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Earthquakes?

Posted by hasekamp on 26 June 2010 at 16:07 PM
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry (NREM) has announced that it is including 1,406 villages in 22 provinces as part of a National Earthquake Relief Plan. These villages, located in 308 districts across the country, are situated on Thailand's 13 fault lines. The most worrying faults are in Chiang Rai's Mae Chan district and Kanchanaburi's Si Sawat district, including the one near the Srinakharin Dam. The ministry and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) are jointly planning to implement a long term disaster relief plan to cope with possible quakes in the future. NREM Minister Suwit Khunkitti called on the public not to panic over the relief plan, saying that the Kingdom was in no way situated on or near the world's major earthquake faults. The first phase of the plan will be implemented in villages in the North and Northeast next year, and in the West, central region and the South in 2012. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Bangkok -8%, Phuket +62%

Posted by hasekamp on 26 June 2010 at 10:55 AM
The Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited (AOT) has announced the air transport statistics for May 2010. “The results are not as bad as many expected with Bangkok’s international disembarkations only down 8% on May 2009 while Phuket’s international disembarkations increased by 62% on May 2009”, says Mr. James Pitchon, Executive Director of CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) Thailand in a comment to the figures. Although the year-on-year comparison looks encouraging, it must be remembered that May 2009 was weak because of the April 2009 riots in Bangkok. May 2010 is still impressive given the circumstances with many governments warning against coming to Thailand except for essential reasons. (Source: Twitter)


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Phuket Music Festival

Posted by hasekamp on 25 June 2010 at 22:10 PM
This evening marks the first night of the second annual Phuket Music Festival, an all-night full moon party on Karon Beach. Morakot Suddee, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s events promotion division, said the free-admission event will be very similar to the inaugural Roy Fest held in the same location last year, but with a wider variety of music including dance, pop, hip hop, reggae, ska and bossanova. "We believe that the Phuket Music Festival will be unforgettable; Thailand’s largest beach dance floor under the moonlight," he said. Entertainment will include nine popular Thai artists and five international DJs: DJ Yoji from Japan, DJ B from Singapore, Northern Irish DJ duo Agnelli & Nelson and DJ Activa, also from the UK. Thai acts will include singers Sobchai Kraiyoonsen, Thanatorn Palakawong Na Ayuthaya, Dear Acappella 7, members of the Fourgusm Band, ska band Tamone and Buddha Bless. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Sanam Luang to be renovated

Posted by hasekamp on 25 June 2010 at 22:07 PM
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has pushed more than 500 vendors and homeless people out of Sanam Luang to make way for its renovation and landscaping plans. The area will be closed down for at least 300 days, and the vendors - who made a living selling mats, pillows and blankets to Sanam Luang's constant residents and the homeless - have no idea if they will be allowed to return. A visitor to Sanam Luang now will see not more than galvanised iron plates left over from torn down stalls - no grass, nobody flying kites, no vendors, no massage services, no pavements and certainly no feeling of a tightknit community. Instead, there are about 100 police officers guarding the place. (Source: The Nation)


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Drugs to be burnt

Posted by hasekamp on 23 June 2010 at 23:45 PM
A total of 5,691kg of various kinds of illicit drugs worth about 6,158 million baht will be burnt on Friday, June 25, in an annual event to the mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which falls on June 26, Public Health Ministry Jurin Laksanavisit said on Wednesday. The drugs were seized in various suppression operations and the cases have been finalised. The event is the 38th in Thailand. To be reduced into ashes and smokes include 1.8 million kgs (about 20.21 tablets) of methamphetamine, 213.97kg of heroin, 13.2kg (54,881 tablets) of ecstasy, 1.19kg of cocaine, 129.41kg of opium, 166.32kg of codeine, and 6.51kg of marijuana. The drugs will be destroyed with a pyrolytic incineration method, which causes no air pollution, at the Bang Pa-in Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya province. (Source: the Bangkok Post)


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Biggest drug bust ever

Posted by hasekamp on 22 June 2010 at 20:59 PM
Police yesterday arrested three drug suspects driving along the Chiang Mai - Lampang highway and confiscated nearly Bt200million worth of methamphetamine. Police Region 5 commissioner LtGeneral Somkid Boonthanom described it as the biggest haul ever in his jurisdiction. The suspects were arrested very early yesterday. In one of their two vehicles, police say they uncovered 1.2 million methamphetamine tablets. The suspects were identified as Pracha Wiangbanphot, 31, Chatree sae Laoya, 23, and Pichet sae Tao, 22. They pleaded guilty to attempting to deliver the illicit drug to Talaad Thai market in Pathum Thani. (Source: The Nation)


