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Subway is safe

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2010 at 12:00 PM
The public can definitely be sure of their security at all subway train stations, Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRT) acting governor Yiamchai Chatkaew said on Tuesday. Mr Yiamsaid was responding to Puea Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit's warning of possible sabotage of the subway train system. He said tight security measures are in place at all subway train stations. All passengers are subject to bag checks. Closed-circuit surveillance cameras have been installed at all stations. Security agencies have not issued any warning of possible sabotage and it was therefore not necessary for the MRTA to ask for support from the military, Mr Yiamchai said. He said passengers can be sure of their safety when using the subway train. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New budget airline

Posted by hasekamp on 31 August 2010 at 11:58 AM
Utmost efforts would be made to ensure that the new budget airline, Thai Tiger Airways, can begin providing services by next March, Piyasvasti Amranand, president at Thai Airways International (THAI), said on Tuesday. THAI and Tiger Air signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly set up the new budget airline on Aug 2. The two companies are now detailing the operational plan, including the leasing of aircraft and deciding and setting up both domestic and overseas routes, said Mr Piyasvasti. “quot;It is not necessary for Thai Tiger Airways to lease aircraft from Tiger Air. It can look for the needed planes from any airlines that offer the most suitable and the best deal. "Thai Tiger also has no obligation to use the Airbus 320 as it is an independent airline,”quot; he said. He expected THAI and Tiger Air would be able to decide on a suitable person to serve as CEO of Thai Tiger by the end of September. Thai Tiger Airways might open new routes, such as flights from Bangkok to cities in China and India, the THAI president said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flash floods all around

Posted by hasekamp on 30 August 2010 at 13:23 PM
More than 36,000 people in 220 villages have been hit by floods triggered by heavy rainfall over the past five days, says the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department. The four hardest-hit provinces are Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Uttaradit, and Lamphun, the department said in its daily report Saturday. Despite the heavy rains, the average water storage level at the country's major dams was at 53% capacity, which is lower than last year's mark, the department said. The flooding situation had worsened in many provinces due to continuous heavy rains from Friday night until Saturday morning. The Meteorological Department has also warned about an intense trough of low pressure in the North and Northeast that could result in heavy rains and flooding in certain areas. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Floods cut off the North

Posted by hasekamp on 29 August 2010 at 12:00 PM
Villagers in northern Thailand have been evacuated to higher ground while crops are damaged and a number of roads have been flooded, cutting off some areas from the outside world floods caused by heavy rainfall and water runoff from nearby mountains continue to trouble the region. In Phrae province, 10 villagers were carried away by flash floods while they watched water runoff hitting their village and damaged a concrete bridge. Nine were able to swim to shore, but another was swept away but retrieved by rescue workers one kilometer downstream. Emergency officials said flooding in other northern provinces including Phitsanulok, Phichit and Chiang Mai remained critical as heavy rains continued. Floods in some areas were over one metre deep, impassable for vehicles. Many village homes in Phitsanulok are under water and floods had destroyed over 10,000 rai of rice crops. Several villages were cut off from the outside world. Emergency officials declared Noen Maprang district a disaster zone and warned villagers to prepare for evacuation to higher ground as flash flood along with water runoff from a mountain are expected soon.
Over 500 houses in Phichit province are now flooded. The main road linking the province with Phetchabun is submerged and vehicles cannot pass through. In the northern city of Chiang Mai, over 20 spots in the heart of the city are flood-affected as provincial authorities are pumping the water. (Source: MCOT online news)


