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Warning for social media users

Posted by hasekamp on 29 April 2016 at 10:34 AM
Phuket Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada is threatening legal prosecution against social media users who share negative comments or rumors. "They will face at least a charge of violating the Computer Crimes Act if the information is not true," Governor Chamroen said. "They may also face additional charges for inciting destabilization, if their message has a negative impact on government policies or management." The governor cited rumors on social media about the recent demolition of Surin Beach structures as the impetus behind his threats. "There was a rumor on social media that a group of officials came to tell the vendors to stay put, as there would be no demolition. That was not true at all," Gov Chamroen said. "It happened again [concerning the demolitions] in Lay Pang and Layan." The threat comes after the April 27 announcement by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Spokesman Col Winthai Suvari, that the NCPO had arrested ten civilians under the provision of Article 44 of the interim charter. Amnesty International condemned the arrests, issuing a statement that said the civilians were detained after they commented on the draft of a new constitution the NCPO is seeking to impose. Col Winthai said two arrests were made in Khon Kaen and eight in Bangkok. No charges have been raised against the ten suspects yet. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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20 Provinces warned for storm

Posted by hasekamp on 29 April 2016 at 10:28 AM
The National Disaster Warning Centre has issued an urgent warning for residents of 20 provinces to brace themselves for possible thunderstorms Friday and Saturday. The centre said the storms could hit Chiang Rai, Lampang, Nan, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Nong Bua Lamphu, Udonthani, Khon Kaen, Roi Et, Yasothon, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Prachin Buri, Sakaew, Chachoengsao, Chanthaburi, and Trat. (Source: The Nation)


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Heavy storms in the North East

Posted by hasekamp on 29 April 2016 at 10:25 AM
Seasonal thunderstorms and hail continued to batter the North and Northeast over the past 24 hours, with blustery winds toppling more than 30 utility poles and damaging numerous houses in hard-hit Bun Kan province. Traffic in downtown Bung Kan was paralysed for several hours as a fierce squall uprooted large trees and billboards, blocking several roads. Shops, banks, petrol stations and 7-Eleven outlets in Muang district closed on Friday after a storm pounded several areas downtown and in nearby districts at about 2.30am today. Storms also damaged houses and temples in Pak Khat, Seka, Phon Charoen and So Phisai districts. No casualties were reported. In Surin, a seasonal storm and hail pounded three districts, damaging several hundreds homes late Thursday. Winds blew away roofs in Sankhla, Buachet and Si Narong districts. Power poles fell, causing widespread blackouts. In Sangkha district alone, more than 100 houses and rice barns were left without roofs. Thep-udom Witthaya School in tambon Tom also saw its roof ripped away. One two-storey wooden house in the same community was reduced to a pile of rubble. In Lampang, rain and hail hammered four districts on Thursday evening, felling trees and large billboards in several locations. Downtown Lampang suffered blackouts for more than five hours after uprooted trees snapped power lines. Flights operated by Nok Air and Bangkok Airways were delayed for four hours on Thursday night due to poor weather. Storms and strong winds also blew away a spire at an century-old temple in Lampang's Muang district. Phrakru Suttachayaporn, abbot of Wat Srichum, said on Friday he had reported the damage to the Fine Arts Department. The temple, built some 126 years ago, was registered as a national historic site. It houses Lord Buddha relics. In Phayao, rain and hail hit four districts on Thursday night, causing damage to many houses and fruit orchards. In Chaiyaphum, 696 houses, 16 rice barns, 10 animal pens and 20 farm storages in 14 districts were damaged between March 30 and April 21. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Monk kills estranged wife

