Archive for the ‘News’ Category


Sittwe: The leading Arakanese political party, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) has published a monograph that informs the general public about the Shwe Gas Project and their basic need for electricity to continue developments in Arakan State.

The publication is titled “Presentation to the Arakanese peoples for the rights to electricity from Shwe Gas Project” and has been circulated in all areas in Arakan State by the party.

“We have published the monograph in order to raise awareness among our Arakanese people about our natural gas reserves and our basic need for electricity for our own developments in our region”, said one of the monograph distributors from the party.
(more…)

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Asia’s Free-Riders

Posted: November 10, 2011 in Articles, News

The U.S. turn to the East makes sense. But tacitly telling its allies in Asia that it’s going to foot the bill for their security is foolish and unsustainable.

BY JUSTIN LOGAN | NOVEMBER 9, 2011

It’s on the record. President Barack Obama’s administration wants to pivot U.S. foreign policy away from the Middle East and toward East Asia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent Foreign Policy article exemplified this thinking. “The future of the United States is intimately intertwined with the future of the Asia-Pacific,” Clinton wrote, touting Washington’s “irreplaceable role in the Pacific.”
The desire to focus on the Asia-Pacific is sound, but the administration’s policies there are not. The impulse to reassure America’s Asian allies that the U.S. commitment to their security is rock solid perversely makes it likely that they will continue to free-ride on America’s exertions — in an era when Washington has less and less money to spend.

Both Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, during their tenures as U.S. defense secretaries, have traveled to Europe to hector allies there for not spending enough on their militaries. This is not a new phenomenon in Europe — even during the Cold War, America’s European partners were only supporting actors in the drama between Washington and Moscow. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the disparity has grown worse: Only four of the 27 non-U.S. NATO militaries spend the agreed-upon 2 percent of GDP on defense.

The reason these NATO allies have shirked on their defense commitments is because they are smart. They know that if they fail to provide for their own defense, Uncle Sam will do it for them. This has allowed the Europeans to spend their resources on a variety of goods other than defense, from expansive welfare states to impressive infrastructure programs. U.S. taxpayers — and now their creditors — are left footing the bill for Europe’s defense.

As far back as the 1960s, U.S. policymakers puzzled over the low levels of defense spending among the European members of NATO. In a 1966 article, economists Mancur Olson Jr. and Richard Zeckhauser showed that in the provision of collective goods (like security) in organizations (like alliances), the largest members will tend to bear a “disproportionately large share of the common burden.” When a group declares something a common interest, it is rational for the poorer members to shirk and allow the wealthier members to carry a disproportionate portion of the load.
……….
Sources: Foreign Policy


One year after Oleg Kashin was brutally attacked in Moscow, the noted journalist looks back on the clownishly futile investigations — and the climate of fear that threatens his profession.

BY JULIA IOFFE | NOVEMBER 9, 2011

MOSCOW – Not many people survive the kind of beating Oleg Kashin got a year ago. Around midnight, on Nov. 6, 2010, two men holding a bouquet of flowers met him outside his home in the center of Moscow. Fifty-six whacks with a crowbar savaged his left hand, broke his leg, cracked his skull at the temple, and shattered both his upper and lower jaw bones.
Almost exactly three years earlier, Yuri Chervochkin, an activist in the radical National Bolshevik Party, had been attacked in a small town not far from Moscow. His assailants got him with a baseball bat, and their first blow was enough: He choked on his own vomit and slipped into a coma. His mother spent the critical days after his beating trying to enlist reluctant doctors to help her son. They wouldn’t, and he died three weeks later, just shy of his 23rd birthday.

Kashin, who wrote about Chervochkin’s death at the time, was luckier. “I understand that the fact that I didn’t die is all luck and good genes, because I had about a dozen chances to die,” he told me, sitting in a cafe a few blocks from the courtyard where he nearly lost his life a year ago. “I could have easily lost consciousness and laid there for an hour, and that would’ve been it. Or if I got to the hospital just a little bit later.”