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Tiger cub in luggage

Posted by hasekamp on 28 August 2010 at 10:47 AM
A two-month-old tiger cub was discovered hidden among stuffed tiger toys in the baggage of a woman heading to Iran from Thailand, wildlife protection officials said Friday. A two-month-old tiger cub has been discovered hidden with a stuffed tiger toy in the baggage of a woman heading to Iran from Thailand, wildlife protection officials have said. The 31-year-old Thai woman, who has not been named, was arrested on Sunday night after the tiger was spotted by X-ray staff in overweight luggage destined for the cargo hold. An official from the Wild Fauna and Flora Protection Division said the cub was drugged and placed in the bag with the toys, apparently to make it appear as if it were a stuffed animal. "He was very calm, half asleep and half awake when we rescued him," he said. The cub was found at Thailand's Suvarnabhumi Airport and has since been sent to a rescue centre. The woman, who admitted carrying the tiger, according to officials, faces four years in prison, a 40,000-baht ($1,280) fine or both for possessing and smuggling an endangered animal. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Emergency decree lifted further

Posted by hasekamp on 27 August 2010 at 11:27 AM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday that the government is preparing to lift the state of emergency in northeastern provinces. “quot;The security units assessed the situation in the provinces and confirmed that it has returned to normal,”quot; he said. The emergency decree is currently still in force in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathumthani, Samut Prakan, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen and Nakhon Ratchasima. Asked about the bombing near King Power in Soi Rangnam on Thursday night, Mr Abhisit said it had not affected the overall situation. However, Bangkok will be the last province to have the emergency decree revoked. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PAD members to hear charges

Posted by hasekamp on 26 August 2010 at 17:42 PM
Altogether 59 People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) suspects reported to police to hear charges over the 2008 airports seizure, assistant police chief Pol Lt-Gen Somyos Phumphanmuang said on Thursday. Pol Lt-Gen Somyos, who is in charge of the case, said that of the 79 suspects summonsed, 59 reported to the Crime Suppression Division on Thursday, six requested postponement of reporting, and five had earlier surrendered to police. It was not known why the rest had not showed up. The police investigators would consider seeking court approval for warrants for their arrest, he said. Pol Lt-Gen Somyos insisted that no politicians had interfered in the case and did not feel being under pressure in handling the case. He addmitted the suspects might complain that too many charges were filed against them, but everything was based on the law. If there is no solid evidence to support the charges, the case could be dropped by the prosecutors. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket airport to be expanded

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2010 at 12:43 PM
A running 5.8-billion-baht expansion of Phuket International Airport will increase annual passenger traffic capacity to 12.5 million by 2013, Airports of Thailand (AOT) officials confirmed at a meeting on Monday. AOT President Serirat Prasutanond said the expansion is needed to cope with steadily increasing air traffic and to cement Thailand’#39;s status as a regional air hub. Mr Serirat was speaking at an open meeting at Central Festival Phuket attended by appointed and elected officials, business representatives, local residents and other members of the public. When the project finishes in 2013, the airport will be able to handle anticipated traffic through 2020, he said. Air traffic and passenger throughput have grown steadily at Phuket Airport, which is the second busiest in Thailand after Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi in terms of passengers and people using airport services, he said. Another aspect of the project, which began last year, is improving air links to regional airports, thus guaranteeing Thailand’#39;s status as the principal air hub of the region, he said. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Fan club for tourists

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2010 at 12:40 PM
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is setting up the Thailand Fan Club in Europe to help draw tourists to Phuket and other key destinations in the Kingdom, including Bangkok. "The TAT feels confident the club will encourage tourists from Europe to return to Thailand this peak season," TAT governor Suraphon Svetasreni said yesterday. More than 5,000 tourists from major source countries including France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and Norway have already joined the club, he said. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Flooding in many parts of Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 25 August 2010 at 12:37 PM
Flooding has spread to many parts of the country as a tropical storm Mindulle moves closer to Thailand. Under the influence of this storm, heavy rain poured down in Thailand's Upper Northeast yesterday. In Sakon Nakhon, floodwater rose so high more than 900 prisoners had to vacate the first floor of their facility and crammed into the second floor only and lost access to their toilets. The weather bureau has warned Mindulle will bring heavy rain to both the North and Northeast. People living along watercourses at the foot of mountains were warned to brace for possible flash floods. In Sukhothai in the North, the overflowing Yom River flooded more than 500 rai of paddy fields and over 100 houses. Locals had to move their belongings to higher ground and were on alert around the clock. The department hopes to complete its plan to install the early-warning system in 2,370 villages next year. (Source: The Nation)


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World Fair in Ayutthaya?