Posted by hasekamp on 26 April 2016 at 21:13 PM
Police on Tuesday captured a monk wanted for fatally stabbing his estranged wife in a fit of anger after reading Facebook posts that made him assume she had a new lover. Phra Suraphon Sataesri was arrested about five kilometres from the crime scene in Mancha Khiri district of the northeastern province of Khon Kaen on Tuesday afternoon, said Pol Col Kittirat Noiphonthong, chief of Mancha Khiri police station, who led the search for the killer of 39-year-old Nid Buddaboon. Seized from the suspect were two knives and a blood-strained saffron robe. The woman was found dead at her house in tambon Nakha on Tuesday morning with multiple knife wounds to the neck, face and torso. Witnesses told police the murderer was her husband. Mr Suraphon, formerly Phra Suraphon who was defrocked shortly after being arrested, confessed he had lived with the woman for six years before deciding to enter the monkhood at a temple in Nong Khai province about a year ago. The woman had two children from her previous marriage. While he was ordained, he had kept monitoring her activities on her Facebook page every day. He saw posts that made him believe that she had gotten romantic with another man. Police said he admitted he felt jealous and went to her village on Monday, waiting for her to arrive home. He said he then climbed through a bedroom window and attacked his estranged wife after being discovered by her daughter. The suspect told police the woman had broken a vow to remain true to him while he was in the monkhood. The defrocked monk was charged with murder and held in police custody for legal action. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Artificial reef

Posted by hasekamp on 26 April 2016 at 12:58 PM
Concrete structures to create an artificial reef were lowered into the sea off Tri Trang Beach (Phuket) on Friday as part of a sustainable tourism initiative backed with private funding. The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources placed more than 120 cement cubes and cones on two rai of seabed to become homes for marine life and attract divers to the area. Emerald Bay Co Ltd and Emerald Resort and Spa, both private companies, provided the funds for the 1.2-million-baht Tri Trang artificial reef system, just south of Patong Beach. "We hope that in the next five years we will see natural coral colonies establishing themselves," said Paitoon Panchaiphoom of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) Region 5. "There are companies that are happy to help develop our natural resources as part of establishing sustainable tourism, as they have a long-term view of what needs to be done to secure their financial future." Tri Trang Beach used to support a vibrant coral reef system that attracted tourists and was a source of income for local people, Mr Paitoon explained. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Tiger Temple becomes zoo

Posted by hasekamp on 26 April 2016 at 12:51 PM
THE WORLD FAMOUS and highly controversial "Tiger temple" has now won a licence to operate a zoo, which will be developed with a budget of Bt120 million. The temple, formally known as Wat Pa Luangta Maha Bua Yannasampanno, is in a remote corner of Kanchanaburi province but has come under the spotlight in recent years because of its sizeable tiger population. The temple maintains that wild tigers have sought sanctuary in its compound and reproduced at the site, while critics point out that the temple is not a zoo and has no facilities to properly handle animals. (Source: The Nation)


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UDD wants international observation for referendum

Posted by hasekamp on 24 April 2016 at 13:10 PM
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) has demanded the Election Commission and the military regime allow international organisations, including the United Nations and the European Union, to observe the Aug 7 charter referendum to ensure transparency. UDD chairman Jatuporn Prompan delivered the demand at a press conference on Sunday at the Imperial Lat Phrao department store. The conference was held after Suthep Thaugsuban, chairman of the Muan Maha Prachachon for Reforms Foundation, openly declared his support for the draft charter. Mr Jatuporn was accompanied by other key UDD members including Thida Thavornseth, Weng Tojirakarn, Nisit Sinthuprai and Somwang Asrasi. A number of military officers were also there to observe the conference. Mr Jatuporn said that after the draft constitution was completed and the Referendum Act came into effect, people were living with anxiety because some leading members of the Constitution Drafting Committee and the National Legislative Assembly had given confusing explanations on Section 61 of the Referendum Act. Violators of Section 61 which refers to disruptions to the referendum are liable to 10 years in jail and a fine of 200,000 baht. They may also be stripped off their election rights by the court for no longer than five years. Mr Jatuporn said the section did not give clear definitions of many offences such as being aggressive, violent, rude or showing intimidation - which are too vague. So the people were afraid they could easily break Section 61 rules and be subject to punishment. "For example, it is difficult to say what can be seen as rude. The word "rude" is too vague, and people do not know what they can say before being determined as rude," he said. He said the EC should come up with a clear explanation of what can or cannot be done, adding that the referendum should not be held in an atmosphere of fear. To make all sides happy, the EC and those in power should allow international organisations including the United Nations and the European Union to observe the referendum to ensure honesty and transparency, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Suthep supports draft charter