But it wasn’t just timing that saved him or even the extraordinary fact that Kashin stayed conscious long enough to call the janitor of his building, who sat Kashin on some plywood, shielded him from the rain with a tarp, and kept him awake until the ambulance arrived. It was also the fact that Kashin was not a marginal or radical figure. He was already a famous blogger and a well-known reporter for Russia’s biggest daily, Kommersant, which is owned by Alisher Usmanov, a metals magnate with close ties to President Dmitry Medvedev. Usmanov flew a Russian neurosurgeon back from vacation to operate on Kashin. When Kashin was stabilized and in a medically induced coma, he was operated on by four big-name surgeons, simultaneously and for free.

Kashin’s vast social network — he was always the most gregarious of the Moscow journalists — also worked in his favor. Within an hour of the beating, a friend living near Kashin blogged about what happened. Another friend (a journalist) read it and contacted her friend Natalia Timakova, a former Kommersant reporter and Medvedev’s press secretary. Timakova roused Medvedev in the middle of the night, and the shocked president tweeted his promise that the perpetrators would be caught. In daylight, he instructed the prosecutor general to personally oversee the case. Medvedev saw Kashin a few months later on a visit to Israel, where Kashin was getting physical therapy, and according to Kashin, Medvedev promised to “tear off the heads” of those who had attacked him.

Yet despite all that, a year after the attack, not only have no heads been torn off, but the bodies to which they’re attached have not been apprehended either. This was both predictable and utterly shocking. Given the volume of the outcry and the apparent sincerity and generosity of the official response, there was, one year ago, some faint reason to hope that this case might be solved. Kashin, after all, was a mainstream, well-connected figure. He was no Anna Politkovskaya, killed on Putin’s birthday in 2006, whose work was so obviously dangerous (Kashin compared her to a suicide bomber). Nor was he like the other journalists and human rights activists whose work in the Caucasus has brought Caucasus-style revenge on their heads.

He was no Paul Klebnikov, gunned down in 2004, or Mikhail Beketov, assaulted and maimed in November 2008, who went against powerful financial interests. Kashin wrote about youth movements. Yet despite the seeming harmlessness of his beat, despite his luck that night, despite the big names and big money that immediately kicked into action, despite the wide shock and wide media coverage — even state news lead with his beating the next day — despite all these advantages that Politkovskaya and Beketov and Klebnikov and Chervochkin and dozens like them didn’t have, in the year since the first photographers arrived to take pictures of the blood-spattered ground in Kashin’s courtyard, Kashin’s case has gone cold, exactly like theirs.

Almost since the moment he emerged from his coma, Kashin has been doing everything he can to help the investigation, giving countless hours of testimony and helping compile composite portraits of the suspects. The first visit from a detective came when Kashin couldn’t talk yet — his shattered jaws were still sewn shut. When he was mobile, in February, he was sent to a scientific institute that was part of the Interior Ministry for a procedure called “memory activation.”

“It’s a mansion with no sign,” Kashin recalls. “And the people working there — green nails, crazy makeup — were real fortuneteller-types. The lady who was working with me is a lieutenant colonel and a Ph.D. in biology.” The procedure was simple: Close your eyes, imagine you’re in school, imagine you’re writing on the blackboard, and then imagine you’re erasing it with a rag, and while you’re erasing, you fall into a trance. “I was kind of ironic about it all. But when they told me the procedure lasted an hour and a half, I was surprised because I didn’t think it was more than 15 minutes,” Kashin says. While he was under, he described the face of one of the attackers (he didn’t have a chance to see the other one), which he had already done for the detective on the case. The two composite portraits weren’t very different, Kashin says. While his memory was activated, he also recalled that he had been smoking on the way home. “OK, so I was smoking,” he shrugs.

Thoroughness did not seem to be a problem, either. Kashin’s friends were all extensively questioned: the friends he’d seen that night, his estranged wife, his broader circle of friends and fellow bloggers. Some described being grilled on what, exactly, a “blog” was. One was dragged into the police department so many times that she eventually suffered a nervous breakdown.

The whole year, whenever anyone asked, Kashin said he was satisfied with the progress of the investigation. He was in close contact with the lead detective on the case, Sergey Golkin, a general who worked only on VIP cases. “Usually people complain that their testimony isn’t being recorded or that the investigators don’t care,” Kashin says. “Not at all the case here. Everything was recorded; everything was checked. I really had no complaints.”

