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Protesters leave Government House after reading demands

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2009 at 19:35 PM
The red-shirted protesters started dispersing from Government House at 12:35 am Sunday after their leaders announced four-point demand for the government to comply. They started dispersing from the Nakhon Pathom Road in front of Government House where they pushed through police's lines to occupy. They headed back to Sanam Luang. Veera Musigapong read the four demands, calling the government to take legal action against the People's Alliance for Democracy, to purge Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, to re-enforce the 1997 constitution and to dissolve the House after the readopting the 1997 charter. Veera said the protesters would return if the government did not meet the demands in 15 days. (On Monday 2 February, the first working day after the demonstration, the Thai media did not publish any further details about the demonstration.) (Source: The Nation)


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Death for murder on environmentalist

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2009 at 11:52 AM
The Criminal Court sentenced lawyer Thanu Hinkaew to death yesterday, convicting him of being behind the high-profile murder of environmental activist Charoen Wat-aksorn. Charoen led villagers to protest against the construction of two coal-fired power plants in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Bo Nok district. He was gunned down four years ago, possibly because of his leading role in the protests against the project which has already been scrapped. The other two co-defendants accused of involvement in the murder were acquitted for lack of evidence. They were Manote Hinkaew, 42, a Prachuap Khiri Khan provincial councillor and Jua Hinkaew, 71, a former kamnan of Bo Nok.
Thanu, a lawyer, and Manote are both sons of Jua, who is known to be the key proponent of the power plants. The two gunmen - Saneh Lekluan and Prachuap Hinkaew - who were arrested for shooting the activist, died while in detention. All the defendants were charged with premeditated murder and breaches of the gun control law. The court said the case against Thanu had been substantiated by solid evidence and eyewitness accounts. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Attempt to save wild cats

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2009 at 11:47 AM
A comprehensive study on the smallest species of wild cats will be conducted at four forests due to the shrinking population and habitat of Southeast Asia's least studied, but most charismatic, creatures. The four sites include the three wildlife sanctuaries of Huai Kha Khaeng in Uthai Thani, Phu Khiew in Chaiyaphum, Khao Ang Rue Nai in Chachoengsao, and Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Ratchasima province. The initiative was unveiled on the final day of a two-day meeting of 50 leading wild cat experts from around the world in Bangkok yesterday. Organised by Kasetsart University's forestry faculty, the Zoological Park Organisation, and the IUCN, the first-ever gathering of wild cat experts was aimed at developing an effective strategy to protect their populations and habitats in the region. Nine species of wild cats are found in Thailand. They are the marbled cat, the fishing cat, the leopard cat, the flat-headed cat, the jungle cat, the Asian golden cat, the clouded leopard, leopard, and the tiger. The IUCN recently listed the marbled cat and the flat-headed cat on its Red List, which means they are highly at risk of extinction. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Red-shirts warned

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2009 at 11:39 AM
Government figures yesterday warned red-shirt supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of strict legal action against any attempt to seize Government House. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he had instructed the police to take decisive action if red-shirt protesters broke the law. "If the police don't do anything about it, that will be regarded as wilful neglect of duty," he said. Suthep said he believed police would not allow the red shirts to break into the Government House compound as they had threatened and that the police would ask for reinforcements from the military if needed. "I did not order the police to use force, but rather instructed them to act in line with international standards" in dealing with similar cases, said Suthep, who is also secretary-general of the Democrat Party.
He suggested the government would not follow its immediate predecessors, which failed to take any legal action against the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) when that group took over Government House and remained there for more than three months. (Source: The Nation)


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Abhisit goes to Davos

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2009 at 12:01 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva left Bangkok early Friday for the 39th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
Mr. Abhisit said before his departure that the world community had a negative perception towards Thailand due to the country's internal political turmoil over the past two years, but he believed that participation in the forum would help Thailand to restore its image. "What I want to emphasise at the forum is that every country will not wall in one another," Mr. Abhisit said. "It is a good opportunity in which I will be able to tell (the world community) what developments have taken place in Thailand during the past month to make them understand that change that has happened in our country." The prime minister said he would also take this opportunity to rebuild confidence among foreign investors in the Thai economy. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Pro-Thaksin stations to be closed?

Posted by hasekamp on 29 January 2009 at 13:00 PM
PM's Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey yesterday instructed officials to consider taking legal action against five community radio stations allegedly violating laws, human rights' principles and being used as political tools to instigate unrest. Satit said he received many complaints so he decided to meet with the Public Relations Department's broadcasting sub-committee to consider action against at least five community radio stations in Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Udon Thani, plus the Taxi Lovers Club station in Bangkok. "If we let them continue to instigate unrest, the country will not be in peace. We must draw up moves to take action. There will not be discrimination [against rivals]," he said. Asked if the stations would be closed down, Satit said the sub-committee would decide what action to take within the relevant laws and rules. Satit dismissed fear that supporters of the radio stations would oppose such action. He said no one was above the law. He said local radio stations across the country would be restructured in April. But the plan to crack down on "rogue" community stations had nothing to do with a planned major rally by red-shirt protesters on Saturday. He said the government would under-take the restructuring without discrimination or political bias. (Source: The Nation)


