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Stay in Laguna Phuket for free

Posted by hasekamp on 28 February 2009 at 11:11 AM
Laguna Phuket is giving away 100,000 complimentary room nights at its six resort hotels for guests who book online in March. The “100,000 Smiles in Laguna Phuket” promotion is being run in co-operation with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), which will help to market the initiative. TAT Governor Phornsiri Manoharn and Laguna Phuket Managing Director Michael Ayling announced details of the giveaway at a press conference at TAT headquarters in Bangkok on Wednesday. The promotion represents a fightback for Laguna Phuket in the face of a tougher economic climate, coupled with a staff protest that caused widespread disruption to resort operations earlier this month. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Tourism is essential

Posted by hasekamp on 28 February 2009 at 11:04 AM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva believes tourism is the key to helping Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia get through the economic crisis, deputy government spokesman Puttipong Punnakan said on Saturday. He was speaking after Mr Abhisit met President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi of Malaysia for talks on the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth-Triangle (IMT-GT) on Saturday morning. They explored prospects for further cooperation and development in the IMT-GT subregion.
The three countries are conducting extensive research on Southern Seaboard Development Plan in order to attract more investors and bring sustainable development to the area. The leaders also discussed a road map for developing the subregion. The development will be group-based, like Thailand's Ranong and Phuket and Indonesia's Aceh province, Mr Puttipong said.
Mr Abhisit said the subregion must pay attention to global warming and the three countries must cooperate in increasing the competitiveness of food, agricutural and forest products, he added. One vital question remains: How to attract tourists under the current political situation. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Guidelines for the media

Posted by hasekamp on 25 February 2009 at 11:07 AM
The Government has formed a committee to study guidelines for reforming state media and to consider appropriate content for media channels under the supervision of the public sector. The Prime Minister’s Office issued an order on the formation of the committee on February 12, and the order was acknowledged by the Cabinet during its meeting on February 17. The committee is chaired by Associate Professor Varakorn Samakoses and comprises a group of academics and media practitioners, with Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Satit Wongnongtaey and Advisor to the Prime Minister Khunying Supatra Masdit as advisors. The order states that the media have an influence on public opinions and behavior at all levels. In particular, all households now have easy access to television broadcasting, which has a great effect on society as a whole. The committee is formed to promote the role of the media in response to the needs of the people. Another objective is to use media channels as tools to enhance the Government’s operations for greater efficiency in the public interest. The committee will also study a suitable form for television frequency management in the public sector and the management structures of state media organizations, namely the Government Public Relations Department (PRD) and MCOT Public Company Limited. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Beheaded man identified

Posted by hasekamp on 25 February 2009 at 10:53 AM
Thai police on Wednesday identified the foreigner whose head was found hanging from Rama VIII Bridge as Italian Maurizio Tosadori, 53. Deputy Police Chief Pol Gen Jongrak Jutanont said that guesthouse owner, Wimon Jaijong, contacted police and confirmed that the dead man was Tosadori. Also found was a letter written in English dated February 21, 2009, which read, "Thank you very much for everything. I'm sorry for the inconvenience." The letter was signed by Tasadori. "Mr Tasadori had stayed at Khun Wimon's guesthouse for more than two weeks without paying any rental fees. Recently, Wimon asked him to move out as she wanted the room for other guests. Maybe Mr Tasadori had no place to go and felt guilty, so he committed suicide. (Source: The Nation)


