…Toshiba and Mitsubishi from Japan, Areva from France and General Electric from the US have each contacted the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) about submitting proposals to build a new nuclear plant.
Thailand hopes to have four nuclear plants, each costing at least $1 billion, in operation by 2020-21. Vietnam and Indonesia are expected to have nuclear plants operational by the same time…
Burma’s long-neck women struggle to break out of Thailand’s ‘human zoo’ – The Age, January 11, 2008
[Thanks to Stuart for pointing this out.] …Now 23, her neck is bare, the rings stripped off in anger after provincial authorities in Mae Hong Son, in northern Thailand, refused to let her emigrate to New Zealand, concerned about the negative impact on tourism of an exodus of long-neck women…
Interference mars community radio- Asia Media Forum, January 11, 2008
[This is an interesting article that nevertheless obscures the recent history of community radio. It was the Thaksin governments that refused to create the National Broadcasting Commission and actively battled to shut down community radio stations.]
A tale of two newspapers: Closing community radio III – June 1, 2005
The gulf between the Post and Nation could not be wider. The Nation article invokes the Prem era and the May 1992 revolt while the Post reports paid advertising is the cause of stations "breaching telecom regulations."
Community radio broadcasters and activists yesterday accused the Thaksin government of trying to silence dissident voices by cracking down on the often feisty medium.
Anchalee Paireerak, a high-profile community radio broadcaster based in Bangkok who has been raided by police several times over the past few months, said freedom of expression was facing its gravest threat since the end of the Prem Tinsula-nonda administration in the late 1980s…
Anusorn said the state should understand and respect the fact that the need to safeguard the independence of community radio stations, and keep them free of political and commercial interests, was a result of the May 1992 revolt, when state-controlled radio and television lied to the people.
Democrat MP Apichart Sakdisaet said the government’s claim about community radio signals interfering with flight communications had to be substantiated and supporting publicly.
“It must not be used as a pretext for a hidden agenda,” he said, adding that those stations being prosecuted appeared to be those that were critical of the government.
The Public Relations Department is being urged to revoke a regulation that allows community radio stations to broadcast announcements.
The directive is being pinpointed as the root cause of problems involving community radio stations, several of which are breaching telecom regulations.
It allows community radio stations to air announcements for six minutes an hour. But the regulation also seems to have been misused to air paid advertisements, which explains the sudden boom in community radio stations…
Ms Anchalee said certain politicians and PRD officials have vested interests in the community radio sector.
Supinya Klangnarong, a media reform advocate, called on the government to set up an independent panel to resolve the dispute.
Radio spat only hurts the public – Bangkok Post, May 25, 2005
[Can the Bangkok Post write an editorial about the community radio controversy and not mention the controversy itself? Yes. The Post editorial tries to misrepresent and redefine the controversy. Their explanation of the controversy is that the government "attracted much criticism by its campaign to impose order on community radio stations." The actual charge--widely reported in the Thai and international press over the past three years--is that the government is attempting to close stations that broadcast anti-government views and has delayed setting up the NBC.] …At the heart of the ongoing controversy are the complaints by operators, some members of the Senate and non-government organisations, over the government’s efforts to exert its control over the new airwaves. While their concern is valid, those in the community radio business and media freedom advocates will have to admit the rot which has begun to develop within the local radio communities has provided a logical excuse for state interference.
…It would not be an exaggeration to say the problem has now developed to a point that the new broadcasts have become more of an additional airwave pollution than an alternative source of information to the highly commercialised mainstream radio.
…The government has attracted much criticism by its campaign to impose order on community radio stations. But it can do the public a favour and repair the damage to its reputation by helping identify rogue radio operators and getting rid of those who seek profits under the guise of community radio service providers.
A tale of two newspapers: Closing community radio II- May 21, 2005
The Post article has 15 paragraphs explaining the government’s reason for closing community radio stations before mentioning the allegations that the government targets stations that criticize it. It also adds a police denial that officers attempted to search the station in the TPI building. The Nation mentions the allegations in the second paragraph and restates the charges that police attempted to search the station.
…Pol Maj-Gen Kosin said an official of the Public Relations Department told him the station’s powerful transmitter and high antenna caused interference. He then asked his staff to warn the station "gently".
Pol Maj-Gen Kosin denied his officers harassed anyone. He admitted police had no authority to take the action because the authority rested with the NBC but he said a gentle request for cooperation should be acceptable.
He denied a report that two policemen had tried to search the radio station at the TPI building on Narathiwat Rachanakarin road. However, the Senate committee decided to ask the police force to investigate…
…Radio FM 92.25 accused police of intimidation after two officers attempted to gain entry to the third floor of the TPI building, where the station is located, on Wednesday. Metropolitan Police Bureau 5 commissioner Maj-General Kosin Hinthao, who was accused of ordering Thung Mahamek police to search the TPI building, defended himself to the House committee on social development and human security against the allegation.
…He said police had no intention of intimidating the station, but he had received a complaint from a PRD official that the station was disrupting other frequencies…
Also:Broadcaster plans all-out govt attack – The Nation, May 21, 2005 A community radio station critical of the prime minister has announced plans to retaliate against a government threat to shut it down by broadcasting its anti-government programmes through other community radio stations around the country…
Also: Listen to FM 92.25’s broadcasts
A tale of two newspapers: Closing community radio
The Post has a just-the-facts article with the government side, saying radio stations were being closed "for causing trouble for air traffic radio" by transmitting at higher power levels than allowed. The FM 92.25 controversy is pushed to the end of the article and reported as a separate incident and a disagreement between presenters. The Nation has an entirely different story about the government closing community radio stations to stifle criticism along with a veiled threat by a "high-ranking police official." The Nation then has quotes from senators who are going to call police before them to explain these actions and gleefully points out that stations owned by Yaowapa Wongsawat, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister, are not being shut down.
The National Telecommunications Commission ordered 17 community radio stations closed yesterday, saying they interfered with other radio stations and air traffic controllers.
Apichart Sakdiset, spokesman of the House committee on telecommunications, quoted the NTC as reporting that it had closed 17 community radio stations for interference. Of the stations, seven frequently interfered with air traffic radio, and the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Co had complained.
…The move came four days after Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Suranand Vejjajiva vowed to crack down on community radio stations for causing trouble for air traffic radio.
…Meanwhile, Smarn Sri-ngarm, a programme host of the FM 92.25 community radio station, complained that two policemen attempted to search the office of the radio station yesterday but security guards stopped them.
He said that no one could stop him from discussing stories in the public interest such as state enterprise privatisation because the public had the right to know.
…Miss Anchalee said a listener told her that Mr Sorayut raised a photograph of the TPI building in his TV programme yesterday morning and indicated that a former journalist who worked at a community radio station there was hired to attack the government.
A community radio station yesterday accused police of intimidation after the two officers tried to search the TPI Building, where the station is located.
…She said police were attempting to put pressure on her team and scare them. Earlier, a high-ranking police official called her to say she should take care of her staff.
"This is not right and not fair,” she said.
Senator Nirand Pithakwatchara, who chairs the House committee on social development and human security, said he would summon Metropolitan Police Bureau 5 commissioner Maj-General Kosin Hinthao, who has jurisdiction over Thung Mahamek police station.
… "The government cannot take action against this station for being critical of the administration. If it’s going to cite those directives, then it has to shut down the other local community stations, which are owned by those with ties to the prime minister," Nirand said.
…Meanwhile, the government was accused of discrimination yesterday for closing seven community radio stations and planning to close another 10, including ones critical of the government. The House communications and telecommunications committee yesterday summoned PM’s Office Minister Suranand Vejjajiva to explain why the seven community radio stations had been shut down.
… The 17 did not include stations belonging to Traffic Corner, owned by the daughter of Yaowapa Wongsawat, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s sister…
Community radio – Bangkok Post, May 8, 2003 And only recently, a compromise seemed at hand. Following grassroots appeals, the Public Relations Department had invited civic leaders to draft temporary measures governing community radio in the absence of relevant organic laws. Their proposal was approved, but the state PR machine then did not table it for cabinet consideration. Instead, it tabled its own draconian version, which places community radio to be under Tambon Administration Organisations.It’s common knowledge that the TAOs are dominated by the local mafia, who go on to become local politicians and canvassers with links to national policymakers. We can foresee how community radio will end up a tool to tighten their grip on power instead of being the voice of the civic sector.
Community radio gets interim frequencies – Bangkok Post, March 31, 2003
COMMUNITY RADIO GIFT: TRT ‘plans to rule airwaves’ – The Nation, December 20, 2002
This is the latest in an interesting and long-running story.
