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News and Views – December 2006


(Photo: Andrea Baker)

Above: Fire burning across from the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre (Soi Asoke) at 7:30pm.
Google Earth placemark of the approximate site of the blaze

Fire breaks out at Town in Town Inn on Rama IV roadThe Nation, December 22, 2006
Apartment on fire; people trapped Bangkok Post, December 22, 2006
The Bangkok Post says it is “Tower Inn” that is on fire.
Another fire breaks out at a building on Chan Road The Nation, December 22, 2006
Massive slum fire renders hundreds homeless The Nation, December 22, 2006



(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

At Government House – December 26, 2006
Pro-lottery protesters at Government House
The sign on the left: Underground (lottery) cost and changes–70,000 million baht per year.
The sign in the middle: We want the honest (not corrupt) career.
The protesters advertise three websites here, here and here.


Station lists Bangkok’s 10 worst sois The Nation, December 20, 2006
[With Google Placemarks as the links]
Lat Phrao 21 in Chatuchak… robberies and murders…
Soi Wat Makok
[not sure of the exact location] on Rajvithi Road near Victory Monument also made the list because of drug and gangster problems are so severe residents don’t dare to go out at night for fear of robbery or sexual assault…
Soi Charansanitwong 89 in Bang Phlat and Soi Vimutayaram are used as hangouts by gangsters, drug dealers and drug addicts…
Charansanitwong 37 in Bangkok Noi district was said to be the scene of many sexual assaults and thefts…
Other sois were Taling Chan’s Soi Suan Pak 11, Lak Si’s Soi Wipawadee 64, Huai Khwang’s Soi Ruam Raksa, Samphanthawong’s Soi Pirom and Khlong San’s Soi Charoen Nakhon 23


Surayud’s house from the air – December 29, 2006

Right: Surayud and aerial photos from Post Today. From these photos it is possible to locate the area of his house on Google Earth: Google Earth Placemark for Surayud’s house and Yai Thiang Mountain (unfortunately not high resolution)

Mystery photo adds to pressure on SurayudThe Nation, December 27, 2006

Earlier: Surayud’s house from the air – December 27, 2006
>From The Nation, December 26, 2006: Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont shows aerial photo during a press briefing after he was accused of illegally acquiring train compartment for his residence in Nakhon Ratchasima. The photo showed there was no compartment in his residence.
PM denies owning train, costly homeBangkok Post, December 26, 2006
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has rejected as groundless an allegation he illegally possessed four decommissioned train carriages at a resort house with a swimming pool on a large block of land in Nakhon Ratchasima province…

Coup-themed Christmas card – December 30, 2006
Hamish reports: I wondered whether you guys had seen this Coup-themed Christmas Card  from Nancy Chandler.

Disaster area at 15 degrees – December 30, 2006
CB noted: Just spotted this from the Nation a few days ago: “Sixteen districts and two sub-districts of Chiang Rai and some districts in Chiang Mai have been declared as disaster areas after a third day of temperatures below 15 degrees centigrade…”


Thailand cracks down on dirty dancing Associated Press, December, 2006

The first 7-11 – December 30, 2006
Don Entz notes: I remember the very first 7-Eleven. It was on Silom Road, right next to Patpong. Opened in 1989. It’s not there now. (The ones close to there now are relatively new.) The second 7-Eleven ever to open in Thailand is still there: on the Suriwong end of Patpong, next to the KFC and also opened in 1989, shortly after that first one.
Earlier: 7-Eleven to stop at 5,000 shopsBangkok Post, December 25, 2006
C.P. Seven-Eleven Plc, the country’s largest convenience-store chain, will temporarily stop expanding after it reaches 5,000 outlets, expected within three years…

Deposed Thai PM inspires documentary on perils of demagogy New Kerala, December 28, 2006
Thai documentary filmmaker Pipope Panitchpakdi is working on an ambitious new project – to tell the story of politics going sour in that country…


CNS chairman Sonthi details national problems at ISOC seminar – TNA, December 10, 2006
…”Many of you may not know that Thailand’s map contradicts that of all of our neighbouring countries–Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia,” Gen. Sonthi said. “Should the boundary disputes be brought to the International Court of Justice, Thailand is likely to lose many square kilometres, because our maps apparently overlap the demarcation lines prepared earlier by those countries.”
Expressing his concern regarding Thailand’s dwindling natural resources, Gen. Sonthi said, “We must ask ourselves how to live in the next 10 years. We may have to decide which role to be played: that of an industrialized country, a country in a middle-man role, or that of a producing country”…


Developers in Southeast Asia try to lure aged Japanese – IHT, December 27, 2006
Thanks to Danny for pointing this out…


SMS, e-cards popular New Year’s greetings modes for young – TNA, December 30, 2006
The time when sending a New Year card by post are gone and mostly forgotten as Thai young people have discovered instant text messaging and e-cards as increasingly attractive ways of saying “Happy New Year,” according to a survey by the Kasikorn Research Centre…


For Lesbians, the Party Never Stopped in Bangkok – NYT, December 31, 2006
On the night of Sept. 19, military leaders in Thailand suspended the constitution, seized control of Bangkok and imposed martial law…


Global warming claims tropical island The Independent, December 24, 2006
For the first time, an inhabited island has disappeared beneath rising seas…

Genetic defects rise with fad-driven inbreeding of dogs in Japan – IHT, December 27, 2006
Care for a Chihuahua with a blue hue? How about a teacup poodle so tiny it will fit into a purse — the canine equivalent of a bonsai? The Japanese sure do.
Rare and unique dogs are highly prized here and can set buyers back more than ¥1 million, or about $8,400. But the problem is what often arrives in the same litter: genetically defective sister and brother puppies born with missing paws or faces lacking eyes and a nose.
There have been dogs with brain disorders so severe that they spent all day running in circles, and others with bones so frail they dissolved in their bodies…

Internet access in Asia disrupted by Taiwan earthquake – BoingBoing, December 27, 2006

Earthquake knocks Asia back to phone age, and beyond IHT, December 27, 2006
It was a tsunami for the digital age, a collapse of the virtual world that radiated through much of Asia and beyond after an undersea earthquake late Tuesday off the coast of Taiwan…


Italy village gets ‘sun mirror’ – BBC, December 19, 2006
A sun-deprived village in the Italian Alps has come up with a novel solution to fix the problem – by installing a giant mirror…


Cambodia to restore missing rail links in Mekong Region CIOB International News, December 20, 2006
…Cambodia has some 600 km of railway track and associated bridges. Reinstating 48 missing kilometres up to the Thai frontier will allow the two countries to re-establish rail traffic between them. The project will also improve rail connections with the country’s ports at Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh…


The Vietnam challenge: Bye-bye sabai-sabai Bangkok Post, December 25, 2006
…”First, Vietnamese salaries are almost half what Thais are paid. Second, on average, a Thai engineer works about 30 hours per week, while a Vietnamese engineer works 60 hours per week. They work six days a week and roughly 10 hours a day.
”In addition, our engineers have some other disadvantages. Number one is we are not disciplined. Number two, the attitude toward work is too demanding, since the IT market in Thailand is short of manpower. Staff turnover is high. Consequently, they are very demanding for benefits and compensation. Finally, our fighting attitude is not good. We want a high salary and we don’t want to solve problems. Instead, we look at the technical problems as the challenges; we perceive them as an obstacle to our sabai (comfort).”…


Thai references in Star Trek – December 27, 2006
References to Thailand here and here.


New species of salamander founded in ChaiyaphumThe Nation, December 26, 2006
…However, only the Huai Hang Nam salamander, whose scientific name is Tropidophorus hangnam, sp nov, is entirely new to the world…



Quirks of Turkmenistan’s President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov – CNN, December 22, 2006
[Thanks to Don Entz for pointing this out.]


