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PAD members jailed for raid on NBT

Posted by hasekamp on 31 December 2010 at 14:02 PM
The court yesterday handed 82 members of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) who invaded the state-run National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT) station in August 2008 to jail sentences of up to two and a half years. Three minors who also joined the seizure of NBT, making the total number 85, were given two-year suspended sentences. The 85 people, all of whom have been released temporarily on bail, invaded NBT in hopes of airing anti-government information on the state-run channel in a bid to overthrow the government. Hours later, the move failed because of technical difficulties. The group, led by the so-called Sri Vijaya Warriors allegedly under the command of PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul, were found guilty of undermining law and order, assault, and trespassing on government property. Some organic drugs similar to marijuana were also found on two of the defendants. The sentences vary depending of whether a member of the group carried weapons or drugs or committed assaulted. Defendants No 39 and 80 were fined Bt1,000 in addition of another penalty for possessing drugs. Two defendants confessed and had their sentences halved. Most of the offenders were given sentences of one and a half years, however. All the defendants are expected to fight in the Appeal Court, and will apply for bail. (Source: The Nation)


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New Year's wished by the Thai PM

Posted by hasekamp on 31 December 2010 at 13:46 PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday marked the New Year with the wish that the country finds peace and an end to violent conflict, and that the economy can move forward. Mr Abhisit admitted that he personally wishes for happiness and to have a family life, as other ordinary people do. It was reported that from today to Jan 2, the prime minister and his family will take a rest in Tak province. They might also travel to the famous Ti Lor Su waterfall of this northern province. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Large Red rally on January 9

Posted by hasekamp on 29 December 2010 at 9:55 AM
With the emergency decree no longer in force, the Jan 9 red-shirt rally is expected to attract at least 60,000 supporters, United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leader Thida Thavornseth said on Wednesday. Speaking at a press conference at UDD headquarters, Imperial World Lat Phrao, Mrs Thida said that even without the presence of Jatuporn Prompan the rally at Ratchaprasong intersection would still be held from 3pm to 8pm. Under a court order issued yesterday, Mr Jatuporn, a Puea Thai list-MP, is prohibited from taking part in a political gathering of five or more people and from making political comment publicly on legal cases involving the red shirts, unless he is in parliament. Mrs Thida called for supporters to turn up at the rally to protest against state agencies that had distorted facts and to obtain justice. She believed the rally would draw at least 60,000 red-shirts as it would be the first rally since the emergency decree imposed last April 7 was lifted on Dec 22. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Tsunami remembrance

Posted by hasekamp on 28 December 2010 at 16:40 PM
Hundreds of people turned out for Phuket’#39;s three main tsunami remembrance services on December 26. The day began with wreaths being laid at the Tsunami Wall of Remembrance in Mai Khao following a speech by Sarawut Srisakukarm, President of the Mai Khao Tambon Administration, at 8:30am. At the Tsunami Monument in Kamala, services began just after 11 am with a speech by Kazushi Miyashita, President of the Phuket Japanese Association, followed by a speech by Governor Tri Augkaradacha. Among the dignitaries at the service was Japanese Ambassador to Thailand Seiji Kojima. After midday, a mass prayer by Buddhist priests from Japan was held, followed by the laying of wreaths at the monument. At night, scores of people joined the 'Light Up Phuket' ceremony, setting Patong Beach aglow with candlelight. In his speech to the crowd gathered on the beach, Ministry of Tourism and Sports Permanent Secretary Sombat Kuruphan said, "The Light Up Phuket memorial service is held not only to remember those who passed away in the tsunami, but also acts as a reminder to the public and the relevant authorities to be continually aware of the threat of natural disasters." Such services helped protect against the loss of life and property from any impending catastrophes, said Mr Sombat. "They invoke a cautionary mode of thinking that helps to minimize the impact of any potential natural threats," he added. The permanent secretary also called on the public not to fear any predictions that a tsunami was to strike the region before December 30. "If an earthquake or tsunami occurs, we have the warning system as well as the evacuation procedures to move local residents and tourists to safe areas," Mr Sombat said. "Tourists and local residents can rest assured that if a tsunami does occur, the government and relevant authorities will warn them and move them to safety," he added. The permanent secretary then called on the crowd to light their candles and place them in the sand.
As if on cue, once the beach was illuminated by hundreds of candles, the heavens parted and heavy rain fell from the skies. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Decree lifted in Pattani an Mae lan