Yet the choice of Golkin should have been an ominous sign for Kashin. Golkin may have been a crack detective, but he was also the lead on two other high-profile cases: the murders of Novaya Gazeta reporter Politkovskaya and Klebnikov, who was the editor of Forbes’s Russian edition. After sluggish progress, jury tampering, and the disappearances of key witnesses, Klebnikov’s case was suspended in 2007. Politkovskaya’s case, after a trial that looked a lot like a circus and resulted in an acquittal, has since been resuscitated and is dragging its way through the courts, five years after the murder. (During the Politkovskaya murder trial, one of her colleagues at the paper and a lawyer who had once represented Politkovskaya were gunned down in broad daylight, in the center of Moscow. A young neo-Nazi couple has been convicted of those murders, despite allegations of a confession made under duress.)

Golkin explained all this to Kashin. “He told me, ‘The judges are dilettantes, so my evidence isn’t enough for them,'” Kashin recalls. In court, Golkin claimed, he said, “‘This is the murderer,’ but it wasn’t enough for the judge.” That is, Golkin’s sleuthing, even at full tilt, was insufficient if the courts weren’t working. But of course, Golkin is still describing a system in which solving such crimes and pushing them toward a convincing conviction in court is not a pressing matter. And one doesn’t become a general within such a system without understanding exactly what the system’s priorities are and how much energy it’s worth expending on carrying them out.

Kashin’s case, to those following along with him, had some very plain and obvious clues. Kashin was beaten, it is absolutely clear, because of his journalistic work, which included his exceptionally acerbic blogging. The two young men who beat him were likely soccer hooligans, who, as Kashin himself was among the first to report, are often hired as hit men or used as enforcers by Kremlin youth groups. In the course of his investigation, Golkin apparently questioned high-ranking representatives from Molodaya Gvardiya, United Russia’s youth wing, and from Nashi, the pro-Kremlin youth group. Both admitted to either having had Kashin under surveillance in the week before the attack or trying to find out his home address. They claimed this was because they wanted “to invite Oleg Vladimirovich Kashin to the home of Pskov Gov. Andrei Anatolyevich Turchak,” the same governor whom Kashin had, in August, called “shitty Turchak” and who, in turn, publicly gave Kashin 24 hours to apologize. (Why “shitty”? “Meaning that he’s the youngest governor, that he became governor only because he’s the son of Putin’s friend, and because he is the most insignificant governor,” Kashin explains. “And because this is LiveJournal, you have a little more room when it comes to word choice.”)

Kashin never apologized, despite attempts of people like the governor of Kirov, Nikita Belykh, to reconcile them. “I told each of them, ‘Look, he’s not a bad guy. Why fight? You should meet and talk it out,'” Belykh recalls. “And they said, yeah, they were supposed to meet.” They never did. By September, Kashin claims, people were telling him Turchak was out for blood. “Anytime [Turchak] walked into an official meeting, people would snigger,” Kashin says of the rumors he was hearing, explaining that because he and other popular bloggers had teased Turchak, their followers did, too, eventually hacking the governor’s blog and changing his title to “The Shitty Governor of Pskov.”

“He felt I was at fault for this, and he was, in many ways, justified in thinking that,” Kashin says now. But last September, he became convinced that the threats were real and that they would get him inside his apartment building. Going up in his slow elevator, Kashin would press himself into the back wall when the doors opened, expecting an attack. Turchak was also involved with Molodaya Gvardiya, which openly threatened Kashin on its website, calling him a “journalist-traitor” and stamping “WILL BE PUNISHED” over his picture.

There is also the Nashi part of the story. Kashin, seen in Moscow journalist circles as something of an expert on youth groups, reported extensively and harshly on Nashi, which is a notoriously closed and guarded group: “Worse than a cult,” Kashin says. The head of Nashi and of Russian youth politics more broadly, Vasily Yakemenko, is said to have dormant connections to Moscow street gangs and organized crime, specifically a group that once regularly beheaded its victims. “My sources were telling me that Yakemenko considers me an enemy — I mean, an enemy, enemy, enemy, enemy,” Kashin says. While Kashin lay in a coma, Yakemenko’s possible role in the attack was openly debated in the Russian press. But 10 days after the beating, Putin summoned Yakemenko to his office to talk about physical education. In Russia, a signal like this is obvious, and the system responds accordingly, dragging its feet and letting an investigation gather dust. Going after someone in Putin’s circle is just not worth it.

