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Tesco Lotus delivers at home

Posted by hasekamp on 30 March 2013 at 13:06 PM
Superstore Tesco Lotus will bring internet-to-home shopping to Thailand next week, according to the executive overseeing the plan. Tesco says its delivery vans for Thailand are smaller than the UK vans to better deal with traffic, but have superior refrigeration. Online operations begin in Thailand next week and in China in June or July, the last but one of Tesco's 12 international markets to complete plans for home delivery to customers from an internet connection. Director Frans Falize said at a briefing in Bangkok Monday that the final stores, in Turkey, will begin online operations in January, 2014. Chief Executive Officer Philip Clarke said last week Tesco will spend $750 million (about 22 billion baht) this year to develop online shopping and other digital services, as customers worldwide shift to purchasing via computers, mobile phones and tablets. The company now offers online grocery shopping in the UK, Ireland, Korea, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Malaysia. The Thailand website of Tesco Lotus is already online with a bilingual website at www.tescolotus.com/. A common technology and operations model based on its UK web business "allows us to launch in any market within three to six months, depending on planning restrictions," Mr Falize said. The grocer typically starts in the capital city using local stores as hubs and replicates the model across the country. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Eco car promotion

Posted by hasekamp on 30 March 2013 at 13:02 PM
The government may issue a second invitation for its eco-car project to help spur automobile production, say well-placed sources. The decision follows the growing popularity of small cars, helped in no small part by the recently concluded first-time car buyer scheme. The populist policy may have stirred up controversy, but the tax rebates to customers helped to boost annual vehicle sales to 1.3 million units last year. As well, the Thai government wants to promote the country as one of the world's leading automotive production hubs. After hitting a new milestone of 2 million vehicles produced last year, the state wants to raise the target to 3 million by 2017. Industry Ministry officials reportedly favour the change. Leading car companies that have established large manufacturing facilities in Thailand but missed out on the eco-car boat have expressed approval for the anticipated second round of applications. Executives from Ford and Mazda say they will likely participate in the new eco-car programme since such products are mostly B-segment small cars with unusually low prices due to benefits such as lower excise tax, duty-free importation of machinery and corporate income tax exemption. "The Mazda2 cannot stay competitive in Thailand in the long run, as it's at a disadvantage with eco-car prices," stressed one Mazda source. Other models facing a similar hardship are the Chevrolet Sonic and the Ford Fiesta. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Three years for selling Australian documentary

Posted by hasekamp on 30 March 2013 at 12:56 PM
A 37-year-old man was sentenced to more than three years in prison on Thursday for selling copies of a controversial Australian documentary about Thailand's royal family, his lawyer said. The imprisonment of Ekachai Hongkangwan is the latest in a series of tough sentences handed down by the kingdom's courts for royal defamation, to the dismay of human rights campaigners. "The court found him guilty of lese majeste and sentenced him to five years, but due to his useful testimony the sentence was reduced to three years and four months," lawyer Anon Numpa said after the sentencing on Thursday. He said he would take the ruling to the Constitution Court. Mr Anon argued that Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law, violated the constitution as it sought to impose excessive punishment on offenders and ran counter to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the charter. Ekachai, a supporter of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, was also fined 66,666 baht (about US$2,270) for selling CDs without a licence. He was arrested in March 2011 on charges of possessing 10 WikiLeaks documents and about 100 CDs, which contained a segment of an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) programme, "Foreign Correspondent", dating from 2010 about the Thai royal family. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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New 20 baht banknotesû

Posted by hasekamp on 27 March 2013 at 18:42 PM
New 20 baht banknotes will be released. The notes measure 72 by 138 millimetres, the same size with the current series. The new notes have high-technology anti-counterfeiting measures.They also have Braille so the blind can identify the value. The watermark of Thai numeral 20 is specially transparent when held against the light; the green security thread embedded into the paper will change to the colour of red-purple when user tilts the new banknotes; and the use of raised features and matching element techniques on denomination numeral. The banknotes were made of better paper quality to provide the longer life cycle, she added. The 20-baht banknotes are most used among the five denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht, according to the central bank. (Source: The Nation)


