Sunday, 30 November 2008

51 protesters wounded in Bangkok explosions

Anti-government demonstrators carry a wounded woman to safety near the Government House in Bangkok November 30, 2008. A grenade blast wounded 34 anti-government protesters at Government House in Bangkok early on Sunday, a spokesman for an anti-government satellite television channel said.REUTERS/Stringer (THAILAND)

Paramedics load an injured anti-government demonstrator into an ambulance near the Government House in Bangkok on November 30, 2008. A grenade blast wounded 34 anti-government protesters at Government House in Bangkok early on Sunday, a spokesman for an anti-government satellite television channel said.REUTERS/Stringer (THAILAND)

An injured anti-government protester is carried on a stretcher after an explosion during a protest at government house Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. An emergency official says an explosion inside the Thai prime minister's besieged office compound has wounded 33 people. The protesters, who have occupied government house, the prime minister's compound, since August, upped the stakes this week by overrunning Bangkok's international and domestic airports and bringing them to a halt in their campaign to oust the government.(AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

An injured anti-government protester, left, waits for a first aid treatment in a medic tent after an explosion during a protest at government house Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. An emergency official says an explosion inside the Thai prime minister's besieged office compound has wounded 33 people. The protesters, who have occupied government house, the prime minister's compound, since August, upped the stakes this week by overrunning Bangkok's international and domestic airports and bringing them to a halt in their campaign to oust the government.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

A female anti-government protester, right, walks with her injured relative to a waiting ambulance after an explosion during a protest at government house Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. An emergency official says an explosion inside the Thai prime minister's besieged office compound has wounded 33 people. The protesters, who have occupied government house, the prime minister's compound, since August, upped the stakes this week by overrunning Bangkok's international and domestic airports and bringing them to a halt in their campaign to oust the government.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Injured anti-government protesters are transported on a pick up truck to hospital after an explosion during a protest at government house Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. An emergency official says an explosion inside the Thai prime minister's besieged office compound has wounded 33 people. The protesters, who have occupied government house, the prime minister's compound, since August, upped the stakes this week by overrunning Bangkok's international and domestic airports and bringing them to a halt in their campaign to oust the government.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

An injured anti-government protester is taken from the scene in a wheel chair after an explosion during a protest at government house Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. An emergency official says an explosion inside the Thai prime minister's besieged office compound has wounded 33 people. The protesters, who have occupied government house, the prime minister's compound, since August, upped the stakes this week by overrunning Bangkok's international and domestic airports and bringing them to a halt in their campaign to oust the government.(AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

An injured anti-government protester is carried on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance after the bomb blast during a protest at government house Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. An emergency official says an explosion inside the Thai prime minister's besieged office compound has wounded 33 people. The protesters, who have occupied government house, the prime minister's compound, since August, upped the stakes this week by overrunning Bangkok's international and domestic airports and bringing them to a halt in their campaign to oust the government.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Security guards for anti-government protesters examine the site of a bomb blast during a protest at government house Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. An emergency official says an explosion inside the Thai prime minister's besieged office compound has wounded 33 people. The protesters, who have occupied government house, the prime minister's compound, since August, upped the stakes this week by overrunning Bangkok's international and domestic aiports and bringing them to a halt in their campaign to oust the government.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Police officers examine the scene of a small explosion next to a barricade set up by anti-government protesters outside Bangkok's Don Muang airport November 30, 2008. Foreign governments are increasingly concerned at the closure of Suvarnabhumi airport since Tuesday by political protesters as part of their campaign to topple the government of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat. The U.S. embassy in Bangkok said it had asked the Thai foreign ministry to provide "appropriate compensation" to U.S. citizens stranded by the closure of Suvarnabhumi and the older Don Muang airport, a big domestic hub.REUTERS/Darren Whiteside (THAILAND)

An anti-government potestor stands near a barricade outside Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. Thai police have surrounded and cordoned off Bangkok's main airport after scuffles with protesters, raising fears that days of crippling demonstrations could end violently.(AFP/Saeed Khan)

Protesters, some armed with sticks, ride on a pickup truck as they head to their checkpoints at the besieged Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok. A grenade attack on protesters occupying the Thai premier's office wounded at least 46 people Sunday, further raising tensions as police tried to end an opposition blockade of Bangkok's airports.(AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Protesters ride on a pickup truck as they head to their checkpoints at the besieged Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok. A grenade attack on protesters occupying the Thai premier's office wounded at least 46 people Sunday, further raising tensions as police tried to end an opposition blockade of Bangkok's airports.(AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Asean summit pushed back?

Sun, Nov 30, 2008
AFP

BANGKOK - THAILAND'S foreign minister said on Sunday the kingdom may have to postpone a regional summit until March as anti-government protesters continue their occupation of Bangkok's two airports.

Mr Sompong Amornviwat said that the Thai cabinet would make its final decision on Tuesday over whether to go ahead with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting scheduled for December 15-18.

'This is just my personal comment, but Thailand may have to postpone, but the postponement would not be long - it may be postponed to early March,' Mr Sompong said on Thai state-run NBT television station.

'But it depends on the cabinet's decision, because the postponement would not only affect Thailand financially, but more importantly it will affect the country's image.'

Thailand, the current chair of Asean, is in the grip of political chaos, as protesters trying to topple the government on Tuesday seized the nation's main Suvarnabhumi airport and forced its closure.

Supporters of the so-called People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) repeated that feat at the smaller Don Mueang airport a day later, and have also been occupying premier Somchai Wongsawat's cabinet offices since August.

The worsening political situation in the kingdom has prompted Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam to suggest postponing the Asean summit, and the bloc's secretary general travelled overland to Thailand on Friday to assess the situation.

Thailand announced in late October that the Asean summit would be moved from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, a government stronghold where Somchai is currently running the country from as the protests drag on.

Authorities said it was because of northern Thailand's cooler climate, but the anti-government protests are believed to be a key factor.

In December 2006, the Philippines postponed that year's Asean summit on the island of Cebu until the following month due to worries about an incoming storm and concerns over a possible terror attack.

Sopagna Eap; One-on-One

Provided
Sopagna Eap competes in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston in April.

Charleston Post Courier
Sunday, November 30, 2008

Great performance at New York. Was it a smooth, comfortable race for you?

"I switched from feeling good to not-so-good, but I think I'm starting to get stronger with the marathon because I expected to the hit the wall at (mile) 20 or 21 and it never happened. I was grateful for that because the wall is always painful."

You grew up in San Francisco where running conditions are better. What was it like training in the heat and humidity of the Lowcountry?

"When I first moved here, I couldn't breathe. I'd never been exposed to heat and humidity. I didn't think I was going to make it. I was struggling and all the runs I did were terrible. I'd do intervals (speed workouts) and they (laps/intervals) were much slower than usual ... I didn't know where all the water fountains were, so I eventually went out and bought a (hydration) belt. Then it got cooler and I felt better."

You were born in a refugee camp in Thailand near the border of Cambodia. Tell me about that experience.

"I was 8-months-old at the time (when they left) and don't remember anything, but my parents lived through the Kmer Rouge, then the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and they lived through that. When the Vietnamese left, the country had to rebuild itself ... They (her parents) crossed the border on bicycles from Cambodia to Vietnam and my dad speaks multiple languages, which helped. The refugee camps were filled with Cambodians and (my parents) pretended to be Vietnamese. Then through the refugee system, we made it out ... I'm glad I don't have any memories of the experience."

