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Friday, October 20, 2017

#Indonesia - Mandalika on its way to become new Bali

Tourist attraction: This picture shows the serene view of Kuta Beach, part of Mandalika tourist area, in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo inaugurated on Friday the Mandalika Special Economic Zone (SEZ), designated to be developed specifically as a tourist destination 

For a long time, foreign tourists have adored Indonesia’s top resort island Bali, famous for beautiful tropical beaches and majestic temples. However, that may soon change as the government’s plan to create 10 emerging tourism destinations, popularly known as “new Bali’s,” begins to take shape with Mandalika in neighboring island, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara  

Source - TheJakartaPost
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Thursday, October 19, 2017

#Indonesia - Marinda airport in Raja Ampat set to become international airport.


The Transportation Ministry has approved plans for the Marinda Airport in Raja Ampat to become an international airport.

The approval came after West Papua governor met with Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi two weeks ago to propose a runway extension. The plan was first initiated in 2015.

Raja Ampat Regent Abdul Faris Umlati has been wanting to extend the runway from 1,200 meters to 2,500 meters that will allow larger planes to land at Marinda.

The airport itself was officiated by the former Transportation Minister E.E. Mangindaan on May 9, 2012. The airport currently has a 1,200m x 30m runway, one 80m x 60m airport apron and one terminal with a total area of 120 meters.


 The Marinda airport operates from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., serving Susi Air and Wings Air airlines. As the first airline to fly to Raja Ampat, Susi Air uses a Cessna Grand Caravan. Susi Air used to only fly once a week but it currently offers several flights to Raja Ampat.

Meanwhile Wings Air has been serving the Raja Ampat route since January 2017. Using an ATR 72-600, the service travels to Manado – Raja Ampat – Sorong – Monokwari once per day.
Beginning Oct. 21, Sriwijaya Air and NAM Air are going to open new routes to Raja Ampat from Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Semarang and Makassar.

Other than air travel, tourists can also travel by sea to Raja Ampat, departing from Sorong and using a speed boat, which takes around two hours.
Source - TheJakartaPost
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#Thailand - Judge in #Yingluck case ruled her ‘Not Guilty’


Pison Pirun, a judge in the nine-member Supreme Court panel that ruled in the case over the rice-pledging scheme against ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra case, was the only judge to rule her not guilty on the grounds that “she lacked the intention to cause loss or seek advantage she was not entitled to”.

His ruling was circulated yesterday, three weeks after the panel had read the majority verdict against Yingluck in absentia following her flight from the country.

In his verdict dated September 27, the judge explained that the Attorney-General had prosecuted Yingluck for negligence or misconduct. However, according to the law, the offence must be accompanied also by ill intention, or ill intention to cause loss to others.

The act of negligence alone did not count as an offence in the laws cited by the Attorney-General, Pison pointed out.


Although the prosecutor had proved the rice-pledging scheme was plagued with corruption, there was no evidence that Yingluck had benefited from it, Pison wrote.

In the fake government-to-government rice deals case, although Apichart Chansakulporn, better known as “Sia Piang”, had been ruled guilty, it had not been proved that Yingluck had facilitated the deals either, Pison wrote.


 A photograph showing Sia Piang and Yingluck’s brother Thaksin Shinawatra in Hong Kong was not sufficient to prove that she was close to him and could have helped him gain advantage in the deals, Pison wrote.

Although the prosecutor and Yingluck had argued extensively about whether or not the rice-pledging scheme had caused losses or been beneficial to the economy, Pison said those arguments were irrelevant in the context of law.

He also rejected Yingluck’s arguments regarding judicial power as irrelevant.
Pison summed up his verdict by ruling the case against Yingluck should be dismissed.
Eight other judges, however, ruled Yingluck guilty and the panel handed down a five-year imprisonment term.

Yingluck fled the country two days before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders was scheduled to read the verdict on August 25. She is reportedly seeking asylum in the United Kingdom.

Source TheNation
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#Bangkok in danger of flooding unless old drainage improved, say academics.


BANGKOK will not be safe from the severe impact of major storms unless there is a huge improvement in the capital’s drainage system and canal network, academics have warned as more heavy rain is predicted for the capital.


A group of academics on water management, disaster prevention and city planning said at a public seminar at Chulalongkorn University yesterday that Bangkok’s drainage system was old, poorly maintained and unable to drain the water adequately, which increases the risk of Bangkok being severely flooded if another storm hits.

