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Update January 2018


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

Update January 13-14, 2018

Thailand seizes large elephant tusks worth over $450,000

Thai customs officials display seized ivory during a press conference in Bangkok, Friday, Jan. 12. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Bangkok (AP) — Thai authorities have seized 148 kilograms of African elephant ivory, including three large tusks, worth around 15 million baht from Bangkok’s international; airport.

The haul from Nigeria consisted of the tusks and 31 tusk fragments that were seized Jan. 5 after the cargo was flagged by officials. The tusks were destined for China where there is a large demand for ivory, police Gen. Chalermkiat Srivorakan said Friday.

The size of the tusks shows they were taken from large African elephants, which remain scarce in the wild, and the tusks' discolored state indicates they had been kept in storage for a long time, said Somkiat Soontornpittakkool, an official from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

"From what I can tell, these ivory tusks were taken from very big elephants, and elephants of that size are now hard to find even in Africa," Somkiat said. "And judging from how the tusks look, they appear to have been taken a while ago. They weren't hunted recently. They were taken and stored for a while before smugglers sent them out."

A Customs Department statement said that the seized ivory will be impounded as police widen investigations to identify suspects involved in the smuggling.

Thailand had been considered to have the largest unregulated ivory market in the world and had been threatened with sanctions under the trade of protected wildlife species, but it introduced new laws and amendments in 2014 and 2015 to regulate domestic ivory markets and criminalize the sale of African elephant ivory.

Thailand is still considered a major transit hub and destination for smuggled tusks, but the biggest demand comes from China.

Last year, Thai officials seized 510 smuggled elephant tusk fragments in four separate cases, the Customs Department said. Rhinoceros horns, pangolin scales, turtles, and other exotic wildlife are also repeatedly smuggled through Thailand.


Yakuza boss admits to killing rival gang member

NNT

Lopburi - A 70-year-old former Japanese Yakuza leader, Shigeharu Shirai, who was arrested in Lopburi, admitted to killing a rival gang member during an interrogation by Deputy National Police Chief Pol Gen Wirachai Songmetta.

Shirai, who was the leader of the Yamakuchi gang, fled his home country, Japan, after allegedly murdering Kashihiko Otobe, a deputy leader of the rival Kamiya gang. Before committing the crime, Shigeharu had started another gang which he named Kodokai. The gang consisted of 14,000 members who earned money mostly through illegal businesses.

Shirai had been on the run for more than 13 years before he was arrested in Lopburi on Wednesday after the police were tipped off by the Japanese embassy. After a 2-hour interrogation, the Yakuza boss showed the Deputy National Police Chief where in Lopburi he stayed when he first arrived in Thailand.

Shirai has also been charged with offences related to illegal entry and stay. He will be questioned by Immigration police before his extradition.


Livestock Department visits rabies-hit Roi Et

Dr. Jeerasak Pipattanapongsophon.

NNT

Roi Et - The Department of Livestock Development has visited Suwannaphum district in Roi Et where a person is reported to have died from rabies.

During the visit, Dr. Jeerasak Pipattanapongsophon, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Livestock Development, convened a meeting on measures to tackle rabies in Roi Et, Maha Sarakham and Kalasin.

According to him, 97 pets and animals in 16 districts of Roi Et were infected in 2017.

A patient who came down with the disease died on December 30th, last year.

Dr. Jeerasak discussed with the Roi Et Provincial Governor steps needed to be taken to handle the situation, while instructing related agencies to quarantine all infected areas and vaccinate all pets and animals.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease affecting mammals, most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.

The government has reassured the public that it is working around the clock to address the issue.


PM receives gifts for children ahead of National Children's Day

 

NNT

Bangkok - The Prime Minister has accepted donated gifts from the Poh Teck Tung Foundation for presentation during National Children’s Day on Saturday.