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Thai economy shrinks

Posted by hasekamp on 29 January 2009 at 11:47 AM
Bad news for Thailand's economy. Thailand's manufacturing production index (MPI) in December shrank for the third consecutive month by 19.65 per cent, the highest in six years and 10 months, according to the Industrial Economics Office (IEO). However, IEO Director-General Arthit Vuthikaro said the MPI average continued to rise by 3.9 per cent this year from last year because the index still rose by 11.6, 9.4, and 5.8 per cent in the first, second, and third quarters last year, but shrank by 9.7 per cent in the fourth quarter. Key industries that contributed to the shortfall in growth include the production sectors for hard disk drives, electronic parts, and vehicles. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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UNHCR allowed to meet boat people

Posted by hasekamp on 29 January 2009 at 11:40 AM
The Thai government agrees in principle on Thursday to grant the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC)'s access to the group of 66 Rohingya boat people being detained in Ranong. UNHCR Representative Raymond Hall made the request during a meeting with Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Thursday. "The minister said he would give me a formal reply (to my request.) I'm confident it would be a positive. I believe the reply would be positive," Hall told reporters after the meeting.
The group of 66 was part of 78 Rohingya arrived in Ranong coast Monday. Police has tried them in the provincial court while the 12 boat people who arrived in weak and wounded physic were hospitalized.
In separate interview, Kasit said the Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc) would make decision on the request and set procedure for the UN access. (Source : The Nation)


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Their Majesties preside Mahidol Award Presentation

Posted by hasekamp on 28 January 2009 at 12:33 PM
Their Majesties the King and Queen will preside over the Prince Mahidol Award Presentation Ceremony on 28 January 2009 at 17.30 hours at the Chakri Throne Hall within the Grand Palace in Bangkok. On behalf of His Majesty the King, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will host a banquet in honor of the Prince Mahidol Awardees 2008 on the same day at Boromrajasathitmaholarn Throne Hall at 19.30 hours. Three doctors, Brazilian, Japanese, and Chinese, have been selected to receive the 2008 Prince Mahidol Award. The award will be conferred on them by His Majesty the King at the ceremony. They were selected from 49 candidates from 19 countries. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Senate sets up committee to protect monarchy

Posted by hasekamp on 28 January 2009 at 12:26 PM
The Senate has resolved to set up an extraordinary committee to strictly enforce laws to better protect the monarchy following an increasing number of websites found to be offensive to the royal institution. The Senate yesterday voted 90 to 17 to set up an extraordinary panel to follow up on the enforcement of laws and articles relating to the protection of the monarchy as proposed by appointed senator Khamnoon Sitthisamarn. The committee, to be headed by national police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan, will comprise 30 members - 19 senators and 11 outsiders. Currently, there are over 10,000 websites deemed offensive to the monarchy. The Information and Communication (ICT) Ministry has been able to block only 2,000 sites. The Justice Ministry will coordinate with the Foreign Ministry to launch a campaign among foreigners to educate them about lese majeste laws. Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said he would coordinate with the Foreign Ministry to instruct all Thai embassies abroad to launch public relations campaigns about lese majeste laws which impose harsh punishments on those who insult the Thai monarchy. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Police chiefs transferred

Posted by hasekamp on 28 January 2009 at 11:46 AM
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) transferred the previous and the current chiefs of Watthana district, where Santika pub situated, to inactive posts at the Office of the Permanent Secretary for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. The transfers of Watthana district chief Worapot Induluck and former Watthana district chief Surakiat Limcharoen, who serves as Pathumwan district chief, to the Office of the Permanent Secretary for the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will be effective Thursday. According to Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, Bangkok city clerk Pongsak Semsant has reported to him, saying that many flaws were found at the pub, where the deadly New Year inferno took place. The fire left 66 people dead and more than 200 injured. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Airport security to be improved

Posted by hasekamp on 28 January 2009 at 11:44 AM
The cabinet endorsed in principle the draft law to help maintain security at airports nationwide, senior airport official said. According to Suvarnabhumi airport deputy director Prateep Wichittoe, the bill will give authority to Airports of Thailand (AOT) officials to disperse mobs and arrest intruders, and they can impose more fines on wrongdoers up to 10,000 baht. At present, offenders can only be fined a maximum of 2,000 baht. However, the new regulation will not increase the authority of security guard firms that have the concession to run security at the airport, he said. The draft law will cover all airports supervised by the AOT and relevant units, including the Council of State. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Red shirts threaten to siege on Government House

Posted by hasekamp on 27 January 2009 at 12:17 PM
The red-shirt crowd on Tuesday filed two demands and threatened to lay siege on Government House by Saturday, coinciding with a mass rally at Sanam Luang. One of the two demands is that the government takes prompt legal action against leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy responsible for airports closure at Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi. The other demand is for the government to sack Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, seen as close to the PAD. Three red-shirt leaders, including Jaran Ditapichai, presented the demands via deputy secretary general to the prime minister Sutham Limsuwankul at Government House. (Source: The Nation)


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Thaksin says he will be assassinated

