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Phuket deforestation

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2010 at 14:35 PM
Human encroachment has laid waste to more than two-thirds of a large forest reserve in the north of Phuket, it emerged last week. The Bang Khanoon forest reserve in tambon Thepkrasattri originally covered more than 5,000 rai, but just 1,500 rai of virgin forest remain. Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop last week accompanied an inspection team from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MNRE) to the site of the latest devastation. After touring other encroached forest areas in Karon and Patong, the team visited a 100-rai plot located inside the reserve and just 300 meters from the Bang Khanoon Agro-forestry Office. Many of the trees in the area had already been felled, while others still stood dying. Encroachers had cut deep rings around the tree trunks, allowing the sap to leak out. Gov Wichai described the trees as rare and irreplaceable, saying some were more than 80 years old. Gov Wichai pleaded with the Phuket people to end encroachment. "If we ruin our natural resources, tourists will stop coming to our province," he said. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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More tourists, less spending

Posted by hasekamp on 31 January 2010 at 14:30 PM
With hotel occupancy rates on the island currently reported at around 90 percent, hoteliers and other tourism business operators find themselves for the first time in two years unable to complain about a lack of tourists. This is obviously good news, but businesses on the island are finding that strong arrival figures haven’t translated into the kind of revenue enjoyed during past high seasons. Many report income down by 30 to 40 percent compared to the 2007-2008 season. Although this is an improvement over the 2008-2009 high season, which was wiped out by the takeover of Bangkok’s two airports, business operators are complaining that the hoped-for bumper profits needed to get them though the next low season simply aren’t there. There are several reasons for this spending drop, the most important of which is the state of the global economy. The downturn has left European tourists, traditionally Phuket’s bread-and-butter market, forced to cut back on expenditure while on vacation. In response to these trends, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says it is trying to get tourists to part with more cash during their stays here. No TAT campaign would be complete without a slogan, and this time the agency is indeed playing to the country’s strengths with its new ‘Amazing Thailand, Amazing Value’ catchphrase. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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BoT: Economy recovers

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2010 at 11:40 AM
The Thai economy enjoyed a continued recovery in December 2009 as witnessed by a marked improvement in state and private spending, farmer incomes, tourism revenue, and exports, according to the Bank of Thailand (BoT). Suchart Sakkankosone, senior director Domestic Economy Department, said the economy for the whole is expected to shrink 2.7 per cent given the continued economic recovery. The industrial production index surged to a new record high of 35.7 because the number of purchase orders for electronic products continue to rise. The production capacity utilisation in the industrial sector climbed up to 70.1 per cent as exports surged by 26.2 per cent from the same month last year with a value of US$14.53 billion. The export value increased in all product categories but products made in labour intensive industries. Mr Suchart believed exports would continue growing further this year. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Baht should be around 34 to US$

Posted by hasekamp on 30 January 2010 at 11:36 AM
The Bank of Thailand should make sure that the Thai baht value’s stand at between 33 to 34 baht per US dollar, Manoon Siriwan, an energy expert, said on Saturday. “If the Thai currency is weaker than that level, it could affect domestic retail prices of fuel”, Mr Manoon said, adding that every one baht in value change of the baht would affect the increase or the decrease in local pump prices by 0.60 baht a litre. The energy expert expected oil price on the world market to stand at about US$70 per barrel next week. Kasikornthai Research Centre projected the Thai Baht value would stand at about 32.90 to 33.20 baht per US dollar next week. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thai economy still at risk

Posted by hasekamp on 28 January 2010 at 11:29 AM
Thailand’s economy remains engulfed with many risk factors that need to be closely monitored, particularly the mounting political uncertainties and impacts from the investment project suspension in the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate, according to a prominent academic. Speaking at a seminar on “Monitoring Economic Crisis and Stock Market Direction in 2010,” Ekkachai Nittayakasetwat, dean of the National Institute of Development Administration’s Business Administration Faculty, said the problems, if allowed unsolved, would make the gross domestic product (GDP) this year grow only 1 per cent, not 3 per cent as many expected earlier. Other risk factors include the possible global economic setback, fuel price rise by over US$100 per barrel, stronger baht, terrorist attacks, increasing public debts, bubble in the property and stock markets, and impacts from the global warming. Sukij Udomsirikul, executive vice president of the SCIB Research Institute, said the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) composite index is likely to fall in February due to negative internal and external factors. The internal factors include the political uncertainties and the mounting protests by the anti-government red-clad demonstrators prior to the court’s ruling on the seizure of fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s assets valued at Bt76 billion. The external factors include measures issued by the US and Chinese governments to contain loosing financial transactions by financial institutions, which could affect the liquidity in stock markets around the world. Given the factors, he projected the SET index is likely to move in a range of 550-880 points for this year. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Red-shirts want progress in PAD cases