President of Poh Teck Tung Foundation Wichien Techapaiboon led a team to hand over the gifts to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha, who is to forward the 120,000 notebooks, pencils and rulers to children visiting Government House on National Children’s Day. The gifts were chosen in line with this year’s motto of “Critical Thinking, Awareness and Creative Technology”.

The Ministry of Science and Technology is holding its own event entitled “Junior Scientists in the Footsteps of Thailand’s Father of Science” at its headquarters on Rama 6 Road, offering a range of activities and experiments for children to try.

At the same time, the Rajanukul Institute will be holding an event titled “Sustainable Development and Social Cohesion” for special needs children and will be providing a range of developmental activities.


Update January 12, 2018

AOT addresses airport food prices complaint

NNT

Bangkok - The Airports of Thailand (AOT) has addressed the pricing of food at airports under its supervision, after receiving complaints on social media recently.

The AOT, a public company that manages six of Thailand's international airports, has issued an explanation on the expensive food issue at different airports.

In its explanation, the AOT says all food and beverages sold by a third party are allowed to be no more than 20 to 25 percent more expensive than prices in regular markets, with clear price labeling posted.

The AOT has been conducting a random probe to ensure all retailers comply with this regulation.  Retailers are also encouraged to sell their items at the same price as regular markets.

On the allegation that a bottle of water is being sold at 40 baht, the AOT claims all shops inside the airport are required to sell a bottle of 500 milliliter drinking water at 10 baht, while mineral water is sold at 25 to 50 baht per bottle.

The AOT has been encouraging food retailers to offer at least one affordable option, and promote the free drinking water fountains situated throughout the airports, as well as the option of a food court selling affordable meals as another choice for passengers.


Thai PM urges linkage of economic corridors at MLC Leaders’ meeting

NNT

Phnom Penh – Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha joined the leaders of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to discuss regional cooperation issues at the 2nd Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Leaders’ meeting, which took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the theme “Our River of Peace and Sustainable Development”.

In his speech, Gen Prayut lauded Cambodia and China for co-hosting the event although the MLC framework had been established not so long ago. He suggested future cooperation should be geared towards reducing development gaps, enhancing connectivity and fostering balanced economic growth within the region, without leaving behind underprivileged people in remote areas.

The Thai premier voiced support for China’s leading role in drawing up a connectivity master plan under the MLC framework. The plan covers the setting up of a Mekong-Lancang Economic Corridor as well as the linkage of the One Belt One Road Initiative of China to the GMS Economic Corridors, including the East-West Corridor, North-South Corridor and Southern Corridor.

PM Prayut said Thailand is committed to developing the Mekong River into a river of peace and sustainable development in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, he confirmed the country’s readiness to host the meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Water Resources Management later this year.


Education Ministry steps up measures to crack down on drugs at schools

Education Minister Teerakiat Jaroensettasin.

NNT

Bangkok – Education Minister Teerakiat Jaroensettasin has ordered all schools to step up measures to combat drugs and other vices which might possibly harm students.

He said all ministry units had been assigned to take stricter measures to prevent and suppress drug uses at schools and educational institutes nationwide.

The Ministry of Education is aiming to keep students out of harm's way and ensure all schools remain free of drugs and all vices.

He added the Ministry of Education will soon hold talks with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society on the improvement of internet facilities at schools, and a plan to loan laptop computers to students in remote areas so they will be on par with those in big cities.


Government representative to inspect area of elephant encroachment

NNT

Yala - A special representative of the government is to inspect the situation in Tarn Toh district of Yala province today after reports of elephants crossing over from Malaysia wrecking local crops.

Community leaders in the area have discussed preliminary assistance measures including setting up a patrol in spots where elephants have been sighted with most agreeing that efforts should also emphasize not harming the animals. Some 4-5 pachyderms are suspected to have crossed over from Malaysia into the area.

Special Government Representative Gen Manee Chanthip has scheduled a visit to the district Friday to contribute to discussions on how to deal with the situation. So far, the animals have caused considerable damage to local crops, for which Gen Manee said the government may offer compensation.


