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Posts tagged ‘Siam Land of Thailand’

Surgeons remove 915 coins swallowed by Thai sea turtle

March 07, 2017

BANGKOK (AP) — Tossing coins in a fountain for luck is a popular superstition, but a similar belief brought misery to a sea turtle in Thailand from whom doctors have removed 915 coins. Veterinarians in Bangkok operated Monday on the 25-year-old female green sea turtle nicknamed “Bank,” whose indigestible diet was a result of many tourists seeking good fortune tossing coins into her pool over many years in the eastern town of Sri Racha.

Many Thais believe that throwing coins on turtles will bring longevity. Typically, a green sea turtle has a lifespan of around 80 years, said Roongroje Thanawongnuwech, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary faculty. It is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The loose change eventually formed a heavy ball in her stomach weighing 5 kilograms (11 pounds). The weight cracked the turtle’s ventral shell, causing a life-threatening infection. Five surgeons from Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary faculty patiently removed the coins over four hours while “Bank” was under general anesthesia. The stash was too big to take out through the 10-cm (4-inch) incision they had made, so it had to be removed a few coins at a time. Many of them had corroded or partially dissolved.

“The result is satisfactory. Now it’s up to Bank how much she can recover,” said Pasakorn Briksawan, one of the surgical team. While recovering in Chulalongkorn University’s animal hospital, the turtle will be on a liquid diet for the next two weeks.

Bank was brought in to veterinarians by the navy, which found her ailing in her seaside hometown. It was only after a detailed 3D scan that veterinarians pinpointed the weighty and unexpected problem. As well as the coins they also found 2 fish hooks, which were also removed today.

The surgery team leader said Monday that when she discovered the cause of the turtle’s agony she was furious. “I felt angry that humans, whether or not they meant to do it or if they did it without thinking, had caused harm to this turtle,” said Nantarika Chansue, head of Chulalongkorn University’s veterinary medical aquatic animal research center.

Thai media began publicizing the turtle’s tale last month after she was found, and in response, some 15,000 baht ($428) in donations was raised from the public to pay for her surgery.

Associated Press writer Kaweewit Kaewjinda in Bangkok contributed to this story.

Crown prince formally becomes Thailand’s new king

December 01, 2016

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand has a new king, with the country’s crown prince formally taking the throne to succeed his much-revered late father, who reigned for 70 years. The new monarch, who received the title “His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun,” assumed his new position Thursday, according to an announcement broadcast on all TV channels. He will also be known as Rama X, the tenth king in the Chakri dynasty that was founded in 1782.

A videotaped broadcast showed senior officials presenting the formal invitation to the prince to become king, and then his acceptance. It then showed the officials prostrate themselves at the feet of the new king, who was wearing a formal white uniform with decorations.

Vajiralongkorn’s father, Bhumibol Adulyadej, died on Oct. 13 at age 88 after many years of ill health. In 1972, Bhumibol designated Vajiralongkorn — his second child and only son — as his successor. “I would like to accept in order to fulfill his majesty’s wishes and for the benefit of all Thais,” Vajiralongkorn said in the videotape.

Vajiralongkorn, 64, was originally expected to assume the throne the day his father died, but in a surprise announcement, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the prince asked for the succession to be put off so he would have time to mourn.

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy — although currently under military rule — but Bhumibol played an important role in stabilizing his country through a time of enormous change which saw neighboring monarchies collapse under the pressures of the Vietnam War. He was especially known for his energy in development activities, doing hands-on inspections in remote rural areas. He calmed the country through several political crises.

Vajiralongkorn faces the challenges of a country that has become fractured over the past decade, as contending political forces engaged in bitter battles that sometimes turned violent, leaving a residue of bad feeling and shaking faith in the democratic system.

The new king, with a less intense interest in state affairs and a reputation as a playboy, does not command the same level of respect as Bhumibol. He has gone through divorces with three women who have borne him seven children, and in recent years has spent much of his time residing in Germany. Although most Thais are devoted to the royal institution, it is hard to gauge how they feel privately about Vajiralongkorn because of harsh laws that mandate a prison term of three to 15 years for anyone found guilty of insulting the monarchy.