How did you get into running?

"I realized pretty early that I could run well. I was pretty active. I played different sports, but running was a better fit for my body type."

Which sports did you play?

(Laughs) "I played basketball and volleyball — which is fine when you're 13. My strength in those sports was that I had a lot of endurance."

Tell me about running at the University of California-Davis.

"I got a partial scholarship. At the time, it was a (Division II) school and wasn't allowed to give full scholarships ... I ran the 3K and 5K. I also ran cross-country, but I didn't do as well at that. I think it's due to the fact that I have a smooth turnover and when it's interrupted, I don't run as well. I'm not a strength runner."

You went to the University of Oregon for your masters and PhD. Is Eugene running heaven?

"It's pretty much running heaven ... I wasn't even planning on running competitively post-collegiately. I moved to Oregon and didn't think it would effect me the way it did. But everyone is so enthusiastic about running and there are plenty of places to run."

How did you get into marathoning?

"I did it because my husband (Todd Braje) — my boyfriend at the time — was an ultra-marathoner and convinced me to run it (2005 Green Bay Marathon). He ended up getting injured and I did it myself. I figured if I wanted to make the 2008 (Olympic Marathon) Trials that I might as well ... I ran a 2:52 (third place overall female), but I hit the wall at mile 15."

You already had your sights set on the 2008 Olympic Trials?

"I don't remember exactly how I knew about the trials because at the time I didn't know much about running (opportunities)."

What brought you to Charleston?

"I got my (PhD) degree in clinical psychology but we have a year to do a clinical internship. My husband (also an academic) was applying for jobs too, so we knew there was a good possibility that we wouldn't be able to coordinate locations ... I came out here and interviewed and really liked the program. He ended up getting a job in northern California. My internship ends at the end of July."

Are there any races that you are looking at doing here?

"Definitely the Cooper River (Bridge) Run. I wanted to do the Turkey Day Run, but it's been so hard balancing everything and I need a little break to re-charge. I didn't even really want to do New York, but it ended up helping me stay sane and center me."

What do you think of the running scene here?

"I was really surprised when I first came here. I didn't think there would be much of a running scene. I've met a lot of runners and active people ... Still in different parts of Charleston, I feel abnormal running. I've been yelled at running on a path of a (Charleston Municipal) golf course. This guy was really upset that I had the nerve to be on the path, but there were no sidewalks — so what could you do?"

Where are your favorite places to run here?

"I like the West Ashley Greenway. I definitely wish all the mile markers were up, but that's OK. For short runs, I like the Battery. It's really nice out there."

Kampuchea (Cambodian) Restaurant


Ox tail stew is a balance of cooked and fresh food. (Nadia Ghattas/The Epoch Times)

By Nadia Ghattas
Epoch Times Staff

In the Lower East Side of Manhattan there lies a hidden gem that is slowly but surely etching its mark into the culinary world.

Ratha Chau, the owner and chef of Kampuchea (the old name for Cambodia) told me that it has no relationship to the communist organization that was formed in 1970.

Chau initially immigrated to America to study psychology but found himself being drawn to food. He wanted to create something unique and enjoyable for New Yorkers as a tribute to the street food of his native country.

The menu is based on traditional flavors and classic Cambodian cooking techniques, and then takes it a step further with respect to culture and flavors. Chau explained that everything must be fresh because Kampuchea’s food is a combination of cooked and raw ingredients. The menu is not fusion; it is novella. This reflects what Chau experienced and tasted growing up in Cambodia.

Menu items reflect the tastes of southern Cambodia combined with other regional influences.

Although Kampuchea is small and cozy, the atmosphere is lively and upbeat. It is rustic yet modern with Asian oak communal tables, stools-only seating, tin ceilings, and steel fans—all of which serve to create a comfortable atmosphere for your dining experience.

Cambodia is one of the few countries in South East Asia that is underpopulated. It is a peninsula surrounded by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the South China Sea. About half of the country is a tropical forest. The country overall is rich with produce and seafood which is portrayed in the country’s cuisine.

Chef Chau (ex Blue Water Grill, Asia de Cuba, and Fleur de Sel) decided to take the plunge to open this Cambodian restaurant without realizing that he would create an incredible interest for diverse diners, who would travel distances to experience Kampuchea. The menu is original and creative. It was originally developed by Chef Chau and Scott Burnett, Chau’s partner and executive chef. The menu is comprised of five sections—from small Cambodian plates, crepes, Num Pang (Cambodian sandwiches), grilled items, and Katieve or noodle dishes. This diverse, eclectic menu is a delight to the epicure, as it awakens every taste bud of the palate.

The grilled sweet corn is a recommended starter—grilled corn smothered with chili mayo and coconut flakes. It’s very light. It could have a South America touch, but the bottom line is that it’s delicious.

The Lyche martini is another excellent way to start out. It is very subtle, and not too sweet or boozy, making it a nice compliment to the flavorful and spicy food.

DELICIOUS NAM PANG: Three in one (Nadia Ghattas/The Epoch Times)

My friend and I decided to share some of the signature dishes, including the Mussels, Tamarind Baby Back Ribs, and the Num Pan sandwich tastings. The Oxtail Soup is something that should not be overlooked on a cold day either. All were rich with very distinct and wonderful flavors. The mussels were cooked to perfection and combined with tomatillos, hot peppers, and raw vegetables with cilantro—providing a contrast of sour and spicy. The dish also comes with a semi-thick gravy to dip your bread in. The baby back ribs were comprised of an outstanding combination of special ingredients—Doruc pig, known as red pig, is poached for four hours in apple cider vinegar and smothered with tamarind sauce complemented with pickled vegetables with different contrasting flavors—sour, salty and hot.

New Yorkers are so lucky to have the world cook for them in their backyards. All of the proteins are made from naturally raised animals. Kampuchea does not serve desserts, but with such a wonderful variety of eclectic foods who needs dessert?

The oxtail stew with tamarind, green papaya, and raw vegetables was my friend’s favorite. The sandwiches were also up there as they made for a very nice close to the dinner, leaving one feeling warm, happy, and healthy. Not too heavy with a pleasant aftertaste reminding you that you just had a stellar meal.

The Verdict: I quote my friend who said, “A brilliant little find that should be kept a secret. I would come here alone or with friends again and again.”

Price per plate ranges from $9.00 to $ 17.00

Kampuchea Restaurant 78 Rivington Street (corner Allen Street), New York, NY 10002, (212) 529-3901 Lunch: Friday through Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.Dinner: Tuesday through Thursday 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday and Sunday 5:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Sunday 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Thai Business Leaders Call on Premier to Step Down

By Suttinee Yuvejwattana and Daniel Ten Kate

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s business leaders said Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat should step down to end a siege at the nation’s main international airport, which has paralyzed travel and threatens a million jobs in the tourism industry.

Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport remained shut for a sixth day as negotiations failed to clear thousands of protesters who are demanding Somchai’s resignation. Violence escalated in the past 24 hours, as demonstrators attacked police with steel bars near the airport and a blast at a government compound in the capital wounded 34 people.