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Red shirt protest

Posted by hasekamp on 25 February 2009 at 10:48 AM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva went to work briefly at Government House on Wednesday as the ring of demonstrators camped outside the grounds vowed to continue their campaign to unseat his two-month-old government. Up to 10,000 supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra dressed in their trademark red shirts surrounded the Government House compound in Bangkok on Tuesday demanding fresh elections, with many sleeping outside overnight. Protest leaders have vowed to stay as long as they have to, piling pressure on the young government just days ahead of the key regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit, which has already been delayed. Police said about 2,000 protesters remained outside the heavily-fortified gates of Government House on Wednesday. Mr Abhisit evaded his foes and entered his offices early under the watch of hundreds of police and soldiers. The red-shirts have campaigned against the government since a court dissolved the pro-Thaksin former ruling party in December, paving the way for British-born Mr Abhisit, leader of the Democrat party, to take power in a parliamentary vote. As well as calling for the dissolution of parliament, they are demanding Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya resign because of his links to the anti-Thaksin group the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD). (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Foreign minister ready to quit if arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 23 February 2009 at 16:39 PM
Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Monday said he is ready to step down if an arrest warrant is issued for him, following the news that the police would issue arrest warrants for 21 key figures of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) over the occupation of Government House last year. Mr Kasit said he will resign from the ministerial post, if he is one of the 21 suspects. The minister also called on the red-clad United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters to take the country's benefits into consideration, if they decide to hold anti-government rallies during the 14th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit to be held in Cha-am starting Friday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)



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No bail for lese majeste suspect

Posted by hasekamp on 23 February 2009 at 16:37 PM
The Criminal Court has thrown out a bail request from Daranee Charnchoeng, better known as Da Torpedo, who is accused of insulting the monarchy. The request was Ms Darunee's third attempt at securing bail since she was charged with lese majeste in connection with a speech she made at a United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship rally at Sanam Luang on July 18 last year. Suthachai Yimprasert, of Chulalongkorn University, used his position as a C-8 official to seek bail for Ms Daranee. He also acted as her bail guarantor in previous attempts. Defence lawyer Prawet Prapanukul said his client was suffering from a severe dysfunction of her jaw which was affecting her daily life. She should be released to seek proper treatment. Mr Prawet submitted to the court a medical examination report issued by a doctor at the Corrections Hospital. However, the court Monday said it had reviewed the request and found no grounds to grant bail. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Arrest warrants for PAD leaders

Posted by hasekamp on 22 February 2009 at 11:41 AM
Police investigators will next week seek a court permission to issue arrest warrants for 21 key leaders and members of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) alleged to have been involved in the seizure of Government House last year, a top police officer said on Friday.
Deputy Metropolitan Police Chief Pol.Gen. Ekkarat Meepreecha said arrest warrants will be sought for the 21 suspects for allegedly intruding into Thailand's official seat of government. Police have also questioned 247 witnesses in connection with the blockade of Bangkok's Don Mueang airport late last year, he said, adding that the case will be concluded soon.
Meanwhile, Lt-Gen. Chalong Sonchai, Provincial Police Region 1 Commissioner, said progress has been made over the Suvarnabhumi Airport blockade investigation, with 150 witnesses having been questioned and the investigation about 80 per cent complete. The investigating team will conclude the case next month and arrest warrants would be sought for all those allegedly involved in the incident, Gen. Chalong said. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Card scam by Romanians

Posted by hasekamp on 21 February 2009 at 22:03 PM
Two Romanian tourists were arrested in Hua Hin yesterday using fake ATM cards to withdraw cash. A search of their hotel room found 140 fake cards. Christina Marinela Budau, 22, and Iuliana Hogas, 21, reportedly confessed to police that they had been hired for Bt450,000 each by a British friend to withdraw cash in Thailand on the cards and transfer it to the friend. The arrest resulted from a report by a card-theft suppression unit that female tourists had been using fake cards in Hua Hin since February 15. The Thai Commercial Bank was checking if all the cards had been used, and police initially charged them with possessing and using fake cards to the detriment of others. The women travelled from London to Thailand on February 14 and were scheduled to return on February 26, deputy inspector Colonel Ratthapong Kaewyod said. Police found they had been to Thailand in October, November and December, each time for one week or a fortnight, he said. Police suspect they may have stolen Bt30 million. It seems to be very uncommon for Romanians to look for an honest way to make money. (Source: The Nation)


