เรื่องราวที่น่าสนใจระหว่างวันที่ 1-7 มกราคม 2546 - 2003-01-10

บทสนทนาสดระหว่างวีโอเอ กับ วิทยุ อสมท. : ฉลองปีใหม่ในสหรัฐอเมริกา
LIVE INTERACTIVE WITH MCOT’S TV 9: New Year Celebrations in the US
MCOT TV-9 requested a 5-minute live interactive at midnight, New Year’s Eve, in Washington DC with VOA Thai’s Khun Nittaya. She spoke with the news anchors by phone from home about how Americans celebrate the New Year under the terrorist threat. The TV 9 news anchors wanted to know if the countdown in NYC was the only place where people gathered for the occasion, and what they all did while waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square. Nittaya described the countdown to 2003 in NYC, the celebration and fireworks at Disney World in Florida, and the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve party at Las Vegas as they were happening. Americans are more watchful these days, but won’t let the terror threat keep them from living their lives. [Nittaya, New Year’s Eve: live interactive]

เรื่องราวคนไทยในอเมริกา : นักปั่นจักรยานมือเดียว เดินทางรอบโลก
VOA Thai caught up with Wichian Pinkesom, a one-handed cyclist, in New York City. He left Bangkok in September 2000 to travel around the world to raise awareness for people with disabilities. His motto is "Equality in One World." Khun Wichian’s world bike tour has several goals: to encourage the disabled to not give up on life, to show that persons with disabilities can do difficult things, to make society and government aware of the achievements of those who aren’t physically perfect, and to promote bicycling as a way to help the environment. He has traveled across Asia including Tibet, as well as South Asia, the Mediterranean, Europe and now the United States. From New York City, Khun Wichian will travel through the American South and Southwest to LA and up to Vancouver, finishing up in Australia before returning home to Thailand. So far he thinks that Turkey was the kindest nation and Japan has a very impressive system for enabling the disabled. He has ridden in all weather, fixed flat tires and broken bike chains, and even been robbed. Khun Wichian stops at dark and stays wherever he finds himself. That includes under bridges, in cemeteries, near deserted houses and in the forest. When he goes home he will promote urban bike lanes and legislation to help people with disabilities live fuller lives. [Chanida 12-27-02, Weekend with VOA: interview]

Khun Wichian arrived in Washington and talked with VOA Thai’s Chamroen. The Thai biker self-financed his whole tour by selling his own property to raise initial funds, supplemented by donations along the way. Thai embassies and consular offices in various countries also helped him. Everything for the trip had to be loaded on his bike including clothing, his tent, cooking utensils, etc. He has already spent about Baht 300,000 ($US 7000) at the 60% mark of his planned trip. From LA he will go to Vancouver then fly to New Zealand and Australia where he will make the challenging cross-continental trek and return home through Indonesia and Malaysia. [Chamroen 1-5, Hot Line News: interview]

After going through more than 30 countries, Khun Wichian has experienced visa problems, floods, and snowstorms but the most difficult route was in Tibet where he ascended to 5000 meters where he used a zigzag technique to conserve his energy in the thin air. His average distance was 100 km per day. Khun Wichian studied the maps and planned his entire route by himself. In Iran, Afghan refuges robbed him of $US 50, but he was able to get away from them. Also in Iran people threw rocks and knives at him along the highway. Motorcycle bikers took his baseball cap and zoomed away. It was the most hostile part of the trip. On the other hand South Koreans and Swedes were tremendously helpful. In South Korea, an old man rode with him for 60 km to lead him to Inchon Harbor to catch a boat. A Swede who had spent time in Thailand saw the Thai flag on his bike and gave him 200 Kroners and offered him a winter jacket (which he refused, too heavy for the bike!). In NYC the temperature reached –3 degrees Fahrenheit and he needed 9 layers of clothing to survive the cold weather. Before leaving for the Carolinas, Khun Wichian offered the following advice: ‘dream high, reach for a star, and struggle to reach your goal’. [Chamroen 1-6, Hot Line News: interview]

