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  • Thai conscientious objector risks jail in rare refusal of military service

    Young men are forced to take part in conscript lottery, but the rich often avoid serving in army

    Every April in Thailand young men take part in a lottery to determine whether they will be forced to do military service. Pull out a red card and you are drafted for up to two years. A black card means you are exempt.

    When it was Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal’s turn to draw a card this month, he refused, making a rare protest as a conscientious objector. If prosecuted, it is believed he could become the first person in Thailand to be imprisoned for avoiding the draft through civil disobedience. The offence carries a maximum sentence of three years.

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    21 April 21 2024
  • Fighting rages at Myanmar’s border with Thailand as rebels target junta troops

    Thousands of civilians flee as resistance fighters fight to flush out soldiers holed up at eastern bridge border crossing

    Fighting raged at Myanmar’s eastern border with Thailand on Saturday, both governments said, forcing 3,000 civilians to flee as rebels fought to flush out Myanmar junta troops holed up for days at a bridge border crossing.

    Resistance fighters and ethnic minority rebels seized the key trading town of Myawaddy on the Myanmar side of the frontier on 11 April, a blow to a well-equipped military struggling to govern and facing a test of battlefield credibility.

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    20 April 20 2024
  • The Chinese émigrés leaving the pressures of home for laid back Chiang Mai

    Thai tourist hotspot popular with backpackers has become an unlikely second home for thousands of Chinese people seeking alternative lifestyles

    Approaching her mid-30s, Xiong Yidan reckons that most of her friends are on to their second or even third babies. But Xiong has more than a dozen. There is Lucky, the street dog from Bangkok who jumped into a taxi with her and never left. There is Sophie and Ben, sibling geese, who honk from morning to night. Boop and Pan, both goats, are romantically involved. Dumpling the hedgehog enjoys a belly rub from time to time. The list goes on.

    Xiong nurtures her brood from her 8,000 square metre farm in Chiang Dao, a mountainous district in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai province. Xiong has chronicled her journey from Beijing cryptocurrency marketing executive to farm girl in Thailand on social media; she’s particularly popular on Xiaohongshu, a female-focused app similar to Instagram, where she has more than 38,000 followers. Her account shows people that switching to a slower pace of life “is not just some illusion or idealistic thing, but is very actionable,” she says.

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    13 April 13 2024
  • As Thailand revels in Songkran water fights, tourist hub Samui suffers through drought

    The resort island is facing days without running water, even as the country celebrates new year with water fights

    Across Thailand, people are getting ready to take to the streets for a giant water fight to mark the new year. Roads will be lined with vendors selling water pistols, businesses will put out buckets of icy water for refills and no passersby is safe.

    What began as a tradition of the Songkran festival to sprinkle water on the hands of elders, in a symbol of cleansing and reverence to mark the new year, has evolved into huge water fights that draw tourists from across the world.

    But on the tourist resort island of Samui, the water fights and celebrations bely a long running problem: the island is parched.

    Residents say taps can stop running for days, causing disruption to businesses and daily life.

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    12 April 12 2024
  • People flee to Thailand amid intense fighting in Myanmar – video

    There were queues at the Myanmar border on Friday as people attempted to flee to Thailand after the strategically vital town of Myawaddy fell to the anti-junta resistance, which has been growing in strength. The number of people crossing from Myawaddy to Thailand’s adjoining Mae Sot doubled earlier this week to about 4,000 a day, as fighting in Myanmar intensified. At the one fully operational border crossing at Mae Sot, in the west of Thailand, many of those fleeing Myanmar said they left their homes fearing for their safety after hearing the sound of aerial bombing

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    12 April 12 2024
  • Blow for Myanmar’s military as rebels say hundreds have surrendered at key border town

    Thailand PM says army is weakening after junta requests permission to land evacuation flight from Myawaddy across the border

    Myanmar’s embattled military is on the brink of losing control of one of the country’s major border crossings, in another humiliating defeat to the junta.

    Hundreds of soldiers have surrendered in the town of Myawaddy, near to the border with Thailand, according to opposition groups, while Myanmar junta authorities asked Thai officials for permission to land an evacuation flight across the border on Sunday. Thailand said it granted the request on humanitarian grounds, but clarified on Tuesday that it carried only cargo and no personnel, according to media reports.

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    9 April 09 2024
  • No more monkey business: Thai city’s macaques to be put in enclosures

    Primates are symbol of Lopburi but residents have had enough as monkeys resort to violence to get food

    Mischievous long-tailed macaques are, for many, a symbol of the Thai city of Lopburi. Tourists flock to the city’s ancient temple to feed the macaques fresh fruit and photograph them as they maraud the streets. But, increasingly, residents say they have had enough.

    This week, after growing complaints from residents, wildlife officials announced a plan to round up 2,500 of the urban monkeys and place them in large enclosures. It follows an incident in March where a woman’s knee wasdislocated after she was kicked in the back by a monkey that wanted her food. Separately, a man lost control of his motorcycle after a monkey tried to grab a bag of food from him.

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    5 April 05 2024
  • Passengers jump into sea to escape Thai ferry fire

    No casualties after fire engulfs ferry carrying 108 people from Surat Thani to Koh Tao

    Panicked passengers jumped into the sea to escape a raging ferry fire in the Gulf of Thailand early on Thursday, and all 108 people onboard survived.

    The overnight ferry from Surat Thani province was about to arrive at Koh Tao, a popular tourist destination off the Thai coast, when one of the passengers heard a crackling sound and smelled smoke.

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    4 April 04 2024
  • Passengers rescued after tourist ferry catches fire in Thailand – video

    More than 100 people were rescued from a fire on a ferry off the coast of Thailand. The ferry had been travelling to Koh Tao, known as 'death island', when a fire broke out in the engine room. Passengers and crew in lifejackets were rescued from the dense smoke and fire. Some had jumped into the sea to escape the blaze

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    4 April 04 2024
  • Schools close and crops wither as ‘historic’ heatwave hits south-east Asia

    Governments across region grappling for response as temperatures soar to unseasonable highs

    Thousands of schools in the Philippines have stopped in-person classes due to unbearable heat. In Indonesia, prolonged dry weather has caused rice prices to soar. In Thailand’s waters, temperatures are so high that scientists fear coral could be destroyed.

    A “historic heatwave” is being experienced across south-east Asia, according to Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist and weather historian. In updates posted on X, he said heat that was unprecedented for early April had been recorded at monitoring stations across the region this week, including in Minbu, in central Myanmar, where 44C was recorded – the first time in south-east Asia’s climatic history that such high temperatures had been reached so early in the month. In Hat Yai, in Thailand’s far south, 40.2 C was reached, an all-time record, while Yên Châu in north-west Vietnam hit 40.6C, unprecedented for this time of year.

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    4 April 04 2024
    Extreme heat