Unlicensed community radio stations will be shut down, Post: No broadcasters could operate legally without a licence from the National Broadcasting Commission, which was yet to be established, Mr Visanu said… The constitution guarantees freedom of the media and specifically frees the airwaves for public use, but two bureaucratic agencies must be established first. The National Broadcasting Commission would decide who can broadcast and the National Telecommunications Commission would distribute frequencies.
Broadcasters fight govt bids to silence them – The Nation, October 11, 2002 The gathering included operators of some 50 stations that currently broadcast to listeners in their own communities – in spite of government legal threats.
Here’s an earlier, more in-depth article: MEDIA-THAILAND: Struggle for Airwaves Still On – The Irrawaddy, June 19, 2002
Some stations broadcast to as few as 100 homes, although the government is trying to stop this. Initially the government supported these small-scale broadcasts: People began to use the community slots to air grievances about local services and government policies on live phone-in shows, often forcing officials to answer embarrassing questions and respond to the issues raised… The government started to get uneasy about this trend and began curtailing community involvement at its stations, eventually resulting in the PRD calling off the project in mid-2000…. On the one hand, the constitution protects their rights to run community stations, but on the other the government, which owns and controls the nation’s 500 radio frequencies, had cut off what seemed their only access to the airwaves. An excellent read…
New requirements for marriage visas- January 10, 2008
Don reports: (We) paid our annual visit to Immigration this morning, to renew my annual visa. There is a new requirement now: We must submit four (4) photos of our residence, with both of us in all four photos. One photo must be of us standing outside the building, with it in the background. The other three must be of us in different locations inside the residence. No mention was made of photo size, but the samples on the desk were rather large. Today is Thursday; I have four days, until next Monday, to submit the photos or else the visa-extension request will be canceled. We saw several people coming in dropping off photos with the officials and wondered what that was all about until the officer explained it to us. So be warned…
Also, we had to draw a map to out place. I believe that was another first.
…The executive said the fire damaged foil covering the aluminium sheeting on the building’s exterior, as well as damaging some sheeting and windows, but there was no damage to the interior or any structure…
…Contemporary observers also pointed out that the change of name was not simply a rejection of a name that had been imposed by foreigners, it was at the same time a preparation for the Thai to assume a leading role among all Thai peoples.
The former British ambassador Sir Josiah Crosby also clearly identified the underlying reason why Phibun’s government decided to change the word Siam to Thailand. Crosby stated: ”The fact that the official change of nomenclature should have been made in coincidence with the launching of the Pan-Thai movement may be interpreted not unfairly as the indication of a desire to familiarise outsiders with the claim of Siam to be regarded as the mother-country of all peoples of Thai race.”
Typical for the thinking of the 1930s and early ’40s, it did not occur to the proponents of a larger united land of all Thai peoples to ask themselves whether or not the peoples speaking related languages were interested in joining such a new venture, nor whether they were willing to accept Bangkok’s rule.
Nevertheless, a growing number of Thais could be forgiven for dreaming of a much larger country, one including northern Burma, parts of southern China, Laos, large parts of Indochina and major extensions on the Malay Peninsula.
The dream of more than doubling their territory, at first a murmur with the weakening of the colonial powers and China, became a distinct possibility, a scenario whereby a subtle, clever leadership should be quick to act when opportunity would present itself.
Premier Phibun was just the man for this difficult task, a master at playing off _ telling the British the Thais would remain neutral at all costs while at the same time secretly manoeuvring towards a pact with the Japanese.
…Should a Thai government ever wish to indicate the beginning of a new era, it could hardly find a more effective symbol than a re-investiture of the old name.
Police keep guard over Thaksin, wife – Bangkok Post, January 9, 2008 …For quite a while now, Pol Lt-Col Wathunyu has been seen following Mr Thaksin and his wife Khunying Potjaman everywhere they go, including in London. He was with her when she returned to Bangkok from Hong Kong yesterday.
It is not widely realised that Mr Thaksin has had state-paid bodyguards accompanying him over the 15 months of his self-exile…
Left: Tourist warning sign near MBK – January 9, 2008
The Scam One of the most pervasive scams in Thailand is the Thai gem scam. Typically, a tourist meets a friendly Thai at a tourist attraction who eventually offers to take them to a “government” gem stone shop where the tourist is told about how they can sell Thai “blue sapphires” or other gems back home and make a 100% profit. It is all lies, of course, and the tourist ends up with a pocket full of overpriced gems. Like Thais themselves, the scam is low-key and the touts are friendly rather than pushy. A rule of thumb for Thais is that “real” Thais do not just walk up to strangers and strike up a friendly conversation. Thais typically “speak when spoken to.” If you are approached at a tourist attraction by a friendly fellow who just walks up and starts speaking to you, watch out!
Too many otherwise wonderful vacations have been ruined by this scam, so watch out. 2B has followed this scam online for over a decade and make no mistake–the authorities have done little to stop it. No official ever dares mention the "protected" gold shops that actually run the scams (UPDATE: Gold stores were finally mentioned in a Tourist Police brochure circa January, 2004). One of the tuk tuk drivers who takes victims to be scammed operates in front of the Tourist Information Centre and the local Police Station on Khao Sarn Road.
The funny thing is that over the years the reports are from the same locations–only the names of the stores change. Officials claim that just changing the name of the shop prevents them from doing anything to stop the scam. See our Family Tree of Corrupt Shops. As one shop owner bragged to some cheated tourists: "I’ll reopen again, just like I have for 20 years!"
How the scam works
This is a by-the-numbers scam. Most people have the exact same experience. It goes something like this:
1. You are riding in a tuk-tuk
2. The driver tells you that wherever you are going is closed for some reason.
3. The driver tells you he is specially trained to be helpful to tourists.
4. You are told the government has launched a promotion to sell gems to tourists.
5. In the course of riding around with the “friendly” tuk-tuk driver, you "accidentally" meet a well-dressed young man, an older, distinguished man, or even another tourist.
6. The younger man claims he is a student. The older will claim he works for the government and shows you his government ID. (Thai IDs mean nothing. They are readily available for a small fee to anyone.) The tourist will tell you he fianacnes his trips to Thailand by buy gems and bringing them back home for resale.
7. This person you meet will "independently" confirm the story the tuk-tuk driver told.
8. Eventually you ask to be taken to the “government” jewelry house and are told that you can make 100-150% profit by reselling the gems back home. It seems okay since the seller writes something like “if everything is not ok we will offer a full refund” and puts an official looking stamp on it.
9. You’ve now been cheated by one of the oldest and most openly practiced scams in Thailand.
Note: There are actually newer scam reports than those below, but we receive so many and they are all basically the same story at the same shops. We
can just let these reports stand as representative of what is still going on…
…He said the group members, some of whom he claimed were off-duty policemen, normally preyed on tourists at popular spots like the Grand Palace, Siam Square, Central World, Pratunam, Wat Pho and Khaosan Road.
A spokesman of the Thai Tourist Police said the number of reports of such scam had dropped in recent years, and added that most of the victims were from France, Australia, Israel, as well as Japan, Singapore and Malaysia…
Thai Gem Scam simulation – The Real Hustle, May, 2008
[Thanks to Jaymes for pointing this out.]
Interesting simulation of the Thai gem scam that gets several key points wrong – the gems are not fake, the scam is recommended "randomly" by two independent sources, and the gems are sold from a "legitimate" shop, not an outdoor kiosk.
Scam report- March 27, 2008
From a reader: I just finished browsing your web site and could not help crying over the scam I just went through this afternoon. The incident is exactly same as what most of people described on your web site, involving friendly thai in front of Grand Royal Palace telling me the palace is closed, best bargain price with 40Bah with Tutu driver, and the worst foreigner claimed himself coming from Belgium. I purchased Blue Sapphire and Red Ruby bracelets with about 135,000 Bah and don’t even want to imagine how much they are really worth. I bought them really for personally usage, although the “Belgium” guy claimed those jewelry can be resold with double price. With a bit of suspicion, I search for “Golden Argosy Factory Export Center” and found out about the Gem scams on your web site. I am calling credit card company and Thai tourist police but none of them seem to be interested in helping me to get my refund. I am wondering if you have heard any news that the refund can be made 100%. If you do, please let me know. Thank you very much for posting those scams on the web site. Without your web site, I might think I bought those jewelry at decent price. Gosh, I don’t even want to admit how stupid I am to fall into this trap. Thanks for your kind attention to my email.
Scam report- March 15, 2008
From a reader: My husband and I were recently scammed by Leela Lapidary in Pranakorn. We would like our money to be returned. Thank you in advance for any assistance you can offer.