Thailand Global Warming Academy director Thanawat Charupongsakul said that Bangkok lacked the preparedness to cope with a storm. The widespread flooding in 55 areas of the city last Saturday showed that Bangkok could not withstand even a portion of the deluge and it took a day to drain the floodwater.

“It is not frequent for Bangkok to be directly hit by tropical storm, but the city is situated on the storm route and was hit directly several times in the past, such as in 1952 and 1983,” Thanawat said.

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He said that the precipitation within a six-hour period on Saturday night exceeded 214 millimetres and broke a 10-year record. 

If the rain was measured per hour, it was only 40 millimetres, which was within Bangkok’s drainage capacity, but it still flooded and showed the inability of the system to handle the volume, he said.

He warned that Bangkok will suffer badly from flooding if a storm hits the city directly with up to 300 millimetres of rain per hour.
“Bangkok’s sewage system is already more than 30 years old. It is suffering from a lack of maintenance, land sinking problems, and garbage and sediment clogging, which greatly reduce the drainage capacity,” Thanawat said.

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“Moreover, the construction of a floodwall along the Chao Phraya River also increases the water level in the river higher than the water level in the drainage system and canals, which makes the water drainage to the river hard and slow,” he said.

He also pointed out that the lack of separation between sewage from households and rainwater drainage also hinders drainage, because more than 10 million citizens in Bangkok release around 6 million cubic metres of wastewater into the system every day.

Terdkiat Sakkhamduang , the former chairman of Thai Urban Designers Association, suggested that Bangkok’s drainage system has to be entirely improved and the city plan also has to be revised.

Water pumps ready

“We have learned a lesson from the flaws in Bangkok’s city plan that prioritise too much in replacing canals with expanding the road network. We should learn from our past and restore the canals, as the canal network can drain water far better than the sewage system,” Terdkiat said.

Bangkok governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang warned yesterday that Bangkok would face more heavy rains overnight, which may be as severe as the downpour last Saturday. He said Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) had prepared for the downpour by getting the water pumps ready and lowering the water level in the canals.
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  Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda also affirmed that Bangkok residents should not be worried over the potential danger of flooding from northern run-offs, as the Royal Irrigation Department was in control of water in dams and 12 water-retention fields in upstream areas could absorb floodwater before it reached the capital. 

Chai Nat’s Chao Phraya Dam was currently receiving about 2,500 cubic metres of water per second, which was in balance with the level it released, he said.

Source - TheNation 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

#Bangkok - Online rumours create ‘false panic’ over floods.


Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang has dismissed online rumours that the city’s Saen Saep canal will be closed to allow the discharge of rainwater from the Northern provinces and is urging the public to follow truthful information on official websites and other reliable sources.


In addition, the government will take legal action against those who intentionally misled the public by posting old news dating back to the country’s massive floods in late 2011, according to chief spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

As Bangkok was hit by heavy downpours from late on Friday night until the early hours of yesterday, some old news stories and images that appeared online suggested that a massive amount of water had been released from the Bhumibol Dam to Bangkok via the Saen Saep canal. These posts, which were extensively shared on social media, were disseminated to frighten the public, Sansern said.

He said those who posted the false information would be subject to criminal prosecution under the computer crimes and related laws.


According to Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang, the city’s administration has worked closely with the Department of Irrigation to manage the overall floodwater situation, and it is untrue that the Saen Saep canal would be shut as rumoured. He urged the public to update news on the current |situation via the Line ID @bkk_best, on |the website www.facebook.com/bkk.best |or the Bangkok hotline, 1555.
 
Aswin said the city had returned to normal with only a few major streets still flooded as of late yesterday. If there were no more heavy downpours spanning several hours, the situation would be all right, he said.
From 11pm on Friday until the early hours of yesterday, rainwaters reached the critical level of 214 millimetres, causing flash floods in 55 locations across Bangkok.


Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department forecast there could be more rain in and around Bangkok due to the influence of a monsoon and a high-pressure system, but the tropical storm Khanun would have no effect on Thailand after making landfall in upper Vietnam.

Earlier yesterday, Bangkokians who had no urgent business were urged to stay home as many city roads were still inundated, such as Si Ayutthaya Road from the Phaya Thai intersection to the Urupong intersection and Rama VI Road, Rajaprarop Road, Ratchavithi Road, the Din Daeng area and nearby Vibhavadi Road.

Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon district recorded its highest single-day rainfall in a decade after torrential rains lashed the capital late on Friday and early yesterday, recording 214.5mm of accumulated rainwater. This was followed by Phasi Charoen district’s 214mm, Saphan Mon’s 208mm, Yan Nawa district’s 195mm, and Bueng Makkasan pond in Ratchathewi district’s 177.5mm.

