Thursday, 3 January 2008

Thailand mourns death of king's sister

Princess Galyani Vadhana, elder sister of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej

A woman weeps while holding a portrait of late Princess Galyani Vadhana, the elder sister of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Bangkok's Siriraj hospital January 2, 2008. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

People weep while holding a portrait of late Princess Galyani Vadhana, the elder sister of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Bangkok's Siriraj hospital on January 2, 2008. REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Wed Jan 2, 2008

By Nopporn Wong-Anan

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's Princess Galyani Vadhana, elder sister of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has died six months after entering hospital with cancer, the palace said on Wednesday.

The king declared a 100-day mourning period for palace officials and funerary rites began at Bangkok's glittering Grand Palace.

Thousands of black-clad Thais queued up to pay their last respects at one of the palace's halls. A government spokesman said a 39-member panel chaired by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont would decide when the cremation would take place.

The government ordered all state buildings to fly the national flag at half-mast for 15 days and government officials and state firm employees to wear black or white for 15 days to mark her "great contribution to the Thai people".

The government also asked Thais, many of them still in festive New Year mood, to refrain from staging entertainment events or celebrations.

"It is a great loss for the people so we would like to ask everybody to mourn her departure by cancelling or postponing their fun," minister Dhipawadee Meksawan told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Politicians bargaining for cabinet seats in a coalition government being formed after the December 23 general election also refrained from making political comments on Wednesday out of respect for the princess.

The London-born princess was diagnosed with cancer in June and admitted to hospital, but her condition was not made public until October, shortly before King Bhumibol was admitted to the same hospital for restricted blood flow to the brain.

The world's longest reigning monarch was discharged three weeks later, but his illness served as a reminder to many of Thailand's 64 million people of the king's advancing years and increasing fragility.

The country laid on massive celebrations for his 80th birthday in December, just over a year after similar festivities to mark 60 years on the throne.

During his reign, Bhumibol has been a pillar of stability during often turbulent and bloody politics, including 18 military coups, the last of which in September 2006 ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Despite limited constitutional powers, he wields enormous personal influence and has waded into politics on several occasions in favor of both democratic and military regimes.

Many Thais are worried for the future after his death as his heir apparent, 55-year-old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, does not enjoy the wide respect accorded to his father.

(Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Michael Battye and Roger Crabb)



Argentina increases export to Viet NamArgentina earned more than 230 million USD from export of more than 995,000 tonnes of animal- and plant-related products to Viet Nam in the first 11 months of 2007.

The figures showed year-on-year increases of 56 percent in terms of revenue and 22 percent in terms of volume.

According to Argentina’s official statistics, export items obtaining high increases were sunflower oil with 572,000 million USD; tobacco, 477,000 million USD; and mandarin orange, 424,000 million USD.Meanwhile, soybean powder was Viet Nam’s largest import item from Argentina in the review period with over 650,000 tonnes worth 135.7 million USD as compared to 555,000 tonnes in 2006.

Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia sign energy dealCambodia, Laos and Viet Nam have signed an energy cooperation agreement, aiming to facilitate the construction of two World Bank-funded power transmission lines from Viet Nam and Laos to Cambodia.

The construction of the two projects, estimated at 18 million USD, will start in 2008 and is expected to be completed in 2010.

One power line will stretch from Tay Ninh province in southern Viet Nam to Kampong Cham province of Cambodia and the other from Champasak province in Laos will reach Cambodia’s Stung Treng province.

Mohinder Gulati, a World Bank energy expert, said that the lines are expected to greatly reduce the electricity production cost in those areas.Thanks to the projects, Cambodia will directly use electricity from Laos in addition to the supply from Viet Nam.

Both bourses fall in New Year’s first session

The first securities trading session in 2008 felt short of expectations of many investors as both Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City bourses experienced decline.

The VN-Index fell by 5.95 points to 921.07 points on January 2 at the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange, where 4.7 million shares valued at more than 444 billion VND were traded.

Blue-chippers which registered the sharpest fall of all included DHG of Hau Giang Pharmaceuticals (7,000 VND per share), ITA of Tan Tao Investment and Industry (4,000 VND per share) and FPT of Corporation for Financing and Promoting Technology (4,000 VND per share).

At the Ha Noi Securities Trading Centre, the HaSTC-Index decreased by 1.21 points to 322.34 points. More than 1.8 million shares, worth 192 billion VND, changed hands.

State President Nguyen Minh Triet visited the Ha Noi Securities Trading Centre on the morning of January 2 and beat the gong to open 2008’s first trading session.

The President asked the Ministry of Finance and the State Securities Commission to map out strategy to ensure that stock exchanges develop in a sustainable manner.

He also asserted that the state always creates favourable conditions for the financial market in general and the securities market in particular to develop safely, healthily, sustainably and in accordance with law.

Statistics released by the SSC showed that around 210 companies are listed on the stock exchanges, which mobilized nearly 90 trillion VND last year.

Vinci: Press Release

RUEIL-MALMAISON, France--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Regulatory News:

VINCI (Paris:DG) has acquired a number of blocs of shares in ADP, totalling 3.3 % of the company’s capital.

Through this financial investment VINCI is re-affirming its long-term interest in airport infrastructures.

VINCI will support the profitable growth strategy put in place by ADP’s management team.
VINCI does not intend to raise its shareholding above its current level, unless there was a change in the government’s shareholding in the future.

VINCI has held a concession at Phnom Penh airport for the last ten years and more recently for two new airport platforms in Cambodia. VINCI also manages, in partnership with Keolis, the concessionary public-service contracts for the airports of Grenoble-Isère and Chambéry-Savoie, and recently won the contract for Clermont-Ferrand-Auvergne.