On 1 January 2008 around 11:00 am, my husband and I arrived at the Grand Palace. We were told by a man at the entrance that the palace was full and would not allow more people in until 1:00 pm. He recommended that we visit Wat Benchamabophit and Wat Saket, as well as a place he called “Thai Center,” which we thought must be a cultural center. Refer to the map attached where he wrote this information. He called over a tuk-tuk driver and arranged the fare for us. At one of the wats a very friendly Thai man approached us. He told us that it was a good investment to buy gemstones in Thailand, that they would bring us luck, and indicated that the “Thai Center” had very good prices.
The tuk-tuk driver took us to the “Thai Center,” which turned out to be the jewelry store Leela Lapidary (address: 589 Prasumeru Road, Wat Borwornives, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200. Tel: 2629-4513-16.) My husband was lured into buying a sapphire ring by the saleswoman who kept insisting that the rings were such high quality, we would save on taxes, all the Thai people shopped here because of the good wholesale values, etc. He paid 153,300 bhat for a ring that was only worth 85,533 according to Mr. James Corbett, a registered gemologist in Australia. (Refer to the receipt from Leela Lapidary and the valuation/appraisal from Mr. Corbett. Note that the valuation shows Australian dollars. I have written in US dollars.)
We began to realize that we might have fallen in prey of the scam group only on our return to Australia the following day. We would like to inform you about the crooked sales tactics of this shop and ask for your help in getting our money back (preferably in US dollars). Unfortunately, this ruined our wonderful holiday in Thailand.
We will be returning to Thailand on March 26 for a couple of days. We can bring the ring back at that time. We would prefer not to mail it, but will do so, if instructed.
Accounts of the gem scam What do we mean by "Gem Shop Locations involved in the scam?" – Shops that have been known to use touts at tourist attractions to lure shoppers to their stores with false claims of huge discounts and promises that money can be made by reselling the gems back home. The gems purchased are genuine, but overpriced–sometimes many times their actual retail value.
August 2006 – State of the gem scam during the Thai Rak Thai government years
Since Thai Rak Thai came to power the government has ceased all action against the gem scam and simply announced that the problem was solved.
The reality was that several key shops–Blue Dragon, SSS, and Piyamanee were allowed to remain scamming. Police no longer conducted raids or forced shops to close. Instead, the shops were required to operate under Department of Internal Trade rules that stipulates an 80% refund must be offered to a buyer.
While we have heard statistics of the number of police reports of the scam per year, as far we know police no longer take reports, but send the cheated tourist back to the shop for a refund.
Back When… When we first started following the scam in 1990, it was almost always based around blue sapphires. Many even called the scam the Thai Blue Sapphire scam. The story went that there were lots of cheap sapphires being smuggled in from Burma and Cambodia that foreigners could buy, bring home, and make a fortune. Since then the type of gems mentioned in the scam has become more varied.
Left: Tipnapa Ltd., Part. was the first gem scam shop we investigated in 1992. The shop is long gone, but was located not far from the Vandee shop.
FT interview transcript: Thaksin Shinawatra – Financial Times, March 3, 2008 Amy Kazmin, the FT’s South-East Asia Correspondent, interviewed Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s former prime minister, in Bangkok on Monday, March 3, 2008. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation…
More info: Thaksin censored on TITV- Prachatai, January 9, 2008 …”But this is different. The person that we interviewed is deemed ‘uninterviewable’. He has become a forbidden subject for the media, especially TV. There have been examples of defiant journalists who faced an undesirable fate, like the female Channel 5 reporter or other radio hosts. It is less strict with newspapers. But television is deemed to have more impact on the public…”
A Thai TV news show was blocked from broadcasting an interview with deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which contained reactions to his allies’ victory in last weekend’s election, senior editors said Friday (28 Dec)…
Thaksin’s speech at IISS
class="tr2">- March 3, 2007 2 Mar 07 – Address – Dr
Thaksin Shinawatra – On Friday 2 March 2007 Dr Thaksin Shinawatra,
Former Prime Minister of Thailand, will give an address on “Democracy
at a Crossroads” from 1pm…
The transcript should end up
of Thaksin’s February 13 interview with Australia’s ABC
And you think CNN is the king of softball questions! It is quite
incredible no foreign reporter has been able to ask incisive questions
VATSIKOPOULOS: The coup shattered 15 years of democracy
and although most countries condemned it, Thailand is not an
international pariah today and hasn’t been punished with harsh
sanctions. Are you disappointed that most countries have taken a
THAKSIN: Well I will not happy if my country has been punished, because
of, it’s not really punish the country but punish the whole people of
Thailand. So Thailand need more investment. Thailand need more trade.
Thailand need more tourists. Democracy in Thailand has been developed
from baby to adolescence, to teenagers. It’s growing to be a mature
person. But it’s happened to fall down. When you fall down at that age
you’re strong enough. When you come back you can you can stand back and
you can move forward. You are not turning back to baby again because
you are strong enough. So I think after this year the regime have to
return the power back to the people, because you know Thai people love
democracy, love freedom and liberty. And Thailand has gone too far that
they cannot be returned, that democracy cannot be returned. So
democracy will prevail back in Thailand again.
Media groups slam ‘Time’ magazine – The Nation, February 6, 2007 …Time magazine allowed Thaksin to tell lies. Thaksin has the audacity to say that the Thai press printed "groundless information" about him and that he never "intervened" in Thai media activities or closed them down. Let the truth be told.
Before he came to power, the Thai press was considered one of the freest in the world, ranking 29th in the survey done by Freedom House in 2000. During his reign until September 19, the Thai press fell to a depressing 107th position last year…
…Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will step up his attacks by giving video interviews which will be broadcast through a satellite TV and a website, a well-informed source said Sunday.
The source said the clips of his interview would be broadcast through www.reporter.co.th, known to be owned by his aide, Newin Chidchob.
The interviews would also beamed into the country on BTV to be picked up and relayed by certain local cable TV operators, the source said.
Thaksin rumoured to have rented satellite- The Nation, February 5, 2007
…A former Thai Rak Thai member of Parliament said a group of journalists was gathering information in Thailand to counter accusations levelled against Thaksin. These rebuttals would be broadcast using Chinese cable television.
The party member declined to be named but said the journalists worked for the reporter.co.th website, an instrument once used by former Prime Minister’s Office minister Newin Chidcob, a close Thaksin aide. The website was taken down voluntarily after the September coup…
Thailand: Thaksin’s Giant Shadow- Time, February 1, 2007 …But for all of Thaksin’s repeated protestations that he will bow out of politics, that his family needs him, that his Buddhist beliefs are propelling him to find an inner peace, the atmosphere in his fancy suite is one of expectation, not closure. Thaksin and Thailand are not done with each other yet.
Right after I was ousted by the coup, I had mixed feelings. The negative
feeling was that this was unfortunate for Thailand and its democracy, that
the confidence I tried very hard to restore after the 1997 financial crisis
would be lost. The positive part was, oh, I can retire now, I can have time
for myself, for my family, I can meet friends and relax. Life is not that
long, so if you can bring some happiness to yourself and your family, that’s
good … I’m quite confident that if I ran [for election] today, I would
win, [but] I have no political ambitions. I am calling it quits…
– Bangkok Post, January 28, 2007 …Mr Sirichoke claimed CNN made gains during the Thaksin administration, referring to advertisements of Thailand’s Elite Card on CNN.
Thailand Privilege Card (TPC), operator of the elite card, bought airtime on CNN worth 149 million baht.
The media spending drew attention when Thai Representation Co, representing CNN in Thailand, demanded TPC settle bills.
He said the committee picked up the case for investigation only to find that no contract had been signed.
The panel had called for documents and was later told that the debts were cleared by phuyai.
“Who else can clear [this sum of money] if not Mr Thaksin? The party will follow the matter,” said Mr Sirichoke…
January 24, 2007
Several Thai-language newspapers have picked up information from korbsak.com about lobbying disclosure papers showing the hiring of Barbour Griffith and Rogers to "provide guidance and counsel with regard to Mr. Thaksin’s interests in Washington, DC and abroad."
Another Thaksin interview: "Thaksin: Thailand’s credibility at stake"- Asahi, January 23, 2007
[Thaksin begins openly lobbying his cause...] …Thaksin said the September coup was notable in that it resulted in a populist leader being toppled from power.
This, he said, highly damaged the country’s credibility in the international community…
New UBC blocking screen -
January 23, 2007
UBC is back to blocking Thaksin-related content again today and has replaced the Hollywood movie star montage with a more sedate "Intermission" graphic (right).