Posted by hasekamp on 24 April 2016 at 12:59 PM
Suthep Thaugsuban, the chief of the People's Democratic Reform Foundation, Sunday expressed full support the draft constitution.He said the draft has been written to best respond to Thailand's special situation and the preface of the draft also affirmed that Thailand was moving ahead to the democratic system with the King being the head of the state. Suthep said the details of the draft must be considered based on the fact that the country was in crisis until the coup maker stepped in to find a solution for the country. Suthep led the People's Democratic Reform Committee in their protests against the Yingluck government until the May 2014 coup took place. He said the draft has clear guideline for national reforms in the provisional clauses. He said the draft would make senators really independent from political parties. He added that it was necessary for the draft to provide a channel for a non-MP to become the prime minister when a crisis happens. (Source: The Nation)


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The Songkran death toll balance

Posted by hasekamp on 17 April 2016 at 12:42 PM
ONLY EIGHT provinces did not report any fatality during the first five days of the Songkran holidays, while the rest of country saw 338 deaths and 2,891 people injured from 2,724 accidents. The number of deaths this year was 35 per cent higher than during the same period last year, when there were 2,406 road accidents that claimed 251 lives and injured 2,532 others. The fatality-free provinces were Trat, Pattani, Phatthalung, Phrae, Yala, Ranong, Samut Sakhon, and Nong Bua Lamphu, according to Chaweerat Kasetsunthorn, assistant to the Culture Minister. She spoke to the media at the Road Safety Directing Centre yesterday. Bangkok had the most road fatalities at 15, while Chiang Mai had the highest tally of people injured, at 144, and the most accidents with 136 cases over the first five days, she said. On Friday alone, 508 accidents claimed 79 lives and left 513 people injured. Most stemmed from drunk driving (34 per cent), followed by speeding (30 per cent) and involved motorcycles (80 per cent), followed by pickup trucks (10 per cent). Most accidents - 30 per cent - occurred between 4pm and 8pm and took place on highways (37 per cent) and tambon/village roads (36 per cent), Chaweerat said. From April 9-15, a total of 81,541 drunk drivers were arrested and 4,609 vehicles (including 3,488 motorcycles and 1,121 cars) were impounded nationwide, as part of the government's policy against drunk driving during this Songkran, Chaweerat said. (Source: The Nation)


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Draft charter rejected by academics

Posted by hasekamp on 17 April 2016 at 12:34 PM
The National Council for Peace and Order has been attacked from a new quarter with the network of academics for people's rights rejecting the draft constitution on the grounds that it curtails liberties. The draft charter, written by the Constitution Drafting Committee chaired by Meechai Ruchupan, is scheduled to go to a public referendum on Aug 7. The network is led by Anusorn Unno, dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology of Thammasat University, Wichit Likijkhitsomboon, a lecturer in the Faculty of Economics of Thammasat University, and Puangthong Pawakrapan, a lecturer in the Faculty of Political Science of Chulalongkorn University. The statement read by Mr Anusorn said a constitution is a form of "social contract" agreed on by all sectors in society as a rule for political and social activities and co-existence, but the draft constitution of the NCPO was for the benefit of a certain group of people only. The NCPO's draft charter had no respect for the people, the statement said. Many provisions in the draft were likely to weaken the parliamentary system. They included the ones which allow for an unelected "outsider" to be prime minster; for the senate to have 250 members appointed by the NCPO, six of them ex-officio members from security-related permanent officials; for the implementation of a new method of electing party-list MPs through calculation; and, for the NCPO to remain in power for one year after the charter referendum. The statement said the draft destroyed the rule of law regarding power separation. Judicial and independent organisations would have power over the parliament and government, but there were no mechanisms to control those organisations. The draft charter also infringed on the sovereign power of the people because it gave the power to decide security-related matters to the armed forces and a group of people outside the state administration.(Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Will the tigers in Wat Pha Luang be removed?