Giant squid caught on video by Japanese scientistsVideo Reuters, December 22, 2006


Web sites help travelers see more The Ledger, December 20, 2006
Had Jani Patokallio relied solely on a printed travel guidebook to plan a recent trip to Cambodia, he might have skipped a visit to Sihanoukville, turned off by talk of bumpy bus rides, bombed out buildings and kidnappings. But after checking out Wikitravel, one of several free sites that let travelers themselves share information and reviews, he…


New motifs mintedBangkok Post, December 22, 2006
…The Treasury Department plans to introduce a new coin design to replace the temple theme used for the past 20 years with new motifs representing Thai culture.
Wisudhi Srisuphan, the department’s director-general, said the likenesses of His Majesty the King, currently on the face of all coins, would remain unchanged…


Friendship Bridge stamps Post Today, December 19, 2006
Photos of the joint Thai/Lao Friendship Bridge stamps on the front page of Post Today.
Mukdahan Bridge construction photos

Sex industry in the news – December 13, 2006
Stories about the sex industry always contain strange assertions and peculiar opinions…
The two faces of Patpong The Star, December 12, 2006
…From the point of view of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Mohd Said has got his comparison wrong, as Patpong is “no longer the Patpong of the past”.
“That was a long, long time ago,” explained Vunsadej Thavarasukha, TAT advertising and public relations department executive director.
“Thirty years ago, yes, Patpong was famous as a red light area where tourists can do ‘monkey business’.”
But now, Vunsadej insisted, most of the go-go bars have shifted elsewhere (i.e. to Nana Plaza at Shukumvit) and Patpong is a place where family-orientated tourists come for food, shopping and music…
Without batting an eye, he replied, “Yes, we still have go-go bars in Patpong but it is very rare.”

No more Thai sex for SA Citizen, December 13, 2006
… Suvit made it clear the administration, which came to power in a bloodless coup on September 19, aimed to curtail the sex trade.
“Prostitution is illegal in Thailand,” he said. The South East Asian country’s police force is being assisted by “tourist police”, and will be further bolstered by specially trained volunteers.
He is due to announce further steps before the end of the month to tighten up on the policing of the sex industry…

Seedy sex resort home to hundreds of Irish Sunday Independent, December 3, 2006

Thai sex workers are ‘better off’ in SAIndependent Online, December 24, 2006
One of many Thai prostitutes who have worked in Richards Bay for the past three years told Xolani Mbanjwa that they are illegal immigrants but that they would rather stay in South Africa than go back home…

S.S. Ryndam university cruise, 1926 – December 2, 2006
In 1926, a group of university students traveled to Thailand on the Holland-America line cruise ship S.S. Ryndam. Here are 17 images from from the trip.
Wisarut writes: After I took a look at the Royal Diary of King Prajadhipok published in 1993 by National History Committee, Office of PM, I found that there was 560 American students visiting Siam from December 4-7, 1926. They rode the Paknam Tram from Paknam to Klong Toei before putting into Phyathai Hotel, Orientel Hotel or even Vajiravut College.

A thread on these photos is here.


Film festival postponed until July Bangkok Post, December 23, 2006
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has decided to postpone the Bangkok International Film Festival from next month to July 2007, TAT announced yesterday. It cited the recent decision of a potential cinema venue not to proceed with further discussions with TAT because of financial considerations as the main reason.Last year the festival took place at Paragon Cineplex of Siam Paragon shopping mall. According to TAT, every Bangkok multiplex expects to reap big business from the Jan 18 release of MC Chatrichalerm Yukol’s ”The Legend of King Naresuan”, and is reluctant to spare screens for the festival.
Originally, the festival was scheduled to take place from Jan 29 to Feb 5.
TAT last month cancelled a contract with the American firm which ran the festival for the past four years. In an unexpected move, the tourism board has invited Kriangsak Silakong, director of the competing World Film Festival of Bangkok, to serve as the festival’s interim director


Thailand still reeling after military moves to limit foreign investmentSun-Sentinel, December 21, 2006
…some of the confidence that foreign investors and others had in Thailand’s new, military government may have waned. And the sharp, sudden shock was a painful reminder that investing in emerging markets has its risks…

Henderson’s Kerley looks to sell Thai investmentsReuters, December 20, 2006
…”There’s a huge credibility issue … It’s an unelected government with no constitution. When we start to see policies like this, it makes us nervous … It has certainly put a spanner in the works.”…

Malaysian economy well-placed to withstand Bangkok fallout – Bernama, December 19, 2006

Stocks rebound, but Thai credibility in tatters Washington Post, December 20, 2006
Thai shares bounced back from their biggest sell-off in 16 years on Wednesday after the government scrapped controls on foreign stock buying, but the abrupt policy U-turn shattered confidence in its economic chiefs…

Bankers say foreign investment may stop Bangkok Post, December 25, 2006
…Bankers warn that the rule will essentially eliminate foreign investment in the Thai bond markets and dissuade Thai companies from tapping the overseas financial markets, as all foreign currency inflows would be covered under the reserve requirement…

Bt820-billion blunder The Nation, December 19, 2006
…In a nationally televised announcement, Pridiyathorn admitted foreign investors had been severely hit by the capital reserve and tax measures, resulting in the Thai stock market’s free fall.
…Pridiyathorn said the 30 per cent capital reserve requirement would remain intact on funds brought into the country for investing in financial instruments, as well as for borrowings.
However, there would be no such requirement on foreign funds brought into the country for foreign direct investment and for investing in the stock market, starting today.
He said the stock market should recover in stages and admitted that the damage in terms of a massive loss of market capitalisation was far beyond any expectation…

Region blames Thailand for new crisisBangkok Post, December 19, 2006
… What is sending shivers down the spine of foreign investors is the spectre of contagion. When the Thai baht plunged in July 1997, it marked the start of a region-wide financial crisis…

STOCK CRISIS: It’s Black Tuesday The Nation, December 19, 2006
It’s Black Tuesday. In a single trading day, the Thai stock market lost Bt800 billion in paper wealth as its key SET index plunged by a record 14.84 per cent – the worst since Black Money in 1987…

Thai stocks crash as investors panic over central bank rules – AFP, December 19, 2006
Thai stocks have suffered their worst losses in more than 30 years as panicking investors fled the market after the central bank imposed draconian measures in an effort to halt the baht’s rise…

Stock market loses Bt500 billion in value: SECThe Nation, December 19, 2006

Central Bank should cut requirement on capital inflows: TeeranaThe Nation, December 19, 2006

Thai capital control would have no sudden impact: S&PThe Nation, December 19, 2006

SET plunges after central bank acts to curb rising bahtThe Nation, December 19, 2006


Stop going to Thailand during coffee, lunch breaks order Bernama, December 17, 2006
The Malaysian government Sunday ordered its employees serving at the Malaysian-Thai border to immediately cease the practice of going to Thailand during their meal breaks…


Extinct? White-fin dolphin The Independent, December 18, 2006
…A recent expedition failed to spot a single Lipotes vexillifer, and now conservationists fear the almost-blind, long-beaked animal is gone for good, the first big aquatic mammal to become extinct due to human activity.
“We have to accept the fact that the baiji is extinct. It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world,” said the joint leader of the expedition, August Pfluger, an economist who runs the Swiss-based baiji.org, an environmental group dedicated to saving the dolphins.
…If the dolphin is indeed extinct, it will be the first big aquatic mammal to disappear since hunters killed off the Caribbean monk seal in the 1950s…



(Photo: Radar Magazine)
Lifestyles of the Rich & Fascist – December, 2006
The decadent whims of the world’s wackiest dictators
Left: General Than Shwe of Myanmar


Scooter hack Make, December, 2006


December 2006 Aurora Gallery – December 16, 2006


Disciples protest against charms rite Bangkok Post, December 16, 2006
Disciples of revered monk Buddhadasa Bhikkhu have protested against the consecration of Buddha amulets at a temple in Chaiya district, complaining the idea of producing good luck charms is ”anti-Buddhist.” About 200 laymen and students yesterday marched to Wat Phra Boromthatchaiya where they rallied against an amulet sanctification rite being organised at the temple. The ceremony will be held on Monday…