Posted by hasekamp on 22 August 2010 at 17:00 PM
Ayutthaya, Chon Buri and Chiang Mai have been short-listed in a six-month-long effort to name a Thai candidate city to host World Expo 2020. Phuket also made itself as candidate but did not make it. The three possible venues, which have emerged after a six-month study by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), will be submitted to the Cabinet next week for approval. If the Cabinet stands by the list, an in-depth study over the next four months will determine what needs to be done to make one of the three venues the best host city. TCEB president Akapol Sorasuchart said Ayutthaya's advantage lay in its proximity to Bangkok, but it had the disadvantage of being flood-prone. Chon Buri (Pattaya) is not far from Suvarnabhumi Airport and is close to a deep-sea port. Chiang Mai has had the experience of hosting the Royal Expo, but if it is chosen, more infrastructure will need to be developed. "These three provinces boast good infrastructure, accommodation, local hospitality and potential expansion after the event," Akapol told a press conference on Friday. “quot;At this stage, Ayutthaya is ranked No 1, followed by Chon Buri and Chiang Mai." Key to Ayutthaya's position is its easy access to a reasonable public transport network, something which Chon Buri and Chiang Mai (and Phuket) do not have. Kriengkrai Kanjanapokin, chief executive of Index Event Agency, said earlier that Ayutthaya was the most suitable choice for a world-class event because Bangkok's public transport network could be extended from Rangsit to Ayutthaya in the decade remaining before Expo date. "A good mass transit infrastructure is critical to support a big event like this because hundreds of thousands of people will come to the site on a daily basis,”quot; Kriengkrai said. Phuket was one of the six provinces originally proposed by the TCEB for the Expo. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Airport link fully ready

Posted by hasekamp on 22 August 2010 at 11:54 AM
The Airport Link connecting Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport is 100 per cent ready for the first day of commercial services tomorrow, State Railway of Thailand governor Yuthana Thapcharoen said on Sunday. "The stations, the rails and the overall train system are ready for service. The Airport Link will run from 6am to midnight," Mr Yuthana said. The City Line will make eight stops across the capital starting from Phayathai before heading to the airport. Its fares start at 15 baht. The Express Service is a non-stop journey between Makkasan and Suvarnabhumi and the fare is 100 baht per trip. However, the fare will be raised to 150 baht after the check-in system are fully set up at Makkasan station. The Airport Link is expected to cater for 15,000 to 50,000 passengers a day. "Independent safety and system certification engineers (ICE) have issued a certificate standard for the trains, while security personnel and police are overseeing order and security in each station," the SRT chief said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Will a tourism bank solve problems?

Posted by hasekamp on 21 August 2010 at 15:17 PM
The tourism business operators are planning to propose to the government that a “quot;tourism bank”quot; be set up to help resolve their liquidity shortage problem, Sakkarin Chorsawai, director of Thai Hotels Association said on Saturday. Mr Sakkarin said the tourism bank’#39;s main task is to specially provide financial services for the tourism related industries and businesses. “quot;At the starting stage, the government can use about one or two per cent of its revenue from tourism taxes as a capital for the setting up of this special bank”quot; he said. No less than 100 million Thai and foreign tourists visited local tourist destinations each year and the tourism related business operators expected to post a total income of about 957 billion baht this year, according to Mr Sakkarin. He said the idea of setting up the tourism bank will be proposed to the association's chairman on Sep 18. If it is approved, the proposal will be forwarded to the government for consideration. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Rice export 9 million tonnes