Posted by hasekamp on 17 April 2016 at 12:29 PM
For the volunteers at Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno, or the 'Tiger Temple' as it is more commonly referred, the possibility of the cats being taken away is an upsetting thought. For those coming from overseas to spend months and even years with the animals in this temple in Kanchanaburi province, the possibility is particularly distressing. Some of the longest serving volunteers have cared for tigers since birth and are concerned that any future facility the tigers are moved to will not provide them with the same enrichment and level of care that they currently receive. The government's threat to confiscate the tigers comes as a result of the growing criticism that the temple has received from animal welfare organisations and international media. Earlier this year, five tigers were confiscated by Government Wildlife officials who cited that the facility lacked the proper permits to house the endangered animals. The officials have since threatened to remove the remaining 146 cats in the near future. The Tiger Temple has become a magnet for foreign tourists who hope to get up close and engage with these endangered animals. For 600 baht, visitors can walk, feed and pet the animals. The temple has then become one of the main attractions in the country. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Songkran death toll 181 so far

Posted by hasekamp on 15 April 2016 at 9:19 AM
DESPITE authorities taking tougher action against law-breaking motorists and the Army's seizure of drunk drivers' vehicles, the road toll remains higher compared to Songkran last year. Three days into the so-called "seven dangerous days" saw 181 deaths and 1,777 injuries in 1,661 road accidents nationwide - marking an across-the-board increase from 121deaths and 1,281 injuries in 1,215 accidents over the same period last year. Army and police have also reported that 64,310 motorists were found driving under the influence of alcohol over the past five days. Of these, some 30,000 drunk drivers (including 19,577 motorcyclists) face prosecution and as many as 1,565 vehicles (including 1,182 motorcycles) have been seized, National Council for Peace and Order deputy spokesperson Colonel Sirichan Ngathong said. At a press conference held by the Road Safety Directing Centre yesterday, Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said that on Wednesday alone there were 754 accidents killing 65 people and wounding 796 others. Drunk driving and speeding were still main factors linked to 40 and 33 per cent of accidents respectively, while most crashes involved two-wheelers (83 per cent) followed by pick-up trucks (7 per cent). On the same day, officials at 2,129 checkpoints arrested 111,629 motorists - most of whom (32,278) were caught for not wearing a helmet, while 30,625 were unable to produce driving licences. (Source: The Nation)


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Songkran 2016: less water

Posted by hasekamp on 15 April 2016 at 9:16 AM
SONGKRAN CELEBRATIONS this year have used less water than before, with revellers being fully aware that the festival known for its water-fights is taking place at a time when the country is facing its most severe drought. Culture Minister Weera Rojpotchanarat said yesterday that he was satisfied that the Songkran bash hosted by his ministry, Chulalongkorn University and Siam Square in Bangkok had only used a fourth of the amount of water used in previous Songkran fests. Weera also invited people to submit photographs of themselves dressed in traditional attire at Songkran celebrations for the "Thainess Promotion" contest. Those interested in joining the contest have until Saturday to submit in one of five creative media categories - photography, signboard, poster, infographic and video clip via www.facebook.com/Songkran2559, he said. In Khao San Road, one of the country's best-known Songkran water-fighting sites, many Thais and foreign tourists were seen having fun spraying water at each other even though the celebration period has been shortened to just two days - Wednesday and yesterday up to 9pm - instead of the usual April 11-16, night-long water wars. (Source: The Nation)


