NEWS Hound: Sabotage worries over Thailand protests

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: The Thai government’s Situation Monitoring Committee has received information indicating possible acts of sabotage, aimed at creating chaos during the March 14 political rallies in Bangkok.

PM Abhisit said he would work with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to prevent any clashes in the capital between demonstrators of different stripes and colors.

According to The Nation, Abhisit says he will try to communicate with the leadership of the red-shirted Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship, and that if that fails he will get his messages across through the mass media.

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The PM says he has no intention to crack down on peaceful demonstrators, but is ready to impose special measures if necessary.

Outside of Bangkok, there continue to be no known plans for major protests in Phuket, Chiangmai or any of Thailand’s other important population centers.

Free trade hurting Thai rice

For many farmers in Thailand’s rice belt, agreements between Asian countries to reduce trade barriers have not brought all the benefits that national leaders promised. A free trade area between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Thailand is a member, took full effect on January 1, liberalizing billions of dollars in trade and investment in a market of 1.7 billion consumers. Rice from neighboring Cambodia and Laos is “inferior” but could flood the Thai market, possibly leading Thai consumers to buy imported rice instead of domestic grains.

Sugar rationing in Thailand
Thai customs officials in Chiang Rai Province have increased their inspection of traffic crossing into Burma as a nationwide sugar shortage in Thailand starts to take effect. The price of sugar in Burmese border markets is now 30 baht/kg, compared to 25-29/kg on the Thai side. According to Customs officials at the Thai border town of Mae Sai, people crossing over into Tachileik on the Burmese side are permitted to take only 2kg of sugar out of Thailand, and those found with more will have it confiscated prior to leaving Thailand.

Anyone caught stockpiling sugar without central government approval will be subject to prosecution, with fines of up to 140,000 baht and/or imprisonment for up to seven years.

World First for Thailand: twin elephants

Earth Times
A Thai elephant has given birth to the world’s first known male twins, local media reported yesterday. The twin males were born to Phang Thong Khun, a 35-year-old elephant in the northeastern province of Surin. The still-unnamed baby elephants are the first known in the world. Female twins named Phang Jum and Phang Jim were born in Thailand 15 years ago.

— Gazette / Nation Editors

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