Posted by hasekamp on 26 January 2010 at 16:00 PM
The anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) presented a request asking for a progress report regarding the airport seizure case, demanding response from the police within one week. Key UDD member Weng Tojirakarn, leading other members, submitted the letter to acting police chief Pol Gen Prateep Tanprasert through Pol Maj-Gen Ratthapong Yimyai, secretary to the Royal Thai Police, asking for a progress report over the two main airports seizure case by the UDD's rival 'Yellow Shirt' People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in December 2008. After a year, there has been no progress while investigators hasten their cases filed against the Red Shirts, they claimed, demanding reply from the police about development of the case within one week. Otherwise, the UDD will suit against the police responsible for the case and will submit a letter to the government.
The Yellow Shirts staged mass protests last year that led to the airport blockade forcing the resignation of Somchai Wongsawat administration which it accused of being a proxy of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The siege left more than 300,000 passengers stranded. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Army: No coup

Posted by hasekamp on 26 January 2010 at 15:52 PM
The army leadership has never discussed staging another coup - the talk comes only politicians and a few retired military officials, army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said on Tuesday. "The army has learned from past coups. Staging a coup is no longer the fashion and it is not a final answer [to problems]," Col Sansern said. He said people may have misunderstood the army's movement of 22 V-150 armoured personnel carriers (APCs) the three southern border provinces to Pathum Thani for maintenance on Sunday. They were scheduled for deployment to Sudan in May as part of the UN peacekeeping force. Asked why the army felt it necessary to move the troop carriers at this time, he said the army did not take the political situation into consideration, but it had always aimed to keep the general public informed. "The army is sorry that everyone was not informed about this mobilisation," he said. Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said armed forces remained strongly united and there was no rift that could lead to another military coup. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No rally at Suvarnabhumi

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2010 at 23:00 PM
The pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship has scuppered a proposed plan to picket on the main roads to Suvarnabhumi airport. Key UDD leader Suporn Atthawong said the UDD abandoned the idea because it did not want to create the same trouble caused by its rivals, the People's Alliance for Democracy, which blockaded Suvarnabhumi in late 2008. Mr Suporn said the idea to stage a rally near the airport was floated by fellow UDD co-leader Natthawut Saikua. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Helpfor Haiti

Posted by hasekamp on 23 January 2010 at 22:57 PM
The government will send its first aid shipment of 100 tonnes of rice to earthquake-ravaged Haiti on Feb 1, PM's Office Minister Virachai Virameteekul has revealed. A Thai Airways International cargo plane will transport the rice and the airline will absorb the 21 million baht cost. The government has pledged a total of 20,000 tonnes of rice to assist relief efforts in Haiti. Mr Virachai said the second Thai shipment of about 3,000 tonnes of rice would be sea-freighted to Haiti early next month, via the neighbouring Dominican Republic. The Commerce Ministry is to organise the logistics and bear the cost of the shipment. How and when the remaining 16,900 tonnes of rice would be shipped was yet to be decided by the committee overseeing the matter, said Mr Virachai, who runs a government centre tasked with helping Haiti's quake victims. The minister yesterday called a committee meeting to review progress of the government's aid scheme to support victims of the Jan 12 earthquake. About 15 million baht had been donated to the centre so far by members of the public, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Save Bangkok!