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Too many tuk-tuks

Posted by hasekamp on 15 April 2016 at 9:11 AM
Transport authorities will curb the number of tuk-tuks on the roads as a recent increase is affecting quality controls on the iconic three-wheel passenger vehicles. Tuk-tuks need "birth control," said Land Transport Department director-general, Sanit Phromsathit, after learning their numbers in Bangkok have risen to more than 9,000. Mr Sanit said the department considered this as excessive, and made it hard to supervise their operations. Officials will halt new registrations of tuk-tuks except those under the tuk-tuk uea athon scheme run by the Transport Ministry to promote tuk-tuk driving as a career as well as the use of clean energy. The public makes fewer complaints about tuk-tuk services than metred-taxis, but some passengers have complained about safety issues prompting officials to cut back on the number of the three-wheelers so inspection procedures can be more efficient. Most tuk-tuk passengers are worried about careless, high-speed driving which puts them at risk of being thrown out of the vehicles, Mr Sanit said. Last year authorities brought in a new regulation demanding tuk-tuks be fitted with a steel structure on the right side of the car to prevent passengers falling out. The ministry has also set a standard length and width of the vehicles and prohibited drivers from adapting them. Modifications can cause the vehicles to tip over. These issues call for a need to "keep tuk-tuks in order and make sure passengers can travel safely", Mr Sanit said, adding the goals would be hard to attain if there is no ceiling on the number of the vehicles operating. Registrations will only be accepted for three-wheelers under the tuk-tuk uea athon scheme, so long as the vehicles are run on compressed natural gas and drivers are residents in Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan. Mr Sanit said 2,100 of the 2,500 tuk-tuk drivers under the project have their vehicles registered. (Source; The Bangkok Post)


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Another black day on the roads

Posted by hasekamp on 13 April 2016 at 10:20 AM
The second day of the Songkran festival's "seven dangerous days" saw 116 people lose their lives on the nation's roads, nearly double last year's two-day tally. Despite the government's stepped-up road-safety campaign, 981 people were hurt in 907 accidents. The fatalities were a 96.6% increase over this point in 2015. The Interior Ministry's road safety centre said 64 people were killed and 550 hurt in 520 traffic accidents on Tuesday alone. Chiang Mai province recoreded the largest number of accidents at 45 as well as the most injuries at 48. Buri Ram saw the most fatalities with eight, according to statistics released on Wednesday by the centre. Drink-driving and speeding remained the primary causes of accidents, with 81% of the incidents involving motorcycles. Police arrested 20,094 people for drink-driving and 549 vehicles were impounded at checkpoints between Saturday and Tuesday. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Bad start for Songkran holidays

Posted by hasekamp on 12 April 2016 at 22:08 PM
SONGKRAN FESTIVITIES kicked off yesterday with 52 deaths and 431 people wounded in 387 road accidents, most of which stemmed from speeding (37 per cent) and drunk driving (27 per cent), the Road Safety Directing Centre said. The number of accidents recorded this year is higher than the first day of Songkran last year, which saw 25 deaths and 348 injuries in 324 accidents. Prachin Buri province reported the highest number of fatalities with six deaths, followed by Buri Ram with five. Meanwhile, Chiang Mai had the highest number of accidents at 19, followed by Udon Thani at 18. The two provinces also reported the highest number of casualties at 23 each, followed by Trang and Phitsanulok at 18 each and Buri Ram at 16. Assistant National Police chief Pol Lt-General Anan Srihirun said most accidents involved motorcycles (80 |per cent), and occurred between 4pm and 8pm (29 per cent), on high-|ways (44 per cent) and 62.5 per cent on straight roads, he said. The 2,129 checkpoints manned by 65,440 officials had taken action against 84,727 law violators - most of whom (23,354) failed to show their driver's licences, he said. Since many holidaymakers began heading overseas yesterday, officials were instructed to strictly enforce traffic laws and ensure that all public transport drivers were sober. (Source: The Nation)