Posted by hasekamp on 28 December 2010 at 16:34 PM
The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the lifting of two draconian provisions - martial law and state of emergency in Mae Lan district, Pattani in a pilot move to scale down the security in the southernmost provinces.
Following the end of emergency rule, the authorities will enforce the Internal Security Act to keep peace in the strife-torn area. The ISA is seen as having less stringent provisions to circumvent rights and liberties of the local residents. The end of the state of emergency in Mae Lan will take immediate effect while the martial law will cease following the issuing of a Royal command upon recommendation of the Defence Council. (Source: The Nation)


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Phuket tourism still influenced by 2004 tsunami

Posted by hasekamp on 26 December 2010 at 12:46 PM
Exactly six years after a tsunami crashed into Andaman Sea coast, claiming up to 5,400 victims - half of them foreign tourists - the disaster continues to haunt the tourism industry, this year in the guise of superstition. Several well-known Thai astrologers in November made predictions that a tsunami would revisit the Andaman this month, impacting hotel bookings in Phuket, Phangnga and Ranong beach resorts. "Asian tourists are constantly calling up and asking whether or not there is going to be another tsunami," Phuket Hotel association manager Narranon Yangyuen said. Phuket's tourism industry has had it's fair share of natural and man-made calamities since December 26, 2004, when a tsunami unleashed by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake off northern Sumatra killed an estimated 230,000 people in 14 countries rimming the Indian Ocean. Since then, Thailand's tourism sector has been hard hit by the bird-flu and Sars scares, political upheavals in Bangkok and the global financial crisis that has reduced spending power in the kingdom's most lucrative markets - the USA and Europe. (Source: The Nation)


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Less Child porn in Pattaya

Posted by hasekamp on 26 December 2010 at 12:40 PM
Child pornography and other sex films have largely disappeared from Pattaya's Beach Road despite being widely available there only a week ago. The development comes on the heels of a police crackdown on the material after its widespread availability on Beach Road was brought to the attention of authorities via an investigative report in last Sunday's Spectrum magazine. Not only were the covers of the sex films absent from the tables of vendors, but sellers who had previously sold the material upon request this time refused to do so. The only exception was a stall with a large quantity of pirated DVDs on display in front of a grocery store near Soi 13/3. The seller there asked the Post Sunday investigator if he wanted to buy porn. After saying that he did, a woman appeared and asked the investigator to follow her to a nearby tailor's shop. Once inside the shop, the woman produced a plastic bag containing three stacks of pornographic DVDs - one with child porn, the second Japanese and the third European films. Each stack contained about 30 films. While the investigator browsed through the DVDs, six people outside the shop, including motorcycle taxi drivers, kept a lookout for police. The panic among sellers comes after the arrest of Khon Kaen native Ubol Dan-ud, 39, on Tuesday. Police said he was found to have over 500 pornographic VCDs, including child porn. He was arrested following an undercover operation by police. Mr Ubol allegedly told police that he bought the discs from a teenager for 70 baht and sold them to foreigners for 100 baht. A foreign man took part in that undercover operation, which has led to the reluctance of sellers to sell the porn for fear of another sting. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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National Teacher

Posted by hasekamp on 22 December 2010 at 15:51 PM
The Thai Cabinet yesterday approved an Education Ministry plan to honour His Majesty King Bhumibol as the "National Teacher". "This is to honour His Majesty on his 84th birthday next year," Education Minister Chinnaworn Boonyakiat said. He said the King deserved this honour because he had made great contributions to the education sector. In 1955, His Majesty established the Chitralada School to provide education for young royal members, children of courtiers and the public. Some 104 schools are under royal patronage, including the Rajavinit, Rajaprajanugroh, and the King's colleges. His Majesty has also handed out many scholarships. (Source: The Nation)


