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Court orders red-shirts to leave Government House

Posted by hasekamp on 31 March 2009 at 17:34 PM
The Civil Court on Tuesday ordered red-shirted protesters away from the gates of Government House, leaving the possibility the government may ordered security forces to remove them. The order came quickly from the court after the Prime Minister's Office asked for an injunction ordering the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters not to block the gates to Government House and to allow ministers and civil servants to enter and go to work. PM's office deputy permanent secretary Jaturong Panyadilok and a lawyer filed the petition with the court on Tuesday. It named UDD core leaders Veera Musikhapong, Nattawut Saikua and Jatuporn Prompan. The court will consider whether to hold an urgent hearing on the case. The UDD leaders were expected to file a challenge to the request. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Police may not officially support red-shirts

Posted by hasekamp on 31 March 2009 at 17:28 PM
The Metropolitan Police will investigate and take possible disciplinary measures against police officers who publicly displayed their support for anti-government protesters, a senior officer said yesterday. Pol Maj-General Suporn Phansua, a Metropolitan Police spokesman, said yesterday that officers had the right to show their political preference when they were not in uniform and outside of working hours. "It's very improper for them to join [a political protest] in uniform," the spokesman said, adding that a police officer's duty is to keep law and order at a protest site and are required to stay neutral. Suporn said the Metropolitan Police Bureau would identify which officers took part in the protest while in uniform and would urge their supervisors to take disciplinary action against them. Many policemen recently participated in the protest outside Government House and queued up to receive red T-shirts, a symbol of the anti-government rally. Natthawut Saikua, a co-leader of the red-shirted protesters, said that as many as 1,000 shirts and 500 headbands had been distributed to police officers sympathizing with the movement. (Source: The Nation)


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Thailand also a victim of Chinese GhostNet

Posted by hasekamp on 30 March 2009 at 10:11 AM
Canadian intelligence experts have unearthed a huge computer-controlled espionage ring, based in China while targeting Thailand and 102 other countries, according to the Canadian institute and The New York Times. One target of the hackers in China was the Thai embassy in the Philippines, where at least one computer with classified information was infiltrated. Another victim the Asean secretariat, along with unspecified news organizations. The Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto reported that the computer-based electronic spying run out of China had infiltrated at least 1,295 computers and stolen documents from embassies, ministries and government offices in 103 countries, plus the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.
In addition to Thailand, hacked systems were discovered in embassies of India, South Korea, Indonesia, Romania, Cyprus, Malta, Taiwan, Portugal, Germany and Pakistan. Ministries of foreign affairs of Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Barbados and Bhutan appear to have been targeted. China explained that Beijing could not be involved because China "strictly forbids any cyber crime". The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PAD leaders hear charges

Posted by hasekamp on 30 March 2009 at 10:04 AM
All 21 leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) reported to hear the charges against them at the Royal Thai Police Sports Club at 9am on Monday. They are charged with conspiring with more than 10 people to cause social disturbance, obstructing the work of the authorities and detaining officials. The charges relate to the PAD's seizure of Government House on Oct 7 last year. Many yellow-shirt PAD supporters were present to show their support for the 21 core members and 300 police were assigned there to ensure they behaved themselves. There were reports another thousand of PAD supporters from eight northern provinces may enter Bangkok to cheer on their group's leaders, but they would try to avoid confronting the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Red-shirts isolate Government House