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Heatwave in Thailand

Posted by hasekamp on 12 April 2016 at 22:05 PM
THE MERCURY in the northern province of Sukhothai, Thailand's former capital, has shot to 44 degrees Celsius, the highest the province has ever registered in April, and nearing the highest ever recorded in the country of 44.5 degrees in Uttaradit. Weather forecasters have warned people against staying in the sun too long given the risk of potentially fatal heat stroke. Because of a low-pressure zone covering the upper part of Thailand, many provinces have witnessed record-breaking temperatures this month. Lampang's Thoen district on April 7 saw the mercury rise to 43.2 degrees. On Monday and yesterday, the highest temperatures in Thailand were recorded in Sukhothai's Sri Samrong district, Kanchanaburi at 43.5 and Nakhon Ratchasima at 43.2. Some provinces saw temperatures this year at the same level as record highs 58 years ago, when Kanchanaburi saw temperatures rise to 43.5 degrees on April 29, 1958. Temperatures in Sri Samrong broke the record from last year in line with weather-bureau predictions of 44 degrees for the latter half of the month. Forecasters also predicted that temperatures would notch up 1 more degree yesterday. Surapong Saratpa, of the Thai Meteorological Department, warned people to be careful during Songkran, from today until Friday. If the mercury exceeds 44.5 degrees, as recorded in Uttaradit in 1958, a new record will be set after 58 years. (Source: The Nation)


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After 20 years at last strict laws against animal touts?

Posted by hasekamp on 11 April 2016 at 13:04 PM
The stakes will be raised for those engaged in the illegal, exotic-animal trade once the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment signs a new law draft, which is expected to take place after the Songkran break. "For more than 20 years we have witnessed the illegal killing and exploitation of endangered and protected wild animals for tourism. Every day, criminals are taking young wild animals such as loris, gibbons and monkeys, to tourist destinations such as Phuket, Samui, Krabi, Pattaya, the Floating Market and elsewhere in the country," said Edwin Wiek, the founder of NGO 'Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand (WFFT)'. Mr Wiek hopes that more severe punishments outlined in the new draft of the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act BE 2535 (1992) will finally act as a deterrent for the trade. The maximum fine for illegal possession of protected animals will be increased to 100,000 baht, and the maximum prison term will be raised to 10 years. "The killing of, or trading in, protected animals will carry a maximum fine of one million baht," Mr Wiek said. Mr Wiek was especially optimistic about the inclusion of a new regulation that requires those caught in possession of protected animals to foot the bill for care of the animals while their case is processed. Currently, the act states that the penalty for possession of a protected animal is a maximum fine of 40,000 baht, four years imprisonment, or both. "The penalty is always brought down to a fine of a few thousand baht and a suspended sentence. The touts just don't care," Mr Wiek said. Quick to agree was Suwat Suksiri, chief of the Thung Talay Non Hunting Zone in Krabi. "Touts are continuously being arrested, but they just keep coming back because the fines are minuscule compared to what they can earn in a day," he said. A tout with a baby gibbon who was arrested on Phi Phi Don last year revealed that he was making at least 5,000 baht a day in the low season and more than 20,000 baht a day in the high season, which adds up to about half a million baht a month. "About 300 species of wildlife in Thailand are protected, meaning that they are in danger of becoming extinct from over-hunting or being captured for sale as exotic pets. Gibbons are one of those protected species," Mr Suwat said. Mr Wiek pointed his finger at law enforcement, alleging that police officers might be unaware of wildlife trade laws or were ignoring the touts. "I suspect some of the officers must be taking 'tea money' to turn a blind eye," he said. "Local authorities in tourist destinations are turning a blind eye to these organized criminals, or mafia, in many cases profiting themselves. It is obvious that the police are not able or willing to enforce the law," claimed a statement issued by the WFFT. (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


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Democrats against draft charter