Update January 11, 2018

Transport links planned to boost tourism

 

DLT Director-General Sanit Phromwong.

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Land Transport (DLT) is joining forces with Bangkok Airways to offer public transportation linking airports and various tourist attractions in several provinces, as part of the government’s move to boost tourism.

DLT Director-General Sanit Phromwong said that the two agencies will together determine pickup spots, destinations and parking areas. He said the convenience and satisfaction of service recipients and tourists will be the priority. Pilot projects will be undertaken in Sukhothai, Trat and Surat Thani.

The project in Sukhothai has already been approved, with two bus routes scheduled to be launched soon. The first route runs from the provincial bus station, to the airport and Si Satchanalai Historical Park. The second one connects the bus station with the airport and Sawankhalok railway station.

Director-General Sanit said the move would establish a strong connection between land, air and rail transportation systems. He is confident that the service in Sukhothai will be available by April, whereas Trat and Surat Thani are still in the process of drawing up their operational plans but expect to have their services ready in the middle of this year.


Snow sculpture champions return to hero's welcome

NNT

Bangkok – Technical college students who took top honors at the 10th International Collegiate Snow Sculpture Contest 2018 have returned to the Kingdom, to a hero’s welcome from the Ministry of Education.

Students from Ubon Ratchathani Technical College who became second time champions in the event in Harbin, China arrived Tuesday night at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Their win brought Thailand its ninth championship title in a row at the competition. The winning team arrived back alongside fellow competitors and the competition runners-up Samut Prakan Technical College and Surat Thani Technical College.

Abhisit Sornchai, captain of Ubon Ratchathani’s team, said he was proud to have brought fame to Thailand and credited his team’s win to constant practice.

Secretary-General for the Vocational Education Commission, Suthep Chityawong congratulated all the participating students and underlined that they were the result of dedicated teachers, confirming Thailand’s push to instill marketable skills in young students.

Ubon Ratchathani Technical College’s winning design was titled “Belief. Faith. Miracle” and depicted four Thai mythical creatures. Apart from the top award, the design was also the recipient of the Best Technique Award.


Sea-gypsies released on bail after being arrested in national park

NNT

Phuket - Sirinat National Park authorities have confirmed they were only enforcing regulations when they arrested a group of Chaolay Rawai sea-gypsies for fishing within park boundaries, with the ethnic group members now released on bail.

The Chaolay Rawai Facebook page reported that six members of the ethnic group were arrested by officials after stopping to rest in park waters. They had recently returned from a fishing expedition off the coast of Phang Nga province. It said all six were released on bail but one had to be sent to hospital due to an existing medical condition.

Pichit Bangchak, a member of the group, assured the community they had no intention of fishing in the park’s reservation and only stopped in its waters to rest and recover from a long stretch of deep sea fishing.

Head of Sirinat National Park, Witoon Dechpramuanphol, said that the arrest was necessary as the group was stationed near a sensitive coral reef but gave an assurance all regulations were followed. He noted that some of the fish seized during the arrest were identified as being from the reef and equipment present on the boat did not conform with the traditional methods of the Chaolay Rawai people.


Colder weather forecast in North, strong winds in South

 

NNT

Bangkok - The Meteorological Department (TMD) has forecast colder weather in the northern regions and high tides in the sea in the southern part of the country from now until 15 January.

TMD Director-General Wanchai Sakudomchai said a high pressure prevailing over the upper part of the country is causing the temperatures to drop markedly.

The southern region meanwhile will see more rain with high tides in the sea, strong winds and possible flashfloods. Villagers are advised to be aware of possible dangers and fishermen with small boats to not sail out to sea.

The temperature is expected to rise after 15 January, before dropping again towards the end of the month.