Posted by hasekamp on 30 March 2009 at 10:01 AM
Anti-government protesters declared Government House a 'no entry ' zone for state officials after police ordered them to end their demonstration around the government office complex on Monday.
Metropolitan police warned supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) that if they did not lift their blockade, police would move them out. The police announcement was made through a loud speaker system. It asked that they cooperate and leave the area around Government House. If they did not, the authorities would disperse them, at first with gentle measures. Unarmed police would initially use their shields to drive the demonstrators out. They would also take legal action against all protesters and rally organisers if they break the law. Political problems must be solved by political means, not violence, the police announcement said. (Was that told to the PAD too, last year?) Police warn demonstrators on the 5th day of their anti-government rally around Government House
The ultimatum only served to annoy the demonstrators, and between 100 to 300 protesters gathered at each gate to the Government House grounds. Two companies of police were later deployed near the Education Ministry's Office of Vocational Education, which is on the same block as Government House. In response a group of protesters occupied the area opposite them, to deny them a route to the rally.
The UDD then announced that civil servants were no longer free to enter Government House, but journalists were welcome to report news around the venue. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he would assess the situation before deciding if Tuesday's weekly cabinet meeting at Government House would go ahead. If the police signal that holding the cabinet meeting at Government House could potentially lead to violence, the government would seek ways to avoid it, said Mr Suthep, who is in charge of security affairs. It could be cancelled or moved to another venue. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is scheduled to fly out to attend the G20 summit in Europe at noon on Tuesday, did not attempt to enter Govenment House on Monday. He said he had no scheduled appoinments there. He also confirmed that the decision on the cabinet meeting rested with Mr Suthep. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Red-shirt protests become more personal

Posted by hasekamp on 28 March 2009 at 11:47 AM
The protest might be about ousting the government but evidence of continued social division, resentment and even disturbing hatred against ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra's political enemies could be observed at the red-shirt rally at Government House yesterday. The protesters, affiliated with the pro-Thaksin Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship, credited the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) for paving the way for the Abhisit Vejjajiva government's rise to power. Books condemning the PAD - with titles such as "Evil Deeds of the PAD" - are widely available. Common too are signs and posters attacking and ridiculing the PAD leaders. Leaflets containing a lengthy list of companies allegedly sponsoring the PAD during its 19-month marathon protest, which saw a military coup and the ouster of Thaksin Shinawatra and later the downfall of two premiers regarded as his proxies, were also being distributed. The list includes not just the names of companies but also those of musicians, actors and artists who have graced the PAD stage. (Source: The Nation)


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PM on lese majeste

Posted by hasekamp on 28 March 2009 at 11:42 AM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is concerned about lese majeste, especially on the internet, but believes the government must tread carefully in enforcing the law or it could cause more offences to be committed. In a Senate session yesterday, senators Anothai Ritthipanyawong and Khamnoon Sitthisamarn asked Mr Abhisit about his reaction to left-wing academic Giles Ungpakorn's recent statements in England. The senators suspected the academic's views amounted to lese majeste. In response, Mr Abhisit sought a closed-door session as the topic was sensitive. After the closed-door meeting that lasted over an hour, a source said Mr Abhisit admitted his government was concerned about lese majeste, especially that which involved comments posted on overseas websites. "The prime minister stressed legal action that was too public could allow ill-intentioned parties to increase their activities. Law enforcement alone is therefore not a solution," the source quoted him as saying. According to the source, Mr Abhisit pointed out that critics who expressed their academic views had to be separated from those who had ill intentions towards the monarchy. Therefore, the government would opt to ask for cooperation from the internet community rather than making arrests. The government recognises freedom of communication on the internet and that webmasters cannot screen out improper content around the clock. Mr Abhisit promised the government would ask the police why they had arrested people in charge of the Prachatai party's website when the alleged offense concerning Mr Giles had taken place two years ago. Arrests could ruin the government's attempts to seek cooperation from parties concerned, according to the source.
The PM also confirmed his government did not plan to have Article 112 of the Criminal Law amended. The article deals with lese majeste. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket former glory temporarily back

