Vol. XIII No. 6
Friday February 11 - February 17, 2005

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Updated every Friday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Bangkok wants government support to solve traffic congestion

China-Phuket tours resume

Emirates adds flights to Sydney via Bangkok

Extra-marital affairs top family problems

Poll says young people increasingly keen on sex

More women needed in politics

HRH Princess expresses concern over rampant development

Bangkok wants government support to solve traffic congestion

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration needs the support of the new government to successfully solve the capital city’s traffic congestion, a senior city official stated. The city’s administration needs the new government’s support if it is to push ahead with its various projects to reduce traffic jams, said the capital’s top municipal official, Khun Ying Nathanon Thavisin.

“To solve Bangkok’s traffic problems, we need the support of the new government to push ahead with planned projects to reduce traffic congestion. We need cooperation from government agencies to make it happen,” the BMA’s permanent secretary said.

The Bangkok authorities have drawn up plans to build trams, to run new express buses, and to extend the elevated train routes.

“The cabinet has approved the extension project, but has insisted that it must be totally financed by a private company. But so far no investor has come forward,” Nathanon said.

The BMA plans to build four more elevated train routes linking the city center with outlaying areas. (TNA)

China-Phuket tours resume

Tours from Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou to Phuket resumed on February 9, the first day of the Lunar New Year. But the spring festival peak travel season will have no effect on the prices of Phuket packages. In fact, the price of a six-day tour from China’s southern Guangdong province has even fallen to less then RMB2,000 (US$242) from the normal off-peak level of around RMB3,700, according to a Guangdong China Travel Service spokesman.

Prices for a tour package to Phuket, formerly one of the most popular resort destinations for tour groups from China, usually rise by about RMB1,000 during peak travel seasons.

Thirty tourists headed to Phuket on the first day of the New Year having won their places through an online bidding campaign to promote tourism to the tsunami-hit resort island held by online travel company Ctrip.com. All proceeds will go to the regions affected, via the China Charity Federation, according to the company’s website. Another group set out from Shanghai to Phuket on February 11. (TTG Asia)

Emirates adds flights to Sydney via Bangkok

Emirates, the Dubai-based international airline, will soon boost services to Sydney, Australia and Bangkok, Thailand, with additional flights. From March 29, Emirates will introduce an extra thrice-weekly service from Dubai to Sydney via Bangkok. Initially operating on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the airline will increase this to a daily service from May 1.

On May 1, the new Dubai-Bangkok-Sydney daily service will also be extended to Auckland in New Zealand, replacing the current Dubai-Sydney-Auckland daily service which will then terminate in Sydney. This move opens up new connections between Bangkok and Sydney, and Bangkok and Auckland.

Emirates will fly its Boeing 777-300 aircraft in three-class configuration on the Dubai-Bangkok-Sydney-Auckland route, offering 18, 42 and 320 seats in first, business and economy classes respectively, plus 23 tons of belly-hold space for cargo.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, Emirates’ executive vice-president for Commercial Operations Worldwide said, “Bangkok and Sydney are key commercial and tourism centers in their respective countries. Demand for passenger and cargo capacity into and out of these two cities has remained constantly high, and we are confident the additional capacity from our new service will be welcomed by both travelers and shippers alike.” He added, “With this service, shippers and travelers will have a new air connection between Bangkok and Sydney, and when the route is extended to Auckland in May, it will also open another air travel option between Thailand and New Zealand.”

The new service will increase Emirates’ flights between Dubai and Bangkok from twice daily to three-a-day by May. It will also add to the airline’s current daily non-stop service between Dubai and Sydney, bringing the total number of Sydney flights to twice-daily. Emirates will continue to fly to Auckland thrice daily.

EK418 will depart Dubai International Airport at 09:00hrs, arriving in Bangkok at 18:10hrs, before flying onward to Australia at 19:50hrs, to land in Sydney at 07:45hrs the next day. From May 1, the service will extend to Auckland in New Zealand, departing Sydney at 09:15hrs and arriving in Auckland at 15:15hrs.

