2007 was the year the Chommanard Book Prize was awarded for the first time. The award, which recognizes women with literary talent, is sponsored by the Bangkok Bank and Praphasarn Publishing House. Thailand Advanced Institute of Science and Technology-Tokyo Institute of Technology was established. With support from the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the Thai-Japanese project was designed to act as a focal point for academic research and collaboration among the NSTDA and partner universities, both domestic and abroad. 2007 also saw the birth of two airlines, both airlines folded in 2009
• New Year’s Day began on a sad note as people learned that six bombs set in Bangkok and one in the adjacent province of Nonthaburi had exploded almost simultaneously at around 6.30pm on December 31. Two people were killed and 15 people were injured, including some foreigners. Police said it wasn’t clear who was responsible but ruled out southern separatists because of differences in bomb-making materials.
• The cabinet approved the signing of a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Japan March 27. Japan-Thailand Economic Civic organizations objected, charging that the military-installed government was exceeding its authority under the interim constitution by entering into the FTA.
• Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont signed the controversial Japan-Thailand Economic
Partnership Agreement on April 3 in Tokyo.
• Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok announced that for the first time ever, conjoined twins with a shared heart and liver had been successfully separated. The 12-hour operation was actually performed in February, but the announcement was delayed until it was certain that the 10-month-old girls had a good chance of survival. Sixty-one doctors participated in the extremely complicated procedure.
• Police said they expected the number of illegal North Korean immigrants crossing the Mekong River by speedboat into Thailand would reach about 1,000 by the end of the year, up from 40 in 2003. The North Koreans first fled into China and were then smuggled to Laos before entering Thailand.
• A Buddhist woman was set on fire as army chief General Sonthi
Boonyaratkalin began an inspection tour of the deep South. The woman was shot as she rode her motorcycle to work and then set ablaze while she was still alive. Upon learning that General Sonthi was in the area, about 300 outraged relatives of the woman took her burned body to the Yala provincial hall.
• After an eight-month courtship, Thai tennis champion Paradorn Srichaphan and Natalie Glebova, the Russian-born Canadian Miss Universe 2005, announced their engagement at a press conference.
• PM Surayud stood by a decision to sanction compulsory licensing of foreign medicines, despite backlash from Western countries and international pharmaceutical companies.
• The Aviation Department, reportedly acting on instructions from the International Civil Aviation Organization, instituted a ban on carrying liquids onboard planes departing from Thailand. Similar security measures had already been enacted in the United States and Europe.
• Thai banks were instructed by the Asset Security Committee – an agency set up by the coup leadership to investigate corruption under the previous government to freeze more than 62 billion baht in bank accounts registered to ousted PM Thaksin, his wife and four other family members.
• Female World Boxing Council light flyweight champion Siriporn Taweesuk, also known as ‘Black Rose’, was paroled from jail in Pathum Thani province after serving seven years of a ten-year sentence. The 24-year-old won the title in April in a match staged inside the prison compound.
• A multi-use sporting facility called His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday
Anniversary 2007 Sports Complex was opened in Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) province. The complex was built for the 2007 Southeast Asian Games, which coincided with His Majesty’s 80th birthday.
• Anti-government protesters who gathered outside the residence of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda on July 22 retreated after clashing for a third time with riot police. The United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters called on Prem, a former army chief and prime minister, to resign from the Privy Council. They accused him of pulling the strings behind the September 2006 coup. On July 26, the Criminal Court ordered police to arrest nine UDD leaders so they could be charged with illegal assembly, resisting authorities and using force to harm them.
• A national referendum on the new constitution was organized by the Election Commission and held on August 19. The vote was 56.69% for approval of the draft charter and 41.37% against. Voter turnout was around 60%. King Bhumibol Adulyadej signed the constitution into law on August 24 and it came into force immediately.
• Thai-Nichi Institute of Technology, an industry-oriented private college, was established by the Technology Promotion Association (Thailand-Japan). The institute is located on Pattanakarn Road in Bangkok.
• The first general election since the Council for National Security seized power in September 2006 was held on December 23. A number of political parties contested 480 seats in the House of Representatives, with 241 needed for a majority. The People Power party led by Samak Sundaravej, a close ally of ousted PM Thaksin, won 233 seats; the Democrat Party won 165 seats; and Nation Party took 37 seats. After declaring victory, Samak invited other parties to join People Party in running the country. Five parties accepted and a six-party coalition with 315 seats was formed.