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Decree lifted

Posted by hasekamp on 21 December 2010 at 11:19 AM
The cabinet on Tuesday decided to revoke the emergency decree, set up a new situation monitoring centre and allow Rights and Liberties Department officials to seek the release on bail of 104 red shirts detained for minor offences. Acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the revocation of the emergency decree, being enforced in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan, will take effect from Wednesday. The emergency decree,however, will be replaced by the Internal Security Act (ISA), he said. The cabinet was in agreement that the situation has considerably improved, officials responsible for maintaining peace and order have become more effective in performing their duties, and that the people do not condone violence, he said. Security agencies were confident they would be able to keep the situation under control without the emergency decree. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Cocaine caught in Bnagkok

Posted by hasekamp on 21 December 2010 at 11:16 AM
Police on Sunday arrested a Nigerian man in Bangkok with 20 bags of cocaine, valued at 5.25 million baht while the man was apparently delivering the drug to a client. Tourist Police commander Pol Maj-Gen Adisorn Ngamjitsuksri identified the 30-year-old Nigerian as Ohanyiri Onyekwere Alentine. He was arrested at an apartment in Sukhumvit Road Soi 93 while he was preparing to deliver cocaine to a client. Police inspected his rented room and found a backpack containing 20 bags of cocaine, weighing two kilogrammes, hidden in the ceiling of the room. Gen Adisorn said the suspect entered the kingdom in 2008 and is married to a Thai woman. The suspect is a middleman receiving drugs from dealers and then distributing them to clients. Police initially charged him with illegal possession of drugs for trading, said the tourist police chief. The maximum penalty is the death sentence. (Source: MCOT)


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Phuket Street Festival

Posted by hasekamp on 18 December 2010 at 17:56 PM
The 2010 Phuket Street Show Festival kicked off yesterday evening on a packed Thalang Road with energetic performances by aerial acrobats from Bencha Theater Group. Some of the world’#39;s best street performers have descended on Phuket Town this weekend for the event, which is sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The festivities, taking place in the old quarter of Phuket Town and running until Sunday, boast a stellar line-up including 23 acts from nine different countries. There is something for everybody over the weekend, including music, magic, comedy, pantomime, puppetry, stilt walking, trapeze, balloon modeling, clowning, acrobatics, physical theater, unicycle, dancing and juggling. The shows are being performed on six separate stages along Thalang Road and part of Krabi Road, while other acts are on Thepkrasattri/Phuket Road from the Dibuk Road intersection to Phang Nga Road. The highlight tonight will be the performance of renowned street artists Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, better known as The Acrobuffos, who bill themselves as “quot;laughmakers, street players and knockabout philosophers”quot;. Other must-see shows tonight include another gravity-defying acrobatic show from Bencha Theater, the traditional circus of Korean comedy duo Funniest, and Brazilian BMX street performer James. All of the mentioned performers will also be strutting their stuff on Sunday alongside a host of other acts. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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No more working mobiles in prison

Posted by hasekamp on 18 December 2010 at 17:46 PM
In an attempt to tackle the long-standing problem of drug dealings being run by convicted dealers, Ratchaburi's Khao Bin prison will be the first to get mobile phone jamming devices. Costing Bt50 million, the devices will be installed at eight locations on the premises to block phone calls between convicts and drug dealers. Even though the devices also disrupt the signals for prison officials and residents living nearby, no formal complaints have been received yet. Next year, the devices will be installed in Bangkok's Khlong Prem prison as well as the Central Correctional Institution for Drug Addicts in the same compound, Nonthaburi's Bang Khwang and Nakhon Ratchasima's Khlong Phai prisons, director-general of the Corrections Department, Chartchai Sutthiklom, said yesterday. He said corrupt prison guards sold mobile phones to inmates for between Bt120,000 and Bt150,000 each, as well as SIM cards for exorbitant amounts. (Source: The Nation)


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Chiang Mai telescope

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2010 at 11:50 AM
The Science and Technology Ministry will open a new observatory featuring one of East Asia's largest telescopes at Doi Inthanon National Park in Chiang Mai late next year, Science Minister Veerachai Veeramethakul said yesterday. The Bt 300 million facility will officially open late next year or in January 2012 at the latest. The 2.4 meter radius telescope will be one of the two largest in East Asia - the other being in China. The ministry has also approved the construction of five regional observatories in Chachoengsao, Nakhon Ratchasima, Songkhla, Khon Kaen and Phitsanulok. (Source: The Nation)


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Within 10 years?

