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23rd June   

Updated: Sharia in Thailand...

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More autonomy on the agenda for Thailand's restive south
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Thailand South Thailand may allow more local autonomy and consider allowing Shariah law to defuse a separatist insurgency in Muslim provinces that border Malaysia, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said.

Abhisit is seeking to undermine suspected separatists in four southernmost provinces who have attacked teachers, Muslim worshippers and policemen this month, leaving at least 31 dead and more than 50 injured. The prime minister, who took office in December, has insisted any decentralization of power wouldn't be tantamount to autonomy, which the government opposes.

Most of the local Malay Muslims just want a more autonomous, more decentralized administration so that they have political space for their own cultural and religious identity, said Srisompob Jitpiromsri, a political science lecturer at the Prince of Songkhla University in Pattani province: So far the local identity has been suppressed by the central government.

Abhisit has advocated a reconciliatory approach with more development aid for the region, where separatists have fought for an independent state since Thailand formally annexed the autonomous Malay-Muslim sultanate in 1902. A planned development plan that would create jobs in the region will go a long way to contribute to stability, he said.

Abhisit said negotiations with separatists were impractical because the movement was not integrated. Insurgents in the area, which is about twice the size of the Palestinian territories, were supported by funds from drug cartels, human trafficking rings and other criminal syndicates, he said.

Recruiters appeal to a sense of Malay nationalism and pride in the old Patani sultanate, says Rungrawee Chalermsripinyorat, Crisis Group's Thailand analyst: They tell students in these schools that it is the duty of every Muslim to take back their land from the Buddhist infidels.

 

21st June   

Poor Sales...

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Thailand's exports slump
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Shipping Containers Thailand's exports slumped by more than a quarter in May - a record fall - as demand for Thai goods overseas continued to drop during the downturn.

Exports fell by 26.6% compared with a year earlier, to $11.7bn (£7.1bn). Imports dropped by 34.7% to $9.3bn.

Exports to key markets were all lower due to weak demand and intensifying competition, the government said.

The Thai economy, which is suffering from its worst recession in decades, is heavily dependent on exports. And analysts believe the country's exporters, which account for more than 60% of Thailand's entire economic activity, will continue to suffer.

 

20th June   

Offsite: Freudian Logo...

Thailand's new nationalist party choose unfortunate logo
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PAD party logo In early June, the founders of Thailand's New Politics Party (NPP) unveiled their logo — usually a routine procedure in a country where new parties seem to come and go with the monsoons. But the yellow-and-green symbol of the NPP has generated controversy not just for its questionable 1970s color scheme but because it resembles a swastika.

Asians are rightly miffed that Adolf Hitler hijacked an ancient religious symbol of luck and peace and turned it into the unofficial logo for genocide and racial hatred. The swastika symbol is venerated in eastern religions ranging from Hinduism and Jainism to Buddhism. Even in pre-Nazi Europe, the good-luck talisman adorned everything from Celtic art to Finnish Air Force medals.

...Read full article

 

19th June   

Dirty Water...

Mekong dolphins near to extinction
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Mekong dolphin Pollution in the Mekong river has pushed freshwater dolphins in Cambodia and Laos to the brink of extinction, the conservation group WWF has said.

Only 64 to 76 Irrawaddy dolphins remain in the Mekong, it says, and calls for a cross-border plan to help the dolphins.

Toxic levels of pesticides, mercury and other pollutants have been found in more than 50 calves that have died since 2003.

The Mekong flows from China through Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

These pollutants are widely distributed in the environment and so the source of this pollution may involve several countries through which the Mekong river flows, said WWF veterinary surgeon Verne Dove in a press statement.

Since 2003, the dolphin population has suffered 88 deaths, of which more than 60% were calves under two weeks old, it said.

Necropsy analysis identified a bacterial disease as the cause of the calf deaths, Dr Dove said in the WWF report: This disease would not be fatal unless the dolphin's immune systems were suppressed, as they were in these cases, by environmental contaminants .

 

12th June   

Who Says Pandemic?...

