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Pirated goods in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 29 December 2011 at 13:38 PM
Two separate raids in Phuket over the past week have netted pirated copyrighted goods with a combined street value of more than 15 million baht. Prayut Maneechote, director of the Customs Bureau regional head office in Haad Yai, on Monday announced that a team of his officers had traced an illegal importing network of pirated goods to a warehouse in Phuket. Officers conducted the raid,on December 23, and among the goods seized were items of clothing, including jeans, socks, shoes and hats, as well as luggage and glasses all of well-known brand names such as Gucci, Prada, Adidas Polo and Diesel, said Mr Prayut. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Death toll now 790

Posted by hasekamp on 29 December 2011 at 13:35 PM
The death toll from the worst floods to hit Thailand in more than half a century hit 790 Thursday with more than 2 million people still affected by the disaster, officials said. The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department said that in addition to the 790 confirmed fatalities since the monsoon flooding began on July 25, another three people were listed as missing. Parts of five provinces near Bangkok - Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi - were still flooded, the department said. Bangkok was declared flood-free this month, and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra pledged that all remaining flooded areas would be dry by the end of the year. The Thai floods caused about 21.3 billion dollars in damage, according to the World Bank. (Source: The Nation)


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Flood prevention measures

Posted by hasekamp on 29 December 2011 at 13:28 PM
The Thai cabinet yesterday approved the establishment of two funds for flood prevention and one legal amendment to allow the central bank to provide soft loans to flood-hit businesses via commercial banks. The first fund worth 350 billion baht will be created by issuing bonds for long-term investment in developing infrastructure for sustainable water management as proposed by the Strategic Formation Committee for Reconciliation and Future Development. A 50 billion baht insurance fund will also be allocated from the government's fiscal budget to create confidence among industries and insurance companies. Finance Minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala said the cabinet agreed to amend the Bank of Thailand Act 2007 to allow the bank to offer soft loans to solve economic problems. It will allow the bank to lend 300 billion baht through state-run and commercial banks to entrepreneurs and people affected by the floods. The Bank of Thailand board earlier backed the plan. The cabinet also approved the formation of a single-command authority to create unity in water management. The government aims to establish confidence among the public, foreign investors and foreign insurance companies. The Royal Irrigation Department has been asked to prepare a water management plan for next year and propose it to the single-command authority. Long-term plans will cover the conservation of forest areas, the rehabilitation of deteriorated forests and construction of dams and reservoirs. The 16.5 billion baht budget for short-term projects will be spent from 2012 to 2013. The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry will be required to consider all short-term projects to avoid duplication among related agencies. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Few turtle eggs

Posted by hasekamp on 26 December 2011 at 19:01 PM
Phuket’s marine wildlife experts have expressed concern that turtles are not laying eggs on many of the Andaman beaches historically used by the turtle population. "The nesting season for sea turtles along the Andaman coast is usually from November to March. Their preferred nesting sites are Mai Khao Beach in Phuket, Tai Muang Beach in Phang Nga and some coastal areas in Satun province," said Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, head of the Marine Endangered Species Unit at the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC). "Unfortunately, the turtles are not laying eggs on the usual beaches even though it is the nesting season," he said. The number of Leatherback, Olive Ridley and Green turtles are lower than before, a worried Mr Kongkiat explained. "Climate is a major factor. It determines turtle population size as well as affecting the gender of the turtle’s offspring. The optimum temperature [for turtle nesting] is 29°C. If it’s too hot they won’t lay eggs," he said. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Tsunami remembrance

Posted by hasekamp on 26 December 2011 at 18:58 PM
A somber air hung over the tsunami memorial service at the Tsunami Memorial Wall in Mai Khao this morning as about 50 people turned up to remember those lost to the killer waves that struck Phuket in 2004. Thai official figures state that the tsunami killed 5,398 people and more than 3,700 disappeared in the waves that day. Hundreds of them died or disappeared in Phuket. In Phang Nga province, north of Phuket, the deadly tally numbered in the thousands. The Phuket service this morning began with Buddhist monks conducting a mass prayer, followed by a Muslim service and then a Christian service. After the religious ceremonies, attendees approached the wall to lay wreaths in memory of those killed. The highest-ranking official present today was Udom Sriprukpong, Chief Administrative Officer (Palad) of the Thalang District Office. Long-term Phuket resident Larry Amsden, 73, has lived in Phuket for decades. He has attended every memorial service since 2004. He said that he was happy with the restoration of the Wall of Remembrance recently carried out by the US Navy League, sailors from the USS Pinckney and the Glenn Defense Marine.
Activities to mark seven years since the tsunami struck continued this afternoon at Loma Park in Patong, where a panel of experts led by Dr Smith Dharmasaroj, former head of the National Disaster Warning Center, staged a public discussion on disaster management. Tonight, thousands of people are expected to light candles and place them in the sand along Patong Beach as part of the annual 'Light Up Phuket' (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Wat Pho inscriptions nominated