Lese majeste case against Sulak Sivaraksa – December 20, 2006
Jay writes: Thought perhaps your readers might be interested in following the lese majeste case against Sulak Sivaraksa through his blog at www.sivaraksa.com


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Three highrises – December 19, 2006
Google Earth placemark (placemark is in between the three buildings)

Children lured into Thai sex industry in Pattaya Reuters, December 14, 2006
…Once a small fishing village until American servicemen started “relaxing” there early in the Vietnam War, Pattaya is now a “pedophile paradise”, where anything goes.
Even the government’s Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is not embarrassed to boast about the town’s sex industry.
TAT says on its Web site (www.tourismthailand.org) the beach town, 180 km (110 miles) east of Bangkok, proclaims “exotic erotic shows” and “sauna & massage parlors” alongside elephant rides, water and aerial sports as star attractions.
Pattaya, it says, offers “an incomparable array of possibilities to unwind during an exotic holiday beach vacation”…


Thailand loses luster with Vietnam’s rise Christian Science Monitor, December 15, 2006
Vietnam’s economy could permanently eclipse Thailand’s once stellar growth – now uncertain after the recent coup…
“Talk to any businessman, and they say Vietnam is the next China,” said a Bangkok-based Western diplomat who monitors economic activities. “Yes, the infrastructure may not be as good as in Thailand, but they have 84 million people, they work like dogs, and they really want the investment. In Thailand, they no longer care about economic growth and they can’t figure out what they want…”

Boyce not queried by DC yet Bangkok Post, December 16, 2006
…Ambassador Boyce coordinated the meeting between representatives of the tobacco and alcohol industries with health minister Phinij Jarusombat that was seen as an attempt by the companies to protest advertising restrictions on cigarettes.
…They expressed concern that it may have contravened the law which prohibits government agencies from promoting the sale of tobacco products overseas or working to reduce other countries’ non-discriminatory tobacco control regulations…

Foreigners want List 3 tossed out Bangkok Post, December 14, 2006
…List 3 comprises businesses in which Thais are not considered ready to compete with foreigners, and includes businesses such as accounting, law, construction, forestry, advertising and other services.
”The so-called List 3 should in fact be deleted. List 3 has prevented foreign investment since 1972 and was later revised in 1999,” Mr Van Haren said.
”So for 30 years, these restricted businesses are still not ready for foreign competition. We wonder how long it would be protected? With no free competition, the winners are the ones who control business, but the losers are the end users or consumers…”

Hard lessons in expat paradise – BBC, December 14, 2006
…”You get penalised a lot for being a foreigner. I’ve had to do things in a much more official way than Thai-owned businesses – and I had lots of visits from people checking I had the right permits and licenses, which is often quite complicated to get right…”

Dictator slays millions in last-minute push to be Time‘s Man Of The YearThe Onion, December 13, 2006
…”In the back of his head, is he thinking about Stalin? Yes,” Nyein said. “But he is well aware that Stalin killed 62 million people, while Myanmar only has a population of about 50 million. Genocide is a percentages game…”

(Source: The Onion)

Auction Of Thailand treasures feed needy – KHNL News, December 14, 2006
A man who bought a container from Thailand sight unseen makes a remarkable discovery. KHNL News-8’s Beth Hillyer has details on how you can benefit from this amazing find…

41 Burmese migrant workers found inside gasoline truck The Irrawaddy, December 16, 2006

Russia spy HQ has giant batman mural in floor – BoingBoing, December 13, 2006

Mud volcanoes may just be underwater hills The Nation, December 14, 2006
The Mineral Resources Department yesterday downplayed an earlier announcement by a university lecturer that mud volcanoes had been found on the sea floor off Phuket…
Anond, who was present at yesterday’s press conference, also backed down from his “mud volcano” theory. “At this point, we should call it an undersea muddy hill,” he said.
According to Anond, a mud volcano was not volcanic mud, yet this technical term led some people to wrongly believe that it was. The lecturer said the team that found the undersea “hills” was planning to survey the site again early next year…


Red Tank Monument – December 14, 2006
Mr. John reports on a historic poster (right) in a pub in the south: The poster says “Who kill people, meet Pattalung Resident and join to analyze “Spurn down the mountain, burn in the red tank” at Sanam Luang on February 14.
This is a poster to persuade people to protest the dictatorial power especially the case of arresting suspected communists and throwing them out of helicopters over the mountains in Nakorn Srithammarat and Surat Thani. Moreover people are arrested and put in a tank with 200 liters of oil and burnt. People died from that event and every April 10, there will have a memorial ceremony at the the “Red Tank Monument” in Pattalung province.

Apparently this happening during the time of PM Seni Pramoj. Does anyone have more details about this?

A thread on this incident is here.

“Große Protestaktion vor dem Rathaus” – December 14, 2006
Something about foreigners protesting construction in Pattaya?

A thread on this is here.


Chiang Mai Mail on hiatus – December 14, 2006
Chiang Mai Mail seems have gone on hiatus: We’ll Be Back – Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have decided it is time for a much needed break to regroup, restructure, and return, bigger and better than ever.
We’ve come to realize how many of you depend on us, and we regret any inconvenience this may cause.
At this point in time, we do not know how long we will be away. It may be two weeks or two months, but we will be back to bring you the local news, sports, special features, columns and puzzles that you’ve grown to enjoy.


ThaiRoyalProjects.com – December 12, 2006 


How foreigners swipe Thai assets The Nation, December 11, 2006


Doctor debunks rabies myths The Nation, December 11, 2006
…He advised people to ignore long-held myths about rabies. Its spread was common in hot weather and cold and bites cannot be treated with balm or tobacco.
Slapping wounds with sandals is not a cure, he added, and neither is holy water.
It is not true killing and eating the liver of the dog that bites you will stop you getting the virus, he said. Prat told people the cutting off of dogs’ ears and tails will not stop them being infected…


German musical set in Thailand? – December 12, 2006
Anyone know what the story is with this German musical set in Thailand?
Here, here, here, and here.
A thread about this is here.

Researchers catch rare turtle in Thailand – CTV.ca, December 9, 2006
Researchers in Vietnam announced Friday they have caught one of the world’s most endangered turtles in the wild, a development which could bolster efforts to protect the species from hunters and collectors…

FDA bans 57 skin whitening products The Nation, December 9, 2006
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned 57 skin whitening products found to contain harmful substances. Check the list of banned cosmetic at www.fda.moph.go.th

NEW Phetchaburi Road – December 9, 2006
Several readers pointed out: …that should be NEW Phetchaburi Road, not Phetchaburi Road… (in The Nation‘s article yesterday)
Yesterday: Is Phetchaburi Road cursed?The Nation, December 8, 2006
…But has anyone wondered why so few companies have established their headquarters there, except for the fact that the road is famous as a strip of massage parlours and some night-entertainment venues (before new ones sprang up on nearby Rama IX Road)?
Probably there is a curse on this thoroughfare that casts a dark cloud over the operations of companies located on it…

Ebola virus kills 5,000 gorillas, says study – AFP, December 7, 2006
An outbreak of Ebola virus in northwestern Republic of Congo has killed 5,000 gorillas, helping to push the threatened species even closer to extinction, a study says…

Daewoo–A Serial Suitor of the Burmese Regime The Irrawaddy, December 7, 2006
With news of Daewoo’s illegal activities in Burma continuing to emerge on Thursday, observers have been given a rare glimpse into one of the closest business relationships the regime has had with the outside world in recent years…

Hong Kong, opting to remain a shopper’s paradise, takes a risk International Herald Tribune, December 6, 2006
[Thanks to Danny for pointing this out.]
The decision to avoid a sales tax is likely to start a search for other revenue sources, some of which could cut into profits of those who make it a financial capital as well…