“We’ve asked the government to resign or dissolve the parliament because we think this is the best way out,” Pramon Sutivong, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said today.

The call from the Chamber of Commerce increases the pressure on Somchai, who has been holed up in the northern city of Chiang Mai because of concern that growing protests in the capital may lead to a coup. A pro-government group plans to hold a rally in Bangkok today, increasing the likelihood of a bloody clash that may force the army to intervene.

“This situation can’t go on for long” Pramon said. “It will soon lead to violence, forcing the military to come out to stage a coup again. We all want to avoid that.”

An emergency order imposed on Bangkok’s airports and Government House has empowered police to clear the areas, though Somchai has said the government won’t use violence against the protesters. About 750 flights a day can’t get in or out of Suvarnabhumi, Asia’s fourth-busiest airport with as many as 100,000 passengers a day, the airport operator’s data shows.

Possible Asean Postponement

Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat said today that Thailand may have to postpone a summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations scheduled for next month, Agence France- Presse reported, citing Sompong speaking on state-run NBT television station.

Sompong said it was his “personal comment” that the summit may have to be put off until March, even though it would affect the country financially and affect its image, AFP reported.

Somchai said Nov. 28 he intends to hold the meetings as scheduled Dec. 15-18. The government already moved the venue to Chiang Mai from Bangkok because of the protests there. Laos and Cambodia, both members of Asean, have said Thailand should reschedule the summit.

Negotiations Failed

Negotiations to clear demonstrators failed yesterday, and violence broke out when 500 protesters armed with steel bars stormed a 150-strong police checkpoint. Police officers jumped into vans and sped away after demonstrators attacked the vehicles and threw firecrackers.

Somchai said yesterday he was willing to negotiate with protesters, if they lifted demands for his resignation and the dissolution of the government. Police efforts last month to clear demonstrators killed one person and injured hundreds.

Early today, an explosion wounded 48 people at the compound, said Winner Dachpian, a spokesman for the protesters. Nine people were sent to hospital, with three in critical condition, he said. A bomb was thrown into the site, the TNN television news network reported. Similar blasts have occurred in recent weeks.

Thai Army Chief Anupong Paojinda last week called for early elections to end six months of deadly protests.

Fresh Elections

The People’s Alliance for Democracy, composed mostly of the Bangkok middle class, royalists and civil servants, accuses Somchai of being the proxy of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup by Anupong and other generals. The group has rejected calls for fresh elections and said it wouldn’t leave the airport until the government steps down.

“If you can’t manage the country you have to resign,” Phongsak Assakul, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said by phone during a 14-hour bus ride to Bangkok from Hat Yai in southern Thailand. “Let the elected parliamentarians form a new government. If that government can’t govern, then let’s go have another election.”

An election may return the ruling party to power. Parties linked to Thaksin have won four elections since 2001 on strong rural support for its platform of cheap health care and village loans. The protesters want a new political system that prevents the return of Thaksin’s allies by diluting rural votes.

“One possible way out is to find a neutral person who’s universally acceptable to be the new prime minister,” said Ajva Taulananda, the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s honorary chairman and vice chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group. “This way, we will see a break from the political squabbling,” he said in a phone interview.

Travelers Stranded

Suvarnabhumi’s closure has stranded thousands of travelers in the Thai capital. Repatriating them, and returning the 50,000 Thais stranded overseas, may cost 1 billion baht ($28 million) and take as long as a month, Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaiprawat said, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday.

“People are losing trust in the Thai people,” the Chamber of Commerce’s Phongsak said. “It really damages the tourist industry, not only hotels and airlines, but also restaurants, guided tours, lots of people.”

Thailand is allowing airlines to use a naval base in the east of the country to repatriate stranded travelers.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. warned of “chaotic” conditions and long lines at the military airfield.
The carrier, Hong Kong’s biggest, is one of about a dozen airlines using U-Tapao Airport, east of Bangkok near Pattaya. Japan Airlines Corp. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. were also using the facility, more than two hours away from Bangkok.

Airport Congestion

“There has been congestion because this airport wasn’t built to serve such a huge number of passengers,” Chaisak Ungsuwan, director general of the Air Transportation Department, said today. The airfield handled more than 100 flights yesterday, he said. Suvarnabhumi handles 600 daily flights.

The international airport in Bangkok will remain closed until Dec. 1, Airports of Thailand Pcl said yesterday.

Finance Minister Suchart Thadathamrongvej said the protests and airport closures may cause damage amounting to about 100 billion baht this quarter.

“The prolonged political gridlock will drag on our economy and create unemployment,” said Pramon, the Chamber of Commerce chairman. “We just hope that we can grow 3 percent next year, even though the hope is quite dim now.”

Cambodian U.S. Deportee Brings Street Dance to Street Boys of Cambodia

Stuart Isett for The New York Times
Tuy Sobil, or K.K., right, a former gang member from Long Beach, Calif., founded the club after being deported in 2004


Stuart Isett for The New York Times
Tach Piseth, 11, practiced spinning on his head at the Tiny Toones break dancing club in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The club teaches about 150 youngsters.

The New York Times
By SETH MYDANS
Published: November 29, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — It may be the only place in Cambodia where the children are nicknamed Homey, Frog, Floater, Fresh, Bugs and Diamond.

And there are not many places like this small courtyard, thumping with the beat of a boom box, where dozens of boys in big T-shirts are spinning on their heads and doing one-hand hops, elbow tracks, flairs, halos, air tracks and windmills. And, of course, krumping.

It is a little slice of Long Beach, Calif., brought here by a former gang member by way of a federal prison, an immigration jail and then expulsion four years ago from his homeland, the United States, to the homeland of his parents, Cambodia.

The former gang member is Tuy Sobil, 30, who goes by the street name K.K. The boys are Cambodian street children he has taken under his wing as he teaches them the art he brought with him, break dancing, as well as his hard lessons in life.

K.K. is not here because he wants to be. He is one of 189 Cambodians who have been banished from the United States in the past six years under a law that mandates deportations for noncitizens who commit felonies. Hundreds more are on a waiting list for deportation. Like most of the others, K.K. is a noncitizen only by a technicality. He was not an illegal immigrant. He was a refugee from Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge “killing fields” who found a haven in the United States in 1980.

He was an infant when he arrived. In fact, he was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and had never seen Cambodia before he was deported. But K.K.’s parents were simple farmers who failed to complete the citizenship process when they arrived.

Like some children of poor immigrants, K.K. drifted to the streets, where he became a member of the Crips gang and a champion break dancer. It was only after he was convicted of armed robbery at 18 that he discovered that he was not a citizen.

Like many deportees, he arrived in Cambodia without possessions and without family contacts. He was a drug counselor at first and then founded his break dancing club, Tiny Toones Cambodia, where he now earns a living teaching about 150 youngsters and reaching out to hundreds more.

With the financial support of international aid groups like Bridges Across Borders, based in Graham, Fla., he has expanded his center into a small school that teaches English and Khmer and computers in addition to back flips, head stands and krumping, or crazy dancing.

Some other deportees have found work that uses their fluency in English, particularly in hotels. Some have reunited with families. But many have slipped into unemployment, depression and sometimes drug use.