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Harry Nicolaides free

Posted by hasekamp on 21 February 2009 at 10:30 AM
Australian author Harry Nicolaides is back on Australian soil - and thankful for it. Mr Nicolaides had a tearful reunion with his father, brother and partner at Melbourne Airport.
He had been deported from Thailand overnight after being released from jail, where he had been sentenced to three years behind bars for insulting the Thai monarchy.
Speaking to reporters he thanked the Australian people for their support and the media for helping to get him released. The 41-year-old walked free from prison yesterday after His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej issued a royal decree on Wednesday. He was arrested in late August and locked up in jail sice then. Bail was refused. He was sentenced to three years in jail in January 2009. (Source: Several media)


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Abhisit talks to the Bangkok Post

Posted by hasekamp on 19 February 2009 at 17:06 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is confident the Democrat-led administration will pass muster after its first year in office. In an exclusive interview with the Bangkok Post, Mr Abhisit said the coalition government, with its political reform agenda and economic stimulus packages, would sail through its first year. Economic stimulus measures including 2,000-baht handouts and 500-baht old-age pensions, which he described as "social welfare-oriented" rather than "populist", would ensure the country's GDP growth should be more than 0% by year's end, the prime minister said. On politics, Mr Abhisit said the government would push ahead with political reforms. Every stakeholder such as politicians, academics, and civil groups would have a say in the political reform process and any conditions which could trigger political confrontation, such as those last year, would be avoided. The prime minister said it was important that all sides respect the rules to prevent conflicts which held the country back last year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Disciplinary probe for yellow-red clash

Posted by hasekamp on 18 February 2009 at 14:24 PM
The police chief, the provincial governor and three senior officers from Udon Thani face a disciplinary probe after the National Anti-Corruption Commission said in a report on Wednesday that it suspected foul play in the clash between red and yellow shirts last July. The NACC has found cause to suspect serious violations involving provincial police chief Maj General Permsak Paradonsak, NACC member Klanarong Chantik said. Udon Thani Governor Supoj Laowansiri, his assistant Yuthana Wiriyakitti and Permsak's two deputies, Colonel Pattrawut Uamsasithorn and Colonel Boonlue Kobangyang, are the others suspected of committing disciplinary offenses, he said. The report indicated that the officers did not try their best to prevent violence from erupting between the two crowds. (Source: The Nation)


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Queen in good health

Posted by hasekamp on 17 February 2009 at 19:07 PM
Her Majesty the Queen has been discharged from Chulalongkorn Hospital after doctors confirmed her heartbeat has returned to normal, the Royal Household Bureau says. The Queen was admitted to the hospital on Sunday night after she developed an irregular heartbeat, the bureau said in a statement released on Monday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Nicolaides may get Royal pardon

Posted by hasekamp on 17 February 2009 at 19:00 PM
Australian writer Harry Nicolaides has been recommended for a royal pardon by Thai corrections officials to end his imprisonment for lese majeste, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported. Nicolaides was sentenced on January 19, 2009 by the Criminal Court for insulting the monarchy in a book he wrote. The Australian was arrested last August just as he was about to leave for Melbourne after a visit to Thailand, where he used to teach school. He remained in custody until the final hearing last month, when he was found guilty of lese-majeste laws. Corrections Department officials told the Australian Associated Press that a recommendation for Nicolaides to receive a Royal Pardon from His Majesty the King is underway, according to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Economic crisis, like everywhere else

Posted by hasekamp on 16 February 2009 at 14:31 PM
Auto sales in Thailand in 2009 are projected to drop 40 per cent due to the current economic slump, according to a top Toyota executive, and it will take between one to two years before they recover.
Toyota Motor Thailand vice-chairman Ninnart Chaithirapinyo said sales are expected to hit bottom during the third quarter this year. However, if the Thai government economic stimulus measures take effect as intended, automobile sales will decline by only about 24 per cent, with domestic sales being about 500,000 units and another 580,000 units being produced for export, meaning that auto production would return to a level of four years ago, he said. Toyota, ranked first in terms of sales volume in Thailand, estimates that its domestic sales this year would be 260,000 units and it could earn about Bt200 billion when combined with sales of spare parts. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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PM: Cabinet will discuss amnesty

