The discovery of a box jellyfish, one of the most poisonous in the world, in Thai waters has prompted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to set up a team to study its origin and behaviour to prevent attacks.
Somchai Bussarawit, the chief of the museum and aquarium at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, said there has never been any reports of this type of box jellyfish being found in Thai waters before.
We are not sure whether it is a primitive species living here or a foreign species. We have no information. That is why we have to set up a team to investigate it, he said. Experts in Australia and Japan would be asked to assist the study.
So far two deaths have been attributed to the jellyfish. The first case happened in 2002 at Koh Phangan in Surat Thani province and the latest in April at Koh Lanta in Krabi province.
The decision to study the box jellyfish came after the son of an Australian journalist was stung while swimming at Koh Mak in Trat province early this year.
The injured Australian returned to Thailand and alerted the Public Health and Tourism and Sports ministries about box jellyfish found in Thailand. He realised there were no measures or knowledge about first-aid for people stung by box jellyfish.
Vinegar is the best first-aid solution to reduce the pain from a jellyfish sting before the victim is sent to hospital, he said. Water should not be used as it only increases the pain.
Resorts and hotels should have vinegar in their emergency kits, he suggested.
Update: Official Warning
29th October 2008:
The Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) has issued an official warning following the collection of almost 40 box jellyfish in a trap in shallow waters off Ao Nambor, on Phuket's east coast.
23rd August 2008 sees the implementation of a law requiring all businesses in Thailand to set their computers to Thai Standard Time (TST)
Their computer systems will have to match the official national time under a requirement set out in the 2007 Computer Violation Act.
According to the law, any company which provides computer-based commercial and business services must keep records of all internet traffic, including the names of all users, taking in those who sent and received emails, and the times, dates and
durations of computer use, for 90 days.
The law is aimed at easing criminal investigations, especially into internet crime and other computer-based offences.
Internet cafe operators will be obliged to record the names and ID card numbers of anybody who uses their services, as well as the time, date and duration of their visit and addresses of all websites they access.
Those who do not record this information or who do not adhere to TST will be fined between 100,000 and 500,000 baht.
Personal computers are exempt from the law, although internet service providers already retain information about multimedia transfers, such as videos, audio files and pictures. Mobile phone operators similarly log call details and information on
MMS (Multimedia Message Service) transmissions.
Instructions for installing the official time on computers are posted on the Hydrographic Department's website at http://www.navy.mi.th/hydro/time
Every year hundreds of Britons leave the UK to marry Thai brides. The perils of such liaisons were revealed last week when retired engineer Ian Beeston was murdered by his wife and her lover.
This was no isolated romance that culminated in a tragedy. The British embassy in Bangkok processes the wedding documents of up to 70 couples each week. The requests are almost exclusively from older British men - among 860,000 UK tourists each
year - hoping to marry younger Thai women. But for any British man hoping to follow in Beeston's footsteps and build a new better life in Thailand, his death was a stark reminder of how badly things can go wrong.
Joss sticks lit as offerings in shrines and temples fill the air with cancer-causing toxins as deadly as traffic fumes and cigarette smoke, according to a Thai study.
Dr Manoon Leechawengwong, who led a two-year study of temple workers tasked with clearing the smouldering sticks, found the mix of chemicals in the smoke put them at risk of leukaemia, lung, blood and bladder cancers. One joss stick creates
the same amount of cancer-causing chemicals at one cigarette, said Manoon.
The findings came from 40 workers in three temples at Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao and Samut Prakan.
On Feb 23, 2008, the law governing work permits (Working of Aliens Act) generated much attention when it emerged to replace its 30-year-old predecessor. Although the implementation of the major part of this new law has been delayed pending the
issuing of several ministerial regulations, it would be prudent for working aliens to familiarise themselves with some key changes.
The greatest point of interest is the punishment imposed on both employer and employee for an employee working without a work permit. The new Act imposes a heavy fine ranging from 2,000 to 100,000 baht upon a violating [alien] employee,
significantly increased from 5,000 baht, and/or a five-year term of imprisonment, increased from three years. An employer hiring an alien without a work permit will face high fine of 10,000 to 100,000 baht, although the former three-year
imprisonment has been eliminated. Labour officials are now empowered to arrest (without a warrant) any alien suspected of working without a work permit.
