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MediaWATCH: Phuket Eyes Nuclear Sea Drama

MediaWATCH: Phuket Eyes Nuclear Sea Drama

Monday, June 22, 2009
Phuketwan MediaWATCH

Phuket may be home to important talks in July aimed at settling North Korea's nuclear confrontation as part of the Asia Regional Forum. But first, a drama is being played out on the high seas.

Today's Must Read

Associated Press Senator John McCain says the US should board a North Korean ship if hard evidence shows it is carrying missiles or banned cargo. He says that such cargo would contribute to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to nations that pose a direct threat to the US. South Korean media reported that the Kang Nam 1 was sailing toward Burma via Singapore, with the destroyer USS John McCain shadowing it. US officials are still deciding whether to ask for the ship to be searched when it docks for refuelling in Singapore, a move allowed under a new UN Security Council resolution.

Reuters Singapore will take action against a North Korean ship that the US is monitoring, if the vessel heads to its port with a cargo of weapons, Singapore's government says. ''Singapore takes seriously the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and related materials,'' said a spokeswoman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ''If the allegation is true, Singapore will act appropriately.'' Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva visits Singapore today. North Korea has accused the US of plotting atomic war against the communist regime, saying President Barack Obama's recent reaffirmation of nuclear protection of South Korea only exposed his government's intention to attack. ''It's not a coincidence at all for the US to have brought numerous nuclear weapons into South Korea and other adjacent sites, staging various massive war drills opposing North Korea every day and watching for a chance for an invasion,'' said the commentary.

The Nation The Bhum Jai Thai Party faced its first contest and tasted bitter defeat in a byelection in Sakon Nakhon. The result indicated former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's influence in the region remains high. The election was regarded as a struggle between Thaksin, who backed the Pheu Thai Party, and his ex-right hand man Newin Chidchob, who defected to set up his own Bhum Jai Thai Party. PTP picked a young and active candidate, Anurak Boonsol, while Bhum Jai Thai settled for Pitak Chantarasri, who is in his 60s. Anurak,in her 40s, presented a fresher image. The yellow-and-green symbol of the New Politics Party resembles a swastika. Asians are rightly miffed that Adolf Hitler hijacked an ancient religious symbol of luck and peace and turned it into the unofficial logo for genocide. While in Asia the swastika still connotes all things auspicious, choosing a contentious symbol could harm the NPP's fledgling reputation. The NPP sprang from the yellow-shirt protest movement that blockaded Bangkok airports in November and led to a change in Thailand's government.

AFP Singapore Airlines says it has reached agreement with its pilots' union on pay cuts and leave as part of efforts to counter the effects of the global economic downturn. SIA said in a statement that pilots have agreed to take a day of leave each month without pay. Pilots also agreed to take a cut of 65 percent of one day's pay out of their monthly salary, the airline said. The measures come from July 1. The CEO has taken a 20 percent pay cut and nearly 2000 employees have signed up for its voluntary no-pay leave scheme. Staff can apply for leave without pay for up to two years. The British economy looks set to hit bottom this autumn, growing modestly next year. However, unemployment will keep rising, probably not peaking until the end of 2010. Thus, for many people, it may not feel like a recovery. Furthermore, it will take some time for the economy to return to the level it was at only last summer. Where is demand going to come from? This is the biggest global challenge. British holidaymakers will struggle to make the most of their money in destinations such as the US, South Africa and Thailand this summer, latest currency figures show. The pound fell nearly 18 percent against the dollar and about 15 percent against the South African rand and Thai baht in the past year. ''The fall in value of the pound means holiday-makers may need to exchange more money than they did last year,'' said Sam Marrs, head of the business.

Bangkok Post Private Islamic schools in the South are being used to recruit and train young Muslims to become fighters in the insurgency movement, a new report says. The insurgency movement continues to enlist young men, especially from private Islamic schools known as pondok, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group says in its latest report, Recruiting Militants in Southern Thailand. ''Recruiters appeal to a sense of [ethnic] Malay nationalism and pride in the old Pattani sultanate,'' said Rungrawee Chalermsripinyorat, ICG's Thai analyst. ''They tell students in these schools that it is the duty of every Muslim to take back their land from the Buddhist infidels.'' Greg Torode writes that the arrest of three alleged Rohingya human traffickers and their supposed link to major terrorist groups has been described as laughable by western security officials. Claiming the Rohingya represented a security threat, the Thai army in late 2008 began a secret policy of detaining Rohingya boatpeople on an isolated island before towing them to sea in unpowered boats. Hundreds died. Reports from Stirling Assynt, a well-sourced global business risk assessment firm, suggest that al-Qaeda gave up on the Rohingya as potential jihadists more than a decade ago as ''hopelessly undersupplied, disorganised, ill-disciplined, unmotivated and lacking of even basic jihadi principles''.