Posted by hasekamp on 15 February 2009 at 15:50 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday that he would allow the Cabinet to discuss the opposition's idea of an amnesty law for all parties involved in post-coup political conflicts. "Coalition parties may discuss matters like this during Cabinet meetings. It's normal for the Cabinet to discuss matters to be debated in Parliament. I am pleased to allow such discussions," Abhisit said. He was responding to disagreement within his coalition government about a proposal by the opposition Pheu Thai Party for a national reconciliation bill. The bill, expected to be submitted by Pheu Thai MPs soon for House deliberation, would provide amnesty to people involved in political disputes since the September 2006 coup, which overthrew the Thaksin Shinawatra government.
Abhisit said yesterday that his government would not want to initiate any moves that could cause further rifts within society. He said he favored a process that would be widely acceptable and could lead to political reform. The prime minister said he had no concern that the issue would undermine unity and stability of his government. Meanwhile, the spokesman for Abhisit's Democrat Party yesterday voiced opposition to the proposed amnesty law for politicians facing legal problems in connection with the post-coup political conflicts. (Source: The Nation)


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Yellow against red

Posted by hasekamp on 15 February 2009 at 15:41 PM
The People's Alliance for Democracy will "invade" political strongholds of its opponents to stamp out the influence of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, its leaders say. Speaking to a PAD rally in Udon Thani yesterday, PAD key leader Sondhi Limthongkul said rallies would be held next in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, probably in May. The two provinces strongly support Thaksin. Udon Thani is a key political base of the PAD's rivals, the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship, and the Puea Thai party. The UDD held a rally of its own in the northeastern province yesterday, but neither side came to blows. About 2,000 police were deployed to prevent any further clashes between the PAD and UDD members. About 3,000 red-shirted UDD supporters held a peaceful demonstration of their own at the local airport, then moved on to the township of Udon Thani.
In Bangkok, the UDD said it would keep up its rally until the government agrees to its demands, including dissolving the House. UDD leader Jatuporn Prompan said the next demonstration could be held on Feb 24, starting at Sanam Luang and marching on to Government House. The last major demonstration by the UDD, on Jan 31, drew 20,000 demonstrators. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Ban lifted on herbs

Posted by hasekamp on 12 February 2009 at 19:06 PM
The Department of Agriculture chief Somchai Charnarongkul held a press conference Thursday to apologize public for causing confusion after the Industry Ministry listed 13 widely used herbal plants as hazardous substances. Mr Somchai insisted that the announcement on listing the plants as "hazardous substances type 1" under the 1992 Hazardous Substances Act was aimed at controlling the commercialization of the plants. Production of the plants for consumption in household or in local communities is not prohibited, he said. The objective of the announcement is to prevent farmers from being fooled into buying products manufactured from the herbal plants that are sub-standard, he added. He insisted that there is no motive behind the announcement, and that it is not meant to benefit any private or international companies. He also said that he has proposed the hazardous substances committee to amend the announcement. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Strategy for IP violations

Posted by hasekamp on 11 February 2009 at 12:03 PM
The Government has set clear strategies to deal effectively with intellectual property violations. The strategies are in line with the Government’s policy of promoting Thailand’s interaction with the global community in setting international standards, especially on intellectual property. They cover six areas, namely suppression of intellectual property infringement, legal matters, coordination between relevant agencies, campaigns to provide knowledge and better understanding among the people, education, and motivation for creativity. The National Committee on Intellectual Property Protection, chaired by the Prime Minister, held its first meeting recently to set the strategies, which would boost international confidence in Thailand and promote creativity and innovation among the Thai people. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Battle at MBK shopping center

