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Songkran safety measures in Phuket

Posted by hasekamp on 28 March 2012 at 10:51 AM
Speed cameras are expected to be installed across Phuket in time for the Thai New Year Songkran festival next month, and nightlife venue operators will be asked to provide transportation home for drunken patrons. The news was announced by Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Peerayut Karajedee yesterday. “The budget request for 17 million baht to acquire and install radar speed cameras was approved by Cabinet during their recent visit to Phuket,” said Col Peerayut. “We are now procuring the equipment and believe it will be installed next month,” he said. “The cameras will automatically take photographs if a vehicle exceeds the speed limit, and we will send a fine to the registered owner of the vehicle according to the license plate number,” he added. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Also tablets for 7th graders

Posted by hasekamp on 28 March 2012 at 10:47 AM
In November, when the second semester of the next school years begins, around 700,000 computer tablets will be distributed to seventhgraders across the country, with cash being be provided to parents who wish to buy a preferred model, Education Minister Suchart Tadathamrongvej said yesterday. It has not been decided if the tablet model will be the same as that to be distributed to firstgraders in the first semester next year starting in midMay, or a different model with specifications tailored to seventhgraders' instructional needs, he said. Suchart also said that a communal server would be set up to store school lessons and relevant applications through cloud computing, while schools would be given budgets to purchase or secure additional applications of their choice. Of the approximately 20,000 new teachers who replace teachers leaving the system each year, around 30 per cent - to be dubbed "newbreed teachers" - would be given additional training or selected from among new graduates without teaching credentials, he said. (Soiurce: The Nation)


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No nukes transit

Posted by hasekamp on 28 March 2012 at 10:41 AM
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has vowed that her government will try to prevent Thailand from being used as a transit point for nuclear weapons to help the international community's fight against terrorism. Ms Yingluck, who attended the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul yesterday, said Thailand was not located in an area designated for the use of nuclear weapons but the country might be used as a transit point. Countries had to exchange information to support the terror fight and boost public safety, she said. Transport systems would improve links between Thailand and nearby nations, she added. Ms Yingluck said all nations participating in the summit were interested in boosting the capability of detecting nuclear weapons and hazardous substances to safeguard the public. At a working lunch during the summit, representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations shared their views on the topic of "Synergy between Nuclear Security and Nuclear Safety" at the Coex convention and exhibition centre. Participants stressed the need to keep nuclear and radioactive substances from unscrupulous people to prevent nuclear terrorism. Thai authorities expressed readiness to follow the guidelines of the IAEA. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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First flooding, now drought

Posted by hasekamp on 27 March 2012 at 10:28 AM
A total of 17,664 villages in 240 districts of 32 provinces have been declared drought-hit, Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department chief Wibul Sanguanpong said yesterday. The 32 provinces are: Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Sukhothai, Nan, Phayao, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Uttaradit, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phetchabun; Loei, Nong Khai, Nong Bua Lamphu, Si Sa Ket, Khon Kaen, Amnat Charoen, Maha Sarakham, Buri Ram, Udon Thani, Kalasin and Ubon Ratchathani; Phetch-aburi, Suphan Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Kanchanaburi; Chanthaburi, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Trat and Prachin Buri. People affected can contact provincial offices for help or call hotline 1784 around the clock. (Source: The Nation)


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Murals lost through restoration?

Posted by hasekamp on 27 March 2012 at 10:25 AM
The abbot at Phra That Lampang Luang temple is facing down a public outcry over the restoration work, which is funded, planned and supervised by the Fine Arts Department. The Lampang temple hired the Chor Fah company to do the work, but many residents and visitors say the result looks garish and rough. The abbot, however, is unrepentant.
"There is not much damage to old art. It's just like you have a new dress that is not washed yet. So it would be a bit hard to touch," Phra Kru Pithan Noppakij said, referring to the restoration work. Some believe the restoration work has damaged much of the temple's traditional northern art, including gold-painted murals that are over 300 years old. Phra That Lampang Luang temple houses the most complete collection of the native Lanna art of northern Thailand. Its prayer halls are famous for Lai Kham, a type of mural art made by a special technique called hai dok that is unique to the northern region. Using this technique, an artist would coat an object in gold before using a sharp tool to draw or paint on it. Since the restoration work began, however, some Lai Kham designs on the pillars and the doors of the prayer halls have been painted over with stark golden tints. The temple has the only Lai Kham mural art left in the North and there are no contemporary artists who know the technique well enough to help restore them properly, Surachai Jongjitngam, an expert on the traditional mural art of northern Thailand, said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket lady is Miss Thailand World