Part 9: 30,000 cases worldwide and 24 in Pattaya
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Mexico flag Well, WHO says it is officially a PANDEMIC! What will they call it if it really hits hard?

On the home front we were introduced to the fact that H1N1 has found a home in Pattaya. But once again, the system seems to be working. It all seems to have started when a group of Taiwanese tourists were found to be infected (surveillance). In back tracking, Thai authorities found 15 cases among employees at a Pattaya disco (so far unnamed). Appropriately, the disco was closed for a week (quarantine). Whether or not the disco's owners use this time for a 'spring cleaning', the fact is that any lingering virus will die off in that time.
It is certainly not surprising that with tourists from every corner of the world, that there is H1N1 circulating in a place like Pattaya. One good element here as far as spread of the virus is concerned, is that Chinese and Korean tourists tend to remain isolated as they are ushered around town by their handlers. IOW, they tend to travel in different circles than other tourists. There is no major outbreak in Pattaya. So far, the ever-larger circles of infection aren't being manifested.

One last word about those face masks: They only serve one purpose. If you are prone to touching your mouth or nose frequently, they CAN help protect you. They DO NOT protect against viruses floating in the air. But most flu is transmitted by touch, not by breathing in the virus. So hand washing is THE MOST effective way of protecting yourself. Don't rely on a mask to do it.

The Roll of the dice: 24 cases in Pattaya

Based on article from pattayaone.net

Star Dice entrance The arrival of Swine Flu in Pattaya was confirmed at a press conference by Khun Wittaya, Thailand's Public Health Minister. He confirmed that a total of 24 cases of Swine Flu have been detected and all those infected are now under strict quarantine to ensure that the disease can be controlled.

17 infected people are staff members of the Star Dice Discotheque in Naklua. The venue was checked following the news that Taiwanese Tourists who returned home after a trip to Pattaya had gone to the discotheque during their stay here in Pattaya. A further 7 infected people were either close friends or family members of the 17 staff members.

Over the next few days other large venues including discotheques and pubs will be checked to ensure that the disease does not spread throughout the City. If you do notice symptoms of the flu on yourself or others, you or they must go to Banglamung Hospital which is the local dedicated disease control center.

The Public Health Minister also urged all Pattaya residents and Tourists to wear surgical masks for the foreseeable future and we can also confirm that the Star Dice Discotheque in Naklua will be closed until further notice and any other venues affected by the virus will also be given closure orders.

 

11th June   

More Swine Flu...

Part 8: 30,000 cases worldwide and 21 in Pattaya
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Mexico flag Things are looking pretty good for the world at this point. There are now just over 30K cases world-wide, but with 29K cases in North America. As far as the rest of the world, there is very little active transmission. The idea of the concentric circles with each infected person infecting a few more as the circles get bigger and bigger, simply isn't showing to be the case.
In short, "the system" seems to be working. This consists of four elements: heightened awareness, surveillance, quarantine and treatment.
Thailand's most recent cases are a perfect example. A husband and wife traveled to the USA. Soon after returning, the wife becomes ill and seeks medical care (awareness), she is tested (surveillance) and treated and told to stay home to avoid contact that might spread the infection. Soon thereafter, her son is ill; same outcome. Since he was exposed, the husband was tested and found also to be infected although he was never ill. So, the son got it from mom or dad, one of whom likely infected the other. So at worst, one case infected two people. Transmission was stopped since there is no indication that any others were infected.

The vast majority of the non-North American cases have a direct link to NA. So the focus of the spread is still in the US and Mexico -- and to a lesser extent Canada. Throughout the rest of the world, there is very little spread thanks to heightened awareness, surveillance, quarantine and rapid treatment. As the "flu season" fades in the northern hemisphere, we'll await fall to see if the 1918 pattern repeat

Thailand confirms 21 new cases of flu in Pattaya

Based on article from mysinchew.com

Thailand on Thursday reported 21 new cases of the flu, all of them were discotheque staffs in Pattaya, Thai Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai said.

Among the 90 samples collected from people who worked in hotel and discotheques in Pattaya, 21 of them were confirmed to be positive to the flu.