Return flight EK 419 will take off from Sydney at 18:45hrs, arriving in Bangkok at 01:00hrs the next morning. The flight will then depart Bangkok at 02:30hrs to arrive in Dubai at 05:35hrs on the same day. From May 1, the return service will start in Auckland, departing 15:50hrs and arriving in Sydney at 17:15hrs. All flight times given above are local. Timings are subject to change of schedule. For further details, contact us at media.relations@ emirates.com

Extra-marital affairs top family problems

Husbands’ extra-marital affairs ranks top of Thailand’s family problems, according to a leading women’s rights activist. Nearly half of the 1,508 complaints referred to the Happy Family Center (HFC) between February 14, 2004 and January 31, 2005 concerned extra-marital affairs by husbands, the HFC chairwoman, Rabiabrat Pongpanit reported.

Nearly 1,200 cases, or 80 percent, of the complaints referred to the center have been successfully dealt with. However, Western influences and materialism, especially among younger people, are the key reasons behind many family problems, Rabiabrat said.

The HFC was upgraded to an association on its first anniversary on February 13, when an executive board was selected. (TNA)

Poll says young people increasingly keen on sex

Young people in Bangkok are becoming increasingly keen on sex, with many having more than one sexual partner simultaneously and a growing number engaging in ‘swinging’, according to a poll published on February 10.

The ABAC Poll survey of 1,513 Bangkok residents, aged 15-24, suggests that around 40 percent of young people in the capital attach a high level of importance to Valentine’s Day, and that 100,000 young people in Bangkok intended to have sex on the day.

Somewhat alarmingly for traditional Thai mores, the survey found that 23.8 percent of respondents tended to have more than one sexual partner on the go at any one time, and that 22.7 percent of respondents made the decision to have sex with someone after having known them for less than a day. At the same time, a significant proportion of respondents, or 6.7 percent, said that they had engaged in group sex.

One particularly worrying finding to emerge from the survey was that 60 percent of the sexually active respondents had at one time or another put themselves at risk of catching sexually transmitted disease by failing to use condoms. And while 40 percent of those questioned agreed that condom machines should be placed in educational institutions, 36 percent expressed disagreement.

What the survey also found was that knowledge of the risk of sexually transmitted disease was not the determining factor in whether or not young people engaged in unsafe sex, with those aware of the risks just as likely to take risks as those not aware. (TNA)

More women needed in politics

A leading woman parliamentarian has urged the new government to support more women in politics. The senator from Sakon Nakorn and leader of the woman’s parliamentarian group, Maleerat Kaewka, urged the ruling Thai Rak Thai Party to assist any woman parliamentarian who volunteered to be deputy house speaker.

More than fifty women were expected to win parliamentary seats in the recent general election, seven more than at the last election, Maleerat said.

She also urged the ruling party to consider selecting more women as ministers in the new government. “Every woman who was elected is very experienced and capable. By appointing them to important positions, they will help the government to seriously tackle women and children’s problems. It would also be good for the new government’s image internationally to take action to improve the status and position of women in Thailand,” she said.

There are only two women ministers in the current government - Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan and Labor Minister Uraiwan Thienthong. (TNA)

HRH Princess expresses concern over rampant development

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn spoke out against the rampant nature of development, warning that it was riding roughshod over local knowledge and traditions.

Speaking at a seminar on February 9 organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment in conjunction with the Danish government, HRH the Princess said that rapid development often has an adverse impact on local ways of life and community environments.

As a result, many local traditions which had been passed down through the generations have been virtually wiped out, leaving subsequent generations with few opportunities to absorb their cultural heritage.

Speaking of the value of these ancient beliefs, practices and systems of knowledge, she warned that unless action was taken, local ways of life would become extinct.

Her concern was echoed by Suwit Kunkitti, minister for Natural Resources and Environment, who acknowledged that Thailand had lost much of its unique culture and beliefs. Attributing this in part to the fact that Thais are reluctant to inscribe their traditions in writing, he cited the case of the Sea Gypsies of the Andaman region, who are now no longer speaking their traditional language. (TNA)


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