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Also in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 22 June 2010 at 20:57 PM
About 22 per cent of Thais are obese, a recent Public Health Ministry survey revealed. The ministry's spokesman Dr Suphan Srithamma said the figure was based on the waistlines of people above the age of 15. The Health Department said women with a waist larger than 80 centimetres and men with a waistline of more than 90cm could be considered obese. Attention returned to the problems of obesity after the sudden death of a teacher at a prestigious school in Bangkok. On Monday, the 30 year-old teacher was found dead on campus and doctors believe he might have died of heart failure. The teacher was last seen jogging on Sunday evening. He had reportedly been taking fatloss pills and had recently shed about 17 kilograms. (Source: The Nation)


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Shoppers return

Posted by hasekamp on 20 June 2010 at 15:35 PM
Retailers are seeing shopping sentiment revive a month after trade was hammered by riots in Bangkok and the arson attacks on Central World, Center One and Siam Theater. Chai Srivikorn, president of the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association, said consumer confidence was gradually improving, but it would take three to six months for business to return to pre-riot levels. The government and Thai people should be given credit for supporting affected retailers and reviving the fragile shopping atmosphere. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has organised a number of street markets, such as those on Silom and Henri Dunant roads, to help retailers that had lost business as a result of the unrest. Authorities also plan to stage a world-class fashion show at Ratchaprasong in October or November, featuring international models and luxury brands such as Fendi and Louis Vuitton. Five major retail operators — Central Pattana, Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, Siam Center and Gaysorn — expect to spend more than one billion baht to revive business around the Ratchaprasong intersection over the next seven months. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Two foreigners in court

Posted by hasekamp on 18 June 2010 at 17:25 PM
Two foreigners, a Briton and an Australian, have been indicted in Pathumwan District Court for violating the emergency decree while participating in the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) anti-government protest, which ran from March 14 to May 19. The Australian, Conor David Purcell, 30, and the Briton, Jeff Savage, 49, each face up to two years in jail if convicted. The prosecution on Thursday brought two, separate, charges against them. They pleaded not guilty. Since nobody showed up to seek their release on bail, they were sent to Bangkok Remand Prison. The court is expected to schedule hearings of the cases between August and September. Chaturon Chaisaeng, former leader of the now-dissolved Thai Rak Thak Party, reported to Lumpini police on Thursday morning to acknowledge charges of violating the Internal Security Act. He was summoned to hear the charges for going on stage at the anti-government protest to speak to red-shirt demonstrators, both at Phan Fa bridge on Ratchadamnern avenue and at Ratchaprasong intersection, on several occasions starting on April 9. Mr Chaturon brought with him CDs of every speech he made as evidence to defend himself. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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How to get back tourists?

Posted by hasekamp on 15 June 2010 at 13:08 PM
The Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) offices in Phuket and Chiang Mai will meet with travel agencies in the northern city to brainstorm ways of strengthening links between the two provinces. Sobtana Aunprasert, Assistant Director of the TAT office in Chiang Mai office, announced the meeting will be held June 18 to 20 at Ratilanna Spa Resort. The riverside gathering is intended to exchange experiences, ideas and strategies among Phuket and Chiang Mai tourist businesses, travel agencies, and local media. In July, members of the TAT Chiang Mai office will come to Phuket to study the tourism market here. There are currently two daily flights between the two cities aboard Thai AirAsia flights. Mr Sobtrana said the main goal of the meeting is to increase travel between the provinces, including domestic tourism that is needed in Chiang Mai to help keep struggling tourism businesses afloat during the low season. Good marketing and public relations strategies are essential to expanding the overseas market and both markets would benefit with even more direct flights between the two cities, he said. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Office against IT offences

Posted by hasekamp on 15 June 2010 at 13:03 PM
The cabinet on Tuesday approved the setting up of the office for prevention and suppression of information technology offences, particularly against the monarchy, deputy government spokesman Vachara Kannikar said. The spokesman said the office is to be set up in one month, instead of six to seven months as normally required, so that it could be in operation as soon as possible. The office is responsible for protecting the monarchy which is the centre of national spirit, unity and security and prevent acts of lese majeste with information technology. Mr Vachara said Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also order the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to specially monitor various websites and invite all of their operators and others concerned to meet and seek their cooperation in the government's national reconciliation policy. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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What to do with Silom stalls?