Posted by hasekamp on 18 August 2010 at 11:05 AM
The government expects Thailand to export nine million tonnes of rice this year due mainly to lower rice yield in Vietnam, a major competitor in the rice market. Thai Rice Exporters Association president Chukiat Opaswong said on Tuesday Vietnam planned to export 3.2 million tonnes of rice in the second half of 2010, lower than the first half of the year at four million tonnes. The neighbouring country's rice export target for this year was 6.5 million tonnes. Mr Chukiat called on the Thai government to release more rice from its six-million-tonne stock. Department of Foreign Trade director-general Manat Soiploy said Vietnam's rice output for export had stalled. "This is an opportunity for Thailand to export more rice and the Foreign Trade Department has determined different ways to increase rice exports," Mr Manat said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Airport link now open

Posted by hasekamp on 17 August 2010 at 16:35 PM
The Airport Link connecting Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi airport will begin commercial services next Monday, State Railway of Thailand governor Yuthana Thapcharoen said on Tuesday. Mr Yuthana said the Airport Link's Express Service and City Line systems will run every 15 minutes from 6am to midnight. The City Line will make eight stops across the capital starting from Phayathai before heading to the airport. Its fares start at 15 baht. The Express Service is a non-stop journey between Makkasan and Suvarnabhumi and the fare is 100 baht per trip. The baggage handling system at Makkasan station was still in a testing period but should be operational before the end of this year. People with many bags may have some difficulties during the check-in process, the SRT chief said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Students arrested with fake bank notes

Posted by hasekamp on 17 August 2010 at 16:32 PM
Three students were arrested and fake 1,000 baht bank notes with a face value of 4.7 million baht and printing equipment were seized in a police raid on a dormitory in Muang district of Ubon Ratchathani province on Tuesday morning. The raid on Non Hong Thong dormitory in tambon Rai Noi in Muang district was carried out by border patrol police. They stormed into Room10 and arrested Surapat Meesawat, 21, a business administration student of Ubon Ratchathani University, Sakphum Sithiha, 25, studying for a master's degree in computer science at Srinakarinwirote University Maha Sarakham campus, and Watwatpong Pattarananthakit, 30, who is studying for a doctorate degree at a university. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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H1N1 still not over

Posted by hasekamp on 17 August 2010 at 16:30 PM
The Public Health Ministry on Tuesday announced that 10 more people died last week from the A(H1N1)flu, bringing the toll from the swine flu virus in Thailand to 245. The Bureau of Epidemiology of the Disease Control Department said the total death toll was confirmed for the period between April 28, 2009 and Aug 7, 2010. The department said the number of people sick from the H1N1 virus started to rise in early July, along with the spread of seasonal influenza during the rainy season. Health officials in every province had been instructed to closely watch the situation to reduce the infection and death rates. The department said 38 people were confirmed to have been infected with the H1N1 virus during the period of July 25-Sept 7. he highest number was 18 in Bangkok, followed by seven in Nonthaburi, three in Rayong, two in Phangnga, and one each in Suphan Buri, Kanchanaburi, Samut Prakan and Nakhon Sawan, Lampang, Ubon Ratchathani, Trang and Songkhla. On Aug 10, World Health Organisation head Magaret Chan said the H1N1 pandemic was over and the global outbreak turned out to be much less severe than was feared just over a year ago. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Decree lifted in three provinces

Posted by hasekamp on 16 August 2010 at 10:59 AM
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday lifted the Emergency Decree in three more provinces still considered strongholds of the anti-government movement, but said the security law will continue in the capital and key northeastern provinces where it is still needed. Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the lifting of the emergency decree takes effect today. The state of emergency now remains in place in 7 provinces --Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Samut Prakan and Bangkok. The premier acted after Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, as director of the Centre for the Resolution and the Emergency Situation (CRES), said he would ask the cabinet to revoke the state of emergency in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Ubon Ratchathani. Mr Abhisit said earlier that the decree will continue in force in Bangkok, its surrounding areas and some key northeastern provinces as anti-government movements are still active there. (Source: MCOT)