Posted by hasekamp on 17 December 2010 at 11:48 AM
A weather model study has found that Bangkok could be submerged by seawater in as few as 10 years, says the director of the Sirindhorn International Environmental Park's Energy for Environment Centre. Seree Supharatid said the capital was among nine Asian cities at risk of being flooded. If the city received water at a rate of more than 4,100 cubic meters per second - combined with 5 per cent increased rainfall, a land subsidence rate of 4 millimetres per year and a rise in the Gulf sea level of 1.3cm per year - the inner city area would be submerged within a decade. Some 680,000 residents and 1.16 million buildings would be affected, especially in Bang Khun Thian, Bang Bon, Bang Khae, and Phra Samut Jedi. (Source: The Nation)


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Teak logs seized

Posted by hasekamp on 16 December 2010 at 17:24 PM
Authorities have confiscated more than 3,000 teak logs estimated to be worth more than 200 million baht and believed to have been smuggled into Thailand from Burma. A joint operation between the Department of Special Investigation, Customs Department and Royal Forestry Department raided two sawmills owned by Suksawat Group Co yesterday and seized the logs. The operation was carried out following a complaint from Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga that a company had imported teak wood illegally from Burma through Mae Hong Son. DSI deputy chief Narat Savetnant alleged Anton Co had falsely declared the confiscated logs to the Customs Office in Mae Hong Son as sawn timber using 57 documents that claimed the imports had been approved by Burmese officials. The import documents were later found to be counterfeit, Mr Narat said. The crackdown has raised questions over whether local officials responsible for approving the import of the confiscated wood were aware of the company's activities. No charges have been made against officials but they will face an inquiry to determine if they had anything to do with the illegal wood imports and whether they should take responsibility, Mr Narat said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket: A month of crime

Posted by hasekamp on 14 December 2010 at 14:15 PM
There were five premeditated murders in Phuket last month, according to crime statistics released by the Phuket Provincial Police. Once again leading the number of reported cases and arrests were narcotics offenses. Overall 320 people were arrested in 282 cases, a 4.7% decrease year-on-year. Most of the narcotics seized as evidence were ya bah (methampetamine) numbering 27,712 pills. Of the five murders reported there were arrests in two cases. There was a 33% decrease in Category 2 crimes, which include all crimes to the person. Of the 20 cases reported, the most common charge was for assault: eight counts. There were also eight attempted murders and three rapes reported. Reports of Category 3 crimes, a grouping of crimes to property, were unchanged year-on-year with 61 reported cases. Of these the most common were theft, with 54 reported cases and 34 arrests. Reports of Category 4 crimes, a miscellaneous grouping called “quot;crimes of interest”quot;, included 15 reported cases of motorbike theft (six arrests) and 17 cases of embezzlement (two arrests). There were a total of 37 cases reported in this category, a 9.8% decrease year-on-year. As usual, Category 5 crimes, listed as “quot;crimes against the state”quot; that must be prosecuted, were the most numerous, with 522 people arrested in 404 cases. In addition to the drug cases already reported, there were also 282 gambling cases. Other cases included weapons violations (16 cases), prostitution (five cases) and 27 cases of involvement in the underground lottery, which are tabulated separately from other gambling cases. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Monastery for cancer treatment

Posted by hasekamp on 14 December 2010 at 14:08 PM
Since 2004, a unique sanctuary in Sakon Nakhon has offered not just mental comfort but also medical treatment for thousands of cancer patients. Coupled with modern medicines, meditation, praying and herbs have kept many alive and contented. "I have found peace of mind here," Heng Seriphap, 60, said. Two months ago, this coffee farmer was diagnosed with terminal cancer and lost all hope. "My doctor said it was not possible to cure my condition. He could give me injections and medicines to ease my pain only," Heng recounted, "I was shocked". At the time he was about to be overwhelmed with desperation, he heard about the Apinyana Arokhayasala Foundation that operates a sanctuary for cancer patients. Khampramong Temple's abbot Phra Paponpatchara Pibanpaknitee established the foundation in 2004 with the aim of caring for cancer patients based on Buddhism, musical therapy and herbs. Many patients find relief there. (Source: The Nation)