Posted by hasekamp on 26 March 2009 at 10:31 AM
Phuket Town’s former glory as a tin mining center is still reflected in the elegant Sino-Portuguese shophouses of Thalang Road, the main thoroughfare in Phuket’s Old Town. The TAT, Phuket City Municipality, the Thai Peranakan Association and the Old Phuket Town Club together held an event last week aimed at promoting Thalang Road as a cultural discovery route to celebrate Thai-Chinese culture on the island. The event, titled "Recounting the history of Thai-Chinese immigrants in Phuket", was opened by Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop at 4pm on Saturday. Many local people dressed in traditional Peranakan costumes for the ceremony, which took place at the Thalang-Thepkrasattri Intersection. The Old Town has long been central to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s efforts to attract tourists to Phuket City. The 36 member families of the Old Phuket Town Club opened their homes to the public for the day. Thalang Road itself was closed to traffic, giving the crowds easy access to the residences. The event finished with a party at the Thai Hua Museum on Krabi Road, attended by Gov Wichai and representatives of the organizations involved. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Red-shirt rally

Posted by hasekamp on 26 March 2009 at 10:21 AM
Red-shirt protesters left Sanam Luang about 1.30pm on Thursday, after a brief delay, and began marching to Government House, demanding the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Protest leaders earlier delayed the start, explaining they needed to wait for supporters who went to collect their 2,000-baht gift cheques from the government in the morning. Mr Abhisit was not at Government House. He attended a meeting of the House of Representatives. Bangkok police chief Worapong Chewpreecha believe there are about 15,000 red-shirt supporters in the rally, but the number may go up to as many as 25,000 later the day. Plain-clothes police have been assigned to monitor the rally to prevent a third party from creating unrest, he added. He believed the protest would be free of violence. Police had been instructed to take only soft measures against the the demonstrators and to avoid any clashes. The march began after red-shirt core leader Jatuporn Prompan postponed the planned noon protest march, amid claims the government was preventing supporters travelling to Bangkok. Mr Jatuporn said many supporters were probably spending the morning collecting their 2,000 baht gift cheques from the government and needed the extra time to gather at Sanam Luang. Mr. Veera insisted the group would continue protesting until Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva resigns, but affirmed that the protesters will not break into state offices or seize them. "Tonight at 7pm when the broadcast signal is ready, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will make a video-link phone-in at Government House," said Mr Veera. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban entered Government House in the morning as the red-shirts were gathering at Sanam Luang. Mr Abhisit said the government had no plans to enforce the Emergency Decree to deal with the the protesters. He believed the government could manage the situation and it would not escalate into violence. Security around the Government House has been tightened. About 10,000 police, soldiers and defence volunteers were guarding the site. The demands of the protesters include the removal of Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, the dissolution of the House and the prosecution of People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) core members who seized Bangkok's airports last year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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High security at Government House

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2009 at 17:19 PM
Some 3,300 policemen and 6,000 military personnel will be deployed at Bangkok's Government House, with the anti-government 'Red Shirt' protesters led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) planning a major rally this Thursday and Friday in a bid to oust Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Earlier on Tuesday, Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul warned provincial governors not to support people from their provinces in joining the UDD’s mass rally or they would be transferred to inactive posts. “If they fail to control the situation, it clearly shows they are inefficient in their job," said the interior minister. Mr. Chavarat added the instruction was not meant to put pressure on officials but they did have the duty to maintain law and order. However, core UDD leader Nattawut Saikuea said such a move would only lead to a larger number of supporters at the Bangkok rally. The group insisted no violence would occur except for egg throwing. The UDD leader did not say how long the protest at Government House would last. The protesters plan to gather at Sanam Luang on Thursday and then march to Government House on Friday to block Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and cabinet members from entering their offices. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Long jail sentence for ATM fraud

Posted by hasekamp on 23 March 2009 at 14:18 PM
Despite confessing to charges against him, a British man has been sentenced to 18 years and 9 months in prison for ATM fraud. Mark Hubert Veerasawmy, 45, received the sentence at Phuket Provincial Court several weeks ago, British Honorary Consul Martin Carpenter said. Mr Veerasawmy was arrested in February last year together with his son Sonny, 20. Phuket City Police arrested the pair after receiving a report that two men were acting suspiciously in front of the Kasikorn Bank branch on Chanacharoen Rd, near the Robinson department store. When the police came to investigate, they found them in possession of 15 withdrawal slips, 10,000 baht in cash and 35 fake ATM cards, Capt Supachai Petchkul of Phuket City Police said. When police searched the men’s hotel rooms they found more than 100,000 baht in bundles separated by rubber bands, Capt Supachai added. The son, still in Phuket Provincial Prison awaiting trial, denies the charges against him. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Lese majeste discussion