Posted by hasekamp on 11 February 2009 at 11:58 AM
Some 100 vocational school students brawled during evening rush hour in front of Maboonkrong Shopping Complex in Bangkok's Pathumwan district, yesterday, scattering shocked shoppers. The fight broke out only days after a truce ceremony on January 28, when students from the two schools shook hands and exchanged flowers. Bystanders reported hearing gunshots as the door glass of the mall shattered during the battle between some 100 students, half from the Rachamangala University of Technology Tawan-Ok's Utaintawai Campus, half from the Pathumwan Institute of Technology. Police officers arrested three Uthentawai students and confiscated a .32 pistol and several knives. The fight reportedly broke out when a group of Pathumwan students scuffling with Uthentawai students near the Pathumwan Intersection called for reinforcements. At this point the outnumbered Uthentawai students retreated into their school. The shopping mall closed its doors for the safety of customers. (Source: Dailyxpress)


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Angela Jolie upsets Thai government

Posted by hasekamp on 11 February 2009 at 11:50 AM
The Foreign Ministry criticized US actress Angelina Jolie and the United Nations Refugee Agency for making comments about Rohingya immigrants, who are allegedly abused by the Thai authority. The statement by Virasakdi Futrakul, permanent secretary of the Foreign Ministry, came after Jolie, upon her visit to refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border last week, called on the Thai government to respect the rights of the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group from Burma. "Angelina was not focused on the Rohingya, but was visiting Burma refugee camps," Mr Virasakdi said. "It was a coincidence that the Rohingya was a hot news issue at the time, therefore we must warn UNHCR that they should not comment on this issue because they have no mandate on this issue." He said the government "will issue a reprimand letter to UNHCR, asking why it allowed Angelina Jolie to visit the refugee camps." Kitty McKinsey, UNHCR spokesperson, said Jolie's visit to the camps were arranged with the cooperation of the foreign ministry. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Tourism budget approved

Posted by hasekamp on 10 February 2009 at 12:00 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the cabinet meeting on Tuesday endorsed a one-billion-baht budget to be used for reviving and stimulating the tourism industry, as proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Bt250 million will be spent on improving Thailand's image and confidence, Bt350 million on tourism campaigns and Bt400 million on marketing campaigns, the spokesman said. The government also plans to boost tourism by reducing taxes and duty for entrepreneurs during this year. Details will be discussed by economic-related ministers on Wednesday. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) earlier projected that the number of foreign tourists visiting Thailand in 2009 would rise three per cent to 14.5 million persons. But tourist arrivals dropped sharply during the current peak season due to the Bangkok airports closure from late November to early December by anti-government protesters, political turbulence through the past year and the current global economic slump. The TAT has been working hard to attract tourists back to Thailand, once again voted the 'Best Value for Money' destination by British holidaymakers, according to a survey conducted by the UK postal service. (Sources: The Bangkok Post, Thai News Agency)


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Dengue fever war room

Posted by hasekamp on 9 February 2009 at 15:37 PM
The Public Health Ministry has set up a national war room to control the spread of dengue fever across the country after learning the situation will be far worse than last year. So far, 1,675 people have fallen victim to the fever this year, said the Minister, Witthaya Kaewparadai. The ministry's deputy permanent secretary, Dr Paijit Warachit will chair the war room. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's Health Department, the World Health Organisation, and a joint activity of the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention will take part, in order to monitor the spread of disease within Thailand and neighbouring countries. They will meet at least once a week to keep a close watch on any possible outbreak. (Source: The Nation)


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Amnesty for Thai Rak Thai?

Posted by hasekamp on 9 February 2009 at 15:27 PM
Former executive of the court-dissolved Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party and ex-deputy premier Suwat Liptapanlop on Monday said he supported the idea to grant amnesty to 111 former TRT executives, including himself, because he believed it can help solve problems in the country. Many politicians visited Mr Suwat's house on Monday morning to celebrate his 54th birthday. On this occasion, the veteran politician suggested that the government should promote a better understanding of political issues instead of making political arguments. According to Mr Suwat, he may consider entering the political arena again after the Constitution Court banned him and other former TRT executives from politics for five years in 2007. When asked about the bill aimed at granting amnesty to former executives of the disbanded parties, the former deputy prime minister said he agreed with the bill because many of the banned politicians have vast political and economic experiences, adding that the country still lacks professionals to solve the problems. On fugitive deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra's movement, Mr Suwat said it should not be a worrying issue and he also has the right to criticise the government. He also supported the political reform idea. He said many laws obstructed and weakened many political parties, and important figures became hesitant to work as party executives. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No-confidence motion to be xpected