Transcript of Thaksin Talk Asia interview- January 23, 2006
Here is the transcript for the Thaksin interview shown in full and initially censored locally.
Transcript of International Correspondents discussing the blocking of the Thaksin interview- January 23, 2006
Here is the transcript for the main segment on International Correspondents, also censored, discussing the junta’s tact in blocking international newscasts domestically. Many sensationally negative comments about Thailand…
Ex-PM Thaksin hires American political lobbyists-
TNA, January 20, 2007 …According to a newspaper report in Hong Kong — the South China Morning Post — Mr. Thaksin met with lobbyists from Barbour Griffith and Rogers (BGR) in Hong Kong last week…
…Will new restrictions on foreign ownership in Thailand lead to panic in the property market, asks Michael Sheridan.
British villa owners in Thailand face uncertainty over the legal status of their properties, and might even lose control over their homes following a controversial change in company law by the country’s military appointed government…
Thailand may still be the Land of Smiles, but it is not a place where investors should place much faith in contracts, lease renewals or bureaucratic consistency.
Thaksin asks for forgiveness: "…we forgive each other, things come back to normal…" – January 20, 2007
Thaksin’s full CNN Talk Asia interview runs uncut on UBC in Thailand at 23:00.
We are not sure if this is a reversal of UBC policy or a lapse in censorship.
It is fascinating how the interviewer has no clue
about which questions to ask and how the international media are unable to key in on the subtext of Thaksin’s very strategic comments.
This interview very clearly shows Thaksin is still a force to be reckoned with and is not bowing out of politics.
UBC to block Thaksin interview- The Nation, January 19, 2007 …CNN will broadcast the full interview on Saturday, but UBC spokeswoman Kantima Kunjara told AFP that they will not air it because of a request by the Council for National Security, as the junta calls itself.
“Since the CNS has asked for cooperation from broadcasting media not to broadcast statements from former prime minister Thaksin, UBC will cooperate and will not broadcast his interview,” Kantima said…
Thailand has asked Japan for cooperation in handling the visit of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to the country Friday and Saturday to avoid a repeat of his recent "high profile" visit to Singapore that soured Thai-Singapore relations…
Commentary: CNS media ‘censorship’ is a big mistake- Bangkok Post, January 16, 2007 Whatever the denial by the Council for National Security (CNS) chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin that he had nothing to do with the UBC pay television’s ”censorship” of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s interview with CNN, the writing on the wall is too obvious to miss.
The CNS request for cooperation from the broadcast media – not to cover any activities of the deposed prime minister – has, apparently, driven the editor of UBC to apply self-censorship so as to avoid what one CNS member said bluntly: ”Use your discretion properly or we impose our own discretion”…
Thailand’s junta has denied they censored a television
interview with ousted Thaksin Shinawatra, a week after they urged
broadcasters not to report statements by the deposed leader.
…One foreign news editor with a state-run television station admitted that
his channel received the feed from CNN, but decided against putting it on
“It’s our own decision not to broadcast it, since we were asked to cooperate
with the CNS last week,” he said.
Junta chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin denied they had ordered Thai media
to block the interview with Thaksin.
“It’s cooperation. Everybody cooperated with us,” he told Channel 3
television station Tuesday morning…
CNN censored- January 15, 2007
Thaksin’s interview from Singapore first ran on CNN International at 22:20. Here is how it appeared to Thai viewers watching the broadcast on local cable operator UBC (above). The story is cut off by the same montage of young Hollywood stars used to block international broadcasts after the coup in September 2006.
CNS finds Thaksin Singapore visit ‘upsetting’ –
TNA, January 15, 2007 Ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s movements overseas –including his latest trip to Singapore– have caused “uneasiness” and the Thai interim government needs to come up with some actions, according to Air Chief Marshal Chalit Phukbhasuk, vice chairman of the Council for National Security (CNS).
Marshal Chalit commented Monday that Mr. Thaksin’s “personal” visit to Singapore from last Saturday, where he sought to meet with the island republic’s deputy prime minister, was “worrisome” and suggested that Thailand must restrict the ex-premier’s movements abroad, coming to an understanding with the countries the deposed prime minister visit…
Deposed Thai PM Thaksin quits politics – lawyer- Reuters, January 10, 2007 …The announcement by lawyer Noppadon Patama came just hours after coup leaders summoned radio and television broadcasters, all of whom have to rent air time from the government, not to carry any statements from Thaksin.
“I want to ask every television channel and every radio station not to broadcast messages or statements of the former prime minister and leaders of the past ruling party,” General Winai Phattiyakul told a gathering of 100 media representatives.
“If they don’t listen, you can kick them out of your station or if you can’t use your judgement, I will use mine to help you run your station,” Winai said…
CNS CENSORSHIP - Strong media protest over Thaksin, TRT ban – The Nation, January 11, 2007 …Supinya Klangnarong, secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Media Reform, said media censorship by the CNS only further emphasised that democracy would not come under military rule.
“It’s all about stifling any opposition,” Supinya said. “The CNS is no different from Thaksin in this regard. Today, it is only messing with broadcast media; there is no guarantee it will not try to control the press tomorrow. It only reinforces that autocratic control, not democracy, is its highest priority.”…
Political developments –
translated and summarized from Thai Rath, January 8, 2008
Political reform in Thailand officially began after the 1997 Constitution came into effect in October of that year. After that constitution was ‘torn up’ in 2006, the Interim Constitution and the subsequent 2007 Constitution came in force. Although general elections have been held on four occasions since 1997, it is highly questionable whether Thai politics has moved forward at all in the past ten years.
If we monitor the behavior of politicians and political parties both before and after the December 23 General Election, we see that Thai politics has not changed in the slightest. All political parties still believe that they will ‘starve’ if they are forced to remain in opposition. As such, this means that they constantly trying to be a part of any government that is formed – regardless of any real benefit to the nation.
One political development has arisen in this election, however. Outdated politicians who formed new political parties before the event, in a bid to be a part of the new government, have largely failed to achieve their goals.
The results of the recent general election have done nothing to usher in political reform.
The 2007 Constitution was conceived to create a clean political system, and to reduce the power and influence of money politics. The participation of the public in the election – and their overall verdict – should be respected, however.
The December 23 General Election also led to another new political trend. People are now being urged to gather at protest meetings to pressure the Electoral Commission (EC) into dismissing provincial EC members who have awarded ‘red’ cards to parliamentary candidates. The future of Thai politics is extremely worrisome.
Elvis film fest- January 8, 2008
The sign reads: Chalermkrung Music House – Elvis’ Movies –
Collection of Presley’s famous films on January 13th 2007
Presented by Jeerasak Pinsuwan, Lek Presley
Manuel Presley, Jareuk Wiriyakit, Jib (Wasu) Sangsingkaew
Arthur Husen, Nong Camp, Satawas Tungkarat
Nong Pro, Paponwee Weeraprawad, House Presley
MC Edward Vanso
Schedule 2 pm –
Ticket price 700/500 baht –
To make reservation call 0-2225-8757-8, 0-2623-8184-9
New town, old idea- Bangkok Post, January 8, 2008 Residents of Nakhon Nayok’s tranquil Ban Na district wonder whether Thaksin’s plans to build a new city there will ever come to fruition…
New City project violates the constitution? – translated and summarized from Manager Daily, August 17, 2004
Premier Thaksin feels that the New City at Ban Nah project is going to violate the constitution which allows the land expropriation only for the public good, but not for commercial deals. He ask Mr Wisanu Kruea-Ngam (the deputy PM) to find the law to get around the constitution.
Six new satellite cities–masterplan done in six months – translated and summarized from Siam Turakij, May 30-June 5, 2004
The Civil Works Dept has designated six provinces around Bangkok to become satellite cities for both Bangkok and the New City at Banna. The masterplan will be done in 10 months.
Thunyaburi is the twin city for the New City of Banna. Civil Work Dept is asking for 50 million baht to deal with the masterplan.
The six cities around Bangkok are: 1) Samut Sakhon – The fishery and agriculture town for many generations
However, it has to transform into food processing industry and the new fishery port connecting with Laem Chabang Deep Sea Port so that it is no longer necessary to distribute the processed seafood to Laem Chabang or other places by trucks. It will also cut down the traffic jam in Rama 9 Bridge – Bangna – Bang Pakong Highway and Sukhumvit Road. Transportation by ship will handle this job. 2) Samut Prakarn – a dense industry town
It has to be transformed into more livable city with much better safety from LPG gas explosions as well as other toxic materials by removing those toxic industries out of municipal areas. The
transportation of products from the factories in Samut Prakarn to NBIA will have to be drastically improved. 3) Nonthaburi – the twin capital with Bangkok
Needs another expansion for the residential area along Rangsit – Pathumthani and Tiwanon road. 4) Pathumthani – industrial/residential town
The area from Klong 1 to Thunyaburi will become a residential area and thus the twin city to support the new city at Banna. 5) Chachongsao – industry and agriculture town with some residential area 6) Nakhon Nayok – Banna District – the new city due to the beautiful environment
Only IT-software industry allowed here.
