Plodrasop Suraswadi, the Henchman of Thaksin To Inhumanely Trade Wildlifes
( Last edit 2009-06-25 )
Plodrasop Suraswadi, deputy party leader of Pua Thai party 2009, former director-general of the Department of Fisheries, former director-general of Department of Forestry, former director of Chiang Mai Night Safari and former director of the National Disaster Warning Center.
in 2005 Plodrasop was accused by the National Counter Corruption Committee and later found guilty and fired from his last bureaucrat post in 2007 because of his illegal permission to allow a trade export of one hundred Bengal Tigers to China by a private company. The offense by Plodprasop is considered to be a severe violation to his bureaucratic authority but after he joined People's Power party as a party list candidate he was assigned by PM Samak then, to be a consultant to the prime minister in Samak's government in 2008.
Back in 2005 at the peak of Thaksin regime, and under Thaksin's full backup, Plodrasop, was put into the seat of an assistant to the National Resource Minister, to fully direct Chiang Mai Night Safari project which was supposed to be a huge and spectacular night showcase and money-making tourist attraction for Chiang Mai, Thaksin's stronghold. The project was planned to be a night theme park consisting mainly of three zones: Savanna Safari exhibiting herbivores and hoof animals; Predator Prowl exhibiting omnivores and predators ;and Jaguar Trail exhibiting small animals. Certainly, a lot of wildlife animals have to be imported from their local habitats, mostly in African jungles to a very different environment in Chiang Mai.
It is a fully business-oriented project without prior scientific, biological or ecological study regarding any possible hazardous effects to the local environment and to the imported creatures. For such big project which may affect the local people, the obligatory public hearing process was not carried out either. Despite a lot of criticisms, Thaksin and Plodprasop went ahead with the opening of the zoon in January 2006.
Kao Sod Newspaper, on March 23, 2006 revealed that 104 imported exotic birds, including several Crested Cranes, Uganda's national symbol, in the Night Safari zoo died. Plodrasop told the media that the cause of such regretable deaths was too much bleeding following erratic and excessive clipping of the birdss wings to prevent them flying away. Plodrasop also replied about his simple solutions to such problem was by purchasing or importing additional animals to replace the dead ones.
In June 2006, local people and conservationists filed a lawsuit in the administrative court, alleging Thaksin and Plodrasop as violators of the National Environment Conservatory Act, National Park Act, Public Organization Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, which is the largest, and perhaps most important wildlife conservation agreement in the world.
In July 2006, a Canadian grey wolf brought in from the Czech Republic, escaped for over a month but zoo officials had not alert the public because they believed the animal posed no danger. Soon local vilagers in Chiang Mai found their hundreds of chickens, some dogs and some ducks killed and then it was no more secret.
A message posted to the Nation Website was
Night Safari was ill-prepared to house Canadian grey wolf
Re: "Wolf back behind bars", News, August 7.
I was dismayed at the report that a Canadian grey wolf had escaped the Chiang Mai Night Safari.
You state the keepers "did not notify the public because they believed the animal posed no danger".
What level of training did they give their staff in the care of these animals? Simple common sense would tell you an escaped animal would have to eat, and the missing chickens and dogs were a natural consequence of this.
Perhaps the staff thought the wolf would sit outside someone's door begging for food?
A wolf is a cold-weather creature, and it is tantamount to torture keeping this kind of animal outdoors in the tropics.
The government and prime minister should be ashamed of themselves for backing this poorly thought-out "money spinner".
Amazing Thailand indeed.
On August 23, 2006 the director of the Night Safari zoo, said the recaptured wolf died suddenly the week before, three days after returning from the animal hospital. The zoo did not inform the public about its death at the time because it initially regarded it a normal occurrence. The wolf had been admitted on August 9 and treated for pneumonia and diarrhoea before being returned to the zoo's care.
against the Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo Project
Animal Trade January 10, 2006
Letter to the Editor of the East African Standard, Nairobi
I was surprised to read Dr Loefler's article re trade in wildlife, especially as he is a former chairman of the East African Wildlife Society.
I do agree that there are some zoos in the world that are excellent, but they are few and even the "excellent" ones have grey areas where some species are concerned.