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New helmet-wearing law

Posted by hasekamp on 14 December 2010 at 14:04 PM
Public Health Ministry regions across the country yesterday were declared compulsory helmet-wearing zones to promote safety and reduce fatalities caused by motorcycle accidents, said Deputy Minister Pannasiri Kullanartsiri. The move is aimed at promoting the Decade of Action for Road Safety - from 2011 to 2020 - after reports indicated 11,000 people were killed in road accidents last year. About 6,000 of these fatalities were motorcycle riders not wearing helmets to protect themselves from brain injuries. Pannasiri said the ministry had set a 50-per-cent target to reduce the injury and fatality rate from road accidents by 2020. Encouraging motorcycle riders and passengers to wear helmets was the most important action to reduce this casualty rate. All government office areas nationwide should be designated as compulsory helmet-wearing zones, he said. According to Public Health Ministry records in 2009, 11,751 people - or about 30 per day - were killed in road accidents. About 6,000 of these cases were motorcyclists. The record also showed that more than 700,000 people were taken to hospital with motorcycle injuries, leaving the government with a Bt2-billion annual medical bill for their care. Half this expenditure went towards patients suffering from head injuries. (Source: The Nation)


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Does it make much difference?

Posted by hasekamp on 14 December 2010 at 13:57 PM
The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situations and the army will ask the binet to impose the Internal Security Act (ISA) when the emergency decree is revoked in Bangkok and its vicinity, a CRES source said on Tuesday. The CRES earlier decided not to propose the lifting of the decree to today's cabinet, saying other security measures had to be put in place first. The source said the CRES had agreed the emergency decree - now in use in Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan - should be revoked purely because it was Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's wish, to restore the country's image in the face of domestic and international pressure. "In fact, the CRES wanted to keep the emergency decree in force in Bangkok, because the city is prone to violence, but the prime minister disagreed," the source said. National Security Council chief Thawil Pliansri did not propose the revoking of the decree to the cabinet today, as some had expected, saying that security units were still drafting a working plan for use after the decree is lifted. The proposal would be submitted to the cabinet next week, Mr Thawil confirmed. If the emergency decree is lifted in the four provinces before the New Year, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, as the CRES director, and army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, deputy director of the Internal Security Operations Command, would propose that it be replaced by the ISA, the source said. The ISA would facilitate deployment of soldiers, who would be empowered to assist police as law enforcers. The ISA enables law enforcing authorities to detain suspects for seven days for questioning. Under the emergency decree, the detention period is 30 days. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Only Mumbai cheaper than Bangkok!

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2010 at 11:31 AM
In what can only be good news for Phuket and the Thai tourism industry, Bangkok appears as the second most affordable city in the world, according to a list compiled and published by PriceRunner.com yesterday. Oslo tops the list of the world's most expensive cities, and each of the Scandinavian capitals appears in the top seven. According to a report from ScandAsia.com, the Norwegian capital was the most expensive of the 32 cities reviewed in PriceRunner's 'International Price Comparison Survey', topping the list for the fourth year running. The survey found that prices in Oslo were a third more expensive than the global average. Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen took places 4, 6 and 7, respectively. Meanwhile, Bangkok came in at number 31, outdone only by Mumbai where prices were 27% lower than the global average. The survey looked at a range of products that included everyday items such as milk and petrol as well as luxury items and technology. (Source The Phuket Gazette)


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Thaksin will go to Washington

Posted by hasekamp on 10 December 2010 at 10:37 AM
Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is sticking by his plan to go to Washington in order to address the US Helsinki Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe despite the Thai government's moves to stop him, his legal adviser Noppadon Pattama said yesterday.
Noppadon, who previously served as foreign minister, suggested that Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya not overreact about Thaksin's testimony, and instead help him obtain a US entry visa so that he could deliver the truth to the commission. Kasit said earlier that he believed Thaksin would not have a chance to testify because he was not welcome in the US. However, Thaksin was invited to deliver a 10-minute speech on December 16 on the issue of democracy, government and human rights in Thailand as well as the military crackdown on the red-shirt protesters. Yet, many Thai government officials believe the US authorities would not give Thaksin an entry visa because he faces corruption charges and is on the run. Noppadon said Thaksin was still waiting for a visa, and if he cannot go to Washington, he would provide information about the April-May military crackdown through other channels or address the commission through teleconferencing. (Source: The Nation)


