Archive for the ‘Bangkok’ Category

Thailand’s Crisis; Government Rejects Army Call To Go

November 26, 2008
Thailand’s army chief told the government on Wednesday to step down and call a snap election as a way out of a political crisis threatening to spiral out of control after a gang shot dead an anti-government activist.
.
Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, who has rejected army chief Anupong Pachinda’s call to dissolve parliament, will address the nation on television at around 9 p.m. (1400 GMT), his chief of staff told Reuters.

Somchai returned to Thailand from an Asia-Pacific summit to find tempers flaring across the country and threatening to explode into civil unrest.

A gang of government supporters in the northern city of Chiang Mai shot dead an anti-government activist on Wednesday, the first serious violence outside Bangkok.

By Nopporn Wong-Anan, Reuters
Wednesday, November 26, 2008; 9:39 AM

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content
/article/2008/11/26/AR2008112600470.html?hpi
d=topnews

Thailand’s Thaksin Divorces for “Economic, Political” Reasons

November 15, 2008

Thailand‘s ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife have divorced after 32 years of marriage, his spokesman said Saturday.

Thai newspapers reported that Thaksin, who was in power from 2001 until he was toppled in a 2006 coup, finalised the separation from his wife Pojaman at the Thai consulate in Hong Kong on Friday.

The couple have been living in exile since August to avoid jail sentences in their homeland and last week had their British visas cancelled, leaving them searching for a new refuge.

 By Anusak Konglang, AFP

In this July 31, 2008 file photo, ousted Prime Minister Thaksin ... 
In this July 31, 2008 file photo, ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand and his wife Pojaman, left, arrive at criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand. Thaksin and Pojaman, who married in 1976, divorced at the Thai Consul General Office in Hong Kong on Friday, the English-language Nation and Bangkok Post newspapers reported.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, File)

“I have had it confirmed by a credible person in his team that Thaksin and Pojaman have divorced. But I have no details,” Thaksin’s personal spokesman Phongthep Thepkanjana told AFP.

There was no immediate comment from the Thai consulate or from Hong Kong authorities.

Telecoms billionaire Thaksin announced the divorce at a dinner of MPs from Thailand’s ruling People Power Party in Hong Kong on Friday night, the Bangkok Post reported.

The cause of the divorce was not immediately clear, but Thai sources and media reports said it was more likely to be for legal or financial reasons than personal ones.

A source close to Thaksin’s family in Thailand confirmed the report but said that it would be a “divorce on paper” for practical or economic reasons.

“Thaksin and his wife remain very close and they are even closer since their problems began in Thailand,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081115/wl_asia_afp/thailand
politicsthaksindivorce_081115082521

Thailand to burn thousands of melamine-tainted products

November 9, 2008

Thailand’s health ministry plans to burn tens of thousands of food products tainted with the toxic chemical melamine, the English-language Nation newspaper reported Sunday.

More than 13,000 boxes of powdered milk and 19,824 unspecified snacks containing high levels of melamine would be torched on Monday in Ayutthaya province, it said, quoting the Food and Drug Administration secretary-general.

Melamine, an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of plastics, has been blamed for killing four babies in China and leaving more than 53,000 others sick after making its way into the food chain.

Thai authorities have so far pulled biscuits, cheese crackers, chocolate and condensed milk from Malaysia and China off the shelves after detecting high levels of the chemical.

–AFP

Graphic fact file on the melamine poisoning scandal in China. ...

Thailand: Britain Revokes Visa of Former PM Thaksin

November 8, 2008

Britain has revoked the visas of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Thailand‘s foreign ministry told AFP Saturday, after they fled to the UK to escape corruption allegations.

The ministry confirmed the entry ban after an airline official said the British Embassy in Bangkok had emailed all airlines informing them not to allow the couple to board flights to Britain.

AFP

“We have received confirmation from the British authorities that they have revoked former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife’s visas, but they did not give any explanation,” deputy foreign ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdee told AFP.

Thaksin, ousted in a 2006 coup, fled to Britain in early August after his wife was convicted on tax evasion charges, saying he would not receive a fair trial in Thailand.

Thailand's deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (R) ... 
Thailand’s deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (R) and his wife Pojaman (L). Britain has revoked the visas of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Thailand’s foreign ministry told AFP Saturday, after they fled to the UK to escape corruption allegations.(AFP/File/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

He has since been sentenced in absentia to two years in prison for conflict of interest after helping his wife buy state-owned land when he was prime minister. Four other corruption cases are outstanding against him.

His exact whereabouts on Saturday were unknown, but local media reported he was travelling from China to the Philippines.