Update January 10, 2018

Foreign Office confirms ex-leader Yingluck is in Britain

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is shown in Bangkok in this Jan. 22, 2015, file photo. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Tassanee Vejpongsa

Bangkok (AP) — Thailand's foreign minister said Tuesday that former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who fled the country last year to evade a prison sentence, is in Britain, after photos surfaced online apparently showing her in London.

Yingluck was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison on Sept. 27 for negligence in instituting the money-losing rice subsidy program. She fled Thailand before the verdict and has called the case against her politically motivated.

She has not been seen in public since fleeing, but it had been generally assumed that Yingluck was in Dubai or London. Her brother, ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, maintains residences in both cities.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai told reporters Tuesday that a visiting British government minister informed Thai officials that Yingluck has been in London since September.

The confirmation of Yingluck's whereabouts came after several photographs of her appeared on social media in the past few weeks, including one apparently taken with another woman outside Harrods department store in London.

Don said the government has not made a decision on whether to ask Britain to extradite Yingluck. "We have to do a 360-degree assessment of the situation first," he said.


DLT continues to implement TAXI OK project

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Land Transport (DLT) says that people can download its TAXI-OK mobile application to help raise the standard of taxi services in Bangkok, starting January 25.

The Director-General of the DLT, Sanit Phromwong, said his agency has been informing and educating taxi operators about the new app.   Via this mobile facility passengers will be charged an additional 50 baht on top of the actual metered fare.

Once a taxi is in use, its movements and other information will be automatically shared with a supervising information centre run by the private sector and the department’s own taxi centre. Location, speed, engine performance, driver identification, meter fare and booking information will all be recorded.


Local authorities in Phang Nga keeping beaches clear of vendors

 

NNT

Phang Nga – Officials in Phang Nga have inspected several beaches in Khuek Khak sub-district in an effort to keep them clear of street vendors.

The inspections came after a meeting last year resolved to prohibit anyone from doing business on beaches in Khuek Khak and other public spaces in the vicinity.

However, the meeting, which was chaired by 4th Army Area Commander Lt Gen Piyawat Nakawanich, agreed to allow those who had already been doing business before the meeting to stay on the beaches until January 5. The order also applied to other beaches in the province except those in Ka Pong and Thap Pud districts.

The 5th Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Sithiporn Musikasin and a group of police officers, local administrative officials and representatives of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources traveled to Khuek Khak sub-district to observe the beaches there after the removal order had been issued.

At present, beaches are almost 100% clear as the removal process is underway.


Royal Thai Police returns stolen cars to Malaysia

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Thai Police has returned 20 stolen cars, which had been smuggled into Thailand from Malaysia, to the Royal Malaysia Police.

Adviser to the Royal Thai Police, Pol Gen Wittaya Prayongpan, welcomed Commander of the Royal Malaysia Police’s Crime Investigation Department, Pol Gen Datuk Seri Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd, in a ceremony marking the return of 20 stolen cars worth 30 million baht to Malaysia.

Police officers also coordinated with the Malaysian embassy in Thailand to find the owners of the vehicles. To receive their cars, they are required to provide proof of ownership to the authorities.

Over the past two years, the Royal Thai Police has returned 95 stolen cars worth 75 million baht to Malaysia. While the 20 cars are now on their way to the neighboring country, Pol Gen Wittaya said there remains other cars stolen in Malaysia currently being investigated in Thailand.

The two neighboring countries have been working closely to prevent all kinds of transnational crime, including those involving illegal immigration and human trafficking.


Update January 9, 2018

PM tells reporters to quiz cardboard mock-up

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. (AP Photo)

Bangkok (AP) — The Prime Minister evaded journalists' questions on Monday by bringing out a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself and telling reporters to quiz it instead of him.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha then turned on his heel and walked off, leaving the mock-up behind, to bemused looks and awkward laughter from the Government House press pack.

The PM had briefly spoken to the media after attending an event promoting the upcoming Children's Day, but deployed his dodging tactic before anyone could ask him about a number of pressing political issues.

