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King leaves the Hospital!

Posted by hasekamp on 28 February 2010 at 19:33 PM
His Majesty the King left Siriraj Hospital on Saturday evening and returned to Chitrlada Palace. Radio Thailand said the monarch was attending a private function at the palace. His Majesty had been in the hospital for mor than five months, with a brief break for an audience and public appearance during his birthday. He has appeared in public several times at the hospital. His Majesty, wearing a pink shirt, left the hospital on his wheelchair. He had his dog Khun Thong Daeng on a leash. He paid homage to the statue of Buddha at the front of the hospital. He was driven to the palace in a motorcade. His Majesty was admitted to Siriraj Hospital last Sept 19 with a lung infection and fever. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thaksin billions seized

Posted by hasekamp on 27 February 2010 at 14:45 PM
As expected, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that ousted pm Thaksin's assets go to the State, because they were obtained through corruption.
Mr. Thaksin said that he does not accept the court’s verdict to seize his 46 billion baht in assets, saying it was something like he was robbed. Thaksin’s statement was read out by lawyer of the Shinawatra family, Noppadon Pattama, on Saturday late afternoon at headquarters of the opposition Puea Thai Party.
However, the ex-premier called on his supporters to refrain from moving to help him but to use peaceful means to bring back true democracy and to resolve problem of injustice in the country. Mr Noppadon said a team of lawyers is studying ways to bring the Thaksin assets seizure case to the international court of justice. He also stated that Thaksin will definitely appeal against the court’s ruling, but the details will be disclosed by Thaksin’s lawyers who handle this case. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Prayers for His Majesty

Posted by hasekamp on 26 February 2010 at 11:37 AM
Five thousand Buddhist monks yesterday took part in mass prayers at Nakhon Pathom's Buddhamonthon Temple for His Majesty on Makha Bucha Day, which falls on February 28 this year. Thailand Post has also produced a special set of stamps for Makha Bucha Day, featuring a blooming pink lotus and 12 famous Buddha images, which can be bought at the Sanam Luang Buddhism Promotion Week until Sunday. In related news, Defence Spokesman Col Thanathip Sawangsaeng yesterday said that the Defence Council had agreed to prepare activities and work with other agencies to hold events celebrating His Majesty's 84th birthday, when he enters the seventh cycle, on December 5 next year. (Source: The Nation)


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Free healthcare for non-Thais

Posted by hasekamp on 26 February 2010 at 11:35 AM
The more than 450,000 nonThais living in the country will be provided with free medical care from April 1 if the Public Health Ministry's Bt472million plan wins Cabinet approval. According to Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit, most people in this group were in the process of proving that they had the right to Thai nationality. "This group includes those who have permanent residence in Thailand as well as children born in Thailand to foreigners," Jurin said yesterday, in his capacity as chair of the National Health Security Office (NHSO) board. The NHSO board suggested that the government allocate an annual subsidy of Bt2,067.4 per head for healthcare for nonThais. "By extending health coverage to them, state hospitals in 15 provinces, particularly those along the border, will no longer have to dip into the funds allocated for Thai nationals when treating people who do not have Thai citizenship," Jurin said. "This means that Thais there should also have better healthcare." Jurin added that when nonThais were given access to free healthcare, it would be easier to control the spread of acute diarrhoea, malaria, Aids, tuberculosis, dengue fever and elephantiasis. (Source: The Nation)


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Panda cub brings in millions

Posted by hasekamp on 24 February 2010 at 14:58 PM
The eight-month-old panda cub Lin Ping has generated more than Bt13.5 million in revenue in the first two months of this year, director of Chiang Mai Zoo Thanapat Pong-amorn said yesterday. According to Thanapat, Lin Ping's twice-daily shows have been the biggest earners for the zoo. Last month alone some 545,374 people watched Lin Ping shows and spent Bt3.4 million on tickets. (Source: The Nation)