“Some were doing well initially but now over time have become unemployed or never did get employment, and just got discouraged,” said Dimple Rana, who works with Deported Diaspora, which is based in Revere, Mass., and helps deportees adjust.

“I know of a whole bunch of returnees whose mothers were sending money from their Social Security,” she said. “Now, with the economy in the United States, it is very hard and families are not able to send even $100 or $150.”

K.K. stands out as a success, both in finding a calling and in embracing his fate. He has a fair command of the language, unlike some deportees who arrived with no knowledge of Khmer.

“I think it was meant for me to be here, even though I lost my family,” he said. “And my kid is there, Kayshawn. He is 8.”

K.K. is in touch with his relatives in Long Beach but has not seen them since he was deported.

“Right now, you know, these kids are my family,” he said. “I don’t have a kid here, but I adopted one, a street kid. His mom and dad are on drugs.”

The boys and girls leaping and spinning here are the children of Cambodia’s underclass, like thousands who fill the slums of Phnom Penh — children who spend their evenings, as K.K. put it, “begging and digging through garbage to find food.”

K.K., whose youth was not so different from theirs, said he teaches them to find pride in who they are. A wall of his center is marked with students’ graffiti: “I want to be a rapper,” “I want to be a D.J.,” “I want to be a doctor.”

“I try to tell them not to judge people by the way they look,” he said. “I still have a struggle here in Cambodia. People judge me. People see me with tattoos and think I’m a bad guy.

“Sometimes it’s, ‘Come on, we’re going to kill some Americans,’ ” he said, describing threats from street toughs. “I’m not American. I’m Khmer, man.”

His journey between identities reached a point of strangeness when he was invited last December to perform with some of his students at a Christmas party at the United States Embassy.

“The American ambassador gave me a handshake and a hug, and asked me one day when his kid is a little older he wanted to put him in my school,” K.K. said.

The ambassador at the time, Joseph A. Mussomeli, recalled the performance as “great fun,” but he said the piquancy of the moment had not been lost on him.

“You are right that there is a certain wonderful irony to him being ‘rejected’ or at least ‘ejected’ from the U.S. and still landing on his feet — or shoulders and head — dancing,” Mr. Mussomeli said in an e-mail message.

“While watching him I was reminded of that great patriotic speech by Bill Murray in ‘Stripes,’ ” he added, “where he talks about Americans as being rejects from all the good, decent countries of the world! K.K. is/was an American in everything except in law — and he has shown this by his creativity, tenacity, and undying optimism.”

Now another irony is in store for K.K. His club has been invited to send dancers to perform in the United States — Cambodian boys who speak no English and have never left their country.

The real American among them, K.K., deported and excluded from the United States for the rest of his life, must stay behind.

“I can’t go,” he said over the thump of the boom box, as his boys jumped and bounced around him like tiny springs. “I can understand that they deported me here. I’d like to go visit — only visit, because I live here now. I have a brand new life.”

Thai police confront airport protesters



Protesters have forced Thai police to abandon a checkpoint as the authorities try to end a blockade of Bangkok's airports.

Thai Protests; Explosion In Bangkok International Airport

Thai Protesters Attack Police Near Airport



Anti-government protesters who have closed down Bangkok's airports broke through a police cordon meant to shut them off from supplies, raising fears Saturday of widening confrontations. (Nov. 29)

51 protesters wounded in Bangkok explosions

Anti-government protesters man a road barricade made from airport baggage trolleys near the Suvarnabhumi airport compound early Sunday Nov. 30, 2008 in Bangkok Thailand. Anti-government protesters who have closed down Bangkok's airports broke through a police cordon meant to shut them off from supplies, raising fears Saturday of widening confrontations in the standoff that has strangled the country's economy.(AP Photo/Ed Wray)

By AMBIKA AHUJA
Associated Press Writers

BANGKOK, Thailand – Unidentified assailants set off explosions at anti-government protest sites Sunday, wounding 51 people and raising fears of widening confrontations in Thailand's worst political crisis that has strangled its economy and shut down its airports.

The first blast occurred inside Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat's office compound, which protesters seized in August and have held ever since. Suriyasai Katasiya, a spokesman for the protest group, said a grenade landed on the roof of a tent under which protesters were resting, rolled down to the ground and exploded.

At least 49 people were injured, said Surachet Sathitniramai at the Narenthorn Medical Center. He said nine of them were hospitalized, including four in serious condition.

Twenty-minutes after the compound attack, two more blasts rocked an anti-government television station but there were no injuries, Suriyasai said.

In another pre-dawn strike, an explosive device detonated on the road near the main entrance to the domestic Don Muang airport. Surachet and an Associated Press television cameraman said two people were wounded.

No one claimed responsibility for the blasts but Suriyasai blamed the government.

Tensions were rising as a pro-government group scheduled to hold a rally in the heart of Bangkok later Sunday to express its support for Somchai, who is operating out of the northern city of Chiang Mai.

The prime minister has been reluctant to use force to evict the demonstrators from the People's Alliance for Democracy, who on Tuesday night overran Suvarnabhumi airport, the country's main international gateway and one of the busiest airports in the world.

The alliance seized the domestic Don Muang airport a day later, severing the capital from all commercial air traffic and virtually paralyzing the government.

The demonstrators say they will not leave until Somchai resigns, accusing him of being a puppet for ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the original hate figure for the alliance.

"Brothers and sisters, please be patient. As soon as the government is out of power, we will go home immediately," said an alliance leader Chamlong Srimuang in a speech.

Somchai has appeared at a loss on how to end the crisis but still refuses to step down. The police have their hands tied because of Somchai's reluctance to use force and the military's refusal to get involved, creating the worst political deadlock in the country's history that is taking a severe toll on its economy and reputation.

Hundreds of flights have been canceled, stranding up to 100,000 travelers, devastating the country's tourism-dependent economy and disrupting schedules and budgets of airlines around the world.

Some airlines were using the airport at the U-Tapao naval base, about 90 miles (140 kilometers) southeast of Bangkok. But authorities there were overwhelmed with hundreds of screaming and shoving passengers cramming into the small facility, trying to get their bags scanned through a single X-ray machine.

All rescue flights — to Moscow, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket — were delayed, some by several hours. The parking lot was jammed with buses, taxis and vans. The Red Cross set up a tent in the parking area where women handed out sandwiches.

Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaipravat, who oversees economic affairs, said foreign tourist arrivals next year was expected to fall by half to about 6 million, resulting in 1 million job losses in the crucial tourism industry.

The Federation of Thai Industries has estimated the takeover of the airports is costing the country $57 million to $85 million a day. Some of its members have suggested they might not pay taxes to protest the standoff.

"The situation has gone from bad to worse, signaling that it (the government) is incompetent at ensuring peace and order," the Thai Chamber of Commerce said in a statement Saturday.

Some Thais are looking to the judiciary for a way out of the crisis. The Constitutional Court is expected to rule as soon as next week on whether three parties in the governing coalition including Somchai's People's Power Party committed electoral fraud.

If found guilty, the parties would be dissolved immediately, and executive members including Somchai would be barred from politics for five years. Non-executive members could, however, switch to another party.

