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MediaWATCH: Swine Flu Toll Leaps in 100 countries

MediaWATCH: Swine Flu Toll Leaps in 100 countries

Tuesday, June 23, 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.

bloomberg.com Thailand may consider extending Shariah law to defuse a separatist insurgency in Muslim provinces that border Malaysia, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says. ''More decentralisation and provisions that respond to specific needs are fine,'' PM Abhisit said in Singapore. ''We can respond to needs on Shariah law, on the education system.'' Abhisit is seeking to undermine suspected separatists who have attacked teachers, Muslim worshippers and policemen this month, leaving at least 31 dead and more than 50 injured. The PM says decentralisation wouldn't be autonomy, which the government opposes.

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AFP The World Health Organisation has reported a leap in the swine flu pandemic toll to more than 52,000 people infected and 231 dead, highlighting the steady spread of the H1N1 virus. Swine flu has now been reported in 100 countries and territories. Figures yet to be incorporated into the UN health agency's official figures indicate an even higher toll. The Philippines has reported the first swine flu death in Asia, while Singapore quarantined a Hong Kong football team. The WHO said that its figures could not be considered reliable because some countries were no longer keeping total figures. Thailand's toll is close to 800.

wsj.comOne of the Asian economies most open to international trade and tourism, Thailand has been slower to recover from the financial crisis, with an upswing further dented by political turmoil. But signs of stabilisation are growing, and Thailand should benefit from any recovery in global trade. The first quarter likely marked the steepest downturn, but GDP isn't expected to resume growth until the fourth quarter. Thai joblessness is rising and there is no concrete sign of a recovery in domestic consumption and investment.

smh.com.au The former ABC foreign correspondent Peter Lloyd is expected to be released from Singapore's Changi prison this morning after his sentence for drugs offences was trimmed due to good behavior. Lloyd was sentenced to 10 months in prison in December for possession of a small amount of the drug methamphetamine. A correspondent in Bangkok and New Delhi for the Australian national broadcaster, Lloyd blamed his drug use on post traumatic stress disorder from his work as a journalist covering such events as the Boxing Day tsunami.

The Nation The Thai government's attempt to reorganise the money-losing State Railway of Thailand hit a major obstacle as hundreds of workers went on strike and disrupted 17 percent of the national rail service. Cabinet approved the SRT's reorganisation plan on June 3, allowing the agency to set up a new company to take charge of the Airport Rail Link between Suvarnabhumi Airport and inner Bangkok. Another company, with initial capital of 60 million baht, will be set up to oversee the SRT's vast property interests.

Straits Times Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, on a day-long official visit to Singapore, pledged to step up cooperation and assured leading bankers and businessmen that Thailand would continue to welcome foreign investment. Speaking after lunch with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, PM Abhisit said: ''I had a very good meeting with PM Lee; despite the (economic) downturn we are determined to step up cooperation on all fronts.'' A Singapore-Thailand Enhanced Economic Relationship meeting later this year would be an opportunity to ''review the impact of the crisis on trade and investment flows and explore new opportunities as we move forward,'' he said.

csmonitor.com The Kang Nam is an aging, rusty cargo ship that has passed through numerous owners. Now flying the flag of North Korea and chugging slowly through East Asian waters toward the Strait of Malacca, it is an unlikely possible flash point for international tensions.But that's exactly what it is. The Kang Nam is the first North Korean vessel monitored under new UN Security Council sanctions aimed at punishing Pyongyang for its nuclear test last month. What the US Navy does to the Kang Nam - or what it does not do - may serve as an overall indication of how President Barack Obama intends to respond to North Korea's recent nuclear actions.

nytimes.com Hawaii has long lived with the threat of wipe out by tsunami, volcano or foreign invader. Now the Obama administration says North Korea could launch a ballistic missile in the state's direction, possibly around the Fourth of July, according to the Japanese news media. Antimissile interceptors are in place, the Defense Department said, and Hawaiians watched the other day as a giant, towering radar commonly known as the golf ball set out to sea. But if lifelong residents like Gerald Aikau are on any state of alert, it would be the one telling him that his octopus, caught in the waters here with a spear and his bare hands, is overcooked.

610cktb.com A North Korean-flagged ship under close watch in Asian waters is believed to be heading toward Myanmar carrying small arms cargo banned under a new UN resolution, a South Korean intelligence official says. Analysts say a high seas interception, something North Korea has said it would consider an act of war, is unlikely.The Irrawaddy, an online magazine operated by independent exiled journalists from Myanmar, reported that the North Korean ship would dock at the Thilawa port, some 30 kilometres south of Yangon, in the next few days.

Reuters North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is probably in good health and his grip on power strong but he appears to have needed displays of military might to counter a rise in domestic unrest, a South Korean cabinet minister says. ''Social instability has increased in North Korea. So Kim Jong-il needs to continue to reinforce his domestic power base,'' Unification Minister Hyun In-taek told Reuters. The sabre-rattling has been linked to Kim's need to consolidate his power and secure the eventual succession of his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, diplomats and officials say.

gulfnews.com North Korea reminded the US on Monday that it has nuclear weapons and warned it will strike back if attacked, as a US destroyer continued to trail a North Korean cargo ship suspected of carrying illicit weapons.The Kang Nam appeared headed to Myanmar via Singapore, the South Korean news network YTN reported, citing an unidentified intelligence source in South Korea.Myanmar's military government, which faces an arms embargo from the US and the EU, reportedly has bought weapons from the North in the past.

Phuketwan Phuket News

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.
Burma's Secret Exodus: The Illegal Road to Patong

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 '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 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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