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 2011: Jan-March
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17th December   

Offsite: Maybe Political...

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Bomb disposal experts dismantle 6 devices in east Bangkok
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bangkok. Six homemade bombs were found at three spots in eastern Bangkok early yesterday. Police have arrested a suspect who claims he laid them for political reasons.

At the first spot, a bomb was placed by the wall of Bangkok Bank's Sukhumvit 77 branch (Prawet) in Lat Krabang Soi 20.

At the second spot, two bombs were found at the mouth of Kanchanaphisek Soi 89 in Prawet.

At the third spot, another three bombs were found at a U-turn under a bridge across Khlong Nong Prue opposite Suvarnabhumi market in Lat Krabang Soi 13.

Bomb disposal experts dismantled the devices.

Police say Jirawat Chanpeng, a goat farmer and native of Sakon Nakhon province, has been arrested and charged with planting the devices. Police said the suspect admitted only that he was driven by political motivations, although he was not aligned with any particular political groups.

 

26th October   

Please Evacuate...

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All areas of Bangkok liable to flooding over the coming weekend
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flood map oct 25 2011 In a TV pool broadcast that interrupted Wednesday's prime time programming, Flood Control spokesman said that Bangkok must be prepared for floods. If in a risk area, please evacuate out of Bangkok if possible or seek shelter with temporary shelter. It is more convenient to move now than later when it is hard to navigate through the flood.

Those already flooded, please be careful of electrocution if seek to stay put. More and more shelters are being prepared by the government.

Yesterday the prime minister similarly interrupted prim time programmes to tell people that all areas of Bangkok are likely to flood over the coming weekend. Bangkok workers have been given a 5 day holiday over this period.

 

21st August   

Less Fun in Thailand?...

Thai diplomat claims that the country will soon shed its sex tourism image
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Thailand flag 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.

 

17th August   

Red Tape...

More documents to show for those making 90 day reports to Thai Immigration
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Thai visa Those with yearly visa extension have to report their address to Thai Iimmigration every 90 days.

There are several reports saying that the required documentation list has increased.

Along with the TM47 reporting form visa holders have to provide:

  • Photocopies of their main passport page, Thai visa, departure card
  • Photocopy of official document verifying address, eg utility bills. Maybe not so easy if they are all in a Thai partner's name

 

24th July   

Offsite: Hard to Distinguish Between Crooks and Holidaymakers...

Crroks and holiday makers all flock to Thailand as it is an enjoyable place to be
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usual suspects 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.

...Read the full article

 

14th July   

Bailiffs Seize Royal Jet...

German authorities seize royal jet over Thai Government's unpaid bills
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thai royal jet 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.

Update: Returned

10th August 2011. See  article from  google.com

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.

 

3rd July   

Phew!...

Yingluck Shinawatra set to become Thailand's first female PM
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yinglak shinawatra 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.

It is 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.

 

29th March   

Global Cooling...

Thailand is cold, wet and the streets are infested with alligators
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alligator at door 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.

 

25th March   

Shaken Up...

Strong earthquake hits Burma near the Thai border
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Mae Sai map North-east Burma was hit by a 6.8-magnitude earthquake near the border with Thailand at Mae Sai.

It struck at 1355 GMT (20:55 Thai time) and was centred about 70 miles (110 km) from the northern Thai city of Chiang Rai, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake was shallow, at a depth of 6.2 miles (10km).

It struck in a sparsely populated and remote area, but tremors could be felt as far away as Bangkok and Hanoi.

Based on article from abc.net.au

At least 75 people are now believed to have died. The death toll is still expected to rise as authorities move into remote areas that have been cut off by road closures since the 6.8 magnitude quake.

More than 240 buildings are said to have collapsed on the Burmese side of the border killing at least 74.

One woman was also killed in the Thai district of Mae Sai and more than 100 people were injured in areas close to the epicentre.

There are reports of a 10 kilometre crack in a road in Northern Thailand as a result of the quake and a number of aftershocks.

 

25th February   

Dark Secret...

The Thai prime minister is a closet Brit
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abhisit newcastle fan

  He even supports the underdogs!

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.

 

7th February   

Old Battles...

Fighting resumes as Preah Vihear temple
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Preah Vihear 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.

 

15th January   

Freedom in the World 2011...

Freedom House reports that world freedom is continuing to decline, eg Thailand
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freedom in the world 2011 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 region.

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.

 

13th January   

Criminalising Youth...

Bangkok set to issue 10pm curfew for young people below 18 years old
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child catcherBangkok 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

15th January 2011. See article from nationmultimedia.com

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 added.

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.

 

5th January   

Laws on Paper...

Thailand plans to increase cigarette buying age to 20
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20 signThe 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.

 

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