Captive bred animals can adapt well to a life in a zoo when they have known no other and they are allowed to indulge to some extent in their natural behaviour patterns, but wild trapped animals are different. Wild animals natural survival instincts tell them strongly to beware of man. The stress they go through during trapping, crating and being unable to flee from the proximity of man is enormous and should not be undertaken lightly and without good reason. Many animals die either during capture and transportation, or if they survive live very short unhappy lives in captivity.
I cannot agree with Dr Loefler that trade in wildlife increases their value and provides incentives for conservation. I have seen giraffes standing in pens in zoos looking listless and dejected, an orang utang in a small cage drinking its own urine much to the disgust of the people staring at it (they do not do that in their natural habitats), and other animals "just there", as my sons who grew up seeing animals in their natural habitat in Kenya, remarked when I took them to see a zoo in UK. To the majority of people zoos are an amusing day out nothing more. And scientific research can only be of real value in an animal's natural surroundings.
It is fashionable these days to critisise groups that speak up for animals' rights and welfare and who try to protect them from the excesses of mankind, perhaps because the truth of what they say makes people uncomfortable. It is true that some fanatics in the animal rights scene have gone overboard and to some extent take away from the credibility of serious animal welfare groups. However in our "only humans and profit matters" materialistic world, animals as sentient beings need a voice to protect them.
The private "zoo" in question in Thailand is in fact a fun park and from information gathered the animals will be under spotlights all night with lots of people staring at them. A nightmare for the poor beasts.
Wild animals belong in the wild. In zoos they lose their dignity and lustre. The attraction of game parks is animals in their natural surroundings living their natural lives, not just being able to say "I have seen a buffalo".
Talking about exporting wildlife to zoos and how it has benefited Kenya does not ring true. In fact wildlife films are what have brought most tourists to Kenya not animals in zoos. We should respect the wild animals and protect them as a valuable national heritage - and leave them alone. The planet is not only for humans.
Director of Animal Welfare,
Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals
(N.B. Dr. Imre Loeffler tried to bring the trophy hunters of Safari Club International through the East African Wildlife Society back to Kenya).
ECOTERRA Intl. was interviewed by the BBC Thai Service. December 24, 2005
Broadcast into the most remote village in Thailand: We openly could speak our mind and believe that not only the Thai journalist-lady, who led the interview, got the message clearly but actually she and most of her listeners understood and became sympatic to the struggle.
We are very happy that our friends in Thailand stand as strong as the core group of the Coalition against the Thai Wildlife Deal in Kenya. The incident on Thai TV (see below) was reported widely in the Thai and Kenya media.
That Plodrasop, the henchman of PM Thaksin, who got blood on his hands not only from wild animals, became physically aggressive against our Thai friends and wildlife defenders, does not make us wonder. He has no words any more. We wonder only when finally HRH the King of Thailand puts some leach on this roge fellow and his master.
Blows traded over animals deal
By Richard Chesos and Agencies DAILY NATION December 24, 2005
The controversy over the planned shipping of Kenya's wildlife to Thailand has spilled over to the benefiting country.
A television debate on the plan to move 175 animals to a zoo in northern Thailand ended in blows when proponents attacked animal welfare activists, officials said yesterday.
The scuffle came in the wake of protests by conservationists in Thailand opposed to the proposal to import the animals from Kenya to the Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo.
Their counterparts in Kenya have also opposed the deal.
On Tuesday, the High Court stopped the deal until a case by two wildlife conservation groups was heard.
Mr Justice Joseph Nyamu said the memorandum of understanding signed by ministers from the two countries might not amount to a treaty.
The controversial deal was sealed on November 9 by Tourism and Wildlife minister Morris Dzoro and Thailand's Natural Resources and Environment minister Yongyut Tiyapairat.
President Kibaki and Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra witnessed the signing of the deal at State House, Nairobi.
The wildlife debate was technically stopped in Kenya after the CBO Consortium and the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals moved to court last week.
However, in Thailand, as soon as the broadcast of the heated debate aired on Thursday night ended, two men rushed at two activists and punched them in the face, said Mr Nikom Putra, one of the conservationists.