"If you want to ask any questions on politics or conflict," he said, "ask this guy."

It isn't the first time the Prime Minister has dumbfounded the media. In the past he has fondled the ear of a sound technician for several minutes during an impromptu news conference, flung a banana peel at cameramen, and threatened, with gruff humor, to execute any journalist who did not “report the truth” about the government.


Thai college takes top honor at international snow sculpture contest

NNT

Bangkok - Students from Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani Technical College have taken the championship title at the 10th International Collegiate Snow Sculpture Contest 2018 in China, retaining the honor for Thailand for the ninth year in a row.

The competition took place at Harbin Technical College in Harbin City of the People’s Republic of China this past January 4-7. A total of 55 teams from 12 countries took part with three teams representing Thailand, namely; Ubon Ratchathani, Surat Thani and Samut Prakan technical colleges.

Ubon Ratchathani Technical College ended the games with two honors, both the Best Technique Award and the championship title, its second time winning the award and Thailand’s ninth. Their winning design was titled “Belief. Faith. Miracle”.

Both the other two Thai colleges came in as runners-up with Surat Thani’s students carving a traditional fighting cockerel and Samut Prakan carving a turtle and a dragon of fortune.


Rice exports reach record high in 2017

Pol Lt Charoen Laothammatas, President of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

NNT

Bangkok - The Thai Rice Exporters Association has revealed that rice exports reached a record high last year with most of the demand coming from Benin in West Africa.

Association President, Pol Lt Charoen Laothammatas, said the export of Thai rice grew 20% during the first 11 months of last year when a total of 10.4 million tons, worth 156 billion baht, were exported.

Rice exports in November last year expanded 47% compared with the same month in 2016. The highest demand for Thai rice came from Benin, China, South Africa, Cameroon and the United States.

Although the official figure for December’s rice export has yet to be revealed, it has been estimated that at least 11.2 million tons were sold overseas, making the annual Thai rice exports the highest ever recorded.

However, Pol Lt Charoen cautioned that the stronger Thai currency could potentially put Thailand at a disadvantage in the global rice market in the future.


NACC says no decision yet on gift limit

NNT

Bangkok – The Secretary-General of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) says an increase in the value of gifts for political office holders must be considered by all sides before being put into practice.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam recently proposed a gift allowance increase and the NACC is considering the matter as the current 3,000-baht limit has been used since 1999.

NACC Secretary-General, Worawit Sukbun, said the commission's legal section is currently drafting an organic law on corruption in accordance with the new charter so he does not know which section of the law the gift value limit will fall under. He reiterated that the NACC will listen to opinions on the matter from all sides before making a final decision.


Update January 8, 2018

Thais pay their respects to royal relics of HM the late King

NNT

Bangkok - Thais nationwide continue to pay their respects to the royal ashes of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Many people queue up daily in front of the Prayer Hall of Wat Ratchabophit Sathitmahasimaram in Bangkok for a chance to view the royal relics and pay their respects to the late monarch. The hall is open every day from 8am to 10am and from 4pm to 6pm.

Wat Ratchabophit Sathitmahasimaram was constructed in 1869 by King Chulalongkorn or King Rama V as the representative temple of his reign. Inside is the Royal Cemetery, where the relics and ashes of several royal family members are kept.

Meanwhile, at Wat Bowonniwet Wihan, throngs of HM the late King’s admirers can be seen paying their respects to his ashes enshrined at the base of the principal Buddha image, Phra Phuttha Chinnasi. The monastery is open every day from 8am to 8pm.


Police chief confirms continued efforts to bring Yingluck back to Thailand

Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda.

NNT

Bangkok - The national police chief has confirmed that efforts continue to have former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra extradited back to Thailand.

Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda, said that his deputy, Pol. Gen. Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, has been working on the extradition of Ms. Yingluck to face all charges in relation to her malfeasance in the loss-ridden rice subsidy program.