Information about the succession has been tightly controlled, and international news broadcasts about Thailand have been blocked in recent days. The prince made his first public appearance in more than a week earlier Thursday, attending a religious ceremony honoring his late father. He was accompanied by his three sisters, two adult daughters and 11-year-old son.

Shortly afterward, he granted an audience to National Legislative Assembly President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, Prime Minister Prayuth, Supreme Court Chief Justice Veerapol Tungsuwan and former Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda, who had been one of his father’s closest advisers and served as regent in the period since Bhumibol’s death.

The Cabinet, proceeding according to a 1924 law on succession, on Tuesday had forwarded to the National Legislative Assembly the late king’s appointment of his son to succeed him. The assembly in turn acknowledged the appointment, and its president then issued an invitation to Vajiralongkorn to become king.

Huge crowds have been paying respects to the late king’s remains at the ceremonial Grand Palace. His remains will be cremated in an elaborate ceremony that may take place a year or more after his death. The official coronation of Vajiralongkorn will occur only after the cremation. Bhumibol’s coronation was in 1950, four years after succeeding his brother King Ananda Mahidol, who died of gunshot wounds in unclear circumstances.

Associated Press journalists Tassanee Vejpongsa and Kaweewit Kaewjinda contributed to this report.

Preparations set for Thai prince to succeed to throne

December 01, 2016

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand prepared Thursday to welcome a new king, with final arrangements scheduled to formalize the accession of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn to the throne. National Legislative Assembly President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai is set have an audience with the prince later Thursday to invite him to become king, a constitutional formality, according to the assembly Vice President Peerasak Porchit.

Pornpetch’s public announcement of Vajiralongkorn’s acceptance, expected Thursday night, will complete the succession process, making the 64-year-old prince King Rama X, the tenth monarch in the Chakri dynasty that was founded in 1782.

Vajiralongkorn’s father, the much-revered Bhumibol Adulyadej, who took the throne in 1946, died on Oct. 13 at age 88 after many years of ill health. In 1972, Bhumibol designated Vajiralongkorn — his second child and only son — as his successor.

Vajiralongkorn was originally expected to assume the throne the day his father died, but in a surprise announcement, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the prince asked for the succession to be put off so he had time to mourn. In the interim, royal affairs have been overseen by a regent, Prem Tinsulanonda, who along with Prayuth and Supreme Court Chief Justice Veerapol Tungsuwan will accompany the assembly president at his audience to invite the prince to take the throne.

Thailand has been in a state of national mourning since Bhumibol’s death, and huge crowds have been paying respects to the late king’s remains at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. His body will be cremated in an elaborate ceremony that may take place a year or more after his death.

The coronation ceremony for Vajiralongkorn will take place only after the cremation.

White elephants, mahouts pay respects to late Thai king

November 08, 2016

BANGKOK (AP) — While tens of thousands of mourners have paid their respects to Thailand’s late king at Bangkok’s Grand Palace, where his body is being kept before cremation, a different kind of visitor appeared in front of the palace gates Tuesday.

Some 200 mahouts leading nine, specially chosen white elephants and two white-painted elephants arrived at the palace from around the country. The tusked giants and their riders kneeled in front of the palace gates in a sign of respect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last month at age 88 after reigning for 70 years, while the royal anthem was played on a lone trumpet.

Mourners waiting to enter the palace cried as they witnessed the elephants’ prostrating. In Thailand, the white elephant is regarded as sacred and a symbol of royal power, according to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. The white elephant was on Thailand’s national flag until 1917, but the symbol is still found on the ensign of the Royal Thai Navy. Historically, the statuses of kings were evaluated by the number of white elephants in their possession.

Ittipan Kaolamai, manager of the Royal Elephant Kraal and Village in Ayutthaya province, said nine elephants in Tuesday’s procession were white and two were painted, presumably to maintain conformity.

He said one of the two spray-painted elephants carried a portrait of Bhumibol on its back and the other carried a drummer.

Tributes for Thai king as concern swirls over nation’s future

Bangkok (AFP)

Oct 13, 2016

World leaders paid tribute to Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej as a champion of his people during a momentous seven-decade reign, as observers warned his death could plunge the country into renewed turmoil.

Bhumibol, whose reign witnessed regular bouts of political turmoil, coups and violent unrest, was revered as a serene and caring father of the nation, and a bulwark in troubled times.