Posted by hasekamp on 13 June 2010 at 11:37 AM
Police had to intervene yesterday after about 500 rally-affected vendors found their stalls for the walking street sale on Silom Road taken over by unregistered vendors. Surakiart Limcharoen, director of Bang Rak district, said Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) officials closed Silom Road at 11pm on Friday to set up some 2,000 booths for the Together We Can Grand Sale. But when the registered vendors arrived the next morning, outsiders had already occupied their stalls and refused to give them up, he said. Deputy Bangkok Governor Thaya Teepasuwan said she had Surakiart file complaints with police against the vendors who were not part of the government assistance scheme. She also instructed police and BMA officials to help the registered traders gain access to their assigned places as soon as possible and have the interlopers move to a location further down the road. The BMA learned a lesson from this to have the stalls guarded until all registered vendors claim them, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Opposition not happy with road map

Posted by hasekamp on 10 June 2010 at 15:22 PM
The opposition Puea Thai Party slammed Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's planned release of his reconciliation roadmap as just another effort by the government to buy more time in office. Puea Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the Puea Thai party disagrees with reconciliation built on the blood and death of the people. This might be a short-term victory for the government, but it would be to the country's loss in the long run, he said. "If the government really wants reconciliation in the country, it should not buy time buy setting up committees aimed at bringing unity just so the government gets to stay in power longer," he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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People should participate in reconciliation

Posted by hasekamp on 10 June 2010 at 15:19 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva called on all Thai people to participate in the government's reconciliation plan ion a nationwide TV address on Thursday evening. He made the call in reading his prepared letter to the Thai people in a live telecast speech from Government House at 6pm. In the letter, the prime minister said in recent history the Thai people had experienced many tragic incidents.
Most painful of all was the fact that all these incidents were caused by the Thai people themselves, and caused severe psychological and physical damage. He said it was now time for the Thai people to walk forwards, leave behind hatred and anger and turn to reconciliation, and seriously look for effective and transparent political mechanisms for the reformation of the country. The government was ready to listen to every single voice of the people, he said. The prime minister said the first step toward reconciliation had begun this morning with a religious ceremony involving five faiths, followed by a meeting of representatives of several groups of people invited to give their opinions. The reconciliation plan would never succeed without the people's participation, he stressed. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New ministers sworn in

Posted by hasekamp on 8 June 2010 at 10:05 AM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva led his eight new cabinet ministers to take the oath of office in front of His Majesty the King at Siriraj Hospital on Monday evening. The new ministers and deputy ministers, whose appointments were endorsed by His Majesty on Sunday, are: Chaiwuti Bannawat, who becomes Industry Minister; Chaiyos Jiramethakorn, who becomes Deputy Education Minister; Chalerm Sri-on, who becomes Labour Minister; Juti Krairiksh, who becomes Information and Communication Technology Minister; Mun Patanotai, who becomes Deputy Finance Minister; Niphit Intharasombat, who becomes Culture Minister; and Virachai Virameteekul, who becomes Science and Technology Minister. They gathered at Government House about 3pm for group photos before heading to the hospital, where His Majesty is staying, for the oath taking ceremony. They were to be sworn in at 5.30pm. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Merit making ceremony by government

Posted by hasekamp on 8 June 2010 at 10:03 AM
The government will organise a grand merit-making ceremony on Thursday morning at Government House after prevailing over the recent political unrest, Prime Minister's Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said on Tuesday. Mr Sathit said the ceremony will involve priests from five religions - Brahminism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism - and it will run from 7am to 8am. The ceremony will seek to bring good fortune to the country, he said. The government will also unveil its campaign to promote national reconciliation on Friday, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Guard arrested for CentralWorld fire

Posted by hasekamp on 8 June 2010 at 10:02 AM
A security guard of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) has been arrested in connection with the torching of CentralWorld shopping mall in the May 19 mayhem. Pol Lt-Gen Santhan Chayanont, the Metropolitan Police chief, said at a press conference on Tuesday morning that the suspect, Saichol Phaebua, 28, a native of Sankhaburi district of Chai Nat province, was apprehended at Sanam Luang under an arrest warrant approved by the South Bangkok Criminal Court on June 1. He was carrying a UDD card when arrested. According to footage taken by a closed-circuit camera, after the UDD declared the end to its rally at Ratchaprasong on May 19 Mr Saichol and other people broke the glass panes and stormed into Zone E on the first floor the CentralWorld shopping centre about 2.30pm, went on a looting spree and set the shop ablaze. With the footage, police obtained court approval to arrest four people, including Mr Saichol. Mr Saichol admitted he was one of those who appeared in the video footage, but denied setting fire to the shop and looting, police said. (Source:The Bangkok Post)