The collection of the samples were conducted after two Taiwanese who visited Pattaya were found infected by the flu when they returned home.

 

2nd June   

Chikungunya Disease...

Running out of funds in the battle against mosquito borne disease
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Mosquito The Public Health Ministry is preparing to declare provinces plagued by dengue fever and chikungunya disaster zones as the number of people infected with the diseases continues to soar.

The Disease Control Department recorded 1,523 cases of chikungunya in Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla and Yala in January. To date there have been over 22,000 cases in 28 provinces.

Health officials are seeking funding to curb the disease outbreak, mainly in the four southern provinces where over 95% of the cases have been reported, said Deputy Public Health Minister Manit Nopamornbodee yesterday.

The department has run out of funds after having spent 200 million baht on supplies such as mosquito nets, insect repellent and chemicals used to eradicate garden-striped mosquitoes, the disease carrier, in rubber plantations, considered to be their ideal breeding grounds.

The deputy minister said the cabinet would also consider endorsing another 90 million baht budget for the ministry for further efforts against chikungunya.

Chikungunya has re-emerged as a threat in the South after being dormant since 1995. Unlike the sometimes lethal dengue, chikungunya fever is not life threatening and occurs among adults more than in children. However, it can cause severe joint and muscle pain for years.

 

1st June   

Visa Runs Out of Time...

15 day entries restricted to a maximum of 4 consecutive entries
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UK Passport Thai Immigration Bureau has issued a new regulation to be enforced from June 1, 2009.

In a crackdown on foreigners who regularly use the tourist exemption rule of getting 15 days stay at border entry points, the Immigration Bureau has confirmed and informed thaivisa.com of the following new regulation:

A foreigner who has entered the kingdom four (4) consecutive times on 15 days tourist exemption stamps, will not be allowed to leave the country and re-enter Thailand. The only option is to exit Thailand and re-enter via an international airport, which will allow a further 30 day stay.

Thaivisa.com has today confirmed the new regulations with the Immigration checkpoints in Pong Nam Ron and Aranyaprathet at the Cambodian border. We have also got confirmation from bus visa run companies that the new regulations are enforced from today June 1, 2009. Immigration checkpoints bordering Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia are expected to enforce the regulation shortly.

The new rules does not affect holders of visas issued abroad. Foreigners are advised to apply for a Tourist visas or Non-Immigrant visas at a Royal Thai Embassy or consulate outside Thailand instead of using the 15 day exemption rule.

 

30th May   

Crushing Defeat...

Military cleared of Tak Bai protestors crushed to death
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Thai troubled southern provinces The Songkhla Provincial Court has cleared security officials of misconduct in connection with the Tak Bai incident in which 85 demonstrators were killed in October of 2004.

The court ruled that members of the military were just carrying out their duty and could not be blamed for what had happened.

Seven people were killed in a mosque during the crackdown and another 78 demonstrators suffocated to death while they were being transported on trucks taking them to an army camp for detention in neighbouring Pattani province.

The court said there was no evidence to support the theory that some men in uniform who allegedly assaulted the demonstrators were acting on the orders of their superiors in charge of the crackdown.

Basing its ruling on a post-mortem inquest into the deaths, the court noted that members of the security forces were acting under an emergency law at the time which protected them from civil, criminal or disciplinary liabilities arising from their actions while performing their duty.

On Oct 25, 2004, soldiers cracked down on thousands of demonstrators rallying outside the Tak Bai police station with tear gas, water cannon and batons. Some 1,292 persons were arrested and detained by the authorities. According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), those detained were beaten with batons, kicked and punched, some whilst lying on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs.

The detained persons were then loaded into a trucks where they were piled up in many layers and transferred to Ingkayuthaborihaan army camp in Pattani, a journey which took several hours. A total of 78 people were found dead in the trucks.

 

29th May   

Uncontainable Suspense...

Delays to opening the containers dumped in the sea
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shipping containers We have a further update for you now regarding the ongoing mystery which surrounds the discovery of containers on the sea-bed off the coast of Sattahip.

Rumors suggest that they are full of skeletal remains, possibly as a result of the May 1992 uprising which occurred in Bangkok.