Posted by hasekamp on 24 December 2011 at 15:18 PM
Her Majesty the Queen will today preside over the opening ceremony to celebrate the nomination of the stone inscriptions in Wat Pho as Memory of the World. The ceremony will start at 5.20pm at Wat Pho - Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn - Education Ministry permanent secretary Sasithara Pichaichannarong said. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has registered 1,431 old stone inscriptions at Wat Pho as Memory of the World since May. Since 2008, most of these inscriptions have been on the Asia-Pacific Memory of the World Register. Dubbed the Epigraphic Archives of Wat Pho, these 1,431 stone inscriptions are in the Thai language and script. Made between 1831 and 1841, they cover both religious and secular subjects. They represent a wide range of Thai knowledge of Asian and the local roots of the time in the context of over five centuries of global exchanges in trade, politics and culture. It was a conscious effort by King Rama III and Thai scholars to preserve them and make them visible to the public with the ultimate aim of imparting general education on cultural heritage, diversity and civilisations. In most cases, they are accompanied by illustrations such as drawings, paintings or sculptures. The inscriptions are in good condition and are seen by more than a million international visitors to Bangkok every year. (Source: The Nation)


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Abhisit wants impeachment

Posted by hasekamp on 24 December 2011 at 15:13 PM
The Democrat Party will launch impeachment proceedings against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul next week over the return of a passport to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Wirat Kalayasiri, leader of the opposition party's legal team, said a petition will be filed with the Senate speaker for submission to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
He said the party's bid to impeach Ms Yingluck and Mr Surapong and unseat them for abusing their power in re-issuing the passport to Thaksin will be signed by 125 Democrat MPs. The move comes after the Foreign Ministry admitted it issued a passport to Thaksin after he applied for it at the Thai embassy in Abu Dhabi on Oct 25. Mr Wirat said the Democrat Party will also file a separate criminal complaint against Mr Surapong for violating Section 157 of the Criminal Code for negligence of duty. He accused the foreign minister of interfering with Department of Special Investigation (DSI) operations regarding issuing an arrest warrant for Thaksin on terrorism charges. Mr Wirat said the former prime minister is not eligible to hold a passport on the grounds that he is wanted on terrorism charges and is a convict who is avoiding a jail sentence. Mr Surapong yesterday justified the decision to reissue a passport to Thaksin in a House meeting during a fresh interpellation submitted by Democrat MP Ong-art Klampaiboon. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Frost on Doi Inthanon

Posted by hasekamp on 22 December 2011 at 11:12 AM
The mercury dropped to minus two Celsius degree on Doi Inthanon Mountain Tuesday morning, causing frozen dewdrops throughout the mountaintop. Somkid Tuaboontham, the head of the Doin Inthanon Park rangers, said the frozen dewdrops could be seen along the way from Kew Mae Pan Park to the top to Doi Inthanon. He said the frozen dewdrops occurred for three executive days on the mountaintop. (Source: The Nation)


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War game over soon?

Posted by hasekamp on 22 December 2011 at 11:09 AM
Thai and Cambodian military authorities have agreed to withdraw their troops from a provisional demilitarised zone near the Preah Vihear temple and let Indonesian observers supervise the area. The agreement was made at the 8th meeting of the Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) in Phnom Penh yesterday. "Both sides will withdraw all troops from existing positions [in the demilitarised zone] simultaneously under the observation of Indonesian observers," they said in a joint statement after the meeting. A military source said the Cambodian side asked its Thai counterpart to withdraw troops by Jan 20, but the Thai side refused to accept it. Instead the Thai side proposed the setting up of a joint working group to discuss details of the troop withdrawal, and Cambodia agreed with it. The source said border patrol police of the two countries will be deployed to replace troops in the 17.3 square kilometre demilitarised zone in accordance with the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) provisional order. The source said each country would deploy more than 1,000 border patrol police to replace the troops despite the fact they claimed earlier they would send about 400 border patrol police each. Cambodia proposed that both countries immediately follow the provisional demilitarised zone order of the ICJ, welcome Indonesian observers and withdraw soldiers from the zone, of which 8.5 sq km is in Thailand and 8.8 sq km is in Cambodia, under the supervision of the observers. The Thai side agreed with the proposal. The agreement is just one crucial resolution bearing fruit at the GBC meeting, co-chaired by Thai Defence Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Tea Banh. Gen Yutthasak said he will propose the result of the meeting to the cabinet for consideration next week. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Passport ban lifted