A guide to the alcohol ad ban Bangkok Post, December 8, 2006


Ask the pilot – Salon.com, December 1, 2006
…Opened in 1914, Don Muang was one of the oldest big-city airports in the world, and was showing it. Dirty and overcrowded, it had become the fourth busiest airport in Asia, handling just under 39 million passengers in 2005. Many of Don Muang’s long-haul flights arrived and departed in the wee hours, and it often seemed that at least half of those 39 million people could be found on any given night sleeping on the greasy concourse floors…


The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist – CitMedia, December 4, 2006


Thai Glow Energy to expand power capacity Reuters, December 5, 2006
Thai utility Glow Energy PCL said on Wednesday it would build a new power plant to expand capacity by 120-140 megawatts after signing two contracts with petrochemical companies of the Siam Cement group…


For foreign inpatients in Thailand, visa extensions now pain free Asahi.com, December 5, 2006
Foreign inpatients at some of Thailand’s leading hospitals are getting the red carpet treatment from what may seem like a highly unlikely source–the immigration department…


Afghans consider rebuilding Bamiyan Buddhas New York Times, December 5, 2006
[Thanks to Danny for pointing this out.]


Search for top talent gets fierce in India New York Times, December 5, 2006
With the talent pool thin at the top, the net is being cast for more than just overseas executives of Indian origin – a category referred to as boomerang professionals – but also for Americans and Europeans with an India connection…

Richard Shaw Brown and the Misunderstood – December 7, 2006
Interesting website and bio of Thai resident Richard Shaw Brown and the 1960s band the Misunderstood.


A380 Airbus in Bangkok – December 5, 2006
Pascal writes: We just returned from the new airport, and got a few good shots of the A380 Airbus, which is visiting Bangkok for three days.
Tom also has photos from the A380 visit here.


Fiji army chief wants Thailand style coup: NZ PM – Fijilive.com, December 4, 2006
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says Fiji’s army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama may be leaning towards a Thailand style coup, which had been endorsed by the king…


Thailand prepares for ultra-efficient cars – UPI, December 4, 2006
Six leading Japanese auto manufacturers have expressed interest in investing in manufacturing ultra-fuel-efficient cars in Thailand…


An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Thailand The Nation, December 5, 2006
…About a month ago, the scheduled speaker at the SEAWrite Awards, Nobel Prize Winner Woye Soyinka, abruptly cancelled his appearance.  His reason was that he wanted to protest the fact that Thailand was no longer a democracy.  I was asked to speak in his place.
In my speech, I expressed outrage that an outsider would dare to posture about protecting my freedom when I was in fact, perfectly free.  I vigorously defended the recent politics of this country, and I stated that, “I am proud to stand here, in front of my prince, my peers, and my compatriots, and tell the world that right here, in this place and time, I have never felt more free.”
…Unlike what many international papers have reported, not one note of my opera was cut.  The full integrity of my work as conceived by me and as staged by Hans Nieuwenhuis was preserved.
Even though I signed the document, other attempts were made to silence the production, including claims by the TCC that a secretary had mistyped the Royal Agenda leaving out the scene and that it was now too late to put it in, and an anonymous “poison pen” fax that was sent to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindorn’s office which urged Her Royal Highness not to preside over the event because its text was “obscene”.  This sort of dirty, underhanded sabotage has always been typical of the way things are done in this country and is certainly not the fault of the current administration…


Iranian envoy blasts West in Thai speech: Bangkok Post Islamic Republic News Agency, December 5, 2006
Iranian Ambassador to Thailand Mohsen Pakaeen blasted the United States, the West and Israel in a speech before a gathering of Muslim Shias in Bangkok on Sunday…


His Majesty’s Full Birthday Speech The Nation, December 5, 2006
…Back in 1995, I sent out a Royal guard to check out a seaside flood station one night and he reportedly found the floodgate keeper sleeping while the tide was rising. The man said he was not aware of the timing of low and high tides but just followed his superiors’ orders on when to close or open the floodgate. This explained how a high sea tide could then cause the canal linked to the floodgate to overflow and thus flood part of Bangkok…


Pyramids were built with concrete rather than rocks, scientists claim Times Online, December 1, 2006


Experimental bar in Thailand aims to provide safe refuge for sex workersChannel NewsAsia, December 1, 2006
Commercial sex workers in Thailand account for a high number of AIDS cases in the kingdom. To improve their lives, a non-profit organisation has set up an innovative self-help programme in Chiang Mai…


Thai AIDS vaccine trials hope for breakthrough in three years – TNA, December 2, 2006
…Only half get the genuine jab while the rest get a placebo. If fewer in the vaccinated group get HIV, it will be champagne all round…


Young people with HIV/AIDS in Bangkok highest in Thailand, on the rise – TNA, December 1, 2006
…According to surveys from 2004 to 2006, young people aged between 15-24 years old had little knowledge on HIV protection and the rate of condom use remained low.
…There have been 15,174 infections reported this year with an average of 40 new cases daily–or almost two persons per minute on average…

News and Views – December 2006


(Photo: Andrea Baker)

Above: Fire burning across from the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre (Soi Asoke) at 7:30pm.
Google Earth placemark of the approximate site of the blaze

Fire breaks out at Town in Town Inn on Rama IV roadThe Nation, December 22, 2006
Apartment on fire; people trapped Bangkok Post, December 22, 2006
The Bangkok Post says it is “Tower Inn” that is on fire.
Another fire breaks out at a building on Chan Road The Nation, December 22, 2006
Massive slum fire renders hundreds homeless The Nation, December 22, 2006



(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

At Government House – December 26, 2006
Pro-lottery protesters at Government House
The sign on the left: Underground (lottery) cost and changes–70,000 million baht per year.
The sign in the middle: We want the honest (not corrupt) career.
The protesters advertise three websites here, here and here.


Station lists Bangkok’s 10 worst sois The Nation, December 20, 2006
[With Google Placemarks as the links]
Lat Phrao 21 in Chatuchak… robberies and murders…
Soi Wat Makok
[not sure of the exact location] on Rajvithi Road near Victory Monument also made the list because of drug and gangster problems are so severe residents don’t dare to go out at night for fear of robbery or sexual assault…
Soi Charansanitwong 89 in Bang Phlat and Soi Vimutayaram are used as hangouts by gangsters, drug dealers and drug addicts…
Charansanitwong 37 in Bangkok Noi district was said to be the scene of many sexual assaults and thefts…
Other sois were Taling Chan’s Soi Suan Pak 11, Lak Si’s Soi Wipawadee 64, Huai Khwang’s Soi Ruam Raksa, Samphanthawong’s Soi Pirom and Khlong San’s Soi Charoen Nakhon 23


Surayud’s house from the air – December 29, 2006

Right: Surayud and aerial photos from Post Today. From these photos it is possible to locate the area of his house on Google Earth: Google Earth Placemark for Surayud’s house and Yai Thiang Mountain (unfortunately not high resolution)

Mystery photo adds to pressure on SurayudThe Nation, December 27, 2006

Earlier: Surayud’s house from the air – December 27, 2006
>From The Nation, December 26, 2006: Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont shows aerial photo during a press briefing after he was accused of illegally acquiring train compartment for his residence in Nakhon Ratchasima. The photo showed there was no compartment in his residence.
PM denies owning train, costly homeBangkok Post, December 26, 2006
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has rejected as groundless an allegation he illegally possessed four decommissioned train carriages at a resort house with a swimming pool on a large block of land in Nakhon Ratchasima province…

Coup-themed Christmas card – December 30, 2006
Hamish reports: I wondered whether you guys had seen this Coup-themed Christmas Card  from Nancy Chandler.