An exclusion zone has now been set up around one of the containers and it has been confirmed that there is no chemical leakages from the container, although they cannot be sure that no dangerous chemicals are inside. There are still no definitive plans to remove the containers from the sea bed or even open the containers under the sea at this time and the delay is making locals more suspicious as time goes on.

 

28th May   

Land Grab...

Land purchases with Thai spouse as a nominee
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Proprerty The director general of the Land Department has reiterated that foreigners using Thai nominees to buy land anywhere in the country will have their land title deeds revoked if caught – even if the nominee in question is a lawfully wedded spouse.

Land Department Director Anuwat Meteewiboonwut made the comments during a recent stop in Phuket as part of a nationwide inspection tour of 30 provinces.

As for foreigners seeking to buy homes in Phuket, they can do so through the Condominium Act, which allows foreign ownership of up to 49% of any project, he said. Foreigners cannot use a Thai spouse as a nominee to buy property in Thailand, however.

If the Thai spouse has enough money to buy the house that is fine, but if the Thai has no money and uses money given to him or her by a foreigner to acquire property, that is against the law. If we check and find out later that a Thai person has been using money from a foreigner to buy land anywhere in Thailand, we will revoke title deeds, he said.

 

21st May   

Phuket Speeds Ahead of Pattaya...

Proposals to end jet-ski damage scam
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Jet skis In the latest bid to rein in Phuket's jet-ski rental industry, the province is considering imposing a mandatory insurance scheme.

A major aim of the policy is to cut down on the number of complaints about operators extorting inflated fees for alleged damages to their machines.

A meeting was held at Phuket Provincial Hall on to discuss the problem.

Vice-Governor Worapoj Ratthasima chaired the meeting, which was attended by representatives from jet-ski rental operators and officials from the Marine Department, Kathu Police and the provincial insurance office. All agreed to meet again at the end of June, after a feasibility study has been carried out.

V/Gov Worapoj said that the province and other agencies continuously receive complaints form tourists about unfair treatment at the hands of jet-ski operators. The provincial governor would like to see an end to the complaints by finding a solution acceptable to both the tourists and the jet-ski operators. This would also improve the overall image of tourism in the province, he said.

Kathu Police Superintendent Grissak Songmoonnark said that in 2008, Kathu Police dealt with 49 cases involving jet-skis. A total of three million baht in compensation for damage to the machines was paid out, with some individual claims in excess of 100,000 baht.

Col Grissak suggested that establishment of a central repair shop to determine the true cost of damage caused to jet-skis would be one way to tackle the problem.

Suwimon Saelim of the Provincial Insurance Office said that she would contact insurance companies to find out if the idea for mandatory insurance was feasible and, if so, how much it would cost.

Jet-ski operators present at the meeting were reportedly in favor of the idea to impose mandatory insurance, though they said it would have to be established whether the insurance would cover only damage to the jet-ski itself or be extended to include injuries for the renters and damages to third parties.

 

19th May   

Offsite: Asian Fetish...

A view from Australia
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Australia flag An Prostitution in Thailand is comparable to cricket in Australia. It attracts legions of fans and armies of detractors, while an ambivalent majority wonders what all the fuss is about. But the most ardent fans of Thai prostitution are foreigners.

About 10 per cent of visitors arrive to get their rocks off. In 2005 a British journalist used Thai Immigration Department statistics to show between 25 per cent and 30 per cent more men than women arrive as tourists, concluding almost a million single men travelled to Thailand for sex each year.

According to World Vision, Australians account for 9 per cent of sex tourists arriving in the region. This suggests that almost 100,000 Aussies descend every year on Thailand alone.

...Read full article

 

15th May   

Swat those Mosquitos...

15,000 cases of mosquito borne Chikungunya disease
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Mosquito An outbreak of Chikungunya disease, a virus spread by mosquitoes, has struck South Thailand with over 15,000 people infected. No fatalities have been reported.

Disease Control Department chief Somchai Chakrabhand said 15,240 people in 15 southern provinces had been infected with Chikungunya disease from January to April.

