Monthly Archives: January 2010

Suggested weekend reading

Some links that have caught my eye of late:

See you next week.

Update: Crew of N. Korean arms plane to be held until Feb. 11, Bangkok Post says

An update to my previous post: The Bangkok Post is now saying this:

The prosecution on Friday deferred until Feb 11 a decision on whether to indict the five crew members of a plane which landed at Don Mueang airport with an undeclared cargo of weapons from North Korea.

It was earlier reported that the prosecutors might drop charges against pilot Mikhail Petukhou, 54, from Belarus, and Alexandr Zrybnev, 53, Ciktor Abdullayev, 58, Vitaliy Shumkov, 54, and Ilyas Issakov, 53, from Kazakhstan for illegal arms possession, carrying weapons without permission, illegally bringing them into Thailand and failing to inform authorities of the items.

Kayasit Pissawanprakan, chief of the Criminal Litigation Office, said the prosecution could not yet decide whether they should be arraigned. There were still a large number of documents to be examined.

The prosecution, therefore, deferred the decision until Feb 11 and sought court permission to detain the five suspects for another 12 days at the Bangkok Remand Prison, he said.

(Emphasis mine.)

Bangkok Post: Crew of North Korean arms plane to be released today?

n_korea_arms_plane_crew.jpg

Today’s Bangkok Post, citing an anonymous source, has this story: “Korea arms plane crew ‘to go free.’

The first two graphs:

Prosecutors have decided to drop charges against five suspects found last month with 35 tonnes of weapons on a plane from North Korea, a source close to the case has revealed.

The source did not elaborate yesterday on the reasons leading to the prosecutors’ decision, which will be announced today.

Previous posts on this topic are here.

(Photo at right: four of the rive crew. Image source: Bangkok Post)

Reuters: “Are cracks appearing in Thailand’s military?”

Given my recent posts on the subject, I wanted to point out a story that Reuters ran yesterday. It’s called “Are cracks appearing in Thailand’s military?

Here are the first few graphs.

A grenade attack on the office of Thailand’s army chief this month is stoking fears of a worst-case scenario in Thailand’s political crisis — a possible fissure in the military along fault lines that have divided the country.

Analysts, diplomats and military sources say it is premature to talk of a split in Thailand’s powerful and politicised army but that festering ideological differences show signs of broadening in one of the most charged climates in decades.

A divide in an institution central to Thailand’s power structure would deepen uncertainty over the outlook for Thailand’s export-dependent $260 billion economy, Southeast Asia’s second-largest, and raise the prospect of instability in a country seen as a gateway to the region for foreign companies.

Large numbers of soldiers of lower ranks and some senior officers, analysts say, are sympathisers of Thailand’s rural, grassroots anti-government, red-shirted protest movement.

In contrast, many of the military’s top brass are at the other end of the political spectrum, allied with royalists, business elites and the urban middle classes, who wear yellow at protests and largely support the present government.

The red-yellow divide is growing increasingly intractable.

(Emphasis mine.)

Worth a read.

Front page of today’s Bangkok Post: “Coup, What Coup?”

bkk_post_coup_rumors.jpg

I mentioned yesterday the Jan. 15 grenade attack on the office of Thai General Anupong, and how the incident underscores tensions within the Thai Army.

So I wanted to follow up, just quickly, with a cell phone pic of the front page of today’s Bangkok Post. The story, as you can see, is called “Coup, What Coup?

Here are the first few graphs:

ANALYSIS: After 22 armoured vehicles appeared on the streets of Bangkok on Monday night, many were wondering if the army was preparing another putsch

Rumours of another coup have been spreading like wildfire after 22 armoured vehicles rolled on to the streets of Bangkok on Monday night.

The sight of the armoured personnel carriers (APCs), which led people to believe another coup was in the works, came several hours after army chief Anupong Paojinda gave assurances there would not be another coup.

“I have denied it [the possibility of a coup] dozens of times,” Gen Anupong said.

(Emphasis mine.)

Worth a read.

I have no viewpoint to add on the issue, but I’m sharing the image because Thailand watchers might like to see how prominent the story is in today’s edition of the print paper.

Spotted by Austin in Northern Thailand: bespoke chicken carrier

chicken_holder.jpg

Image credit: Austin Bush.

Excellent post from Austin Bush about running into a guy carrying a bespoke bamboo chicken container in Northern Thailand, near Mae Hong Son.

Check out the full post for the details and another pic.

As Austin says:

I came across the guy above just outside Ban Mae Lana, possibly the most attractive rural village anywhere in the country. He made for a nice portrait, but initially I was drawn to his ‘luggage’: a chicken container carved out of a length of bamboo, complete with a window and airholes! He explained that he takes the rooster into the woods, ties it to something and encourages it to call. This apparently attracts any ‘wild chickens’ (kai paa), which he then shoots. Unfortunately this particular chicken wasn’t yet ready. “He’s still scared of the forest,” explained the man, “He needs to be trained.”

(Emphasis mine.)

If carrying single chickens for hunting purposes were more commonplace, I reckon that this ingenious device would be right at home on Cool Tools or Street Use.

Grenade attack on Thai Army general’s office

A brief post about a story that has received little international coverage, but which is worth pointing out to Thailand-watchers…

Local media has reported that on Jan. 15, a grenade was fired into the sixth-floor office of General Anupong Paojinda, in the Thai Army headquarters. The attack happened at night, and no one was hurt.

Still, the incident — and the government has now confirmed it happened, though it was initially dismissed as a rumor — highlights tensions within the Thai army.

The government suspects that army specialist Khattiya Sawasdipol, known for being sympathetic to Thaksin and the red shirts, is behind the attack.

For more, you can find some (inside baseball) stories from the Bangkok Post here (Jan. 26) and here (Jan. 25), as well as analysis pieces here (Jan. 23) and here.

And here’s a Jan. 22 AFP story, as well as a Jan. 23 The Star column from Philip Golingai.

As Golingai points out, here are a couple of graphs from the last Post story I linked to above, by Veera Prateepchaikul:

For the time being, the army chief appears safe, with a tight security cordon around him. But the big question remains in the minds of the general public: how can ordinary people feel safe and secure if the army chief’s life is threatened and he needs extra protection?

This outrageous incident is a direct challenge to the authority of Gen Anupong in his capacity as the army commander-in-chief – not mention a huge slap in the face.

(Emphasis mine.)

Food for thought.

“Sciencetific Garden”

Let’s end the week on a humorous note, shall we?

A recently spotted this excellent sign at a school in Thailand’s Rayong province.

sciencetific_garden.jpg

That’s right, it reads “Sciencetific Garden.”

Science 1. Spelling 0. 🙂

I believe that’s a bust of Einstein in the back. And Newton — or is it Bacon? — in the front.

A previous post about an amusing Thai sign is here.

World Cup trophy comes to Bangkok

abhisit_world_cup.jpg

The World Cup trophy will be on display at Bangkok’s Paragon shopping center from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. tomorrow (Sat.).

Today’s Bangkok Post has the details:

The Fifa World Cup trophy arrived in Bangkok yesterday with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva receiving it in a ceremony at Don Mueang Airport.

“I am glad to touch the trophy,” said a smiling Abhisit who lifted the trophy.

The 18-carat, solid gold trophy is being taken to 83 countries on a 138,902km journey around the world and has already been received by more than 30 heads of states or governments.

The trip, which ends on May 4 when the trophy arrives in South Africa, is sponsored by Coca-Cola, a major sponsor of the World Cup.

The trophy will be on display to the general public tomorrow at the Royal Paragon Hall, Siam Paragon, from 10am-8pm.

(Emphasis mine.)