***

About a month ago, Golkin was suddenly taken off Kashin’s case and replaced by another detective. The stated reason was that there were simply too many other high-profile cases to deal with in the department. Then Golkin sent Kashin a text message, suggesting that Kashin resubmit his testimony on Molodaya Gvardiya and Nashi — “in case it gets misplaced.” He added a winking emoticon.

“Yes, I’m a paranoiac, but the fact that they changed the detective two weeks after the United Russia congress, maybe it’s connected,” Kashin says. The promise to see the perpetrators brought to justice came from Medvedev, who saw his tenuous chance at remaining in power after 2012 snuffed at that congress. With Medvedev now a lame duck, Kashin thinks, that promise holds no water.

His seeming protector in the Kremlin hobbled, Kashin has become anxious. His hope, his belief that the investigation was going well — that it was going at all — has been steadily collapsing. Like the muckraker he is, he tracked down the new detective on the case, Nikolai Uschapovsky, through the reporters at Kommersant who cover crime. He called Uschapovsky and introduced himself, suggesting they meet and discuss the case. “He said, ‘It doesn’t make any sense to do that now; I haven’t read your case yet, and it makes no sense to meet ’til I read it,'” Kashin paraphrases. “It’s been two weeks. Seems he’s going to be reading it for a long time — there are a lot of volumes — and so the case isn’t going anywhere, as I understand it.”

While Kashin lay in a coma, observers — myself included — expressed a sureness that, even if the hit men were found, the people who ordered the attack would never be punished, simply because they were too important and protected by Putin’s, or another powerful person’s, bulletproof loyalty. The number of journalists attacked or killed dwarfs the number of closed cases, and the figures, worn and oft cited to the point of cliché, are only swelling. Last week, Pavel Gusev, the editor of Moskovsky Komsomolets and the head of the communications division of the state’s Public Chamber, announced that, in the first 10 months of this year, over 150 journalists had been threatened or attacked.

Kashin has largely given up on finding his assailants, not to mention their employers. “I’m a realist; I understand the country we live in,” he says. “If they catch a Spartak [soccer team] fan who guarded Seliger [the Nashi summer camp] five years in a row, then you don’t have to arrest Yakemenko. That’s enough for me. I get it. And that’s what I hope for.” He adds, with some hope, “And after all, not every criminal case attracts the attention of Medvedev. No one made him say anything.”

Yet Kashin has something most other journalists or activists who have become victims of such attacks don’t: He is alive; he is mobile; he is working; he is not in pain. But beyond those basics, the beating was a life-changing event. His temple, his upper jaw, and part of his leg are now made of titanium. He’s missing half his left pinkie. He’s missing teeth that can’t be permanently implanted until his shattered jaw fully heals. (When he does get them, in a year, they will be paid for by Usmanov.) His bottom lip is partly paralyzed. “I can kiss,” he says, shyly, “but the sensations aren’t the same.”

He still feels uncomfortable walking into his yard, and he has never gone back into the cigarette shop where he stopped before heading home that night last year. But Kashin says he has tried hard to normalize his life because any change, any fear is a concession to his attackers. This is why, when he was in Israel for rehab, he took a cab to Tel Aviv and bought the same Paul & Shark coat he was wearing when he met the two men with the bouquet. “When I read the notes from the investigation, they said I was wearing a leather coat,” Kashin says. “But they were mistaken. It’s a cloth coat, just like this one.” He holds up a navy-blue canvas jacket. “It was just totally soaked with blood.”

Because no one has been arrested, Kashin says he does not feel totally safe, and the two bodyguards he traveled with all spring and summer are now gone. What worries him most, though, is the psychological ramifications of being the martyr who managed to live. “Of course this story bothers me, and of course for a long time it will be the most important event of my life,” he says, draining his coffee and lighting up a cigarette. “From the point of view of the media, it was a year ago; there have been lots of interesting events since. What I’m really afraid of is that another year will pass and the only person to remember and care about this event will be me, and to everyone else I will be the crazy guy who’s obsessed with one old story.”