The department has asked local health offices to intensify surveillance, particularly in the provinces of Songkhla, Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala, Trang and Phatthalung, where the most people have been admitted to hospital.

He said the Public Health Ministry was confident it could contain the epidemic. The ministry had increased surveillance measures.

To contain the Chikungunya epidemic, health officials have been sent to tell people about the disease and how to destroy mosquito breeding grounds.

Chikungunya fever is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. Its symptoms are similar to dengue fever.

 

14th May   

Containers to be Investigated...

Body parts linked to containers found off the Chonburi coast
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shipping containers A macabre catch by Thai fishermen could finally solve the mystery over missing victims of a notorious act of repression by the army. A haul of skulls and other body parts has been linked to five shipping containers on the sea bed off the southern Chon Buri province.

Some believe they hold the bodies of pro-democracy protesters killed by the army in 1992. Police have said that their divers will examine the containers within the week.

Over the years rumours have suggested that the bodies were scattered by aircraft over the jungle or buried at a remote army camp. According to the official tally, 52 people died when troops opened fire on protesters in Bangkok during “Black May” in 1992. But victims’ groups say that 357 people are still missing.

Seventeen years on no significant progress has been made in searching for the people reported missing, said Metha Matkhao, of the Campaign Committee for Human Rights.

The military government responsible was forced to step down but the issue of the killings remains extremely sensitive in Thailand because they were never fully investigated.

The person who ordered the mass killing has not been punished, nor have the others involved ... who are still living a happy life, playing golf, sipping wine and making comments to the media, Metha told the Bangkok Post.

This week relatives presented a letter to the prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has promised to investigate.

Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, the director of the National Forensic Science Institute, told The Daily Telegraph that she had been ordered to investigate but required official clearance before beginning her work.

 

8th May   

Copy Clashes...

Patpong market traders fight back against copyright officials
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copy seller The government will press ahead with its crackdown on pirated goods and intellectual property violations despite the outcry of vendors who attacked its officials in Patpong.

About 200 vendors on Wednesday night attacked 50 Commerce Ministry officials who raided sellers' booths and arrested them for selling pirated goods.

Vendors attacked the officials with wooden sticks, glass bottles and stones. Some reports said guns were fired to scare off the officials. About 10 officials were injured in the melee, and one is in a serious condition.

Officials arrested some vendors, and loaded four vans with confiscated pirated goods, mostly counterfeit copies of bags and clothes. They headed for Bang Rak police station. The vendors blocked the road and stormed one van after another three vans broke through the crowd.

Vendors in Patpong Road complained that the counter-piracy officials were too harsh. They filed charges with Bang Rak police against the officials for physical assault and robbery.

The government, however, says its anti-piracy drive will continue, and Patpong vendors can expect raids every two days.

 

6th May   

Your Duty...

To pay extra beer tax of 2-3 Baht per bottle
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drinks The Cabinet have approved an increase in excise taxes on cigarettes, liquor, and beer, with immediate effect.

Deputy Finance Minister Pruttichai Damrongrat said due to the higher excise tax, cigarette prices could rise by Bt3 per pack, while liquor and beer prices would be raised by Bt2-Bt3 per bottle. The increase of the sin tax would take effect immediately after the Cabinet approval.

According to Pruttichai, the sin tax increase would generate around Bt12 billion in additional income over the next 12 months.

 

5th May   

The Great 150 Baht Bank Robbery...

Chief bank robber hypocritically leads 'Stop Hurting Thailand' march
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ATM Thousands of professional media organisations, government agencies, the military, civic groups and business people have joined the "Stop hurting Thailand" campaign, urging political groups to end bickering that is causing social divisions.

The campaign was initiated by 21 organisations including the Thai Journalists Association, the King Prajadhipok Institute and peace advocacy groups. The 21 organisations yesterday led a crowd of peace advocates dressed in white in a parade from King Rama VI statue in front of Lumpini Park along Silom Road to Bangkok Bank's headquarters.

Bangkok Bank president Chartsiri Sophonpanich joined the crowd when the parade reached his bank's headquarters.