Posted by hasekamp on 27 January 2009 at 12:13 PM
National police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Tuesday expressed astonishment over ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra's claim that he is a target of assassination. Pol Gen Patcharawat said he has never heard of such reports, adding that police can ensure safety to Mr Thaksin if he returns to Thailand. He will be treated as a Thai citizen, he added. Meanwhile, Gen Prawit said the ousted premier and society are ultimately the ones to decide whether it was appropriate for him to make a phone-in and speak to his supporters. On Sunday, Mr Thaksin phoned-in to satellite TV DStation, saying that he had been denied justice and would not end his involvement in politics until he was returned money confiscated from him by the coup-installed Asset Scrutiny Committee. He also claimed that there had been an attempt on his life. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Singer charged for New Year fire

Posted by hasekamp on 27 January 2009 at 12:10 PM
The police on Tuesday completed the investigation into the Santika pub fire case and charged a lead singer from a rock band with negligence resulting in other people's deaths. Saravuth Ariya, lead singer of the band called Burn, is charged with negligence that caused deaths of people at upscale Santika nightclub that went on fire on Jan 1. Deputy police chief Jongrak Jutanont said that Burn music group\92s lead singer Saravuth Ariya, aged 28, was a prime suspect for causing the pub fire on New Year's Eve, which left 65 deaths and over 200 injuries. "Eyewitnesses and evidence points to fireworks as the cause of the fire at the pub because the fireworks were launched towards the ceiling and the fire broke out 30 seconds after the fireworks were lit," Pol Gen Jongrak said. "Saravuth was seen carrying fireworks into the pub and lighting them during the countdown," he added. Mr Saravuth denied all charges and wanted to give testimony in court. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Border talks with Cambodia

Posted by hasekamp on 26 January 2009 at 10:43 AM
Thailand and Cambodia this morning have "substantive" bilateral talks covering issues related to Thai-Cambodian border issues, trade and tourism cooperation. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told a press conference that both sides agreed to settle their mutual problems with peaceful means and in brotherly ways. "We have political will and commonalities to move forward for the well beings of both peoples," Kasit said. In the same press conference, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said that Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan will make an official visit to Cambodian early next month to discuss the border situation, which has been calm followed weeks of tensions in November 2008. Top on the agenda will be troop adjustments along the Thai-Cambodian border. A new round of discussion by Joint Border Commission to discuss the overlapping areas has been also scheduled for early next month. (Source: The Nation)


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Quiet Chinese New Year celebration

Posted by hasekamp on 26 January 2009 at 10:38 AM
Thai-Chinese descendants nationwide are worshiping the gods and praying to their ancestors in the lead-up to Chinese New Year today. But festivities are quieter than they were this time last year. In the southern province of Songkhla, many people made merit at the city pillar shrine and held a candlelight ceremony there last night. In Nakhon Sawan province, people presented offerings to different shrines. However, they are offering less this year, probably due to the economic crisis. In Chiang Mai, the atmosphere was quiet, with the number of Thai-Chinese visiting shrines down on last year. The atmosphere in Pattaya was also subdued, with fewer Thai-Chinese joining New Year festivities than in past years. Pattani province was busier, as more than 6,000 Thai-Chinese and tourists from Malaysia and Singapore flocked to pay respect to the Chao Mae Lim Kor Niew shrine. The atmosphere near the Thai-Cambodian border checkpoints in Chanthaburi province was also lively, as many Cambodian-Chinese entered Thailand to buy Chinese New Year offerings such as pork, poultry and fish. In Bangkok, Chinatown's gold shops are quieter this year even though the New Year is traditionally a time when gold sells well. The Tourism Authority of Thailand will hold the Chinese New Year Festival at Chinatown on Yaowarat road today and tomorrow. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside over the opening at 5pm. The event is expected to make 500 million baht. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PM will not resolve parliament

Posted by hasekamp on 26 January 2009 at 10:33 AM
Despite a call by opposition parties for him to dissolve the House of Representatives following last week's lack of quorum in the House, Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday his government accepted responsibility but would not dissolve the chamber. His remarks were made as senior members of political parties in the coalition government will meet Sunday evening and, according to Mr. Abhisit, the meeting will bring them to work closer and that he would ask his partners to attend the House meeting in full force, as the lack of a quorum had caused many to feel uncomfortable. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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UNHCR may visit Rohingya immigrants

Posted by hasekamp on 25 January 2009 at 10:32 AM
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Saturday he has no objection if United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representatives wish to meet Rohingya immigrants who are being detained for entering Thailand illegally. The UNHCR earlier asked Thailand's Foreign Affairs Ministry meet Rohingya boat people being detained in the Andaman Sea coastal region for illegal entry but, according to Mr. Abhisit, when he enquired of the ministry he was told that the UN agency had not made further contact to seek a meeting with the detained boat people. The prime minister said the government is prepared to allow the UN agency's officials to meet with the boat people so that it could gain a better understanding of the problem and help Thailand resolve the illegal migrants situation. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin still tries to interfere in Thai politics