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Russian tour agent arrested

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2013 at 19:37 PM
Phuket Immigration officers arrested a Russian tour saleswoman in Patong yesterday for working illegally and for illegally entering the country. “We inspected the Kathu area for illegal foreign workers,” explained Phuket Immigration Investigator Chidchanok Sakornyen. “As we reached the tour counter of the Leon Speedy Travel company on Thaweewong Road, we found Oleg Tikhomirova, 34, discussing tour packages with foreign customers,” he said. “To confirm that she was working there, our officer pretended to ask her about a tour package. When it was clear that she was a saleswoman, the officer told her who he was and asked to see her passport. She did not have it with her, and said that a friend had it. She also could not produce her work permit,” he added. “She told us she has been selling tours for a year. We arrested her and handed her over to Kathu Police to prosecute,” he explained. The penalty for working without a work permit is 2,000 to 100,000 baht, or up to five years in prison, or both. The penalty for illegally entering the country is a fine of up to 20,000 baht and deportation, Officer Chidchanok said.
In our opinion it would be better to arrest Thai tour companies that cheat tourists. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Life for running over policemen

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2013 at 19:31 PM
The Criminal Court Friday sentenced a drug trafficker to life in prison for crashing his car into two policemen - killing one and seriously injuring the other - during a sting operation. Alongkorn Rermprachathipatai, 26, was also ordered to pay Bt1.64 million in compensation to the dead policeman's parents. In addition, he was sentenced to seven years in jail and fined Bt375,000 for drug trafficking. His commonlaw wife, Preeyanuch Puttikorn, was also given seven years in jail and fined Bt375,000 for drug trafficking. She was in the car when Alongkorn ran into a motorcycle being driven by Pol Corporal Sirawit Ruamjit and Pol Captain Taweesak Daoruang on January 11 last year on a road linking Bangkok and Nonthaburi. (Source: The Nation)


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Bangkok saved during Earth Hour

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2013 at 19:28 PM
Bangkok's power consumption dropped by 1.7 gigawatts during Earth Hour, from 8.30pm-9.30pm on Saturday. "Earth Hour has brought public attention to energy-saving," Deputy Bangkok city clerk Jumpol Sampaopol said yesterday. Electricity costs were cut by Bt6.6 million and carbon dioxide emission by 1,073 tonnes, he said. The country's observance of the worldwide movement has been improving. Last year, Earth Hour reduced power consumption in Thailand by just 1.5GW. (Source: The Nation)


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Car locks not safe

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2013 at 19:25 PM
Signal interference blocks locking mechanisms in four major vehicle makes flaw allows thieves to prevent cars from being locked and to prey on owners. A test conducted by The Nation on four makes of cars - three Japanese and one American - found that signal interference can block their remote-control locking mechanisms. Dusit Suksawas, a lecturer with the electronics engineering division at King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Lat Krabang, conducted a similar test. The technique usually involves thieves hiding in car parks, using their frequency jammers and then gaining entry to the unattended vehicles. In more serious cases, criminals may use their device to prevent owners from entering their cars, leaving them vulnerable to assault. The easiest way to foil the jammers is to manually lock the doors with the key rather than using the remote, Dusit said. Toyotas are most vulnerable, Dusit said, and he based this assertion on the fact that many of his students owned Toyotas that had been stolen or broken into. He said he conducted tests on several remote-control units and found that they all work on the same range of frequencies, which are widely available. The test by The Nation found this vulnerability to exist with most middle-sized and smaller cars, but larger Japanese and European makes were not affected. (Source: The Nation)


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Civil Society groups needed

Posted by hasekamp on 24 March 2013 at 19:21 PM
Without the support of civil society groups and strong political will to succeed, lasting peace in troubled regions such as the far South of Thailand, is unlikely, says an activist from Sumatra's formerly volatile province of Aceh. The relatively smooth transition in Aceh from a conflict zone to a developing area governed by an elected local government could be attributed to a number of factors, said Juanda Djamal, secretary-general of the New Aceh Consortium. But the main success factor, he said, had been the political will of the government and the unwavering push from local civil society for a peaceful resolution. "It's not just because of the tsunami that we have a peace deal," said Mr Djamal, 35. "Local civil society had been working toward negotiations between Jakarta and the Gerakin Aceh Merdeka (GAM) for some years before the Indian Ocean earthquake hit Aceh in December 2004." GAM, known as the Free Aceh Movement launched an armed uprising in 1976. It ended in August 2005 when leaders signed a provincial election deal with Jakarta, dissolving their militant wing and ending 29 years of fighting for independence. Mr Djamal was speaking on the sidelines of a discussion held on Friday at the Islamic Centre of Thailand on the peace talks planned for southern Thailand. The Bangkok talks precede a similar discussion on Saturday in Pattani province where local people are compiling recommendations for the Thai and Malaysian governments ahead of talks with leaders of insurgents active under the BRN umbrella in southernmost Thailand. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Get happy, go to Mae Hong Son