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Flash floods in South

Posted by hasekamp on 10 December 2010 at 10:33 AM
The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has warned people living near hillsides and waterways in Chumphon, Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat to brace for possible flash floods and mudslides. Director-general Wibul Sanguanpong said on Friday that the continuing rainfall in the three southern provinces since Thursday could cause sudden floods or mudslides in risk areas. The districts at risk are Patoh, Lang Suan, Thung Tako and Sawee of Chumphon, Nasarn, Wibhavadi, Tha Chana, Chaiya and Koh Samui of Surat Thani, and Ronphibul, Noppitum, Larn Saka, Pipoon, Chawang and Prom Khiri of Nakhon Si Thammarat. He advised the local residents to closely follow the official weather forecasts. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Chiang Mai farmers get a lesson

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2010 at 15:31 PM
Chiang Mai environmental authorities will visit local residents and explain how their slash-and-burn farming causes thick haze. Regional Environment Office 1 Director Apiwat Kunarak said yesterday that since smog in Chiang Mai province would probably increase early next year if locals continued burning down after harvesting their crops. He said since the global price of corn was very high, farmers were keen on cashing in, which means they employ the slash-and-burn tactic at least three times a year. The office has approached members of local bicycle clubs to help spread knowledge about how the smog harms the health and environment. Farmers will also be provided with technology to produce gas and fertiliser from the agricultural remains. The 70 members of the bicycle clubs would be divided into groups of five or 10 people, who will then go to meet the locals at home. (Source: The Nation)


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If Thaksin enters US, extradition will be asked

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2010 at 15:27 PM
Thailand will ask the United States to extradite Thaksin Shinawatra if he sets foot on US soil, acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayakorn said Wednesday. Mr Panitan said the Foreign Ministry was closely monitoring the fugitive former premier's movements, and would make an immediate application for his extradition if he enters the US. Mr Panitan said he did not know if Thaksin's legal adviser Robert Amsterdam had lobbied the United States to address the US Commission on Security and Cooperation (CSCE) to invite Thaksin speak about human rights issues in Thailand. However, the CSCE had not shown any interest in the situation in Asia before. The international community should already be well informed about situation in Thailand because the government has constantly explained the political situation to world leaders, he said. The US commission sent an invitation to Thaksin through his Washington-based lawyers, Amsterdam & Peroff LLP, on Nov 23, asking him to give a presentation on the human rights situation in Thailand. The invitation was sent following the crackdown on political protesters in Bangkok, which led the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship to file a case with the International Criminal Court accusing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of crimes against humanity. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said he believes Thaksin is unlikely to be allowed into the US. Since Thailand and the US have an extradition treaty, the minister said he believed the US would understand Thailand's position. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Decree to be lifted before 2011

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2010 at 15:23 PM
The executive decree for administration in emergency situations being imposed in Bangkok and nearby provinces could well be revoked before the New Year now that the overall situation has improved, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday. Mr Abhisit said although the situation had improved it was still necessary for the government to monitor the activities of various groups to ensure there was no incitement to violence. "The overall situation has improved. I have instructed the secretary-general of the National Security Council to lay down measures to cope with the situation after the decree is lifted, possibly before the New Year. "The government does not want to infringe on the rights of the people and does not want to use a special law indefinitely," he said. The emergency decree was initially imposed in 24 provinces in the wake of the protests by the red-shirts of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship. It is currently still in place in Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan. Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, as director of the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation, said earlier that he agreed that the emergency decree could be lifted before the New Year. NSC chief Thawil Pliansri voiced the same opinion. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket drug dogs