Embassy officials have refused to comment, but in the email to airlines, seen by AFP, Bangkok-based immigration liaison manager Andy Gray, from the UK Border Agency wrote:

“The United Kingdom Border Agency has revoked the UK visas held by the following Thai nationals: Thaksin ShinawatraPotjaman Shinawatra,” listing the pair’s passport numbers.

“The UK visas contained in the passports of the individuals listed above are no longer valid for travel. Airlines are advised not to carry these passengers to the UK,” the email said.

Thaksin’s Thailand-based spokesman said he could not confirm the ban.

“What I can verify is that Thaksin has not received any document from the British authorities concerning this issue…. But if it’s true Thaksin can clarify the matter,” said Phonthep Thepkanjana.

In October a British Home Office spokesman said Thaksin and his wife had applied for political asylum, but people close to Thaksin were later quoted in Thai media as saying that report was incorrect.

Thaksin’s critics in Thailand, supported by a group called the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), have occupied the grounds of the prime minister’s offices since August, accusing the current government of running the country on his behalf.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081108/wl_afp/thailand
britainpoliticsthaksin_081108174902

Thailand: Thaksin phones up Bangkok rally

November 2, 2008

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has given an emotional address by phone to tens of thousands of supporters at a rally in Bangkok.

BBC

The rally was aimed at demonstrating the continuing popularity of Mr Thaksin, who has been living in exile since August after a court verdict.

He was convicted in absentia of breaking conflict of interest rules.

Supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra supporters shout slogans during ... 
Supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra supporters shout slogans during a rally at Bangkok’s Rajamanangala Stadium. The former Thai premier denounced his opponents in a telephone address to 90,000 loyal supporters that were packed into a sports stadium.(AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

Mr Thaksin accused his opponents of destroying democracy in order to keep him out of power.

Saturday’s rally was a well organised show of strength by the Thaksin camp, reminiscent of the slick campaigns that helped the former prime minister win three successive elections, the BBC’s Jonathan Head reports from the rally.

The aim, said the organisers, was to demonstrate popular support for the Thaksin-inspired government, at a time when it is under pressure to step down from the People’s Alliance for Democracy protest movement, which has been occupying the prime minister’s office since August.

‘Miss you all’

Dressed in a sea of red shirts, to distinguish them from their yellow-shirted opponents, many had travelled long distances to the rally from the north and north-east, where the government has its strongest following, but there were many from Bangkok as well.

Read the rest and see the video:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7704486.stm

Calm returns to Bangkok after bloody rioting

October 8, 2008

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Soldiers stood guard on street corners Wednesday as an uneasy calm returned to Bangkok a day after fierce clashes between anti-government protesters and police left at least two killed and more than 400 injured.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat sought to reassure foreign diplomats about the country’s deepening political crisis, telling them “my government is still able to run the country,” he told reporters afterward. He justified the use of tear gas against protesters as the “international standard” for restoring civil order.

There was no sign of renewed street clashes Wednesday between police and urban-based protesters who want sweeping electoral changes to prevent what they say are corrupt politicians exploiting the rural majority to take power. But Thailand‘s heated political crisis was far from over.

Troops armed with batons and helmets were stationed at the Bangkok police headquarters near Parliament. A day earlier, anti-government protesters barricaded the building and trapped lawmakers inside for several hours as police outside fired countless volleys of tear gas trying to clear the area.

“We will continue to fight until Somchai resigns,” one of the protest leaders Pipop Thongchai told reporters. “He has lost the credibility to run the country, he has to take responsibility for the dead and injured.”

Read the rest:
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/10/08/
thailand.political.unrest.ap/index.html

Thailand Pledges to Export Rice at “Reasonable Cost”

April 16, 2008

BANGKOK, April 16 (TNA) – Thailand is committed to exporting over nine million tonnes of rice to the world market at an appropriate price, the Samak government reaffirmed Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Mingkwan Saengsuwan said Thailand is able to export more than 9 million tonnes of rice this year “at a reasonable price.”  He pledged that the country will not take unfair advantage of the impending global food shortage by hiking the export price of rice.

According to Mr. Mingkwan, the Director-General of the Foreign Trade Department and representatives of six Thai rice exporting companies are on their way to Hong Kong and Macau to evaluate the actual market demands and to reassure international buyers that they can buy rice from Thailand according to the country’s actual output.

In addition to exports, Mr. Mingkwan said the domestic demands will be adequately met with the provisioning of 2.1 million tonnes between the present and the target date when the annual harvest is due in the market. Therefore, he affirmed, the Thai public has no need to hoard rice.