Posted by hasekamp on 8 February 2009 at 12:28 PM
Thailand's Opposition Puea Thai Party plans to file a no-confidence motion against the coalition government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva-- probably in early March, according to Chalerm Yoobamrung, chief of the members of parliament under the party. Mr. Chalerm, public health minister in the previous government, said the timing and content of the censure motion would be filed against the coalition government, formed in late December, would be discussed by the Puea Thai Party this week. However, he said he believed the motion could be filed in early March and that some seven MPs from the opposition bloc would grill the government. He said that the upcoming no-confidence debate would be "unlike the previous ones as it will contain concrete information which could (lead to the) impeachment of the prime minister." "I'm ready to become prime minister if the (Puea Thai) party agrees at a meeting but I'm not prepared to become both opposition leader in the House of Representatives or Puea Thai leader," Mr. Chalerm said. (Source: The Nation)


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Troops remain at border

Posted by hasekamp on 7 February 2009 at 18:59 PM
Thailand denied on Saturday a statement by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen that it had agreed to a proposed troop withdrawal plan from disputed territory surrounding the Preah Vihear temple. Lt-Gen Wibulsak Neepal, commander of 2nd Army Region, said no agreement on troop pullout was reached in a Friday meeting between Mr Hun Sen and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan during the latter's visit to Phnom Penh. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen: "There is no agreement. The matter has been raised during the defence minister's self-introduction visit to Cambodia after assuming office,'' he said. He said that a troop withdrawal proposal would be developed by a working committee set up to handle border demarcation disputes and that he expected an outcome soon. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Buddhism Day

Posted by hasekamp on 6 February 2009 at 11:06 AM
A Buddhism week is being held nationwide from February 6 to 10 to mark Magha Puja Day, the first major Buddhist anniversary of the year, with a merit-making ceremony nationwide as a tribute to His Majesty the King. Magha Puja falls on the full-moon day of the third lunar month, coinciding with February 9 this year. It commemorates a great event that took place once during the Buddha’s lifetime. According to Buddhist scriptures, nine months after his enlightenment, the Buddha traveled to Rajgaha, a center of religious activities in India at that time, and stayed there for awhile. On the full-moon day of the third lunar month, a total of 1,250 monks from different places gathered to pay homage to the Buddha, each on his own initiative, without prior notification. All of them were enlightened monks, and they had been individually ordained by the Buddha himself. Such a unique gathering has never occurred anywhere else. On the evening of that day, the Buddha gave them the Ovadha Patimokha discourse, laying down the principles of his teachings. The principles can be condensed into three major guidelines: to do good, to abstain from bad, and to purify the mind. For Buddhists, to do good and to abstain from bad means, first of all, to follow the five precepts of refraining from destroying life, from taking what is not given, from immoral sexual behavior, from false speech, and from taking intoxicating drinks. (Source: Pubic Relations Department)


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UN ambassador urges Thailand to accept refugees

Posted by hasekamp on 6 February 2009 at 11:01 AM
UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie has urged Thailand to accept Muslim refugees fleeing neighbouring Burma. The actress's plea followed condemnation of the country for its treatment of the oppressed Rohingyas minority. The Thai military has admitted to taking hundreds of Rohingyas out to sea and cutting them adrift, although the country insists that they had adequate food and water. Jolie made the appeal while visiting refugee camps in the north of Thailand, where more than 110,000 members of the Christian Karen tribe have been given shelter. Jolie has visited countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan in her capacity as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations refugee agency. (Source: The Nation)


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PM: Everything is back to normal

