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Yingluck rejects Chalerm’s comments but doubts she can get referendum turnout. Extremists in South hunt Buddhists, burn TAO building. Total Access Communication (DTAC) earmarks 25 billion baht for installation of its third-generation (3G) mobile network over the next three year, hopes to cover 80% of the population.
World fails to end, China arrests Doomsday cult of 1,000 members. Assange vows “million documents in 2013” for Wikipedia. Internet eagle video is a hoax. The three students who made the video, apparently showing a golden eagle snatching a toddler in Montreal, did so in a production simulation workshop at their university.
– MY THAILAND: An American photographer is reaching for gold after nabbing first place in National Geographic’s photo competition, “My Thailand, My Story.” The prestigious international magazine awarded Harvey Abernathey’s photo “Harold’s Tree” earlier this year. He was one of seven first-place winners who went on an all-expense-paid, weeklong photography excursion in Thailand, and was accompanied by National Geographic travel photographer Alison Wright.
Abernathey explored the cities of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket and created an online photo album, telling the story of his experience. Only one of the seven will be awarded National Geographic’s top honor – a photographic exhibition in New York City at a venue determined by Tourism Thailand. The online album that receives the highest number of valid online votes will win the prize, valued at $20,000.
Abernathey attributes his foray into impressionistic photography through training by photographer Jimmy Katz and his “Joy to Abstract” workshops at the Point Reyes National Seashore.
Two days after returning from Thailand, Abernathey created an online photo album to showcase the best 15 shots from the trip. He said the hardest challenge was selecting from over 18,000 photos of temples, festivals, and Thai people within 48 hours.
“With the shooting schedule we had, I didn’t get to see my work until I got home,” Abernathey said, “But the purpose of the trip was to tell a story, so I was selecting photos that would do that.”
“One morning we set out for a balloon ride over Chiang Mai at 6:00 am, landed, drove to the mountains, and went on an elephant ride, all before breakfast,” Abernathey said.
The highlight of the trip was the Loi Krathong lantern festival in Chiang Mai. “It’s an all-night celebration with fireworks and thousands of lanterns are floated in the sky,” Abernathey said, “There were beautiful flower floats, and we went to the flower market and watched people making them, later floating them on the river following their blessing.”
“I was struck by the reverence the people have for their monarchy and their spirituality,” Abernathey said.
“The Thai people were so enjoyable to be around,” Abernathey said, “They would socialize with us even though we couldn’t speak the language.”
Abernathey called his trip “the experience of a lifetime,” which allowed him to meet lifelong friends in his photographer competitors.
“It was an amazing opportunity to experience the culture,” Abernathey said, “This is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Public voting opened to the public on December 10 and will close January 10. To vote visit nationalgeographic.com/mythailand .
-REFERENDUM: Thai PM Yingluck brushed aside comments by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who voiced opposition to a referendum. Ms. Yingluck said the government’s task is to encourage the public to participate in the charter amendment process to find a peaceful solution to political conflict, while the duty to amend the constitution rests with parliament.
The proposed referendum question is “Do you like the proposal to rewrite the constitution in its entirety or not?”
Former charter writer, Seri Suwanpanont, said the question is confusing and the term “approve” should be used instead.
Mr. Chalerm has opposed the government’s move to hold a referendum. He said the number of eligible voters is expected to rise to around 49 million next year, and roughly 25 million would have to take part in the referendum.
If the voter turnout fails to reach the required total, the referendum would automatically become invalid.
Even if a sufficient number of voters take part, the government would still need more than half of the votes to win in the referendum, he said.
Mr. Chalerm said yesterday that voting in a referendum is different from voting in an election. In a referendum, those who do not show up do not have their voting rights disenfranchised, he said, adding that many people still think constitutional amendments have little relevance to their daily lives.
Charter amendments do not motivate people to come out and vote, he said. His proposal will not push for the establishment of a charter drafting assembly and will not call for a referendum. Under his proposal, sections on the monarchy and independent agencies would be left untouched, he said.