Pol. Gen. Chakthip’s comment was made after a photograph of Ms. Yingluck recently emerged from overseas and was widely shared on social media.

The national police chief said that Pol. Gen. Srivara has been on top of the investigation, while acknowledging that Ms. Yingluck’s latest photo suggests that she has been living in London, England.

He said that the eventual extradition of the former PM is to be done in accordance with the law although he declined to answer reporters’ questions about Yingluk’s current whereabouts and about the extradition treaty between Thailand and England.


NLA President: NCPO has no power to push back general election

National Legislative Assembly President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai.

NNT

Bangkok - National Legislative Assembly President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said Sunday that the 150-day election timeframe cannot be extended, not even by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

The president stated that the NCPO doesn’t have the power to revise a constitutional clause which stipulates that a general election must be held within 150 days of all organic acts having been passed into law.

To elaborate, he said the NCPO cannot even exert its power under Article 44 of the provisional constitution to extend the 150-day period, given the fact that the 2017 constitution is the highest law of all.

Pornpetch said the NCPO and the government have never violated the charter, nor have they ever used their power beyond constitutional bounds.


DNP campaigns for Northern wildfire prevention

General Surasak Karnjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment.

NNT

Chiang Rai - The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) has held a cycling activity urging the people of Chiang Rai Province and neighboring countries to help prevent wildfire and haze problems.

Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, General Surasak Karnjanarat on Sunday presided over the dispatch of 300 environmental volunteers who cycled to different communities in Chiang San District, urging the residents to prevent wildfire and haze.

Officials and volunteers also built firebreaks at the Mae Ma - Sop Ruak forest park bordering Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Gen Surasak along with chiefs of relevant agencies handed food and fire-control supplies to the officials and volunteers for use in the wildfire and haze prevention and reduction campaign.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment oversees the wildfire and haze control program involving Thailand and neighboring countries. The DNP last year held a Thailand-Myanmar cycling activity in Mae Sai District to urge public participation in air pollution control.

Last year’s campaign reportedly received a warm welcome by the people of Chiang Rai and nearby provinces. Concerted efforts between officials and civilians led to a dramatic drop in the severity of the yearly smog crisis in the North that year.


Update January 6-7, 2018

Increased toll for Bangkok-Pattaya motorway covers longer route

NNT

Bangkok - An increased toll for the Bangkok - Pattaya motorway covers a longer network and improves facilities along the road, says Department of Highways (DOH) Director-General Thanin Somboon.

He said the new toll structure on the motorway, effective from 19 April 2018 and in which a four-wheel automobile will pay a toll of 105 baht, up from a previous toll of 60 baht, covers an extended road and provides the improved facilities of the closed-system fare collection which takes into account the length of the road network.

The new toll, which is to be collected on the Chonburi - Pattaya section, is from 10 to 60 baht in addition to the Bangkok - Chonburi section. A straight journey from Bangkok to Pattaya on the 126-kilometer highway will cost 105 baht, or less than one baht per kilometer.

The toll on the Chonburi - Pattaya section was previously uncollected as the fare collection system was not completely installed. The motorway section has been enhanced with a better road surface, better drainage, better illumination, fewer crossings, better management and traffic management by the 24-hour control center.


Kasikorn Research Center says Thai baht volatile amidst global uncertainties

NNT

Bangkok - Many sectors have expressed concern over the strengthening Thai baht, as it approaches a three-year high of 32.2 baht per US dollar. However, Kasikorn Research Center says the baht's appreciation remains in line with other currencies in the region.

The research center said that the US dollar still lacks significant support factors, despite indications by the US Federal Reserve that it will continue to raise interest rates. The move is in contrast to Thailand's intention to hold interest rates at 1.5% for much of 2018.