Traffic Policy Office is going to come up with new electric railway routes to support such major expansions as a new electrified commuter rail network to Nakhon Pathom, Mahachai, Mae Klong with new elevated track across Chaophraya, Thachin and Mae Klong along with a new railway track connecting Maeklong with the Southern railway at Paktho (Ratchaburi).
BTSC Skytrain extension to Samit Prakarn via Bearing and Samrong will be speeded up and the Hopewell revival from Bangsue to Rangsit will be realized as well. Furthermore the new railway tracks from Don Muang to the New City at Banna and from Makkasan to Newcity in Banna via Lad Krabang Chachoengsao and Ongkharak will be started as well.
The ticket price for the new commuter network will be 10 + number of km traveling. Commentary by Wisarut: For such major expansions of mass transit system, the local assembly for EMU, electrified locos and subway rolling stocks as well as upgrading the steel mills to produce steel rails are a few first things to be done– local assembly of signals or so will follow. Otherwise the cost of major expansion will be prohibitively high. [Ed.: Wisarut and other Thai watchers of Thai mass transit often hit home this point--that like other Asian tiger economies, Thailand must locally produce their own rolling stock. However, considering the murky, big money deals with major international suppliers that bring trains here, the incentive is for dealmakers to continue to send Thai baht overseas to Germany, Canada, or Japan for the cars.] More New City news is here-> New City at Ban Nah
New City at Banna–the resolution from the Council of State – translated and summarized from Matichon, June 2, 2004
[Ed.: See the map.]
The Council of State has finished checking the area for the New City in Nakhon Nayok. The land expropriation for the New City in Nakhon Nayok will cover 17 communes (tambons)
1) Kaengkhoi District of Saraburi
1.1) Sam Phakphaew
1.2) Tha Maprang
1.3) Cha Om
1.4) Huay Haeng
2) Muak Lek District of Saraburi
3) Wiharn Daeng District of Saraburi
3.1) Charoen Tham
3.2) Klong Ruea
3.3) Ban Lam
3.4) Nong Suang
3.5) Wiharn Daeng
4) Banna District of Nakhon Nayok
4.1) Khao Phoem
4.2) Sri Kra-ang
4.3) Ban Phrik
4.4) Pa Kha
4.5) Ban Na
4.6) Ban Phtao
4.7) Phikun Auk
After the resolution is published in the Royal Gazette, the surveyors will come to check the 250,000 rai of land in detail for each plot to check which land plots belong to the temples, which land plots belong to Treasury Dept, which land plots belong to Royal Thai Army and so on to designate compensation.
The land expropriation will be done by the end of 2004 and the city planning will come to allocate which section will be the new government office, the roads, the residential areas, the new urban communities, the commercial areas, the business areas, the educational areas, the giant park, the golf course, etc.
The construction of the new city will start in 2005.
The area will start from the CRMA Intersection – the edge of Muang District, Nakhon Nayok – and the line will follow Suwannasorn Road (Highway 33 -> Hin Kong – Nakhon Nayok – Aranyaprathet). People can follow Suwannasorn road to Ban Na, Wiharn Daeng and Kaeng Khoi.
There is already 30,000 rai of land left over after the construction of CRMA and cadet preparation school. The area along Suwannasorn Road has a few villages while most of them are the paddy fields with hills not higher than 400 meters above sea level.
Three choices for commuter lines to Nakhon Pathom- translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, March 14-17, 2004
After Premier Thaksin promised the electrified commuter line to Nakhon Pathom, the Traffic Policy Office promptly come up with 3 choices:
1) Blue line extension to Nakhon Pathom via Phetkasem Road
2) Electrified double tracks from Bangsue to Nakhon Pathom via Southern railway and the Bangsue – Rama 6 Expressway
3) New standard gauge track (single or double track) with 3rd rail power along Southern railway from Bangsue to Nakhon Pathom via Southern Railway
SRT Governor said he has not received a clear policy from the government yet, so this should be handled by the Traffic Policy Office until the office has assigned which agency is going to handle this task.
The Traffic Policy Office said the section from Bangsue to Nakhon Pathom via the standard gauge with 3rd rail power supply and substation will cost the government 70 million baht/km for single track and 150 million baht/km for double track and the distance from Bangsue to Nakhon Pathom is about 60 km.
The second choice is the electrification of the existing double tracks from Bangsue to Nakhon Pathom. This one will need the electrification and the substations– very good choice since it cuts much of the budget and land expropriation problem since they can use SRT land.
The third possible choice is to extend the Blue line subway from Bang Khae to Nakhon Pathom.
The Traffic Policy Office got the order from Premier Thaksin to come up with the commuter lines to the cities around Bangkok so as to create the satellite cities Commentary by Wisarut: If the government really wants commuter lines to Nakhon Pathom, Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao, Mahachai as well as the New City and which can speed up to 160 km/hr,
standard gauge with 25 kV catenary supply is a must since the practical speed limit for meter gauge is 120 km/hr.
Further route details on four rail lines to the New City – translated and summarized by Wisarut Green line:
1) The first section of the Green line will be double tracking from Bangsue to Rangsit (22.28 km) and then pass Future Park Rangsit to Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road (22 km)
2) The second section will turn right to become a single track from Lum Lookka Intersection to the new Motorway (3 km)
3) After passing the motorway, the line become a double track again and pass Thunyaburi and Nong Suea before reaching Ongkharak
4) The fourth section will follow Kaeng Khoi – Klong Sip Kao to reach Wiharn Daeng with elevated double track (25 km -> 23.4+1.6 km)
Total distance 94.94 km Yellow Line:
1) This section will go from Bangsue to Donmaung – double track (14.74 km)
2) Turn right to through RTAF and then head to Khoo Khot and Lum Lookka – elevated double tracks (20 km)
3) After passing Lum Lokka, the line is still double track for 10 km and then become a 12-km elevated single track along the Motorway until it meets the Green Line. After passing the green line, it will become double track at grade until it reach Ongkharak
4) Follow the Railway track by using elevated double track to Wiharn Daerng (25 km -> 23.4+1.6 km) Total distance 87.54 km Red line:
1) The line will start from Bangsue to Lad Krabang via Yommaraj and as double tracks (44.024 km). The first 14 km is elevated double tracks and then another 9 km double track at grade and then elevated double track to from Lad Krabang
2) Then the line will go along Chalong Krung (the main street of KMITL) to pass Lad Krabang Industrial Estate, Lum Phakchee, Nongchok
3) Then going through the new short cut to Thunyaburi – Lum Lookka – with double tracks – through the double track at grade.
4) Then following the motorway to Wiharn Daeng. All elevated double track (25 km -> 23.4+1.6 km)
Total distance: 117.31 km Orange line:
1) The line will start from Bangsue to Lad Krabang via Yommaraj as double tracks (44.024 km)
2) The line will follow the Eastern Railway to Chachoengsao and Bang Nam Priaw (37.55 km)
3) Going from Bang Mak Priaw Bang Nam Priaw through the new line to Ongkharak before ending up at Wiharn Daeng Kaeng Khoi–all as elevated double track (62.8 km) Commentary by Wisarut: Makkasan station will be modernized to deal with the Airport Link in 2007. Delays have little effect on NBIA since the initial phase will be private cars, buses, and taxis. This 29 billion baht Airport Link will force SRT to elevate the Eastern Line while double tracking the rail from Hua Mark to Phyathai. There will be a single cargo line which will head to ICD. 100 baht for Airport Express from Makkasan to NBIA.
The initial phase of New City is supposed to handle 10000-2000 people since there is no attractive place to go (except for seeing nature). The limit on those who are residents in the center also make very few people want to go.
(Diagram: We are not sure of the source of this diagram. The background map is from the government planning department.)
More on the transport routes to the New City- translated and summarized from Than Setthakij, March 4-6 2004 There will be 1 motorway and 4 railway Lines for the system:
1) 6-lane Blue Motorway – Kanchanaphisek (Lum Looka) – Wiharn Daeng
This will connect with Ram Indra – Kanchanaphisek Expressway (extension of Ekkamai – Ram Indra Expressway). It will pass Lum Looka (Pathum Thani), Thunyaburi (Pathum Thani), Banna (Nakhon Nayok), and then be parallel with Kaeng Khoy – Klong Sip Kao Railway to pass Ongkharak and end up at Wiharn Daeng with total distance of 66.2 km and budget of 4.96138 billion baht.