Posted by hasekamp on 25 January 2009 at 10:28 AM
Former (ousted) prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra Sunday warned Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva against further returning the favor of the People's Alliance for Democracy and the military leaders by appointing them to key political positions. Making a call to a live talk programme on DTV satellite station, Thaksin said appointments of PAD and military leaders to key political positions would further erode foreign countries' confidence in Thailand. He said the International Community had lost confidence in Thailand after the political party with biggest number of House seats had to become the minority in the House of Representatives. He said his opponents also caused Thailand to be viewed by other Asean countries as the cause for Asean to suffer image problem in the International Community. He said his opponents caused the Asean summit to be postponed again and again and the charter written by his opponents prevented the government from signing any foreign treaty. (Source: The Nation)


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Arrested for child pornography

Posted by hasekamp on 25 January 2009 at 10:24 AM
Police have arrested a Ukrainian man wanted in the US for distributing pornography involving children as young as one year old. Maxsim Shynkarenko, 31, was caught yesterday at an up-scale rented house in tambon Chalong in Muang district. Phuket provincial police worked with tourist police in tracking down the suspect who fled the US in 2003 after the US District Court in New Jersey issued a warrant for his arrest. He was charged with distributing pornographic materials through the internet. The pictures captured under-aged victims as young as one year old being raped and sexually harassed. The suspect allegedly sold the pictures to more than 300 clients of various nationalities on the internet and made millions of dollars from the trade each year. Mr Shynkarenko also faces money laundering charges. If convicted, he may be jailed for life. US authorities alerted police after they heard the fugitive had gone into hiding in Thailand. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Rebounce for Nok Air

Posted by hasekamp on 24 January 2009 at 16:09 PM
Nok Airlines, the no-frills carrier that was on the verge of a financial crisis, has flown through the red into the black as drastic cost-cutting and operational streamlining have seemed to bear fruit. The airline, better known as Nok Air, has become profitable since October and earned 82 million baht in the final quarter of last year. A 30-million-baht profit registered this month continues the positive outlook. Such an early positive result surprised airline analysts. Most carriers around the world have been plunged into crisis by worsening global economic turmoil, which has sunk air travel demand and added to the earlier detrimental effect of spiking oil prices. Thailand's airlines suffered the additional frustration of the closure of Bangkok's two airports - Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang - between Nov 25 and Dec 2, 2008, by the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD). (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Help against cold weather needed

Posted by hasekamp on 24 January 2009 at 16:02 PM
The Interior Ministry is planning to ask for government's budget to help villagers suffering from the cold weather, Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul said Saturday. One million baht has been pulled out from emergency budget to buy blankets for villagers living in 19 northeastern provinces. But the blankets are not enough, he said, adding that 39 other provinces have requested government's assistance. (Source: Public Relations Department)



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Thailands wants to host Rohingya meeting

Posted by hasekamp on 24 January 2009 at 11:53 AM
Thailand has offered to host a meeting of working level officials from other countries in the region to tackle problems regarding the Rohingya boat people, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Permanent secretary Virasakdi Futrakul yesterday discussed the idea with ambassadors from Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. The ministry invited the ambassadors to meet after pressure on the government over the Navy's alleged human rights violations against the rohingya last month. The Navy stands accused of pushing some 1,000 boat people back out to sea and then abandoning them with almost no food or water. The government denies the allegation and regards the rohingya as illegal migrants who were being smuggled into the Kingdom by a human trafficking syndicate. (Source: The Nation)


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River collision in the fog

Posted by hasekamp on 24 January 2009 at 11:43 AM
Two cargo ships crashed in the middle of the Chao Phraya river on Saturday morning, as the capital was covered with thick fog. There were no reports of casualties, as crew jumped into the river and swam to shore after the crash. Two crew members sustained minor injuries. The fog caused some flights to change their landing destination to Don Mueang airport as the visibility was poor at Suvarnabhumi airport. Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department said thick fog would continue in the north, east and central regions in the next day or two. (Source: The Bangkok Post


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His Majesty congratulates Obama

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2009 at 18:44 PM
HM the King on Tuesday has sent a congratulation message to US President-elect Barrack Obama who is scheduled to attend an inauguration ceremony today.
"On the occassion of your assumption of the Office of the President of the United States of America, I am pleased to extend to your Excellency my sincere congratulations and best wishes for your success and happiness as well as for the greater progress and prosperity of the United States of America and her people," read the message.
HM the King expressed confidence that the close bonds of friendly relations and cooperation between our two countries and peoples will be further strengthened in the years to come. (Source: The Nation)


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THAI gets into problems

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2009 at 11:49 AM
Thai Airways International will need to devise a convincing and comprehensive long-term rehabilitation plan before it can expect help from the government, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said yesterday. The Finance Ministry's tough stance towards the national carrier comes as it struggles to deal with serious financial problems and is seeking a cash injection to shore up its liquidity. THAI's recent performance has been poor because of fuel hedging obligations and the closure of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports late last year. It badly needs backing from the Finance Ministry, which holds a 51% stake in the airline. Assistance could come in the form of a ministry guarantee on loans the airline is seeking from state and private financial institutions. The ministry is preparing up to 200 billion baht to lend to state enterprises that need to maintain liquidity. The plan is expected to be approved by the cabinet on Feb 3. A share of the money could be an option for the troubled airline. THAI said in a statement yesterday it needed 19 billion baht to resolve its liquidity problem this year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PM promises rights for boat people