His death Thursday at the age of 88, with Thailand under a military dictatorship, could cause fresh political tensions and economic hardship, analysts warned as his people come to terms with losing the only monarch most have ever known.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon hailed the king’s “long dedication to his country and his legacy as a unifying national leader… respected internationally”.

“The Secretary-General expresses his hope that Thailand will continue to honour King Bhumibol’s legacy of commitment to universal values and respect for human rights,” his spokesman said in a statement.

President Barack Obama praised the monarch as a “close friend” and partner of the United States.

He paid tribute to the king as a “tireless champion” for Thailand’s development, praising his “unflagging devotion” to improving the lives of his subjects.

“I had the honor of calling on His Majesty the King during my visit to Thailand in 2012, and recall his grace and warmth, as well as his deep affection and compassion for the Thai people,” he said.

Backed by an intense palace-driven personality cult, Bhumibol was revered as semi-divine by many in Thailand, and a towering leader above the din of the kingdom’s fractious political scene.

In his heydey he built a reputation as a people’s monarch, criss-crossing the nation to visit the rural poor and sometimes intervening to quell political violence — although he approved most of the army’s many coups during his reign.

– ‘Greatly missed’ –

Neighboring Singapore and Malaysia both expressed their sorrow at his passing, with the island city-state describing the king as “an outstanding and deeply revered monarch… (who) worked tirelessly for the betterment of the Thai people”.

President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram of condolence, saying that “during the decades of his reign he won the sincere love of his subjects and high prestige abroad”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Bhumibol “guided the Kingdom of Thailand with dignity, dedication and vision throughout his life. He will be greatly missed”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed Bhumibol’s contribution to Thailand’s development, adding that the “good relationship” between Bangkok and Beijing were due in no small part to “personal efforts made by King Bhumibol himself”.

Bhumibol’s “rural development projects improved the lives of millions of people in Thailand” and will be remembered for generations to come, said EU President Donald Tusk and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “People of India and I join the people of Thailand in grieving the loss of one of the tallest leaders of our times, King Bhumibol Adulyadej”.

As concern mounted over the Bhumibol’s health in the days prior to his death, the stock market and baht currency tumbled. And analysts predict further jitters ahead.

“The death of Thailand’s highly revered king will plunge the country into a state of mourning, and also deep political uncertainty,” forecasters Capital Economics said in a note.

“The period of (relative) political calm since the 2014 coup has helped the economy recover… But renewed political instability could quickly derail this recovery.”

“Although the King has been unwell for a number of years and has had little or no influence on day-today policymaking for some time, he has continued to act as a unifying force in the country.”

Advisory group Bower Group Asia said all eyes would now be on the succession. The junta leader said Thursday that the named heir, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, has asked for time before being officially proclaimed the next monarch.

“During the mourning and transition period, the military will retain a firm grip over the country to ensure that the royal succession proceeds smoothly and does not become politicized,” it said.

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Tributes_for_Thai_king_as_concern_swirls_over_nations_future_999.html.

First halal food hotel opens in Buddhist Thailand

02 September 2016 Friday

In an effort to broaden its Muslim traveler base, Thailand opened its first Islamic hotel in an effort to attract more Muslim visitors and to promote its economy on a national and international level.

A predominantly Buddhist country, the four-star Al Meroz hotel in Bangkok, which opened in November last year, hopes to play its part in changing that, and to cash in on the booming halal travel market.

“There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. It’s a huge market,” said the hotel’s general manager, Sanya Saengboon.

“Just one percent of that amount of market is enough for us to thrive. Al Meroz hotel is place for tourists, who want a safe and a comfortable place”.

Nearly 658,000 tourists from the Middle East out of 30 million foreigners visited the country last year, with an increase of 10 percent during 2015 compared to 2014, according to tourism data in Thailand.

The Al Meroz, with its mosque-like architecture, has two prayer rooms and three halal dining halls and usually organizes Islamic lectures for staff members working in the hotel who have different faiths and beliefs.

Source: MoroccoWorld New/Reuters

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/asia-pacific/176910/first-halal-food-hotel-opens-in-buddhist-thailand.

Thais vote on new constitution that could dilute democracy

August 07, 2016

BANGKOK (AP) — Thais voted Sunday in a referendum on a new constitution that critics say is tailor-made for the military government to stay in control for several years and entrench a new, quasi-democratic system that gives vast powers to appointed officials.