Posted by hasekamp on 26 March 2012 at 16:14 PM
Phuket model Vanessa “Na-Chatra” Muangkod was crowned Miss Thailand World 2012 on Saturday night, and picked up three other accolades during the renowned beauty pageant. Miss Muangkod, a former student at Satree Phuket School, was also bestowed the titles Miss Beauty With a Purpose, Miss Top Model and Best in Swimsuit at the gala event, organized by Thai TV Channel 3 and BEC Tero Entertainment and held at the Bangkok Convention Center at Centara Grand, Central World. Wining the three titles allowed Miss Muangkod to be “fast-tracked” into the final round of the competition, joining nine other finalists, chosen through elimination from an initial bevy of 30 beauties. As winner of the prestigious crown, she was awarded prizes valued at more than six million baht. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Large drug haul

Posted by hasekamp on 25 March 2012 at 19:23 PM
Police have seized illegal drugs with a street value of about 400 million baht and arrested a drug suspect in Bangkok, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said on Thursday. Mr Chalerm announced the drug bust at a press conference in Bangkok. He was accompanied by national police chief Priewpan Damapong and Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Winai Thongsong. Pol Lt Gen Winai said the suspect, Pathomthat Jirarattanawong, 35, told investigators that the main drug dealer was Supawat Konthong, 40, who had opened a used car shop in Bangkok as a front to his business. Mr Supawat would store the drugs in a house in Pathum Thani's Lam Luk Ka district, according to Mr Pathomthat. Police then raided the house and found 1,020,000 methamphetamine pills, or ya ba, and 20 kilogrammes of crystal meth, or ice, he said. They also seized 20 bank account passbooks, 10 luxury cars and two shotguns. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Yingluck stays on TRT or not

Posted by hasekamp on 25 March 2012 at 19:20 PM
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says she will maintain her premiership after 111 veteran politicians of the defunct Thai Rak Thai Party legally return to political roles when the five-year ban on them expires in May. It is the first time Ms Yingluck has given this assurance since she took the portfolio about seven months ago. "I won't resign," she responded to a question as to whether she would step aside to pave the way for the veteran politicians. Ms Yingluck was addressing journalists at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand last night. Ms Yingluck said she has a mandate to rule the country because she led the party to win the majority of the votes at the past election. She said, however, her government would welcome any capable person to work for the government with herself as the leader. In a recent interview with the Bangkok Post, Ms Yingluck's elder brother and former prime minister Thaksin said when the banned politicians officially return to politics, they would join his sister's government, but it is not a must for them to take ministerial portfolios. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Over 5000 deaths in the South

Posted by hasekamp on 21 March 2012 at 14:54 PM
A total of 5,086 people have been killed and 8,485 others have been injured since the insurgency in the deep South flared up eight years ago, a university announced Tuesday. The Deep South Watch of Songkhla University told a press conference that the southern insurgency had been going on for more than eight years. The flare up started with the theft of guns from a military camp in January 2004. During the 98month period from January 2004 to February 2012, a total of 11,542 violent incidents related to insurgency took place in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and four districts of Songkhla, causing 5,086 deaths and 8,485 injuries. Of the deaths, 1,952 were Buddhists and 2,996 Muslims. The religion of the 139 others was not specified. Of the injuries, 5,141 were Buddhists, 2,751 were Muslims while the religion of the remaining 593 was not specified. (Source: The Nation)


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No coup, honestly

Posted by hasekamp on 19 March 2012 at 12:08 PM
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung Monday expressed confidence that there would be no more coup as predicted by well-known Thammasat University sociologist Theerayuth Boonme. Chalerm said the country has been developed too far for another coup to happen. Chalerm said a coup always led to conflicts and caused a post-coup government to be short-lived. He said the Yingluck Government would not cause violence so there would be no cause for a coup. (Source: The Nation)