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Bangkok rabies free in 2016

Posted by hasekamp on 24 February 2010 at 14:55 PM
Deputy Bangkok Governor Malinee Sukavejworakit said yesterday that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Livestock Development Department would begin the two-week project of vaccinating dogs in the capital's 50 districts from March 2. Six months later, a second dose of vaccine would be given to the dogs and Bangkok should be cleared of rabies in six years, she added. A memorandum of understanding will soon be signed authorising the BMA in rabies-prevention work. Meanwhile, pet sellers in Chatuchak Market will be informed that a meeting setting standards for pet shops and issuing permits will be held on March 3. If they fail to present permits a week after the meeting, their shops will be shut down. Disease Control Department's deputy director-general MD Somsak Akksilp said the Public Health and Agriculture ministries would campaign for rabies vaccinations nationwide on March 2 and would formulate a plan to make Thailand free of rabies by 2020. Rabies claimed 24 lives last year, seven of them in Bangkok. (Source: The Nation)


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Heavy air pollution

Posted by hasekamp on 21 February 2010 at 17:48 PM
The air pollution season in the North might be worse this year, as smog has been spotted in several areas and forest fires in Chiang Mai and Lamphun have doubled from last year's level. Wichai Kitmee, acting director of Protected Areas Regional Office 16, yesterday said the hot and arid conditions would cause a build-up of dry leaves. Mae Cham district alone has 30,000 tonnes of cornhusks, most of which will be disposed of by burning. Mae Cham, Om Koi, Hot, Chom Thong and Chiang Dao are the smog-prone districts, he said. Surapol Leelawaroros, head of the office's Forest Fire Division, said 500 wildfires had been reported in Chiang Mai and Lamphun this year, destroying 3,000 rai of land. This represents a 200-per-cent hike from the same period last year. Local soldiers will soon be dispatched to patrol Doi Suthep-Pui National Park until the end of April to watch out for such air polluters. Mae Hong Son is hosting a campaign promoting community participation in preventing forest fires. (Source: The Nation)


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Foreign governments give warning

Posted by hasekamp on 20 February 2010 at 12:06 PM
The United States, Britain and Australia have issued new travel advisories warning their citizens about the risk of civil unrest as the Feb 26 verdict in Thaksin's 76 billion baht assets case nears. The warnings issued yesterday followed a mass rally by the anti-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship outside Bangkok Bank on Silom Road, which forced the country's largest commercial bank headquarters to close from midday. Political tensions are growing in the run-up to the so-called "judgement day" on Feb 26, when the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Office will deliver its verdict on whether to seize ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra's 76 billion baht of frozen assets. Thaksin is accused of acquiring "unusual wealth" through the abuse of power when he was prime minister. It is likely that political demonstrations may take place leading up to, on, or after Feb 26, the US embassy said. "We wish to remind US citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence," it said. US citizens are urged to avoid demonstrations and to exercise caution within the vicinity of any demonstrations. The British embassy said the political situation in Thailand is tense and uncertain. British citizens should exercise great caution throughout Thailand and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings that might turn violent. "The court decision is a potential flashpoint. If, as quite possible, anti-government protests turn violent, British citizens should stay indoors and monitor the media," it said. The Australian embassy advised its citizens to exercise a "high degree" of caution because of the current political instability and expected demonstrations. "Follow any instructions issued by local authorities," the embassy said.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is regularly updating other countries about the local political and security situation. "I want every party to help the country move forward because several things have been on a positive trend, particularly the economy," said Mr Abhisit. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Short film to honor H.M. the King

Posted by hasekamp on 18 February 2010 at 12:27 PM
A short film has been produced in honor of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is recognized for his outstanding contributions to the cause of intellectual property rights. The movie production is part of the Ministry of Commerce’s “Creative King” project. The film, which lasts two minutes, will be shown simultaneously at all cinemas belonging to Major Cineplex Group and SF Cinema City nationwide, from 14 February to 14 April 2010. The two-month film show is meant to celebrate His Majesty the King’s 82nd birthday anniversary. Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot said that the Creative King project was intended to encourage creativity among Thai people in line with the Government’s policy of developing Thailand as a creative industrial hub in the ASEAN region. The film, produced by the Department of Intellectual Property, portrays His Majesty’s creative achievements as models for Thai people to develop the country’s creative economy. Recognized as a role model for Thai inventors, His Majesty the King invented many devices with appropriate technology to improve the people’s living conditions and the environment. For instance, he invented an apparatus, known as the Chaipattana Aerator, for use in wastewater treatment. It was registered at the Department of Intellectual Property and won an award, together with his rainmaking techniques, at an international exhibition in Brussels, Belgium, in 2001. His Majesty was also presented with the first WIPO Global Leaders Award for his contributions to intellectual property. WIPO stands for the World Intellectual Property Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property system, which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation, and contributes to economic development. Dr. Francis Gurry, WIPO Director-General, presented the award to His Majesty on 14 January 2009 at the Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan province. His Majesty is also known as an artist who has created over 1,000 works, including paintings, photographs, and musical and literary works. The presentation of the WIPO Global Leaders Award therefore honors his ingenuity and will do much to inspire the Thai people to follow his footsteps in promoting intellectual property, as well as creativity. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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THAI goes NOK