So far, that hasn’t happened. This Sunday, Nov. 6, the anniversary of the beating, Kashin and his colleagues stood in the cold in front of the Central Directorate of Internal Affairs, holding a sign demanding the crime be solved, much as they did one year ago. Last year, no one dared touch them. This year, two 17-year-old girls were arrested. Afterward, everyone — except Kashin, who wanted to be alone — went to a bar. It was as much a social gathering as it was a show of professional solidarity, which, to a journalist in Russia, are equally important and insulating against the sense of utter exposure.

But not everyone has even this most basic shelter. To mark the two-year anniversary of her son’s death, Chervochkin’s mother staged a similar protest. She was the only one who showed up and was quickly arrested.
……….
Sources: Foreign Policy


Thailand Festival

Loy Krathong
Loy Krathong is a festival celebrated annually throughout Thailand. It is held on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. In the western calendar this usually falls in November.
Loy” means “to float”. “Krathong” is a raft about a handspan in diameter traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk (although modern-day versions use specially made bread ‘flowers’ and may use styrofoam), decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles, incense sticks etc.
In the evening, many people will go to their local klong (canal) or river to float their krathongs. They believe this will bring them good luck. By the end of the evening, there are hundreds of flickering lights bobbing up and down on the water. Quite often there are also firework displays as well as shows and beauty contests for everyone. Overall it is really a memorable evening.
Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai has the added feature of a parallel festival called Yi Peng. Yi Peng is celebrated by launching hot air balloons made of rice paper into the night sky. The night sky is literally filled with thousands of these bright lights shining like a moving river of stars. It’s a truly magical sight that can’t really be captured in a picture.
Loi Kratong in Chiang Mai has become so popular that the hotels around the city are fully booked a month or more in advance. If you want to celebrate the festival in Chiang Mai, plan ahead and book your hotel well in advance. Note that Loi Kratong is celebrated on a full moon night, so the date will change from year to year.
Tak similarly celebrates the festival of “Loy Krathong Sai” that is reflected through a long line of Krathong made of coconut shells lit with candles as well as threaded together as a string of floating lights on the Ping River. When lit Krathong are floated onto the right current typically one after another they would wander along and make a breathtaking and twinkling curving line or “Sai” in Thai amidst the darkness of the night.  This represents the accord and oneness of local people when they assemble on the river banks where they sing and dance with utmost bliss. Tourists will also have a mesmerizing occasion to relish the atmosphere of Krathong Sai contest and water curtain presentation relating to “The Legent of Krathong Sai”
In “the City of Angels”, the banks of the glorious Chao Phraya River are the prime location to celebrate the festival.  So as to revive an old custom of the ancient capital, Loy Krathong is arranged to preserve the royal ritual of the early Rattanakosin period in which several types of traditional Krathong were set afloat onto the Chao Phraya River and its waterways.  Many riverside hotels and restautants also hold special celebrations for their guests. For a more stunning night of Loy Krathong in Bangkok, meticulous tourists are earnestly invited to partake in this yearly festival and join the crowds along the Chao Phraya River, the Rattanakosin Island, the Santichaiprakarn Park, the Rama VIII Bridge, the Taksin Bridge and the Krungthon Bridge.
Thai people from all walks of life are gathering on the nearest river with their hands holding a fine-looking banana leaf cup.  The rivers and waterways are illuminated with glittering lights whilst the historical remains and commercial buildings along the banks of the majestic Chao Phraya River are adorned with electric decorations. The joyful festivities like firework displays, traditional performances as well as sound presentations are just around the corner. These are the common scenes awaiting you on the coloful night of Loy Krathong.

Narinjara

China has recently started building giant tanks for storing crude oil shipped from Africa and Middle East within the compound of the deep seaport on the Madae Island in Kyaukpru in western Burma’s Arakan State.

Madae-island-construction

A Burmese engineer who is working with the project said the construction of the oil tanks will be completed in mid 2012 and importing the oil from the tanks through the pipeline to China will begin in 2013.