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Honest taxi driver

Posted by hasekamp on 19 March 2012 at 12:06 PM
A taxi driver has returned gold necklaces worth about 13 million baht left in his taxi by their owner on Wednesday. The driver, 56-year-old Saksri Ketseekaeo from Roi Et, returned the necklaces, about 450 baht weight of gold, to Ekkarat Kanokwannakorn at the Sor Wor Por 91 police radio station in Bangkok yesterday. Mr Ekkarat, 60, had brought the necklaces from his gold shop in Ubon Ratchathani to have them repatterned in the Yaowarat area in Bangkok. He caught Mr Saksri's taxi from Yaowarat to the Si Mum Muang market in Pathum Thani and forgot to take the gold with him when he got out. The driver said he found a large handbag in the back seat. He was astounded when he discovered many boxes containing gold necklaces of all sizes in the bag. Mr Saksri realised Mr Ekkarat must have left the valuables. He drove around to look for him, but to no avail. A relative later saw a television news report about Mr Ekkarat's lost gold and made arrangements for Mr Saksri to return the jewellery. Mr Ekkarat gave Mr Saksri two necklaces with a combined 8 baht weight and worth about 200,000 baht in total as a reward for his honesty in returning the gold. By the way: we from Hasekamp Net believe most Thai taxi drivers are honest men! (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Inventor Red Bull dies

Posted by hasekamp on 19 March 2012 at 12:02 PM
If you did not know that the energy drink Red Bull was a Thai invention, well, it was! Chaleo Yoovidhya, the founder of the renowned energy drink Red Bull, or Krating Daeng in Thai, and one of the nation's richest men, died at Chulalongkorn Hospital yesterday. He was 89. Funeral rites will be held at Wat Khrua Wan Worawiharn in Bangkok Yai district from today until Friday. A cremation will take place next Saturday. Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali yesterday provided royal bathing water for the funeral ceremony. Chaleo was ranked third among the four richest Thais on the 2012 Forbes billionaire list and was ranked number 205 on the Forbes global list. Forbes estimates Chaleo's wealth at about US$5 billion (150 billion baht). He was ranked as the top billionaire in Thailand in 2008. Chaleo was the founder of TC Pharmaceuticals and the originator of the Krating Daeng energy drink. Mr Chaleo knew he had a success story on his hands when his new concoction, introduced to the market in 1976, took only a year to overtake all but one of its competitors and reach second spot behind Osotspa's Lipovitan-D. Just one year after that, Krating Daeng (Thai for Red Bull) had snatched the largest share of the competitive tonic segment. The most important factor behind the drink's meteoric rise was Chaleo's business savvy in positioning his product to appeal to labourers and blue-collar workers. His sales pitch was simple. He offered a low-cost product, advertised it heavily and offered popular giveaways among the working classes. Not content with countrywide success, Chaleo moved aggressively into the international energy drink market. In 1984, he co-invested with Austrian businessman Dietrich Mateschitz to set up Red Bull GmbH based in Austria to produce and market the tonic under the iconic Red Bull brand in more than 70 countries worldwide. In his Thai-language autobiography, Chaleo wrote that Red Bull gave him an income of 11 million baht per day, every day. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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King worried about haze

Posted by hasekamp on 16 March 2012 at 12:28 PM
HM the King continues to be worried about the haze in many northern provinces and has ordered the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation to urgently solve the problem, deputy secretary general of the Royal Household Bureau Dissathorn Vajarodaya said. Dissathorn said the King is concerned about the wellbeing of the people in the northern provinces, anf particularly their health, because dust particle levels exceeding safety standards can cause respiratory illnesses. The King ordered a follow up of the operations of the bureau, which is responsible for the country's artificial rainmaking operations. He said the past week's operation was successful as rain helped ease the haze in many provinces. However, the problem in Mae Hong Son persists and remains critical as the dust particle level is high. The monarch instructed the bureau's branch in Chiang Mai to conduct rainmaking in Mae Hong Son and said he expected the situation to gradually improve. (Source: The Nation)


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Japan wants flood prevention

