekamp on 9 August 2008 at 12:33 PM
Speculation is rife that ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and Khunying Potjaman will not return to Thailand on Sunday after all, but instead stay abroad and seek asylum. On Friday, they attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. It was reported that the couple may go into exile overseas to escape the legal proceedings awaiting them at home. The couple are being tried at the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions for alleged wrongdoing in the Ratchadaphisek land deal. Two other cases against Mr Thaksin ó the lottery case and the Exim Bank loan to Burma ó are pending in the same court. Five other cases against Mr Thaksin and his cronies are with the Office of the Attorney-General.
On July 31, the Criminal Court found Khunying Potjaman guilty of conspiring to evade tax totalling 546 million baht in the transfer of shares in the Shinawatra Computer and Communication company. She was sentenced to three years in jail and was later released on bail. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Drugs order from jail

Posted by hasekamp on 8 August 2008 at 18:52 PM
A man incarcerated on drug charges at Klong Prem Central prison in Bangkok managed to order a bus to transport 3,000 ya bah (methamphetamines) pills to his son in Phuket from his prison cell. However, not everything went according to plan for the father-son criminals. The Phuket Provincial Police drug suppression unit discovered the pills when they raided three rented rooms in an apartment building on Phun Pol Road in Phuket yesterday afternoon. Police raided the apartments because it was suspected they were being used to store and sell drugs. During the raid police arrested four men for possession of the pills with intent to sell and confiscated a .45 caliber pistol, 7 bullets, 90,000 baht in cash and three mobile phones. One of the suspects apprehended in the raid told police that he had ordered the drugs by mobile phone from his father, an inmate at Klong Prem Central Prison, and that the drugs were transported from Bangkok to Phuket by bus. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Bangkok bus exploded

Posted by hasekamp on 8 August 2008 at 18:46 PM
A Bangkok city bus converted to run on natural gas for vehicles (NGV) exploded on Friday morning as the driver was filling its fuel tank. The explosion damaged five vehicles and injured a worker at the station. A station attendant who was just about to turn off the gas and remove the filling line was injured, apparently when debris from the tank struck him in the legs. Word of his condition was not immediately available. There were no passengers on the bus during the filling operation, and the driver was standing to the side of the vehicle when the tank exploded. The explosion shattered the windshields of several vehicles lined up for their turns at the pump. Police said that the records for the vehicle indicated that the fuel tank did not meet minimum standards for the conversion. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Nok Air resumes Phuket service

Posted by hasekamp on 6 August 2008 at 22:52 PM
Nok Air is resuming twice-weekly flights to Phuket from Bangkok following media reports of Phuket-bound tourists stranded in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. The limited service, which resumes on August 9, is scheduled to operate on Saturdays and Sundays only. Flights depart from Don Muang airport in Bangkok to Phuket International Airport (PIA) at 9.15 am, with the return leg taking off from PIA at 11.05 am. Many Phuket-bound tourists who already faced limited flight options following the suspension of One-Two-Go's services on July 22 were stranded in Bangkok when Nok Air suspended its Bangkok-Phuket service on August 1. The move followed Nok Air's halt of its Krabi-Bangkok service on July 1. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Bush in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 6 August 2008 at 22:43 PM
The US president is back in Thailand for his second visit. He stood beside Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and hailed the 175th anniversary of diplomatic relations which have brought strong ties - and pledged to work closely with Thailand. On Thursday Bush hopes to put heat on the "outpost of tyranny" junta in neighbouring Burma. In a joint press conference, President Bush praised Thailand and the US in their military and security related cooperation. He also appreciated Thailandís active role in human rights, providing shelter for refugees from its neighbouring countries. He pledged to work closely with Thailand to foster education, public health and science. Bush arrived in Bangkok Wednesday evening and immediately traveled to meet with Prime Minister Samak at Government House. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Another Temple dispute

Posted by hasekamp on 5 August 2008 at 18:48 PM
Gen Boonsrang Niempradit yesterday told Cambodia to stay away from Ta Moan Thom after the 13th-century temple became the latest hot spot between the two countries. The army has informed its Cambodian counterpart of the Thai position, Gen Boonsrang said, adding that if Cambodian soldiers come to the area, they will be pushed back. Lt-Gen Niphat Thonglek, chief of the Border Affairs Department, said Cambodian troops would be barred from entering the area, as Thailand and Cambodia have not settled the dispute over land surrounding the Preah Vihear temple. A plan to reduce the number of Thai soldiers in the overlapping zone between Kantharalak district in Si Sa Ket and Cambodia's Preah Vihear province will be tabled during a cabinet meeting today.
The Ta Moan Thom temple was thrust into the spotlight on Sunday when Cambodia accused Thai troops of staying in the area it claimed to be part of Cambodian soil. It is part of a group of the Ta Moan temples in the same area. Two other temples in the group are located on Thai soil, outside the disputed area. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Will NOK come back?

