Thai police are preparing to charge the crew of a cargo plane that landed in Bangkok on Friday with a hold filled with weapons.
The plane, which had taken off from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang for an unknown destination, had made an emergency request to refuel at Bangkok. When Thai officials boarded the plane, a Soviet designed Il-76, they found up to 40 tons of
weaponry including rocket-propelled grenades, according to local media.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his government had received a tip-off from foreign intelligence sources after it had requested permission to land, but they did not know where the weapons were destined for.
Security and intelligence services are continuing to investigate. It is not yet clear if this is terrorist activity, he said.
An official told Reuters that the plane was heading for somewhere in South Asia, probably Pakistan.
Abhisit said the crew requested permission to land for refuelling in Bangkok and then lied to inspectors about the plane's cargo, saying it carried only oil-drilling equipment: They committed two crimes, firstly they gave false information
about their cargo, and secondly that cargo was found to be weapons, he said.
Supermarkets and other retailers that sell and advertise gift baskets - a staple of the Thai new year holiday season - were warned that stocking them with alcohol could result in steep fines and up to a year in jail.
The ban on booze-filled baskets is the latest attempt by the government to curb drunken revelry around the holidays that result every year in hundreds of road deaths.
The Health Ministry, which is leading the effort, has launched a campaign called Healthy Gift Baskets for the New Year.
Baskets laden with goodies and wrapped in cellophane are typically given as New Year's gifts, with the priciest varieties containing imported chocolates and top-shelf whiskies.
This year, businesses nationwide have been told to comply with Section 30 of the Alcohol Beverage Control Act passed in February 2008, which makes selling alcoholic beverages attached with other products illegal, said deputy health
minister Manit Nopamornbodee.
In past festive seasons, Thai people have given gift baskets with alcoholic beverages to celebrate the holidays, leading to injuries and deaths in road accidents, Manit said in a recent statement on the ban. Every year we have tried to
solve this problem but not succeeded.
Shop owners and store managers who sell gift baskets containing alcohol face a fine of 10,000 baht ($300) and up to six months behind bars, while advertising gift baskets with alcohol can result in a 500,000-baht fine ($15,000) and up to one year
in prison, said Manit.
The government will not immediately abandon its plan to enforce the Internal Security Act throughout Bangkok, even though the red-shirts have postponed their anti-government rally this weekend, Deputy Prime Minister overseeing security affairs
Suthep Thaugsuban said.
Veera Musikhapong, one of the key members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), said the core leaders agreed on Wednesday to the postponement of the mass protests planned from Nov 28 to Dec 2. They had agreed it would not
be appropriate to hold demonstrations at this time, with the approaching celebration of His Majesty the King's 82nd birthday on Dec 5.
Suthep was sceptical. The government has to be prepared, because the situation is not yet certain. The plan to enforce the Internal Security Act is still on, he said after a meeting with top officials from the Internal Security Operations
Command and other security agencies at Government House in the afternoon.
He said the government needed to be absolutely certain there would not be any violence before calling off the security plan.
The cabinet on Tuesday approved the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) across the capital to cope with the red-shirts' plan to to split into groups and protest separately at many different locations. Fugitive former prime minister Thaksin
Shinawatra later advised his supporters to reconsider their rally plans, prompting the UDD leadership UDD agree on an indefinite postponement.
On a Friday evening at Bangkok's Sukhumvit road, a large number of East European ladies were seen with black men on street side cafes looking for customers. Most of them are from Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Georgia and other republics in former Soviet
Union. Most of the evenings, Bangkok's Rajah Hotel premises turns into a massive crowd of East European hookers and agents of Russian-Thai mafia, looking for potential customers. There are many more places in Bangkok too, such as Patpong,
Sukhumvit Soi 13-17 and Silom as well as Pattaya, where East European sex workers are very frequently seen walking on the streets, or waiting in a café or pub in search of customers. Dormitory at Rajah Hotel in Bangkok is the main place,
where Russian and former CIS sex workers are housed in by the mafia rackets.
Thai authorities are although very actively trying to stop such massive arrival of East European sex workers, by putting tougher rules in issuing visa from its Tashkent and other consulates in the East European countries, organized mafia have
succeeded in finding a loop hole in finally arranging visa for the racket ladies thus enabling them in visiting Thailand with 3 month's tourist visa.