Posted by hasekamp on 22 March 2009 at 11:48 AM
Flattering the monarchy for political purposes could become a crime under a proposal discussed at a lese majeste forum yesterday. Interpretation and enforcement of Article 112 of the Criminal Code was a key issue during the first ever open discussion of the law. The forum was held amid public complaints that the law was now being treated as a political tool. According to Article 112, a person found guilty of lese majeste can be sentenced to between three and 15 years in prison. Nidhi Eowsriwong, an independent historian, said Thailand needed to clearly define the boundaries of the law so that it would not be exploited in the future. Tharit Pengdit, secretary-general of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and a representative of the Justice Ministry, said the ministry has worked out three solutions to discourage the exploitation of the law: increasing the penalties, improving its enforcement, and making its interpretation clear to prevent people from taking advantage of the law. The ministry would also propose a provisional law criminalizing those flattering the monarchy for their own political purposes, said Mr Tharit. Asst Prof Somchai Preechasilpakul from Chiangmai University proposed that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) should be the only one allowed to bring a criminal lawsuit against those suspected of committing lese majeste, not every Tom, Dick and Harry like at present. Tongthong Chandrangsu, a former deputy permanent secretary for justice, said the core issue was interpretation and enforcement. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Cabinet survives

Posted by hasekamp on 22 March 2009 at 11:45 AM
Mr Abhisit and his five cabinet ministers cruised through the censure debate with votes from coalition partners. The premier said he saw no reason why Mr Kasit could not proceed with his work after garnering the smallest margin of approval. "I do not think it is an issue here. I have been informed the minister would receive 234 supporting votes. And right now there is no plan for a reshuffle." The tally for Mr Abhisit was 246 for and 176 against. Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij and Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Phataraprasit had 246 votes for and 174 against. Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul received 246 votes for and 167 against. His deputy, Boonjong Wongtrairat, had 246 votes for to 168 against. Mr Kasit had 237 votes of approval and 184 against. Twelve MPs abstained and 13 did not vote.
Mr Kasit yesterday expressed satisfaction with the outcome, saying it was an affirmation even though he received the least number of supporting votes. He said he was not discouraged by the no-confidence debate and a pending mass rally by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship. Mr Kasit faced the heaviest attacks due to his involvement with the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy since assuming office in December. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Censure debate

Posted by hasekamp on 20 March 2009 at 12:11 PM
Voters in Thailand continued to see the censure of their government unfold live for a second day on public television across the nation on Friday, evidence in itself of the commitment of the sitting-government to participatory politics and relative access to information. The censure of Thailand’s Democrat-led coalition government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva gained energy and venom Friday as Opposition members of parliament leveled their verbal guns at Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, considered by some the most vulnerable of the ministers under assault. But Prime Minister Abhisit remained in good spirits and held that he had answered all the charges sufficiently, and that his government will weather the parliamentary pressure. Opposition MPs were aiming at Mr. Kasit in particular on Friday in the hope to bring down the Abhisit government in the censure debate’s vote on Saturday, but so far it seems unlikely that that will occur. Opposition MP Somkid Balthaisong called the foreign minister a very high profile figure who had caused Thailand to lose face internationally by his involvement in closing the capital’s showcase Suvannabhumi airport, action which made him unsuitable to hold any position in government. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Drug dealeers arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 20 March 2009 at 12:07 PM
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) officers have arrested three members of the late drug kingpin Khun Sa's network and seized more than 117 million baht of their assets, Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said on Friday. The three suspects were identified as Peerayuth Patsakon, who was arrested in Chiang Rai province, Charnnarong Muser, apprehended in Chiang Mai, and Vicharn Suthipan, who was caught in Bangkok. Mr Peerayuth had confessed to having sold a total of 750 kilogrammes of heroin and 'ice' methamphetamine in the last year, the justice minister said. The other two denied the charges. Mr Charnnarong, who is a relative of Khun Sa, was arrested in the US for smuggling heroin into the country and was only recently released, DSI deputy chief Dusadee Arayawut said. Pol Col Dusadee said the fathers of Mr Vicharn and Mr Charnnarong had been arrested on drug charges 19 years ago. The arrests, on Thursday, followed a request from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for the apprehension of the three men. The justice minister said the arrests were proof that violence and extra-judicial killing was not necessary in combating illegal drugs. Khun Sa was the legendary drug warlord of the Golden Triangle in the 1980s and 1990s. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Alcohol ban proposed

