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Thaksin is the problem

Posted by hasekamp on 27 November 2009 at 11:44 AM
As long as former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is still Cambodia's adviser the dispute between Thailand and Phnom Penh will continue to exist, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said on Friday. Mr Kasit was responding to questions about the diplomatic row could be settled. "Thaksin is the problem," he said. He insisted that the Foreign Ministry would not initiate talks with Cambodia, as former foreign minister Surahiart Sthirathai has suggested, or ask it to strip Thaksin of his advisory posts. "What should be done has been done," Mr Kasit said. As a Thai citizen, Mr Surakiart was entitled to voice his opinion, and the government welcomed suggestions, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Red-shirts rally postponed

Posted by hasekamp on 25 November 2009 at 14:24 PM
Thailand's anti-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) on Wednesday announced the postponement of the group's major rally this weekend indefinitely, after the government invoked a far-reaching security law to maintain order, saying it will convene again to discuss the group's movements in mid-December. The so-called Red Shirt activists earlier announced that they would stage a major protest in Bangkok to oust the Abhisit Vejjajiva government starting from this Saturday through December 2. The government on Tuesday resolved to invoke the Internal Security Act (ISA) to maintain law and order from November 28 to December 14 across the capital during the UDD protest as the anti-government group also planned to march to many important spots around the capital. The government also reasoned that the ISA will help prevent the occurrence of any untoward incident as there would be large crowds during the protest at the UDD’s main rally site which will be used for rehearsals of the annual Trooping of the Colours of the Royal Guard and preparations for activities to mark the birthday of His Majesty. Key UDD leader Veera Musikapong said on Wednesday after the group's meeting that the UDD decided to postpone its rally indefinitely due to the ISA enforcement, but he said the protest leaders will convene again to discuss its stance and movement in mid-December. "The announcement of ISA enforcement during the celebrations of the king's birthday is inappropriate and will make foreigners doubtful as well as have negative impact in many aspects," Mr Veera said. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Samak passes away

Posted by hasekamp on 24 November 2009 at 16:55 PM
Former prime minister Samak Sundaravej died of liver cancer at 8.48am on Tuesday at Bamrungrad Hospital, his younger brother Sumitr said. Samak, 74, was the country’s 25th prime minister. As the leader of the since-disbanded People Power Party, he filled the positions of prime minister and defence minister from Jan 29, 2008 to Sept 9, 2008. He was disqualified from the prime ministership when the Constitution Court found he breached the constitution by being an employee of a private firm while in office. Mr Samak was the popular host of a popular, politically oriented TV cooking programme Chim Pai, Bon Pai (Tasting While Grumbling) which many people thought was the epitome of the man himself. Although the constitution allowed him to regain the prime minister's job if MPs voted him back into office, he instead chose to resign from the leadership of the People Power Party. An independent and colourful character, the veteran politician was a former governor of Bangkok and founder of the Prachakorn Thai Party. He also held the offices of minister of the interior, minister of transport and deputy agriculture and cooperatives minister. Samak sought treatment for liver cancer in November 2008 in Los Angeles and returned to Bangkok on January this year but made no public appearances from then on. Samak was admitted to the intensive care unit of Bumrungrad Hospital on Monday. His relatives said he was was fully conscious and was able to talk with them. Doctors said his health deteriorated rapidly and he died this morning. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Low temperatures in the North