Posted by hasekamp on 20 March 2013 at 14:36 PM
Mae Hong Son residents are the happiest in the country and Bangkokians are the least happy due to stress caused by materialism, a high crime rate and bad family relationships, according to an Abac poll. The poll was released to mark the first International Day of Happiness today. The Academic Network for Community Happiness Observation and Research, or Anchor, which works out of Assumption University, surveyed 12,429 people in 18 provinces between March 1 and 19. They measured people's "happiness" based on 17 indicators based on scores of 1 to 10 points and found that general happiness had shrunk from last December's score of 7.61 to 6.58 now. Happiness rankings among those living upcountry in percentage terms revealed that the happiest province was Mae Hong Son at 60.9 per cent followed by Phang Nga at 60.7 per cent, Chaiyaphum at 60 per cent, Prachin Buri at 57 per cent and Uthai Thani at 56.6 per cent. The key factors for happiness in the top five provinces were: the natural environment, rural lifestyle in peaceful city, small society with good relationships in family and community, high safety in terms of life and property, low crime rate, pride in local history, little to moderate urbanisation and materialism and, more importantly, loyalty to the nation, the religion and the monarchy, which boosted feelings of unity. Bangkok ranked last at 20.8 per cent after Samut Prakan at 22 per cent and Phuket at 24.2 per cent. These provinces were least happy because of high urbanisation and materialism, high crime rate, relationships in family and community being in crisis, drug and alcohol problems, disunity and bias in society, hot tempers and lack of trust in government and local administration due to a lack of transparency. Pollution and health problems also made the list. (Source: The Nation)


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Here are the Russians

Posted by hasekamp on 20 March 2013 at 14:31 PM
Two decades after the end of the Soviet Union's military influence in Indochina, Russia has emerged as a country with growing potential for Thailand and its neighbours to reap the benefits of its rising spending power. Tourism has long since replaced military jostling for geo-political position as Russia's biggest infleunce on Southeast Asia. Thailand saw 1.3 million Russian tourist arrivals in 2012, a 25% increase from the previous year, the Tourism Department reports. More Russians came to Thailand than tourists from any other European country. About 175,000 Russian tourists visited Vietnam last year, a 170% leap from 2011, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.In Laos, Russian tourist arrivals jumped more than 30% from 2010 to over 7,000 in 2011, the Information, Culture and Tourism Ministry says. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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30,000 illegal CDs

Posted by hasekamp on 17 March 2013 at 23:32 PM
Over 30,000 CDs were confiscated during a police raid in a famous Bangkok market in Khlongtom. Ten shop owners were arrested for selling illegal movie CDs which are estimated to cause damage of over Bt100,000. Initially, they are charged of renting or selling movies without licenses and possessing non-censored movies which is in violation of the motion-picture law. (Source: The Nation)


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Dengue Fever

Posted by hasekamp on 17 March 2013 at 23:29 PM
As of March 11, 13,200 Thais have fallen victims of dengue fever so far this year, with 16 fatalities, according to the Public Health Ministry. Officials said that the number of cases and the number of fatalities are both 4 times higher than the same period last year. The ministry’s data shows that cases were reported in all provinces of Thailand. A war room is now in place to monitor the situation and devise measures to contain the disease. The ministry fears the situation would worsen during the rainy season. In its 2-mth lifecycle, a female yellow fever mosquito, which is the cause of dengue fever, can lay 500 eggs. (Source: The Nation)


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Government has to loan trillions