Posted by hasekamp on 18 March 2009 at 12:19 PM
Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai Wednesday approved the two options with regards to alcohol sales during Songkran, from April 12 to 14, before asking the National Committee for Alcohol Consumption Control to make a final decision. The two options, initiated by Deputy Public Health Minister Manit Nopamornbodi, are banning sale of alcohol everywhere during the entire period or banning sale of alcohol at stores but allowing restaurants, pubs and hotels with an Excise Department permit to serve booze from 6pm to midnight. The ministry came up with these two options after listening to all parties involved, including anti-alcohol groups, academics, manufacturers and business operators. The idea is to control the impact of drinking and saving lives rather than prohibiting it altogether. The ministry said it is not siding with manufacturers, traders or anti-alcohol groups. (Source: The Nation)


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New war on drugs

Posted by hasekamp on 18 March 2009 at 12:15 PM
It has been announced by the former government too, but now again by the present government: Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced a new war on drugs on Wednesday, saying it was essential to combat the growing levels of drug abuse and addiction, to cope with the rising number of drug addicts. Mr Abhisit said the six-month campaign will mainly target Bangkok and the southern region and will run from April 1 to Sep 30. "We must decisively crack down on drug abuse," the prime minister said after delivering a briefing on national security and narcotics suppression to high-ranking officials at Government House. "But we must be careful to implement this crackdown within the boundaries of the law, to ensure it does not lead to other problems," he added, an apparent reference to Thaksin's campaign in 2003. There was a need for urgency in tackling the drug problem, as the number of drug addicts in Thailand had risen from about 460,000 in 2003 to an estimated 655,000 last year. Tightening border security against the illegal trafficking of drugs would be a priority, he said. "None of these drugs are produced in our country, but come from neighboring countries. So we meed better measures to protect our country," the prime minister said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai shrimps go to Europe

Posted by hasekamp on 16 March 2009 at 15:04 PM
Thailand's commercial shrimp industry got a fresh start this year with Sureerath Farm's shipment of 40 tonnes of organic shrimp to Switzerland and Germany. The exports represent Thailand's first foray into the organic shrimp market, a fairly new product even for health-conscious European customers. The shipment also marked a new beginning for Thailand's shrimp industry, which has an environmentally dirty past. Sureerath Farm in Laem Sing district of Chanthaburi province, 220 kilometers east of Bangkok, is the first and still only Thai farm to receive certification from Naturland, an association of organic farmers in Germany, for meeting standards for raising shrimp and ensuring product quality. The certification paved the way for Sureerath to secure orders this year from Switzerland's Co-op retailer and Germany's Deutsche See, an organic sea food distributor. Sureerath Farm president Prayoon Hongrat is one of Thailand's pioneers of organic shrimp farming. (Source: The Nation)


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Taksin does not seek Royal pardon

Posted by hasekamp on 13 March 2009 at 16:42 PM
Ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra has not submitted three petitions asking for royal pardon as reported by the Japan Times newspaper and the Thai media, red-shirt co-leader Natthawut Saikua said on Friday. What Thaksin said in his interview with Japan Times was he submitted three reports about the political turmoil to His Majesty, Natthawut said. (Source: The Nation)


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National elephant day

Posted by hasekamp on 13 March 2009 at 16:30 PM
Although we did not read anything about it in the Thai papers today, last year 13 March was proclaimed as National Elephant Day by the Thai government. We hope there are some more people who remember this, because the elephant deserves to be honored in Thailand.
Or is the present government no longer interested in this special day?