Posted by hasekamp on 6 February 2009 at 10:57 AM
Visiting Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told leading Japanese investors on Friday that political stability has now returned to Thailand and they can be assured that cooperation under the existing economic partnership framework will be further strengthened. In an attempt to allay concerns over recent political events in Thailand, the prime minister told leading members of the Japanese business association Keidanren on the second day of his three-day working visit that normalcy has been restored to the kingdom after years of political turbulence that culminated in the country's two main airports being seized by demonstrators last year. Mr. Abhisit referred to the incident in which thousands of activists occupied Suvarnabhumi international airport and the smaller Don Mueang domestic airport for one week late last year in an attempt to bring down the then People Power Party-led government that was aligned with convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The prime minister said he regretted the damage done to the country by the airports' seizure, but assured his audience that his government would never permit any repetition of such an incident. We believe the PM is an optimist. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New site to protect HM the King

Posted by hasekamp on 5 February 2009 at 16:01 PM
The government in Thailand has set up a special website urging people to inform on anyone criticizing the monarchy. The new government in Thailand has made protecting the image of the monarchy one of its highest priorities. Internet users are being urged to show their loyalty to the king by contributing to a new website called http://www.protecttheking.net, which has been set up by a parliamentary committee. When we visited the site we could not discover an English language section.


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Taksin brings deputy PM to court

Posted by hasekamp on 5 February 2009 at 15:50 PM
A lawyer for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra on Thursday filed a case with police accusing Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban of defaming Thaksin by saying he would like to return as the "President of Thailand." Lawyer Wichit Plangsrisakul filed the defamation lawsuit at Dusit police station accusing Mr Suthep of slandering the ousted premier in a statement he gave on Tuesday. The lawyer said the statement damaged Thaksin's reputation and the ousted premier would like to prove his innocence and his loyalty to the monarchy. He said he will also file a civil lawsuit against Mr Suthep next week. Mr Suthep, meanwhile, admitted that he has said that Thaksin wants to become "the president of Thailand," but said his comment was made to protect the government. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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50,000 websites banned

Posted by hasekamp on 4 February 2009 at 17:30 PM
Police and government censors now block more than 50,000 websites which supposedly feature pornography, southern Thailand terrorism or articles attacking the high institution, an anti-censorship group claimed on Wednesday. Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) said it would offer help to anyone who wanted to install software to get around the blocking. FACT claimed that the ICT ministry now blocks 17,775 websites, which, "along with blocking by the Royal Thai Police, resulted in more than 50,000 websites blocked in Thailand." FACT said that the government plans its own national firewall at a cost of 100 million to 500 million baht - $2.9 to $14.6 million. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Police: Singer not a scapegoat

Posted by hasekamp on 4 February 2009 at 13:09 PM
Police have rejected claims that the lead singer of a band was made to be a scapegoat for the Santika Club fire tragedy, which killed 66 people on New Year's Eve. Deputy police chief Jongrak Juthanont denied yesterday that singer Saravuth Ariya from the band Burn had been unfairly blamed for the disaster. He said arrest warrants issued by a court for all suspects were based on evidence and witness accounts. Jongrak said last Friday he escorted the person who took a video clip before the fire to see the Justice Minister so the minister could ask questions and the witness confirmed that the singer lit a firework before the blaze took place. He said the truth should be determined by the Criminal Court if police witnesses and video footage was credible and convincing. He said police took action against five suspects and had gathered evidence carefully so there was no scapegoat. (Source: The Nation)


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What's in a name?

Posted by hasekamp on 4 February 2009 at 13:04 PM
Shakespeare seems to be unknown in Thailand: Negotiations between Thailand and Cambodia over Preah Vihear have stumbled over the spelling of the name of the famed ancient temple. A Thai official said yesterday officials of the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission were trying to find a way around the problem so border negotiations could proceed. Vasin Teeravechyan, who chairs the commission, said a solution acceptable to the two countries would be found. Thailand insists on using "the Temple of Phra Viharn-Preah Vihear" on documents used in the negotiations. Cambodian officials strongly object, saying Preah Vihear is internationally accepted. Mr Vasin, who is a retired Foreign Ministry official, said the name proposed by Thailand was very common in international negotiations on the issue. The meeting will be concluded today. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Singer not guilty of New Year fire?

