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Malaysia gains edge over Phuket



Malaysia gains edge over Phuket | Thaiger
Phuket NEWS Hound

– A daily digest of news from around the world compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PHUKET: Etihad Holidays, a division of Etihad Airways, has announced a new cooperative agreement with Tourism Malaysia to promote holiday packages to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi and Kota Kinabalu, giving them a clear advantage over Phuket as a popular tourist destination in the region.

Travel Daily News reports that Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, has announced a special promotion that runs throughout April and May 2010. Under the program, Etihad Airways is offering travelers a range of bonus privileges including free flights for children; free accommodation for children in selected hotels; additional complimentary nights; free room upgrades; breakfast; airport transfers; and attractive discounts on a wide selection of services.

The sales period for the special offers expires on May 31.

Tsunami warning lifted in Phuket

The Wall Street Journal
A magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit the north of the Indonesian island of Sumatra at 5:15am local time yesterday, triggering a minor tsunami and widespread panic across the same area that was hit by giant waves in 2004 and left 5,400 people dead in Thailand alone.

A tsunami watch was issued, but lifted two hours after the tremblor by the monitoring agencies in Hawaii, Indonesia and Thailand.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami was generated and “may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter.”

Neighboring Thailand issued its own alert, covering the provinces where the major tourist draws of Phuket and Krabi lie. The quake caused some damage and injuries, but no deaths were immediately reported.

In Phuket, the tsunami watch, or “advisory alert”, was misreported and mistaken by many as a full-scale evacuation order, causing panic in some areas. For details of the event yesterday, click here.

Protesters force MPs to flee

Thousands of Thai anti-government protesters – known as “red-shirts” – have marched on parliament amid high political tension in Bangkok.

The red-shirts forced MPs to call off a session and some breached security to enter parliament’s grounds, but they pulled back after 45 minutes.

The parliamentary session was abandoned shortly after it had begun and senior politicians, including Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, were ushered out of the building by security guards.

While some MPs used ladders to scale walls as they escaped, others were picked up by a military helicopter which landed on the roof of the building.

PM’s handling of protests unpopular

The Associated Press
Thailand’s prime minister has recently come under fire for soft-handed reaction to the political unrest in Bangkok. Many Thai columnists and editorials on Wednesday questioned whether Abhisit Vejjajiva was losing the weeks-old confrontation with the protesters and the crucial backing of the military and police.

A former head of the National Security Council, Prasong Soonsiri, emphasized that there was strong support for the Red Shirts within the civil service and law enforcement agencies.

PM Abhisit made a brief TV address, saying his government is “confident in using the law to resolve the problems and move things forward. I know that many of you who would like to see things set straight and the rules of law respected, are discouraged…but the current fragile situation, involving a large number of misinformed people, demands careful maneuvering.”

Pattaya likes public service Bali-style

The Jakarta Post
Pattaya Mayor Itthipol Kunplome is eager to adopt a one-stop public service system he encountered in Bali, Indonesia.

The head of Bali’s public relations department, Made Erwin, said that the mayor and his staff had visited a number of offices, including permit offices, radio stations, and other community services.

A one-stop public service system such as Bali’s “has accelerated services to the public and enabled us to enforce transparent, accurate services, which has the potential to eradicate corruption,” Erwin said.

The Pattaya mayor, he said, was interested in applying the system.
“Pattaya is a popular tourist destination in Thailand. We [in Bali] have also faced similar public service issues,” Erwin said.

Rice crops depleted

Rice production in Thailand and Vietnam, the two largest exporters in Southeast Asia, may be hurt by drier-than-normal weather that’s parched farms and cut water levels in the Mekong River, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The Thai harvest that begins this month, which accounts for about 25 percent of the country’s annual output, may drop to 7 million metric tons from 8.4 million last year, said Concepcion Calpe, a senior economist at the United Nations agency, prompting a warning from the Thai prime minister that rice prices may gain as output declines.

Lower production of Asia’s most important staple may cut global stockpiles.

— Gazette Editors


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