“We are now building the foundations of the tanks. The tanks are on target to be completed in mid 2012, so to transporting the oil from the port through the pipeline to China will begin from 2013”, said the engineer.

China is now building the deep seaport project on the Madae Island, construction includes a port for storing 3 lakh tons of crude oil, a 2.9 km-long navigable channel, a 480 meter-long jetty for the oil tankers and a water reservoir of 600,000 cubic meters.

About 22 million tons of crude oil in a year will be transported from the port to China through the 2,380 km long pipeline of which about 800km will run through Burma.

12 billion cubic meters of natural gas that is produced from the A(1) and A(3) blocks of the offshore gas fields of Arakan State will be also exported to China through the pipeline.

The engineer said China is now speeding up the construction of the port by working both day and night. Most of the machinery and labourers are being brought in from its own country.

“Most of the engineers and workers constructing the port are from China and the machinery and other important material, such as cement, is also brought in from their country. The Burmese government is also allowing them to import whatever they need for the construction of their projects freely”, he said.

According to local residents, many farmers on Madae Island have become unemployed after their farmlands were confiscated. They were given very little compensation – much less than what the Chinese paid for the land needed for the port.


Bangkok Post

The government’s Flood Relief Operations Command (Froc) on Wednesday conceded that it really could not say if the Victory Monument area and Rama 2 Road would be inundated by the flood.
Photo by Patipat Janthong

Responding to growing public anxiety, the Froc director, Justice Minister Pracha Promnok, said it was very difficult to evaluate the flood situation because the water was moving underground through the city’s sewers.

The Victory Monument area is regarded as the heart of the capital, and Rama 2 Road is the main and last remaining dry route to the South from Bangkok.

It was impossible to control the floodwater flowing into the underground sewers and that was worrying, Pol Gen Pracha said.

The best the Froc could do was pin its hopes on the water drainage system of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), which was in full operation to drain the flood out of the capital through its eastern areas.

Pol Gen Pracha said the flood command centre was working with the BMA’s Department of Drainage and Sewerage and as far as he was concerned, the draining of the water was satisfactory in all spots.

He rejected comments by academics that the “big bag” flood barriers were capable of blocking the floodwaters for a week at the most. Big bags are huge clumped, bags weighing about 2.5 tonnes each.

The minister said he could assure the public that the barriers could hold back the water for one more month at least.

Flood prevention workers had already laid the big bags of sand as a first 18km long flood barrier stretching from Khlong Prem Prachakorn southward. The wall cuts across Vibhavadi Rangsit Road through the northern boundary of Don Mueang airport.

The presence of the big bags has frustrated residents in the area because they feel it will only make things worse for them.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra (second right) explains flood situation to Flood Relief Operations Centre director Pracha Promnok (right) on Oct 15, 2011. (Photo by Pongpat Wongyala)

The Froc director said he was confident that local officials would be able to explain to them why it was necessary.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the flood from the North has flowed on to parts of Rama 2 Road in Thon Buri district.

MR Sukhumbhand said BMA officials have been working around the clock to combat the massive northern runoff, which has already inundating several districts in the western part of the capital.

The BMA will also offer jobs paying 300 baht a day to people to collect uncollected garbage in 18 flooded districts. The job offer would be open for 30 days, he said.

The city governor declared more areas in Khannayao district flood evacuation zones.

They are the areas of Sois 6, 21, 23 and 31 in Ram-Intra subdistrict and Kanchanaphisek, Ram-Intra and Serithai roads in Khannayao sub-district.

Lat Phrao subdistrict in Lat Phrao district, Min Buri and Bang Kapi areas were declared a special watch area.

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department reported that a total of 529 people were now confirmed dead and two people were missing in the great flood.

Two more people were confirmed dead yesterday in central province of Phichit.

Today, flooding still prevailed in 24 of the 77 provinces and was affecting about 2.8 million people from 1.1 million households.

Since mid-July the floods have affected about 3.3 million households and about 11.3 million people in 64 of 77 provinces, the department said.


Private sector's supports

This compilation shows the latest efforts by private companies in addressing flood impacts. Contact achara_d@nationgroup.com.