Posted by hasekamp on 22 November 2009 at 14:19 PM
Two persons died of apparent exposure to cold over the weekend as temperatures in Thailand dropped to as low as 15 degrees Celsius in the upper part of the country. Pramuk Tipracha, 43, is the second cold-related death in the northeastern province of Kalasin. He presumably died of heart failure as he slept in a hut without a blanket to guard unmilled rice. The other death was a watchman, age 80, in the eastern province of Chantaburi, hired to guard an orchard. His body was found in the orchard and local officials believe he had been dead for three days. In the northeastern province of Roi Et, local residents gathered around a bonfire to keep warm as they lacked winter clothes.
The meteorological department said the temperature in the North, Northeast and the East will further drop by one to two degrees Celsius, influenced by the intense high pressure system covering the upper part of the country. Meanwhile, tourists flock to popular destinations on mountain tops in national parks in northern provinces to view a seeming sea of fog, sunrise and flowbloom flowers. Accommodations provided by national parks have been fully booked until January. Temperatures on mountain tops stay around eight to 10 degrees Celsius. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Red-shirt leader to be arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 22 November 2009 at 14:13 PM
Police will ask the court to approve an arrest warrant for red-shirt core member Petchawat Wattanapongsirikul after he made a threatening comment to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leader Petchawat earlier said on a community radio station that Mr Abhisit could be killed in a car bomb attack during his visit to Chiang Mai to attend the provincial chamber of commerce meeting on Nov 29.
The anti-government group later defended Mr Petchawat, saying he was only joking and there was no assassination plan against the premier. The police will submit the evidence to the provincial court to seek an arrest warrant for Mr Petchawat on Monday, Chiang Mai deputy governor Phairoj Sangphuwong said on Sunday. "This is a state criminal case that does not require a prosecutor, as officials can file charges against the guilty party," Mr Phairoj said. "However it would be difficult to shut down the community radio station since the province has no authority and there are no clear regulations on this." Mr Petchawat has more than 10 pending cases against him, the deputy governor said. During Mr Abhisit's visit to Chiang Mai next weekend, officials from all districts of Chiang Mai and the Interior Ministry had asked people not to join the red-shirt rally following the news on potential violence. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Hom Mali rice not unique for Thailand!

Posted by hasekamp on 22 November 2009 at 14:09 PM
The gene primarily responsible for the aroma of Hom Mali rice is not unique to Thailand and is found across Asia, according to the world's leading rice research body. Following the recent local outcry over the US-developed Jazzmen rice strain, scientists from the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute analysed 318 varieties of aromatic rice to "clear up confusion" about the origin of the aroma gene found in Thai jasmine rice. All varieties were from the International Rice Genebank, including 16 types of Thai jasmine rice. "Ninety-five per cent of the aromatic rice analysed shared the same version of the major gene for fragrance found in Thai jasmine rice," said Melissa Fitzgerald, grain quality researcher at IRRI. "Our research also suggests that the aroma gene did not originate in Thai jasmine rice."
Traditional varieties of aromatic rice from 17 Asian and Southeast Asian countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam - have the same gene that contributes to their aromatic qualities, Ms Fitzgerald said. Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Theera Wongsamut said last month DNA tests conducted on Jazzman to see if it violated the Hom Mali patent showed it was developed from an "inferior" Chinese strain. Head of the International Rice Genebank, Ruaraidh Sackville-Hamilton, said any organisation can legally obtain aromatic rice for breeding as long as it followed conditions on sharing laid out in an international treaty. However, Dr Sackville-Hamilton also added the much-prized fragrant Hom Mali rice was due to more than just genetics. "The unique aroma of Thai jasmine rice is a result of a combination of the presence of the version of the major gene for fragrance, other minor genes, and the climatic and soil conditions in Thailand where Thai Jasmine rice is grown," said Dr Sackville-Hamilton. "Duplicating exactly this combination of genetic characteristics and growing conditions would be difficult, assuring a place for Thailand's distinctive Jasmine rice in the market." (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Unemployment dropping

Posted by hasekamp on 21 November 2009 at 18:55 PM
Reflecting the current sluggish economy in Thailand, the unemployment rate in September dropped to 1.2 per cent with signs that it will dwindle further to 1.1 per cent in November, according to an announcement released by Labour Ministry’s Employment Department. The announcement said more than 280,000 persons were unemployed during the first ten months this year. It said the number of unemployed who had registered and sought government assistance had also fallen sharply after soaring to a record high in February at 101,939 following the economic slowdown last October to only 47,836 persons in September. Meanwhile, the National Statistics Office (NSO) said the number of employed in September this year rose by about 610,000 compared to the same period of last year, or an increase of 1.6 per cent. The NSO said jobless people at end-September stood at 460,000, up approximately 30,000 year-on-year and an increase of about 10,000 from August. According to NSO, unemployment in the Northeast topped the list with about 130,000 persons followed by the Central 120,000; 90,000 in the North, 70,000 in the South and 50,000 in the capital of Bangkok. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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40,000 protesters predicted