TJA secretary general Pradit Ruangdit read a campaign statement asking all political groups to end their incitement of violent clashes between different groups and stop insulting the monarchy or claiming connections to the monarchy for political reasons.

 

4th May   

Bank Robbers Offered Amnesty...

Thai bank's ATM extortion racket under fire
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ATM The Thai Bankers' Association will ask local banks to cut fee charges for foreign cardholders using local ATMs, according to association secretary-general Twatchai Yongkittikul.

He said the TBA would hold talks among its members about current fees. But he claimed that any cuts would likely be marginal, as most of the fees represented charges imposed for international network access and simply passed on to end-users.

Since mid-April, foreign cardholders withdrawing funds from local ATMs have been charged 150 baht (£3) per transaction.

Twatchai claimed the fee largely came from new transaction charges imposed by international service providers MasterCard Worldwide and Visa Worldwide to cover interchange network costs.

However a MasterCard spokesman denied that the 150-baht ATM access fee imposed by many Thai banks stemmed from any recent fee change or initiative by the company. The spokesman said MasterCard last notified member banks in October 2007 about a 0.2% increase in fees effective from January 2008 under cross-border agreements. Since then, no other fee increases have been made related to ATM charges.

Twatchai acknowledged that a number of foreign tourists and expatriates had complained about the added fees. At a minimum, he said, local banks should communicate better with customers about the expenses banks incur for processing international transactions.

Twatchai said: The TBA will try to raise awareness about the issue. Unfortunately, right now many foreign customers have a negative view of local banks due to the fee issue.

 

2nd May   

Pantip Panned...

Thailand to target buyers of copy software and DVDs
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copy seller The government is pushing forward laws to penalise the buyers and users of pirated products and the commercial building landlords who ignore tenants who sell pirated goods.

According to Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot, the ministry has directed the Intellectual Property Department to study drafting legislation to cover penalties against buyers, users and possessors of products that violate copyrights or patents.

The new legislation would also aim to penalise flea market owners and department stores that lease their space or offices to those who sell pirated goods. According to Alongkorn, the ministry will have discussions with parties from the private and public sectors once the draft is finished.

The effort comes on the heels of a US decision that kept Thailand on its special watch list of nations that fail to crack down on copyright and patent violations: The Thai government made little progress over the past year in addressing the widespread problems of piracy and counterfeiting .

Along with Thailand, the US named China, Russia, Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan and Venezuela as the world's worst intellectual property (IP) offenders.

The US identified five popular areas in Bangkok on a long list of what it called the world's most notorious markets for pirated goods: Pantip Plaza, Mahboonkrong (MBK) shopping centre, and the Klong Thom, Patpong Road and upper Sukhumvit Road areas.

 

1st May   

Truely Mean...

BBC Entertainment to be removed from True Visions
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BBC logo Thailand's main subscription satellite service, Truevisons (UBC) are set to cancel the BBC Entertainment channel from 1st June.

This is according to the ticker at the top of the BBC Entertainment channel's screen.

BBC Entertainment was just about the best channel they had.

True are dropping BBC Entertainment, Animax and STC and replacing them with AXN Beyond, All Sports Network and Nickelodeon

 

24th April   

Emergency Called Off...

State of Emergency ends in the Bangkok area
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tanks in the streets suring the 2006 coup Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has lifted a two-week-old state of emergency in and around the country's capital, Bangkok.

Speaking at a special parliamentary session early on Friday, Abhisit said: Today, the government will lift the emergency decree in Bangkok and surrounding areas.

He said doing so was part of measures to find a solution for the country and to help find reconciliation between the yellow-shirted pro-government supporters and their red-shirted rivals: The government wants to show its sincerity, that the government wants reconciliation and to make the country move forwards.

The BBC's correspondent in Bangkok, Jonathan Head, says that aside from soldiers guarding a few strategic points in the capital most inhabitants would have noticed little change during emergency rule.

However, he says, the government has used the additional powers it was given to contain the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) protest movement.

Three of its top leaders have been detained and refused bail, a television station supporting the UDD has been shut down, as have several sympathetic radio stations outside Bangkok.