Posted by hasekamp on 20 January 2010 at 15:04 PM
All museums in Thailand are dull and show very little. This is the constant complaint from visitors, until one visits the museum in Muang Nan. Located in the heart of the city, the museum was once the residence of the local rulers - with Chao Promtada being the last. The building was nationalised after the 1932 revolution, turned into the City Hall and then a museum. The museum is now one of the province's top tourist attractions, apart from a number of ancient temples and natural features. And without stepping inside the old building, you would never know why. The museum walks visitors through the province's history. On the first floor, visitors see Nan during its 10,000 to 20,000 prehistoric years with ancient agricultural tools and life-sized models of hilltribe people on display. On the second floor, visitors get to admire the family tree of the Nan rulers through photographs, some of which even feature members of the Siamese royal family. There is ancient earthenware unearthed from Sobsuak Village on show in two glass cabinets. Many corners are devoted to old wooden Buddha images unearthed from different parts of the province. The museum enlightens people about Nan's colourful history, while at the entrance visitors learn why Nan, unlike other big cities, remains peaceful.
Bangkok is completely different. Though bike lanes have been promoted, they are not readily available. Drivers zigzag on the street, without caring for others. Residents prefer to confine themselves to their homes, rather than waste time on something meant for the entire community. Of course, people can say that Bangkok is far too large, and the residents come from different parts of the country. However, these people could find a common goal - turning Bangkok into a liveable city. (Source: The Nation)


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UDD wants to know state of pardon request

Posted by hasekamp on 20 January 2010 at 14:57 PM
The red-shirted supporters of the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship on Wednesday afternoon submitted a letter to the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary asking for a progress report on the request for a royal pardon for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Natthawut Saikua, a UDD core leader, said the letter sought a progress report because the royal pardon petition was had been with the office since Aug 17, 2009. “It is more than five months now, but there has been no progress,” Mr Natthawut said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Now 198 H1N1 deaths

Posted by hasekamp on 19 January 2010 at 17:48 PM
Thailand’s Disease Control Department on Tuesday reported two more deaths related to Influenza Type A(H1N1), raising total death tally from what was formerly called swine flu to 198. Two new fatalities were confirmed in a weekly report on the A(H1N1) flu situation from January 10-19, according to Director-General of Disease Control Department, Manit Teeratantikanont. Both had suffered from high blood pressure and were identified as a 37-year-old woman living in Chiang Mai and an 82-year-old woman in Ayutthaya. Mr Manit said the swine flu situation is now entering its second round of outbreak, the number of patients with flu-like symptoms has increased by ten per cent nationwide for the past two weeks. (Source: The Nation)


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Suvarnabhumi again?

Posted by hasekamp on 19 January 2010 at 17:43 PM
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship is considering organising a protest at Suvarnabhumi airport to press for a progress report on the investigation into the airport's seizure by yellow-shirt supporters of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in 2008, UDD core leader Nathawut Saikua said on Tuesday. Mr Nathawut said the leaders would meet this week to discuss the matter. He stressed that the rally would be peaceful and last no more than one hour. "There would be no seizure of the airport. No intrusion. No blocking of entrances and buildings. No threatening of passengers or officials," he said. Mr Nathawut did not give a date for the demonstration. Leaders of the PAD led their supporters to occupy Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports late in 2008 in protest against the Somchai Wongsawat administration. UDD leaders have accused the Abhisit government of a double standard because no legal action has been taken against the PAD leaders. News reports about the possible rally at the airport saw the price of AoT shares to drop to a three-month low in afternoon trading. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Students make satellite dishes

Posted by hasekamp on 17 January 2010 at 14:35 PM
Improvising on an in-house attempt to find a cheaper way to view educational TV programmes, a primary school in Chaiyaphum is now making good income from selling portable, home-made satellite dishes made out of pot lids. Wisit Suesat, a sixth-grade teacher at the Nong Kong Kaew public school in Nong Bua Rahew district, who "discovered" this technique, said it was difficult for teachers and technical staff to adjust existing equipment and the direction of large satellite dishes when the signal was weak or lost. It regularly cost the school Bt2,900 to get someone to fine-tune the reception. The teacher formed a team of five of his students to try utilising various materials such as dishes and found that aluminium pot and pan covers could substitute nicely for metal reflectors, after one year of trial and error. Relying mainly on aluminium kitchen utensils donated by villagers, they start by hammering the materials into a parabolic shape, then assemble a stand from steel. The dish and stand are then attached to a receiver that can catch all KU band news and entertainment channels available in Thailand, besides free educational channels. Each set costs Bt500-Bt2,500. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Silom for walkers