Posted by hasekamp on 17 February 2010 at 15:02 PM
Thai Airways International plans to increase its stake in Nok Airlines to as much as 60% in order to exert more control over the low-cost carrier. Senior THAI executives said increasing the stake was an essential part of building co-operation between the two airlines, which would end in Nok assuming the bulk of the national carrier's domestic services. As many as nine of THAI's 12 domestic routes are no longer economically viable for the flag carrier due to its high cost structure and intense competition from Thai AirAsia and other low-cost airlines. THAI plans to finance the increased stake in Nok through its own capital and THAI's provident fund and employees' welfare fund, said THAI executives. THAI hopes to finalise increasing its stake within the next two months. Chokchai Panyayong, executive vice-president for strategy and business development at THAI, said the Finance Ministry should support the move. Nok chief executive Patee Sarasin said he had no objection as the matter rests with the Nok shareholders. THAI wants to offload flights to Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Surat Thani and Hat Yai. Services to Phitsanulok, Ubon Ratchathani and Mae Hong Son will be axed by the end of the month to be assumed by Nok under a code-share arrangement with THAI and the flag carrier's so-called "two-brand strategy". THAI will temporarily retain one flight a day on the Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani routes to ease the transition to Nok. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Returning El Nino will cause water shortage

Posted by hasekamp on 15 February 2010 at 18:50 PM
Thailand faces the likelihood of the most serious water shortage in five years because of the return of El Nino, the Interior Ministry's Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department warned on Monday. Director-general Anucha Mokkhawes said the first effects would likely be felt in the upper parts of the North and Northeast regions. Irrigated zones were not hit, but outside these zones water shortages for agriculture were already in evidence. Central and Eastern provinces had also begun to experience drought in the upper parts of the regions, and the affects would spread. The South would also be hit, but not seriously. Mr Anucha said the El Nino threat was expected to result in the lowest rainfall in five years. This would also increase the risk from forest fires. All industrial plants are required to lay down a plan for water use and look for alternative sources of water. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket taxis too expensive

Posted by hasekamp on 14 February 2010 at 17:33 PM
There is widespread support in Phuket for Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop’s idea to fit all taxis and tuk-tuks on the island with meters. It is not possible to quantify the economic damage the tourism industry in Phuket has suffered from the notorious patchwork of transport syndicates that continue to operate in defiance of the law, colluding to keep passenger fares the highest in the country. In the case of the infamous tuk-tuks serving our West Coast beach communities, the focal points of Phuket tourism, we offer some of the most expensive taxi rides in the world, well above such places as New York, London, Zurich, Hawaii, Nice, Sydney, etc. This situation has unnecessarily held back a tourism industry that in most other aspects operates under free-market conditions. While problems with the ‘services’ provided by tuk-tuks in the major tourist centers of Patong, Kata and Karon are well documented, another important factor driving up transport costs and creating friction among rival groups is the way taxi concessions are allotted at Phuket International Airport (PIA). At a recent meeting there, Gov Wichai and Senator Thanyarat Achariyachai criticized the management of Airports of Thailand (AoT), which runs PIA, for the way it has dealt with taxi, limousine and minivan concessions. The pair said the company’s profit margins seemed to be their only concern, not the Phuket tourism industry or the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on it to make a living. Under the urging of the provincial government, the AoT gradually broke the monopoly held for years by the Phuket Airport Limousine and Business Cooperative. This was achieved by allowing metered taxis, an airport bus, and finally rival taxi operator Phuket Mai Khao Sakoo to operate on airport grounds. But the increased competition hasn’t translated into lower costs for most passengers because the AoT continues to charge excessive fees to all who operate out of the airport, or at least those who do so legally. That an estimated 200 ‘black plate’ taxis are also shuttling passengers to and from the airport gives some indication of just how excessive the fees are. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Bombs in Bangkok. No casualties