Posted by hasekamp on 17 March 2013 at 23:25 PM
The government is set to defend its plan to borrow 2.2 trillion baht to fund a seven-year infrastructure overhaul when the issue comes up for parliamentary scrutiny next week. A detailed list of sub-projects and budgets required will be tabled before the cabinet tomorrow and is expected to be scrutinised by the parliament on March 27-28. Three important questions regarding the government bill that will allow it to borrow 2 trillion baht for the infrastructure overhaul would be explained in detail, Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt said. The questions concern the projects' necessity, whether the borrowing would affect the country's financial status and public debts, and how the government would ensure its transparency, he said. He would point out the country would end up lagging behind other nations in the region if it refuses to begin overhauling its infrastructure. Thailand would lose its competitive ability to attract investors without such a plan, because the cost of logistics here would become higher than in the other countries, Mr Chadchat said. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong would tackle questions about rising public debts. Preliminary results of a study conducted on the 2.2 trillion baht borrowing plan showed public debts would not exceed 60% of gross domestic product (GDP), which poses no harm to the economy, Mr Chadchat said. More importantly, since this was a seven-year project, the average spending per year would be only 300 billion baht which is small when compared with annual GDP, the minister said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Gangs kill elephants

Posted by hasekamp on 14 March 2013 at 22:48 PM
At least three organised criminal gangs are suspected to be behind the illegal killing of a wild elephant in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi province, investigators said yesterday. The first suspected gang was previously sentenced for killing wild elephants and has eluded arrest. The second suspected gang is a group of local people who shoot at wild elephants; and the third is a group of officials who have guns and hunt wild animals for sport. According to the investigator, some police officers might be involved in these organised criminal groups. Initial investigation into the death of the wild forest elephant was presented before provincial governor Montian Thongnit, Kaeng Krachan National Park's chief Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, Pa Deng Local Administrative Organisation's chief Attaphon Changreung, investigators from Provincial Police Region 7 and Phetchaburi provincial police station. The primary investigation also found the bullets in the dead elephant came from AK47 rifles or M16 rifles. The investigators are now examining the bullets embedded in the elephant's carcass. Local officials and investigatorve has set up a working group to track the criminal gangs. There is concern among international and local environmentalists - now convening at the 16th CITES conference in Bangkok - over illegal killing of wild elephants and the ivory trade. (Source: The Nation)


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Teenage gang

Posted by hasekamp on 14 March 2013 at 22:45 PM
A gang of teenagers was arrested for allegedly robbing more than 60 men during the past three months, including Chulalongkorn University students. "During the interrogation, they confessed to stealing motorcycles and robbing people since December. They committed about 50 crimes in the Yannawa area alone," Pol Maj General Wanlop Pratummueang, commander of Metropolitan Police Division 6, said yesterday. One of the suspects has a pregnant wife so they decided not to target women. The suspects, aged 16-18, were driving stolen motorbikes when they were nabbed. Kunchart Utaiwichakul, a Chulalongkorn student, positively identified the thieves, who attacked him at a bus stop in front of his campus after he refused to hand them his cellphone. "They beat me up until I collapsed. Then, they fled. I was lying there until a lecturer walked past and rushed me to a hospital," he said. Police vowed to investigate further to nail all the accomplices. (Source: The Nation)


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Cites loses patience

Posted by hasekamp on 14 March 2013 at 22:40 PM
The world's top officials on illegal ivory trading say Thailand and other "gang of eight" countries must stop the business within a year or suffer severe trade sanctions. British newspaper the Guardian quoted the officials as identifying the other countries involved as source nations Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, "enabling" countries Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, and destination countries Thailand and China. Tom de Meulenaer, a senior Cites official at the body's conference under way in Bangkok, said the group "had finally lost patience" with Thailand and the other seven countries, according to the Guardian report. Initial sanctions could come by 2014, and would immediately bar all wildlife trade by Thailand, including hugely lucrative orchid and crocodile skin exports, the report said. Tom Milliken, who runs the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) database for Cites, said: "This Cites meeting should be the time sanctions should be used." Mr Milliken's group revealed last week that the slaughter of elephants for their ivory has doubled in a decade, while ivory seizures have tripled to an all-time high. US-born Mr Milliken singled out Thailand as "a particular problem" because of the country's legal domestic market in ivory, which wildlife experts claim allows illegal African ivory to be laundered. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Crocodiles not downgraded