Posted by hasekamp on 19 December 2011 at 10:46 AM
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul has admitted that has overturned an order issued by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government revoking the passport of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Speaking at a press conference this morning, Mr Surapong said he had ordered the lifting of the revocation after the Consular Affairs Department sent a letter to him through the permanent secretary advising that Thaksin had applied with the Thai ambassador to Abu Dhabi for an ordinary passport. The Consular Affairs Department sought his advice because Thaksin's passport had been revoked on April 12 by then foreign minister Kasit Piromya under item 23 (7) of the Foreign Affairs Ministry's regulations. Mr Surapong said he and the government were of the opinion that Thaksin's presence in a foreign country had not caused any damage to the country or any other countries. He, therefore, had issued an order countermanding Mr Kasit's revocation order. It is now the matter for the Consular Affairs Department to consider Thaksin's request for a passport, Mr Surapong said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bombs found in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 19 December 2011 at 10:44 AM
Six home-made bombs were found and disposed of at three spots in Lat Krabang area in eastern Bangkok early Friday morning after the arrest of a suspect in the Government Lottery Office (GLO) bombs case. Police said a home-made bomb was placed by the wall of the Bangkok Bank's Sukhumvit 77 branch (Prawet) in Soi Lat Krabang 20. At the second spot, two bombs were found at the entrance to Soi Kanchanaphisek 39. At the third spot, three bombs were found at a U-turn under a bridge across Khlong Nong Prue opposite Suvarnabhumi market in Soi Lat Krabang 13. All of the bombs, similar to the ones found earlier in front of the GLO, had been disposed of, police said. The details were released by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung at a press conference also attend by Pol Gen Priewpan Damapong, the national police chief, and Pol Maj-Gen Wichai Sangprapai, the deputy Metropolitan Police chief. Pol Gen Priewpan said that about 3am Metropolitan and Special Branch police arrested a man suspected to have laid a number of bombs in front of the GLO head office on Ratchadamnern Road on Dec 6. He was arrested the mouth of Soi Kanchanapisek 39. The suspect, during the course of investigation, revealed that more bombs had been placed at the three spots, prompting police and bomb disposal units to rush to the scenes. He was identified as Jirawat Chanpeng, a native of Sakon Nakhon province. Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm said Mr Jirawat denied any involvement in the GLO bombs case. Following the interrogation, police went to check the other sites and found the six bombs. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Banknote exhibition

Posted by hasekamp on 16 December 2011 at 12:13 PM
Bank of Thailand exhibition "Patra Maharaj Thai Banknotes", organised for the King's 84th birthday until January 13, showcases the Kingdom's history and development of paper currency from 1902 that well depicts the King's hard work for Thai people's happiness. Thai kings' portraits first appeared on banknotes in 1934 - several decades after paper money was introduced here - and that royal presence continues today. From 1992, His Majesty personal projects have been depicted on the banknote to illustrate his effort to improve people's well being. In "The Unique Banknotes of the Ninth Reign" zone, visitors you can view an archive of royal projects as depicted on bills of various denominations, including one that showed in detail how a commemorative banknote was printed. And there are notes with auspicious production concepts. In 1995, a banknote marking the 50th anniversary of His Majesty's accession to the throne was 9.1cm wide, the "9" for Rama IX and the "1" to signify the first Thai king to have reigned so long. A note issued on June 3, 1987, represented a new initiative to honour the King on his 60th birthday. It's 15.9 centimetres square: The "1" represents the first banknote ever created, the "5" is for the fifth birthday cycle, and the "9" stands for King Rama IX. The Bt1,000 note in the 14th series, issued on June 30, 1992, honoured the King for his benevolence to citizens. It depicts the King and Her Majesty the Queen surveying a reservoir in Narathiwat. Among the rare banknotes is the Bt1,000 note issued in 1952. After printing 500,000 copies with limited circulation, the Bt1, 000 notes didn't appear again until 1996. The exhibition is at the Somdej Residence at the Bang Khun Prom Palace. The Currency Museum is in the adjacent building. (Source: The Nation)


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US Embassy: We respect Monarchy

Posted by hasekamp on 16 December 2011 at 12:09 PM
The US Embassy in Bangkok on Friday issued a statement, reiterating that it respected Thai laws and did not take sides in Thailand's internal affairs. Posting on its FB page, the embassy repeated its Ambassador Kristie Kenney's earlier statement that the US government has the utmost respect for the Thai monarchy, the royal family and Thai culture. "President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the US Embassy in Bangkok all recently offered heartfelt congratulations to His Majesty the King of Thailand on the very special occasion of his 84th birthday." "Thailand is our oldest friend in Asia and we will continue to stand by the Thai people" the statement said.(Source: The Nation)