Posted by hasekamp on 17 January 2010 at 14:32 PM
A stretch of Silom Road, in the heart of the Thai capital’s business district, is closed to traffic Sunday from 10am to midnight to allow people to freely wander and shop in the area. More than 100,000 people are expected to roam the usually busy road as the stretch of it between the Sala Daeng intersection in front of the Dusit Thani Hotel and Narathiwat Rajanakarin intersection closed to traffic during the period for a distance of two kilometres. Fifty-five renowned shops, hotels and restaurants in the capital will display their products on the street while six platforms have been built temporarily to exhibit Thai culture and play, including music and Thai boxing. According to Surakiat Limcharoen, Bang Rak district chief, more than 100,000 Thai and foreign tourists are expected to visit Silom and buy products in which more than Bt30 million is expected to change hands. Although it is unknown whether a similar closure of Silom Road for walking street will be held in future, it is hoped that if the event is held successfully on Sunday, concerned authorities will likely hold it again with an objective to spur tourism and shopping activities. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New cabinet line-up

Posted by hasekamp on 15 January 2010 at 17:19 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday that he will submit the new cabinet lineup for the royal approval today. "The reshuffle will involve five positions," Mr Abhisit told reporters. "The Secretariat of the Cabinet has already checked their qualifications."
The new ministers will be:
1) Deputy Prime minister for economic matters Trairong Suwankiri
2) Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanavisit
3) Deputy Public Health Minister Pansiri Kulnartsiri
4) Education Minister Chinnaworn Boonyakiat
5) Deputy Transport Minister Suchart Chokechaiwattanakorn
Mrs Pansiri is a younger sister of Somsak Thepsuthin, leader of the Matchima faction inside the Bhumjaithai Party. She was selected for the job after Mr Somsak’s plan to nominate Prasart Thongpaknam for the post of deputy public health minister faced strong opposition from the Rural Doctors Society. Mr Prasart was secretary-general to Manit Nopamornbodee who resigned as deputy public health minister on Monday. Mr Abhisit said he had not questioned the Bhumjaithai Party's choice of Mrs Pansiri for the portfolio. He believed the party had considered the matter carefully before making the decision. Later today the new cabinet will be submitted for Royal Approval. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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From now on metered taxis in Khon Kaen

Posted by hasekamp on 14 January 2010 at 14:06 PM
Metered taxis will be available in Khon Kaen from January 20 and the new service should not affect tuk-tuk and motorcycle taxis because the target market is different, the business operator said yesterday.
SC Garage Khon Kaen, which invested Bt20 million on the service, will initially have 30 taxis working round the clock and would add another 49 next year, executive Chaiyan Pleawthong said. The meter rate would start at Bt30 and increase by Bt4 per kilometre after the third kilometre, he said. The taxis will be available at 16 stands. Customers can also call for a cab at (043) 465 777-87 for an additional fee of Bt30. Chaiyan added that the service was targeted at residents outside the Muang district and late-night travellers. (Source: The Nation)


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Science City

Posted by hasekamp on 14 January 2010 at 13:55 PM
The Cabinet gave the green light on Tuesday for the Science and Technology Ministry's plans to establish the country's largest scientific city covering more than 1,000 rai in Chachoengsao province's Amata City Industrial Estate. "This will be the country's biggest centre for scientists and technologists, which will be full of hightech equipment for manufacturing and research," Science and Technology Minister Kalaya Sophonpanich said. "In fact, it will be a science centre for all of Asia." The ministry has given Chatchanat Thebtaranonth, deputy director of National Science and Technology Development Agency, the job of overseeing the project. Kalaya explained that founder of the Amata estate, billionaire Vikrom Kromadit, had donated the land. Vikrom and Kalaya are expected to visit the site with other senior officials in the near future before the ministry draws up a blueprint for the project. The minister, however, did not give any details about how much the construction would cost. (Source: The Nation)


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Flu H1N1 vaccination program