Posted by hasekamp on 14 February 2010 at 17:26 PM
Police said they had defused a bomb near the Supreme Court on Sunday, while a grenade exploded near government offices, ahead of a ruling this month on ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra's fortune. Neither incident in central Bangkok caused casualties. But they occurred despite the deployment of at least 20,000 extra security personnel around Thailand ahead of the February 26 court verdict on ex-premier Thaksin, who lives in exile. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has faced mass protests from Thaksin supporters since coming to power in December 2008, accused anti-government elements of trying to stir up trouble. "The motive is to cause turmoil. I am not swayed by this psychological warfare," Abhisit told reporters. "The government is keeping an eye on movements because we have heard that a certain group of people would like to see the failure of the administration. We have always expected that." Police said unidentified attackers fired a grenade late Saturday at a university located opposite Government House -- the office of Abhisit and his cabinet. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket fully booked

Posted by hasekamp on 10 February 2010 at 14:37 PM
Hotels in Phuket report that all rooms are fully booked this weekend for Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day, Bang-orn Chinaprayoo, the tourism authority director in Phuket, said on Wednesday. "Hotel rooms in Khao Lak in nearby Phnag Nga province are also booked out from Feb 12 to 15," Mrs Bang-orn said. The average occupancy rate in Phuket stood at 90 per cent, which was very high. She said most foreign tourists were coming from Asia and Europe at this time of year, which is the high season for Phuket and other coastal provinces on the Andaman Sea. A large number of Thai tourists would also visit the resort island as hotels are launching tourism promotion campaigns to impress visitors. She expected tourists will spend about 500 million baht in Phuket during the Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day celebration. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chinese New Year

Posted by hasekamp on 9 February 2010 at 9:59 AM
Thai people, as well as international tourists, will join Chinese New Year celebrations to be held in major cities in Thailand. This year's Chinese New Year Day falls on February 14, which marks the beginning of the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar. In the distant past, the Chinese New Year was celebrated for 15 days, but today the celebrations cover three days, or even one week. Festive celebrations are typically staged in areas where there are significant Thai-Chinese communities, such as Yaowarat, or Bangkok Chinatown, and in the central provinces of Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Ratchaburi, and Chon Buri, especially Pattaya City. The festival is also celebrated on a grand scale in Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, especially Pak Nam Pho, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai district of Songkhla, and Phuket. Like Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, the Chinese New Year is the time for a family reunion. The two events are the time not only to pay respects to deities, but also to remember their late ancestors. For Thais, the remembrance can be made through merit-making, and for ethnic Chinese through the practice of offering deceased ancestors a set of food in an homage-paying ceremony. For ethnic Chinese, the Chinese New Year Festival is also the time for youngsters to get the “Ang Pao,” red, cash-filled envelopes, given by their elders. The cash gifts are given not only to young members of the family but also to household and workplace staff. Chinese cultural performances, such as acrobatics, dances, and opera, are staged in several areas. (Source: Public Relations Department)


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Thailand still wants Praeh Vihaer

Posted by hasekamp on 9 February 2010 at 9:48 AM
Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday stood firm that his government would not give up the contested 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) area adjacent to the ancient Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia, saying the area which is owned by Thailand must belong to the kingdom. He said the government would send a letter asking the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)'s World Heritage Committee to review the map which Cambodia earlier submitted to it and would give a Thai opinion to the UNESCO committee. The World Heritage Committee will soon meet to consider Cambodia's application to list the ancient temple and its surrounding areas contested by the two neighbouring countries as a World Heritage site. Mr Abhisit said Cambodia has been trying to acquire the area for two years but his government would not budge and would not accept any disputed map submitted by the neighbouring country. The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, but Thailand holds that the 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) area surrounding the ancient temple belongs to Thailand. Border demarcation in the area remains unresolved and sporadic clashes have occurred recently. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Rubber export to increase

Posted by hasekamp on 5 February 2010 at 10:20 AM
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) expects Thailand’s exports of natural rubber and its products to double in the next five years. Speaking at a seminar on “Upgrading Natural Rubber Cluster Competitiveness,” FTI vice president Payungsak Chartsuthipol said Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of natural rubber with an annual value of around Bt500 billion. It is expected that rubber exports will rise by 10 per cent with a value of over Bt500 billion this year. He said FTI has targeted developing the natural rubber industry in a cluster form so it could compete with Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. It hoped to see the value of rubber exports to increase to Bt800-900 billion in the next five years. At present, Thailand exports 88 per cent of the natural rubber in raw form with the remaining 12 per cent being processed products valued at Bt150 billion. (Source: Thai News Agency)


