Archive for the ‘Bangkok’ Category

CNN Gets To The Truth: Thailand Admits Abuse of Refugees

February 14, 2009

CNN has doggedly chased this humanitarian issue: Thailand violating refugees who land from the sea.  Now Thailamd’s Prime Minister has admited to the abuse….

From My SinChew

After being in a state of denial for weeks, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has finally admitted to international media that Thai authorities pushed Rohingya boat people back out to sea and abandoned them.

In an exclusive interview with CNN on Thursday (12 Feb), Abhisit said there was reason to believe some incidents had occurred.

“It’s not exactly clear whose handiwork it is,” he said. “All the authorities say it’s not their policy, though I have reason to believe some instances did happen, but if I can find evidence as to who exactly did this, I will certainly bring them to account.”

Panitan Wattanayagorn, deputy secretary to the prime minister, earlier said the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) had been assigned to integrate all security regarding migrants along the West Coast.

Colonel Manat Kongpan, commander of Isoc’s Fourth Region, Friday (13 Feb) told reporters the military had not committed any such inhumane acts towards the boat people.

“Thais should not pay attention to such crazy news reports. If anyone had died, there’d be bodies,” he said. “The media are simply quoting those wanting to attack Thailand.”

The Navy arrested nearly 1,000 Rohingya boat people in Dec and Jan. They were shifted to the strategic military island of Koh Sai Daeng before being towed back out to sea and abandoned.

Abhisit said that “at times” there had been “a lot of pressure in terms of the numbers of these people coming in”.

The government believes the boat people to be normal economic migrants and is trying to persuade other countries to help tackle the problem.

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Bangkok Club Fire On New Year’s Reveals “Host Of Safety Violations” in “Shady Entertainment World”

January 27, 2009

The lead singer of a band called Burn has been charged with starting a Bangkok nightclub fire that killed 65 partygoers on new year’s eve by launching fireworks from the stage.

By Thomas Bell in Bangkok
Telegraph (UK)

The tragedy in the crowded Santika nightclub exposed the dismal safety standards of Bangkok’s shady entertainment scene. An official inquiry into the incident found a catalogue of safety failures and that the nightclub was part-owned by a senior police officer who allegedly protected it from official scrutiny.

Shortly after midnight a blaze engulfed the crowded building with around 1000 people trapped inside and only one marked exit. The fire killed 65 people and injured more than 200 others, including 4 Britons.

“Eyewitnesses and evidence points to fireworks as the cause of the fire at Santika pub, because the fireworks hit the club ceiling and the fire broke out 30 seconds after the fireworks were lit,” said General Jongrak Jutanont, deputy national police chief on Tuesday.

He said police had arrested Saravuth Ariya, 28, the lead singer of Burn.

“He was seen carrying fireworks into the pub and lighting them during the countdown,” said Gen Jongrak.

Mr Saravuth is the sixth person to be charged in connection with the fire. The others – all owners and managers of the club – have been charged with causing death by negligence and admitting under age drinkers.

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Band, Nightclub In Rhode Island Kills 100 With Pyrotechnics

From the Boston Globe in 2003….

Thailand Makes Arrest For “Insulting” Royal Family, Cracks Down on Internet, Free Speech

January 20, 2009

Harry Nicolaides wrote a book four years ago that only sold four copies.  In it, buried, was a slight insilt to the Royal Family of Thailand.

Nicolaides, an Australian, is now under arrest and in jail in Thailand and the government is cracking down on free speech everywhere including on the Internet…..

“Truth is stranger than fiction,” he said. “It’s been an ordeal for months. It feels like a bad dream.”

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok. ... 
Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok. A jail term handed down to an Australian for insulting Thailand’s royals is a “serious violation” of free expression and part of a worrying increase in such cases, a media rights watchdog said.(AFP/File/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)


By Tim Johnston in Bangkok
The Financial Times

An Australian author has been sentenced in Thailand to three years in jail after he pleaded guilty to charges of insulting the country’s royal family.

Harry Nicolaides, 41, fell foul of Thailand’s draconian lèse majesté laws, designed to protect King Bhumibol Aduladej and his family.