The fracas lasted several minutes before studio workers could get the situation under control.
Mr Putra said he planned to lodge a complaint with police.
Studio workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the zoo head, Prodprasob Surasawadee rose from his chair, pointing at the faces of the two conservationists and asking: "What do you want?"
Earlier, Kenya had said it would give the animals to Thailand as a gift to strengthen relations, but conservationists voiced concern about how the animals would be affected by the move.
Local and international conservationists have also accused the Kenya government of shipping the animals abroad for money, something it has denied.
Among the animals set for export include buffaloes, giraffes, hippos, flamingoes, dik diks, impalas, warthogs, hyenas, antelopes, zebras and marabou storks.
Many Kenya-based conservationists have opposed the export of the wild animals, saying it is wrong for the country to sell its national heritage.
However, Thai ambassador to Kenya Akrasid Amatayakul said recently the deal would be effected only after it was approved by an international convention.
Activists 'assaulted by Plodprasop aides' Tempers flare at TV debate on Night Safari BANGKOK POST December 24, 2005
Two conservationists yesterday complained they were assaulted by aides of Plodprasop Suraswadi, assistant to the minister of natural resources and the environment on Thursday night. Chaiyaphan Prapasawat, of the Love Chiang Mai Network, and Nikhom Puttha, of Wildlife Fund Thailand, said the incident took place after they had a heated debate with Mr Plodprasop over the controversial Night Safari project during a popular television programme, Tueng Look Tueng Khon, on Channel 9.
Mr Plodprasop attended the TV programme in his capacity as director of Night Safari. The debate focussed on the export of wildlife from Kenya which was eventually suspended by a Kenyan court.
As the programme was about to end, Mr Chaiyaphan read a poem, which imitated zoo animals wailing in distress at the night-time zoo. The activist said Mr Plodprasop was apparently offended by the poem, earlier published in Khao Sod newspaper.
As soon as the lights were dimmed, Mr Plodprasop and his aides stormed towards the two activists who were still seated. Mr Chaiyaphan said some of the aides scolded him and pushed him in the chest. Others dragged Mr Nikhom from his seat.
Before the fracas escalated, cameramen and TV crew stepped in and separated the two sides.
Mr Chaiyaphan said he and Mr Nikhom would be lodging a complaint with police yesterday evening. It was unclear if Mr Plodprasop was being implicated in the complaint.
The conservationist said he punched one of the men in self-defence.
''It appeared Mr Plodprasop wanted to assault me himself but his son stopped him from doing so. Why do we have an assistant to a minister with such violent behaviour?,'' said Mr Chaiyaphan.
The TV crew confirmed the assault, which was tape-recorded.
The crew also noted the number of Mr Plodprasop's aides was abnormally high at more than 10.
Mr Plodprasop could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Mr Nikhom, meanwhile, urged senior state officials to show maturity when facing enquiries from the public. He said the public had every right to learn what the state was doing, adding the Night Safari project, in particular, was questionable in many respects.
Meanwhile, the Love Chiang Mai Network condemned Mr Plodprasop and his aides for their gangland-style behaviour. It also called on the TV crew who witnessed the incident to hand over their tape to authorities for further investigation.
The Love Chiang Mai Network would also file a complaint with the Administrative Court, asking it to suspend the project until its environmental impact was thoroughly studied.
Thai PM accused of giving projects to cronies
By Anucha Charoenpo Bangkok Post December 24,2005
People close to the Thaksin Shinawatra government have been winning development projects in dubious manners in the prime minister's native province of Chiang Mai, media firebrand Sondhi Limthongkul said during his Muang Thai Rai Sapda (Thailand Weekly) talk show at Lumpini park yesterday. Mr Sondhi continued his stinging attack on the Thaksin government during his talk show, the 13th since his programme was removed from state-owned Channel 9 television.
He told an audience of about 40,000 people that some 40 state projects, worth about 20 billion baht altogether, had been launched in Chiang Mai in the past four years and most of them went to people close to the government.
Citing as an example the concession to operate a restaurant at Night Safari Zoo, Mr Sondhi said the 30-year contract went to Deputy Transport Minister Phumtham Wechayachai. He asked why the government did not publicise the bidding contest.