It is learnt that, Russian mafias collect these women from respective countries under a contract of paying US$ 10,000 to the mafia racket for visa, ticket and other expenses within the 3 month's stay of these sex workers in Thailand. If the sex
workers are unwilling to enter into such contracts, they also can manage a Thai visa through the mafia network from the Istanbul consulate of the Thai embassy against a payment of US$ 1500 for each of the 3 month's tourist visa.
It is learnt that, Thai consulate in Istanbul and other capitals of East European countries are very strict in issuing any visa to the suspected females. Due to such obstacles , both the sex workers and their mafia ring prefer Istanbul as
an alternative place for getting the visa.
In Thailand, even few years back, while East European sex workers were charging US$ 200 for every hour, due to increased number of arrivals of such sex workers in Thailand, now a days, they even agree to accompany a customer just for US$ 50 per
hour. In some cases, the amount even goes below US$ 50. The reason behind such tendency is that, each of the sex workers are determined in cashing more than US$ 10,000 in a month, in order to pay back their debts with the Russian mafia as well
make some handsome amount for their return to homeland, and prepare for the next trip back to Thailand. In most cases, each of the sex workers are making 2-3 trips to Thailand in a year.
Thousands of citizens of the CIS, the eleven former Soviet Republics, have taken advantage of the relatively high returns for sexual favors available in such places as Dubai, Bahrain, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. So poor are
the wages in these former Soviet Republics, that even professional such as doctors, business women and scientists have been known to enter the sex trade, especially in the aforementioned countries.
The United front for Democracy against Dictatorship expects one million red-shirts will turn out for a mass anti-government demonstration to bring down the government, planned from Nov 29 to Dec 3, UDD core leader Jatuporn Promphan said on
It will be a five-day gathering of at least one million red-shirts and we will make the war against the government as short as possible. The red-shirts will not lay siege to Government House or other state offices, said Jatuporn.
UDD leaders were not worried about the strong possibility the government will again invoke the Internal Security Act to deal with the protesters, he said.
If one million red-shirts turn out as expected, we will be able to topple the government. But if we cannot make it, we will return to the streets again after Dec 5, His Majesty the King's 82nd birthday, the UDD leader said.
He believed the UDD could achieve its objective to topple the government before the end of the year because there were problems of corruption in several ministries and prices of agricultural products were low. The government had only one option
left — dissolve the House and call elections.
Update: Change of Dates
19th November 2009.
The rally will now run from 28th November until 2nd December
This year Thailand has ranked 84th on the worldwide corruption index. The index is based on the perceptions of business people and country analysts in relation to the corruption observed in the individual countries.
The recent announcement of this year's worldwide corruption index saw Thailand drop 4 places to 84th position. This result means that people of the business community and country analysts see Thailand as an increasingly corrupt country. The index
is compiled and released by global graft watchdog Transparency International. The rankings are based on a score of 0-10, with 0 being the most corrupt and 10 being the least.
Thailand has ranked 10th overall in Asia and 3rd in South-East Asia (same as previous year), with a score of 3.4 out of 10. Singapore was the least corrupt South-East Asian country with a score of 9.2, followed by Malaysia with a score of only
4.5. The worst performing country in the group was Burma with a score of 1.4 followed by Cambodia and Laos who both scored 2.0.
Thailand's main airport is to relocate 12 giant yaksha demon guard statues to boost the morale of staff who thought the figures brought bad luck,.
The statues at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport will move from the arrivals area to the check-in zone, said Airports of Thailand (AOT) president Serirat Prasutanond.
AOT has decided to move the statues to the check-in concourse to give passengers and other people a chance to appreciate the statues' beauty, he said in a statement.
But according to the Bangkok Post newspaper, airport director Niran Thiranartsin admitted the decision had partly resulted from complaints from airport staff.
The shopkeepers are blaming the 'demon statues' for the problems they have faced at the airport.
Serirat presided over a religious ceremony at the airport Monday ahead of the relocation of the figures, which are modeled on 12 statues at Bangkok's Grand Palace. He said the move should be finished within 90 days.