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UDD leaders deny chargess

Posted by hasekamp on 16 August 2010 at 10:51 AM
Seventeen of the 19 leaders and supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) indicted for terrorism denied all charges brought against them by the prosecution when they appeared at the Criminal Court for the first hearing on Monday. Two defendants, Puea Thai MPs Jatuporn Prompan, 44, and Karun Hosakul, 42, did not attend the court hearing because they are protected by parliamentary privilege. The Criminal Court read out the indictments filed by the prosecution on Aug 11. The defendants are charged with committing terrorist acts, illegal assembly, staging armed unrest, defying a legal order to end illegal activities, and violating the emergency decree. The suspects led hundred of thousands of red-shirt supporters to rally in Bangkok. The illegal rallies were held during that period, from Khok Wua intersection to Misakawan intersection on Ratchadamnern Avenue, from Chamai Maruchet bridge to Wang Daeng intersection on Phitsanulok road, and at the Ratchaprasong intersection. The protesters also laid siege to various locations including the office of the Election Commission, the 11th Infantry Regiment and Chulalongkorn Hospital. They splashed human blood when they blockaded Government House and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's residence in Sukhumvit Soi 31. They attacked many different targets with M79 and RPG rounds, causing a large number of casualties, according to the indictments. They conducted arms training for a large number of UDD guards,and armed men termed to be King Taksin's warriors and Ronin fighters, who had committed terrorist acts and caused widespread unrest. After listening to the indictments, the 17 suspects denied all the charges and vowed to fight the case in court. The court set Sept 27 for examining of lists of evidence and witnesses. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Army wants decree in North lifted

Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2010 at 15:58 PM
The 3rd Army commander has recommended the lifting of the state of emergency in the northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai to give trade and tourism a boost. Thanongsak Apirakyothin yesterday said he put forward the recommendation to the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) for a decision to be made. Lt Gen Thanongsak said the recommendation is based on the fact that the overall security situation in the two provinces is now under control. "I am not 100% sure that nothing will happen after emergency rule is lifted. But I think it should be lifted to restore the provinces' image in terms of tourism and trade," Lt Gen Thanongsak said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Fight against poverty

Posted by hasekamp on 15 August 2010 at 15:12 PM
More relief for debtors, loans to kickstart careers and skills training are promised in a new package of government measures to ease poverty. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will announce the package tomorrow. The measures build on an earlier project in which the government restructured informal debts and turned them into formal ones which come under the banking system. Targeted for help are Thais who borrowed from informal lenders, those with non-bank loans (also known as off-system debts), farmers who owe money to the state-run Farmers' Reconstruction and Development Fund and teachers. Together they make up about 2.6 million people. The government has started helping non-bank borrowers. Earlier this year 1.2 million people who say they fell victim to loan sharks registered for government help. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Mae Ping overflowing

Posted by hasekamp on 13 August 2010 at 17:39 PM
Flash floods continue to hit the North following days of heavy rains, causing a five-year record surge in Chiang Mai where a bridge has collapsed leaving two entire villages stranded. Mae Ping River sections in Chiang Dao district are swelling and have inundated several areas. The river is also overflowing in Muang district and causing floods in tourist areas such as Night Bazaar and Huay Kaew. A flood warning over a possible three-metre surge in the Mae Ping River has been issued. The level has come close to a critical height of 3.7 metres. Two villages in tambon Ping Khong have been left stranded after the only bridge connecting them with the outside world has collapsed due to strong currents. Repairs of the wooden bridge are being conducted. In Lampang, Jae Son National Park has been closed to tourists because of swelling in the Jae Son waterfall and creeks. The currents are full of mud sediment, an indicator of possible landslides. More than 100 families living in many villages nearby have been affected by the flash floods. More than 150 households in Uttaradit, with a history of mudslides, have been inundated by floods rolling from mountainous areas. Soldiers from local units are helping villagers to move their property to higher areas. (Source: The Nation)