Others are counting on the monarchy to end the standoff. The revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has repeatedly brought calm in times of turbulence during his 62-year reign, will give his annual birthday-eve speech on Dec. 4.

"No one else can fix this. The country is so divided. The only uniting figure we have is the king. If he tells both sides to step back, they will," said a 36-year-old coffee shop owner Natta Siritanond.
___
Associated Press reporters Nicholas Tatro, Vijay Joshi and Michael Casey contributed to this report.

NZ in talks to rescue tourists in Thailand

stuff.co.nz (New Zealand)
Sunday, 30 November 2008

The Government is in talks with airlines and the Australian government to rescue about 200 New Zealanders stranded in Thailand.

Internal political conflicts in Thailand saw Suvarnabhumi international airport occupied on Tuesday and the smaller Don Muang domestic airport since Wednesday. Thousands of travellers are unable to leave.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said all efforts were being made to help New Zealanders affected by the occupation of Thai airports by demonstrators.

"These are people who, through no fault of their own, have been stranded and stranded for several days and we are doing everything we can to try and assist them to exit," Mr McCully said.

New Zealand's ambassador in Thailand Brook Barrington and embassy officials have approached Thai Airlines and Qantas to see what could be done and the Government has asked Air New Zealand to look at how much a charter would cost, but that was the least preferred option.
"We're essentially exploring every option," Mr McCully said.

"Some progress is being made."

Because Air NZ does not fly to Thailand, the use of a carrier which does might be less problematic.

"We're looking at working with the Australians, we're looking at working with anyone else in the same predicament."

The New Zealanders were not at risk but without intervention it could take weeks to get home. Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaipravat has said it could take a month to clear the backlog.

The Thai government was shuttling tourists to U-Tapao, a Vietnam War-era naval airbase 150km east of Bangkok, as an alternative landing site for airlines, but travellers have complained of massive delays and confusion.

"The levels of frustration are going to rise and we are keen to do everything we can to assist," Mr McCully said.

Australian Transport Minister Anthony Albanese talked yesterday with Qantas chief Alan Joyce about using the military airport or Phuket airport.

The airports have been occupied by People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporters and Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has declared a state of emergency at the airports and given police the authority to remove the protesters.

PAD supporters attacked police on Saturday night, forcing them further away from the main international airport and a a grenade blast wounded more than 50 protesters in Bangkok on Sunday.

PAD want to unseat the prime minister it accuses of being a front for former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thailand grenade attack injures scores of people

GulfNews.com

Agencies
November 30, 2008

Bangkok: A grenade blast wounded more than 50 protesters in Bangkok on Sunday.

The blast occurred at the prime minister's office occupied by the People's Alliance for Democracy. A spokesman for the group said 51 people were wounded, four in critical condition.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has declared a state of emergency as protesters planned a big rally to topple the government.

Protests continued at Thailand's major airports, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.

Spain to send three planes to Thailand to bring back citizens

THE TIMES OF INDIA
30 Nov 2008

MADRID: Spain plans to send three planes to Thailand on Sunday to bring back some 300 of its citizens trapped by the occupation of Bangkok's airports, Spanish media reported.

Two Spanish military aircraft and an airliner chartered from a private company were due to depart Sunday afternoon for Thailand, Europa Press news agency reported.

Tens of thousands of foreigners have become trapped in Thailand after anti-government protestors occupied Suvarnabhumi international airport and Don Mueang domestic airport.

Travellers are currently being evacuated from a Vietnam War-era navy base in eastern Thailand, but progress has been slow.

Spanish nationals were planning to demonstrate in front of their country's embassy in Bangkok on Monday to demand help getting out of the country, Spanish media reported.

Thai police have surrounded the airports, but have so far held off launching an assault and have called on protestors to leave voluntarily.

Protest blasts wound dozens in Thailand

Agence France-Presse
11/30/2008

BANGKOK--(UPDATE) Explosions early Sunday at sites occupied by anti-government protesters injured at least 51 people, further raising tensions as police struggle to end a paralyzing blockade of Bangkok's airports.

The attacks came hours after royalist, anti-government demonstrators forced police to abandon a checkpoint at the main Suvarnabhumi airport on the fifth day of a siege that has left tens of thousands of travellers stranded.

Police have so far held off launching an assault on the protesters occupying two Bangkok airports amid fears of a repeat of political violence that left two people dead last month, and concerns that further bloodshed could spark a coup.

In the latest violence, unknown attackers lobbed a grenade near a stage set up for rallies at Government House, the prime minister's cabinet offices which supporters of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) occupied in August.

A Bangkok emergency services spokesman said 49 people were wounded in that blast, three of them with serious injuries.

"Protesters have returned to their positions, they are not scared," PAD spokesman Suriyasai Katasila told local Channel Three television.

Hours later, a blast hit outside the small domestic airport Don Mueang, injuring two passers-by. Police had no details on the cause of the explosion.

Grenade attacks earlier this month at Government House killed two protesters and prompted the PAD to launch what it called its "final battle" against the government last Sunday.

Demonstrators took control of Suvarnabhumi on Tuesday and the smaller Don Mueang domestic airport on Wednesday.

Somchai is now governing from the northern city of Chiang Mai, as his spokesman says he is concerned about tensions with the military in a country that has seen 18 coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932.

The PAD accuses Somchai's government of being a corrupt puppet for exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a putsch in 2006. Thaksin is the current premier's brother-in-law.

Supporters of the group -- a loose coalition with the backing of elements in the military, the palace and the urban middle classes -- say it will not leave the airports or Government House until Somchai's administration quits.

Protesters at Suvarnabhumi have dug in for the long haul. The PAD's militia have set up barricades of tires, wooden stakes and razor wire, while inside people are bedding down in tents and preparing medical and food stocks.

About 2,000 police were deployed Sunday to set up four more checkpoints on the road to Suvarnabhumi, airport security commander Major General Rarshane Reunkomol told AFP. Some carried M16 rifles and pistols.

"The government is still in the process of negotiations and I have asked my men not to use force whatever happens. The gunfire will not be heard from police," Rarshane told AFP.

A Thai pro-government group has also vowed to hold a rally in Bangkok later on Sunday, raising further fears of clashes.

Somchai on Friday dismissed the national police chief for failing to take on the protesters, whose actions have cost Thailand billions of dollars and badly hit its tourist industry.

Rumours of a coup swept the country after Somchai rejected calls from the army chief to call snap elections, but General Anupong Paojinda said military action would not solve the rifts in Thai society.

Frustrated tourists meanwhile struggled to escape Thailand through a Vietnam War-era naval base as airport authorities announced Suvarnabhumi would remain closed for at least two more days.

"We were originally told we were booked on a flight but they are re-selling people tickets," English tourist Mark Underwood, 23, told AFP at the one-runway U-Tapao naval base about 190 kilometres (118 miles) southeast of Bangkok.

"We have no money. I am annoyed and we want to get home."

AP top Story

100,000 stranded in Thailand after airports shut

International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press
Published: November 29, 2008

BANGKOK, Thailand: The vacation is over for tens of thousands of tourists in Thailand. But they can't go home.

The Hotel California-like drama began Tuesday when anti-government protesters shut the country's primary international airport. The following day they moved in on the capital's domestic airport, grounding all commercial flights in and out of the city.

