Bikers descend on Phuket

Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily, pocket-sized packet of news from around the world, compiled by Phuket Gazette reporters for foreigners who want it short, sharp and straight to the point.

PHUKET: More than 3,000 big bikers from across Thailand and nearby countries will gather in Phuket during ‘Phuket Bike Week 2010’ and celebrate the Thai Water Festival of Songkran, Phuket Deputy Governor Teerayut Eamtrakul, announced yesterday.

This year Bike Week will take place April 8-13, with the Songkran festival starting on the 13th and running through the 15th.

The main organizer of Bike Week, Witaya Singkara, stressed the highlights of the event, which include the bikers’ carnival and 210 bikes displaying the shape of (the year) ‘2010’ on the soccer field bordering Patong Beach.

Training for big bike Highway Police Volunteers will also be arranged during the week, Mr Witaya explained. Other activities will include Bike Week exhibitions, Miss Phuket Bike Week contests, and concerts.

According to the Thailand National News Bureau, the local organizer estimates there will be over 700 million baht in circulation during the Songkran Festival in Phuket this year.

More bombs in Bangkok, Phuket quiet

The Nation
Shortly before 7pm yesterday, an M67 grenade was lobbed at the Army-run Channel 5 television studio, wounding seven people, four of them seriously. Two of the wounded were soldiers guarding the compound.

At about 9.30pm, an M79 grenade was fired into the state-run NBT (Channel 11) studio located on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road.

The bomb exploded at the tent where soldiers were on guard, wounding four of them. They were taken to Phra Mongkut Hospital. Police investigators said the grenade might have been tossed from the elevated tollway in front of the TV station.

Yesterday’s attacks coincided with a march by the red-shirt protesters earlier in the day to several locations in Bangkok to force soldiers stationed temporarily there to move out.

Last night’s blasts against TV stations followed a bomb explosion inside the Customs Department compound in Klong Toey District at about 6 am, damaging glass windows and a van parked nearby.

The casualty toll from yesterday’s attacks was the highest since four grenades were fired on March 12 into the First Infantry Regiment base, wounding two soldiers. It was followed by a series of grenade attacks targeting government buildings like the Defense Ministry, the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, Phuket, like all other Thai provinces outside the ‘Greater Bangkok’ area, has remained calm, with no protests, bombs, or other events or activities designed to express dissatisfaction with the current government.

Thai protesters trying to turn military

Thailand’s anti-government protesters yesterday massed at eight points in the center of the city. Troops have reportedly abandoned some of their positions after threats to tear down barbed-wire barricades.

The government has extended special security legislation and brought in extra troops to man check-points.

“We will meet with the military and police in a spirit of friendship, and talk with them to convince them to return to their barracks, and invite them to join us in calling for democracy,” said protest leader Veera Musikapong early yesterday.

Another leader, Nattawut Saikua, shouted to the crowd: “If we lose, we will probably go to jail. If we win, then we get a democracy back.”

The BBC’s Rachel Harvey in Bangkok says the protesters are no nearer their stated goal of forcing fresh elections, but there is no sign of them giving up either.

Peaceful Thai protests good for economy

The Jakarta Post
Analysts say protest leaders in Thailand are facing a dilemma: either maintain their non-violent approach and fail to rattle the government, or raise the ante and risk sparking clashes that could cost them their fast-growing support and credibility.

The lack of violence combined with PM Abhisit’s steadfast military backing has encouraged foreign investors lured by cheap shares with high dividend yields to pour into Thailand’s stock market in recent weeks.

On Friday, foreigners bought Thai stocks for a 24th straight session, spending a net 1.01 billion baht. They have purchased about 47 billion baht since February 22 as hot money continues to flow into regional bourses.

Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij says capital inflows into the Thai bourse should continue for the foreseeable future, although any escalation in political tension could trigger outflows.

— Gazette Editors

Phuket News
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