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Birthday speech by Her Majesty the Queen

Posted by hasekamp on 12 August 2010 at 12:21 PM
An act of courage by a heavily pregnant woman who followed car thieves and was responsible for their capture has been extolled by Her Majesty the Queen in her traditional birthday address to the nation. The Queen said such tremendous courage showed that Thais never run short of compassion for others. Her Majesty celebrates her 78th birthday today (August 12). Her address was delivered yesterday at Dusitdalai Pavilion inside Chitralada Palace. She praised Thitima Yurawan who saw a car being stolen from a hypermarket in the Bang Khae area on Aug 5. The thieves stole a Toyota Fortuner belonging to a woman naval officer. Ms Thitima, 33, who is nine months pregnant, drove after the thieves, while calling police and a radio station to alert them. She lost the thieves but police knew where they were headed thanks to Ms Thitima's information. They were able to arrest them. Her Majesty reserved her highest praise for Ms Thitima's selflessness and unyielding courage in the face of danger. The Queen told an audience of 15,000 in and outside of the pavilion that she had learned Ms Thitima was due to give birth today, coinciding with her birthday. The baby boy has been named "Nong Hero". Her Majesty also recalled how a five-year-old child offered to read a story to His Majesty the King to help him recover from his illness more swiftly. The Queen said this child's innocent wish was part of the outpouring of love and concern for the King's health by the Thai people. She said cash donations totalling millions of baht given by people who signed the get-well books for the King at Siriraj Hospital would go to the hospital. The flowers and garlands are donated to temples. Her Majesty conveyed the King's worries over the water situation in the country. His Majesty has been monitoring water-related problems such as drought and floods. He has instructed authorities to carry out artificial rain-making over the country's main dams to boost supplies for irrigation and consumption. The Queen added that the King has allowed other countries suffering water shortages to use the rain-making technology. It goes to show the King's kindness extends well beyond Thailand's borders, Her Majesty said. The Queen warned people to be careful over the next three months when there could be more rain than usual in many parts of the country. While more water could be stored for next year, the unusually wet weather could also cause heavy floods. The Queen also talked about progress in the creation of artificial reefs by dumping concrete pillars, garbage trucks and train carriages into the sea. "The fish have a choice of apartments. They like the train carriages the most," Her Majesty said, drawing smiles from the audience. She said the artificial reefs provide a breeding ground for aquatic animals and small-scale fishers no longer have to venture far out to sea to catch fish. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Culturaal Heritage 2010 items named

Posted by hasekamp on 11 August 2010 at 11:37 AM
Thirty-four cultural heritage items - including the body-contorting hermit's art of Thai traditional medicine, the folk tale of Phanthai Norasing, and the craft of banana-stalk carving - will be announced as part of National Cultural Heritage 2010, Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat said yesterday. Chosen from 8,000 proposals, the 34 heritage items will be divided into six fields: traditional performance art (six items); traditional craftsmanship (seven); folklore and literature (five); traditional games, sports and martial arts (four); social norms and festivals (seven); and knowledge and practice on nature and the universe (five items). The listing of such items is to protect national and local cultural heritages, especially those under threat of extinction, and to preserve them for the education of younger generations, he said. His office was also pushing for Thailand to become party to the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. (Source: The Nation)


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Bus plan reviewd

Posted by hasekamp on 10 August 2010 at 12:16 PM
The cabinet on Tuesday ordered yet another review of the Transport Ministry's proposal to lease 4,000 NGV-powered airconditioned buses for the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, a Government House source said. Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwannakhiri was assigned to head the review team, which includes Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum and Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij. They would make an additional study of the project, reviewing several points, and report back to the cabinet. Several government agencies, including the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, have previously disagreed with the project. They said it was too costly and unlikely to help solve the BMTA's problem of accumulating debt. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bomb suspect may surrender