Disaster area at 15 degrees – December 30, 2006
CB noted: Just spotted this from the Nation a few days ago: “Sixteen districts and two sub-districts of Chiang Rai and some districts in Chiang Mai have been declared as disaster areas after a third day of temperatures below 15 degrees centigrade…”


Thailand cracks down on dirty dancing Associated Press, December, 2006

The first 7-11 – December 30, 2006
Don Entz notes: I remember the very first 7-Eleven. It was on Silom Road, right next to Patpong. Opened in 1989. It’s not there now. (The ones close to there now are relatively new.) The second 7-Eleven ever to open in Thailand is still there: on the Suriwong end of Patpong, next to the KFC and also opened in 1989, shortly after that first one.
Earlier: 7-Eleven to stop at 5,000 shopsBangkok Post, December 25, 2006
C.P. Seven-Eleven Plc, the country’s largest convenience-store chain, will temporarily stop expanding after it reaches 5,000 outlets, expected within three years…

Deposed Thai PM inspires documentary on perils of demagogy New Kerala, December 28, 2006
Thai documentary filmmaker Pipope Panitchpakdi is working on an ambitious new project – to tell the story of politics going sour in that country…


CNS chairman Sonthi details national problems at ISOC seminar – TNA, December 10, 2006
…”Many of you may not know that Thailand’s map contradicts that of all of our neighbouring countries–Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia,” Gen. Sonthi said. “Should the boundary disputes be brought to the International Court of Justice, Thailand is likely to lose many square kilometres, because our maps apparently overlap the demarcation lines prepared earlier by those countries.”
Expressing his concern regarding Thailand’s dwindling natural resources, Gen. Sonthi said, “We must ask ourselves how to live in the next 10 years. We may have to decide which role to be played: that of an industrialized country, a country in a middle-man role, or that of a producing country”…


Developers in Southeast Asia try to lure aged Japanese – IHT, December 27, 2006
Thanks to Danny for pointing this out…


SMS, e-cards popular New Year’s greetings modes for young – TNA, December 30, 2006
The time when sending a New Year card by post are gone and mostly forgotten as Thai young people have discovered instant text messaging and e-cards as increasingly attractive ways of saying “Happy New Year,” according to a survey by the Kasikorn Research Centre…


For Lesbians, the Party Never Stopped in Bangkok – NYT, December 31, 2006
On the night of Sept. 19, military leaders in Thailand suspended the constitution, seized control of Bangkok and imposed martial law…


Global warming claims tropical island The Independent, December 24, 2006
For the first time, an inhabited island has disappeared beneath rising seas…

Genetic defects rise with fad-driven inbreeding of dogs in Japan – IHT, December 27, 2006
Care for a Chihuahua with a blue hue? How about a teacup poodle so tiny it will fit into a purse — the canine equivalent of a bonsai? The Japanese sure do.
Rare and unique dogs are highly prized here and can set buyers back more than ¥1 million, or about $8,400. But the problem is what often arrives in the same litter: genetically defective sister and brother puppies born with missing paws or faces lacking eyes and a nose.
There have been dogs with brain disorders so severe that they spent all day running in circles, and others with bones so frail they dissolved in their bodies…

Internet access in Asia disrupted by Taiwan earthquake – BoingBoing, December 27, 2006

Earthquake knocks Asia back to phone age, and beyond IHT, December 27, 2006
It was a tsunami for the digital age, a collapse of the virtual world that radiated through much of Asia and beyond after an undersea earthquake late Tuesday off the coast of Taiwan…


Italy village gets ‘sun mirror’ – BBC, December 19, 2006
A sun-deprived village in the Italian Alps has come up with a novel solution to fix the problem – by installing a giant mirror…


Cambodia to restore missing rail links in Mekong Region CIOB International News, December 20, 2006
…Cambodia has some 600 km of railway track and associated bridges. Reinstating 48 missing kilometres up to the Thai frontier will allow the two countries to re-establish rail traffic between them. The project will also improve rail connections with the country’s ports at Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh…


The Vietnam challenge: Bye-bye sabai-sabai Bangkok Post, December 25, 2006
…”First, Vietnamese salaries are almost half what Thais are paid. Second, on average, a Thai engineer works about 30 hours per week, while a Vietnamese engineer works 60 hours per week. They work six days a week and roughly 10 hours a day.
”In addition, our engineers have some other disadvantages. Number one is we are not disciplined. Number two, the attitude toward work is too demanding, since the IT market in Thailand is short of manpower. Staff turnover is high. Consequently, they are very demanding for benefits and compensation. Finally, our fighting attitude is not good. We want a high salary and we don’t want to solve problems. Instead, we look at the technical problems as the challenges; we perceive them as an obstacle to our sabai (comfort).”…


Thai references in Star Trek – December 27, 2006
References to Thailand here and here.


New species of salamander founded in ChaiyaphumThe Nation, December 26, 2006
…However, only the Huai Hang Nam salamander, whose scientific name is Tropidophorus hangnam, sp nov, is entirely new to the world…



Quirks of Turkmenistan’s President-for-life Saparmurat Niyazov – CNN, December 22, 2006
[Thanks to Don Entz for pointing this out.]


Giant squid caught on video by Japanese scientistsVideo Reuters, December 22, 2006


Web sites help travelers see more The Ledger, December 20, 2006
Had Jani Patokallio relied solely on a printed travel guidebook to plan a recent trip to Cambodia, he might have skipped a visit to Sihanoukville, turned off by talk of bumpy bus rides, bombed out buildings and kidnappings. But after checking out Wikitravel, one of several free sites that let travelers themselves share information and reviews, he…


New motifs mintedBangkok Post, December 22, 2006
…The Treasury Department plans to introduce a new coin design to replace the temple theme used for the past 20 years with new motifs representing Thai culture.
Wisudhi Srisuphan, the department’s director-general, said the likenesses of His Majesty the King, currently on the face of all coins, would remain unchanged…


Friendship Bridge stamps Post Today, December 19, 2006
Photos of the joint Thai/Lao Friendship Bridge stamps on the front page of Post Today.
Mukdahan Bridge construction photos

Sex industry in the news – December 13, 2006
Stories about the sex industry always contain strange assertions and peculiar opinions…
The two faces of Patpong The Star, December 12, 2006
…From the point of view of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Mohd Said has got his comparison wrong, as Patpong is “no longer the Patpong of the past”.
“That was a long, long time ago,” explained Vunsadej Thavarasukha, TAT advertising and public relations department executive director.
“Thirty years ago, yes, Patpong was famous as a red light area where tourists can do ‘monkey business’.”
But now, Vunsadej insisted, most of the go-go bars have shifted elsewhere (i.e. to Nana Plaza at Shukumvit) and Patpong is a place where family-orientated tourists come for food, shopping and music…
Without batting an eye, he replied, “Yes, we still have go-go bars in Patpong but it is very rare.”

No more Thai sex for SA Citizen, December 13, 2006
… Suvit made it clear the administration, which came to power in a bloodless coup on September 19, aimed to curtail the sex trade.
“Prostitution is illegal in Thailand,” he said. The South East Asian country’s police force is being assisted by “tourist police”, and will be further bolstered by specially trained volunteers.
He is due to announce further steps before the end of the month to tighten up on the policing of the sex industry…

Seedy sex resort home to hundreds of Irish Sunday Independent, December 3, 2006

Thai sex workers are ‘better off’ in SAIndependent Online, December 24, 2006
One of many Thai prostitutes who have worked in Richards Bay for the past three years told Xolani Mbanjwa that they are illegal immigrants but that they would rather stay in South Africa than go back home…

S.S. Ryndam university cruise, 1926 – December 2, 2006
In 1926, a group of university students traveled to Thailand on the Holland-America line cruise ship S.S. Ryndam. Here are 17 images from from the trip.
Wisarut writes: After I took a look at the Royal Diary of King Prajadhipok published in 1993 by National History Committee, Office of PM, I found that there was 560 American students visiting Siam from December 4-7, 1926. They rode the Paknam Tram from Paknam to Klong Toei before putting into Phyathai Hotel, Orientel Hotel or even Vajiravut College.