Posted by hasekamp on 11 April 2016 at 12:49 PM
The Democrat party has declared its intention to oppose the draft charter as well as the additional question at the planned charter referendum this August. They warned a "yes" vote to the second question, which would pave the way for an appointed Senate to intervene in the selection of a prime minister, could escalate political conflicts. The party's stance follows a vote by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) last week to add a second referendum question, asking the public whether parliament should jointly approve a prime minister for a five-year transitional period after a general election. Citizens will be expected to vote on it at the Aug 7 referendum, along with a question on whether the charter draft prepared by the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) led by Meechai Ruchupan should be adopted. If the extra question gets a majority "yes" vote, it will force the Meechai panel to revise the constitution draft which currently does not allow the upper House to choose the prime minister. Addressing a media briefing, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the party rejects the second question on the basis the senators are handpicked by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). "Their selection of a prime minister will be against the people's will and will contradict the principles of the CDC," he said. The public will lose if this is the case, said the former prime minister. The Democrat leader said the major political parties will have to join hands to ensure appointed senators do not get to decide who the prime minister will be. Mr Abhisit said the party has not made a decision on details of the charter draft but several members agree it contains many flaws and is not fit to be adopted as the country's supreme law. One of the major flaws is it reduces the people's powers, he said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Zero dollar tours should stop

Posted by hasekamp on 11 April 2016 at 12:30 PM
The government is seeking help to curb "zero-dollar", or cheap prepaid, tour groups from departing for Thailand to improve the national image and boost revenue and quality, the government spokesman says. Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said on Sunday the government had received many complaints about these tour services and was taking a serious approach to solving the problem. "We will advise of reasonable tour package prices to countries like China, South Korea, Russia and others where many tour groups originate so that they can check the groups before they depart for Thailand. If their tour package fees are lower than the identified prices, the travel should be banned," the government spokesman said. The tour service firms that operate "zero-dollar" tour packages subsequently pressure their clients into buying expensive products and services so they can make a profit, he said. Such companies had about 300 partners in Thailand and the majority of them were actually proxy set-ups. Consequently profits from "zero-dollar" tour services did not remain in Thailand, Maj Gen Sansern said. About 350 billion baht changed hands annually among operators involved in the unreasonably cheap prepaid tour services which also created the problem of illegal tour guides, monopolised vehicle rental services and the improper behaviour of tourists, he said. The businesses tarnished Thailand because tourists consider the country as a cheap destination while the government wants to woo quality visitors, Maj Gen Sansern said. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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More safety around Songkran

Posted by hasekamp on 8 April 2016 at 11:47 AM
Transport authorities will intensify road safety measures at nearly 50 dangerous spots and more than 100 steep hills nationwide during the Songkran holiday exodus next week. Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said heavy vehicles such as buses and trucks should exercise extra caution going up and down slopes. Each incline on the list of 101 involves steep climbs and dangerous curves that can extend more than three kilometres. The 47 spots to watch are situated on Highway 1 and 32, which lead to the North; Highway 2, heading to the Northeast; Highway 304 and 348, going to the lower Northeast; Highway 3 and 344, heading to the East; and Highway 35 and 4, leading to the South. More than 20,000 volunteers will be deployed by the Department of Highways (DOH) and the Department of Rural Roads (DRR) to help ensure safe passage for motorists, Mr Arkhom said. They will also work with local police. Motorists will be advised about routes to avoid due to high levels of traffic. People can seek road congestion information from the DOH's free hotline (1586) and the traffic police hotline (1193). Work is under way to improve signboards and traffic light signals, Mr Arkhom said. More signboards indicating bypass routes and warnings at railroad crossings will be installed. Officers will be sent to 2,500 permanent railroad crossings and 574 makeshift ones nationwide. "Safety vigilance will be more intense than in previous years due to the higher traffic volume expected between 4pm and 8pm on April 13, when frequent accidents were recorded in the past," Mr Arkhom said. April 13 marks the first day of the Songkran long weekend. Mr Arkhom said more than 22 million people are expected to use mass public transport to go home and return to the cities to work between April 8-18. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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Angry at the US