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King home after medical check-up

Posted by hasekamp on 13 March 2009 at 16:22 PM
His Majesty the King left Siriraj Hospital early on Friday after spending a day there for a regular check-up, state-run Radio Thailand reported.
No details of the results of the medical examination were released. His Majesty left the hospital for Chitralada Palace at 3.30am. He was accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen and members of the royal family.
Despite the early hour, a large crowd was at the hospital grounds to wish their 81-year-old King well. He arrived at the hospital on Wednesday night and walked in with the help of a walking stick. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Tourists missing from diving trip

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2009 at 11:40 AM
Following the sinking of a boat last night that was carrying tourists returning to Phuket from a diving trip near the Similan islands, six foreign tourists and one Thai member of the boat’s crew are still missing. Police have issued a list of seven people who were on the boat but remain unaccounted for. According to the boat’s captain, Mr Chakri Leechuay, a vortex of “red wind” approached the boat at speed from the North (between land and the boat) and hit the boat on its port side at 11pm. The wind made the boat spin violently, eventually causing it to sink, he said. Mr Chakri said that weather conditions were calm before the incident. The vortex first appeared on the boat’s radar screen at a distance of three nautical miles but reached the boat just ten minutes later. The survivors were met by staff from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) who gave out blankets, water and food. The survivors told the Gazette that they had not eaten since the sinking the night before. The surviving tourists were questioned and photographed by the DDPM as they came ashore and will be questioned further at a later date. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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PM: Thaksin gets no amnesty

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2009 at 11:34 AM
The government has no policy to compromise with fugitive deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Following the news about Thaksin's plan to return to Thailand by this year's end together with the possibility that the government may grant amnesty to banned politicians, the prime minister insisted no negotiations took place between the government and the ex-premier, and everything will proceed in line with the law. He said the government would not grant amnesty to Thaksin since his cases were already resolved and they were corruption cases and not politically motivated. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Websites not to be closed, action against those responsible

Posted by hasekamp on 8 March 2009 at 11:30 AM
The government will try not to shut down websites with content deemed offensive to the monarchy but will take legal action against those responsible, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday. His comment came one day after the director of the non-profit web board at prachatai.com was charged with violating the Computer Crime Act. Abhisit said those in charge of the web board had a duty to make sure no lese-majeste comments were posted. "I am willing to listen if they have any doubts," the premier said. Asked by the media why those prosecuted seemed to be media critical of the government, Abhisit said he would look into the matter. "They can always file a complaint," he said.
Meanwhile media-reform campaigner Supinya Klangnarong said the raid and arrest of Chiranuch Premchaiporn of prachatai.com was wrong and was creating a climate of fear. Supinya, who is coordinator of the Thai Netizen Network, said police could have just put out a summons instead of raiding the office as they did on Friday afternoon, making it doubly difficult for the person charged to seek bail. (Source: The Nation)


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Year of investment

Posted by hasekamp on 8 March 2009 at 11:23 AM
In an attempt to cushion the impact of the global economic crisis and a rising unemployment problem in Thailand, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday that his government has designated 2009 as the ‘Year of Investment’. Speaking during his weekly TV address, Mr. Abhisit said the government will establish an investment service center at Government House to facilitate investors. The government will support investment, including in the ailing automotive industry, he said. Mr. Abhisit said he had met a number of foreign businessmen in Thailand who told him that they wished to invest more in the kingdom and that they are ready to help the country’s economy to recover. The government has prepared measures to reinforce the economy and is prepared amend existing measures in a transparent way which would not affect financial discipline. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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PAD wants to form political party