Referring to Mr Thaksin, he said: ''You were born in San Kamphaeng district only. You are not the owner of Thailand. You cannot do whatever you want without telling anyone else.''
He pointed out that the person who won the lion's share of state projects in Chiang Mai was Khanaen Boonsupha, the owner of Chiang Mai Construction Co and father-in-law of Prime Minister's Office Minister Newin Chidchob.
The projects awarded to Mr Khanaen were worth about 1.18 billion baht altogether, he said. Many were road projects including one leading to Chiang Mai international airport.
Chiang Mai Construction won the project to build Highway 121 leading to Chiang Mai's 700th Anniversary Stadium at 106.9 million baht, only one million baht shy of the median price of 107.9 million baht. Another contract was a 490m underpass in the Poi Luang area. The company won it with a quote of 379.6 million baht, only 300,000 baht below the median price.
The firm also won a contract to build a road from Chiang Mai to Lamphun with a quote of 179.6 million baht. The median price was 179.7 million baht.
Mr Sondhi also accused Mr Thaksin of being irresponsible in his capacity as the prime minister, regarding flood problems in the South.
He said the southern provinces were flooded long before Mr Thaksin decided to visit affected locals. His Majesty the King had sent 3,000 bags of necessities to help flood victims in the South, while the ruling Thai Rak Thai party sent nothing.
He also accused Mr Thaksin of allowing extra-judicial killings to take place in the restive far South, and failing to fulfill his pledge to end violence in the region.
Mr Sondhi urged all anti-Thaksin people to show up at his next talk show on Jan 13 to sign a letter demanding Mr Thaksin step down as prime minister.
He also accused Finance Minister Thanong Bidaya of having foreknowledge of the 1997 baht flotation and pointing out that Shin Corp, which used to employ Mr Thanong, had managed to protect its foreign exchange just in time.
Ministry served court orders barring Thai deal
By Vincent Musumba KENYA TIMES December 22, 2005
Tourism and Wildlife assistant Minister Kalembe Ndile was yesterday served with a court injunction halting the intended translocation of 175 wild animals to Thailand.
Ndile was served by lawyer Ojwang’ Agina of Agina and Company Advocates and National CBO Council chairman, Tom Aosa.
The event took place at the ministry’s Utalii House offices at 3 pm.
An anxious Ndile said the matter would be forwarded to the Attorney-General for advice.
However, he was reluctant to stamp the court order papers.
Said Ndile: “We will not hurry to make a decision because of the impending case. The papers are in good hands.”
National CBO Council chair, Tom Aosa described the court order as ‘the best end-year gift to all Kenyans and a reason to celebrate Christmas.’
“By obtaining the order we have achieved a tremendous leap towards achieving the goal of halting this insult to our delicate biodiversity. We won’t allow our animals to be mistreated”, he noted.
He promised not to relent until justice is done and added that the court’s decision was a clear indication that someone was listening to them.
The order stays for sixty days, during which period the government cannot move or export the animals.
The translocation was supposed to take place immediately after the signing of the memorandum.
A ruling on Tuesday by High Court judge Justice Joseph Nyamu ordered that the application be certified as urgent.
Kalembe gets court order halting Thai wildlife deal
Daily Nation December 22, 2005
Assistant minister Kalembe Ndile has been served with a court order halting the export 175 wild animals to Thailand.
The deal has been put on hold until a case by two wildlife conservation groups, the National CBO Consortium and the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals, is heard.
A Nairobi-based advocate, Mr Ojwang Agina, served the order on Mr Ndile at his Utalii House office at 3 pm yesterday.
Mr Agina, who was accompanied by the consortium's chairman, Mr Tom Aosa, had first walked into the ministry's spokesman's office where he was told that Tourism and Wildlife minister Morris Dzoro was not in and could therefore not be served with the order.
The two then walked into Mr Ndile's office where Mr Agina served the Wildlife assistant minister with the order.
Mr Agina requested Mr Ndile to rubber-stamp it as proof that he had received it. To which Mr Kalembe retorted: "I don't need to rubber-stamp the document since these journalists are recording the event...They are my witnesses that I have received it".