About 100,000 people have been stranded by the closures, dealing a severe blow to the country's reputation as a safe and reliable vacation destination. Officials project the tourism industry's losses from now until the end of the year will balloon to about 150 billion baht ($4.2 billion), equal to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product.

Hundreds gathered at Thai Airways' cramped ticket office in Bangkok on Saturday desperately seeking a way out of the country.

Slumped in chairs or out smoking on the street outside the office, travelers swapped tales of being stuck in the airport for 23 hours or ending up in a cockroach-infested hotel. Most expressed frustration about the uncertainty of it all — the baseless rumors, the conflicting information and the uncertainties that come with navigating a strange place.

"As time goes on, it becomes more and more stressful," said Julie Lewis, a 46-year-old manicurist from Devon, England who came to Thailand for a wedding. "This has really put a complete damper on the trip. Our last memory will be the fact that this happened."

Protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy and police reinforced their presence at Suvarnabhumi airport on Saturday, but there was no word on when airports would reopen. The airport authority said Suvarnabhumi would be closed until at least Monday evening.

The longer the standoff goes on, the more creative and desperate travelers are getting.

"We have work to do, families to look after," said John Neilson, a 67-year-old computer consultant from Salisbury, England. "I've got a 12,000 pound (US$18,000) contract that starts Monday. If I'm not there, I don't get paid."

Some have taken buses hundreds of kilometers (miles) to airports on the southern island of Phuket or in the northern city of Chiang Mai or overland all the way to neighboring Cambodia and Malaysia.

Others headed down to a the U-tapao military base that has been opened for commercial traffic. It is located about 190 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of Bangkok.

Thai Airways has begun to arrange flights from U-tapao and some airlines including Malaysia, China Eastern, Emirates, SAS and Cathay Pacific have sent planes to pick up their passengers there.

But the tiny airport was overwhelmed by the influx. U-tapao airport's parking lot has room for just 100 vehicles and its terminal can accommodate only 400 people at once, according to its Web site.

Few have been immune to the disruptions. Tour groups, backpackers, business executives and even celebrities have found themselves unable to escape Thailand.

The pregnant wife of England Rugby League Capt. Jamie Peacock is stuck with the couple's 4-year-old son. The athlete made an emotional appeal Saturday for the safe return of his wife Faye, who is 31-weeks pregnant.

"The country is on the brink of a lot of trouble," Peacock told reporters back home. "It's as if they have forgotten about these people."

For the rich and famous, there are charter flights.

Denmark's Prince Frederik and his wife, Princess Mary, flew out from the military airport on a small corporate jet on Friday, according to Danish news agency Ritzau, citing royal spokeswoman Lene Balleby.

Joe Wilson, general manage for ASA Group which operates charter flights around Asia, said they were flying four or five flights a day out of Thailand since the crisis began.

"For this sort of business, it's very busy," Wilson said.

But for the majority of travelers, waiting was their only option. Leaving Bangkok for other airports or other countries is fraught with additional cost and unforeseen travel glitches. Many embassies have advised against it.

Rather than enjoying an extended vacation, some travelers say they're sticking close to their hotels because of the threat of political violence outside.

"I don't want to get stuck at a military base in the backwaters of Thailand with no facilities," said David Walker, a 40-year-old banker from London. "We're just sitting tight."

Run Rath Veasna Tells Chiefs of Posts Countrywide Not to Listen to Sar Kheng’s Order

Posted on 29 November 2008.

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 588

“Compared to what Khmer Machas Srok published a few days ago, the director of the Anti-Economic Crimes Police Department, Mr. Run Rath Veasna and his partisans really do not listen to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Mr. Sar Kheng, because they consider Mr. Sar Kheng, who follows the line of Mr. Chea Sim, the president of the Senate, to be a poisonous prolet snake.

“According to a source from the Ministry of Interior on 26 November 2008, Mr. Run Rath Veasna summoned the heads of all [anti-economic crimes] posts around the country, whom he had deployed to extort money from businesspeople, for a meeting in order to tell them not to listen to, and not to follow Mr. Sar Kheng’s orders.

“During a ceremony to assign four star insignia to Mr. Net Savoeun and to announce his appointment as director-general of the National Police, to replace Mr. Hok Lundy, who died in the helicopter crash, as well as to promote and to announce the appointment of Mr. Kang Sakhan as deputy director-general of the National Police to replace Mr. Net Savoeun on 21 November 2008, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Mr. Sar Kheng seriously warned the economic police of Mr. Run Rath Veasna, and ordered him to recall all forces deployed to extort money from businesspeople who export goods illegally. It was reported that Mr. Run Rath Veasna plans to recall some immediately, leaving only two posts in Phnom Penh and in Kompong Cham.

“However, Mr. Run Rath Veasna thinks simply that Mr. Net Savoeun is easier to talk to than Mr. Hok Lundy; actually he still keeps his forces in all posts in order to seek money for him and for his wife who is staying at home.

“The same source of information added that some days ago, Mr. Run Rath Veasna told his mother to meet with Mr. Mao Chandara, the deputy director-general of the National Police who has close relations with Mr. Net Savoeun. The same sources added that Mr. Run Rath Veasna told his mother to persuade Mr. Mao Chandara to talk with Mr. Net Savoeun: if he wants ten thousand dollars per month, it is OK, just to be allowed to still stay in this position of director of the Anti-Economic Crimes Police.

“It seems that the talks of his mother with Mr. Mao Chandara, and then the talk between Mr. Mao Chandara and Mr. Net Savoeun, were successful, because Mr. Run Rath Veasna summoned all chiefs of the posts who are deployed to extort money from businesspeople, to meet at the Anti-Economic Crimes Police Department on 26 November 2008, and he ordered them not to listen to Mr. Sar Kheng’s order; they have to stay where they are, just they have to fulfill their obligation by sending in enough money regularly.

“Some Anti-Economic Crimes Police officers went on to say that they can, at different posts countrywide, earn a lot of money from illegal imports of goods, from wood business, and from the import of goods with no quality into the country, which severely affects the health of the citizens. Mr. Run Rath Veasna’s mother was told that she should go to pagodas to do good deeds rather than doing sinful acts by colluding with her son to seek money by allowing dishonest businesspeople to import goods with no quality into Cambodia which affect the health of Khmer citizens.

“Some people at the Anti-Economic Crimes Police said that Mr. Net Savoeun should serve the citizens well, because he is known to have a lot of money and property already, and his assignment to replace Mr. Hok Lundy should lead to more improvements compared to Mr. Hok Lundy’s work, especially to eliminate crimes, like the case of Mr. Run Rath Veasna, where recently Mr. Sar Kheng, without using his name, accused him of deploying forces to extort money, which results in the rising prices of goods.

“Mr. Net Savoeun is trusted by officials of the opposition party and of civil society, they hope he will improve the institution of the police to be better than at Mr. Hok Lundy’s time. But if Mr. Run Rath Veasna’s mother did contact Mr. Mao Chandara to discuss to provide monthly bribes in exchange for maintaining his position, that will invite criticism from citizens.