Posted by hasekamp on 6 August 2010 at 17:08 PM
A suspect who is the subject of an arrest warrant suspected of being involved bombing at various locations in Bangkok -- including last week's Rangnam Road incident -- has contacted the police through his close aide to surrender himself to the authorities after Sorathian Singkanya, another suspect, was arrested Wednesday, according to Metropolitan Police Division 1 commander Pol Maj-Gen Wichai Sangprapai. Mr Sorathian told police that he will meet Mr Suwit, also known as Bungwai [surname unknown] when he joined the anti-government 'Red Shirt' United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters at Din Daeng intersection on May 17 and Mr Suwit persuaded him to learn how to assemble and place bombs in containers filled with fuel at a UDD tent in the Lumpini area. The Court issued an arrest warrant for Mr Suwit Wednesday evening for illegal possession of bombs, carrying firearms and violating the emergency decree. Police believed Mr Suwit may have been involved in bomb attacks at many locations in Bangkok. Gen Wichai said after Mr Suwit's photo was published in the media, the suspect contacted the police through his friend saying that he wanted to turn himself in to defend himself against the accusations. However, Mr Suwit did not specify when and where he will surrender to the authorities but initially he wanted to know if he would be granted release on bail after coming in and how much collateral was necessary to guarantee his bail. Mr Sorathian was arrested for allegedly placing a bomb on Rangnam Road, near the King Power duty-free shopping complex on July 30, but he denied the charges. The court on Wednesday also issued warrants for two suspects in the bombing on the street in front of the Big C department store in Rajprasong – Kittisak or Uan Soonsri and Seksan Worapiticharoenkul -- and ordered the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to seek more evidence for the third suspect -- Thanadej or Kai Akeapiwat -- prior to issuing a warrant. (Source: MCOT online news)


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VAT remains 7 percent

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2010 at 9:27 AM
The cabinet has agreed to extend the term of the seven per cent value-added tax (VAT), which ends on Sept 30, for another two years, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said on Tuesday. Mr Korn said the Ministry of Finance had proposed the extension to help reduce cost of manufacturers. With the economy now recovering the government wants to help to stabilise the costs of manufacturers in order to further drive the economy, he added. The extension ends on Sept 30, 2012. There has been speculation the government was considering increasing the VAT. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Red-shirt arrested in connection with Big C bomb

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2010 at 9:24 AM
A former guard of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship has been arrested and is being investigated for possible involvement in the recent explosions in front of the Big C department store, Ratchadamri, and opposite King Power duty-free complex on Rang Nam road, Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Pol Maj-Gen Wichai Sangprapai said. Pol Maj-Gen Wichai identified the man only as Sornpian, 23, a native of Nong Khai province. Sornpian is alleged to have placed a bomb at the Victory Monument on May 19 before fleeing. He had only just returned to selling clothing at Victory Monument when he was arrested. The city police chief said the man confessed to have been trained in placing bombs, along with other UDD guards, in open ground around the King Rama VI statue in front of Lumpini Park. The man and other guards were given some Chinese-made hand grenades to be laid at Victory Monument and other areas, Pol Maj-Gen Wichai said. Sornpian was being questioned to find out whether he was involved in the blasts in front of the Big C department store on Ratchadamri road on July 25 and opposite of King Power duty-free complex on Rang Nam road last Friday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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PAD leaders still not in court

Posted by hasekamp on 4 August 2010 at 9:20 AM
The prosecution on Wednesday again deferred, until Oct 7, its decision on whether to indict nine leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) for the 193-day seizure of the Government House compound in 2008. Kaiyasit Pitsawongprakan, director-general of the Criminal Litigation Department of the Office of the Attorney General, said the prosecutors deferred the indictment decision because police had not yet finished questioning the additional witnesses presented the suspects. In this case, nine PAD leaders - Sondhi Limthongkul, Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaikuk, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Suriyasai Katasila, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Amornthep Amornrattananont and Therdphum Jaidee - have been charged with illegal assembly and inciting unrest in violation of Articles 116, 215 and 216 of the Criminal Code. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Arrests during cockfight