Beverages for flood victims
Aje Group is boosting capacity of its beverage plants, to cope with rising demand in Thailand.

Hernan Cordova, managing director of Aje Thai Co Ltd – its local unit, said that so far the company has donated beverages worth over Bt2.1 million to flood victims, aside from “Ceilo” drinking water worth over Bt10 million which is distributed through 7 relief centres.

“We hereby extend condolences to Thais in light of the historical floods and goods shortages. In this unfortunate event, Thais help each others and this should be shown to the world. In recognition of Thai hospitality, Aje Thai is giving our beverages to ease the suffering.

Hopefully, the situation will wind up and return to normal soon,” Cordova said.

Goods Fair

Bangkok Bank, in partnership with more than 30 manufacturing customers and business alliances, is hosting an ‘Emergency Shopping Fair’ to sell essential consumer goods at factory prices. Taking place at its headoffice on Silom Road on Nov 11 from 8am to 5pm, the fair features bottled drinking water, soy milk, eggs, salted eggs, chilli paste, canned sardines in tomato sauce, rice, instant noodles, processed and frozen foods, sausages, snacks, cooking oil, kitchenware, plastic buckets, waterproof pants, life vests, sleeping bags, sandals, medical supplies, garbage bags, calcium dioxide, alum, torches and lighters. House renovation advisors will also be on hand at the fair.

Similar events are planned at Bangkok Bank branches to provide convenience and relief to customers and people having difficulty buying essential consumer products during the floods.

Free car auctions

Union Auction Co Ltd will host second-hand car auctions during Nov 15-Dec 31 specially for flood victims. Upon registration for the participation, the car owners will get Bt7,000 from the company and the owners will be waived from operating cost. They will also get a full sum reaped from the auction.

Ekpithaya Iamkhong-ek, president of the company, said that the CSR campaign is open for all types of cars, including those with financial obligations.

“This is part of our CSR campaigns, to help the affected. Normally, we charge both buyers and sellers for the operating cost, but we’ll give the sellers all the operating cost of Bt7,000 collected from buyers,” he said.

He added that all parties should lend a hand when the country suffers from a natural disaster which affects a large number of people. The interested can contact Union Auction at Tel             0-2934-7344       or get more information from www.union-auction.com.

Early bonus payment at Tesco Lotus

Tesco Lotus is paying bonus this month to staff members in level 1 and 2, who represent nearly 95 per cent of its work force. The payment is normally made in December.

HR Director Siriphan Thongtheppairot said that during the flooding crisis, the staff have shown real commitment and dedication to serving customers and getting essential products to them. “I’m delighted that we are able to make this early payment as a way of saying thank you to them for their continued hard work. We hope that this early payment will also go some way to ensuring that these staff members have a speedy improvement and recovery to their personal situation.”

A number of Tesco Lotus have also been personally impacted by the flooding. The company has so far provided nearly Bt28 million wroth of financial aid, 7,000 relief bags, as well as food, temporary accommodation and transportation where needed, worth nearly Bt6.5 million.

Latest help from TMB

TMB Bank provided 15,000 food boxes and clothes to soldiers worth about Bt1.5 million, on top of Bt500,000 cash. To assisted affected soldiers, the bank will also waive principal and interest repayments for three months.

Fujitsu offers free server rental

Fujitsu System Business (Thailand) Ltd will waive rental server fees on flood-affected customers for two months from October, to help customers who are rebuilding business after the floods.

Masaki Kajiyama, president of the Thai unit, said that the program is a collaboration between Fujitsu Business System (Thailand) and Fujitsu Technology Solutions.

UMS in Ayutthaya

Unique Mining Services Plc’s volunteer staff recently visited the flood-damaged community in Tamboon Klong-sa-gae, Ayutthaya province, to donate relief bags to the flood victims. These bags included dried foods, rice, drinking water and other essential items.

UMS is committed to being helpful to community and encouraging all of their employees to participate in social and community activities.

Free SIM to soldiers

Total Access Communication (Dtac) recently handed 500 pre-paid SIM cards worth Bt250,000 to soldiers, who are assisting the rescue and relief efforts in the Greater Bangkok.