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MediaWATCH: Phuket Yacht Struck, US Sailor Lost

MediaWATCH: Phuket Yacht Struck, US Sailor Lost

Monday, May 25, 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.

sail-world.com A fishing trawler collided with a yacht sailing from Phuket off Malaysia's east coast and continued without stopping, leaving an American lost at sea. Kenneth Wayne, 62, is missing off Kuantan. Yacht mates James Edward, 27, from Ireland, and Anon, 44, Papop, 33, and Butsara Tom Tantak, 31, from Thailand, were rescued by another fishing boat. The trawler did not stop. The group had set sail from Phuket on May 16 and was heading to Langkawi, Singapore and Tioman. A search is underway. Survivors are being treated for injuries.

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smh.com.au ''Australians go everywhere, and everywhere they go they get into trouble,'' a senior official from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says. ''It makes you proud.'' Touching up cabin crew is quite common and women can't seem to keep their fingers off stuff when they are transiting through airports. Men are better at ''offensive behavior like pissing in pot plants and crashing jet-skis''. Three young Australian men at a recent Oktoberfest gave mass 'huggy wedgies,' where you hug a person and yank up their underwear. ''Our embassy in Bangkok gets by far the largest volume of Australians behaving badly of anywhere in world,'' the official says.

ft.com Bali has been little affected by the economic downturn. ''I'm quite staggered by the resilience of the market,'' says Matthew Georgeson, a former Hong Kong resident who set up a real estate company, Elite Havens, on the island. While property demand has dropped, it has not dried up. Bali is increasingly luring buyers away from Phuket. Most Bali owners are motivated by the desire to maintain an island idyll not an investment. One plot owner said: ''We used to do the Phuket thing but I prefer Bali in many ways. It doesn't have the sleaze in your face in the same way. I love Indonesian food. I prefer the culture, the surf.''

New York Times Bowing to pressure, the World Health Organisation says it will rewrite its rules for alerting the world to new diseases, meaning the swine flu circling the globe will probably never be declared a full-fledged pandemic. Criteria would include a ''substantial risk of harm to people,'' not just the geographic spread of a relatively benign virus. The six-point system was created in 2005 when the threat was H5N1 avian flu, which has a fatality rate of about 60 percent.

news.com.au Australia now has 17 cases of H1N1 flu while cases have also been reported in Russia and Poland. Japan has about 300 cases, Britain more than 120. At least one cases in Australia involves a boy who has no recent travel history. As more countries declare outbreaks, a long-term slowdown in international travel becomes less likely.

Bangkok Post Burma has lashed out at Thailand for interfering in its internal affairs after the government called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Thailand "deviated from the practice of Asean," under which countries supposedly must not criticise other members, Burma said. Thailand said the show trial at Insein prison in Rangoon threatens Burma's ''honour and credibility''. The trial of the pro-democracy leader resumes today.

timesonline.co.ok Actress, musician, muse and campaigner Jane Birkin, 62, says: ''Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning leader of Burma's National League of Democracy, is a remarkable woman. I met her 13 years ago and promised to help her, but I no longer know how. I called the French Foreign Secretary only today, imploring him to help, and I've organised campaigns, but it has come to nothing - she's still detained by the military junta. It makes me want to scream.''

lonelyplanet.com In a measured introduction to a new edition of the guide to Burma, Robert Reid urges tourists to avoid government-run guides and spread their money. A prime reason for visiting despite the international boycott is to reassure the Burmese ''that Burma isn't forgotten.'' ''Many locals who support tourism favour individual travellers over package tourists, who often pay their money outside the country and have far less local interaction while in Burma,'' he writes.

nydailynews.com Swine flu doesn't seem to be stopping the masses of visitors from flocking to New York City this unfolding tourist season. But the severe global downturn is expected to cause a four percent drop in tourist visits. For the week ending May 16, hotel occupancy in New York was 80.6 percent, compared with 90.5 percent for the same week in 2008, records show.

traveldailynews.com Thailand Conventions and Exhibitions Bureau (TCEB) brought 15 stakeholders to London to reassure the European market that Thailand is safe, functioning and remains one of the best value destinations in Asia. For the conventions industry, the packages are similarly awe-inspiring, with the 'Thanks A Million' campaign offering incentives of one million baht for those conventions with 1000 delegates. TCEB will participate in 11 tradeshows and 10 road shows this year.

examiner.com Rita Cook writes: ''Wondering where your first trip to Asia should be, my pick for a first-timer is definitely Thailand. From the never-ending sights and sounds of Bangkok to the slower pace in areas such as Phuket or even north where tourists are not as plentiful, this is one country that will make you feel at peace while also stirring up your strongest senses. Another big deal is that the culture in Thailand is pure and original. One more must, take a Tuk-Tuk ride in Bangkok to see it like a local. Tuk-Tuks are three-wheeled, open-air motorised taxis and good for getting short distances quick. The best part too, it's only around 30 baht for a ride, but fares must be bargained in advance.''

Phuket Gazette 'Ordeal finally over for Aussie bar mat bandit' takes out the front page, with an editorial and lengthy coverage on page three of the case of Simon Burrowes, who was kept in Thailand far, far longer than Annice Smoel. A letter writer notes: ''I'm not saying theft should be excused because of low tourist figures, but shouldn't someone lighten up when it comes to petty crimes such as this?''

Xinhua news agency Bangkok saw a welcoming ceremony Sunday for this year's first batch of Mandarin-teaching volunteers from China, and the total number of the Chinese teachers to Thailand in 2009, after another two batches arrive, will amount to 1028. ''Upon the request and invitation of Thai Ministry of Education, the number of volunteer teachers sent by the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) to Thailand this year will surpass 1000 for the first time,'' Chinese ambassador to Thailand Guan Mu said on the ceremony.

afp news agency The expansion of rubber plantations in southeast Asia could have a ''devastating'' environmental impact, scientists warned as they pressed for a substantial increase in forest preserves. Researchers predict the area of land dedicated to rubber and other farming systems could more than double or triple by 2050, replacing lands currently occupied by evergreen broadleaf trees and secondary vegetation growing in areas subjected to slash-and-burn farming. That could result in a significant reduction in carbon biomass, dessicate the region's water systems, and increase the risk of landslides through erosion, researchers from China, Singapore and the US warned in an essay in the journal 'Science'.

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