A thread on these photos is here.


Film festival postponed until July Bangkok Post, December 23, 2006
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has decided to postpone the Bangkok International Film Festival from next month to July 2007, TAT announced yesterday. It cited the recent decision of a potential cinema venue not to proceed with further discussions with TAT because of financial considerations as the main reason.Last year the festival took place at Paragon Cineplex of Siam Paragon shopping mall. According to TAT, every Bangkok multiplex expects to reap big business from the Jan 18 release of MC Chatrichalerm Yukol’s ”The Legend of King Naresuan”, and is reluctant to spare screens for the festival.
Originally, the festival was scheduled to take place from Jan 29 to Feb 5.
TAT last month cancelled a contract with the American firm which ran the festival for the past four years. In an unexpected move, the tourism board has invited Kriangsak Silakong, director of the competing World Film Festival of Bangkok, to serve as the festival’s interim director


Thailand still reeling after military moves to limit foreign investmentSun-Sentinel, December 21, 2006
…some of the confidence that foreign investors and others had in Thailand’s new, military government may have waned. And the sharp, sudden shock was a painful reminder that investing in emerging markets has its risks…

Henderson’s Kerley looks to sell Thai investmentsReuters, December 20, 2006
…”There’s a huge credibility issue … It’s an unelected government with no constitution. When we start to see policies like this, it makes us nervous … It has certainly put a spanner in the works.”…

Malaysian economy well-placed to withstand Bangkok fallout – Bernama, December 19, 2006

Stocks rebound, but Thai credibility in tatters Washington Post, December 20, 2006
Thai shares bounced back from their biggest sell-off in 16 years on Wednesday after the government scrapped controls on foreign stock buying, but the abrupt policy U-turn shattered confidence in its economic chiefs…

Bankers say foreign investment may stop Bangkok Post, December 25, 2006
…Bankers warn that the rule will essentially eliminate foreign investment in the Thai bond markets and dissuade Thai companies from tapping the overseas financial markets, as all foreign currency inflows would be covered under the reserve requirement…

Bt820-billion blunder The Nation, December 19, 2006
…In a nationally televised announcement, Pridiyathorn admitted foreign investors had been severely hit by the capital reserve and tax measures, resulting in the Thai stock market’s free fall.
…Pridiyathorn said the 30 per cent capital reserve requirement would remain intact on funds brought into the country for investing in financial instruments, as well as for borrowings.
However, there would be no such requirement on foreign funds brought into the country for foreign direct investment and for investing in the stock market, starting today.
He said the stock market should recover in stages and admitted that the damage in terms of a massive loss of market capitalisation was far beyond any expectation…

Region blames Thailand for new crisisBangkok Post, December 19, 2006
… What is sending shivers down the spine of foreign investors is the spectre of contagion. When the Thai baht plunged in July 1997, it marked the start of a region-wide financial crisis…

STOCK CRISIS: It’s Black Tuesday The Nation, December 19, 2006
It’s Black Tuesday. In a single trading day, the Thai stock market lost Bt800 billion in paper wealth as its key SET index plunged by a record 14.84 per cent – the worst since Black Money in 1987…

Thai stocks crash as investors panic over central bank rules – AFP, December 19, 2006
Thai stocks have suffered their worst losses in more than 30 years as panicking investors fled the market after the central bank imposed draconian measures in an effort to halt the baht’s rise…

Stock market loses Bt500 billion in value: SECThe Nation, December 19, 2006

Central Bank should cut requirement on capital inflows: TeeranaThe Nation, December 19, 2006

Thai capital control would have no sudden impact: S&PThe Nation, December 19, 2006

SET plunges after central bank acts to curb rising bahtThe Nation, December 19, 2006


Stop going to Thailand during coffee, lunch breaks order Bernama, December 17, 2006
The Malaysian government Sunday ordered its employees serving at the Malaysian-Thai border to immediately cease the practice of going to Thailand during their meal breaks…


Extinct? White-fin dolphin The Independent, December 18, 2006
…A recent expedition failed to spot a single Lipotes vexillifer, and now conservationists fear the almost-blind, long-beaked animal is gone for good, the first big aquatic mammal to become extinct due to human activity.
“We have to accept the fact that the baiji is extinct. It is a tragedy, a loss not only for China, but for the entire world,” said the joint leader of the expedition, August Pfluger, an economist who runs the Swiss-based baiji.org, an environmental group dedicated to saving the dolphins.
…If the dolphin is indeed extinct, it will be the first big aquatic mammal to disappear since hunters killed off the Caribbean monk seal in the 1950s…



(Photo: Radar Magazine)
Lifestyles of the Rich & Fascist – December, 2006
The decadent whims of the world’s wackiest dictators
Left: General Than Shwe of Myanmar


Scooter hack Make, December, 2006


December 2006 Aurora Gallery – December 16, 2006


Disciples protest against charms rite Bangkok Post, December 16, 2006
Disciples of revered monk Buddhadasa Bhikkhu have protested against the consecration of Buddha amulets at a temple in Chaiya district, complaining the idea of producing good luck charms is ”anti-Buddhist.” About 200 laymen and students yesterday marched to Wat Phra Boromthatchaiya where they rallied against an amulet sanctification rite being organised at the temple. The ceremony will be held on Monday…

Lese majeste case against Sulak Sivaraksa – December 20, 2006
Jay writes: Thought perhaps your readers might be interested in following the lese majeste case against Sulak Sivaraksa through his blog at www.sivaraksa.com


(Photo: 2Bangkok.com)

Three highrises – December 19, 2006
Google Earth placemark (placemark is in between the three buildings)

Children lured into Thai sex industry in Pattaya Reuters, December 14, 2006
…Once a small fishing village until American servicemen started “relaxing” there early in the Vietnam War, Pattaya is now a “pedophile paradise”, where anything goes.
Even the government’s Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is not embarrassed to boast about the town’s sex industry.
TAT says on its Web site (www.tourismthailand.org) the beach town, 180 km (110 miles) east of Bangkok, proclaims “exotic erotic shows” and “sauna & massage parlors” alongside elephant rides, water and aerial sports as star attractions.
Pattaya, it says, offers “an incomparable array of possibilities to unwind during an exotic holiday beach vacation”…


Thailand loses luster with Vietnam’s rise Christian Science Monitor, December 15, 2006
Vietnam’s economy could permanently eclipse Thailand’s once stellar growth – now uncertain after the recent coup…
“Talk to any businessman, and they say Vietnam is the next China,” said a Bangkok-based Western diplomat who monitors economic activities. “Yes, the infrastructure may not be as good as in Thailand, but they have 84 million people, they work like dogs, and they really want the investment. In Thailand, they no longer care about economic growth and they can’t figure out what they want…”

Boyce not queried by DC yet Bangkok Post, December 16, 2006
…Ambassador Boyce coordinated the meeting between representatives of the tobacco and alcohol industries with health minister Phinij Jarusombat that was seen as an attempt by the companies to protest advertising restrictions on cigarettes.
…They expressed concern that it may have contravened the law which prohibits government agencies from promoting the sale of tobacco products overseas or working to reduce other countries’ non-discriminatory tobacco control regulations…

Foreigners want List 3 tossed out Bangkok Post, December 14, 2006
…List 3 comprises businesses in which Thais are not considered ready to compete with foreigners, and includes businesses such as accounting, law, construction, forestry, advertising and other services.
”The so-called List 3 should in fact be deleted. List 3 has prevented foreign investment since 1972 and was later revised in 1999,” Mr Van Haren said.
”So for 30 years, these restricted businesses are still not ready for foreign competition. We wonder how long it would be protected? With no free competition, the winners are the ones who control business, but the losers are the end users or consumers…”