Posted by hasekamp on 16 March 2012 at 12:25 PM
Japan is encouraging the government to speed up its immediate flood prevention measures, saying the construction of floodwalls and a floodway should be completed before the coming rainy season. Japan expected to see floodwalls raised, especially those along the main canals in the areas hit by last year's floods, and the planned floodway constructed before the monsoon season kicks off, said Japanese Ambassador to Thailand Seiji Kojima on Wednesday. Mr Kojima confirmed media reports that Japan was considering providing Thailand with financial assistance to fund its post-flood reconstruction and long-term flood prevention plans. Basically, the financial assistance would be provided through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) which is now helping the Thai government rebuild the infrastructure damaged in last year's floods, he said. The Thai government is actually looking to raise the insurance sub-limit to as much as half the sum insured as it tries to expand the claims payout ratio of the government-sponsored 50 billion baht Catastrophe Insurance Promotion Fund. The sub-limit is a limitation in policies on the amount of coverage available for a specific type of loss. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Land owned by foreigners

Posted by hasekamp on 13 March 2012 at 13:35 PM
Some 100 million rai of Thai land is owned by foreigners, mostly through their Thai spouses or nominees, Auditor-General Sriracha Charoenpanit revealed yesterday. He said if this situation was "unsolved", it could lead to later generations of Thais having no land to live on. Sriracha told a seminar yesterday on concealed juristic acts that threats to national security came from: firstly, drug problems ruining people, and secondly, the lack of land for future generations, as foreigners now owned a third of Thai land - about 100 million rai. It was a long-standing issue that resulted from a policy in 1997 to stimulate the economy by giving a special right of land ownership to foreigners with one million US dollars, he said. Some 90 per cent of coastal land at Ban Phe Beach in Rayong was foreign-owned, and foreigners owned about 30 per cent of Hua Hin and Pattaya. Land deals were done in ways such as via marriage with Thais or setting up a Thai-based company and a law which allows foreigners to hold up to 49 per cent of the shares. Indeed, he said, many companies let them hold the other 51 per cent through nominees. (Source: The Nation)


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Preparing for floods

Posted by hasekamp on 13 March 2012 at 13:32 PM
Retailers and manufacturers are taking steps to protect themselves from natural disasters. They want to avoid a repeat of last year, when massive floods severely damaged stores and factories. Facilities were inundated, products could not be delivered, and consumers were left without necessities such as food and water. So companies are making efforts now to minimise or completely avoid future damage and disruptions. Last year's floods left the retail sector with losses in the billions or even trillions of baht when actual property damage and lost business are considered. Normal operations are not expected until the second half of this year. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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School tablets too expensive

Posted by hasekamp on 13 March 2012 at 13:29 PM
The government's plan to acquire 900,000 tablets for school pupils looks like turning into a fiasco after a panel re-opened bidding on the scheme despite having already selected a winner last week. The move has raised suspicions of possible political interference and graft in the bidding process. But Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap denied any irregularities, saying new bids have been called because it was found the price quoted by the previously selected Chinese computer maker was not as cheap as it was thought to be. Shenzhen Scope Scientific Development, offered a price of US$81 (about 2,400 baht) apiece which was based on free-on-board terms, meaning there can be an extra charge for the transport cost of each tablet. As a result, Thai authorities last week decided to ask all four potential suppliers - Scope, TCL Cooperation, Haier Information Technology (Shenzhen) Co, and Huawei Technologies Co, which were recommended by the Chinese government, to resubmit their bids. In the original bidding, Scope was selected on March 5 by a government panel to supply 900,000 tablet computers for first-graders in primary schools at the price of $81. The other companies in the reckoning had offered to supply the tablets at higher prices. TCL offered $89, Haier offered $105 and Huawei proposed $135. The selection of a winner this time will not be based solely on the price, but will include transportation costs, extra product specifications, after sales services, warranty, insurance costs, manufacturing capacity, supplier's credibility and other special offers, the minister said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Three killed in shooting