Posted by hasekamp on 20 January 2009 at 11:45 AM
The prime minister yesterday met activists and gave assurances that Thai officials had not abused Muslim migrants from Burma and other countries. After meeting Mr Abhisit at Government House, Somchai Hom-laor, chairman of the NGO Coalition for the Protection of Human Rights, said the prime minister assured him state agencies did not use force to coerce the migrants, but had treated them in a humane manner. Mr Somchai quoted the prime minister as saying there was no policy to mistreat boat people and his government operated on humanitarian principles. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Seeing is believing

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2009 at 11:56 AM
Police will issue arrest warrants for leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) within the month for occupying Suvarnabhumi Airport, Deputy National Police Commissioner Gen Jongrak Juthanont said yesterday. More than 300 witnesses had been questioned and police had completed 70 per cent of their inquiries, he said. Police would issue arrest warrants for those involved. Whether leaders of the protest group would face arrest warrants or not would depend on evidence such as video clips and pictures from the media, Jongrak said. He said police faced no political interference and pressure in their investigation and would handle the case without discrimination or political bias. Parties that suffered losses or damage from the airport siege include the Airports Authority of Thailand, which has sought compensation for an alleged Bt18 billion in losses, plus Thai Airways International, which has sought Bt30 million in compensation for damages, he said. Police have already taken legal action against the nine PAD leaders for occupying Government House. Investigation files on the case were handed to public prosecutors for consider indicting the PAD leaders for inciting unrest, commit offenses with intent to change the government, break the law, racketeering. Police earlier dropped charges of treason against the PAD leaders following an Appeal Court order. (Source The Nation)


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Refugee treatment probed

Posted by hasekamp on 18 January 2009 at 11:53 AM
The Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it was investigating the pushing of Burmese boat people out to sea by the Thai military, which human rights advocates and survivors say contributed to the deaths of hundreds of men. The ministry said it was "investigating and verifying all the facts and surrounding circumstances". But it added that while protecting the country's sea borders from illegal activities, including illegal immigration, "we are committed to maintaining our traditional adherence to humanitarian principles and the protection of human rights". The United Nations refugee agency said it was concerned about the reports and urged the government to investigate. "We request the Thai government take all measures necessary to ensure that the lives of Rohingya are not at risk and they are treated in accordance with humanitarian standards," Kitty McKinsey, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said. Local human rights groups who have interviewed survivors, say Rohingya refugees from Burma were held on the remote Koh Sai Daeng off southern Thailand in December, forced back on boats with their hands bound and set adrift with little food and water. The promised investigation came as survivors and representatives of the Rohingyas, a Muslim minority, claimed yesterday that a further 200 refugees are missing and feared dead after being taken out to sea by Thai authorities and set adrift over the New Year. There are also fears for 46 Burmese refugee-seekers who were taken into custody by Thai authorities on Friday. A boat carrying the Rohingyas was intercepted off an island in southern Thailand. They were handed over to the local military authorities, according to a source in the area. Local villagers were discouraged from approaching them, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thailand denies inhuman treatment

Posted by hasekamp on 17 January 2009 at 12:01 PM
Thailand's Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Kamthorn Poomhiran on Saturday showed pictures reiterating that his subordinates did not commit any abuse against illegal immigrants belonging to ethnic minority Rohingyas from the Myanmar-Bangladesh border who had travelled to Thailand in search of work. Denying an earlier BBC report which charged that the Royal Thai Navy mishandled illegal immigrants by setting them adrift off the Thai coast on a boat with no engine and limited food and water supplies, Adm. Kamthorn said the report was not true, and that there was no need to set up an investigative committee. He said he had evidence showing that Thai navy had treated the illegal immigrants in a humanitarian manner and that the pictures which were shown by the foreign media were probably taken by tourists who did not understand the procedures of the authorities. Navy personnel had to order the refugees to lie down with their hands behind their heads to prevent them from attacking, the senior naval officer said. Photographs shown by the navy chief to the media showed that the asylum seekers were later given food and shelter before they were asked to leave the country. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Boat people sent to death?

Posted by hasekamp on 16 January 2009 at 12:48 PM
Thai soldiers are detaining illegal migrants from Bangladesh and Burma and forcing them back out to sea in boats without engines, survivors say. Survivors say their hands were tied and they were towed out to sea with little or no food or water. About 500 migrants are now recovering from acute dehydration in India's Andaman islands and the Indonesian province of Aceh. Thai officials were not available for comment. Thousands of poor Burmese and Bangladeshis try to reach south-east Asian nations in search of work. Survivors (rescued by the coast guard from India) said that the Thai authorities detained many of them in Koh Sai Daeng island. Other survivors said that about 400 migrants were put on a huge boat by soldiers. It was equipped with only two bags of rice and two drums of drinking water. Nearly all of those rescued have equally harrowing stories. Human rights activists have condemned Thailand's "inhuman and brutal response" to this new wave of illegal migration. (Source: BBC News)