Four years ago Mr Nicolaides self-published 50 copies of his novel Verisimilitude , selling only seven. Buried deep within the plot, set in Thailand, was a short passage that portrayed the private life of an unnamed crown prince in unflattering terms.

Harry Nicolaides behind the bars of a Thai holding cell on Monday.

Harry Nicolaides behind the bars of a Thai holding cell on Monday.

He was arrested in August and has spent the past five months on remand in Bangkok. Mr Nicolaides did not contest the charges. In previous cases similar to this the king has pardoned culprits.

Even though Thailand’s revered king has said publicly that he does not need the lèse majesté laws, they have proved too useful to be discarded by opportunistic politicians for whom they serve both as a political tool to prove their loyalty and as a weapon against their opponents.

The king and his family are formally above the country’s partisan politics, but King Bhumibol was dragged into the political debate last year by protesters who besieged government offices and Bangkok’s two airports. The protesters said they aimed to protect the king, while seeking the resignation of the then ruling party.

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From CNN:

Airport Security Worrisome to Officials

December 9, 2008

Protesters stormed the tarmac at one of Britain’s busiest airports, shut down two airports in Thailand and invaded a runway in Athens — and some experts see a worrisome pattern.

In the post 9/11 era, protests at sensitive international airports have become an effective way to rattle nerves and publicize causes.

Airports of Thailand security officers once again patrol the ... 
Airports of Thailand security officers once again patrol the Suvarnabhumi Airport, which anti-government protesters have shut down for nearly a week, after the announcement that the protesters would leave the airport in the morning Tuesday Dec. 2, 2008 in Bangkok Thailand. Thailand’s Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat says he has accepted a court ruling to step down because of electoral fraud committed by his political party.(AP Photo/Ed Wray)

Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International, said there was an “increasing trend for demonstrators to shut down airports.”

Environmental action group Plane Stupid targeted Stansted Airport, northeast of London, in the most recent protest, cutting through its perimeter fence Monday and briefly knocking out Britain’s third-busiest airport.

By RAPHAEL SATTER, Associated Press Writer

Police said Tuesday they had charged 49 people with aggravated trespass — which, at worst, carries a three month sentence.

Last month, a massive group of Thai anti-government protesters invaded Bangkok’s two main airports, leaving more than 300,000 travelers stranded and paralyzed the nation’s tourism industry.

For the protesters, the airport siege ended in triumph: A Thai court last week ordered the dissolution of the ruling People’s Power Party for electoral fraud.

It was too early to tell whether the Thai protest would inspire others elsewhere, but, in Britain at least, activists vowed to keep up the pressure on the country’s airports.

The Stansted demonstrators — speaking to British media during the protests — said they had Heathrow, Europe‘s biggest airport by passenger volume, in their sights.

One industry-watcher said that was no idle threat.

An airplane takes off from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international ...

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Thai opposition readies to form new government

December 7, 2008

Thailand‘s main opposition party called Sunday for an emergency parliament session to prove its majority in a bid to form the next government and end months of political chaos, as loyalists of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra struggled to stay in power.

A new administration should bring some semblance of stability to this Southeast Asian nation, which has been gripped by political uncertainty since August when protesters — driven by a single-minded hatred for Thaksin and his allies — seized the prime minister’s office and later overran the capital’s two airports in a bid to topple government.

By VIJAY JOSHI, Associated Press Writer

Leader of Thailand opposition's Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva ... 
Leader of Thailand opposition’s Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva is seen on April 26, 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Democrat Party said Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008 it has enough support to form a new government following a six-month political crisis that has paralyzed the country.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

The opposition Democrat Party said it will ask the speaker of Parliament on Monday to call an extraordinary session of the lower house so that it can prove it has a majority. Both Thaksin’s allies and the opposition say they have enough support to form a government.

“If the Democrat Party forms the government, I will try to boost confidence and revive the tourism industry and the image of the country,” said 44-year-old party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, a former economics lecturer who will become the next prime minister if his party comes to power.

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The court ruling forcing Thailand's premier from office ... 
The court ruling forcing Thailand’s premier from office ended crippling protests, but analysts say the kingdom’s political problems run deep and will flare up again. (AFPTV)