Most of Thailand's 110 national parks have been declared alcohol-free zones.
Not only will there be a ban on booze sales, but visitors will also be barred from bringing alcoholic drinks into the parks. Those violating the regulation will be
punished with up to one month in jail and/or a Bt1,000 fine.
Natural Resource and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti told a news conference.
However, some senior officials said this might not apply at national parks where the private
sector rents places for business, such as at Koh Samet.
The parks used to earlier seek the cooperation of visitors to avoid alcoholic drinks .
The measure follows a knee jerk reaction to the case of an engineering student who stabbed
someone to death in Khao Yai National Park during a loud drinking party among student campers on December 26 Sunday.
The legal age at which a woman can be taken as a sex partner will increase from 15 to 20 under a new proposal, as the government seeks new ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
The Social Development and Human Security Ministry has proposed
to criminalise nearly all of Thailand's youth. He proposed an amendment to Section 277 of the criminal law which states that a man who has sex with a girl aged 15 or under shall be fined between 8,000 baht and 40,000 baht, and imprisoned from four to 20
The girl's age should be more than 15 because girls aged 15 to 20 have not yet reached maturity, minister Issara Somchai claimed.
The change may upset some groups, but the law is designed to punish the wrongdoer. If you
observe the law, there's no reason to be afraid. Our society always blames the girl, which is wrong.
The recent discovery of 2,002 aborted foetuses at Wat Phai Ngern Chotanaram in Bang Kholaem district of Bangkok has drawn attention to
unwanted pregnancies. The foetuses, the result of illegal abortions, were transported to the temple from underground clinics.
The minister said five groups of women were particularly at risk of unwanted pregnancies: primary and lower secondary
school students, women who live in slum communities, who live in dormitories, young factory workers and the homeless. [sounds like the answer may lie more in raising living standards rather than sending Thai lads to jail]
Cabinet has approved six
strategies for tackling the problem, including more assistance and rehabilitation for pregnant women. Issara said the strategies would be piloted in Kamphaeng Phet, which has the highest number of young mothers aged under 20.
According to the Disaster Mitigation and Prevention Department, at least 11 flood related deaths were reported between October 10 and October 19.
Metres deep flood water is now threatening to
overwhelm Chaiyaphum, where the heart of the town is already impassable to all types of land transport vehicles. The area is totally flooded, upsetting the lives of more than 20,000 families.
Chaiyaphum Governor Jarin Jakkapak said the torrent of
flood water was fierce in many areas, making it impossible for rowboats to reach flood victims: There aren't enough boats, he said, We have been contacting the authorities for help.
Chaiyaphum Hospital, which has more than 550
inpatients, was busy yesterday moving equipment and patients from the first floor to the second floor, as flood water had started to break through despite a temporary embankment.
The flood situation in Nakhon Ratchasima remained critical.
Meanwhile, in Nakhon Sawan, about 1,000 families in Tha Tako district remained marooned by chestdeep flood water and had to wait for food provided by the authorities. Four other districts of Nakhon Sawan were also seriously inundated.
As the flood situation worsened in his province, Lampang Governor Atikhom Supanpong yesterday declared Tambon Mae Phrik a disaster zone.
In Khon Kaen, floods marooned hundreds of houses in Phu Pha Man district. Rescue workers were trying
hard to reach all those affected as of press time.
In Uthai Thani, the flood level continued to rise rapidly, almost reaching the second floor of many houses.
Flooding has now spread to provinces close to Bangkok.
In Ayutthaya, many
areas in Tha Ruea district were under 80centimetredeep water yesterday. Ayutthaya is about a 90minute drive from Bangkok.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is preparing to fend off the threat of flooding in the wake of three upcoming
risk factors. The risks come in the form of runoff water from the upper part of the country, heavy downpours over the capital, and the hightide period.
Deputy Bangkok Governor Pornthep Techapaiboon yesterday said runoff would likely reach Bangkok
at the time the seawater level peaks, on October 26-27, added to which the rainy season had not yet ended.
Pornthep said more than 200,000 sandbags had already been formed into temporary embankments in the capital along the Chao Phya River, in
addition to the permanent embankment. Both types of embankment are 2.5 metres above sea level.
Sanya Cheenimit, who heads the BMA's Drainage and Sewerage Department, said all 214 water gates in the capital were now closed to prevent water from the
Chao Phya from flowing into canals.
More than half of the EU's 27 countries score badly in the annual press freedom index carried out by the Paris-based NGO Reporters without Borders - a negative trend compared to previous years, even though three EU members are the freest places in the
world in which to be a journalist.
It is disturbing to see several European Union member countries continuing to fall in the index. If it does not pull itself together, the EU risks losing its position as world leader in respect for human
rights, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-Francois Julliard said in a statement accompanying the study.
Thirteen of the EU's 27 members are in the world top 20. But some of the other 14 stand very low while the gap between good
and bad performers continues to widen, the report says.
The poor performers include France and Italy, where events in the past year – violation of the protection of journalists' sources, concentration of media ownership, displays of contempt by
government officials and judicial summonses - continue to follow a negative line.
Italy, where some 10 journalists still live under police protection, stayed in 49th place out of 178, scoring worse than Bosnia and sharing the same position as
Greece got the worst marks in the EU, plummeting a huge 35 places to 70, where it now sits alongside the bloc's other meida villain, Bulgaria.
The Greek plunge is due to political unrest and related physical attacks on
journalists. Athens was also criticised for political meddling, going so far as to ask the German government to apologise for nasty headlines about the Greek economic crisis in the Stern magazine.
Romania went down two places to 52.
Reporters Without Borders noted that the government now considers the media a threat to national security and plans to censor activities.
At the top end, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands share the pole position with non-EU members Norway,
Iceland and Switzerland. The group-of-six has held the top score since the index was created in 2002.
Iceland won special praise for its bill, the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), to provide a unique level of legal protection for
In Denmark, which holds 11th place, murder attempts against Mohammed cartoonists Kurt Westergaard and Lars Vilks, could create a climate of self-censorship, Reporters Without Borders warned.
The survey also pointed to serious
violations on the EU's doorstep.
EU candidate Turkey was placed in 138th place, next to Ethiopia (139) and Russia (140). The NGO spoke of a frenzied proliferation of lawsuits [and] incarcerations of reporters.
EU aspirant Ukraine
placed at 131. Censorship has signalled its return, particularly in the audiovisual sector, the study said on the return to power of Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukoych.
Elsewhere the Philippines, Ukraine, Greece and Kyrgyzstan all
fell sharply in this year's index. In the Philippines this was due to the massacre of around 30 journalists by a local baron, in Ukraine to the slow and steady deterioration in press freedom since Viktor Yanukovych's election as president in February, in
Greece to political unrest and physical attacks on several journalists, and in Kyrgyzstan to the ethnic hatred campaign that accompanied the political turmoil.
India's and Thailand's rankings drop due to a breakout of serious violence Political
violence has produced some very troubling tumbles in the rankings. Thailand (153rd) – where two journalists were killed and some fifteen wounded while covering the army crackdown on the red shirts movement in Bangkok – lost 23 places, while India
slipped to 122nd place (-17) mainly due to extreme violence in Kashmir.