Posted by hasekamp on 13 March 2012 at 13:07 PM
Three youths were killed and another seriously wounded in a gang shooting in Ayutthaya province early Tuesday morning, police said. The shooting occurred in front of a gas station on Rojana road. Police said they found seven spent 9mm bullet cartridges at the scene. The body of Chanachai Yuthep, 18, was found near the gas station. He was shot twice in the body. Next to him was a motorcyle without a licence plate. About 50 metres away, police found another body lying next to another motocycle with no licence plate. He was identified as 20-year-old Natthapon Hongthong. He was also shot twice in the body. Two other youths were wounded and were rushed to Ayutthaya hospital by local residents. One of them, 15-year-old Sathit Jana-in, later died. Police found a packet of 10 methamphetamine pills, or yaba, on this person. The other injured youth is Peera Pakboon, 15. He was shot in the right leg three times but medical staff he was said he was out of danger. Police said they had questioned Chanachol Wangmeechob, 21, who was riding a motorcycle within the group of people who were attacked. Mr Chanachol told investigators that he and four friends were returning to their homes on four motorcycles after playing snooker at Grand Market in Uthai district. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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3,000 mobiles in prisons

Posted by hasekamp on 9 March 2012 at 18:32 PM
Raids in 142 prisons across the nation since February have yielded about 3,000 cellphones as well as some narcotic substances, a senior official said yesterday. Corrections Department deputy chief Kobkiat Kasiwat said every raid yielded about 20 to 30 mobile phones and that if these impromptu searches continued, inmates would no longer be able to smuggle prohibited items. (Source: The Nation)


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Wildlife found

Posted by hasekamp on 9 March 2012 at 17:54 PM
Thai police yesterday searched a former Chatuchak Market animal vender's house in Sara Buri's Kaeng Khoi district and found 300400 wildlife animals in cages, worth Bt200 million totally. Pol Maj Gen Norasak Hemnithi, chief of the Crime Suppression Division’s Natural Resources and Environmental Central Investigation Bureau, who led the search, said wildlife trader Thananuwat "Ord Bang Kluay" Boonpherm who was arrested on February 4 pointed the authority to the Sara Buri house suspected to be a place to keep wildlife for trades. The house belonged to Si Sa Ketnative Yutthasak Sutthinon, 28. Located on an isolated 100rai plot, 20 kilometres off the Mitraparp Highway, it was barb wired, guarded by dogs and had 30 security cameras, linked via Internet to be watched from Bangkok. Inside the police found some 300400 animals of 51 species including five tigers, 13 white lions, 3 pumas, and two red pandas. As Yutthasak couldn't show permits to keep these animals, the officials seized the animals by guarding the place and prohibiting animal transport, pending investigation. Yutthasak was initially charged with operating a zoo without permission and having protected animals in possession without permission - punishable to four years in jail and/or Bt40,000 in fine. Yutthasak said he used to sell animals at Chatuchak market and a decade ago raised wildlife to open a private zoo. He said he didn't hire veterinarians full time to care for the animals but hired them on casebycase basis. He said the permits were with his father Thanajak Sutthinon who would present the permits to police later. Yutthasak also claimed that the rare animals such as red pandas, pumas and white lions were bought from Africa, Canada and South America. Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, deputy directorgeneral of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said the 300400 animals, mostly CITES and nationallyprotected wildlife, included Tibetoriginated red pandas that even Tibet didn't have any now and 65 Marmoset monkeys - the latter of which could be sold at Bt100,000 per pair. Theerapat said this place was arrested in 2003 for having 100 wildlife animals of ten species in possession without permission and the court fined the place owner and suspended the jail term, which already expired. It would take three days to check wildlife papers. (Source: The Nation)


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Fire in Bangkok hotel

Posted by hasekamp on 9 March 2012 at 17:32 PM
A fire at a major tourist hotel in Bangkok killed one foreigner and injured about 20 others, as rescue workers used cranes to pluck guests from the smoke-filled building, officials said Friday. The blaze broke out in a function room at the 221-room Grand Park Avenue Hotel, in soi 22 off Sukhumvit Road, in the Thai capital on Thursday evening. "A female foreign tourist died from suffocation," said Suvinai Busrakamwongs, director of the Kluay Nam Thai hospital. The victim's nationality was unknown because she had no identification and nobody came forward to identify her, he said. "Another male Western tourist is in intensive care," Suvinai added. Several foreigners wearing oxygen masks were seen being carried out of the hotel on stretchers late Thursday as crowds gathered to watch the blaze in a popular tourist district of the city. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Drugs seized