Posted by hasekamp on 3 February 2009 at 11:19 AM
Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga yesterday showed the press video footage to prove that the Burn's lead singer, Saravuth Ariya, was a scapegoat. The 28-year-old was earlier charged of setting off fireworks on stage that set the santika Pub ablaze killing 66 partygoers. Pirapan told the press yesterday that his ministry's investigation team has found faults in the police reports and would therefore tell the Department of Special Investigation take it up as a special case on February 11. The minister said the findings would also be submitted to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva today. Reporters were yesterday shown security-camera footage within the club and images of forensics chief Porntip Rojanasunan conducting a test on the fireworks believed to have been used. The security-camera footage, which the ministry's panel reportedly obtained three days after the fire, contradicted witness testimonies that Saravuth had lit fireworks on stage. (Source: The Nation)


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Man arrested on porn charge

Posted by hasekamp on 3 February 2009 at 11:12 AM
Mostly it is the other way around: A Thai man was arrested in the United States yesterday on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography. After a five-week undercover investigation in Joplin, Missouri, conducted by the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Barry County Sheriff's Department and the Cassville Police Department, 36 year-old Sira Noitip was arrested at his Joplin residence. According to a Crime Scene Investigation blog, the police said that Sira was in the United States on a Tourist Visa and that officers with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICEA) have placed a detainment order on him. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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HM the King gives advice

Posted by hasekamp on 3 February 2009 at 11:08 AM
His Majesty the King on Monday granted a royal audience to Sumet Tantivejjakul, president of the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute, Ministry of Science and Technology, to report about the water resource status in Thailand in 2008 and the forecast situation in 2009, including the implementation progress of His Majesty’s the King water management initiatives throughout the country. On this occasion, His Majesty expressed concern about persistent water shortage faced by industries in Rayong province. The King suggested that water flowing from the mountains in Chanthaburi should be retained before it flows into the sea. This water can then be diverted to serve the needs in Rayong. About the expected rainfalls this year which may equal or exceed those of last year, His Majesty advised appropriate crop planting and a preventive method against possible flood should be planned. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Abhisit in Davos

Posted by hasekamp on 1 February 2009 at 11:53 AM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva raised His Majesty the King's sufficiency economy philosophy in his address on food security at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos yesterday. Mr Abhisit also called for cooperation from developing countries in opening up their food markets. He said food security is among the top priorities of the upcoming Asean summit between Feb 27 and March 1.
Member countries are looking forward to working out how to stock up on food, particularly rice. Before attending a seminar on growth via travel and tourism, Mr Abhisit told reporters about his recent meeting with the Thai ambassador for Europe. He asked the ambassador to tell European Union member countries that Thailand's politics had returned to normal. The European bloc was concerned about progress the government is making in quelling the southern unrest and human rights issues, the ambassador told him. Prime Minister's Office spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the premier also stressed the government's readiness to welcome holidaymakers. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Grand Sale will be back

Posted by hasekamp on 1 February 2009 at 9:53 AM
The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale will be dusted off to help rejuvenate tourism and boost the number of visitors following last year's siege of Bangkok's airports. Local tourism-related operators and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) agreed to launch the marketing campaign for three months from June to August to stimulate tourism, Akapol Pruksawan, TAT's deputy governor for tourism products said yesterday . Under the new marketing plan, the TAT would allocate up to 50 million baht to support the campaign, with tourism-related operators offering special discounts of 30-50% both to local and international visitors. The focus group of the programme is foreign tourists from Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The promotion would also be introduced at significant tourism trade events such as the World Travel Fair (WTF) in Shanghai between March 9-11, the International Tourismus Borse (ITB) between March 11-15 and the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2009 between May 5-8. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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