“However, many leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party are not happy with the character of Mr. Run Rath Veasna who dares to look down on high ranking leaders of the Cambodia People’s Party like Mr. Sar Kheng, refusing to recall his followers deployed to extort money from businesspeople, and even to ordered them in a meeting not to listen to Mr. Sar Kheng’s order. What Mr. Run Rath Veasna said is a brazen-faced refusal to obey leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party; he thinks he can rely on his money to bribe Mr. Net Savoeun, and he dares to look down on Mr. Sar Kheng.

“Khmer Machas Srok could not reach Mr. Run Rath Veasna for any comment, and if this accusation is true, that means Mr. Run Rath Veasna is very insolent, so that the leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party should take immediate action, so that the reputation of the party will not suffer.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #292, 28.11.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 28 November 2008

Thailand Airport Will Stay Shut

Picture from SKY NEWS
The PAD supporters have declared that their latest protests will be the "final battle" in their bid to topple the Thai prime minister.

Police said 11 people were wounded in the street fight, most of them government supporters. The clashes were the first violent outbreaks since battles between authorities and anti-government protesters in October.

Television footage showed protesters battering several motorbikes with steel rods and setting fire to another one.

Outside the terminal, a series of small bomb blasts wounded several protesters, demonstration leaders said.

Outside the terminal, a series of small bomb blasts wounded several protesters, demonstration leaders said.

PAD supporters, dressed in a sea of matching yellow shirts, appeared to be settling in for the long haul as they brought banners, blankets, food and water into the terminal building.

The protest was organised by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which wants to topple prime minister Somchai Wongsawat. They group said the airport would be shut down until he left office

Thai Protesters Open Fire

Riot Police Flee Thai Checkpoint

SKY NEWS
Saturday November 29, 2008

Riot police have fled a checkpoint outside Thailand's main international airport after clashes with anti-government protesters.

Demonstrators rally outside Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport

About 2,000 police have been deployed around Suvarnabhumi international airport after activists holed up inside forced the cancellation of all flights.

About 150 police at a checkpoint half-a-mile from the terminal jumped in their vehicles and drove away when they saw a convoy of protesters speeding toward them.

Local journalist Andrew Drummond, who is with the protesters in Bangkok, said the activists were well-armed and thousands strong.

"They seem to have a very good spy network, and they are heading the police off before they get a chance of getting into the airport," he told Sky News Online.

"Thousands of protesters here have moved out of the airport, they have got iron bars, wooden clubs, if that checkpoint has gone it wouldn't surprise me.

"Nothing can resist that - there's massive amounts of people here at the moment."

Officials said the airport will stay closed until at least Monday evening, leaving thousands of tourists stranded in Bangkok.

Muslim Thai woman stranded on her way to Mecca at Bangkok airport

Flight operators had been telling passengers that the airport was expected to open on Sunday.

Protesters have seized both of Bangkok's airports in their effort to unseat the government. They have also taken a police officer captive as tensions escalate.

The kidnapping intensifies fears that the four-day siege will end in violence, despite the Thai prime minister pledging to use peaceful methods to resolve the issue.

The confrontation has severed the capital from civilian air traffic and stranded some 100,000 tourists in the country.

Britain's Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell described the situation as "deeply concerning".
Protesters are demanding the resignation of the government it accuses of being a puppet of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Shinawatra, who recently relinquished control of Manchester City football club, was ousted by a 2006 military coup and fled overseas to escape corruption charges.

Current prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, Shinawatra's brother-in-law, declared a state of emergency at Suvarnabhumi and at the smaller Don Muang domestic airport, also occupied by demonstrators.

Several hundred Britons have been trapped in Thailand including the pregnant wife of England rugby league captain Jamie Peacock.

The 30-year-old, who plays for Leeds Rhinos, said he was worried not enough was being done to help those stranded.

One British tourist said no one was offering them "a way out" of the country.

Carol Hobbs said: "They seem to think because we are here and we are comfortable and we are eating and drinking and safe then that is fine."

She added: "The embassy in Thailand, Bangkok, is closed. It closed yesterday at one o'clock and doesn't open again until Monday."

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Thailand political crisis costs Cambodia $1 mil. a day in tourism loss

Nov 29

(AP) - PHNOM PENH, Nov. 29 (Kyodo)—The ongoing political crisis in Thailand is costing Cambodia some $1 million a day in lost tourism revenue, Cambodian Tourism Association President Ho Vandy said Saturday.

Antigovernment protesters in Thailand have occupied Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports, and three airlines -- Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways and Air Asia -- have canceled 10 daily flights between Cambodia and Thailand.

Echoing the revenue loss in Cambodia's tourism sector, Sathol Miura, head of the Japanese travel agency APEX in Cambodia, said the cancellations of international flights through Thailand are affecting hotels, guesthouses, tourist guides, taxi drivers and restaurants in Cambodia.

But Miura said the unrest in Thailand has had little impact on Japanese tourists traveling on APEX tours to Cambodia, saying they normally fly to Cambodia through Vietnam.

"Some 65 percent of Japanese tourists come to Cambodia through Vietnam," he said.

Miura said more than 2,000 Japanese tourists have visited Cambodia on APEX tours in November, a figure comparable to previous years.

The protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) are seeking to oust Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat

Police walk away from a confrontation with People's Alliance for Democracy protestors Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008, near Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand's prime minister pledged to use peaceful means to end the siege of the capital's airports by anti-government protesters and demoted the national police chief amid speculation he disagreed with government policy.(AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Riot policemen march towards a checkpoint near Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on November 29, 2008. Thousands of protesters have occupied the $4 billion airport for four days, a serious escalation in their campaign to unseat the elected government.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Thai navy soldiers stand in front of a police barricade at a checkpoint near Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport November 29, 2008. Thousands of protesters have occupied the $4 billion airport for four days, a serious escalation in their campaign to unseat the elected government.REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Riot police sit in the shade of a police truck at a checkpoint near Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on November 29, 2008. Thousands of protesters have occupied the $4 billion airport for four days, a serious escalation in their campaign to unseat the elected government. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang (THAILAND)

Anti-government demonstrators rally toward Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport November 29, 2008. Hundreds of anti-government protesters forced several dozen Thai riot police to abandon a checkpoint on Saturday as they tightened their siege of the country's main airport, witnesses said.REUTERS/Adrees Latif (THAILAND)

Protesters cook food to feed the ranks of supporters at the Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, on November 29. Defiant protesters have ignored orders to leave Bangkok's besieged airports and are faced off with Thai police, raising fears of clashes as crippling anti-government demonstrations escalated.(AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Anti-government protesters (left) confront policemen during a protest at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, on November 29. Anti-government protesters have forced Thai police to abandon vehicles during confontations at Bangkok's airports as fears grow that days of crippling demonstrations will end violently.(AFP/Pairoj)

Thai riot policemen stand guard at a check point near Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on November 29, 2008. Hundreds of anti-government protesters forced several dozen Thai riot police to abandon a checkpoint on Saturday as they tightened their siege of the country's main airport, witnesses said.REUTERS/Adrees Latif (THAILAND)

Airbus Crash in France Kills 2, 5 Missing



Two people are dead, another five are missing after a plane crash off the southern coast of France. The plane was on a maintenance flight, and due to return to passenger service next month. (Nov. 28)

India Siege Ends, Death Toll Rises



Officials say the death toll in the terrorist attacks on Mumbai has risen to 195 as more bodies have been discovered after commandos ended the siege on a luxury hotel. (Nov. 29)

Thailand undecided on hosting 14th ASEAN summit, while protestors hold the country to ransom

Embattled Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat

Asian Tribune
Sat, 2008-11-29

Bangkok, 29 November, (Asiantribune.com): While protesters from the anti-Government People’s Alliance for Democracy occupying Suvarnabhumi international airport and Don Mueng Domestic Airport for a fourth day running, Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawathas to decide whether to postpone next month's summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), after several member countries expressed concern over the protest that has closed the kingdom's two main airports, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thailand is scheduled to host the 14th ASEAN Summit from December 13 to 18 in the northern city of Chiang Mai.