Posted by hasekamp on 6 March 2012 at 22:34 PM
An arrest on Monday led to the capture of two more suspects yesterday, along with 130,000 ya ba tablets and 2 kilograms of "ice" worth Bt45 million, police said. Itthipat Damnui, 41, and Sitthisak Thaennak, 35, were arrested in the Sombat Buri Condominium in Nonthaburi's Bang Bua Thong district, following the Metropolitan Police Area 9 officers' arrest of Jarukit Reungronghiranya, 32. He had been nabbed with 20,000 ya ba tablets and 100 grams of crystal meth on Monday night, and told police of his accomplices' hiding place. Police also seized a pistol and a Ford Fiesta in yesterday's sting. Itthipat told police he owed Bt3 million to a drug-dealing gang and was working off his debt by transporting drugs. He told police he got the drugs from a Bang Kwang Prison drug network member identified only as Thoon. Meanwhile, Pongpat Salakjit, 31, was arrested at 1.30am in Nonthaburi's Muang district along with a pistol, 15 bullets and 18 ya ba tablets. Police said he had tried to ride a motorcycle through a checkpoint and pulled the gun but was shot by police in the left leg. (Source: The Nation)


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Tablets for the schoolkids

Posted by hasekamp on 6 March 2012 at 22:32 PM
Education Minister Suchart Tadathamrongvej said yesterday Matthayom 1 students would get free tablet computers in next academic year. "We use technology to develop education," he said. "Tablets are like new teachers that students can learn from whenever they want," he said after launching the "Future of Thai Education" symposium at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani. During the opening ceremony, he said teachers and parents should also learn and search for knowledge from the tablet computers. The ministry might allow students to take the tablets with them after three years of use without returning them to the schools, he said. Schools that get the tablets in the next academic year should install chess, which is being used overseas to help students develop strategic planning skills. (Source: The Nation)


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Possible evacuation of Mae Sai

Posted by hasekamp on 4 March 2012 at 12:44 PM
His Majesty the King is worried about the haze in the North and has instructed the president of the Rajaprajanigroh Foundation to visit affected areas, a senior official said yesterday. The Pollution Control Department yesterday reported that atmospheric levels of fine-particle dust, or PM 10, were unsafe in all nine upper northern provinces. Officials in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district prepared to evacuate residents of tall buildings as PM10 reached a dangerous level of 357 micrograms per cubic metre (mg/m3) - way above the "safe" level of 120 mg/m3. Song Klinpathum, chief of the Northern Royal Rainmaking Operations Centre, said the King instructed the president of the Rajaprajanigroh Foundation to visit Chiang Mai this week to help local authorities tackle the problem. Song said the rainmaking centre continued to add humidity to the air, with two flights yesterday to sprinkle humidity-boosting chemicals in Chiang Mai, Lampang and Lamphun, as humidity levels weren't high enough to allow the use of rain-making chemicals. He said while the weather had cooled in the North, a low-pressure system in the area made conditions unsuitable for rainmaking. Continued unsafe dust levels were reported yesterday in Chiang Rai and eight other northern provinces. Mae Sai district chief Sopon Choom said he had prepared a plane to evacuate residents in the event the province is declared a disaster zone. The district had contacted owners of tall buildings about the evacuation plan, which would cover more than 100,000 evacuees, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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Poacher shot dead

Posted by hasekamp on 4 March 2012 at 12:37 PM
Wildlife officials at Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary in Chaiyaphum clashed yesterday with Vietnamese poachers, killing one man. The officials had a gunfight with three men each of who were allegedly carrying a sack with eagle wood and carcasses in the forest sanctuary. Officials said they found a gun near the man they shot dead and a personal document identifying him as Vietnamese. Cutting tools, the eagle wood and freshly cut deer antlers were found inside the sack. The two others were said to have escaped. The incident was the fourth time officials have arrested or clashed with poachers at Phu Khieo. Most of them were Vietnamese. (Source: The Nation)


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Are the Bangkok buildings safe?