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Redshirds launch tv station

Posted by hasekamp on 15 January 2009 at 16:29 PM
Core leaders of United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) launched its satellite-based television service, entitled Democracy Television or DTV, on Thursday. Executive of the dissolved Thai Rak Thai, Adisorn Piangket, has been appointed as executive president of the station. "The station is aimed at educating public on democracy," he said. The station is scheduled to go air via C band satellite on Monday. Key members of the defunct Thai Rak Thai including Veera Musikapong, Jatuporn Prompan Nattawut Saikua and ex-foreign minister Noppadon Pattama attended the launch. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Two dead due to cold weather

Posted by hasekamp on 14 January 2009 at 15:11 PM
With most parts of the North and Northeast being hit by severe cold temperatures, the chill weather claimed two lives on Wednesday. As the temperature fell to 0 degrees celsius in mountainous areas of the lower northern province of Phitsanulok, thousands of residents had to kindle fire to warm themselves. A 51-year-old man in Wang Thong district was pronounced dead as a result of the unusually cold conditions, while an 83-year-old man in Lopburi died after he kindled a fire to keep himself warm, but the fire spread quickly and burned his house. In Lampang province, it was reported an average of 5,000 local residents daily had visited hospitals with respiratory-related illnesses, due to the drop in temperature since last week. Meanwhile, at Chiang Mai\92s Doi Inthanon, Thailand\92s highest mountain, temperature dropped to minus 3 degrees Celsius, forming white frost on the ground and attracting a huge number of tourists to experience the cold weather. The Cold spell has also impacted animals. Monkeys in Lopburi province hugged one another to warm themselves up. Still, some of them lost appetite for their favorite food as it was too cold to make much movement. In Nan province, fish farmers were hard hit by the drop in temperature, as thousands of fish died in the freezing water. (Surce: Thai News Agency)


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Kasit remains in charge

Posted by hasekamp on 13 January 2009 at 17:48 PM
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban rejected anti-government group's demand for the government to dismiss Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya in exchange for the cancellation of its planned rally during the upcoming Asean summit. The United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) demanded Mr Kasit's ouster, saying that Mr Kasit was often seen on the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) stages. The UDD said his actions, carried out before he was appointed to the post in the Abhisit Vejjajiva government, show his support of the PAD's closure of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, which had undermined the economy and security in Thailand and around the region. The "red shirts" group has called Mr Kasit a terrorist because of his support for the airport sieges. "The government would not comply to this demand," Mr Suthep told reporters. "The reasons for his removal are not enough." Mr Suthep insisted that Mr Kasit is an ordinary diplomat, and is in a position to contribute greatly to the country as foreign minister. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Man confesses murder on tourist

Posted by hasekamp on 13 January 2009 at 17:44 PM
A suspect in murdering a German woman tourist on a tourist-oriented island in the province, famous for its full moon parties, confessed to committing the crime, according to a senior police officer. Pol. Lt-Gen. Santarn Chayanon, Commissioner of Provincial Police Region 8, on Monday announced the arrest of 29-year-old Tiwat Kasemchoke, a Thai male who confessed to killing the 45-year-old German victim on Phangan Island. Mr. Tiwat, a tattoo artist, admitted that he had strangled Ms. Anstril An Anssad Chavaner to death on Sunday. According to the suspect, his motive behind the murder was his fury after the victim, whom he said had a close relationship with Mr. Tiwat for over a year, often felt jealous when he talked to other female tourists. He said he regretted his wrongdoing and apologised to Phangan residents that his action tarnished the image of this tourist island. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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King receives WIPO award

Posted by hasekamp on 13 January 2009 at 17:41 PM
Thailand's thoughtful and inventive monarch has been singled out as the first recipient of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Global Leaders Award. Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Pollabutr said WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry will have an audience with His Majesty the King on Wednesday at which the monarch will be bestowed the award, which is WIPO's highest honour for world leaders in recognition of their outstanding creativity in relation to intellectual property for further development. His Majesty is the first recipient of this award. Mr. Alongkorn said the WIPO praised His Majesty's ability and reasoned that the Award was due to his dedication to his subjects and his inventions which improve the quality of life of Thais. His Majesty is a strong advocate of intellectual property, owning over 20 patents and 19 trademarks. His royally-initiated development projects including the creative application of artificial rainmaking techniques, Chaipattana Low Speed Surface Aerator, and "Aggravating the Soil" project, which was to improve swamp lands of stagnating water for maximum use in agriculture. Moreover, as a prolific artist, His Majesty's prominent works were copyrighted, including paintings, photos, and other literary works such as songs and novels. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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The end of Don Muang?