2) Green Line Railway – Bang sue – Rangsit – Wiharn Daeng
This will follow the Northern Railway to Rangsit and then turn right to go to Klong Luang passing Thunyaburi, Kanchanaphisek Road, Motorway to Ongkharak and then following Kaeng Khoy – Klong Sip Kao Railway to Wiharn Daeng via Ongkharak and Banna – 4 sections – 94.94 km – 51.61405 billion baht (about 543.65 million baht/km)
3) Red Line Railway – Bang Sue -Lad Krabang – Wiharn Daeng
The line will follow the Northern Railway down to Chitladda and then go along Eastern Railway to Lad Krabang via Makkasan and then go across Rom Klao – Suwianthawognse – Lum Phakchee area, Thunyaburi and meet Kaeng Khoy – Klong Sip Kao Railway before Ongkharak station and then go along Keng Khoi – Klong Sip Kao line to end up at Wiharn Daeng – 4 sections – with total distance of 117.31 km (4 sections) and construction cost of 53.46292 billion baht
4) Yellow Line – Bang Sue – Donmuang – Khookhot – Lum Looka – Kanchanaphisek (Lum Looka) – Wiharn Daeng
This line will go from Bangsue to Donmuang and then pass Prem Pracha village before cutting through RTAF area to Phaholyothin and then passing Khoo Khot area and then Khookhot Lum Looka road to Kanchanapphisek Road at Lum Looka and then following the Blue Motorway to Ongkharak and then following the railway track to Wiharn Daeng – 87.54 km with the budget of 42.95214 billion baht.
5) Orange line – Bangsue – Yommaraj – Hua Mark – Lad Krang – Hua Tahkhe – Chachcoengsao – Bang Nam Priaw – Klong Sip Kao – Wiharn Daeng.
This line will go from Rangsit to Yommraj through the Northern Railway and then follow the eastern railway to Lad Krabang and then further follow the Eastern railway to Klong Sip Kao via Chachoengsao and Bang Nam Priaw. There will be 4 sections and the total distance is 144.88 km with a budget of 64.21251 billion baht.
This rail line must be electrified railway to enable the system to go from Bangkok to the New City within 1 hour with a speed at least 100 km/hr. Therefore, the yellow line is the best deal. This investment will be a joint venture with local private sector and foreign investors.
New railway routes and motorways for the New City at Ban Nah – translated and summarized from Siam Turakij, February 29-March 6 2004
The new motorway will go from Ram Indra to Wiharn Daeng via Kanchanaphisek Outer Ring Road (Lam Lookka) and Banna -> with a price of 4.96138 billion baht.
Of the the four new proposed railway routes to Wiharn Daeng only one will be constructed for now:
1) Green Line -> Bang Sue – Donmuang – Rangsit – Future Park Rangsit – Thaya Buri – Lum Lookka – Ongkharak – Ban Na – Wiharn Daeng
This line follows the Hopewell track from Bangsue to Rangsit and then turns right to Future Park and Thuya Buri toward Ongkharak. After that, the line turns left to Banna and ends up with Wiharn Daeng -> 4 sections – 94.94 km 51.61405 billion baht (about 543.65 million baht/km)
2) Red Line -> Bang Sue – Yommaraj – Phyathai – Makkasan – Hua Mark – Lad Krabang – Rom Klao – Minburi – Mooban Punya – Lum Lookka – Ongkharak – Ban NA – Wiharn Daeng
This line follows the Hopewell track from Bangsue to to Yommaraj and then turns left to Makkasan, Hua Mark and Lad Krabang before turning left to Minburi via Romklao Road and then goes along Minburi – Lum Lookka Road and then follows the Green Line from Lum Lookka to Ongkharak, Banna and ending up at Wiharn Daeng -> 4 sections – 117.13 km 53.46292 billion baht (about 455.74 million baht/km)
3) Yellow Line (this route is favored by the government) -> Bang Sue – Donmuang – Rangsit – Future Park Rangsit – Thaya Buri – Lum Lookka – Motorway – Banna – Wiharn Daeng
This line follows the Hopewell track from Bangsue to Rangsit and then turns right to Future Park and Thuya Buri toward the motorway to Banna and ends up with Wiharn Daeng -> 4 sections – 87.54 km 42.95214 billion baht (about 490.60 million baht/km)
4) Orange Line -> Bang Sue – Yommaraj – Phyathai – Makkasan – Hua Mark – Lad Krabang – Hua Takhe – Bang Nam Priew – Ong Kharak – Banna – Wiharn Daeng
This line follows Hopewell track from Bangsue to to Yommaraj and then turn left to Makkasan, Hua Mark and Lad Krabang. After that, the line will go to Hua Takhe, Bang Nam Priew and then turn left to Ongkharak and Banna before ending up at Wiharn Daeng -> 4 sections -144.88 km, 64.21251 billion baht (about 443.21 million baht/km)
The government will choose the Yellow Line since it is the shortest route, but if there is a cost overrun, the Green route will be chosen.
The masterplan for the new city will be done in 2005 -> 40% public land and 60% private land -> compensation paid at market prices of February 2004. By January 1, 2006 the infrastructure must be ready. Commentary by Wisarut: I have come up with my own choice which is a combination of the four routes
since all four routes have shown that those at the Traffic Policy Office are out of touch with the people.
My route will be
1) Gold Line: Rangsit – Future Park Rangsit – Thunya Buri – Nong Suea – Ongkharak – Banna – Wiharn Daeng
2) Silver Line: Ongkharak – Nong Suea – Thunyaburi – Lum Lookka Rom Klao – Lad Krabang -
3) Copper Line: Lad Krabang – Hua Takahe – Changchoengsao – Bang Nam Priew – Klong Sip Kao Junction – Ong Kharak – Wiharn Daeng
Interchanges at Ongkharak, Rangsit and Lad Krabang.
Those who use the Red line commuter and Pink Airport Link are eligible to use their smart card tickets to the New City at Banna without having to buy other tickets.
The system must be the same at the Red line commuter and Pink Airport Link. The track from Yommaraj to Hua Mark must be elevated double track to ensure that the system will have the running speed guaranteed at 160 km/hr. The system for yellow line as well as other lines must be the same at the Red Line commuter and Pink Airport Link to ensure system interchangability.
New town – Failure to reveal land expropriation plans sparks concern- Bangkok Post, January 3, 2004 …"We have mixed feelings over the project. We fear losing our land," said 72-year-old Rak Bamrungjit. "At the same time, we also want to see development within our community," she said. More on the New City – December 17, 2003
Wisarut Bholsithi reports: According to Than Setthakij (December 17, 2003), the new city of Banna has sparked fury with local people from Tambon Cha Om since their area will become government offices within the New City. They said that the government has used a very outdated map (published in 1993) instead of satellite images. Furthermore, the expropriation price is very unfair. The government buys land at 100,000 baht/rai, but sells the developed land at 1,000,000-2,000,000 baht/rai. Therefore, the people ask the government to come up with a concession that allows former landowners to stay at the same old area until the construction plan in detail is done. Measures to prevent speculation must be effective. The government said they will use satellite image to update the data. Nakhon Nayok people dreaming to be a new tourist area by the new city – translated and summarized from Prachachart Thurakij, December 1-3, 2003 The new city in Nakhon Nayok is still not completely defined yet, but the Governor of Nakhon Nayok has set up a team to handle the planning even though the government is just setting up the transportation projects to connect the new city with NBIA and neighbor provinces. Now the government is working on details on land usage even though the government just finished the preliminary details about the land usage.
The preliminary data said the 150,000-rai new city will cover 8 communes in 3 districts such as:
1) Banna District, Nakhon Nayok
1.1) Pa Sa, 1.2) Ban Prik, 1.3) Khao Khem, 1.4) Khao Phoem
2) Wiharn Daeng
2.1) Huay Haew, 2.2) Klong Ruea
3) Kaeng Khoy and Wiharn Daeng District, Saraburi
2.1) Cha Om, 2.2) Tha Maprang
50000 rai will be a residential area–mostly within Khao Khem commune and Cha Om district of Kaeng Khoy with the other 100,000 for other activities. Some areas will be reserved for tourism and agriculture to feed the city. The area around the city will be swamps and the mountains.