Depending on one's point of view, the penalties seem to be harsher for employees and lighter for employers. The new law will allow any alien worker who pleads guilty and voluntarily leaves Thailand within 30 days to be fined without a trial.
Under the new law, a work permit of up to two years may be granted instead of one year under the old law. The most welcome change is that a work permit will no longer be tied to the duration of stay that is stamped on an alien's passport. In
other words, work permit holders who do not have a one-year duration of stay will not need to keep extending their work permits by leaving and returning to Thailand on a "visa run" to get a new duration of stay. Nevertheless, work
permit holders will still have the duty under immigration laws to maintain a valid duration of stay while in Thailand. This new development awaits implementation in the near future.
The new work permit fee is 20,000 baht. Renewal will cost the same price. In addition, an employer applying to hire alien employees who are not deemed skilled or expert will be charged a 10,000-baht fee per alien. The Department of Employment has
not applied these new fee rates as yet.
Employers or employees are no longer obligated to report to the Department of Employment and return a work permit when employment has ended. Under the old law, those who failed to comply would have to pay a fine of 1,000 baht at a police station,
which was quite unnecessary and inconvenient.
Nonetheless, labour officials still encourage both parties to report the cessation of employment, otherwise their system would not permit the employee to get a new permit with another employer or the old employer to fill the vacant position.
The Immigration Bureau has reacted to this development. The usual seven-day period of stay after the cessation of work will no longer be automatic but will be granted upon request and payment of 1,900 baht. Most importantly, a further temporary
stay while a new work permit application is under consideration will not be given anymore. As a result, aliens switching jobs would be compelled to process their new work permit within seven days or leave Thailand to get a new business visa from
a Thai consulate.
Several provisions dedicated to a fund for sending aliens out of the Kingdom have been added. In addition to the existing personal income tax and social security withholdings, the employer will soon be obligated to contribute to the fund by
withholding a certain amount from the income paid to work permit holders. The criteria and conditions relating to the contribution are to be set forth later. The fund is intended to relieve the government of the high cost of deporting guilty
working aliens and illegal immigrants.
Thai banks set guidelines on minimum Thai work experience and monthly income for foreign customers wishing to use plastic
For a credit-card application, each card issuer requires a work permit and passport from foreign applicants.
However, each bank has different conditions for credit-card applications.
The Bangkok Bank credit card is available to foreign applicants who are permanent residents or have had a work permit for at least one year, while other conditions are the same as for Thai applicants.
Kasikornbank requires foreign customers to have a minimum of one year's work experience in Thailand to apply for a credit card, with a minimum monthly income of Bt50,000.
They must also provide a credit bureau's authorisation, and their work permit must be valid for at least six month after the application date. Customers will be informed of the approval result within 16 days for applications in Bangkok and 19
Siam Commercial Bank requires a work permit and minimum monthly salary of Bt100,000, compared with Thai applicants' minimum income of Bt15,000. The bank also needs foreign customers to show a bank statement covering the past six months.
Krung Thai Bank requires foreign applicants to have had a work permit for at least two years, but their requirement for minimum monthly income is Bt15,000, the same as for Thai applicants. They must also show a bank statement covering the past
three months and their passport.
TMB Bank offers two choices of credit-card applications for foreigners. The first requires lending deals with corporations of at least three years and a minimum credit line of Bt30 million. Expats employed by these companies are eligible to
apply for a TMB Bank credit card. A work permits must also be shown.
The second choice is offered to individual foreigners who open a fixed-deposit account with the bank. They must use the account as collateral for their credit-card application and will receive a credit line of not more than 80 per cent of the
Bank of Ayudhya requires three years' local work experience and a minimum monthly income of Bt50,000 for a classic card and one year's local work experience and a monthly salary of Bt100,000 for gold and platinum cards. Self-employed customers
should have average cash flow in their bank account of Bt350,000 a month or more for the classic card and Bt700,000 or more for gold and platinum cards. Applicants must submit copies of their passport and work permit valid for at least six
months. Company employees need a copy of a payroll slip and a bank statement covering the past six months.