Posted by hasekamp on 10 January 2009 at 11:17 AM
Don Mueang's role as a commercial airport is likely to end as the Transport Ministry favours using only Suvarnabhumi under its single airport policy to foster Thailand as an aviation centre and tourism hub in Southeast Asia. Srisuk Chandrangsu, chairman of the panel on tourism and aviation promotion, said the new policy meant Don Mueang could cease operation serving regular commercial flights. He expected that Suvarnabhumi could become the only airport serving the capital as early as the next quarter or within this year at the latest. The policy still needs cabinet approval. The announcement reverses the policy pursued by previous governments. The government led by Gen Surayud Chulanont declared that Don Mueang would be opened to ease traffic and passenger congestion at Suvarnabhumi. Subsequent cabinets under primer ministers Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat agreed with the policy. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Don't throw eggs

Posted by hasekamp on 10 January 2009 at 11:06 AM
The throwing of eggs at other people is legally wrong, and the thrower can face punishment and be fined, deputy national police chief Jongrak Jutanont said Saturday. His statement came after two Democrat figures - former prime minister Chuan Leekpai and the prime minister's secretary-general Nipon Prompan - became targets of egg-throwing by members of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) this week. He then called on anti-government protesters to engage in peaceful, weapon-free rallies. Pol Gen Jongrak then said police do not neglect to proceed a case against the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on their closure of Bangkok's two airports, saying that investigators have questioned more than 200 witnesses already. The case has made 70% progress, he insisted, adding that there will be a meeting on this on Tuesday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bomb at Government House

Posted by hasekamp on 8 January 2009 at 12:23 PM
A bomb exploded at the Government House on Thursday, when Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was chairing a meeting. Police suspected that the small device was placed near the Thai Ku Fah building, which is located in the Government House compound, when the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) occupied the complex in August last year to oust the government led by the dissolved People Power party. The explosion happened in the afternoon, when Mr Abhisit was holding a national security meeting with defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, Army Chief Anupong Paojinda and National Police Chief Patcharawat Wongsuwan. It did not cause any injuries. According to police, the bomb went off when a worker was closing a manhole during security checks at the building in preparation for Children's Day celebration to be held there on Saturday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PAD ows the country 290 billion baht

Posted by hasekamp on 8 January 2009 at 12:19 PM
The closure of Bangkok's two airports by anti-government protesters could cost the economy up to 290 billion baht in lost income, according to a new study by the Bank of Thailand. The People's Alliance for Democracy blockaded Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports from Nov 25 to Dec 2, causing massive disruption to the country's tourism and trade sectors. The central bank report was based on a 10-day period from Nov 25 to Dec 4, as full air services did not resume officially until Dec 5. It said that tourism arrivals could drop by 3.4 million from late 2008 through the end of the year. Direct income losses for the hotel sector were estimated at 140 billion baht, based on 2007 data that tourists typically stay nine days and spend 4,100 baht per day, central bank economist Kasarin Tansuwannrat said in the report. If direct and indirect effects are combined, total losses from the airport closures could reach 290 billion baht.
Of the amount, 120 billion baht in losses are projected for service industries, 90 billion for the transport sector and 60 billion for industrial and other sectors. The estimate is around 3% of the country's GDP, based on 2009 prices. The central bank said in its report that tourism arrivals were projected to fall 3% in 2008 to 14 million and to decline 8.8% to 12.8 million in 2009. Tourist arrivals of 35,000 per day vanished for 10 days. The closures also hurt the image of Thai tourism worldwide, as media outlets beamed pictures of stranded tourists and anti-government protests across the world. The central bank report estimated the damage as worse than the 2003 Sars scare and the 2004 tsunami. The announcement of a state of emergency in Bangkok last year also hit tourism.
The tax payer has to pay for this and the PAD gets away with it. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Fire in shopping center

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2009 at 11:18 AM
One person was killed and 47 injured during a fire at Sua Pa Plaza. Rescuers took hours to rescue some 50 people from the Sua Pa Plaza building in Pomprab district. The body of Sanguan Saenkaew, 45, was found on the seventh floor after the blaze was put out. The fire broke out at 8:30 pm. The blaze, which caused thick smokes, quickly spread to other floors, causing panic among shoppers and residents of the building. Many of them rushed to the rooftop to wait for help. The building's 4th-6th floor are residential area of 50 rooms to each floor while the 7th to 9th floors provided sauna service. About 60 fire engines were deployed to fight the blaze, causing traffic congestion on the Sua Pa road. By 9:15 pm, fire fighters managed to control the blaze but could not put it out completely as thick smokes still filled inside the building. Initially, 19 people were rescued from the rooftop using a ladder of a fire engine. Fire fighters also went inside the building and rescued some 10 other people from the first to fourth floors. Later on, 30 more people fled to the rooftop and were rescued by a helicopter which landed on the roof of adjacent building. The stranded people were directed through a stairway to the adjacent building and were lifted to safety by the helicopter late at night. (Source: The Nation)


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Owner nightclub faces arrest

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2009 at 11:13 AM
Police officially summoned 13 directors of the Santika club, including major shareholder Visuk Setsawat who tearfully apologized for the New Year's Eve fire that killed 62 people. (According to the latest reports: 64). Police said on Sunday they will press charges against Mr Visuk, and possibly against other main shareholders of the Bangkok nightclub where more than 300 people were killed or injured when fire tore through the upscale venue. "I feel very sorry for what had happened. I want to apologize to victims' family members," he said during an interview on Channel 3. He met police detectives later. Pol Col Kajornsak Pansakorn, one of the senior investigators, said that Mr Visuk would be charged with carelessness resulting in death and admitting under-age people to the club, the AFP news agency reported. He said police will press the charges when the paperwork on the summons is wrapped up but added that the police investigation into the exact cause of the fire was ongoing. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Club safety now a political issue

