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MediaWATCH: Flu Surge Sweeps Japan

MediaWATCH: Flu Surge Sweeps Japan

Monday, May 18, 2009
Phuketwan MediaWATCH

A new daily wrap of Thailand news, with a Phuket perspective. Reports from national and international media, with translations into English from Thai.

Quote of the week: "If my knowledge is correct, if you mix red and yellow you get orange. Orange is the color of innovation." The PM talking about red and yellow groups to media in Hong Kong. Expect the tee-shirts soon.

The Nation: Mysterious containers on the seabed off Chon Buri's Sattahip district will remain sunk while the attempt is made to find out where they came from, Central Institute of Forensic Science director Dr Porntip Rojanasunan says. ''Lifting the containers from the sea is ruled out because it will cost a lot of money,'' Dr Porntip said. ''But we will be looking for the safest way to cut open the containers underwater.'' She is reporting progress to PM Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Today's Must Read

Associated Press: Japanese health officials have confirmed dozens of new cases of swine flu in waves of announcements, with schools shutting and community activities being cancelled. Japan now has at least 96 cases, most of them teenagers.The number could continue to rise. rise quickly with results on more viral sample tests imminently pending. Hospitals have set up special ''fever clinics'' to separate possible carriers ''Many people were infected in such a short period of time,'' one governor said. ''We must be prepared for a further expansion.''

New York Times: The number of flu cases in Japan has soared, raising the likelihood that the World Health Organisation will soon have to raise its pandemic alert level to 6, the highest level. Authorities ordered more than 1000 schools and kindergartens in and near the cities of Kobe and Osaka to shut down. Kobe residents rushed to hospitals, where doctors in biohazard suits checked people for fever in tents set up in parking lots. Japan is exceptionally nervous about flu.Transit workers and supermarket employees began wearing masks. Aung San Suu Kyi will go on trial in Rangoon today in a case that is expected to prolong her detention. Her lawyers will be present, but few people believe she will be given a fair hearing. Supporters say the military junta is looking for an excuse to extend her latest home detention order. The 63-year old Nobel Peace Laureate is 10 days away from that order expiring. She will be sentenced to up to five years in jail if found guilty, which would mean she would not be able to contest national elections next year. Top officials from Asean and its six partners (China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand) are set to talk about Burma on the sidelines of a regular meeting on Phuket on Tuesday. But the latest issue is symptomatic of a wider Asian reluctance to act on Burma, with the major exception of Japan, which has strongly condemned the charges against Aung San Suu Kyi.

Bangkok Post: Burmese companies are moving production bases from Rangoon to Kanchanaburi to avoid US and British trade sanctions. The firms fear products labelled 'Made in Burma' will be rejected abroad, particularly in the US and Britain, where there are trade sanctions against the country, said a business owner. The Hush Puppies shoe-making factory, which employs more than 1500 workers, is among companies which have relocated.

Sunday Post, Hong Kong: An editorial says the Thai army's secret program to detain migrants from Myanmar then abandon them at sea ''constituted one of the worst cases of human rights abuse in the region in recent years.'' While the Thai PM now tacitly acknowledges the wrongdoing, he also says no one is facing prosecution. ''He said the Thai military unit which carried out the program would continue to handle and process refugees. This is disappointing, but not surprising. The political reality in Thailand makes it difficult for Mr Abhisit to go after members of the military, which is backing his government.'' The editorial adds: ''It is time for the region's governments to recognise the Rohingya's plight and work together to improve their lot.''

Phuket Post: The cover story is the tale of a Phuket guesthouse proprietor who walked back to the island from Malaysia after a ''friend'' stole most of his cash and belongings; inside is a salutary tale of a couple who returned to Thailand on a holiday only to be arrested with a demand for compensation over a 2007 fire at a house on Phuket they had been renting.

Phuket Gazette: The Asean summit has been postponed, we are told on the front page; There are no clues to the mysterious deaths of two young women tourists on Phi Phi; A contentious 'Nation' article about the large number of resort sales in Thailand is republished, while in Property Watch Bill Barnett writes: ''Phuket is no ghost town and all those reports of our imminent demise are, for the most part, hugely exaggerated.''

Bangkok Post: Pattaya is struggling after the April protests that resulted in the collapse of the Asean summit, so local administrators and businesses are stepping up promotions to lure back tourists. Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Khunplome said the city asked for 100 million baht from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the local administration and private operators to stimulate the industry. Average occupancy at the 60,000 hotel rooms in Pattaya has fallen to 30-35 percent compared with 50-60 percent last year.

AFP news agency: Resplendent in a figure-hugging grey and black dress, Sorrawee Nattee wept tears of joy after being crowned Thailand's most beautiful transsexual at a unique pageant. Sorrawee took the top prize at Miss Tiffany's Universe 2009 in the beach resort of Pattaya, beating off 29 other transsexuals and receiving a small Honda car, and 100,000 baht in cash on Friday night. Some 2500 pink-attired supporters of gay rights gathered in a park in Singapore on Saturday to form a pink dot, which was photographed from a nearby building. Organisers of the event,, say it was held to commemorate love in all forms and between people of every orientation. Singapore still has a ban on homosexual sex even though many countries in the region, and Britain, have repealed the law.

Phuketwan Phuket News

Boat People: Military Officials Cleared, says PM
Photo Album Thailand's Prime Minister tells a journalist in Hong Kong that the policy of pushbacks for Rohingya boat people has ceased and that officials involved have been cleared.
Boat People: Military Officials Cleared, says PM

Phuket Summit Likely to Lash Burma's Actions
Latest A three day meeting on Phuket from Monday will give 26 other countries the chance to express opinions behind closed doors about Burma's treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi
Phuket Summit Likely to Lash Burma's Actions

Phuket Road Toll: Suddenly Cars Kill, Too
Latest: Official road toll figures for Phuket reflect a dramatic increase in the number of nonmotorcycle deaths, a reflection perhaps that speed is now adding danger.
Phuket Road Toll: Suddenly Cars Kill, Too

Jet Me Out Of Here! Stayput Simon All Set to Fly
Airport Photo Album After an extra three months of ''holiday'' on Phuket, troubled British tourist Simon Burrowes was finally on a flight for Singapore set for takeoff at 5.50pm. Good luck, Simon!
Jet Me Out Of Here! Stayput Simon All Set to Fly

Recent Phuketwan MediaWATCH

MediaWATCH: Thailand Tourism's Perfect Storm
Latest Tourism leaders see more pain ahead; PAD applies to become a political party; Consumer confidence down; The fight to save whale sharks, and Aung San Suu Kyi.
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