Thailand's newly elected Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has kicked off his premiership with a bold statement of historical untruth that has sparked concerns about press freedom and raised larger questions about Thai society's culture of denial. Samak, 72, a 40-year veteran to Thailand's political scene, was appointed the country's 25th prime minister on January 28, and named a new cabinet on February 6.
It was a controversial choice, given Samak's reputation as a right-wing rabble rouser in the 1970s when the country was deeply split during a brief flirtation with liberalism that ended in a military crackdown in 1976.
But in a interview with CNN's Talk Asia programme televised last weekend, Samak flatly denied accusations that he had played a key role in fanning the ideological flames that led to a brutal attack on students at Thammasat University on October 6, 1976, an incident that is still remembered as one of the blackest days in the kingdom's recent history.
"I deny the whole thing. I had nothing to do with it at all," Samak told CNN's Dan Rivers. More astonishingly, he went on the claim that only one person died in the incident, although even a government investigation acknowledged that at least 46 people had been killed.
The denials have not surprised Samak's many detractors.
"He's a big liar," said prominent social critic Sulak Sivaraksa. "He has no shame and no sense of guilt. A perfect prime minister."
Samak's flat denial of historical fact, however, outraged many former student activists who survived the October 6, 1976, incident, a group of whom on Wednesday protested Samak's statement and offered proof that the massacre was no fairy tale.
On the same day, former Bangkok senator Chirmsak Pinthong used his radio talk show to read a transcript from a speech by Samak, who was then Interior Minister, to Thai students in France in 1977, in which he admitted that 48 people died in the October 6 crackdown.
Chirmsak later had to resign his job as talk show host after the radio station reportedly received a complaint from Jakrapob Penkair, newly appointed minister to the Prime Minister's Office, about the programme's content.
Although Jakrapob has denied he engineered Chirmsak's resignation, both Samak and Jakrapob have been sending worrying signals about the future of Thailand's press freedom since they came to office. [via Earthtimes]
- Dance Anthems Summer Splash - the third chapter of Dance Anthems is set to be this summers ultimate pool and beach party. Its being held on Saturday, 8th March 2008 at the Water Park, located on Jomtien Beach in Pattaya and the fun starts at 17:00 sharp. This glorious oasis of pleasure will feature a delicious summer BBQ, swimwear fashion show, waterslides and splash pool, big inflatable's, sexy dancers, live percussionist, VDO jockey, fire jugglers and much more plus the worlds most famous rum, Bacardi. Music and visuals are provided by Graham Gold, Chris Samba, Darren Mac, Billy V, Tony Hughes, Live Percussions by Num T-Bone and Visuals by Que VJ. Chill poolside, eat some delicious food, watch the steamy fashion show and dance to an exceptional mix of brand new banging beats and quality tunes from the dance decade 1994 to 2004 whilst enjoying an array of cool drinks including Mojitos on the rocks and buckets at very reasonable prices. Advance tickets 300 Baht. Also, 300 Baht at the door before 20:00 and 400 Baht after. All tickets include 2 drinks. [via Bangkok Recorder]
- The Bangkokrecorder is reporting that clubs and bars must close on 22nd/23rd February for Elections. Is this just Bangkok or countrywide? Anybody know?
- The Asian Tour International will debut in Thailand next month as golf continues to expand in the region, organisers said yesterday. The event will be played at the Pattana Golf and Sports Resort in Chonburi, Thailand from March 20 to 23 as the game continues its exciting expansion across the region. [The Peninsula]
- More than 200 couples lined up on Thursday to tie the knot on Valentine's Day in Bangkok's Bang Rak district, whose name translates as "the village of love." [via Inquirer]
- Alarmed by polls showing one in four Thai teens will celebrate St. Valentine's Day by having sex, police plan to swoop on motels, malls and parks to ensure youths behave themselves on the "Day of Love". [via KeralaNext]
- Microsoft releases 17 security patches and 6 are classified as critical
- Monitor Web Sites for Updates with Update Scanner [Firefox Extension] - the Update Scanner Firefox extension monitors web sites and alerts you whenever the site updates its content. While RSS feeds have put an end to your days constantly refreshing most sites worth their salt, there are still web pages that lack feeds that you may want to keep an eye on. Like what? Like a company's job page, for example, or just sites you love that remain a little behind the curve. You can even adjust scanning intervals and "change thresholds" so insignificant changes are ignored. Update Scanner is free, works wherever Firefox does. [via LifeHacker]
- 4 YouTube Tools You Probably Don't Know About - Web 2.0 is a phenomenon and YouTube is the perfect symbol of Web 2.0 applications. It has become wildly popular - one of the most popular, most-visited sites on the Internet. No matter how often you visit it, you always come back. Below, we present to you the best applications for dealing with Youtube:
Download from social music and video websites.
Download acceleration. Outperforms most of the traditional Youtube downloaders.
Option to pause and resume download at any time.
Check out full feature list here.
1. iDesktop.tv - iDesktop.tv is basically a Youtube but with a way more interactive interface plus an option to download and save any video to your PC. It also allows user to choose and download video in desired format, including AVI (Windows), 3GP (Mobile), MP4 (iPod), and MOV (Quicktime).
2. OrbitDownloader (Windows) - Powerful all-in-one media downloader for your desktop. OrbitDownloader removes the download barriers from almost all popular social media websites, i.e. Youtube, Dailymotion, Pandora, Rapidshare and many others. Once installed, you’ll be able to speedy download from almost any video or music streaming website.
3. Videoembed (Greasemonkey script) - This one is really cool. Youtube videos are linked from everywhere these days. And this addon lets you watch the video right on the page it’s linked from. It automatically adds embedded video after each link to pages like Metacafe, Youtube, Myspace… and many others so you can view the video without going to the website. Check it out in action on the Digg’s video section.
4. VideoFocus - Want to watch online videos without any distractions like ads, chats, comments, etc? This Greasemonkey script strips everything (ads, comments, related video…) but video and a plain background. Works with 30+ video sharing sites.
- Airbus said Thursday it was holding talks with a number of customers interested in converting its Superjumbo A380 -- the world's biggest passenger plane -- into a flying casino. [via HuffPo]
- Louise Porter - Zoo Magazine February 2008
- Eve Wyrwal - Front Magazine March 2008 (looks like Iga to me)
- Give him wood this Valentine's Day
- A SEX-starved woman could be jailed after making 700 calls to the emergency services, local army headquarters and the town council demanding a man for sex. [via The Sun]
- If he isn't getting the message this Valentine's Day, maybe it's time to be a bit unsubtle...
- What do an anniversary, a toilet, and a clitoris have in common? Men always miss them.
- Why does it take 100 million sperms to fertilize one egg? Because not one will stop and ask for directions.
- What is the difference between men and women? A woman wants one man to satisfy her every need. A man wants every woman to satisfy his one need.
- What is a man's idea of foreplay? A half-hour of begging.
- How many men does it take to change the toilet paper roll? Nobody knows - it's never happened.