Between April to June, a further 6.5 million tonnes of paddy from the country’s second round of harvest are expected in the market.

Mr. Mingkwan claims that with the surge in rice prices, the grassroots economy is receiving a big boost, as reflected in the spike of sale figures for motorcycles and electric appliances. (TNA)

Thaksin Says Thailand Should Cut Interest Rates, Boost Spending

March 11, 2008

By Nipa Piboontanasawat and Haslinda Amin

March 11 (Bloomberg) — Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted as premier and banned from politics, said Thailand’s newly elected government must repair economic damage to the country caused by the military coup that unseated him in 2006.
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra greets journalists ... 
Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra greets journalists as he arrives at his family-funded foundation headquarters in Bangkok March 11, 2008. Thaksin insisted in an interview with foreign correspondents he would not return to politics.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

“We have to bring back confidence to Thailand after the coup,” Thaksin said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “It’s quite difficult, but the government has to try harder.”

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=abiedzYLAl4g

Thailand: “Haven for Criminals”

March 9, 2008

The Bangkok Post
March 9, 2008

By Wassayos Ngamkham

A comprehensive network of communications, transport facilities and hospitality have made Thailand a sanctuary for the world’s criminals and other fugitives, said police.

Panaspong Sirawongse, the head of Interpol’s Liaison Office Bangkok, said foreign criminals pick Thailand as a hide-out or a venue to negotiate illegal deals apparently because the country is a hub of communications and transport.

Also, Thailand is a world tourist destination where fugitives from crime can easily slip in and mingle with foreign tourists, he said.

“I believe they chose us because it is convenient for them to make contacts here,” Pol Col Panaspong said.

He referred to the latest arrest involving Russian Viktor Bout, 41, dubbed the ”Merchant of Death”, on Thursday at a Bangkok hotel. The fugitive was wanted by the US Drug Enforcement Administration for allegedly selling arms to terrorists.

Police escort international arms dealer Viktor Bout as he arrives ...
Police escort international arms dealer Viktor Bout as he arrives at the Bangkok Criminal Court March 8, 2008. Bout, dubbed the “Merchant of Death” of the clandestine arms trade and who was arrested in a U.S. sting operation in Thailand, has told police he was in Bangkok for a holiday and not to transact any weapons business, a police officer said on Saturday.
REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Before that, Thailand was also in the spotlight for the much-publicised arrest of Nurjaman Riduan bin Isomuddin, better known as Hambali, in Ayutthaya in 2003. Hambali was suspected of being Southeast Asian terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)’s operations chief and the architect of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

His capture, according to a recent US report on terrorism, suggested that Thailand was a transit point for regional terrorists.

Following Hambali’s arrest, a number of other wanted fugitive criminals have been apprehended in the kingdom. They include Christopher Paul Neil, 32, who was arrested days after Interpol issued an unprecedented worldwide public appeal for help in identifying the suspected paedophile.

In mid-February, Morgan Michelle Hoke, 21, known as the ”ponytail bandit”, was arrested at a guesthouse in the Bang Lamphu area. She was wanted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a series of armed bank robberies.

Crime Suppression Division (CSD) deputy chief Petcharat Saengchai agreed with Pol Col Panaspong that communications and transport facilities are among the factors criminals consider before they choose to flee to Thailand.

Pol Col Petcharat, the head of the task force involved in the arrest of Mr Bout, is chief of a new crime suppression division which has been specially set up to tackle international crimes.

He said Thai people’s friendliness and hospitality are also a drawcard.

“Thailand is their heaven. Thai people are also friendly so the criminals like Thailand, especially Bangkok, which is a large and complex city. It is an ideal hideout, even for local criminals,” he said.

CSD commander Pongpat Chayaphan agreed that the character traits of local people can be a double-edged sword.

“Thai people are kind and friendly. So the criminals feel at ease here,” he said.

Human Rights: Doctors in Thailand Sterilize Without Consent

February 6, 2008

The Nation
February 6, 2008

BANGKOK, THAILAND: Many physically disabled women have lost their chance to become mothers as, without their knowledge or even permission, they were subjected to sterilisation.

“Some of them don’t even know when it happened,” Nattaya Boonpakdee said Tuesday (5 Feb). “These women found out the harsh reality only after they visited doctors to check why they were not becoming pregnant after being married for a long time.”

Nattaya heads the Thai Health Promotion Foundation’s sexual health promotion division.

“We have to end this problem,” Nattaya said, referring to the fact that many disabled women were sterilised against their will.

Read the rest:
http://www.mysinchew.com/node/6697?tid=4