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MediaWATCH: FM Faces Police Scrutiny

MediaWATCH: FM Faces Police Scrutiny

Monday, July 6, 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.

ACCUSED of playing a role in last year's seizure of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has to face police on July 16 . . . just as the important Asean Regional Summit begins on Phuket. He and others from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), are to be questioned about alleged involvement in the massively disruptive airports blockade last November. Khun Kasit would be ready to comply with the law but he would not stop working, officials told national media. Police require Khun Kasit and 26 PAD leaders to report in person on July 16. Calls are being made that he should consider quitting for the sake of the image of the Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Ministry is also in charge of the week-long gathering of 26 nations on Phuket beginning July 17. A North Korean ship suspected of carrying banned weapons is expected to return to its home port today. The Kang Nam was the first North Korean ship to be tracked under new UN sanctions imposed on the secretive communist state. Under the sanctions, UN member states are obliged to inspect all North Korean ships suspected of carrying banned weapons. After being shadowed by the US Navy, the Kang Nam suddenly reversed course before reaching its reported destination in Burma. The ship is now expected to dock in its home port in the Yellow Sea later today.

Today's Must Read Roger Federer claimed his record 15th grand slam crown and sixth Wimbledon title as he beat Andy Roddick 5-7 7-6 7-6 3-6 16-14 in an epic final. Federer was tasting victory at Wimbledon for the sixth time. Federer had been tied for grand slam wins with Pete Sampras, who watched the spellbinding clash on Centre Court. Leading 15-14, Federer forced his first match point against a tiring opponent who mishit a forehand to see his own hopes of victory cruelly ended. It was the first time that sixth seed Roddick had dropped his service in a match lasting four hours and 18 minutes. Noppawan Lertcheewakarn became the first Thai to triumph in a Grand Slam event when she won the Wimbledon girls' title.

Irish Times Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general, attacked Burma's military rulers this weekend after the army chief rebuffed his plea to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, the jailed Nobel prizewinner.In a rare critical public speech to 500 state officials, diplomats and opposition politicians at Rangoon's Drug Elimination Museum, Mr Ban said that ''allowing a visit to Aung San Suu Kyi would have been an important symbol of the government's willingness to embark on the kind of meaningful engagement that will be essential if the elections in 2010 are to be seen as credible''. Ms Suu Kyi is in Rangoon's Insein prison on trial for violating the terms of her house arrest, after an incident in which an American sneaked into her home.

afp Search teams scouring the Indian Ocean coast off the Comoros have detected a signal from the black boxes of the Yemenia airliner that crashed last week with 153 people on board, investigators said. French, Comoran, Yemeni and US teams stepped up efforts to locate the flight recorders that contain vital data needed to determine the cause of the crash. An investigation is under way in Australia over claims that navy sailors competed with each other to bed their female colleagues for cash prizes. According to Channel Seven news, sailors on board HMAS Success put a cash value on each woman's head. Sleeping with a female officer or a lesbian, or having sex in a strange place, won more money, the report said. The Defence Department confirmed that a number of individuals had been sent back to Australia for interviews. HMAS Success, which has a crew of 220, is currently on exercises in South East Asia.

Associated Press A 120-kilogram, big-eared and long-nosed male elephant calf was born in Sydney's Taronga Zoo to Thong Dee, one of a group of elephants brought from Thailand in 2006 after logging camps were closed and there was no work for them at tourist operations. A zoo weblog announced: ''The little calf is suckling and standing close to mum, but getting a bit wobbly.'' The group of elephants is part of an international breeding program that aims to preserve the genetic diversity of the Asian elephant. The species is listed as endangered in the wild, with only an estimated 34,000 animals left.

