Arguably the sex tourism capital of the world, Thailand is now deliberately using the family tourism label to shed the sex destination tag, a Thai diplomat said here Friday.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of an event organised in Panaji to
promote Thailand as a tourism destination, Tomwit Jarnson, the Thai consul general in Mumbai, said family tourism would eventually edge Thailand away from the slur of sex tourism in the years to come: We are trying to project Thailand as a
family tourism destination. We are slowly changing the perception of Thailand to the rest of the world .
We are slowly developing facilities in Thailand which will attract family tourism. We have a lot of Indian families who travel to
Thailand, Jarnson said.
He further said that the Thailand tourism authorities were trying to project Phuket - which, along with Bangkok and Pattaya, is regarded as the prime sex tourism area in Thailand - as a family tourism destination.
Prostitution is common place in the tourism districts of Thailand, which nearly 14 million tourists visit annually, a large chunk of these are single males or male groups of tourists seeking sex or sex-oriented fun.
Lieutenant-general Wiboon Bangthamai, the commissioner of the immigration police, said officials at remote border posts had been known to suffer inexplicable computer troubles when people with lots of cash sought to cross the Thai
border illegally. Officers at small border checkpoints would break the computers and let them in, Wiboon said. The American cables point to weak law enforcement, a country preoccupied with political problems and inconvenient geography.
Thailand's borders are long and extremely porous and the country is therefore vulnerable to international criminal elements of all kinds, the cables said.
Another reason Thailand has
struggled to contain its fugitive problem is that stamping out what makes it attractive for the most wanted might curb the billion-pound business of hosting all those tourists without criminal records. Thailand's anything-goes ethos is coupled with a
deep-seated hospitality that often seems blind to a foreigner's background and appearance.
Bangkok's red-light districts crawl with beady-eyed, beer-swilling foreigners who might not look out of place on most-wanted
posters. But as one Thai government adviser noted, it can be hard to distinguish between the crooks and the holidaymakers.
German administrators have impounded a jet used by Thailand's Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, in a dispute over an unpaid debt from 20 years ago.
The administrators say Thailand's government has refused to pay a bill of more than 30m euros (
£2 6m; $43m) to a now-defunct German construction firm.
The Boeing 737 was seized by court order, and will remain grounded, said a spokesman for Munich airport.
Thailand's Foreign Ministry said the
seizure was highly inappropriate : The Thai authorities have expressed to the German government its great concern over the incident and have requested it to resolve the problem as soon as possible, ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi told
Reuters news agency.
But Walter Schneider, the administrator for the now-bankrupt construction firm, said the drastic measure was virtually the last resort . The Thai government always stalled and did not respond to our demands
. The German firm was part of a consortium that helped to build a toll road between Bangkok and Don Muang airport.
Germany has released a plane belonging to Thailand's crown prince which was seized at Munich airport as surety for an outstanding Thai government debt, a court
official said Wednesday.
The plane has been released, Christoph Fellner, vice-president of the Landshut regional court in the southern state of Bavaria told AFP.
For this to have happened a surety must have been paid. I haven't
yet heard from the parties concerned as to whether the whole affair has been settled and if the main proceedings can now be dropped, he added.
The Pheu Thai party allied to ousted and exiled ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra has won a major victory in Thailand's general election.
With most votes counted, outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has conceded victory to his rival, opposition
leader Yingluck Shinawatra.
Ms Yingluck, who will become Thailand's first female prime minister, said there was a lot of hard work ahead . She is the younger sister of Thaksin Shinawatra. Yingluck Shinawatra is a political novice. Her
popularity has largely rested on the fact that she has been selling her brother's policies.
With all but 1 seats announced Ms Yingluck's Pheu Thai party had won 263 seats, giving it a working majority in the 500-seat parliament.
now clear from the election results so far that the Pheu Thai party has won the election, and the Democrat Party concedes defeat, Abhisit said on national TV.
Thaksin, speaking from self-imposed exile in Dubai, has said he wants to return to
Thailand but will wait for the right moment.
Thailand is expected to experience more unseasonal weather patterns this week causing more floods, rough seas, storms and cold temperatures, meteorology officials warn.
Nakhon Si Thammarat has again seen floods with the additional danger that 11
crocodiles escaped from the flooded zoo. Keepers shot dead one crocodile and caught three others. Seven remain at large.
A further drop in temperatures in most parts of the country and continued heavy rainstorms over the southern region during the
next few days have been forecast.
Heavy downpours and turbulent seas have caused flash floods in at least six southern provinces, disrupting land, sea and air travel and causing devastating damage to farmland and property in many areas.
Thousands of tourists were stranded on Koh Samui after bad weather forced the closure of the island's only airport and the suspension of the ferry service to and from the mainland yesterday.
Thailand's prime minister has admitted for the first time that he is also a British citize.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva publicly acknowledged his dual nationality on Thursday during a debate in parliament. He automatically holds British
citizenship because he was born in Newcastle upon Tyne to parents from a well-to-do Bangkok family. He would have to specifically renounce it to lose it.
I admit I have not given up British nationality because it is understood legally that ...
if the nationality laws are conflicting, Thai law must be used, Abhisit said in response to an opposition MP's question.