Hard lessons in expat paradise – BBC, December 14, 2006
…”You get penalised a lot for being a foreigner. I’ve had to do things in a much more official way than Thai-owned businesses – and I had lots of visits from people checking I had the right permits and licenses, which is often quite complicated to get right…”

Dictator slays millions in last-minute push to be Time‘s Man Of The YearThe Onion, December 13, 2006
…”In the back of his head, is he thinking about Stalin? Yes,” Nyein said. “But he is well aware that Stalin killed 62 million people, while Myanmar only has a population of about 50 million. Genocide is a percentages game…”

(Source: The Onion)

Auction Of Thailand treasures feed needy – KHNL News, December 14, 2006
A man who bought a container from Thailand sight unseen makes a remarkable discovery. KHNL News-8’s Beth Hillyer has details on how you can benefit from this amazing find…

41 Burmese migrant workers found inside gasoline truck The Irrawaddy, December 16, 2006

Russia spy HQ has giant batman mural in floor – BoingBoing, December 13, 2006

Mud volcanoes may just be underwater hills The Nation, December 14, 2006
The Mineral Resources Department yesterday downplayed an earlier announcement by a university lecturer that mud volcanoes had been found on the sea floor off Phuket…
Anond, who was present at yesterday’s press conference, also backed down from his “mud volcano” theory. “At this point, we should call it an undersea muddy hill,” he said.
According to Anond, a mud volcano was not volcanic mud, yet this technical term led some people to wrongly believe that it was. The lecturer said the team that found the undersea “hills” was planning to survey the site again early next year…


Red Tank Monument – December 14, 2006
Mr. John reports on a historic poster (right) in a pub in the south: The poster says “Who kill people, meet Pattalung Resident and join to analyze “Spurn down the mountain, burn in the red tank” at Sanam Luang on February 14.
This is a poster to persuade people to protest the dictatorial power especially the case of arresting suspected communists and throwing them out of helicopters over the mountains in Nakorn Srithammarat and Surat Thani. Moreover people are arrested and put in a tank with 200 liters of oil and burnt. People died from that event and every April 10, there will have a memorial ceremony at the the “Red Tank Monument” in Pattalung province.

Apparently this happening during the time of PM Seni Pramoj. Does anyone have more details about this?

A thread on this incident is here.

“Große Protestaktion vor dem Rathaus” – December 14, 2006
Something about foreigners protesting construction in Pattaya?

A thread on this is here.


Chiang Mai Mail on hiatus – December 14, 2006
Chiang Mai Mail seems have gone on hiatus: We’ll Be Back – Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have decided it is time for a much needed break to regroup, restructure, and return, bigger and better than ever.
We’ve come to realize how many of you depend on us, and we regret any inconvenience this may cause.
At this point in time, we do not know how long we will be away. It may be two weeks or two months, but we will be back to bring you the local news, sports, special features, columns and puzzles that you’ve grown to enjoy.


ThaiRoyalProjects.com – December 12, 2006 


How foreigners swipe Thai assets The Nation, December 11, 2006


Doctor debunks rabies myths The Nation, December 11, 2006
…He advised people to ignore long-held myths about rabies. Its spread was common in hot weather and cold and bites cannot be treated with balm or tobacco.
Slapping wounds with sandals is not a cure, he added, and neither is holy water.
It is not true killing and eating the liver of the dog that bites you will stop you getting the virus, he said. Prat told people the cutting off of dogs’ ears and tails will not stop them being infected…


German musical set in Thailand? – December 12, 2006
Anyone know what the story is with this German musical set in Thailand?
Here, here, here, and here.
A thread about this is here.

Researchers catch rare turtle in Thailand – CTV.ca, December 9, 2006
Researchers in Vietnam announced Friday they have caught one of the world’s most endangered turtles in the wild, a development which could bolster efforts to protect the species from hunters and collectors…

FDA bans 57 skin whitening products The Nation, December 9, 2006
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned 57 skin whitening products found to contain harmful substances. Check the list of banned cosmetic at www.fda.moph.go.th

NEW Phetchaburi Road – December 9, 2006
Several readers pointed out: …that should be NEW Phetchaburi Road, not Phetchaburi Road… (in The Nation‘s article yesterday)
Yesterday: Is Phetchaburi Road cursed?The Nation, December 8, 2006
…But has anyone wondered why so few companies have established their headquarters there, except for the fact that the road is famous as a strip of massage parlours and some night-entertainment venues (before new ones sprang up on nearby Rama IX Road)?
Probably there is a curse on this thoroughfare that casts a dark cloud over the operations of companies located on it…

Ebola virus kills 5,000 gorillas, says study – AFP, December 7, 2006
An outbreak of Ebola virus in northwestern Republic of Congo has killed 5,000 gorillas, helping to push the threatened species even closer to extinction, a study says…

Daewoo–A Serial Suitor of the Burmese Regime The Irrawaddy, December 7, 2006
With news of Daewoo’s illegal activities in Burma continuing to emerge on Thursday, observers have been given a rare glimpse into one of the closest business relationships the regime has had with the outside world in recent years…

Hong Kong, opting to remain a shopper’s paradise, takes a risk International Herald Tribune, December 6, 2006
[Thanks to Danny for pointing this out.]
The decision to avoid a sales tax is likely to start a search for other revenue sources, some of which could cut into profits of those who make it a financial capital as well…


A guide to the alcohol ad ban Bangkok Post, December 8, 2006


Ask the pilot – Salon.com, December 1, 2006
…Opened in 1914, Don Muang was one of the oldest big-city airports in the world, and was showing it. Dirty and overcrowded, it had become the fourth busiest airport in Asia, handling just under 39 million passengers in 2005. Many of Don Muang’s long-haul flights arrived and departed in the wee hours, and it often seemed that at least half of those 39 million people could be found on any given night sleeping on the greasy concourse floors…


The Demise of the Professional Photojournalist – CitMedia, December 4, 2006


Thai Glow Energy to expand power capacity Reuters, December 5, 2006
Thai utility Glow Energy PCL said on Wednesday it would build a new power plant to expand capacity by 120-140 megawatts after signing two contracts with petrochemical companies of the Siam Cement group…


For foreign inpatients in Thailand, visa extensions now pain free Asahi.com, December 5, 2006
Foreign inpatients at some of Thailand’s leading hospitals are getting the red carpet treatment from what may seem like a highly unlikely source–the immigration department…


Afghans consider rebuilding Bamiyan Buddhas New York Times, December 5, 2006
[Thanks to Danny for pointing this out.]


Search for top talent gets fierce in India New York Times, December 5, 2006
With the talent pool thin at the top, the net is being cast for more than just overseas executives of Indian origin – a category referred to as boomerang professionals – but also for Americans and Europeans with an India connection…

Richard Shaw Brown and the Misunderstood – December 7, 2006
Interesting website and bio of Thai resident Richard Shaw Brown and the 1960s band the Misunderstood.


A380 Airbus in Bangkok – December 5, 2006
Pascal writes: We just returned from the new airport, and got a few good shots of the A380 Airbus, which is visiting Bangkok for three days.
Tom also has photos from the A380 visit here.