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2013 at 16:42 PM
Thailand has failed to get major support from members of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to downgrade the protection for Siamese and saltwater crocodiles. These two crocodiles are included in the list of 600 species threatened with extinction and international trade in these species or their parts is prohibited under CITES Appendix I. (Source: The Nation)


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Ivory traders are angry

Posted by hasekamp on 10 March 2013 at 16:34 PM
Ivory shop owners in Nakhon Sawan and Uthai Thani are unhappy with the government's attempts to tighten local controls on the ivory trade. The ivory trade is a very lucrative business in Thailand. Elephant ivory decorations are displayed at most Bangkok department stores and in "specialist" shops. The owners say authorities' strict controls on the ivory trade will destroy the tradition of ivory carving, forcing them to take their work underground to avoid arrest. [So they suggest that there is nothing else in Thailand to do for them, when their busyness becomes illegal. Or do they only - with regard to nothing - want to make easy money? Hasekamp Net.] Their comments came after Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk last week spoke on the sidelines of the 16th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). Mr Preecha said the conference would try to put an end to the illegal trade in African ivory in the country. The meeting will finish on Thursday. Thai law prohibits trading of ivory from wild elephants or ivory sourced abroad, however ivory from captive domestic elephants can be traded provided that sellers are able to prove that did not come from wild animals. [How is this controlled?]
Wildlife activists, however, believe ivory artefacts carved in Thailand are made from wild elephant tusks, including illegally-imported African elephant tusks. They also voiced concern that the lack of a ban on the ivory trade in the country provides loopholes for businesses to mix tusks from wild elephants with those from domesticated ones. Mr Preecha said authorities would investigate ivory shops to ascertain the amount of their ivory stocks. The shops would also be banned from buying new tusks for carving until the survey of nationwide ivory stock is completed. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Phuket taxi driver confesses assault

Posted by hasekamp on 7 March 2013 at 22:56 PM
A Phuket taxi driver has confessed to beating and abducting a karaoke hostess before stealing her valuables and leaving her tied up in a Phuket hotel room. However, he has denied the rape charge filed against him by the woman. Phuket City Police arrested Suksan Mornamrong, 28, at his rented home in Koh Kaew for the alleged rape on Monday night of a woman who worked at a karaoke bar in the Rassada port area. Suksan, originally from Krabi, was found in possession of stolen property belonging to the victim, including two mobile phones, 4,000 baht, two necklaces, an ATM card and her ID card. The woman reported her ordeal to Thung Thong Police early Tuesday morning, recounting how she was abducted, beaten, raped and robbed by a taxi driver who drove a white Toyota Altis. After the woman reported the license plate number of Suksan’s taxi, police quickly found his home address and within hours had him under arrest. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Thailand promises end to ivory trade

Posted by hasekamp on 7 March 2013 at 22:53 PM
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has promised legal amendments and other measures to stop ivory trade, in response to international calls for Thailand's help. To over 2,000 representatives of 150 countries at the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known as CITES, she vowed yesterday to end the ivory trade in Thailand. The Kingdom has come under heavy criticism for overlooking the smuggling of illicit animal products, while noting that the country was not a major end-driver of demand. "Unfortunately, many have used Thailand as a transit country for the illegal international ivory trade," she said, adding that the government is working with both domestic and international organisations to combat international trafficking in tusks. "The next step will be amending national legislation," she said. (Source: The Nation)


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Mixed feelings after CITES

Posted by hasekamp on 7 March 2013 at 22:50 PM
Polar bears have failed to receive the protection of CITES, the world's biggest wildlife and plant summit, meeting in Thailand. But it is highly likely Thailand will get the organisation's support to protect the Siamese rosewood, which is now vulnerable and threatened with extinction. A proposal to transfer polar bears from Appendix II to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was defeated yesterday by member nations of the treaty. The proposal, submitted for consideration by the United States, garnered intense debate primarily due to opposition from Canada, Greenland, and Norway, all of which are range states for polar bears. The final tally for the vote was 38 for, 42 against, and 46 abstentions. "We are obviously disappointed the CITES' membership failed to give greater protection to polar bears by limiting permissible trade in polar bear pelts and other body parts," said US Deputy Secretary of the Interior, David J Hayes. (Source: The Nation)