My intention is clear. I was born in England but I consider myself a Thai. I studied in England but I intended to
return to work and live in Thailand, to work for the country's interest, and didn't think of anything else.
He also said he had never hidden his support for Newcastle United football club.
The prime minister had been evasive about the
citizenship question since it was raised about a month ago. Opponents like to mock him for his upper-class education -- he attended Eton and Oxford University -- and typically refer to him in speeches by his English name, Mark.
But there are more
serious undertones to the issue, with his political foes claiming that as a British citizen, Abhisit can be sued in the international criminal court for alleged abuses committed when the Thai military forcibly put down anti-government protests in Bangkok
last year. About 90 people were killed during two months of demonstrations and unrest.
Fresh fighting has erupted along the Thai border with Cambodia in Si Sa Ket province.
The first shots were fired yesterday in border areas near tambon Phu Pha Mok in Kantharalak about 1.30pm. The fighting included artillery fire and shots from
small firearms and lasted about 15 minutes. No deaths or injuries were reported.
A more severe exchange began at 6.30pm and lasted until about 9.40pm, with heavy artillery fire being exchanged between Cambodian and Thai troops centred on a village
near Preah Vihear temple.
The Cambodian government said the 11th-century Hindu temple was damaged in the firefight. A wing of our Preah Vihear temple has collapsed as a direct result of the Thai artillery bombardment, said a military
commander in a statement released by Phnom Penh last night.
Several communities on Thai soil were also damaged by artillery shells and at least 12 people were injured, including two civilians.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has brushed
aside calls for intervention by other Asean countries to help resolve the conflict.
Abhisit said during his weekly television and radio broadcast yesterday there was no need for other Asean member countries to step in, as suggested by Asean
secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan. He said he was confident the dispute could be resolved through bilateral negotiations.
However, he insisted Thailand would not withdraw its troops, as demanded by Cambodia. Thailand must protect its rights to the
land, he said.
Global freedom suffered its fifth consecutive year of decline in 2010, according to Freedom in the World 2011 , Freedom House's annual assessment of political rights and civil liberties around the world.
This represents the longest
continuous period of decline in the nearly 40-year history of the survey. The year featured drops in the number of Free countries and the number of electoral democracies, as well as an overall deterioration for freedom in the Middle East and North Africa
A total of 25 countries showed significant declines in 2010, more than double the 11 countries exhibiting noteworthy gains. The number of countries designated as Free fell from 89 to 87, and the number of electoral democracies dropped to
115, below the 2005 figure of 123. In addition, authoritarian regimes like those in China, Egypt, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela continued to step up repressive measures with little significant resistance from the democratic world.
Thailand is among
the 25 countries which showed significant declines in democracy last year. Thailand is now considered 'partly' free.
This should be a wake-up call for all of the world's democracies, said David J. Kramer, executive director of Freedom
House. Our adversaries are not just engaging in widespread repression, they are doing so with unprecedented aggressiveness and self-confidence, and the democratic community is not rising to the challenge.
Bangkok Police will issue a directive to prohibit children under 18 years old from leaving home after 10 pm without justified reasons, the bureau spokesman said.
Metropolitan Police spokesman Pol Maj Gen Piya Uthayo said the ban was aimed
preventing youths from hanging out at night and committing crime or becoming crime victims.
Piya said if police found children under 18 hanging out at night without justified reasons they would be taken to police stations and they would be have
criminal records and their parents would be called to pick them up.
Update: Police reminded that there is such a thing as human rights
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is calling on the police to consult all relevant parties before enforcing a newly announced measure to
prevent young people under the age of 18 from staying out late.
The measure concerns both the welfare and liberty of young people, NHRC commissioner Visa Benjamano said. Some children might have some errands to tend to or might be on
their way home, she said, adding that police should first listen to the opinions of youngsters, parents and people working for children's causes before implementing the measure.
Police should also carefully consider relevant laws, Visa
Deputy Metropolitan Police Commissioner Maj-General Amnuay Nimmano claimed the measure was in line with relevant laws, namely the Children Protection Act. He said that if children were found straying outside late at night, they would be
taken to a police station and their parents alerted. If they are caught for a second time, their parents will be punished too, he said, adding that parents could face up to three months in jail or a maximum fine of Bt20,000.
The Thai Public Health Ministry plans to raise the legal age for buying cigarettes from 18 years old to 20 years old.
The decision was reached during the meeting of the National Cigarette Control Committee.
The meeting was chaired by Public
Health Minister Jurin Laksanavisit.
The meeting also came up with several other measures to control smoking. Cigarette vending machines and online vending will be banned. Vendors will not be allowed to divide up the cigarette pack into smaller
units. Manufacturers will not be allowed to reduce the prices for marketing campaigns.
Also manufacturers will be required to change cigarette papers. The new paper type will make the cigarette automatically put out if the smokers do not smoke the
cigarette for a period of time. Jurin said Thailand will be the first country that requires cigarette to use the new safety paper. This kind of paper will reduce the problem of second hand smoking and fires caused by cigarettes left burning.