Thailand Bulletin For Monday, July 9
Roundup of Thailand news with AJW
BANGKOK BRIEF: Cambodia to move troops out of temple today. Tourism operators, business worried about Myanmar competition, poor Suvarnabhumi maintenance.
WORLD SUMMARY: World - $16 billion pledged for Afghan aid. Hillary says Assad's days numbered. Anti-Islamists lead Libya polls. Federer beats Murray for 7th Wimbledon title.
POLITICS: Pheu Thai spokesman denies a report that there will be a cabinet reshuffle before August 1 because of pressure from former members of the so-called House No 111.
POLL: Suan Dusit Poll - Most people are not sure if the charter amendment bill is intended to abolish the country's administration and constitutional monarchy.
USA: Former foreign minister Kasit Piromya urged the Foreign Ministry and the US to clarify a claim by many figures in the ruling Pheu Thai Party that ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra was given a visa to enter the US a few months ago. “If the claim is true, it means the US does not respect Thailand's justice system but insults the country's law and integrity,” he said.
SUNDAY NEWS IN BRIEF
BANGKOK: Thousands line river to see the King. Pheu Thai promises to respect court's decision. Tourist officials want runway construction at airport
WORLD NEWS: Syria shells rebels in Lebanon. Afghanistan made “special US ally” like Thailand. 140 dead in Russian floods. Aceh, Libya hold free assembly elections. US job growth weak, Fed action expected. Amazon said to be making smartphone. IMF chief, on way to Bangkok, says she will cut global growth forecasts.
TODAY: Weather 33C, Wet Hot Cloudy, Euro:US 1.2286, Euro:Baht 38.86, SET Index: 1191
THAI TOURIST ARRIVALS UP: The global economy slowdown has had little impact on tourist arrivals to Thailand. The Kingdom had a total of 8,871,930 visitor arrivals for the period of January through May 2012, up 7.27 percent compared to the same period in 2011. China was the best performer with 943,161 visitors, up 26.13 percent, with the largest market share for an individual country of 10.62 percent.
The overall growth remains strong for Thai tourism with visitor arrivals to Thailand from all European countries of 2,690,783, a 10.9 percent increase for the period January through May 2012, according to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. European countries, even with the Eurozone crisis, accounted for a market share of 30.33 percent, up from 29.33 percent for the same period in 2011.The numbers showed that in May, arrivals from Spain, one of the worst-hit European countries, totaled 6,472, up 39 percent over May 2011. Arrivals from all the top three performing European countries were up significantly in May 2012, with Russia at 64,212 (+52 percent); UK at 60,216 (+12 percent; and Germany at 41,032 (+35 percent). For 2012, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has set a target of 20.5 million total international visitors and foreign exchange earnings of 766 billion baht (US$25 billion).
THAI INFLATION: June consumer good prices increased slightly MoM, led by higher non-food and beverage prices, e.g., transport fares, medical expenses, and utility costs – for electricity, fuel, and water – that offset lower prices for fresh foods, freight/logistics, and communications that dropped in line with the 3.0-6.0 percent decreases in domestic oil prices during the month. Thus, Headline and Core Inflation for June 2012 remained barely unchanged at 2.56 percent and 1.92 percent (YoY), respectively, close to the 2.53 percent and 1.95 percent YoY in May.
BURMA: Myanmar's tourism minister Mr. U Htay Aung told the Sasin Bangkok Forum yesterday that his country was ramping up its tourism infrastructure to cope with a sharp rise in the number of visitors.
He conceded that the Myanmar tourism industry was still in its infancy, but pointed to rapidly increasing visitor numbers.
Between January and June of this year, the number of foreigners flying in to Yangon and Mandalay airports was 50 percent higher than the same period in 2011, U Htay Aung said.
He said his country has drawn up a tourism master plan, which has received backing for its efforts from the Norwegian government.
Plans are afoot for a new international airport, 15 km from Yangon, to be constructed over the next few years.
With the rising number of tourists, businessmen, and international visitors, Myanmar now has a severe shortage of hotel rooms, he said.
The Shangri-La Group is constructing a 240-room hotel, while the Accor Group and India's Oberoi are also interested in investing in Myanmar, U Htay Aung said.
There are about 25,000 hotels and guesthouses across Myanmar.
MARKETS: Asian stocks fell the most in 2 weeks and the yen rose after Japanese machinery orders sank the most in more than 5 years and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the nation’s economy faces “relatively large” downward pressure. Bond risk climbed.
MONDAY FOOD: THAI CLASSIC DISH: Fish Cakes (Tord Mun Plaa - serves 6)
1 pound of fish fillets, such as mullet, cod, monkfish, trout, or salmon, skinned
15 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of fresh commercial red curry paste
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
2 eggs, beaten
30 long beans cut into very thin rounds
vegetable oil for deep - frying
sweet chili sauce to dip
Ground the fish fillets in the food processor. Add kaffir lime leaves (roll into a tight cylinder and cut into fine shreds); add to the food processor. Add sugar, red curry paste, fish sauce, egg, baking powder, and process until just blended.
Place in a large bowl and add the long beans. Stir for 2 minutes. Then cover and keep in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
To cook, in a wok or deep-fryer, heat 2 inches of oil to 325 degrees. Lightly moisten your fingertips to prevent sticking, and form a walnut-sized portion of fish paste into small patty about 1 inch in diameter and not too thick. Carefully add a few fish cakes to fry. When golden brown and well puffed (2-3 minutes), using a skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve hot, accompanied with sweet chili sauce. Aroi mak mak! (Delicious!)
CHINA: The Chinese Ministry of Health has lifted a 14-year-old ban on lesbians donating blood in effect as of July 1. The ban still applies to men who are sexually active with other men, but celibate homosexuals are permitted to give blood, according to the Ministry of Health's website.
CAMBODIA DISPUTE: Cambodia is expected to announce the withdrawal of troops from a demilitarized zone near Preah Vihear temple today.
The gesture is timed to coincide with the official start of the 45th Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting in Phnom Penh, military sources said.
The Cambodian troop withdrawal would represent a positive move towards improved relations between the two governments, observers said.
The Preah Vihear temple dispute is the legacy of the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration, and is the only thorny bilateral issue which the current government has had to address, the sources said.