Our correspondent also notes that a two-day parliamentary debate which has just ended, appeared only to highlight how divided the country still is. He says that far from discussing reconciliation, the two sides instead spent the debate traded heated exchanges over who was the blame for last weeks' violent clashes.

 

19th April   

Sober Reading...

Road accident figures for Songkran 2009
Link Here

Water fights A total of 373 people were killed and more than 4,000 injured in road accidents nationwide during the seven-day Songkran festival, which ended on Thursday.

Interior permanent secretary Wichai Srikwan said 3,977 road accidents across the country were recorded between April 10-16 -- the seven day period considered dangerous for road users during the Songkran holidays. That was 266 fewer accidents than last year.

Wichai said fatalities have risen to 373, five more than last year, while 4,332 people were injured, 471 less than the previous year.

During the seven-day period, Chiang Rai recorded the highest number of accidents (145) as well as the highest number of injuries (164) while Chiang Mai recorded the most deaths (14).

The main causes of accidents were driving under the influence and speeding, and most accidents involved motorcycles.

Predictable

no alcohol Unhappy with the continuing high road casualties over Songkran, Deputy Public Health Minister Manit Nopamornbodi yesterday vowed to promote a ban on alcohol sales during the festival next year.

The number of deaths and accidents indicated that the campaign against drunken driving had failed, he said.

 

14th April   

Reds Departure...

Army puts an end to the Bangkok protest
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tanks in the streets suring the 2006 coup Leaders of a lengthy anti-government protest in Thailand's capital have called an end to the stand-off.

Large groups of demonstrators who had been camped around the Government House left the area after thousands of troops moved to tighten a cordon overnight.

Speaking to the BBC from hiding, one protest leader said the retreat was an honourable decision to save lives but vowed that the movement would continue.

Two people died in clashes involving demonstrators and residents on Monday.

Overnight the army hemmed in the several thousand activists, following a day of violent clashes with police and soldiers that left more than 120 people injured. More soldiers then moved in, prompting the protest leaders to call on their remaining followers to go home to avoid further bloodshed.

The activists were searched for weapons as they left, and the security service brought in 60 buses to transport them from the prime minister's office.

Most of the leaders have now turned themselves over to authorities, others have gone into hiding.

 

13th April   

Army get the Upper Hand...

Bangkok skirmishes on the first day of Songkran
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tanks in the streets suring the 2006 coup Thailand's prime minister has told the BBC that troops have brought Bangkok under control after a day of battles with anti-government protesters.

Dozens were hurt in a series of skirmishes, while the government said one local resident died after a clash with demonstrators on Monday evening.

PM Abhisit Vejjajiva told the BBC that people were entitled to carry out peaceful protests - but not to riot: We are confident that we are in control of the situation . Earlier, Abhisit said 70 people had been injured, including 23 soldiers.

Soldiers were seen firing their guns into the air and into the crowds, while protesters burnt buses and threw firebombs in retaliation.

BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, in Bangkok, says the situation was fluid throughout the day, with soldiers at times showing restraint, but at other times being undisciplined.

 

12th April   

State of Emergency in Bangkok...

Army and tanks return to the streets
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tanks in the streets suring the 2006 coup Soldiers and tanks have appeared in Bangkok after Thai authorities declared a state of emergency, a day after protests stopped a major Asia summit.

But protesters broke into the interior ministry and at one point attacked a car they thought was carrying PM Abhisit Vejjajiva. There were chaotic scenes at the interior ministry, where protesters forced their way into the building as Abhisit was delivering a televised address to announce the state of emergency. Soldiers fired warning shots as red-shirted protesters stormed the ministry, but initially made no attempt to stop them.

They have blocked a number of busy road junctions and at least one railway, and taken buses and two armoured vehicles.

The prime minister has threatened "tough measures" to end the protests. But the army has so far not moved against the crowds. Hospitals have been asked to prepare for casualties in case they do.

Protesters have been blocking access to key government offices in the capital for the past week, but the collapse of the summit was a huge embarrassment to Abhisit and he has vowed to restore order, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok.