Posted by hasekamp on 21 November 2009 at 18:51 PM
A local red-shirt leader in Chiang Mai Saturday vowed to rally up to 40,000 protesters from eight northern provinces to protest against the prime minister next Sunday. Kanya Phakmaneechak, a leader of the Rak Chiang Mai 51, said the red-shirt people would not allow Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to visit Chiang Mai to attend the Chamber of Commerce meeting next Sunday. She said the protesters would fire 100,000 firecrackers to unwelcome the prime minister. (Source: The Nation)


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PM to Chiang Mai despite threats

Posted by hasekamp on 20 November 2009 at 12:57 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has reaffirmed his intention to visit Chiang Mai on Nov 29 to attend the Thai Chamber of Commerce meeting, despite threats made to his safety. The confirmation came after a community radio station reportedly claimed that a bomb would take the life of the prime minister during his visit to the northern province, which is hometown of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Mr Abhisit is due to address members of the Thai Chambers of Commerce on the economy and has said previously the issues are too important to cancel the meeting. He insisted on Friday there would be no change of plans. He believed local security officials could keep the situation under control. Asked if he was intimidated by the threat, Mr Abhisit replied that he had no right to be frightened. It was his duty to attend the meeting. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding in Patong

Posted by hasekamp on 18 November 2009 at 15:59 PM
Pedestrians and motorists were struggling through meter-deep floodwater on Nanai Road this evening following heavy rains earlier today. Local residents fed up with the flooding, which they claim has become worse over the past few months, have nicknamed the 50-meter stretch of road ‘Nanai River’. Several local residents predicted severe flooding in the rainy season. At that time, residents’ concerns were met with assurances from Patong Municipality that the problem would be solved within three to four months. Almost seven months later, residents say the flooding is worse than ever, blaming poorly-managed construction projects, inadequate drainage in the area and lack of action from the authorities. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Fourth suspects for spreading rumours arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 18 November 2009 at 15:55 PM
Police on Wednesday arrested a 42-year-old female doctor for allegedly spreading rumours about HM the King's health which resulted in a slump in Thai stock market in October. Dr Thatsaporn Rattanawongsa became the fourth suspect arrested for the charge. Police raided Thon Buri Hospital and arrested Dr Thatsaporn as she was waiting to start her shift in the hospital. Police then accompanied her to her residence in Sapan Kwai area to search for more evidence. Police claimed that the doctor joined three other suspects who were arrested earlier in spreading the false information about HM the King's health. The three suspects were Theeranun Wipuchanin, a former executive of a securities company, a Bangkok-based stock broker of KT-Zmico Securities Katha Pajariyapong and Somjaet Itthiworakun of Chon Buri province. They were charged for allegedly violating Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Offence Act covering the posting of false computerised information that causes harm to national security and the general public.They could face up to five years in prison if convicted. They were later released on bail. (Source: The Nation)


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Cambodia spy affair ordered by FM?

Posted by hasekamp on 18 November 2009 at 15:50 PM
Cambodia has a taped conversation of Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya ordering the first secretary of the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh to get former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's flight plan for the Thai government, Puea Thai MP Jatuporn Promphan said on Wednesday. Mr Jatuporn said Cambodian authorities also had a tape of a conversation about the flight plan between the first secretary, Kamrob Palawatwichai, and Siwarak Chutiphong, the Thai engineer employed by Cambodia Air Traffic Services accused of spying for Thailand. Mr Siwarak was arrested on Wednesday and accused of stealing Thaksin's flight plan. Mr Kamrob was expelled the following day. Mr Jatuporn said if the tapes were made available to other countries they would lose trust in Thailand, because this amounted to Thailand interfering in Cambodia's internal affairs. He called on Mr Kasit to clarify the matter. The Puea Thai MP also said Thaksin had asked the Cambodian authorities to ensure fair treatment for Siwarak in court. If the Cambodian court gave Mr Siwarak only a suspended sentence, Puea Thai chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh would go to Phnom Penh to bring him back from Cambodia, Mr Jatuporn said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Ivory traffickers caught