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Ladyboy airline ready for take-off

Posted by hasekamp on 16 December 2011 at 12:06 PM
After a nine-month delay, a privately owned Thai airline billed as the world's first carrier to employ the third gender as cabin attendants, is ready to take to the skies. PC Air is due to commence its maiden commercial service, a charter flight for a tour group from Bangkok to Vientiane on Dec 24, and plans to inaugurate flights to two Chinese cities on a charter basis on Jan 23 next year. Chartering for Asian tour groups will consist of the initial bulk of its traffic before graduating to a full-fledged flight operator in June according to the requisites set by the Department of Civil Aviation. The airline conducted a demonstration flight yesterday for media members aboard its sole Airbus 310-222 jet with four ladyboys as part of the crew. Peter Chan, a Thai national and the airline's sole owner, told reporters the delay was to cash in on high-season demand and not a lack of financing. In a show of confidence for his new undertaking, Mr Peter, also a former cabin attendant, said he spent nearly 1 billion baht in cash to buy a twin-engine jet from Air Bagan, though most airlines normally lease aircraft to avoid tieing up capital. It wants to acquire two wide-body jets, likely to be A300-600s, perhaps by the second quarter of next year as it becomes a scheduled flight operator and expands its network. PC Air has targeted routes to Hong Kong, China, South Korea and Japan, as it feels the domestic market is already too crowded. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Thousands of inmates freed by amnesty

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2011 at 11:26 AM
A total of 12,000 inmates were released yesterday after being granted Royal Pardons on the occasion of His Majesty the King's 84th birthday. Prisoner-release ceremonies were held nationwide, with the main one being presided over by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at Bangkok's Klong Prem Central Prison, attended by 2,766 pardoned inmates from 15 prisons in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces. The inmates each received Bt500 pocket money for transport, swore oaths to be good members of society, and were blessed by Buddhist monks before many of them joyously reunited with their families. Congratulating the inmates on their newfound freedom, Yingluck urged them to be grateful for the King's great mercy and to apply the King's self sufficiency economy philosophy to their everyday lives. She also urged them to turn over a new leaf by living good lives, to have confidence in their ability to live as part of Thai society - which she said was forgiving and openminded - and not to repeat their wrongdoings. A total of 9,234 inmates were released from prisons upcountry. Among the 145 inmates freed from Loei Prison yesterday was singer Nathan Oman, who was convicted of fraud in March. Another 10,000 inmates will be released on December 18. Among them is Serm Sakhonrat, a former medical student who murdered and dismembered his girlfriend. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in March 1998 but his prison term was reduced five times. Serm said he was grateful for the monarch's kindness, vowing to be a good person and take care of his 68yearold mother. Serm said he planned to use his law degree, completed in prison, to help the poor after taking the necessary examinations to become a lawyer. Under the Royal Pardon decree, over 10,000 other convicts will have their sentences reduced within 90 days. Among those to have their sentences reduced but who were not freed this time are Dr Wisut Boonkasemsanti, a gynaecologist who killed and dismembered his wife, and former deputy police commissioner Chalor Kerdthes, who murdered the wife and son of a Thai jewellery businessman in a case related to the theft of jewels from the Saudi royal family. Both were originally sentenced to death, but their jail terms have been reduced to 21 years and 50 years respectively under this year's Royal Pardon. (Source: The Nation)


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Ayutthaya badly damaged

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2011 at 11:18 AM
Lesser-known historic sites in the ancient capital were severely damaged by the floods and now that reconstruction has begun they may be forever abandoned in favour of more prominent spots. Walking down splintered side roads in post-flood Ayutthaya recently - among the rotting debris of rubbish mountains, animal carcasses and rusted motor vehicles - a reporter sensed that the aftermath would be harsh. Homes had been destroyed. Large trees had been ripped up by their roots. Many parts of the city still remained beneath water after two to three months of flooding. My task was to seek out small deserted ruins (wat raeng) and countryside temples (wat rad), ones that few locals and tourists have ever heard of, so that I could survey the damage. Flooding caused at least one large ruin to collapse into a mound of bricks, fresh cracks split the walls and foundations of other structures, and a centuries-old Portuguese graveyard displaying dozens of skeletons had been transformed into a swimming pool. Some of these historic sites could never be repaired. Ultimately, the questions are raised: What is the value of these lesser known, non-revenue generating, ancient historic structures in a modern city that is rapidly urbanising? What importance will they have for future Thai generations? (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Government: No more flooding