Posted by hasekamp on 7 December 2010 at 13:42 PM
Local authorities expect two puppies now under intensive training at Phuket International Dog School (PIDS) to become effective drug detection dogs by January. The two candidates, Bebe and Boo Boo, are both four months old. Bebe is a four-kilogram female beagle, while Boo Boo is a male pit bull currently weighing in at seven kilos. The project is the idea of Phuket Muang District Chief Supachai Pochanukul, who in May sent two other puppies, Nin and Chao Kuay, to PIDS for training. Mr Supachai hopes Bebe and Boo Boo will do better on the course than their predecessors, who flunked out after two months of training. PIDS’#39;s owner Wichai Chidchio told the Gazette only a very small percentage of dogs are naturally cut out for drug detection work. “quot;These dogs work better than any drug-detection equipment. Suspects sweat when drug dogs approach because they know they cannot hide the scent or bribe their way out of the situation. The pair are doing very well should be ready for active duty this January, he said. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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German HIV-man on trial

Posted by hasekamp on 7 December 2010 at 13:35 PM
An HIV-positive former German musician went on trial in Germany on Monday, charged with abusing seven children and 23 youths in Thailand. The 65-year-old former member of 1980s folk music group Godewind is accused of 403 cases of unprotected sex with child prostitutes, despite knowing he was HIV positive. Due to his HIV status, which he allegedly did not reveal, the man is also accused of attempting to infect his victims. The charges relate to events that occurred between May 2005 and November 2009 in the Thai resort town of Pattaya, a common destination for sex tourists. The suspect was arrested on his return to Germany in December 2009, after police in Thailand found child pornographic material in his Pattaya accommodation. A subsequent search of the man's apartment in the northern German city of Celle revealed more evidence, including 140 video tapes, the court heard. The opening sequence of one video tape, shot in Thailand, already showed the suspect with a girl, the lead investigator said. Investigators had also compiled detailed evidence including lists of the man's victims with names, ages and locations, as well as statements recorded in Thailand, the prosecution said. (Source: The Nation)


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Birthday Speech by His Majesty the King

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2010 at 11:43 AM
His Majesty the King travelled to the Royal Grand Palace on Sunday morning (December 5) and granted an audience to high-ranking officials and dignitaries on his 83rd birthday. The King delivered his birthday speech after the royal blessing ceremony led by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who read out a statement in honour of the King, followed by statements from Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Parliament President Chai Chidchob. His Majesty wished all Thais a healthy and happy life. The King urged all people not to be neglectful of their duties, warning that mistakes can be costly to themselves and the country. He said people should be impartial and firm and be conscious and aware of their actions at all times to bring sustainable happiness and peace to the country. After his birthday speech was delivered, the King and members of the royal family left Amarin Winitchai Throne Hall. Tens of thousands of people in pink shirts gathered along the road outside the Throne Hall to pay their respects and chanted 'Long live the King' as the cavalcade went past, taking His Majesty back to his residence at Siriraj Hospital. The King was admitted to Siriraj Hospital on Sept 19 last year due to fever and fatigue. He has undertaken physical rehabilitation at the hospital since. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Many civil servants carry AIDS virus

Posted by hasekamp on 2 December 2010 at 10:49 AM
At least 20,000 civil servants including health officials across the country are living with HIV/Aids, according to the Public Health Ministry. Dr Somyot Kittimunkong, director of the Aids division at the Disease Control Department, said yesterday that some 20,000 bureaucrats each year seek reimbursement for the cost of antiretroviral medicine at the healthcare unit. They include health officials, as they were infected via needles used by their families, he said. The real figure would be up to 60,000 civil servants with HIV, he said. Thailand has about 520,000 people living with HIV, and this year has seen 10,853 new infections among adults and children. Gay men remain the highest risk group, followed by spouses of HIV carriers. To prevent the spread of the disease, people who have practised unsafe sex during the past 10 years should voluntary take a HIV blood test, he said. The National Health Security Office offers HIV blood tests for free. About 250,000 people have used the service, and 7 per cent of them were found with HIV. Each day, up to 35 people come down with HIV on average and Aids now accounts for one third of deaths among youths. (Source: The Nation)