The junta, which came to power in a May 2014 coup and ordered the constitution rewritten, says the new version will usher in a new era of clean politics and stable democracy in a country chronically short of both in recent years, sometimes sliding into violent internal political conflict.

Still, the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a retired army general, used its sweeping powers to ban political rallies, independent campaigns against the draft constitution and virtually no debates on it. Opponents say this was done to ensure that people would have little knowledge about the constitution’s provisions, even though 1 million copies are claimed to have been distributed to the public in a nation of 64 million people.

More than 100 people who tried to campaign against the referendum on social media have been thrown in jail, and open criticism has been made punishable by up to 10 years in prison. “If people cannot speak their minds freely or take part in political activities without fear, how can they meaningfully engage in this referendum,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

At a polling booth in Bangkok where Prayuth voted, officials displayed an empty ballot box to reporters and sealed it before letting the first voter — a young woman — enter the booth. She first registered at a desk and signed a paper before casting her ballot.

“Come out (to vote) because today is important for the future of the country. This is your duty and this is part of democracy, of an internationally-recognized process,” Prayuth told reporters after voting.

People are being asked to check “yes” or “no” for the constitution and related provisions on the ballot paper. Final results are expected late Sunday. The main criticism of the draft constitution includes at least five years of a transitional period and a 250-member appointed Senate that includes the commanders of the army and other security services. A deadlock in the 500-member elected lower house could trigger a selection of a prime minister who is not an elected member of parliament.

Also, emergency decrees enacted by the junta without any parliamentary consent remain valid. So-called independent bodies, stacked with conservative appointees, would hold “disproportionately broad and unchecked powers” over elected politicians, said the international human rights consortium FIDH and the Union for Civil Liberty in Thailand.

“If you say ‘yes’ to the constitution, it means you agree with the content of the constitution … what makes matters worse is you also give legitimacy to the coup, to the coup makers,” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an associate professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of Kyoto University in Japan.

Pavin, a Thai and a vocal critic of the junta, told The Associated Press that a victory in the referendum would give the junta the reason to tell the world “don’t you dare criticize us anymore because we have the legitimacy.”

Even if Thais vote “no,” the military will remain in control for the foreseeable future. Prayuth has promised to hold elections next year, without elaborating on how that would happen if voters reject the draft constitution.

Thailand has endured 13 successful military coups and 11 attempted takeovers since it replaced absolute with a constitutional monarchy in 1932. If passed, this would be Thailand’s 20th constitution. Leaders of the latest coup say sometimes violent political conflict made the country ungovernable and that military rule was necessary to bring stability. It set up hand-picked committees to draft a charter that would enshrine its declared goal of reforming politics by eliminating corruption.

But others believe the draft constitution has a different aim: to weaken allies of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the central figure who has roiled Thai politics since 2006. Thaksin’s political machine has easily won every national election since 2001, relying on the support of working-class and rural voters who benefited from his populist policies. Leading the other side is Thailand’s traditional ruling class and royalists unnerved by Thaksin’s political support, especially as it contemplates its future. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose righteous rule has anchored the kingdom since 1946, is 88 and ailing.

The army ousted Thaksin in a 2006 coup, after his “yellow shirt” critics took to the streets and accused him of abuse of power, corruption and disrespecting the king. He has lived abroad since 2008 to avoid prison for a corruption conviction that he says was politically motivated. The 2014 coup ousted his sister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was elected prime minister in 2011, but buffeted by protests sparked by legislation that would have pardoned Thaksin.

Those who brought Thaksin down now seek to weaken major political parties, which would ensure that real power stays in the hands of what is dubbed the permanent bureaucracy: the military, the courts and other unelected guardians of the conservative bloc.

Analysts say the new constitution would make it easy to disband parties, keep politicians in line, impeach politicians, and enforce a coalition government of weaker, smaller parties. Chaturon Chaisang, who served in the Cabinets of both Thaksin and Yingluck, told the AP that his biggest objection is that “the draft charter will not allow Thai people to determine the future of this country.”

Associated Press journalists Grant Peck, Jerry Harmer, Tassanee Vejpongsa and Penny Wang in Bangkok and Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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