City planners in Nakhon Nayok still have no clue about the new city details. So far Nakhon Nayok will emphasize agricultural areas as well as the environmental tourism. There are already several attempts to rob the land from local people by coming up with fake maps. Even so local residences agree with this project since it will create a new tourist spot with high technology without pollution and set up a good example to other provinces.
The Governor of Nakhon Nayok is asking to set up a new committee to handle the project and communicate news about it to local folks.
Above: The second phase of development in the new city
In-depth report on new city at Ban Nah–2-phase development on 250,000 rai with hundreds of billions of baht for infrastructure – translated and summarized from Thasetthakij, Nov 30 – Dec 3, 2003
The Traffic Policy Office has defined the two-phase development plan for Ban Nah new city–42,000 rai for the 1st phase including a new Grand Palace for His Majesty as well as infrastructure and transportation systems for the city while reserving 130,000 rai of land for green space. There will be seven steps to implement the plan to develop the new city in 6 years. The 2nd phase (78,000 rai) will include the residential development, commercial development, and workplaces so as to become a self-sufficient city with full circuit activities. The entire project needs 250,000 rai of land including land expropriation which should be at least 13 billion baht. After development, they will get a return of more than 75 billion baht.
The development will follow seven steps:
1) Permanent agency to push the development forward headed by the Prime Minister with a Royal resolution from His Majesty.
2) Creation of an agency which functions as an Urban Development Corporation in the same way such organizations execute the development of Putrajaya in Malaysia and Tama New Town in Japan.
3) The new agency handles the budget and financial resources for the new city.
4) The new agency starts land allocation either as land expropriation and land rearrangement.
5) Capital controls implemented to prevent another economic bubble.
6) Management plan and basic infrastructure be implemented.
7) Human settlement with a permanent agency to function as an administration office in the same way as the one in Pattaya.
Transportation lines for Banna New City will be as follows:
1) Ram Indra – Lam Lookka – Nakhon Nayok (60 km) with the new extension to Khorat (another 130 km)
2) Bang Na – Bang Pakong Highway Expansion with the new branch to NBIA and Motorway
3) New Cord line from Ban Pachee to Klong 19 via Ongkarak
4) High Speed rail from Bangkok (Bangsue?) to Khorat via Nakhon Nayok which will take 1 hour from Bangkok to reach the new city – 1 baht/km with 10 baht surcharge – thus about 70 baht a trip.
The government will invest in the rail while asking the private sector to rent the tracks and supply the rolling stock as the way to get around with the 1992 Joint Venture Act since private concession is bound with the act. However, the government has to specify to the private sector about how many trips a day with the government guaranteeing a minimum level of daily passengers. If the private section has done a good job, the government will give a tax break for them, but the private sector must share the revenue with the government in addition to the rent if the numbers of passengers increase.
The construction of the new city during the time of economic growth is a very normal activity since Bangkok gets 300,000 new citizens a year due to immigration (legal and illegal) and migration from rural areas and gets so big that infrastructure will be stretched to the limits. Therefore, the government has to come up with development of the new areas as a way to decongest Bangkok in the long term. Good cities should have not more than 2 million people.
The Civil Works Department and the City Planning Department said that the new city at Nakhon Nayok will cover 3 districts -> Banna (Nakhon Nayok), Ongkharak (Nakhon Nayok), and Wiharn Daeng (Saraburi) with a total area of 250,000 rai with a price tag of 100 billion baht, but the real development will be in 40,000-50,000 rai.
The other 200,000 rai will be reserved as agriculture areas and vacant area for future use. The developed area will have all power lines underground and there will be the land allocation for a financial center, commercial zone, vertical (condominium + mansions + apartments) and horizontal (houses for the well-to-do) resident areas, bureaucrat areas, working areas, industrial areas, educational area (new schools and universities) and a new palace for His Majesty.
The land acquisition will come from a Royal decree, land allocation with the participation from the former owners, land purchase by issuing bonds and setting up funds. Investment will come from private concessions paid by domestic and international investors on residential area developments, mass transit systems within the city, waterworks, electric power, and with the Development Company handling all the projects. The water will come from Pasak River and nearby areas to feed all the citizens.
The administration will be line Pattaya while the residential area will be both vertical and horizontal such as 100 square wah single houses, cluster houses of 50 square wah at cheaper prices than the private sector as well as 100,000 units of housing for about 200,000 lower income citizens which will be handled by the National Housing Authority and done within 6 years. The project will be started in 2004.
Above: The first phase of development in the new city
Defining the new city and land hoarding – translated and summarized from Siamturakij, Nov 30 – Dec 6, 2003 [We will be posting maps of the area of the new city soon.]
CP Group and Chang Beer have hoarded thousands of rai of land to be sold to the government–about 160,000 rai. Those who live within the campus of Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy will have their land exappropriated–about 25000 rai. Even top brasses are hoarding land thus the locals feel scared that they will be evicted soon.
The New City project will be started in 2005 and done within 8 years. It will cover Banna Wiharn Daeng and Kaeng Khoy – no longer a need for Muang and Ongkharak District. The government will impose a Royal Decree to expropriate the land.
1) Banna District, Nakhon Nayok
1.1) Pa Kha, 1.2) Ban Prik, 1.3) Sri Kra Ang, 1.4) Khao Phoem
2) Wiharn Daeng
2.1) Huay Haew, 2.2) Klong Ruea, 3) Kaeng Khoy and Wiharn Daeng District, Saraburi, 2.1) Cha Om, 2.2) Tha Maprang
There will be 20,000 rai of land for residences. The other area which will be integrated into the new city is the CRMA–the area which has been expropriated for military usage since 1941 with size of 75,000 rai. 25,000 rai was used for military purposes and there other 50,000 rai were infiltrated by local people. The people who moved to that area after 1941 will be evicted with no compensation.
The exppropriated land of 165,000 Rai and the CRMA area of 25,000 rai will help to create 200,000 rai of land (with 10,000 rai from purchase at market price). Banna is the main gate while Ongkharak is just a passing track.
So far CP has purchased thousands of rai of land for chicken and pig farming for 5 years – initially a farm like Chong Charoen farm will have to borrow 100 million baht from the bank but now CP group has invested in that farm in such levels that this farm alone has thousands rai of land.
Sun Agro (owned by local politicians) has also set up a chicken farm there. 84 Co.Ltd. which works on chicken farming also expanded their business in Ban Prik, Khao Phoem, Pa Kha in Banna district and Kaeng Khoi and Wiharn Daeng district. Both companies must be within the CP Group and are thus aiming to go for those areas.
Beer Chang group has purchased about 10,000 rai of land around Wiharn Daeng district. Khao Kra Ang is also a main target for the land speculation. Colonels have hoarded the land around Ban Hin Dat (the 13th Village) of Khao Phoem commune as "Colonel Houses.".
Nakhon Nayok Governor has set up the committee to handle the new city so that the new city will allow no industrial factories to ruin the environment. Nakhon Nayok is an agriculture and environmental tourist town.
Now Klong Tha Dan and Nakhon Nayok-Kaeng Khoi Highway will be expanded to 4 lanes in 2004 and 2005 respectively to feed the new city.
Local folks in Nakhon Nayok feel very confused about the land expropriation and they ask the government to define the area to be expropriated as soon as possible even though the agree that the new city will bring more prosperity to Nakhon Nayok.
Those who live in Khao Phoem commune of Banna say most people are working in agriculture and farming and receiving 60,000 baht a year. Now people in the whole commune feel scared if they have to abandon their old jobs after the whole commune is expropriated -> initially for the Lopburi-Maptaput Motorway, a new palace, as well as the university and government agencies.
The satellite city – Bangkok Post, November 21, 2003
Construction of Bangkok’s satellite city should begin next year on a 150,000-rai land straddling three districts of Nakhon Nayok, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said… The city, tentatively called Muang Mai Nakhon Nayok (New Nakhon Nayok City), would be classified as a special administration zone, just like Pattaya… Mr Sita declined to name the three districts for fear of land speculation. However, a source said two of them were Ban Na and Ongkharak. Earlier:Muang Sawan project (Celestial City Project) at Ban Nah – Naew Nah, September 30, 2003 New City: How to realize it – Bangkok Biznews, October 28, 2003 New City: How to realize it – by Pratheep Tangmatitham – translated and summarized from Bangkok Biznews, October 28, 2003
Plans for a new city to decongest Bangkok with the area of 200,000 rai have raised grave concerns about land speculation and the government has to come up with a plan to deal with it.