Posted by hasekamp on 8 April 2016 at 11:38 AM
GOVERNMENT spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd yesterday lashed out at Katina Adams, spokeswoman for the US State Department's East Asian and Pacific Affairs bureau, for not studying "in depth" the junta's motive behind extending police powers to soldiers. On Monday, Adams voiced concerns over the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)'s order granting all soldiers ranked sub-lieutenant or above the authority to detain suspects for up to a week for a litany of crimes. Adams told international media that the US was urging the Thai government to limit the military's role in internal policing and allow civilian authorities to carry out their duties. Six NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists, also condemned the order on Tuesday, saying it abused human rights. Sansern responded to Adams' remarks by saying that the order aimed to accelerate the prosecution of "mafia figures", whom the junta has vowed to crack down upon in order to maintain peace. The measures in place are far too slow and could be too risky for officers in charge, he said when explaining why the order was necessary. He also advised Adams to study the order carefully or ask Thai envoys or diplomats for "correct information" before making comments. (Source: The Nation)


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Hong Kong Fishermen in National Park

Posted by hasekamp on 4 April 2016 at 15:02 PM
Photos of Hong Kong spear fishermen showing off the bounty they hunted in the waters of the Andaman caused an uproar on social media as those online made allegations that they had been fishing in Similan National Park, Thailand's top diving destination. Panunee, the boat that the tourists were hunting from, is touted as a 5-star luxury liveaboard. The company itself, Panunee Sea Master Co Ltd, recently announced its plans to move their base of operations to Indonesia, effective in June 2016. "All of the paperwork for Panunee is in good order. However, we are further investigating the matter," Nut Kongkasorn, chief of Mu Ko Similan National Park, told the Phuket Gazette today. "There are two central factors to the case that need to be looked into: one, were they fishing in national park waters, and two, as Panunee is registered as a dive boat, what are the legal consequences of having fishing equipment on board." Representatives of Panunee are working closely with officials in the investigation, said Mr Nut. The company's sales manager, Walaiporn Khomson, assured the Gazette that they were taking the issue seriously. "I was shocked when we were told about what happened," said Ms Walaiporn, who is currently working in Japan. "We quickly called our staff to determine what happened, because it was a diving trip and we do not permit fishing activities." (Source: The Phuket Gazette)


Category: Default

Chinese firm causes water conflict

Posted by hasekamp on 4 April 2016 at 14:58 PM
A Chinese-owned firm operating banana plantations has caused a water conflict in Chiang Rai's Phaya Meng Rai district. Many local farmers have complained that the Chinese firm had pumped water out of the Ing River to its 2,750 rai (440 hectares) of banana plantations at the expense of downstream farmlands. "I have now demanded that the firm remove all pumps along the river or else it will face legal action," Phraya Meng Rai district chief Phubet Julayanont said yesterday. He added that local residents planned to take turns keeping watch to ensure the firm does not secretly use pumps during the night. Using land leases, the Chinese firm started growing Cavendish banana trees in the district late last year. But only after the ongoing drought unleashed its full wrath did local farmers begin to feel the impact from a limited water supply. Local farmers' complaints first got loud last month, with Phubet demanding the Chinese firm stop pumping the water out of the river. After weeks passed, farmers have found that the firm had yet to honour the demand. "The last time we met, the investor agreed to dig artesian wells for use at its plantations," Phubet said. "When local people lodged more complaints, I summoned the firm's representative. He has explained that the firm had already contacted builders of artesian wells but it is still on the waitlist." (Source: The Nation)


Category: Default

Elections in 2017, whatever happens

Posted by hasekamp on 4 April 2016 at 14:51 PM
There will definitely be a general election in 2017, whether the draft constitution passes the referendum or not, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Monday. He said the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) would see to it that there is an election in 2017. The NCPO had a plan to cope with whatever the referendum result might be. "Don't worry. The NCPO has said there will be an election in 2017, no matter what. Period," Gen Prawit said. Gen Prawit also dismissed as untrue a report that the NCPO had an alternative plan in mind if the draft charter failed to pass the referendum. The NCPO had only one plan, to prepare a constitution and hold an election, and nothing else, he added. The Constitution Drafting Committee has finished a draft charter and handed it to the government. Preparations are currently underway for the public referendum, tentatively scheduled for Aug 7. (Source: The Bangkok Post)


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