Mr Agina then drew Mr Ndile's attention to a penal notice in the order which stated that if Mr Dzoro disobeyed the order, then he would be held in contempt of court and action would be taken against him. The lawyer said he was pleased to meet Mr Ndile and wished him a merry Christmas .
The order was granted by Judge Joseph Nyamu on Tuesday after saying he was satisfied that the memorandum of understanding between Kenya and Thailand might not amount to a treaty. Courts cannot review treaties unless the provisions are incorporated in Kenyan laws or passed as Acts of Parliament.
Mr Dzoro and Thai Natural Resources and Environment minister Yongyut Tiyapairat signed the animal transfer deal on November 9.
Thai wildlife deal stopped
By John Osoro KENYA TIMES December 12, 2005
The High Court yesterday barred the government from translocating 175 animals to the Kingdom of Thailand.
The court put on hold the intended translocation pending the hearing of an application by a group of wildlife conservationists.
Justice Joseph Nyamu said the applicants had raised “an arguable case that needs to be heard” before the action by the concerned ministry commence.
The judge agreed with the applicants’ submissions that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into between the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and its Thailand counterpart cannot be translated into a treaty.
He said the MoU does not make any references to any of the international laws in its guideline for implementation.
Justice Nyamu granted the leave period for 60 days, which would be extended depending on the defendants’ wish in their defence.
Unless the issues raised by the conservationists groups are heard inter partes and determined, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife shall remain barred from implementing the said MoU.
The lobby group says in their application that the MoU signed by the parties violated the laws of environmental and conservation management.
The applicants - Self Help Community Based Organisation (CBO) and Kenya Society for the Protection of Care for Animals - says that the Minister for Tourism and Wildlife and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) had no powers to enter into an agreement with the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment of the Kingdom of Thailand over the translocation of the animals.
The conservationists, say the defendants, had breached the Wildlife Conservation Act.
Court halts Thai wildlife export deal
By Judy Ogutu Standard Nairobi December 12, 2005
The High Court has halted the controversial export of animals to Thailand.
Justice Joseph Nyamu issued temporary orders suspending the deal, signed at State House, Nairobi, on November 9. President Kibaki and Thailand Prime minister Thaksin Shanawatra’s signed a deal under which 175 wild animals were to be shipped to the Asian country.
The then Foreign Affairs minister Ali Chirau Mwakwere signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of Kenya and his Thailand counterpart Dr Kantathi Suphamongkhon on behalf of his country.
Nyamu’s order will be operational for 60 days and the court reserves the discretion to extend it. He also gave the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care for Animals and two lobbies the go-ahead to seek orders prohibiting the Minister for Tourism and Wildlife from shipping the animals to the Asian country.
The animals include giraffes, flamingoes, hippos, zebras, warthogs, dik-diks, impalas, buffaloes, gazelles, hyenas and jackals.
Nairobi CBO Consortium and Thomas Ondiba Aosa were also given the green light to seek for orders quashing the decision to export the assorted game.
When the matter came up first, Justice Nyamu said the MoU signed between the two countries was a treaty. He postponed the hearing to give all parties an opportunity to satisfy the court whether the MoU was a treaty.
The minister and the Kenya Wildlife Services, an interested party, did not attend the hearing on Tuesday, forcing the court to proceed without them. The applicants, through their lawyer, Mbugua Mureithi argued that the MoU was not a treaty.
A treaty, he added, was an international agreement between states and was governed by international law.
"The object of the treaty is to create binding relations between the parties to it. The MoU is non-binding. The scope of co-operation is subjected to laws of the respective countries in accordance with regulations in force," Mureithi said.
The deal, he added, was an arrangement for mutual development assistance.
Nyamu said the applicants had, on prima facie basis, satisfied the court that the agreement between the two nations might not be a treaty.
The three filed the suit on December 14, saying the minister had commenced steps to identify, capture and move the assorted wildlife animals pursuant to the MoU where the minister undertook to move the animals for custody in zoos in Thailand.
While giving the orders, the judge also directed them to file and serve the application as prescribed. He warned that failure to do so, the order would lapse.