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2011 at 11:12 AM
The government yesterday promised that economic areas, industrial estates and major cities will be spared from severe flooding next year after national flood prevention measures are completed. The government's master plan for flood management will be ready shortly, Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong told a meeting of chambers of commerce nationwide at a hotel in Rayong. The plan will guarantee that damage from any flooding next year will not be as severe as this year, even if rainfall is equal or to more more than 2011. Mr Kittiratt said that when the plan is in place, economic zones, industrial estates and major cities would be safe from flooding. In fact, only limited areas of farmland would be affected by floods and the government would see to it that proper compensation would be paid affected farmers, Mr Kittiratt said. He said the government will meet with the armed forces and concerned agencies today to discuss plans to build floodways. Aerial surveys have been made of areas on the eastern and western sides of the Chao Phraya River to determine possible locations for building the floodways. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Large drugs catch

Posted by hasekamp on 12 December 2011 at 11:09 AM
Police have seized more than 600 million baht worth of illicit drugs in Chiang Rai province and arrested five men they believe are connected to the stash. A team of drugs police seized 1.79 million speed pills and 40 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, or "ice", from a rented tour bus at Ban Lor Paha village in Muang district around 11pm on Dec 9, national police chief Priewpan Damapong said yesterday. The drugs were found hidden in five large travelling bags. Three men on the bus, Daochai Kanthadong, 49, driver Surasak Makhiew, 34, and Pichet Muenchaiwong, 22, all natives of Chiang Rai, were arrested. Police extended the investigation to arrest two more suspects in Ayutthaya province on Saturday night. Kosol Klinsuwan, 47, and Prasit Kuesui, 47, both from Nakhon Si Thammarat province were arrested at a petrol station in Bang Pahan district, where they had been told to receive the drugs from the three suspects. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bhuddist park started cleaning up

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2011 at 13:13 PM
Officials and volunteers from various organisations yesterday turned out in impressive numbers to begin cleaning up the flood-ravaged Bhuddhamonthon Buddhist Park in Nakhon Pathom. Occupying more than 2,500 rai of land, the park is seen as an icon of Thai Buddhism and attracts thousands of worshippers on holy days for candle-lit processions around the Giant Buddha Statue. "We are responding to the initiative of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and HRH Princess Srirasmi who wish to see the park restored as a centre of religious and traditional activities," said Nakhon Pathom deputy governor Nimit Jantarawimon. More than 200 soldiers and volunteers yesterday began cleaning the area around the Giant Buddha Statue after flood waters receded. However, most parts of the park remain inundated, with underground electric cables and large trees suffering serious damage. Officials estimate a recovery bill of well over Bt500 million, while efforts to salvage the park must begin immediately if its trees are to survive. (Source: The Nation)


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20 reds get Royal pardon

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2011 at 13:09 PM
Some 20 of 94 red shirts serving prison terms in connection with the last year's political mayhem have been pardoned on the occasion of the King's birthday, red shirt chairwoman Thida Thawornseth said on Wednesday. The 20, convicted on charges related to emergency rule violations, will be released tomorrow, Thida said. The remaining red shirts, including 32 being remanded on politically-related charges, would soon be transferred to a special correctional facility being run separate from other prisons, she said. (Source: The Nation)


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US citizen jailed for lese majeste

Posted by hasekamp on 8 December 2011 at 13:06 PM
A court in Thailand on Thursday jailed an American for two-and-a-half years for insulting the king, drawing a protest from the United States, which said he was exercising his right to free speech. The case of Thai-born Joe Wichai Commart Gordon - who appeared in court in shackles - is one of a series under the kingdom's strict lese majeste laws, which rights campaigners say are used to stifle freedom of expression. The Criminal Court sentenced Gordon to five years in prison, but halved the term as the car salesman from Colorado pleaded guilty to publishing online a banned biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej that he translated into Thai. "Joe decided not to appeal this case but will ask for a royal pardon," his lawyer Arnon Nampa told reporters in Bangkok. "In this case the court gave the lightest jail term for a lese majeste case. He's been in prison six months already. The worst case is two more years in jail but I hope that he'll receive a royal pardon." Gordon, 55, was arrested in May on a visit to the kingdom and accused of posting the material deemed offensive while living in the United States. Under Thailand's lese majeste legislation, anyone convicted of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent faces up to 15 years in prison on each count.
A senior US official questioned the court's decision to jail Gordon. "We consider the sentence severe because he was given the sentence for his right of expression," US Consul General Elizabeth Pratt told reporters. "We continue to respect the Thai monarchy but we also support the right of expression, which is internationally recognised as a human right." Washington, which counts Thailand as one of its oldest allies, on Tuesday voiced alarm over a series of court cases in the kingdom over speech deemed to be offensive to the monarchy. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Buddha Relic on display