It is interesting that shopkeepers at Suvarnabhumi Airport blame decorative demon statues for their problems. Assuming that these problems relate to the lack of customers, I consider that this is due, at least partly, to:
Negative widespread reports of their customers being accused, falsely or otherwise, of shoplifting, then being ripped off by the concerned authorities; the ever prolific rogue taxi operators; and the annoying gangs of unofficial tour guide touts.
So, instead of blaming inanimate objects for their misfortunes, the shopkeepers might like to consider blaming their fellow airport co-workers.
Thailand has recalled its ambassador from neighbouring Cambodia after former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a fugitive from justice, was named an adviser to the government in Phnom Penh.
The move was the most severe diplomatic action thus far in ongoing tensions between the two countries, which have had a series of small, but sometimes deadly, skirmishes over the demarcation of their border.
Thailand also said it would review all of its agreements with Cambodia.
A Thai Foreign Ministry statement said that the Thai ambassador was being recalled in response to the announcement of the appointment a day earlier by Prime Minister Hun Sen's government.
Cambodian state television said that Thaksin would serve as an adviser on economic affairs to both the government and to Hun Sen personally. It also said Cambodia would refuse to extradite Thaksin to Thailand if asked because Phnom Penh considers
him a victim of political persecution, echoing comments Hun Sen made at an Asian summit last month.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters that the Cambodian action was considered interference in Thailand's internal affairs.
Thailand is the No.2 Asian destination for Australians behind Bali, the tiny Hindu island province of Indonesia.
Both destinations also kill more Australians than most others on the planet.
In fact, Thailand is clearly the most dangerous place on earth for Australians to visit, according to figures supplied to Travellers' Check by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Though they don't separately list accidents and deaths by natural causes, a total of 105 Australians died in Thailand in 2008-09, while a further 175 were hospitalised.
Bali was only half as dangerous considering the greater number of Australians who travelled there (about 420,000, compared with about 380,000 who visited Thailand.) Fifty-eight Australians died in Indonesia and 191 more ended up in hospital.
Asia is the road deaths world capital, claiming nearly half of more than a million souls who die on the world's roads each year. Aside from Thailand and Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and China are shockers.
Motorcycle accidents involving Australians are very common in South-East Asia, particularly in areas such as Bali, resort areas of Thailand and in Vietnam, the Government's smarttraveller.gov.au warns.
Dangerous drivers in unsafe vehicles and ill-designed and poorly maintained roads make a lethal cocktail. Inadequate medical and emergency services, ineffective law enforcement and an often startling array of human and motorised traffic moving
at different speeds add to the risks.'
On this blog in August, many young Australians complained that one of the main reasons they went overseas was to escape Australia's overregulation of their lives. I suspect some of them were talking about the freedom they have to ride
around South-East Asia on the back of a motorbike without a helmet.
Last month the Thai government was talking about extending copyright enforcement to target buyers as well as sellers
Buyers and users of pirated products will be fined 1,000 baht per case, while commercial building owners and landlords, as well as website owners, who turn a blind eye to sales of pirated goods will face a fine of as much
as 300,000 baht under a new draft law aimed at clamping down on intellectual-property violations.
Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot said the ministry will soon propose the amendments to the Trademark Act and Copyright Act for cabinet consideration and approval.
But now the Cabinet have rejected the bill seeking to amend the Copyrights Act and Trademark Act for fear that police would try to arrest only buyers instead of sellers.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the Cabinet sent back the amendment to the Commerce Ministry to review as its enforcement could lead to problems.
For example, he said, buyers might not know that the preloaded software on their computers was not licensed.
He said the amendment bill might prompt police to arrest buyers instead of trying to arrest sellers of pirated products.
The Publisher of Bangkok Post, Post Publishing PCL, has informed Thaivisa.com that they have joined the Society for Online News Providers, (SONP), and their policy is apparently that RSS feeds are the only way for other web sites to
republish news articles.
Thaivisa must respect Bangkok Post's new policy, but we are sort of sad to see them go away. We have a very different vision than the Bangkok Post about the future of community networking, says Barry Main, marketing director of
But no worries, we have The Nation and The Phuket Gazette already on board, and we are soon hooking up with other local news sources. Our goal is to serve our members with a mixed and balanced news feed. Bangkok Post has changed this balance,
at least for now, says Barry Main.