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New Bangkok Governor is a Democrat

Posted by hasekamp on 7 March 2013 at 22:46 PM
MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra of the Democrat Party has won Sunday's Bangkok governor election with a record-high number of votes, as his Pheu Thai rival, Pol Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen, conceded defeat. At the Democrat Party's headquarters on Sunday evening, MR Sukhumbhand said he would like to thank the people who helped him to get more than one million votes in the gubernatorial election. At 8pm when initial counting by the Bangkok governor election coordinating centre had ended, MR Sukhumbhand had 1.26 million votes while Pol Gen Pongsapat got 1.07 million. The previous record was held by the late Samak Sundaravej at 1.01 million votes in 2000. "I want to thank Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra [of the Pheu Thai Party] who has promised that I'll be able to work seamlessly with the government. "I would like to take this opportunity to invite about 800,000 Bangkokians who did not cast their votes today to help build Bangkok with me. "I promise you that I'll work harder and be more committed and that I'll serve the people of Bangkok - the city I love, where I was born and raised, and will die," said the re-elected governor. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Sea turtle eggs

Posted by hasekamp on 3 March 2013 at 12:15 PM
The safety of turtle eggs in a protected nesting ground at the northern tip of Phuket is under investigation by the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation. The Phuket Gazette contacted the foundation after a reader reported seeing turtle tracks and people probing for eggs in the area between Maikhao Dream Villa Resort and Spa and Maikhao Beach Bungalows on February 14. Foundation coordinator Kittipan Sabkhoon checked with security guards and staff at the hotels in the area and said that as of February 28, no suspicious activity had been reported. Nevertheless, he is sending “guards and our staff to check to see if there are any traces of egg-laying turtles or their nests on the beach,” he said. “The area around the Maikhao Dream hotel is well known as a nesting site for turtles,” said Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) veterinarian Patcharaporn Kaewmong. “The way poachers find the eggs is to stick a rod into the sand,” she explained. “If the rod finds a nest under the sand, they will start digging,” she explained. “The PMBC worked together with the JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa to set up the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation. The aim was for the foundation to take care of the turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs on Mai Khao Beach and to protect those eggs from being stolen by people,” she said. “During the sea turtle nesting period [November-March], the staff at the foundation rope off the nests to prevent the turtles from being disturbed and to prevent people from stealing the turtle eggs,” she stated. “People who try to take the eggs will be warned by foundation staff, but if they do it again they will be reported to Sirinath National Park officers and sent to Tah Chat Chai Police Station, where charges will be pressed and they will be fined,” she added. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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End to ivory trade?

Posted by hasekamp on 3 March 2013 at 12:08 PM
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised Sunday to end her nation's trade in ivory, delighting conservationists who have long urged the kingdom to tackle the rampant smuggling of tusks through its territory. Speaking at the opening of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), Ms Yingluck said she will amend Thai law "with the goal of putting an end to the ivory trade". She did not give a timeframe for the amendment. Activists say criminals exploit the kingdom's legal trade in tusks from domesticated Asian elephants to sell illicit stocks of African ivory, driving a poaching crisis that sees tens of thousands of elephants slaughtered each year. Thailand is currently the world's largest illegal ivory market behind China, according to the conservation group World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF), with scores of unauthorised traders selling products made from tusks often to foreign tourists. Defending her nation's commitment to protecting the species, Ms Yingluck said "elephants are very important for Thai culture", adding that "no one cares more about the elephant than the Thai people". "Unfortunately, many have used Thailand as a transit country for the illegal international ivory trade," she added. The premier said Thailand would establish tighter controls to curb illegal flows of ivory and ensure the existing ivory supply is from domestic elephants before legislating for an outright end to the trade. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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The South is flooding