Posted by hasekamp on 4 March 2012 at 12:34 PM
A massive fire erupted at the 13-storey Fico Place building in the busy commercial area of Sukhumvit Soi 21 yesterday sparking concerns about the safety of old buildings in the city. The fire started about 2.30pm on the seventh floor of the office building on Asok Road before rapidly spreading up to the 13th floor. Thirachon Manomaipibul, deputy Bangkok governor for civil engineering, claimed the building had an inadequate sprinkler system. Asok Road was closed as fire-fighters rushed to tackle the blaze. No casualties were reported. About 50 people working in the building were evacuated. The intense heat caused the glass exterior to shatter which sent shards hurtling to the pavement. The blaze was brought under control about 4.25pm. The closure of Asok Road, one of the city's main routes, paralysed traffic into the area for hours. Mr Thirachon said the building was constructed before the Building Safety Control Act of 1992 came into effect. The act made adequate water sprinklers compulsory. Mr Thirachon claimed the building's substandard sprinkler system led to the blaze spreading rapidly. Fico Place will be closed until necessary improvements are made in line with the safety control act. Damage to the building has not been assessed. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Haze in the North

Posted by hasekamp on 3 March 2012 at 14:24 PM
Haze pollution in the North yesterday hit the highest levels in Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai, since January, the Department of Pollution Control says. The level of 323.4 microgrammes per cubic metre was recorded yesterday, after two consecutive days of the district developing critical haze pollution of more than 300ug/cu/m. On Thursday, it was nearly 306ug/cu/m. The pollution is believed to stem from both forest fires and fires that farmers set alight on their fields to prepare for new crops. In Mae Sai district, the particles have exceeded the safety standard of 120ug/cu/m since the middle of February and dramatically increased last week. The department said nine provinces in the North have been facing haze problems. They are Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phrae, Phayao and Tak. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Don Muang to reopen

Posted by hasekamp on 3 March 2012 at 14:22 PM
Flood-ravaged Don Mueang airport is due to reopen for commercial flights next Tuesday with a bit of fanfare officiated the day before by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Bangkok's old airport, which closed last Oct 25 during the deluge that paralysed central provinces and Bangkok for two months, will serve only one scheduled airline, the budget carrier Nok Air. Orient Thai, the other budget airline that used to operate through Don Mueang in the pre-flood period, has yet to set a return from Suvarnabhumi. Nok Air executives said separately that the airline will begin ferrying its aircraft Monday afternoon at the end of scheduled service at Suvarnabhumi, with nearly all of its fleet of 14 aircraft slated for normal flights starting at 6am on Tuesday. They said facilities required to support Nok Air's operation, particularly at Terminal 1, were largely spared by the floods and all systems are now ready. The carrier, which operates 35 domestic flights a day, has been eager to return to its home base. Heavy congestion at Suvarnabhumi has forced it to burn more jet fuel waiting for take-off slots, causing flight delays and frustration for passengers. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Artificial rain against haze

Posted by hasekamp on 1 March 2012 at 10:10 AM
The first day of a new round of artificial rainmaking that began on Monday is helping ease the haze problem in the northern provinces, with dust particle levels exceeding the safety standard reported in only three provinces. The Northern Rain Making Operation Centre met Tuesday, the second day of the cloud-seeding process. Centre director Song Klinprathum said the relative humidity is not adequate for rainmaking now. Its aircraft spread urea to seed clouds and increase humidity at a height of 9,000 feet. Monday's operation reduced the density of dust particles in Chiang Mai to 60 micrograms per cubic metre, measured at Chiang Mai city hall.
Although the level of the dust particles in the province reduced to 159.9 microgram/cubic metre on Monday, it still exceeded the safety limit. (Source: The Nation)


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More street people after floods

Posted by hasekamp on 1 March 2012 at 10:07 AM
The number of street people in Bangkok's 50 districts increased by 4.2 per cent from 2,451 in 2010 to 2,561 (931 females and 1,630 females) in 2011, many of whom had to sleep in public areas for up to five days due to last year's flood disaster. The Issarachon Foundation secretary general Nathee Sorawathee told a seminar yesterday in Sathon that the foundation had surveyed Bangkok streets and public areas in November/December 2011 and found 2,561 "people living in public space", a new term promoted to identify them with more dignity. The average time for people to live in such a condition was 20 years.
Phra Nakhon district had the most street people at 472, followed by Bang Sue 258, Chatuchak 207, Pathumwan 183, Samphanthawong 163, Klong Toei 144, Ratchathewi 114, Phya Thai 111, Bang Rak 104, and Dusit 103, he said. (Source: The Nation)


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