One of the leaders of the protests was arrested after the PM vowed to prosecute them. Arisman Pongruengrong, who spearheaded the protests by supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was arrested on Sunday after returning to Bangkok from the resort of Pattaya - venue of the cancelled summit talks.

Under the state of emergency, gatherings of more than five people can be banned, media reports can be censored, and the army can be deployed to help police maintain order.

But protesters have continued roaming around the streets.

 

10th April   

Cliff Anger...

Red shirts protest at the ASEAN conference
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Red shirts Anti-government protesters at the ASEAN summit in Thailand retreated Friday after they clashed with troops in riot gear in the coastal town of Pattaya.

About 2,000 opponents of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, dressed in red shirts, clashed with security forces. Protesters supporting ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra insisted on presenting a petition for Abhisit's resignation to participants at the meeting.

They thronged the area around the Pattaya beach hotel where foreign leaders are gathering for three days of talks about strategies to cope with the global economic crisis.

A spokesman for Abhisit's Democrat Party said prime ministers and other top leaders will meet as scheduled Saturday despite the protests, and that all security measures are in place.

Ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, as well as the leaders of six other major Asian nations - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea - are attending the summit in Pattaya, which began Friday with talks by foreign ministers.

 

8th April   

D-Day...

Red shirts rally in Bangkok
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Red shirts Protesters in Thailand have surrounded the home of an influential royal adviser in the capital, accusing him of engineering a coup three years ago.

The red shirt demonstrators converged on Gen Prem Tinsulanonda's home in Bangkok.

They also want to force current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva from office as they say he came to power illegally.

With police deployed at major sites around the capital, Mr Abhisit dismissed calls for his resignation.

Police said about 30,000 red-clad supporters of Thaksin had gathered outside the main government offices in the capital, where demonstrators have been staging a sit-in for the past two weeks.

Protest leaders are calling Wednesday their "D-Day" in their efforts to push Abhisit to dissolve his four-month-old government and hold elections.

The Thai government is preparing to host leaders of 16 Asian nations from 10-12 April in the coastal resort of Pattaya. Abhisit said the meeting would go ahead as planned, despite the demonstrations.

There's a group of people wanting to create chaos, but the government will do everything to restrain them, he told local television: If there's rioting, we will have to do something. I can affirm there will be no violence starting from the government's side.

 

7th April   

Banks to Treat Farangs as Walking ATMS...

150 Baht charge to be introduced to use Thai ATMs
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ATM According to The Thai Bankers' Association resolutions dated 6th March 2009, cardholders of debit or credit card registered in foreign country will be charged Baht 150 per transaction when making withdrawals via ATM of Thai Bankers' Association members, effective from April 17th 2009 onwards.

The Thai Bankers' Association is most, if not all, of the well known Thai banks.

 

4th April   

Border Skirmish...

Fighting breaks out at Preah Vihear temple
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Preah Vihear temple Intense fighting involving machine guns and rocket launchers broke out on the border between Cambodia and Thailand as an old dispute over an 11th-century temple flared up. Up to four Thai soldiers were killed; others may have been taken hostage.

A Cambodian government spokesman, Khieu Kanharith, said that in addition to the four fatalities, 10 Thai troops had been seized after two separate clashes. But Thailand said just one soldier was killed and seven injured, and that none had been taken.

The fighting is the latest violence to break out near the cliff-top Preah Vihear temple. It is located on the Cambodian side of an ill-defined border that has led to conflict between the two neighbours for several decades.

Reports said that in the first round of fighting yesterday morning, Cambodian forces fired at about 60 Thai soldiers after they crossed the border. The ensuing firefight lasted about 10 minutes but there were no casualties.

In the second clash, Cambodia insisted that Thai soldiers fired rocket-propelled grenades into their territory, but Thailand's foreign ministry spokesman, Tharit Charungvat, denied the claim.

He also said the initial clash took place when Thai soldiers arrived to investigate the site where a land mine had blown the leg off one of their colleagues on Thursday. He said that as they approached the area, Cambodian soldiers had opened fire.

 

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