Posted by hasekamp on 17 November 2009 at 16:50 PM
Police have arrested two Thais for trafficking in African ivory, a crime that carries a maximum four year jail sentence, police said Tuesday. Samat Chokechoima and Kanok Wongsarot were arrested on Monday in a sting operation in which Thai police posed as buyers of carved African ivory items, said Pol LtColonel Thanayos Gengkasrikit, spokesman of the Natural Resource and Environmental Crime Division. The suspects face a maximum of four years in prison and fines of up to Bt40,000 under Thailand's Wild Animal Preservation and Protection Act and another fine up to Bt100,000 under the Customs Act for the import and export of illegal goods. Described as "middlelevel operators", the arrest of Samat and Kanok was the result of a yearlong investigation involving Thai and US officials, along with the Freeland Foundation and the Asean Wildlife Enforcement Network (AseanWEN). (Source: The Nation)


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One million red-shirts demonstration planned

Posted by hasekamp on 17 November 2009 at 16:46 PM
The United front for Democracy against Dictatorship expects one million red-shirts will turn out for a mass anti-government demonstration to bring down the government, planned from Nov 29 to Dec 3, UDD core leader Jatuporn Promphan said on Tuesday. "It will be a five-day gathering of at least one million red-shirts and we will make the war against the government as short as possible. The red-shirts will not lay siege to Government House or other state offices," said MrJatuporn. UDD leaders were not worried about the strong possibility the government will again invoke the Internal Security Act to deal with the protesters, he said. "If one million red-shirts turn out as expected, we will be able to topple the government. But if we cannot make it, we will return to the streets again after Dec 5, His Majesty the King’s 82nd birthday," the UDD leader said. He believed the UDD could achieve its objective to topple the government before the end of the year because there were problems of corruption in several ministries and prices of agricultural products were low. The government had only one option left — dissolve the House and call elections. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai spy in Cambodia

Posted by hasekamp on 13 November 2009 at 14:26 PM
Cambodian police have charged a Thai man with spying on fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, further inflaming a diplomatic crisis between the neighbouring countries. The spy row erupted as Thaksin played a relaxed round of golf with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, underscoring Bangkok's powerlessness to make Phnom Penh extradite the fugitive politician to serve a jail term for conflict of interest while prime minister. Siwarak Chothipong, a 31-year-old employee of the Cambodia Air Traffic Service, which manages flights in the country, was accused of stealing Thaksin's flight schedule and sending it diplomats at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodian deputy police chief Lt-Gen Sok Phal said on Friday. Lt-Gen Sok Phal alleged that Siwarak handed over the flight schedule to the first secretary at the Thai embassy, who was then ordered by Cambodia on Thursday to leave the country on Thursday for carrying out activities inconsistent with his official duties. Thailand responded on Thursday by ordering out the first secretary of Cambodia's mission in Bangkok. Mr Siwarak appeared in municipal court on Thursday and was charged with stealing information that could impact national security. If found guilty, he faces up to 15 years in jail. Officials said police were investigating whether more people were involved. Thailand rejected the "malicious" allegations against its citizen. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Their Majesties advise

Posted by hasekamp on 10 November 2009 at 15:32 PM
Their Majesties the King and Queen have expressed great concern for local residents affected by flooding, with the king ordering the authorities to prepare aerial photographs of the flood hit areas for him to inspect and giving his advice toward solving the flood problem, according to Deputy Minister of Interior Thaworn Senneam. Mr Thaworn said the king found that there were new roads constructed that blocked the flow of water, compounding the flood problem. The monarch gave further advices on managing the floodwaters, particularly providing small reservoirs to retain water according to Kam Ling, the so-called monkey's cheek scheme. Their Majesties the King and Queen earlier ordered the Thai Red Cross Society to distribute food and other necessities in the southernmost provinces. Meanwhile, Mr Thaworn said the operational centre to address flood-related problems would be set up in the flood-hit provinces in the southern regions, while disaster response centres will be set up in every province and district to help flood and mudslide victims. Minister of Interior Chavarat Charnvirakul said he had assigned Mr Thaworn to visit and help flood victims in the southern region, saying he received reports that many areas still face rain and flood problems, particularly in the southernmost provinces. Mr Thaworn said that the authorities helped flood and mudslide victims, and that residents of at-risk areas would be evacuated and flood relief distributed. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Thaksin noww in Cambodia