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Phuket Festival

Posted by hasekamp on 3 February 2010 at 17:12 PM
The annual festival showcasing Phuket Town’s distinctive blend of Chinese and Thai culture is set to return this month. This year’s Phuket Old Town Festival will take place from February 19 to 21, after the arrival of the Year of the Tiger that falls on Valentine's Day. The Tourism Authority of Thailand and Phuket City Municipality are promising more activities than ever during the event, now in its 11th year. Centered on Queen Sirikit Park and spreading over the Old Town streets of Thalang Road, Phuket Road, Krabi Road and Soi Rommannee, this year’s event will feature performances by entertainers from no fewer than 10 different Chinese provinces. Wanaphapar Suksombul, assistant director of the TAT Phuket, said the performances would include Shaolin Kung Fu, acrobats from Beijing, tribal dancing from Tibet, Chinese opera, a puppet show and a bian lian mask changing performance from Sichuan. The TAT will borrow three of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization’s pink poh thong buses to help promote the festival. Setting off at 1pm from Queen Sirikit Park, the buses will take festival-goers on a tour of five of the town’s Chinese shrines. The cost will be 50 baht per passenger. Activities on the first night of the event are set to include a ceremony of worship of the bodhisattva Kuan Im, whose statue stands in Queen Sirikit park, as well as a cultural exhibition at 63 Thalang Road, rickshaw tours of Phuket Town, and boat trips along local canals. The second night will see colorful processions of Phuketians dressed in traditional costumes parading from Saphan Hin back to the festival. The last night of the festival will feature a Hokkien god-worship ceremony, with Chinese monks praying for prosperity and protection for Phuket. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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His Majesty speaks

Posted by hasekamp on 2 February 2010 at 11:36 AM
At an audience granted to the newly sworn-in Supreme Court judges, His Majesty yesterday told them to strictly adhere to the principles of justice to maintain peace, happiness and orderliness in the country. "Each and every one of you is really important in ensuring orderliness. You are the hope of the people, both good and bad. You can help increase the number of good people," the King said before a gathering of 168 judges. In a ceremony led by Supreme Court president, Sopchok Sukharom, the judges were sworn-in during the 20-minute audience with His Majesty at Siriraj Hospital. "If you maintain justice, the country will be peaceful. Even bandits and villains hope for justice. You could make troublemakers do good things too. It's better than having no symbol of justice," His Majesty said, adding the judges could bring happiness and peace to the country by simply being just when performing their duties. "You are a symbol of justice. And by performing your duty well, you can help the country survive. Everyone wants our country to survive. Even the bandits and villains feel they want peace. If you can have your compatriots believe in peace, happiness and justice, our country will work fine," His Majesty said. He also told the judges that they should stick to the principles of justice to their dying day, even when they are no longer in the judiciary. (Source: The Nation)


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Rice for Haiti

Posted by hasekamp on 2 February 2010 at 11:32 AM
The Thai government has donated 20,000 tonnes of rice to Haiti, worth an estimated 340 million baht. Thai Airways yesterday airlifted the first 100 tonnes to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. TV Channel 3 has raised 167 million baht in donations from its viewers and the private sector for Haiti through the WFP to buy emergency food supplies. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the WFP's special ambassador for school nutrition, accepted the money on behalf of the aid group. "In my more than 16 years with the WFP I have never witnessed such a spontaneous and overwhelming response from the people of one country to another, particularly one on the other side of the world," said the WFP's regional director for Asia, Kenro Oshidari. "The fact that this generosity has been added to by an unprecedented Royal Thai Government donation is just marvellous and should be held high as an example to other governments around the world who should also consider giving food and other assistance during crises." Mr Oshidari joined Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday to witness the rice-filled 747-300 cargo plane embark on a 36-hour flight to deliver vital food supplies to tens of thousands of Haitians. Another 19,900 tonnes of rice will be shipped by sea to Haiti, the prime minister said. The cost of transporting the rice is 10 million baht, said THAI president Piyasvasti Amranand. Half will be paid by the airline and the rest shared by the government and PTT Plc, he added. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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