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2011 at 10:43 AM
A relic of Buddha's tooth that was loaned by Bhutan's King Jigme Wangchuk will be put on display as part of the many events scheduled to be held throughout this month to mark His Majesty's 84th birthday, PM's Office Minister Surawit Khonsomboon said yesterday. The tooth, believed to have belonged to the Kassapa Buddha, will arrive in Thailand today in time to be put on display at Sanam Luang on December 5. Thailand is trying to get Bhutan to extend the loan of the relic for three months. The 7,565 monks and novices, who were ordained in honour of His Majesty, are participating in Buddhist practices and meditation sessions from yesterday to December 11. They will be able to leave monkhood the following day.
Meanwhile, a compilation of stories and accounts during the reign of all 54 Thai kings, put together under the supervision of HRH Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, will be released soon. This is the first official compilation of historical accounts dating back to the Sukhothai Kingdom, project director Professor Emeritus Khunying Khaisri Sirarun said. Of the 50,000 printed copies of the "Biological Nomenclature of 54 Thai Kings", 30,000 will be given to libraries and the rest to government offices. The publication will also be available online soon. The book features several kings that the Thai public does not know about, while kings who cannot be depicted in photographs will be represented by statues of Buddha that they are known to have worshipped or statues built on their behalf.
Thailand Post is also launching a series of heptagonal stamps in honour of His Majesty's 84th birthday, managing director Arnusara Jitmitrapharb said. The seven sides of the stamp are meant to represent the seventh cycle of the King's birthday. The stamps, which will be sold from Monday onwards, will carry images of the King's royal projects as well as those initiated by other kings.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will today lead an oathtaking ceremony at Government House with other government officials, during which they will all hail His Majesty, vow not to be corrupt and perform their duties to the best of their abilities. Later, she and a few Cabinet members will fly to Hat Yai in Songkhla to inspect flood prevention projects before presiding over a similar oathtaking ceremony there. (Source: The Nation)


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Thousands at Siriraj Hospital

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2011 at 10:38 AM
Thousands of people shouted 'Long Live the King' Monday morning as His Majesty left the Siriraj Hospital to make an appearance on the main Mukkhadej balcony at Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall. Thousands of people gathered to sit along the path from the hospital to the throne hall since early Monday morning to wait for His Majesty. His Majesty left the hospitla with Her Majesty the Queen at 10:28 am. They shouted 'Long Live the King' as His Majesty passed by on his way to the throne hall. (Source: The Nation)


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Short birthday speech by the King

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2011 at 10:36 AM
In his birthday speech made when His Majesty granted an audience to senior officials and his subjects on the main Mukkhadej balcony at Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall, the King said people involved in flood relief operations must forget conflicts and must encourage one another. "Do as much as you can" HM told the government and all officials involved in water management, regarding his ideas of how to manage water. "It was just my suggestion, not my command," HM says, regarding his water management ideas. His Majesty said the nation can be stable only when its people are safe and have good living. (Source: The Nation)


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Yingluck: Bangkok dry on 01-01-2012

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2011 at 10:33 AM
Five out of seven flooded industrial estates are now dry, while flooded areas in Bangkok and nearby provinces will be dry by the New Year, says Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The flood situation was improving, she told her weekly radio programme yesterday, although the opposition was quick to criticise her for underestimating the crisis. Opposition and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) appeared to be paying too little attention to flood victims. He said the government was telling the public the flooding was about to end. "But in reality, it's not true." The government should give flood-hit residents more detailed information, and pay more attention to conflicts between people over big bag barriers and dykes. Several housing estates in Bangkok's nearby provinces were still flooded, and some parts of northern Bangkok under chest-high water, he said.
Ms Yingluck, however, focused on what the government had achieved. She said floodwater has been pumped out of five industrial estates in Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani provinces. The five are Rojana Industrial Park, Hi Tech Industrial Estate, Bang Pa-in industrial Estate, Factory Land Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya and Bangkadi Industrial Park in Pathum Thani. That leaves two flood-hit estates, Saha Rattana Nakorn Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya and Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate in Pathum Thani, which are still submerged. Ms Yingluck said Industry Minister Wannarat Channukul has informed her that floodwater would be drained out of the two estates by Dec 20. After that, manufacturers in those estates will import machinery and resume production. Most factories in the Hi Tech estate and 40 factories in the Factory Land estate resumed production on Thursday. In areas that remain flooded such as Lak Hok, Don Muang, Chaeng Watthana, Lam Luk Ka, authorities were trying to drain floodwater as quickly as possible. Thon Buri, on the western side of Bangkok, would be dry by the end of December as well. However, it will take up to three weeks to drain floodwater from Phutthamonthon 4, Phutthamonthon 5 and Om Noi areas. All areas in Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi provinces will be dry by New Year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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No pardon for Thaksin