ASEAN Affairs Department director-general Vitthawat Srivihok told reporters that the ministry was preparing two options, either Thailand would proceed with the original schedule in hosting the summit, or the government would delay the event after evaluations indicate that the summit could not run as smoothly as planned.

Also, the international community openly criticized Thai officials on Friday. At a meeting called at the Foreign Ministry to "explain" the situation to ambassadors, the foreign envoys called on the government to clear the Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Thai Prime Minister has transferred the all powerful National Police Chief General Patcharawat Wongsuwan to an inactive post in the prime minister's office and appointed Police General Pateep Tanprasert, Inspector-General as acting national police chief.

No reason was given for the removal and appointment. However it is said that the abrupt transfer of the national police chief came as the Police was authorized to end the demonstrations by thousands People's Alliance for Democracy protesters at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

The state of emergency declared by the embattled cabinet of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat has evoked widespread fears that any attempt to use force to clear Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports could spark a bloody confrontation with the anti-government activists.

An officer at Don Mueang used a megaphone to tell protesters that they had to leave the rally site, otherwise "law enforcement officers will carry out appropriate and necessary measures to solve the situation".

Police began planning what they described as an open operation to reclaim the airports.

Bangkok police chief Pol Lt Gen Suchart Muankaew said after a video conference with the prime minister that he will begin with peaceful means, and try to talk the demonstrators into leaving, but with plans to escalate action.

"We will use the gentle way first. The priority is to negotiate and not crack down immediately.

We are all Thais," regional deputy police commander Pol Maj Gen Piya Sorntrakoon told a news agency.

Thai Police also requested the Thai Attorney General yesterday to revoke the bail for the nine leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy yesterday. But the police request was turn down by the Attorney General’s office stating that the procedure had not been carried out correctly in the request.

The PAD leaders have been freed on bail pending the prosecution review of charges relating to their raids on Government House and the NBT broadcasting station on August 26.

The leaders are Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pipop Thongchai, Somkiart Pongpaiboon, Somsak Kosaisuk, Suriyasai Katasila, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Amorn Amornratananont and Therdpoom Chaidee.

Activist Sudchai Boonchai petitioned police to revoke bail by accusing the nine of repeating serious offences following their temporary release. The capital's two major airports, at Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi, are now under siege by the PAD.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Lt-General Suchart Muenkaew said that in accordance with police procedure the PAD leaders would be detained should police decide to disperse the crowds at the two airports.

In the meantime, Airlines began flying stranded air travelers out from Utapao naval base on Friday. But there are tens of thousands of passengers who have missed flights from the four days of unrest that have badly hit Thailand's tourist industry and Utapao is a Vietnam war-era base with few facilities to handle thousands of air passengers.

But according to reports from the protest sites, Somsak Kosaisuk, a core leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy, told a crowd of yellow-shirted supporters occupying Don Mueang airport: "We are not afraid. We will fight to the death, we will not surrender and we are ready."

Top PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang told reporters that "a senior person in the country" had telephoned to ask him to move his protest out of Suvarnabhumi airport, because the closure has severely damaged the economy.

Maj-Gen Chamlong told that he had told the senior person that he will halt all rallies - if the prime minister resigns.PAD founder and core leader Sondhi Limthongkul said that the prime minister had phoned him to suggest a dialogue. "There are no talks," he told reporters.

- Asian Tribune -

U.S. calls for end of Thailand airport standoff

People's Daily Online
November 29, 2008

The U.S. government called on Friday for the end of the standoff at Thailand airports protestingagainst its government.

"While we respect the right to freedom of expression, seizing an airport is not an appropriate means of protest," the State Department's acting deputy spokesman Gordon Duguid said in a statement.

He urged supporters of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD)"to walk away from the airports peacefully," and allow "this situation can be resolved without violence and in accordance with the law."

The air traffic has been paralyzed completely since protestors besieged the Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi international airports at the capital of Bangkok earlier this week out of the PAD's hatred of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Despite Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat's announcement of an emergency decree in the areas of both airports, the crisis continued after anti-government leaders rejected last-ditch attempts to negotiate with the government.

Although airlines have resumed their operations at a naval base, tens of thousands of passengers are still believed to be stranded during the four-day unrest.

Source: Xinhua
Jurist
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat [official profile; Nation backgrounder] demoted Police Chief Gen. Patcharawat Wongsuwan to an inactive position within the Prime Minister's office, according to media reports Friday. Patcharawat's removal comes a day after the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency [Financial Times report] because of continuing political protests [Bangkok Post materials] at two airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang [official websites], in the capital Bangkok. The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) [advocacy website, in Thai; advocacy statement, in English] initiated the protests at the airports earlier this week as part of an ongoing effort to bring down Somchai's government. No reason was given for Patcharawat's removal, but it is believed that he was not cooperating with the government's efforts to end the protests. The Thai News Agency has more. China Daily has additional coverage.

PAD protests have been ongoing throughout the year, based on its disapproval of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Somchai is the brother-in-law of Thaksin, who was ousted in military coup in 2006. Somchai took over as prime minister earlier this month after the Constitutional Court of Thailand [official website] ruled that then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej [BBC profile] had violated the constitution [JURIST report] by accepting payment for his appearance on a television cooking program. Critics claim that Somchai is just a proxy for Thaksin, who remains in exile while being tried in absentia for corruption.

Bangkok flights canceled, Vietnamese passengers to be evacuated overland

29/11/2008

VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam Airlines has canceled all its flights to Bangkok until November 29 as the blockade of Suvarnabhumi Airport by protestors continues.

Vietnam Airlines helps stranded passengers return home

Vietnamese tourist companies are trying to evacuate their customers stuck in the Thai capital by land through Laos and Cambodia. Saigontourist said today it would bring 38 people to Ho Chi Minh City through Siem Riep, Cambodia.

Vietnam Airline also said it would operate more flights to Vientiane (Laos) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia) to bring back passengers.

Thai authorities have announced that the airport will remain closed until the 29th.

All flights from Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok have been canceled since the 26th, leaving many Vietnamese stranded in Bangkok.

Of them 330 are Vietnam Airlines passengers.

Families of the stranded people are besieging tourist companies, asking for information about their loved ones.

More information and assistance is available at the Vietnam Airlines office in Bangkok.

Its hotline number is 662 6554137/38/39/40 and 668 18291616. Do Khoi Nguyen is the chief representative of the office.

The airlines’ numbers in other countries are: Vientiane 856 205526374; Siem Riep 855 12357866; and Phnom Penh 855 12809694.

(Source: SGGP)