Officials said the city had a capacity to drain rainwater in real time as long as a downpour did not reach more than 60mm per hour.

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was one of the flood victims.

“It is the first time floodwater has got into my house. I did not lift things up. My car has already broken down,” he posted on his official Line account yesterday afternoon. The Democrat Party leader’s house is in Soi Sukhumvit 31.

Meanwhile, a former deputy Bangkok governor lashed out at the city administration for trying to please Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha by supporting his floating market policy and neglecting the draining of the capital’s canals.

Teerachon Manomaiphibui posted on his Facebook wall that from his experience as a deputy governor, he would urge the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to drain all canals in preparation for heavy rain.

“The BMA should not be worried about the floating market policy of the prime minister,” Teerachon said. “The BMA should explain to the prime minister about the management of flood prevention in Bangkok during the monsoon season. If all canals are kept brimming in line with the floating market policy, flooding will occur immediately,” Teerachon posted.

“All water pumping systems must be turned on at full capacity to drain water. The BMA should not try to please the prime minister without explaining the truth to him.”

Source - TheNation

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More rains predicted for #Bangkok


The Meteorological Department on Saturday predicted more rains for Bangkok and its vicinity.

The department forecast fairly widespread thundershowers and isolate heavy rain for Saturday.

It explained that the rains would be unleashed by the influence of a monsoon and a high-pressure system, but the tropical storm Khanun would have no effect on Thailand.
The department said on Saturday that the storm was now over the upper South China Sea, west of Philippines. It is forecast to move to Hainan, China and upper Vietnam from October 15-17. It will then lose energy quickly after it makes landfall in upper Vietnam during that period.


In its forecast issued at 10am, the Meteorological Department said a monsoon trough lies across the lower Central, the upper South and the East, while the high-pressure system still extends from China to the upper Northeast and the upper Laos.

This will result in outbreaks of rains and isolated downpours over the country.

Source - TheNation

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The royal crematorium of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is almost complete.

Designed for a divinity

The architect of the Royal Crematorium talks about his inspirations for the elaborate structure

HIS MAGNIFICENT Phra Merumas, the royal crematorium, is almost complete but artist Kokiart Thongphud is not counting the days until it comes into use. 

“While I know that this is the most magnificent and majestic structure I have ever designed, I am neither glad nor proud to see it become a reality. My heart is crying and I don’t want October 26 to come – the day when I will send my beloved King back to heaven,” says the 49-year-old artist with the Fine Arts Department, who started work on designing the crematorium only hours after His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on October 13 last year.
 
Like all Thais, Kokiart did not let his grief and suffering keep him from his work. The elaborate royal crematorium for King Bhumibol is the tallest of any such structures since the reign of King Rama V.

“My respected master Prince Naris – Prince Narisara Nuvadtivongs, considered the great master of Siamese art – once said that the highest and widest structure of Phra Merumas signified the greatest dignity. My first design had the structure standing 80 metres high on a 120-metre-wide base, but it was too large for Sanam Luang as it is today. I eventually had to settle on a practical structure 55.18 metres high and 60 metres wide,” says Kokiart, who was the right-hand man of the celebrated late architect Arwut Ngernchuklin, designer of the royal crematoria for HRH the Princess Mother, HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana and Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda in 1996, 2008 and 2012 respectively.

 Kokiart prepared five draft designs of the royal crematorium in the busabok style in line with the structures sketched by the old masters since the reign of King Rama V. These showed elaborate pavilions with ornately decorated tiered roofs topped by one, five and nine spires respectively. The five drafts along with other artists’ sketches were presented to Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the president of the Royal Funeral Committee, and the Princess selected his design featuring nine pavilions, each standing independently of the others.

 The royal crematorium comprises nine busabok-style pavilions sitting on a three-tiered, square shaped base with a staircase on each of the four sides. On the topmost tier is the seven-tiered, spire-roofed principle pavilion, which will house the royal urn, while each of the four corners on the second tier have five-tiered, roofed pavilions called sang, which will be used by monks to chant scriptures during the ceremony. The remaining four pavilions are located at each of the four corners on the first tier. 

Kokiart also marks the centre of the royal crematorium from where two axes intersect – one from the spire of the Phra Si Ratana Chedi pagoda in the adjacent Wat Phra Kaew and the other from the middle of the phra ubosot or ordination hall in the nearby Wat Maha That.