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2011 at 10:28 AM
Ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is disqualified for the royal pardon which has been granted to 26,000 inmates to mark His Majesty the King's 84th birthday today. Authorized by the constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code, the King made the announcement in the Royal Gazette, dated Dec 3, to give wrongdoers an opportunity to start a new life and be good persons to serve the nation. However, the royal pardon does not extend to Thaksin, who fled the country to avoid serving a two-year jail term handed to him in 2008 by the Supreme Court for abusing his power as prime minister to help his then-wife Potjaman na Pombejra to buy state-owned land on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok in 2003. By law, the royal pardon applies only to inmates who have served at least part of their punishment for crimes not related to drugs. But this year, drug convicts sentenced to less than eight years in jail could have their terms reduced by the pardon if they have been good inmates. Earlier the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the youngest sister of Thaksin, was believed to have drafted a royal decree seeking to include Thaksin in the royal pardon. While this was roundly backed by red shirt supporters, who want Thaksin to return to Thailand from his self-exile, anti-Thaksin groups, including the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy, were fiercely opposed. Ms Yingluck herself announced later that the government had not included the name of her elder brother in the royal decree, though she accepted her Pheu Thai Party included among its election promises that it would bring him back to Thailand. The final version of the royal decree, which has been approved by the King, has satisfied the opposition Democrat Party. Meanwhile, Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit, in his response to the royal pardon, said its announcement proves the government does not do things to favour Thaksin. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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His Majesty is 84 years!

Posted by hasekamp on 5 December 2011 at 10:23 AM
Hundreds of thousands of well-wishers are expected to converge at Siriraj Hospital, Sanam Luang and the Grand Palace to show their love and respect for the King. Today His Majesty will travel from Siriraj Hospital to the Grand Palace and appear at the balcony of Chakri Throne Hall at 10.30am to greet his subjects. This year, Dec 5 is even more auspicious as it also marks the seventh-cycle anniversary of His Majesty. (A cycle is 12 years). The monarch has rarely made public appearances following his admission to Siriraj Hospital due to fever, fatigue and lost of appetite on Sept 19, 2009. Despite his ailments, the King has never stopped working over the past two years. He granted audiences to state officials to give advice on many issues, especially water management. When the flood disaster struck the central provinces two months ago, His Majesty closely monitored the situation every day. Earlier last month, the King suffered a stomach bleed which doctors suspect was caused by the stress of continuously following the flood news. On Nov 19, royal physicians reported that His Majesty was diagnosed with inflammation of the diverticulum of the large intestine, a common condition among the elderly. The King's birthday appearance today will not only provide a healing force for his subjects in these hard times of flooding, but also ease the people's concern over his health. The government is organising a week-long celebration for this auspicious occasion running until Friday.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday that she would refrain from talking politics during this period as the nation celebrates. The red and yellow camps will also suspend their usual political activities and join the nationwide celebration. Over 1,000 red shirts, led by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leader Kwanchai Praipana, will travel from Udon Thani to join the celebrations at Sanam Luang today, while the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy will replace their political talkshow on the ASTV channel with documentaries to promote royal projects.
Celebrations for His Majesty the King's birthday, which also marks Father's Day, begins with a private holy water ceremony at 7am at the Grand Palace. At 10am, the King will depart from Siriraj Hospital to the historic Chakri Throne Hall. Although His Majesty's journey will be broadcast live, hundreds of thousands of well-wishers are expected to turn out to greet the King along the way, on roads that have been decorated with national and royal flags. Large screens will be installed at many places along the route from the hospital to Wiset Chaisi Gate near Sanam Luang to allow people to better observe their beloved monarch. Around 8,000 honorary guests of the state as well as 10,000 members of the public and 480 royal guards will wait in front of the Chakri Throne Hall for the King's appearance on the balcony. At 7.19pm, Ms Yingluck will preside over a candle-lit ceremony at Sanam Luang to pray for His Majesty's longevity and happiness. Private and public sector offices will also joined forces to organise a wide variety of projects and activities throughout the Kingdom to express their gratitude for His Majesty's tireless dedication to improving people's living conditions throughout his reign. On Saturday, the Office of the Royal Household and the government launched a 3D panoramic multimedia presentation called the Illusion Live Wall on a 200m stretch of the Grand Palace's wall on Na Phra Lan Road. The 20-minute show is about the peace and prosperity of the Kingdom under His Majesty's reign. Traditional khon dancing involving over 150 performers will also be held live on stage at Sanam Luang for 90 minutes every day throughout the week-long celebrations, said Rattanawut Watcharothai, director of public relations and promotions at the Office of the Royal Household. As part of the celebrations, people will also be allowed for the first time to enjoy the majesty of the Grand Palace at night. Visitors will be able enter the inner area of the palace and take photos from today until Friday from 7pm to midnight.
Many of the world's prominent figures and royals have sent their best wishes to His Majesty the King on his 84th birthday today. In a birthday message, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom wrote: "It gives me great pleasure to offer my warmest congratulations to Your Majesty as you celebrate the auspicious occasion of your 84th birthday." The 85-year-old Queen Elizabeth, who has been on the throne for 59 years, revealed that she had been following the reports of the floods in Thailand with concern and would like to offer condolences to His Majesty and to the Thai people in this time of tragedy. Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands also sent a birthday message to the King, wishing for the well-being of His Majesty and of the Thai people. Pope Benedict XVI extended cordial greetings to His Majesty, the royal family and to the Thai people on the occasion of His Majesty's birthday. "Aware of the tragic floods that have affected your country, I assure Your Majesty of my solidarity and that of the Catholic Church," the Pope said in the message. Chinese President Hu Jintao conveyed his sincere congratulations and best wishes to the King and to all Thai people on the auspicious occasion of His Majesty's birthday. "As a deeply loved and esteemed King, Your Majesty has made remarkable contributions to economic and social growth of Thailand as well as your people's well-being for a long time," President Hu said in his message. "I wish Your Majesty longevity, your country prosperity and your people happiness." US President Barack Obama said he hoped this joyous occasion would promote healing and a resolve among Thais to rebuild as the country recovers from the floods. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Flood recovery costs