Posted by hasekamp on 11 January 2010 at 19:48 PM
Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has begun its free vaccination programme to protect the public against Influenza A(H1N1) by administering about two million injections to people in five high-risk groups at state and private hospitals nationwide. The public health ministry is satisfied with the initiation of the vaccination campaign against Influenza Type A(H1N1) as there has been no report of allergies so far. Free vaccinations will be offered until March, while pregnant women can get shots until May. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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National Children's day

Posted by hasekamp on 9 January 2010 at 14:00 PM
Besides enjoying free food and beverages, children who have sent New Year’s greeting cards to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will have an opportunity Saturday to sit on his chair at Government House and present him with their concerns in a question-and-answer interview format. Mr Abhisit also addressed a teleconference gathering of 450 student council representatives in Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Surat Thani and Yala. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit at the prime minister’s desk comes as the country celebrates National Children’s Day. At the Thai Koo Fah Building in the Government House compound, children who had earlier sent New Year’s greeting cards to Mr Abhisit are able to sit on his chair and visit reception rooms. They will also be able to read news and, most importantly, interview Mr Abhisit himself. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Red-shirts rally this month?

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2010 at 11:21 AM
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) will go ahead with mass protests aimed at toppling the Abhisit government late this month, UDD core leader Jatuporn Promphan said on Tuesday. “The red-shirts will rally as planned next Monday against the government’s use of double standard because it has failed to take any legal action against former prime minister Surayud Chulanont, who has encroached on Khao Yai Thiang forest reserve," Mr Jatuporn said. He expected a huge turn out at Khao Yai Thiang on that day. UDD leaders will meet on Jan 15 to map out future movements of the red-shirts. "No later than the end of this month, the UDD will hold mass anti-government demonstrations at Sanam Luang, Ratchadamnern road, Royal Plaza and Government House," said Mr Jatuporn. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No official online lottery yet

Posted by hasekamp on 5 January 2010 at 11:16 AM
The Government Lottery Office (GLO) board has ordered a freeze on all work involving the online lottery pending the result of the latest of many studies into the scheme, this time by a panel led by Thailand Trade Representative Kiat Sitheearmorn. Sathit Limpongphan, permanent secretary for finance and ex-officio chairman of the GLO board, said the board held a meeting today to discuss Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's announced to scrap the two- and three-digit online lottery. The board instructed the GLO to coordinate with Loxley GTech, which won the concession to set up online system and install vending machines, and suspend all work until the Kiat panel has made its recommendations, he said. Mr Sathis said this would prevent any further damage, which would only result in a higher demand for compensation if the project is scrapped. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New Year's message by His majesty

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2010 at 18:38 PM
Thailand’s revered and beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej has asked his subjects to work with utmost efficiency and for the benefit of the public interest. King Bhumibol, who has been hospitalised at Bangkok’s Siriraj Hospital since September 19, initially with a lung infection and fever, said in his New Year message televised late Thursday that Thais who love their country should dedicate themselves to carrying out the tasks they have before them to the best of their ability. Most importantly, faithful Thais must realise that the common good is long-lasting and benefits everyone, the monarch said. The common good creates happiness for individuals and the country as a whole as wished by everyone. The King also thanked his subjects for their concern for his health. Accompanied by cabinet members, senior government officials, representatives from the private sector and foreign diplomats, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on New Year’s Day signed get-well books for His Majesty the King at the Grand Palace. The commanders of Thailand’s three armed forces -- army, navy and air force – were also present. The Grand Palace has allowed people to sign the book expressing wishes for His Majesty’s speedy recovery from 7am to 5pm Friday. Well-wishers will each receive a royal calendar for 2010 as a souvenir. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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New Year death toll on the roads

Posted by hasekamp on 1 January 2010 at 18:35 PM
The number of road accident fatalities on Thursday, the third day of the seven “most dangerous” days was reported at 168, a substantial increase from 91 reported on Wednesday. Director-general of the disaster prevention and mitigation department Anucha Mokkasamit reported on Friday that another 1,988 people were injured from 1,824 road accidents from December 28 to 31. Chiang Rai had the biggest road accident of 62, while the largest number of the road toll was reported at seven each in Chiang Mai and Chanthaburi. The province with no report of road death toll is the northeastern province of Yasothorn. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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