Xinhua Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva reiterated during his weekly television address that the 'I love Thailand' project, launched at the weekend, is aimed to restore the country's image, which has been badly affected over the past few years. The PM has urged Thais to express opinions and suggests through the website, Today, Burmese with the right military connections are profiting from access to natural resources, government construction and international trade, still tightly controlled by the regime. Many Rangoon condos have been developed by companies that received prime urban land as part of their payment for helping to build the junta's new capital city far to the north and its $3.5bn new airport. Many of the units are unsold, leaving the companies struggling to recover costs. Than Shwe, the junta's head, has apparently ordered the government to balance its budget, which has been in deficit for years, ahead of the regime's planned elections next year, which could create a squeeze on liquidity and bring a spending spree to a halt. One economist said: ''Businessmen are also quite fed up. They want change.'' The medical journal, The Lancet, has warned that the risk of indigenous groups contracting the potentially deadly respiratory disease is high because they are more likely to be malnourished and living in poverty. The journal has listed Australian aborigines and Native American Indians as being especially at risk. Researchers have said the Aboriginal people may be more vulnerable to the swine flu due to poor diet and the widespread use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Malaysia has become a hub for illegal charter flights. Aviation industry sources claim such operations have been going on for almost two decades and the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has turned a ''blind eye.'' Foreign-registered aircraft can be used for private use of company staff and their families only. ''Many local aviation companies work hand-in-hand with foreign companies, bringing in their planes and using them for charter, taking paying passengers for meetings and holidays.'' The source said what was happening in the aviation industry at present, was similar to having Singapore or Thailand-registered taxis doing business in Malaysia and undercutting Malaysian cabbies. Greg Torode reports: On Wednesday, 176 million Indonesians will vote in only their second presidential election in history. The build-up to the poll has been notable for its relative stability, tolerance and moderation - and a striking sense that democracy is firmly bedding down. Talking to both ordinary voters and the elites, there is little sense of the tension that can run through elections elsewhere in the region, which too often produce a winner-takes-all fight to the death. That can too often produce, at best, conspiracies and Machiavellian manoeuvring with little thought to actual policy rather than the raw business of getting and keeping power for its own sake. In the worst cases, there is actual bloodshed; bodies floating in rivers or falling into rice-threshing machines.

Phuket Gazette Lead story is the June 30 fire that destroyed 17 homes in a sea gypsy village on Phuket, leaving 85 homeless; below on the front page is an Asean summit report headed 'Internal Security Act to cover Phuket for 15 days.' The Editorial claims the media attention on Michael Jackson and his death ''will be a long-term distraction . . . from important global issues that are affecting thousands of others around the globe.'' Highlighting the Jackson case apparently means ''less air time is given over to coverage of stories from war-torn countries, refugees dotted around the world and the injustices of this world being meted out to the innocent.'' Today as I was driving down Lagoon Road at the entrance of Laguna Phuket I was stunned as a black Toyota Vios disappeared into a large pothole in front of me. This is not the first time vehicles, herds of water buffalo and even a lost tribe of Rohingya have gone missing in this cavernous stretch of highway. If we lose of few foreign diplomats in the potholes at the upcoming Asean, events in North Korea and Iran will look like a children's party compared to the bad press Thailand will be hit with; though the new story could at least displace Michael Jackson's demise which could be a welcome change.

Reuters Singapore will hold its biggest anti-terror drill on Monday, simulating the deadly Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people last year, ahead of hosting an Asia-Pacific summit in November. Exercise North Star VII will involve 2000 participants from 15 state agencies and media outlets and simulate situations such as concerted terror attacks on hotels, malls and an underground train station, the Singapore Police Force said in a statement.

TNA Thailand has vowed proactive enforcement to suppress intellectual property violations, targeting a goal of outstanding results in hand to eliminate such economic crimes within two to eight months. The US earlier downgraded Thailand to its ''Priority Watch List'' because of charges of the Thai authorities taking little action to protect US intellectual property rights. In May, a special team from the Commerce Ministry raided vendors offering pirated goods in Bangkok's Patpong night market area, leaving 11 people injured when some vendors put up stiff resistance.

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