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2011 at 11:39 AM
Thailand would have to spend approximately Bt755 billion over the next two years to rehabilitate the country and its economy following the worst floods in 70 year, according to the World Bank estimate after survey of the twenty-six flood hit provinces. The nearly Bt1.4 trillion recovery cost comprised of Bt 640 billion in damages and Bt717 billion in lost opportunities, the World Bank reported. Thai private sector incurred 94 per cent of the flood related damages, while the rest was suffered by the state sector, the World Bank said. (Source: The Nation)


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Yingluck in hospital

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2011 at 11:37 AM
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra suffered from diarrhea and has been admitted to the Rama 9 Hospital, Government Spokesperson Thitima Chaisaeng said Tuesday. Yingluck assigned her No-1 deputy, Yongyuth Wichaidit, to chair the weekly Cabinet meeting. (Source: The Nation)


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Fatal fall from elephant

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2011 at 11:34 AM
Krabi - A German woman has been fatally injured after she and her husband fell from an elephant's back during a ride on a forest track in this southern province. Police said the accident happened in Tambon Krabinoi in Krabi's Mueang district at 6 pm on Tuesday. Police said Kertstin Kretz Schmar, 42, died at the Krabi Hospital following the accident. Police said the woman had an elephant ride with her husband, Joachim Kretzs Schmar, on a forest track for an hour. During their way back, the seat on the elephant's back tilted on one side, the woman became frightened and jumped to hold her husband, sending both to fall down. Police said the husband fell on top of the woman, causing her to be fatally injured. (Source: The Nation)


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South getting back to normal

Posted by hasekamp on 1 December 2011 at 11:31 AM
The flood situation in the South was returning to normal in Songkhla and Narathiwat as the monsoon rains stopped, allowing evacuees to start returning home. Flood waters were receding in many areas, especially along the Sungai Kolok River in three districts. The inundation of vast areas was receding. Residents of Narathiwat's Waeng district were moving back home. In Songkhla, only lowlying areas around Songkhla Lake were still submerged, accounting for about 20 per cent of six districts flooded annually. Relief officials said the situation was expected to return to normal if there were no more rain for two more days. The provincial relief agency said two people drowned and 10 out of all 16 districts were declared disaster zones, where 63,487 people in 462 villagers have been affected, including 519 who were evacuated. The regional weather bureau predicted that heavy rain would likely pelt the Gulf of Thailand coast, along with a possible storm, from tomorrow to Sunday. It called on residents to watch out for flash floods and fishing trawlers to avoid setting out to sea because of high swells. (Source: The Nation)


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