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Thailand Live Monday 4 Apr 2011

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Thailand Live Monday 4 April 2011

News, Bits and Tweets

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Keep up to date with live updates from the news, hour by hour.

For breaking news,national, regional and international news updates on a daily basis only, this thread is closed to commentary so that those who wish to follow the news can find it here...

Commentary is still open for Thailand news in the relevant thread posted in News Clippings.

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Related topic: Thailand Live Saturday 2 Apr 2011

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SPECIAL REPORT

Land encroachers blamed for horrific landslide in Thai South

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NTT

NTT DoCoMo seeks 4G tests

By Usanee Mongkolporn

The Nation

Japanese telecom giant NTT DoCoMo is interested in testing 4G wireless broadband technology in Thailand, said Prasit Prapinmongkolkarn, chairman of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

He added that the company had expressed its interest to him.

Digital Phone Co (DPC), the cellular subsidiary of Advanced Info Service (AIS), has also planned to test the 4G-Long-Term Evolution (LTE) service, which is seen as AIS' attempt to explore a new opportunity in the wireless broadband service field.

NTC commissioner Natee Sukon-rat said DPC had yet to officially ask for NTC permission to import LTE network equipment.

CAT Telecom, which owns the DPC concession, has already granted permission to DPC to test the 4G service. DPC will set aside as much as 10MHz of bandwidth out of a total of 12.5MHz bandwidth of its 1,800MHz spectrum for the 4G trial, given that the LTE technology requires huge bandwidth.

The test will be run for 90 days by seven to eight DPC cellular base stations in Bangkok.

The DPC's move came after CAT granted deals to True Corp's subsidiaries Real Move and Real Future in January, which paved the way for their joint development of the commercial 3G-High Speed Packet Access service with CAT. AIS cannot let True group take the lead in the area, so it has to seek ways to stay ahead or catch up with its competitor.

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-- The Nation 2011-04-04

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ANALYSIS

Bigger Thai parties will have an edge under new system

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Tambon chief backs more roles for local people

By Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation on Sunday

Local people should be allowed to scrutinise and participate in the running of local administrative bodies such as the Tambon Administrative Organisations (TAO), a TAO chief and veteran social activist said.

Bamrung Kayotha, TAO chief of tambon Saphan Wah in Kalasin province, said: "Villagers can't get into the decision-making mechanism and they merely elect [the TAO head] and that's it. Those [elected TAO representatives] who buy votes also engage in corruption only to buy votes again in the next election," said Bamrung, who was in Bangkok last week to attend the National Reform Congress.

Bamrung said vote-buying in TAO elections was still very common and he reckoned that fewer than 2 per cent of TAO elections nationwide did not involve bribe though many villagers see it differently. "Villagers don't consider it as vote-buying but regard it as generosity from the candidates," he said.

Corruption after recent TAO elections involved using the budget to construct an asphalt road on top of a smooth reinforced concrete road only 12 months after it was built so that these representatives would get a cut from the construction firm. There is also corruption in the deals for local school milk, with about Bt10 satang per pack being siphoned off to the TAO chief. Another area of corruption is the purchase of a garbage truck, which is not really needed for a small community.

At tambon Saphan Wah, where Bamrung was elected twice as TAO chief, he said the 4,000 residents, who have an annual budget of Bt13 million, can do without a garbage truck by being more disciplined in getting rid of rubbish.

Many TAOs also like to have an elaborate office to boost the ego of the TAO chief, Bamrung said. Corruption is encouraged by undertaking expensive construction work, he said, while adding that his TAO office is arguably the most modest in the Kingdom, being just a one-storey wooden structure.

He urged the public to be patient and said that eventually, if locals are given greater say in scrutinising the local budget and activities, the decentralisation of politics will be successful.

Today, the district chief still has to approve TAO projects first, he said. "It's still rather new. In the long run, the villagers will understand that democracy is not just about elections," he said. In Kalasin, only eight out of 36 TAO chiefs have been re-elected, a sign that voters are also making critical decisions and not merely voting for people who unduly use cash, he added.

Bamrung said though he opposed the government's raising of the TAO chief's salary from Bt10,800 to Bt18,000, he believes a bigger budget is needed.

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-- The Nation 2011-04-04

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Hospitals and clinics hit hard by flood crisis

By The Nation on Sunday

More than 100 hospitals and public health centres were severely affected by the flood crisis in the South, Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said yesterday.

Mobile units had been deployed and had provided physical or mental health services for 12,813 people, he said.

The most common health problems included Hong Kong Foot, skin problems and respiratory problems.

More than 150,000 sets of medical supplies were sent to eight provinces, 20,000 of them to Surat Thani. Medical centres were ordered to be ready around the clock, to prepare evacuation plans and do their best to protect medical equipment and supplies.

National Flood Relief Coordination Centre deputy director Vittayen Muttamara said Tha Sala Hospital in Nakhon Si Thammarat was out of service.

And Tha Rong Chang Hospital in Surat Thani was without power so all patients were sent to Phunphin and Surat Thani hospitals.

Entrances to Chai Buri and Kanchanadit hospitals were blocked by the flooding.

Food, drinking water and supplies had to be sent via helicopters, he said.

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-- The Nation 2011-04-04

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PM's brief India visit

By The Nation

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva will tonight go to India on an official visit to meet leaders, returning after midnight tomorrow.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Industry Minister Chaiwuti Bannawat, Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot and president of the Thai Trade Representative Office, Kiat Sithi-amorn will go with him.

The prime minister will meet Indian President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The group will also meet with Indian businessmen to discuss investment in Thailand.

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-- The Nation 2011-04-04

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Thai youths get US arts training

By The Nation

Thai and foreign youths have enjoyed American arts training over the past week.

About 200 talented youths from across Thailand, Pakistan and Laos have been trained in unique American genres including jazz, Broadway musicals, hip-hop dance, piano, chamber music and string orchestra from March 26 at Rangsit University (RU).

Today is the last day of training.

With support from RU and the US Embassy, the training was offered free of charge.

Trained students received an opportunity to take part in the academy's gala concerts of featuring hip-hop dance, Broadway, jazz and classical music yesterday and today at Centrepoint Playhouse, Central World.

US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney attended the concert held yesterday.

YES Academy teachers are recruited from America's finest Universities and Institutions, including St Louis Symphony Orchestra, HaviKoro Breakdancers, Theater Under the Stars of Houston, University of Northern Colorado, Eastern Carolina University, and the Broadway Musical Theatre.

Moreover, three others are from Broadway: Gabriel Barre, an internationally acclaimed Broadway director, Dr Paul Meers, musical director, and Rick Camargo, Broadway dance.

Also, RU lecturers have supplemented the jazz and classical programmes.

YES Academy Thailand director John Ferguson said that after the success of the annual training held two years in a row, the third this year was more intensive.

Den Euprasert, dean of |the College of Music at RU, |said the university was pleased to support the training as it |gave Thai students across the country a good chance to study American genres.

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-- The Nation 2011-04-04

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REGIONAL PERSPECTIVE

Thai politics: colourful or colourless?

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