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MediaWATCH: 'Sham Marriages' on US Menu

MediaWATCH: 'Sham Marriages' on US Menu

Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Phuketwan MediaWATCH

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

seattlepi.com The owner of Thai Ginger restaurants in the Seattle area has been accused of setting up four sham marriages so that relatives or employees could get immigration help. Amounts of less than $4000 to more than $20,000 were paid for the sham marriages, the indictment says, listing four instances from 2001 to 2006 in which marriages were set up with Varee Bradford's relatives or an employee to improve their immigration status. In 2008, an undercover agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement met with Bradford and an employee named Lyn.Bradford asked the undercover agent to marry Lyn, a Thai national, so that she could stay in the US, court documents say. She told the agent that he would have to stay married for two years and would be paid $20,000.

Reuters Thailand says it will not allow foreigners to invest in farming and livestock businesses in the country, after requests from several Arab investors. ''According to our laws and our policy, foreigners or foreign companies are not allowed to rent or buy land to grow rice or any kind of food, including raising any livestock in Thailand,'' Deputy Commerce Minister Alonkorn Pollabutr said. Thailand is the world's biggest rice and rubber exporter, producing around 30 million tonnes of paddy and around 3 million tonnes of rubber sheet annually.

csmonitor.com By tracking a North Korean cargo ship that appears to be headed to Burma, the Obama administration has shone a spotlight on warming ties between two secretive regimes. Its action also raises the question of how far US allies in Asia are prepared to go to enforce a UN ban on North Korean arms exports. Should the Kang Nam seek to refuel in Singapore or another port, the ban would be put to the test. Within Southeast Asia, the US can count on longstanding military ties with Singapore and Thailand, both of which trade with Burma. An interception by any of their naval forces seems highly unlikely.

Xinhua Burma has been promoting its international tourism market, targeting a tourist arrival of one million in the present 2009-10 fiscal year which began in April, sources with the Union of Myanmar Travel Association say. The organisation will work with international travel agencies and take part in international travel shows being held in neighboring countries and Europe for tourism promotion, UMTA officials said, adding that other measures taken in the move include appealing to world travelers to join traditional festivals of Burma's ethnic minorities.

mizzima.com The 2009 Failed States Index lists Burma as in critical danger of collapse due, primarily, to the misuse of power by the ruling military government. Though holding steady at number 13, Burma's cumulative 2009 score deteriorated by an additional 1.2 percent. The study, a joint undertaking by Washington-based Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace, argues Burma is failing ''because their government is strong enough to choke the life out of their society.''Meanwhile, the Fund for Peace classifies each of five critical indicators - leadership, military, judiciary, civil service and police -as ''poor.''At the top of the list for the second straight year is Somalia, which is defined as ''too failed even for al-Qaeda''.

Today's Must Read

New York Times Newly disclosed voice tapes, recorded by secret microphones in the Oval Office from January and February 1973, shed new light on Richard Nixon at an intense moment in American history. The period included Nixon's second inauguration, the ceasefire agreement for Vietnam, and the criminal trial of seven men over the burglary of the Democrats' headquarters at the Watergate complex amid revelations about ties to the White House.The documents also include three newly declassified pages from a National Security Council brief on nuclear proliferation, which discuss secret Israeli efforts to build a nuclear weapon. Israel has never confirmed or denied having nuclear weapons; it is widely believed to have had them for years.

thephuketinsider Tourism as a leading economic indicator in term of its importance to the economy is expected to contribute 14.7 percent to the countries Gross Dometic Product. In figures released by the World Tourism Council 11.1 percent of total jobs come from the sector which will provide more then 4 million jobs this year. Thailand's reliance on tourism ranks as number 2 in Southeast Asia and 24th in absolute size in the world. In direct terms there is a 6.5 percent direct contribution to GDP but add to this employment, capital investment, government expenditure and exports of tourism connected services, merchandise and exports and a true picture emerges on the importance of the sector.

thestar.com.my Incidents of piracy in the Straits of Malacca have dropped drastically because surrounding states have worked together to guard one of the world's busiest seaways, says Deputy Malaysian PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. The number of piracy cases had dropped from 12 in 2005 to two last year to just one, so far, this year. He attributed this to the to joint Eye-In-The-Sky aerial surveillance and the establishment of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency. ''While we have curbed piracy, other forms of crime at sea such as the smuggling of humans and contraband still prevail,'' he noted.

Bangkok Post Rising oil prices and swine flu appear likely to hinder the recovery of Thailand's tourism industry into the next year, a senior tourism authority says. ''Next year will be another tough year for the tourism sector, as there are new factors such as higher oil prices and the H1N1 flu outbreak which have complicated matters for the industry's recovery," says Tourism Authority of Thailand chairman Weerasak Kohsurat. Focus of the marketing plan will be on how to maintain the country's major markets such as China, the European Union and Southeast Asia, while expanding into new markets such as the Middle East and South Asia, particularly India.

dailynews.lk Plans are underway to attract more tourists Sri Lanka with the ending of three decade war. Already, Sri Lanka Tourism has launched a new promotional campaign with the new destination tagline 'Small Miracle' to capture the international markets. ''Incidentally, a large bulk of tourists who used to visit Sri Lanka shifted base to the Maldives during the war years. We should now try to get them back adopting a new sales pitch, with the freeing of the country from terrorism.''

Bangkok Post DMagazine goes on sale today at the Royal Plaza. Editor Wat Wallayangkur chose the date and venue of the launch for pointed reasons. Today is the 77th anniversary of the 1932 Revolution which brought an end to Thailand's absolute monarchy. The Royal Plaza is where the First Declaration of the People's Party was read out. The launch echoes recent calls by the red shirt movement for June 24 to be declared a national holiday to mark the beginning of Thailand's democracy. DMagazine, in which ''D'' stands for ''democracy,'', costs 50 baht a copy. The first 10,000 copies will hit newsstands today.

Phuketwan Phuket News

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Phuket Hotels Asked to 'Help Security Clamp'
Latest The Immigration Department is asking all Phuket hotels and guesthouses to supply information about newly arrived guests as part of a security clamp for leader summits.
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Phuket Timeshare Touts Take to Two Wheels
Latest Officials in the Phuket beach resort of Karon are concerned about a new trend for expat and Thai timeshare touts to take to two wheels to tempt tourists along the beachfront.
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Burma's Secret Exodus: The Illegal Road to Patong
Latest News Phuket and Patong especially rely on large numbers of Burmese workers. Now, as a registration deadline draws near, authorities are cracking down on secret voyagers.
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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.
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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.
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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

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