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Thaksin to Return to Thailand



Globe 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008




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News that former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is to return to Thailand tomorrow has sent shockwaves not only in tourism circles but the entire kingdom of Thailand. The deposed head of state is due back in Thailand from 17 months in exile to fight corruption charges. Click to todays lead story to learn more about Thaksins return.

There is still time to submit you entries to this years The Golden Gate Awards, to be held during ITB Berlin this. This years roster of contestants is some of the worlds most prominent companies and destinations. Be sure to let your creative juices challenge theirs. The award for Best Website in Tourism is also up for grabs, as well as Best Tourism Ad for Print and Best Tourism Ad for Online. For more details or to enter, point your browser to:

Thank you for making eTurboNews the dynamic forum that it is. Be sure to share your thoughts on any of todays stories by sending an email to the address: or by filling out our comment form at the end of each story.

Thanks very much for reading today's edition. Have a wonderful Wednesday!


Nelson Alcantara

Thaksin to come back!

(AP)- Deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will return to Thailand from 17 months in exile Thursday to fight corruption charges, his lawyer said. His critics warned the homecoming could plunge the country into political crisis.


The prospect of Thaksin's imminent return sent shock waves through the country's political circles, prompting the new prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, to call for calm. "I want to urge the Thai people not to be concerned," Samak told reporters. "I do not anticipate any unwanted incidents. There will be no chaos."


Samak and his People's Power Party, which is packed with Thaksin allies, won Dec. 23 general elections. The polls were the first since military leaders ousted Thaksin in a September 2006 coup, accusing him of corruption and abuse of power.


Thaksin was abroad during the coup and has lived overseas since then, mostly in London and Hong Kong. He said earlier this year he planned to return in April to fight corruption charges.


On Tuesday, Thaksin's official Web site posted a picture of the deposed prime minister with his right hand raised giving the victory sign, superimposed over an image of Bangkok's international airport as fireworks exploded overhead.


It urged supporters to greet Thaksin at the airport at 9 a.m. Thursday.


"Welcome home Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whom we love, miss and have been waiting to return for over a year," the Web site said in Thai.


The chief of Thaksin's legal defense team, Pichit Chuenban, said the Thursday return date "is confirmed."

"We are ready for his return," he told The Associated Press.


Pichit said Thaksin will surrender to police when he arrives and will seek his release on bail.


Thaksin and his wife Pojaman face corruption and conflict of interest charges in connection with her purchase of prime Bangkok real estate from a state agency in 2003, while he was prime minister. Pojaman returned to Thailand in January and was released on bail pending trial.


Thaksin also faces separate charges of concealing assets. Rakkiat Wattapong, the Supreme Court secretary general, said Monday that Thaksin would be detained when he arrives in Thailand.


Coup leaders who toppled Thaksin attempted unsuccessfully to dismantle his political legacy.


After the coup, Thaksin's former ruling Thai Rak Thai party was disbanded by court order. He and his party's 110 executive members were barred from holding public office for five years.


But many Thaksin allies regrouped to form PPP, which vowed during campaigning to bring back Thaksin and clear his name. Thaksin retains widespread popularity among the rural majority who benefited from his populist policies, like cheap health care and low-interest loans.


Samak and his party have since distanced themselves from the remarks, vowing to abide by the law but their actions have indicated a strong allegiance to Thaksin.


The new Cabinet is packed with allies and relatives of Thaksin, who have been heavily criticized by the media and public as unqualified, unsuitable and tainted by corruption charges.


The government also recently removed the head of the Division of Special Investigation, which is in charge of several cases against Thaksin, and appointed a Thaksin ally in his place.


The People's Alliance for Democracy, which spearheaded months of anti-Thaksin demonstrations before the coup, said it will fight any attempt by the new government to intervene with the judiciary.


"PAD is warning this government the political crisis will be worse than in 2006 if it continues to whitewash the charges against Thaksin," PAD spokesman Suriyasai Takasila said. "Thousands will take to the streets again if Thaksin returns and does not face trial in court in accordance with the law."


The head of the opposition Democrat Party, Abhisit Vejjajeva, predicted "chaos" if the government intervenes in Thaksin's corruption cases.


"The government should not intervene with the judicial process," Abhisit said, urging "everyone involved not to use this as a condition to stir chaos and violence."  Full story>>

Fly 540 now set for Entebbe

By Wolfgang H. Thome


(eTN) - Launched on Monday with yet little fanfare and following shortly after its first regional destination (Southern Sudans capital of Juba), Fly 540 has now started operating their next regional route to Entebbe.


The advertised fares stand at US$79 one way, plus continuously high regulatory charges, which the regional governments now have to address as a matter of urgency. Bringing airfares down on a broad basis has to be matched with lower airport taxes and navigation/landing fees for regional flights to promote air travel beyond its present transportation market share. These regulatory charges presently cost US$116 for a return flight, with the air fare costing US$158, an unrealistic equation.


The Fly 540 fares are not much different from the Royal Daisy/African Express fares of US$70 one way plus regulatory charges, mentioned some time ago in this column as breaking news, but are substantially lower compared with other airlines on the route.


In addition, Fly 540 operates two daily flights while African Express operates only twice a week and may therefore not
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