กลุ่มผู้นำทางศาสนาอิสลามในอินโดนีเชียปฏิเสธ “การใช้กฎหมายอิสลาม”
‘Respected Muslim leaders and scholars’ joined the 40 million strong Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and 2nd largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, in calling for an end to radical Muslim demands for imposing Shariah (Islamic law) in Indonesia. NU’s chairman, Hasyim Muzadi, said that religion and the state should not be confused by ‘religious chauvinists’ using violence to advance their cause. Azyumardi Azra, rector of Jakarta’s Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University said the political reality of Indonesia is a pluralistic and heterogeneous state where most Muslims embrace a moderate form of Islam. Azra and Ahmad Syafii Maarif, chair of Muhammadiyah, pointed out that an Islamic state does not appear in the Qur’an or during the rule of the Prophet or his four Caliphs. Recent attacks by radical Muslims on churches, shopping centers and the Bali bombings prompted the moderate groups to speak out. Jakarta has recently allowed Aceh the right to impose Shariah as part of a peace package for the separatist province. [Jesda 1-5: AFP 12-31, AP 12-31, and other sources]

ข้อขัดแย้งระหว่าง มาเลเซีย-สิงคโปร์
While Singapore and Malaysia have cooperated during the past year in capturing over 100 suspected Islamic terrorists, they are fighting a ‘war of words’ over many bilateral issues. One of the thwarted terrorist plots included disrupting piped water shipments from Malaysia to Singapore in an effort to increase the animosity between the two governments. This plot was part of a plan to topple selected SEA governments in order to create a Southeast Asian Islamic State governed under Shariah (Islamic Law). The plot failed but Singapore and Malaysia are creating animosity on their own. Singapore has established a building and helicopter landing pad on the disputed islet of Batu Puteh and has deployed naval ships off its shores. In the recent past, Singapore raised the lease rate on the Woodlands naval base and Malaysia had to vacate. They are also arguing over the price of water that Singapore buys from Malaysia, overflights by Singaporean jet fighters in Malaysian airspace, and border crossings. Singapore wants the islet dispute to be settled in the World Court and the water dispute to go to The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration, while Malaysia says these issues are best settled according to Malaysian laws. Singapore calls the issues ‘hiccups’, while Malaysia says Singapore should settle the issues or ‘go to war’. [Prabhassara 1-1: AP 12-31& 12-30, and other sources]

Over 8 tons of drugs were intercepted by Chinese authorities along its border with the ‘Golden Triangle’ last year. This was 70% of the total amount of drugs intercepted in China. But the confiscated drugs are only a small proportion of the estimated 1800 tons of heroin that is produced by Myanmar and Laos from their opium poppy fields. Since the 1980’s China has increasingly been the ‘first stop’ on the drug route that passes through either Hong Kong or Taiwan and ends in the US and Europe. [Prabhassara 1-7: AFP 1-7, and other sources]

Australia’s EnviroMission Ltd. power company hopes to build a 1000 meter solar tower (solar chimney) in the outback by 2006. The A$1billion ($US 576 million) tower will be as wide as a football field and stand in the center of a 7 km diameter glass ‘roof’ which will measure 3 meters high at the outside edge and slope up to 25 meters in the center. The design creates a continual updraft, which will flow through 32 turbines to generate enough electricity to supply 200,000 homes with power. The ‘chimney’ will generate 650 gigawatt hours annually to help fulfill Australia’s mandated renewable energy target of 9500 gigawatts of renewable energy/year. [Chamroen 1-7: from several sources]

After 9-11, who is interested in putting up tall buildings? The Koreans that’s who. Currently the tallest building is the 452 meter Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur (featured in the 1999 action flick, Entrapment). Seoul wants to do one better by building the 540 meter International Business Centre in a proposed business district near the Sangam Stadium, the venue for last year’s World Cup. It will have 110 floors above ground and 10 floors below at a cost of 1.6 trillion won ($US 1.4 billion) [Chamroen 1-5: from several sources]

ความสุขคืออะไร ? อะไรคือ “P+5E+3H” ?
What is the secret of happiness? Wealth? Beauty? True Love? A Great Job? Happiness, apparently, is more subtle than that, at least in the United Kingdom. Two researchers, psychologist Carol Rothwell and life coach, Pete Cohen tested 1000 men and women over 18 by presenting them with 80 scenarios and asking them to pick which situations made them the happiest. Then each was interviewed to develop a ‘personality profile’. In general sunny days, family and weight loss made women happy while men grooved more over sex, sports victories, and pay raises. All of this could be reduced to an equation where happiness was the sum of an individual’s P (personal characteristics like resilience, adaptiveness, outlook on life) + 5*E (existence characteristics like health, friendships and financial stability) + 3*H (Higher Order characteristics like self-esteem, sense of humor, expectations and ambition). One’s percentage out of 100 is the happiness score. Their studies showed that happiness is different for Scots (only 19% need sex, even less want romance) than for Britons (more romance, a lot more sex), so culture enters into the equation. But misery was more easily agreed on: bad health, bad weather, and no money. [Nittaya 1-7: Reuters 1-6, and other sources]