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Festivities have started

Posted by hasekamp on 2 December 2010 at 10:39 AM
"Our Land" is the theme of the auspicious festival which began yesterday and will run to next Thursday during which state agencies, the private sector and people of all groups and religions are taking part in the celebration activities nationwide. In the capital, the key sites of festivities, where a wide range of activities are held daily from 5pm to midnight, include the Royal Plaza, Si Ayutthaya Road, Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue, the area in front of the Supreme Court and the Siriraj Hospital compound. The Royal Plaza accommodates exhibitions and government organisation shops from all 20 ministries while Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue hosts exhibition booths and shops decorated in the local architecture of each region. Eighteen provinces in all regions are taking part in the celebration activities on this road. Private companies and state enterprises are joining the celebrations on Si Ayutthaya Road. They have opened a shop and exhibition booths. Local communities from 50 districts in Bangkok are also setting up booths and shops on Si Ayutthaya Road. The celebrations begin each day with 84 monks making their rounds at the Royal Plaza to receive alms from the public. The main exhibition, "Thai Culture under His Majesty", has been organised near the main stage at the Royal Plaza. The exhibition is a showcase of the King's contributions to culture and the arts and his patronage of all religions in Thailand. The Interior Ministry has built a pavilion where seven short films produced specifically for the King's birthday celebrations are screened. The same set of movies is also being screened at select theatres free of charge. The Religious Affairs Department is organising a mass Buddhist ordination for 7,056 men to mark the occasion. Other religious ceremonies such as Islamic, Christian and Brahmin prayer meetings are being held to mark the King's birthday. The Information and Communication Technology Ministry has opened its website to enable well-wishers to send their birthday greetings to the King on the internet. The Royal Household Bureau has announced that Their Majesties the King and Queen are to grant an audience to cabinet ministers, members of parliament, the armed forces leaders and other dignitaries at Amarin Winitchai Throne Hall at the Grand Palace at 10.30am this Sunday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flooding death toll keeps rising

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2010 at 13:50 PM
The confirmed death toll from the flooding that has hit many provinces in the Central Plains, North, Northeast, East and South since Oct 10 has risen to 257, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department reported on Wednesday. The department's director-general Wibul Sanguanpong said a total of 179 people in the North, Northeast, East and Central Plains and 78 in the South had died in the floodwaters. The flooding has not yet receded in 12 districts of Ayutthaya, Roi Et, Surat Thani and Phattalung, affecting 214,881 people, said Mr Wibul. The department on Friday reported confirmed flood fatalities at 255. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Next year civil PAD verdict?

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2010 at 13:47 PM
The Civil Court says it will deliver its verdict in a civil case filed by Airports of Thailand Plc against 13 leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy over the 2008 blockades of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports on March 25 next year. In this case, the AoT named 13 PAD leaders as defendants and demanded from them 245 million baht compensation for damage to the company. The court scheduled the delivery of the verdict after PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul testified. Mr Sondhi said the PAD's rallies at the two airports were to apply pressure on the then government over corruption and to demand the government to find those responsible for the M79 attacks on PAD supporters. He said the PAD protesters did not close the airports. The closure order was made by AoT president Serirat Prasutanont. The protests, Mr Sondhi said, did not cause any damage to the AoT. The court set March 25 for the verdict on this case. When there will be a verdict by the penal court case - if ever - remains an open question.(Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Large drug bust

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2010 at 13:44 PM
The son of a former member of the Kanchanaburi provincial council was arrested yesterday with a large haul of narcotics with a street value of more than Bt300 million, police say. Kriangsak Phrommalee was arrested in a 10-wheel truck at a checkpoint but his father Den, who was pulled over at a nearby location in another vehicle, fled. Police also arrested Adul Tuipan, who was in Kriangsak's vehicle, and seized 28 kilograms of "ice" flakes and 700,000 amphetamine tablets found in the luggage compartment, they said. Also allegedly found in the truck and seized were Bt450,000 in cash and three mobile phones, which police said carried invaluable details that could lead to the arrest of many people in Den's alleged drug ring. Police said Den was an influential drug dealer and the head of a civil-defence volunteer group in Lao Khwan district. Police were hunting him and pursuing other suspects, who they said included many local politicians. (Source: The Nation)


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