Xinhua Preparing for his June 24-27 China visit, Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva said: ''The first half of this year has seen a big drop in exports and number of tourists. That's a concern and is something we should discuss to see how we can fix that.'' Talking about the Asean Summit and related summits scheduled for Phuket, he said: ''I think the Phuket meeting will be significant in terms of how China and the Asean can cooperate further to help solve the problems, not just for the region but also make Asia the lead region for recovering (from the economic crisis).'' Ian Holliday, dean of social sciences, University of Hong Kong, writes: ''The key issue remains unchanged: convincing China of the need for substantive reform. It is now well understood that this will not be done by documenting human-rights violations in extrajudicial killings, forced labor and pervasive repression, denouncing Burma's democratic deficit, or exposing the endemic corruption of a kleptocratic regime. What could trigger a rethink in Beijing is, however, the looming prospect of unrest, disorder and violence on China's southwestern frontier.''

Phuket Gazette The fumigation of Soi Bangla in Patong on June 14 as a swine flu precaution is the lead article in the Gazette, with a report on the hunt and 50,000 baht reward for a machette-attacker who sliced the face of an expat down-page. The editorial suggests a panda-led recovery through a new zoo on the island.

The Nation Pacnet will invest 12.1 billion baht over the next three years on a next-generation telecommunications network to deliver value-added products and services such as unified communications and cloud computing here and abroad. ''Thailand will be the first country that we offer the next-generation network with very high-speed connections,'' Bill Barney, CEO of the independent telecom service provider in Asia, says. Broadband penetration will rise 8-10 percent in five years to become the highest in the region. Cruise lines struggling to fill ships are now counting the cost of the swine flu outbreak. Royal Caribbean, world's second-biggest cruise operator, reported only one case of the virus. But the May diversion of vessels from Mexico have cost it about $US47 million ($57.9 million), the company says. P&O Cruises says the swine-flu scare on an 11-night Pacific Dawn cruise in Queensland waters last month cost it ''millions of dollars'' in compensation but there had been no cancellations and forward bookings remain strong. As the curtain came down on the 48th International Paris Airshow on Sunday, all eyes turned to Singapore, the host of the next global airshow. To be held from February 2 to 7, it will be used by the industry as an indicator of the recovery of the global economy. Aviation industry players at the Paris show already indicated that their expectations for the worst were over and expressed optimism that the market would rebound by next year.

Phuketwan Phuket News

Phuket 'Ground Zero' for Nuclear Truce Talks
Disarming Discussions Phuket is being proposed as an ideal site in July for the US, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea to meet over nuclear rogue state North Korea.
Phuket 'Ground Zero' for Nuclear Truce Talks

Phuket a Haven for Lone-Hand 'Pirate' Sailor
Tour the Boat Pirates? No pirates, says a truly lone handed sailor, Akito Yonago, who is safe in Phuket after concerns he could have been taken by pirates. But he is taken by Phuket.
Phuket a Haven for Lone-Hand 'Pirate' Sailor

Phuket IT Boost as Software Park 'Wave' Opens
Take the Wave Tour Phuket has a hankering for a wifi future and the opening of Software Park will move the island towards its potential as a regional IT hub.
Phuket IT Boost as Software Park 'Wave' Opens

Phuket Visa Runs, Spas Down, Discounts Up
Phuket Economy Not so many long term visitors means fewer visa runs. Spas are suffering too, but discounting is there for those with money for a good meal or a fine resort room.
Phuket Visa Runs, Spas Down, Discounts Up

Phuket Property Market Remains All at Sea
Showhouse Selloffs Some Phuket developers have been forced to sell showhouses as a property industry leader warns there could be 12 months of pain ahead.
Phuket Property Market Remains All at Sea

Phuket Fashion & Music Week, Patong, June 24-30
Photo Album High stepping models strutted their stuff in Patong at the preview of the first Fashion Week at Jungceylon that promises parades and a party every night.
Phuket Fashion & Music Week, Patong, June 24-30


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