As my 30 year experience can tell, it is absolutely necessary to come with such a new city within one hour traveling time from downtown Bangkok. However, 200,000 rai is too small. People are the primary factors for the new cities, not 200,000 rai of land. Number of people is the starting point for calculations on traffic volume, water usage, wastewater, garbage, parks, schools, hospitals, malls, stadiums, etc.
How many Bangkokians are willing to move into the new cities without turning Bangkok into a ghost town as many American cities have experienced? 5-10% (1 in 10-20 Bangkokians) is a good ratio. Therefore, a new city should not be small at all. 290,000 – 580,000 people would form small towns scattered around Bangkok (‘dormitory cities’), but not the new bureaucrat center as the government aims.
If the city is too small, there will be no good facilities. No sport, entertainment, or arts and culture facilities such as stadiums, theaters, art galleries, retailers, thus reducing much of the city’s charms. It is very hard to attract people to live and work in new cities.
If the city is for 290,000-300,000 people, it will be the same size as Phuket -> 1 MP, 1 Senator. The density will be 1.45-1.5 people/rai (906.25-937.5 people/sq km). If the city is for 580,000-600,000 people, it will be the same size as Had Yai -> 3 MPs, 2 Senator. The density will be 2.9-3 people/rai (1812.5-1875 people/sq km).
Furthermore, the new city for hundreds of thousands of people will take 10-20 years to be completed, not just 5-8 years. The government has to come up with a masterplan and construct the roads, drainage, electric power, waterworks. If it uses a private sector joint venture, the government will get paid back very soon and the land allocation for the private sector will boost financial resources, create more jobs for Thai people, gain more tax revenue and create a new tourist spot like Putrajaya. If the government allocates 45% of land (90,000 rai) for residential buildings, offices, malls, entertainment centers, main stadium, theaters, schools, hospitals, universities, service facilities, it will boost the revenue to pay off the infrastructure and land compensation.
Purchasing 200 rai of land @ 400,000 baht/rai -> 8 billion baht
Land development and infrastructure @ 1 million baht/rai -> 200 billion baht
208 billion baht
45% Private Land Development @ 2 million baht/rai -> 180 billion baht
Taxes (VAT, revenue tax, business tax) -> 30 billion baht
Total income -> 210 billion baht -> break even
The new city must be able to handle the National Assembly, 20 ministries, and have a giant stadium for Olympic Games (minimum 100,000 seats), and exhibition halls.
For land speculation, the defense should be a line of ring forests, allowing land developers to develop the land around the forest rings, and then STARVE those who purchase agricultural land at very cheap prices and speculate for high prices from government purchase. The government will not change prices for the land to benefit speculators. Commentary by Wisarut: The actual number of those who live in the Bangkok area (Nonthaburi and Paknam excluded) should be 6 million people or more. Since Nonthaburi already has absorbed 800,000 people and Paknam has absorbed 1.2 million people. The new city should at least be able to handle a million Bangkokians. MRTA will have to set up the subsidiary to handle the mass transit systems within the city.
200,000 rai of land for 600,000 people is fine. Not so sure if it is expanded to 1 million. The government has a long, long history of blunders in dealing with the planning of satellite cities. Muang Sawan project (Celestial City Project) at Ban Nah – translated and summarized from Naew Nah, September 30, 2003 [No use even quoting the English-language dailies. They merely mentioned a new satellite project was in the works, it would not be an administrative center for the government, and the location had not been decided. The Thai-language press stated the new city would be at Ban Nah and would house some or all government ministries.]
The proposed new city in Ban Nah district of Nakhon Nayok is mainly for residence–not exactly a new bureaucratic center… only a small temple [which follows the example from Rama IX Temple] and a small Hospital [like Rama IX Hospital]. Small SME businesses allowed. No industrial estate or mall allowed in Ban Nah. The funding will be by bonds purchased by landowners.
If it is necessary to move all 20 ministries, it will require 1 million square meters of land while moving only the National Assembly will require only 200,000 square meters of land.
Mr. Korn [the head of the committee for selecting a new place for the National Assembly] warns House Speaker Uthai (who insists the area around Pasak Cholasit Dam in Lopburi is the suitable place for the new National Assembly): "The area around Pasak Cholasit in Lopburi is too remote! It needs another 1 million square meters to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people in addition to 1 million square meters for 20 ministries and 0.2 million square meters for the National Assembly."
However, House Speaker Uthai still cannot afford to drop the issue. His wife and relatives have purchased thousands rai of land around Pasak Cholasit Dam.
From internal sources, the government are likely to aim for Ban Nah which will consist of the land around Sri kra-Ang Commune, Ban Phrao Commune, Khaop Phra Commune, Phrom Manee Commune, Ban Yai Commune, Sarika Commune, Hin Tang Commune, and the neighboring area close to Saraburi (between Khao Phra Phutthachai and Khao Cha Ngok [CRMA and the Cadet Preparation Academy are there. ]) with a total area of 203,000 rai. The project would be named "Muang Sawan project" (Celestial City Project). There will be a new motorway from Ram Indra to Khorat–connecting with Ram Indra–at Narong Expressway to go to Muang Sawan (in addition to the Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok Road). However, the government has not finalized this yet so as not to cause the panic and stampede from speculators. UPDATE:Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the government is expected to finalise its decision on the city’s location next year, denying speculation that it had already made a tentative selection of a site in Ban Na district, Nakhon Nayok province. (The Nation, October 1, 2003)
BMA 2 takes shape-
January 8, 2008
A few shots of the new BMA site in the Din Daeng area (GoogleEath Placemark) that has been under extremely slow construction for at least five years. The site appears to include a huge public plaza as well. Do any readers know of a completion date for this project?
Mob rule in Buriram-
translated and summarized fromThai Rath, January 7, 2008
The general public may be fooled into perceiving that people in Buriram province are showing a keen interest in political matters. This may be especially the case if some get the idea that the recent demonstration in the province was a genuine attempt by locals to maintain their electoral rights.
It was surprising when thousands of Buriram Province citizens, from various districts, recently gathered at the Provincial Hall. Those gathered were protesting against the recent Electoral Commission decision to award ‘red’ cards to three parliamentary candidates for constituencies in the province. This crowd gathered so quickly that one might be forgiven for thinking that Buriram people have been keeping themselves well abreast of political developments. However, it has since been reported (but not proven) that the protesters received 200 baht per person to turn up at the Provincial Hall demonstration.
The protesters’ insistence that the ‘red’ cards should be withdrawn is, in any case, a true example of mob rule in action – as the demonstrators have made it clear that they will not accept the awarding of such cards under any circumstances.
If Buriram people really long for justice and care about their Kingdom, they should spend more time trying to investigate the corruption in their province – instead of gathering to support cheats.
From Not the Nation: Anonymous Man Flexes Political Muscle- January 7, 2008 …Anonymous people have typically done well in Thai politics. Typically they cannot be criticized—or identified—but they still exert a huge amount of influence.
In 2006, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra claimed that an anonymous “charismatic individual” was trying to overthrow him. The coup occurred a few months later, cementing the influence of anonymous people in the Thai political sphere.
“If you are an identified Thai politician, the last thing you want to do is to get into a fight with a figure that is nearly infallible whose name cannot be revealed,” said a Thai academic, who spoke on condition of anonymity in the hopes that it would increase his stature in society.
Anonymous politicians are thought to be much smarter than named politicians because they can avoid any type of scrutiny. The local press loves the extremely adored older men and will defend them at all costs against attacks by politicians who can be referred to by their real names…
Film-festival probe may turn into box-office bomb- Bangkok Post, January 7, 2008 …However, there are growing fears that every effort will be made to thwart the investigation in Thailand. Said one senior official, without elaborating: “Those who are involved will try and prevent the matter from being pursued any further in Thailand.
“Mrs Juthamas has denied everything and threatened to sue the FBI. However, the issue is causing some sleepless nights for several officials, especially those who were known to have been in Mrs Juthamas’ camp.”
Said one industry executive: “These investigations are problematic for internal morale. There are cliques within the TAT, just like any other large organisation.”
…Many in the private sector recalled that they had opposed Mrs Juthamas’ appointment as governor in the first place but now say that many things now begin to make sense.
“During the tenure of the Thaksin administration, the TAT enjoyed record budgets,” one senior sector executive said. “Thaksin himself had set a target of 20 million tourist arrivals by 2008, even though many in the private sector knew it was totally unrealistic.
“But, by citing the growing competitive nature of the global tourism industry and the marketing budgets of competing countries in Asean, the administration could always find a way to justify the massive budgets.
“And this does not include the huge extra budgets that were sought to justify bounceback campaigns after the various crises, such as Sars in 2003 or the tsunami 2004…”