Posted by hasekamp on 4 January 2009 at 15:02 PM
Front-runners in the race to be Bangkok governor have vowed to take lessons from Thursday's tragedy at the Santika pub and improve safety standards at entertainment venues, as the candidates enter the last leg of their election campaigns this week. They said they would do their best to prevent such a horrific fire happening again if they win the election next Sunday. Most agree that safety standards at city nightclubs are lacking, and some blame the city administration for the oversight. "I went to the premises early on Thursday morning and was told the building has never been equipped with a proper safety system ... no fire escape stairs, no sprinklers, no emergency lights or alarms," said Yuranunt Pamornmontri, candidate number 10 representing the Puea Thai party. After conducting his own inspection, he found no safety devices. Mr Yuranunt said he believed the Santika pub was not the only night entertainment venue lacking proper safety systems. "If I am elected as Bangkok governor, I will make sure the owners of buildings and business operators strictly follow safety and construction laws or they will have to face the music," said the former Bangkok MP. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Death toll fire rises

Posted by hasekamp on 4 January 2009 at 14:57 PM
Eighty-eight survivors of the New Year's Eve blaze at Santika Pub, including 19 foreigners, remained hospitalised yesterday, 26 of them in intensive care, according to a senior health official. Three more victims, two women and one man, have succumbed to severe burns at Bangkok General Hospital, raising to 62 the death toll from the tragic accident, Narenthorn Emergency Centre's secretary-general Dr Chatree Charoenchevakul said yesterday. Meanwhile the Rights and Liberties Protection Department (RLPD) yesterday promised to give the deceased victims' families about Bt80,000 per case in compensation and legal assistance if they wished to file lawsuits.
Thirteen victims of the Santika Pub fire have yet to be identified, prompting police to carry out DNA checks, Assistant Police CommissionerGeneral Pol Lt General Boonruang Pholphanit said yesterday. Five unidentified bodies are at Chulalongkorn Hospital and eight at the Police Hospital. The commander of Metropolitan Police Area 5, Pol Maj General Chokchai Deeprasertwit, said police had sent warrants for the interroga​tion of nightclub employees and that, if they did not show up after three warrants were sent, police could ask for arrest warrants. Police have not yet located Visuk Setsawad, a major shareholder in the Santika Club, he added. (Source: The Nation)


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New Year speech by His Majesty

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2009 at 15:34 PM
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej urged the Thai people to be attentive, think carefully and to practice prudence before taking any action so that genuine and sustainable benefits and happiness would happen to individuals and society as a whole. In his traditional televised New Year address on New Year's Eve, the King said Thais should think and act carefully and look at every angle of a situation - both pros and cons - with thoughtfulness. Right thinking and right actions will contribute to the success and happiness of each person and will bring peace and order to the nation as a whole, he said. His Majesty the King also extended his best New Year wishes to the people and expressed grateful appreciation to all those who were involved in arranging the royal cremation ceremony for his sister, Her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana, November 14 to 19. Saying that the ceremony was held with honor, the King then wished the people happiness and success in the coming year. Many people will remember the monarch sitting into the small hours of the morning following the cremation ceremonies and how he showed respect to all involved, especially to the musicians who played the last farewell to the princess. His Majesty also designed a New Year greeting card for his subjects. The card depicts His Majesty the King, in a light brown suit with blue necktie, sitting in a chair with Khun Tongdaeng, his favorite pet dog, sitting on his left and Khun Nai Daeng, the mother of Khun Tongdaeng, on his right. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Traffic death toll now 143

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2009 at 15:30 PM
The road accident death toll of the two first days of the seven dangerous New Year holidays stood at 143, the Road Safety Centre reported Thursday. On Wednesday alone, 87 people were killed and 960 injured on the road during the second of the seven dangerous New Year days. In all 882 traffic accidents were counted on December 31, said Anucha Mokkhaves, director general of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and secretary general of the center. As usual drunk driving was the main cause of accidents at 47 per cent, followed by speeding over the limit. Most accidents involved motorbikes and pickup trucks. (Source: The Nation)


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Dozens die in nightclub fire

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2009 at 15:25 PM
Fire broke out in a night club in Thong Lo during New Year's celebrations, and police said nearly 60 people were confirmed dead. The fire at the Santika Club in Soi Ekamai occurred shortly after the joyous midnight countdown, according to Pol Lt Gen Viboon Bangthamai, deputy metropolitan police commander. Police commander Pol Col Suphin Sapphuang said 59 people had been confirmed dead - 53 at the scene and six who succumbed later in hospital. Most of the fatality victims were Thai, but foreigners have been identified from Australia, the Netherlands, Nepal and Japan. The popular club consistently attracts a mixed crowd of Thais and visitors. At least 184 people were injured, according to emergency services at the scene, and had been rushed to 14 hospitals around Bangkok with various injuries including burns and smoke inhalation. Fireworks lit for the New Year celebration probably torched the facility’s curtain near the roof. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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