Fiji army chief wants Thailand style coup: NZ PM – Fijilive.com, December 4, 2006
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says Fiji’s army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama may be leaning towards a Thailand style coup, which had been endorsed by the king…


Thailand prepares for ultra-efficient cars – UPI, December 4, 2006
Six leading Japanese auto manufacturers have expressed interest in investing in manufacturing ultra-fuel-efficient cars in Thailand…


An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Thailand The Nation, December 5, 2006
…About a month ago, the scheduled speaker at the SEAWrite Awards, Nobel Prize Winner Woye Soyinka, abruptly cancelled his appearance.  His reason was that he wanted to protest the fact that Thailand was no longer a democracy.  I was asked to speak in his place.
In my speech, I expressed outrage that an outsider would dare to posture about protecting my freedom when I was in fact, perfectly free.  I vigorously defended the recent politics of this country, and I stated that, “I am proud to stand here, in front of my prince, my peers, and my compatriots, and tell the world that right here, in this place and time, I have never felt more free.”
…Unlike what many international papers have reported, not one note of my opera was cut.  The full integrity of my work as conceived by me and as staged by Hans Nieuwenhuis was preserved.
Even though I signed the document, other attempts were made to silence the production, including claims by the TCC that a secretary had mistyped the Royal Agenda leaving out the scene and that it was now too late to put it in, and an anonymous “poison pen” fax that was sent to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindorn’s office which urged Her Royal Highness not to preside over the event because its text was “obscene”.  This sort of dirty, underhanded sabotage has always been typical of the way things are done in this country and is certainly not the fault of the current administration…


Iranian envoy blasts West in Thai speech: Bangkok Post Islamic Republic News Agency, December 5, 2006
Iranian Ambassador to Thailand Mohsen Pakaeen blasted the United States, the West and Israel in a speech before a gathering of Muslim Shias in Bangkok on Sunday…


His Majesty’s Full Birthday Speech The Nation, December 5, 2006
…Back in 1995, I sent out a Royal guard to check out a seaside flood station one night and he reportedly found the floodgate keeper sleeping while the tide was rising. The man said he was not aware of the timing of low and high tides but just followed his superiors’ orders on when to close or open the floodgate. This explained how a high sea tide could then cause the canal linked to the floodgate to overflow and thus flood part of Bangkok…


Pyramids were built with concrete rather than rocks, scientists claim Times Online, December 1, 2006


Experimental bar in Thailand aims to provide safe refuge for sex workersChannel NewsAsia, December 1, 2006
Commercial sex workers in Thailand account for a high number of AIDS cases in the kingdom. To improve their lives, a non-profit organisation has set up an innovative self-help programme in Chiang Mai…


Thai AIDS vaccine trials hope for breakthrough in three years – TNA, December 2, 2006
…Only half get the genuine jab while the rest get a placebo. If fewer in the vaccinated group get HIV, it will be champagne all round…


Young people with HIV/AIDS in Bangkok highest in Thailand, on the rise – TNA, December 1, 2006
…According to surveys from 2004 to 2006, young people aged between 15-24 years old had little knowledge on HIV protection and the rate of condom use remained low.
…There have been 15,174 infections reported this year with an average of 40 new cases daily–or almost two persons per minute on average…

The last moments of photographer gunned down by Burmese troops as nine die

•September 11, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The last moments of photographer gunned down by Burmese troops as nine die

These are the shocking images from Burma of a Japanese journalists as he lay dying after soldiers opened fire on thousands of anti-government protesters.
Kenji Nagai held his camera above his head to continue taking photos even as a soldier pointed a gun at his chest.

He was one of at least nine people who were killed when troops opened fire after ordering the protesters to move on. Another 11 were reported injured.

Scroll down for more…

Kenji NagaiKenji Nagai of APF news agency tries to continue taking photographs as he lies fatally injured
Kenji NagaiKenjit, 52, was shot by soldiers as they charged the anti-government protesters
RangoonThe Japanese journalist collapses dying as the armed police continue to charge on the crowd

Enlarge the image

The military regime had announced a 10-minute deadline for protesters to clear the centre of Rangoon – or be shot.

As the ultimatum expired, troops carried out the threat – firing automatic rounds straight into the crowds of red-robed monks and civilians.

The 52-year-old Japanese photographer was working for APF news agency and had been covering the protests since Tuesday.

The U.N. later said the Burmese government has agreed to receive U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari.

The bloodshed followed escalating fury by the Burmese junta at the nine days of peaceful protests by about 70,000 monks and pro-democracy supporters.

Tear gas and warning shots were first fired repeatedly over the heads of a crowd near the Sule pagoda.

But the demonstrators became more bold, with groups chanting “Give us freedom, give us freedom!” as soldiers fanned out across the Rangoon streets.

The reaction from around the world was of horror.

Scroll down for more…

BurmaProtesters run for their lives today in Rangoon
RangoonThe protesters’ sandles are scattered on the street today after soldiers fired warning shots into the crowd

The European Parliament immediately passed an emergency motion calling for restraint.

It is the 10th day of the largest challenge to the junta since a pro-democracy uprising was brutally suppressed in 1988 and up to 3,000 people were killed.

The Burmese government admitted one man was killed in Rangoon but dissidents claimed there were at least eight deaths in the past few days.

Soldiers mounted early morning raids on Buddhist monasteries, beating and arresting more than 100 monks.

A monk at Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery in a Rangoon suburb pointed to bloodstains on the concrete floor. He said several of his fellows were beaten and at least 100 of its 150 monks taken away in vehicles.

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Burma The army intensified the crackdown today in downtown Rangoon, telling protesters they had 10 minutes to go home or be shot
Burma riot policeRiot police arrive at the scene of a crowd of thousands protesting at Rangoon’s city centre today

“Soldiers slammed the monastery gate with the car, breaking the lock and forcing it into the monastery,” said the monk, who did not give his name for fear of reprisals.

“They smashed the doors down, broke windows and furniture. When monks resisted, they shot at the monks and used tear gas and beat up the monks and dragged them into trucks.”

MonkHelpless: a novice monk watches troops charge at monks outside the Shwedagon pagoda in Rangoon

Police barricades have been set up around the Shwedagon pagoda and Rangoon city hall, two of the focal points for the demonstrations.

In Mandalay, 430 miles north, five army trucks with soldiers and three fire trucks drove into the Mahamuni pagoda, where hundreds of monks were locked inside by security forces. Another 60 soldiers blocked the road from the centre of the city.

Yesterday, security forces arrested Myint Thein, the spokesman for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, family members said. An executive of her National League for Democracy, Hla Pe, was also arrested, according to exiled league member Ko Maung Maung.

An Asian diplomat today confirmed that Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi remained at her Rangoon home and had not been imprisoned.

Rumours had circulated that she had been taken to the notorious Insein prison.

The protests were sparked by high fuel prices but have been inflamed by pent-up opposition to harsh military rule and poverty.

Protesters want more democratic freedoms, the release of political activists and economic reforms.

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Monks in RangoonMonks pray at a police block in downtown Rangoon yesterday

Gordon Brown warned: “The whole world is now watching Burma and its illegitimate and repressive regime should know that the whole world is going to hold it to account. The age of impunity in neglecting and overriding human rights is over.

“I think the international pressure that can be made to be felt in the next few days is incredibly important. I want to see the whole of the world getting together on this, each continent of the world can come together.”

Burma had one of the worst human rights records in the world, Mr Brown said – a country of just 20 million people with 1,000 political prisoners and 500,000 political refugees, poets and journalists tortured for speaking out.

He said: “Through their dignified but resolute protests, the Burmese people are reminding the world of the decision they made as long ago as 1990 to reject military rule and embrace democracy.

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Monks protesting in BurmaBare-headed, showing immense courage, monks protest through Rangoon knowing the tyrannical regime may massacre them

“They are telling us once again of the failure of the Burmese regime to respond to the need for change. I am appalled by the violence used by the Burmese authorities to try to suppress the peaceful demonstrations.”

EU leaders made it clear at a meeting yesterday that they would not hesitate to impose expanded sanctions, Mr Brown said.

He finished: “The people of Burma are demonstrating extraordinary bravery in making their voices heard despite the threats and violence they face. The international community must match their commitment in finding a solution to the unacceptable situation in Burma.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said before leaving for New York for a UN Security Council meeting: “It is very important that we continue to maintain this unanimous international call for restraint.”

He said Suu Kyi “will know that the world is on her side and a democratic Burma must be the end result”.

Burma protest in SydneyProtests round the world today: May Htet Thar, aged 3, joins more than 100 protesters calling for an end to the violence in Burma during a rally in Sydney, Australia

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•June 30, 2008 • 1 Comment

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