Posted by hasekamp on 10 November 2009 at 15:13 PM
Fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra arrived in Cambodia on Tuesday morning to carry out his new role as economic adviser to the government, the Cambodian government said. Cambodia announced Thaksin's appointment last week, sparking a dispute that has led Thailand and Cambodia to recall their respective ambassadors and has deepened tensions after a series of deadly border clashes in the past year. Thailand has also said it could seal the frontier if Thaksin is not extradited, but Cambodian ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Kuoy Kong said his country was "not concerned about these issues". "We will not extradite him (Thaksin). We already clarified this case because he is a political victim," Kuoy Kong said on Tuesday. Thaksin is living in foreign locations including Dubai to avoid a two-year jail term for conflict of interest while prime minister handed down by the Supreme Court in September 2008. He skipped bail before the verdict was announced. He justified his trip to Cambodia -- whose prime minister Hun Sen is a close friend and political ally -- in an open letter published on his website late Monday. "I am not helping Cambodia to compete with Thailand. I will never do things to hurt my country no matter how badly I disagree with the government," he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PAD to rally on Sunday

Posted by hasekamp on 10 November 2009 at 15:10 PM
The People's Alliance for Democracy will stage a major rally this Sunday to show its dissatisfaction with Thaksin Shinawatra's interview with the online edition of The Times of London about the monarchy and Cambodia's appointment of him as economic adviser, the PAD said in its statement on Tuesday. PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila said the rally will begin at 4pm at Sanam Luang. The demonstrators would send a message to the world community that Thai people were loyal to the monarchy and denounce Puea Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, Thaksin and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for having trodden on the dignity and integrity of Thailand. Somsak Kosaisuk, a PAD leader, said Thaksin should be charged with lese majeste for his comments made in the interview with The Times. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PAD wants to review history

Posted by hasekamp on 9 November 2009 at 14:00 PM
The People's Alliance for Democracy Monday called on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to revoke the 1:200,000-scale map that demarcates the Thai-Cambodian border as per the 1907 treaty between Siam and France, and push Cambodian soldiers off Thai territory. Pipop Thongchai, a PAD leader, said his group had submitted 11 documents detailing agreements signed between Thailand and Cambodia since the reign of King Rama V. The group has also proposed that the government review eight issues that put the country at a disadvantage due to certain pacts signed by previous governments. (Source: The Nation)


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14 million smokers

Posted by hasekamp on 9 November 2009 at 13:57 PM
The number of smokers in Thailand has reached 14.3 million people across country. The figure was revealed Monday in a latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey. At this moment there are no further details. (Source: The Nation)


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Another train derailment

Posted by hasekamp on 9 November 2009 at 11:44 AM
A train has derailed at Bang Sue station in Bangkok after switching staff moved too fast to get another train on the same line. No one was injured. Three carriages and a locomotive from a train bound from Bangkok to Kaeng Khoi in Saraburi were forced off the rails Sunday morning when a second train was shunted on to the same line too soon, said State Railway of Thailand governor Yutthana Thapcharoen. A train from Suphan Buri to Bangkok was due to enter the station after the Kaeng Khoi train had passed at about 8.30am. Railway switching staff believed the Kaeng Khoi train had passed, so shunted the other train on to the line. They moved too soon, as the last carriages had yet to clear the area. Train wheels were broken, rails bent and many sleepers damaged. Mr Yutthana denied staff involved in industrial action with the SRT had intended to derail the train. However, a committee would investigate the incident and should reach a conclusion today. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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