Posted by hasekamp on 6 March 2009 at 12:56 PM
The People's Alliance for Democracy is considering setting up a political party, but it will not include all five of its main leaders. PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila yesterday said the idea was to serve the PAD's supporters who questioned how serious the existing parties were in implementing political reforms. Even the Democrat party had limitations and was trapped in conventional politics, he said. Mr Suriyasai said the six-month demonstration by the PAD had brought society more benefits than many political parties. The activist conceded the plan might not go well if the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra group was unable to find a leader, executives and party members. PAD leader Pibhop Dhongchai said he would not be a part of the new party as he preferred to work with civic groups. Sondhi Limthongkul, another leader, also backed away from the idea, saying he wanted to run satellite-based ASTV broadcasting, Mr Pibhop said. The other leaders are Chamlong Srimuang, Somkiat Pongpaibul and Somsak Kosaisuk.
It is to be hoped that the PAD knows, by the time the party is a fact, what exactly they mean by "new politics". (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Lese majeste law may be revised

Posted by hasekamp on 6 March 2009 at 12:52 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has agreed to consider reforming tough laws protecting the revered monarchy following the launch of an international campaign. Critics of the lese majeste law, which criminalises any insult or defamation of the royal family, say it is being used for political ends amid a growing crackdown on alleged violators. More than 50 experts, including philosopher Noam Chomsky, have signed a campaign letter to be sent to the prime minister, but Mr Abhisit pre-empted them Friday by admitting to "problems" with the law's enforcement. "Initially we will look into how the law is being enforced because in the past there were problems with how it was being enforced," Mr Abhisit told reporters. "We will clarify the law. I have already discussed the issue and conveyed concern from all parties with the national police chief," he said.
The lese majeste law in Thailand bans criticism of His Majesty the King or any members of the royal family, and is punishable by up to 15 years in jail, with a minimum of 3 years. The campaign letter calls for the release of individuals jailed under lese majeste laws, a reform of the law and an end to "suppressive measures against individuals, web sites, and the peaceful expressions of ideas". Mr Abhisit said any reform of the law, however, would be based on Thai principles and not bowing to foreign pressure. "Any amendment will be based on clear reason because the law exists based on our history, culture and firm social structure. It is not for foreigners but for fairness," he said, adding that current cases would proceed under the existing law.
Officials say more than 4,800 web pages have been blocked since March last year because they contain content deemed insulting to the monarchy, and that at least 17 lese majeste cases are currently under way. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Budget airlins stay at Don Muang

Posted by hasekamp on 4 March 2009 at 15:55 PM
Two Thai budget carriers -- Nok Airlines and One-Two-Go Airlines -- can continue to use the old Don Mueang Airport as their bases even though the Transport Ministry is inclined to use Suvarnabhumi Airport to serve all scheduled flights. Serirat Prasutanond, acting president of Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), confirmed that both Nok and One-Two-Go are not required to move out of the 94-year-old airport to Bangkok's main airport under the ministry's "single airport" policy. "They certainly can stay [at Don Mueang]. We have never said we would close Don Mueang," he said, adding that AoT's policy for Don Mueang to serve scheduled non-connecting domestic services, charter and private flights has remained unchanged. Earlier, a committee led by the Transport Ministry's former permanent secretary, Srisuk Chandrangsu, suggested that Don Mueang stop serving regular commercial flights. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Extended ASEAN summit in April

Posted by hasekamp on 3 March 2009 at 13:24 PM
Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Tuesday that the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and three other Asian countries -- China, Japan and South Korea -- will hold a three-day summit in the southern Thai tourist destination of Phuket next month. Mr. Abhisit said the summit will be held from April 10-12. Finance ministers from ASEAN and the three northeast Asian economic powerhouses met in Phuket two weeks ago when they agreed to increase the official contingency reserves pool aimed at helping member economies facing financial trouble to US$120 billion from the $80 billion agreed earlier. Dates on holding the ASEAN+3 summit will not be changed as they coincide with the long holidays celebrating Thailand’s Songkran or traditional New Year festival which takes place from April 13-15, the prime minister said. The leaders of both ASEAN and the Plus-Three countries will attend the April meeting in Phuket, Mr. Abhisit said, after having just concluded their summit in Thai seaside resort of Cha-am on Sunday. Mr. Abhisit said the ASEAN+6 -- the 13 plus India, Australia and New Zealand – will meet in Bangkok in October. ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Favoring the PAD?