Posted by hasekamp on 3 August 2010 at 11:37 AM
Forty-two people were arrested and charged with gambling following a raid at a Phuket cockpit yesterday afternoon. The raid, led by Crime Suppression Division Area 5 Inspector Sitthikiat Srichan, came at 1:30pm at a rubber plantation area off Soi Suanwat in Rawai Village 1, behind Rawai Temple. All were taken to Chalong Police Station, where they were charged and held without bail. Seized as evidence were four fighting cocks, two of which had already engaged in battle and appeared exhausted, badly scratched and partially de-feathered. Their legs were tightly bound together, rendering them unable to fight inside the rattan cage where they were held. Other items seized were rattan cages, a small gas cylinder, six medical treatment kits, betting lists and a number of other items commonly associated with the blood sport. Although 42 people were arrested, they were only a fraction of those that took part. While a number of countries have banned cockfighting citing animal cruelty, it remains popular in Thailand, which reportedly has approximately 500 cockfighting dens. In general, gambling is prohibited by law in the Kingdom. Cockfighting remains an exception, however. Cockfighting has been illegal in Phuket for the past seven years, since former Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura put a blanket ban on it out of fear it would upset tourists. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Heavy rain expected

Posted by hasekamp on 3 August 2010 at 11:31 AM
Floods hit several provinces after heavy downpours yesterday - and the Meteorological Department warned on its website of more heavy rain, strong wind and large waves. Abundant rain and isolated heavy to very heavy falls were likely over all parts of Thailand, the weather bureau said. Five schools were forced to close for the day in Chaiyaphum in the Northeast after floods inundated roads. Large water pumps were used to drain water from the town. Bungalows on Samet Island off Rayong province were damaged by flash floods. Traffic on Chang Island in Trat province was congested as floods inundated many parts of the island.
Landslides had reportedly blocked roads in Bang Bao on Koh Chang. Mae Hong Son Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office warned residents in every district to monitor and brace for possible flash floods and mud flows until tomorrow. In Chiang Mai, 900 villages in 25 districts were at risk of flash floods and landslides. (Source: The Nation)


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Links to bombings found

Posted by hasekamp on 2 August 2010 at 12:00 PM
Suspects behind the fatal Big C Rajdamri bomb attack have been linked to a group with ties to the late rogue Army specialist Khattiya Sawasdiphol, Bangkok police chief Pol Lt General Santhan Chayanont said yesterday. But a bomb attack near dutyfree giant King Power office could be linked to a bomb related case in Prachachuen jurisdiction earlier this year, judging from the way the explosives were modified, he said. Asked at a press conference whether the two groups were operating at the command of the same masterminds, senior investigator Pol General Phanuphong Singhara na Ayutthaya said it was too early to reach such a conclusion. (Source: The Nation)


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A closer eye on tourists

Posted by hasekamp on 1 August 2010 at 13:08 PM
The Immigration Bureau will start a new campaign next month to keep track of the whereabouts of all tourists by enforcing reporting requirements of hotels, resorts and guesthouses. Bureau chief Wuthi Liptapallop said managers failing to comply will face arrest and fines of up to 10,000 baht per tourist if they do not fulfil their obligations. Under Section 38 of the Immigration Act, managers of residences, hotels, guesthouses, condominiums and resorts have to notify the Immigration Office about guests within 24 hours of their arrival. Pol Lt Gen Wuthi said the provision had long existed but had not been fully enforced. The opening of the Immigration Control System Centre next month and an improved computer system at the bureau now made this possible. "We will now request from the managers of those places information on each guest, by computer, every day," he said. "We are now receiving information from about 60% of them. This should rise to 70% next month, and more in the following weeks." Lt Gen Wuthi said the data collected would be reported to every ambassador, which would give them confidence "that we are trying to serve and protect their nationals". (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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