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2008 at 18:01 PM
Nok (bird in Thai) is hoping for life after a near-death experience triggered by skyrocketing fuel prices and plummeting traffic demand. Some observers believe the budget carrier could eventually go under, despite having Thai Airways International as a major shareholder. But Nok could also be resurrected as a brand for other diversified products or businesses such as hospitality services. In the eyes of Patee Sarasin, the chief executive of Nok Air and a former advertising executive, Nok has goodwill and brand value that can still be exploited in the future. Now on the drawing board and due for completion in two months, the plan envisages the development of three-star hotels, each with 30-50 rooms, in major Thai cities. "We are looking at hotels with simple but hip designs, very clean with very reasonable prices at locations with easy accessibility to public transport systems," Mr Patee explained. The national carrier would like to see Nok Air work help protect its market share on domestic and regional routes, particularly against other budget carriers. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand denies new troops in Cambodia

Posted by hasekamp on 3 August 2008 at 12:42 PM
Cambodia has accused Thai troops of occupying a temple complex on Cambodian land, threatening to escalate a row over a separate, disputed temple. About 70 Thais have been at the 13th Century Ta Moan temple complex since Thursday, the Cambodians say. The Thai foreign ministry has denied any troops have moved into the area. The two nations have for weeks been locked in a military stand-off over disputed land further east, around the ancient Preah Vihear temples. High-level diplomacy has been taking place to resolve the Preah Vihear dispute, which revolves around border areas drawn up by French cartographers a century ago. Cambodia said the Thai troops had been deployed in an 80m (262ft) radius around the Ta Moan Thom temple ground, and had prevented Cambodian troops from entering. About 40 Cambodian soldiers were allegedly in close proximity to the Thai troops, but had been ordered to exercise restraint while the government tries to resolve the issue with Thailand. (Source: BBC News)


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Severe flash floods

Posted by hasekamp on 2 August 2008 at 19:37 PM
Some of the heaviest rain in two decades means flash floods are forecast for seven North and Northeast provinces. The Meteorological Department says days of heavy downpours have been brought by a depression across the region, and the moderate southwest monsoon. Residents in Chiang Rai, Phayao, Nan, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Sakon Nakhon and Kalasin have been warned that the severe weather will cause flooding in the coming days. The worst downpour in 20 years hit Muang Sakon Nakhon on Friday, bringing with it 126 millimetres of rain. The Haui Deuk Reservoir overflowed by 1.2 metres and this has flooded the city area, Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation chief Boonsong Wijakboon says. Boat transport Staff are using five flat-bottom boats to get about. Water pumps are easing the situation. A relief centre has been established at the Rama V Plaza at Muang Sakon Nakhon Municipality Office. In the east, heavy downpours and strong gusts hit Chon Buri on Friday night. Some 30 homes and shops on Walking Street in southern Pattaya City were damaged. No injuries have been reported.
Deputy Mayor Weerawat Khakhai and city councillors yesterday inspected damage. City staff are helping to clear debris and assess damage costs. (Source: The Nation)


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Nok Air stops Phuket service

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2008 at 18:18 PM
From August 1, low-cost carrier Nok Air will no longer operate flights between Phuket and Bangkok, the Phuket Gazette has confirmed. The move follows Nok Air ceasing its services between Krabi and Bangkok on July 1. "Nok Air has no official statement regarding its marketing strategies, but if one looks carefully at what we are doing they might be able to figure it out," a source at the budget airline told the Gazette.
"Since Nok Air started flying to Phuket and Krabi, the number of competing flights increased dramatically, making these routes very competitive.
There is, however, little or no competition to many less-popular destinations and Nok Air has most probably taken the initiative to exploit this niche by providing more lucrative services to other destinations in the South, such as Haad Yai, Trang and Nakhon Sri Thammarat," the unknown source said. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Free bus for commuters

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2008 at 18:07 PM
Today saw a good start of the first day of providing free bus services for Bangkok communters, Deputy Transport Minister Songsak Thongsri said on Friday. Songsak made an inspection trip during the morning's rush hour at the Victory Monument area, one of the busiest bus transit points in the capital. He said free services were adequate for commuter to access. Many commuters appeared satisfied and they were not choosy to wait just for the free buses, he added. (Source: The Nation)


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Inflation 9.2 percent

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2008 at 16:41 PM
The Ministry of Commerce reported that inflation rose to a 10-year high of 9.2 per cent in July, leading to a less active trading atmosphere at the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET). The ministry blamed high oil prices, even though the cost of fuel actually fell at the end of the month. The Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Pairoh Sudsawang, said the Consumer Price Index (CPI) last month hit 128.1 points, 9.2 per cent higher than the figure of July 2007 and 0.3 per cent higher than in June. The Commerce Ministry said the main cause of high inflation last month was what officials described as "the constant rising oil prices" - even though prices fell during the last week of July. The ministry forecast that the 2008 inflation rate should be about 6.6 per cent as initially projected. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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