Remember that if any of your credit cards has been lost, stolen or retained by an ATM or if you suspect you have been the victim of fraud, contact your card issuer immediately. In cancelling your card or putting a hold on your account, you will
be liable for all transactions made before notifying the bank.
Bangkok Metropolitan Police have urged motorists not to use cell phones while driving or face a Bt400 to Bt1,000 fine starting from May 8 2008.
Pol MajGen Phanu Kerdlarpphol, deputy city police commissioner, said his bureau had been promoting the ban on mobile phone use with 80 signs across Bangkok for sometime now, as well as billboards along expressways and at toll way booths.
Police at checkpoints will immediately arrest drivers using mobile phones while driving. Digital cameras will also be used to monitor and record pictures of the violators, he said.
At first glance it seems fair enough that temples should be alcohol free. However they also have a secondary function acting like a church hall for the community, particularly for funeral wakes. It seems a bit of a shame if this new idea impacts
the amount of people who turn up for these more community than religious events.
The Buddhist Sangha Council has ordered all temples to observe the law prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages at religious sites.
Amnart Buasiri, head of the secretariat of the Sangha Council, said the move was in response to a petition from the public network against alcohol consumption.
The network voiced concern that monks, lay staff and members of the public were unaware that the new Alcohol Control Act is in effect. It claimed that in several temples the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks was being allowed.
Article 27(1) of the act prohibits the sale of alcoholic drinks at religious sites, while article 31(1) bans the consumption of alcohol at those sites, unless it is part of a religious ritual. Offenders are liable to six months in jail and/or a
fine of 10,000 baht.
The Cambodian Government recently suspended marriages between local women and foreigners after hearing from the International Organisation for Migration about the plight of women who migrate to their spouses' countries.
But in Thailand, a migration of foreign or "farang" husbands to live in their Thai wives' rural villages in the northeastern provinces (Isaan region) has revealed other sides of cross-cultural marriages.
Most foreign husbands today know well that they are not married only to a Thai wife but also to her large family, senior anthropologist Suriya Smutkupt said.
From 2005 to 2007, Suriya travelled intensively from his hometown in Chiang Mai province in the north to talk to farang husbands in villages in the northeastern provinces of Khon Kaen, Nakhon Rachasima and Udon Thani.
They told me their wives' large families gave them warmth that they could never find in their own countries, Suriya said.
Also, foreign sons-in-law of Isaan find all the conveniences of their home countries here and can stay connected to their friends and relatives via the Internet, he said.
Suriya spoke to 34 men from Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Switzer-land, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States. Their Isaan wives are of rural, low-income and low-education families and many couples met in tourist
destinations such as Pattaya, he said. They said they understood that Thai women become sex workers because their families are poor.
An unbelievable case from Larn Island which resulted in the death of two Korean Female Tourists.
Parents of the victims, who are now known to be twins, have arrived in Thailand and have formally identified their daughters. They have been named as Miss Park Ji Hee and Miss Park Mi Hee, both aged 28.
The pair have been living here in Thailand for the last 2 years and came to Larn Island by boat on 10th April at 9am. They were found dead the next morning.
It appears that evidence collected suggests a third party was not involved in their death and according to Police Major General Bundit, the Commander of Chonburi Provincial Police, who went to the scene, head wounds on the
victims appear to have been self-inflicted following a night of heavy drinking. The pair was thought to have hit their heads on rocks on the beach and when they awoke, they found themselves in the water. One of the twins is then believed to have
tied her hands together with her sister in an attempt to save both of them from the water, however due to their intoxicated state and tiredness, they are both believed to have drowned and their bodies were then washed up on the beach.
The parents of the deceased have reviewed the evidence and agree with the current Police theory which is backed up with toxicology reports and post mortem results.