Posted by hasekamp on 2 March 2013 at 19:00 PM
Floods continued to wreak havoc in the deep South yesterday, with roads submerged, schools closed and at least 130 people evacuated. In Narathiwat, flood water has covered several areas and disrupted the lives of about 6,500 residents. In the worst-hit spots, water levels soared to 1.5 metres. Officials yesterday evacuated 28 people in hard-hit areas to the Tessabarn 4 School, which is serving as an evacuation centre, raising the number of evacuees there to 158. Although days-long downpours eased yesterday, flooding has not subsided. At least four schools in Narathiwat's Muang and Rangae districts have suspended classes indefinitely, after 24 roads were flooded to a depth of 50-80 centimetres. Officials are using pumps in a bid to clear the roads. Typical of the many vulnerable residents who are suffering was Juan Jornsuwan, a 36-year-old visually impaired woman lamented that flooding was making her life even harder. In Songkhla, two districts were yesterday declared flood-hit zones. In Rattaphum district, 4,240 people were struggling with floods and 2,240 rai of farms and 320 rai of paddy fields were inundated. "The damage has reached well over Bt9 million," said Songkha's disaster prevention and mitigation chief So Hemakul. (Source: The Nation)


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Trying to protect wild crocodiles

Posted by hasekamp on 2 March 2013 at 18:57 PM
The authorities have joined forces with the private sector to conserve Thai crocodiles (C.siamensis) whose population in the wild is now only 200. Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Conservation deputy chief Teerapat Prayunsit said yesterday that the crocodile conservation and release-to-nature project in a venture by his office, the Department of Fisheries, crocodile-breeding businesses and Mahidol University had improved the situation from near extinction since 2005. There were now 200 crocodiles in the wild. In the second phase, they would assess habitats, especially Kaeng Krajan National Park's Phetchaburi River, to release Thai crocodiles, which would also be tagged with radio devices to study behaviour and survival rate in the next eight months to one year, he added. Fisheries Department chief Wimol Jantrarotai said the second phase comprised habitat study, genetic identification of the fresh-water crocodile, research on key infectious diseases in crocodiles, community participation promotion and releasing crocodiles into nature. He said this project would boost the confidence of customers of Thai crocodile products. It would also help lift trade blockage by the US against Thai crocodile products, which stipulates a condition that Thailand must conserve crocodiles in the wild. Crocodile Cooperative of Thailand president Yossapong Temsiripong said the private sector saw the importance and supported wild-crocodile conservation. (Source: The Nation)


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Dutch Muay Thai boxer dies

Posted by hasekamp on 2 March 2013 at 18:11 PM
Former eight-time Muay Thai world champion Ramon "The Diamond" Dekkers died after suffering a heart attack while riding a bicycle in the Netherlands on Wednesday. He was 43. Reports said the Dutch kickboxer collapsed in a tunnel in the city of Breda, the Netherlands. Bystanders tried to revive him to no avail. Dekkers started his professional fight career in 1986 and retired in 2006. He amassed a career record of 186 wins (95 knockouts and technical knockouts), 33 losses and and two draws. The Dutchman was the first non-Thai to win "Thai Boxer of the Year" and opened a Muay Thai school in his home country. (Sourvce: The Bangkok Post)


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Cites conference in Bangkok

Posted by hasekamp on 2 March 2013 at 18:09 PM
The race to protect the world's rhino, elephant and shark populations from the bloody trade in animal body parts will be at the heart of key endangered species talks in Bangkok from Sunday. In its first meeting since 2010, delegates from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) will meet to assess levels of protection for animals and plants, as wildlife organisations warn of an increasingly desperate fight against poaching networks. Rhinos and elephants are already listed as protected species and their international trade is banned, with some exceptions. But poaching has reached alarming levels in recent years, leading to calls for stricter new measures. Host nation Thailand itself looks set to be at the heart of discussions. Seen as a hub for traffickers of all endangered species, the kingdom has been singled out for allowing the legal sale of Asian elephant ivory in its territory. Conservationists say criminals exploit this trade to sell illicit stocks of African ivory - which is practically impossible to differentiate from that of Asian elephants. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has launched a petition to ban all trade in ivory in the kingdom. It has already received half a million signatures that were presented to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday. Since coming into force in 1975, Cites has placed some 35,000 species of animal and plants under its protection, tightly controlling and monitoring their international trade. The 177 countries who have signed up to the convention - and must undertake measures to implement its decisions at home - will be seeking to add certain names to the protected list during the meeting at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, which ends on March 14. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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