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Rainmaking

Posted by hasekamp on 8 June 2010 at 9:59 AM
The government will begin rainmaking operations in the hope of breaking the drought crisis, but there is enough tap water for people in Bangkok, Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart said on Tuesday. Maj Gen Sanan said the water levels in Bhumibol and Sirikit dams had hit a critical level. However, the water crisis in the Northeast had eased a bit after a depression moved in bringing some rain to the region. "Officials have confirmed that cloud formations over the North are suited to rainmaking and they will begin flying operations above the dams," he said. The deputy premier said farmers should postpone the sowing of in-season or floating-rice crops for a month or so to ensure a sufficient supply of water. "There is enough tap water for Bangkok, as we have diverted water from the Mae Klong River," he said. The water levels in Pa Sak and Kwai Noi dams were not at a critical level yet, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket wants World Expo 2020

Posted by hasekamp on 6 June 2010 at 12:53 PM
The prospect of Phuket winning a bid to host World Expo 2020 is an exciting one, but there are huge hurdles to overcome if the island is to be ready for the task. Phuket easily satisfies most of the criteria needed to be a World Expo host. As Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop correctly pointed out at a recent meeting to discuss the bid, Phuket has plenty of space to host the event, as well as an international airport, sufficient high-quality accommodation and a unique culture to show visitors. The major stumbling block is a familiar one to readers of this space: transport. Shanghai Expo 2010, which runs from May 1 to October 1 this year, had more than eight million visitors in its first month alone. The idea that Phuket could accommodate so many visitors in such a short period of time is, to put it lightly, risible. Tuk-tuks, airport limousines and the meager fleet of public buses are clearly not up to the job.
We fully agree with the suggestion tat a World Expo for Phuket is more tan one bridge too far! (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Cabinet reshuffle endorsed

Posted by hasekamp on 6 June 2010 at 12:45 PM
His Majesty the King has endorsed a cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said before attending the World Economic Forum East Asia in Ho Chi Minh on Sunday. Mr Abhisit said the date and time for the eight new ministers to be sworn in by the King had not yet been set, but he will be granted an audience with His Majesty to give his monthly report on Monday. The eight new ministers include Chaiwut Bannawat as Industry Minister, Juti Krairiksh as Information and Communication Technology Minister, Chalermchai Sri-on as Labour Minister, Nipit Intrasombat as Culture Minister, Ongart Klampaiboon as Prime Minister's Office Minister, Veerachai Veerametheekul as Science and Technology Minister, Man Pattanotai as Deputy Minister of Finance and Chaiyos Jiramethakorn as Education Minister. "The reshuffle has been made so the government could work together as a unit," the premier said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Hong Kong lowers travel warning

Posted by hasekamp on 3 June 2010 at 17:21 PM
Hong Kong Thursday opened the door for tourists to return to Bangkok by lowering its two-month-old travel alert on the Thai capital. Officials in Hong Kong removed a black travel alert which advised people not to travel to Bangkok under any circumstances because of political unrest. The alert had been in place since April 11. As tensions ease in the Thai capital, the travel warning has instead been replaced by a red alert which advises people to avoid non-essential travel to the city, a government spokesman said. Major Hong Kong travel companies, who cancelled thousands of bookings as violence escalated, are to resume tours to Bangkok from mid-June, according to the Hong Kong Travel Industry Council. Bangkok is just over two hours by plane from Hong Kong and the wealthy city of 7 million is a major source of tourists with thousands of people flying in every week for mostly short breaks. (Source: The Nation)


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Emergency decree for several more months

Posted by hasekamp on 3 June 2010 at 17:18 PM
It is necessary that the emergency decree remain in force for several more months, even though it may affect tourism, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Thursday. The government would not be pressured into deciding when to lift the emergency decree, now imposed in Bangkok and 23 other provinces. The decision would be based on the government's own assessment of the situation, he said. Although the state of emergency may affect tourist confidence and arrivals, the government had to accept that in the interests of ensuring the country does not remain in chaos. Mr Suthep said he did not believe emergency law would obstruct the prime minister's reconciliation plan. He defended the legal action being implemented by the Department of Special Investigation. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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