Posted by hasekamp on 3 March 2009 at 13:19 PM
Prime Minister's Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey denied having pressured the Secretariat of the Prime Minister to withdraw a lawsuit against People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders for encroaching the Government House. He insisted that the government does not favor the PAD, but the litigation is no longer necessary because the PAD had ended its protests. On August 27 last year, authorities filed an eviction lawsuit asking the Criminal Court to penalize PAD leaders and have the crowds move out of the government property. It had initially ruled to grant an injunction for the eviction of the protesters, but the injunction was suspended during the enforcement of the temporary court order after violence erupted. "But the lawsuits demanding the group to pay in compensation for the damage caused to the premises remain," Mr Satit told reporters Tuesday. He, however, said the government has not investigated the number of lawsuits related to the damages of the government properties because they are the matters involving the previous government. Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary of the Office of Permanent Secretary Natee Premrasmee vowed that his office will proceed on the civil lawsuit seeking 18 million baht from the PAD in compensation for the damage caused to its premises and for the loss of office and personal property during the group's occupation of the Government House compound. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PAD wants to postpone hearings

Posted by hasekamp on 2 March 2009 at 12:29 PM
A lawyer representing 21 key members and activists of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) sought the postponement of the hearing with police Monday. The 19 men and two women were charged of illegal assembly, inciting unrest and unlawful detention related to the siege of Parliament on October 7 violence. The defendants can postpone reporting to the police twice and police will issue arrest warrants after that if they fail to appear, Gen. Amnuay said. Nitithorn Lamlua, lawyer for the activists, told police that the 21 will appear altogether on March 30. They reasoned that the summons issued by police asking them to report between March 2-5 was not possible as some have other engagements, while others have not yet received a summons. They will later send a written statement detailing their reasons for the postponement to police.
Meanwhile, Suriyasai Katasila, one of the 21 facing charges, said all of them agreed to seek postponement to have more time for preparing evidence to fight the charges. (Source: The Nation)


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PM: Thailand stable again

Posted by hasekamp on 1 March 2009 at 23:27 PM
Thailand has clearly demonstrated its return to political stability by successfully hosting an international summit, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Sunday. Leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) now had restored confidence in Thailand, and he had been able to discuss problems with them in bilateral meetings. This included talks on the border conflict with Cambodia and conferring with Malaysia on the unrest in the southernmost border provinces. "On the Rohingya problem, from now on no country can refuse to take responsibility for the issue because it will be solved at the root cause," he said. The 14th Asean summit had provided the "chance to soften tensions on some issues in which we were being accused", Mr Abhisit said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Call for free press

Posted by hasekamp on 1 March 2009 at 12:12 PM
A group of Asean parliamentarians yesterday formed a caucus on rights and free expression calling on Asean leaders to uphold press freedom. Members of parliament from Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand signed a declaration forming the caucus. They were Kraisak Choonhavan and Buranaj Smutharaks from Thailand, Yim Sovann from Cambodia, Djoko Susilo from Indonesia and Francis Pangilinan and Teodoro Casino from the Philippines. "We believe that the dream of a true Asean community and the formation of an Asean Human Rights Body must recognise free expression, press freedom and people's access to information as essential to human rights," they said in the declaration. "We also urge our national and regional leaders to uphold the rights of the people of Asean, in particular their rights to inquire, express and participate on matters that affect their lives and societies." (Source: The Nation)


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