Kasikorn says it will continue to monitor the volatility of the Thai baht due to various global uncertainties, as interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve are not the sole factor affecting the currency this year. Other factors include Thailand's budget surplus, and the domestic and international politics of the United States.

The research center advises the private sector to select appropriate risk management tools, especially businesses dealing with international transactions, to better manage inflows and principle capital.


No crime reported in year-end home watch program

Deputy Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Pol Gen Chalermkiat Sriworakhan.

NNT

Bangkok - Participants of the police's home watch program during the Christmas and New Year holidays this year increased by 2,000 households.

Deputy Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Pol Gen Chalermkiat Sriworakhan, held a video conference with the nine provincial police divisions for a briefing on the home watch program during the Christmas and New Year holidays. This year, around 9,000 households participated in the program, an increase of 2,000 households from the previous year. No crime was reported at the participating homes, as authorities introduced new surveillance technology and coordinated with local neighborhoods.

The Royal Thai Police has announced that its officers will be equipped with body cameras during the next home watch program during Songkran.

Meanwhile, police made arrests in 12 cases of celebratory gunfire during the New Year festivities, nine of which occurred within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Police Region 7. All cases have been prosecuted accordingly, and the deputy police chief has urged the authorities to conduct license checks of the firearms involved.


Bangkok temple among ice festival sculptures

In this Jan. 2, 2018 photo, visitors walk among the attractions at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin in northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province. (Chinatopix via AP)

Harbin, China (AP) — Ice sculptures of Moscow's Red Square and Bangkok's Temple of the Emerald Buddha are among landmarks featured in the world's largest ice festival.

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in the frigid northeastern Chinese city is known for massive, elaborate and colorfully lit ice sculptures featuring animals, cartoon characters and landmarks.

Some of this year's displays center on Chinese President Xi Jinping's major foreign policy and trade initiative, the One Belt One Road, an ambitious plan to link Asia and Europe with a network of railways, ports and other infrastructure.

Ice sculpture artist Han Zhenkun designed his work based on the historic Silk Road.

"Back then, through the Silk Road, exquisite art works from China like potteries were transported by camels and horses to the Western world," Han said.

Main activities start this coming week and the festival runs through late February, with heavy crowds expected during Lunar New Year celebrations, Feb. 15-23.  Temperatures at this time of the year can dip below zero Fahrenheit (minus 18 Celsius).

Last year's festival drew 18 million visitors and 28.7 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) in tourism revenue for Harbin, data from the city's tourism bureau showed.

One park, the Harbin Ice-Snow World, features more than 2,000 ice sculptures made from 180,000 cubic meters (240,000 cubic yards) of ice collected from the Songhua River by nearly a thousand workers. In the evening, sculptures are lit with colorful lights.

"Art has no borders," Han said. "It's an abstract language. We communicate with our works in this international competition. It means a lot."


Update January 5, 2018

Officials expect to spend 90 days to disassemble Royal Crematorium

NNT

Bangkok - Officials have estimated that disassembling the royal crematorium of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej will take two and a half months.

According to the commission responsible for organizing the exhibition, authorities are clearing the floor-space before allowing officials from the Fine Arts Department to disassemble the crematorium.

Artifacts and decorative items featured at the exhibition will be put on display at three locations. They include the National Archives of Thailand in Commemoration of His Majesty the King's Golden Jubilee in Pathum Thani province, the Office of Traditional Arts in Nakhon Pathom province, and the Bangkok National Museum in the capital’s Phra Nakhon district.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration will re-plant 44 tamarind trees after the Fine Arts Department completes the deconstruction. Only authorized personnel are allowed to enter the perimeter during the process.


PM not satisfied with New Year road safety statistics

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha.

NNT

Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha has expressed dissatisfaction with the road safety situation during the recent New Year holiday, calling for all sides to boost safety measures throughout the year and for tighter adherence to traffic regulations.

The PM said he isn't satisfied with the statistics for injuries and deaths from traffic accidents, acknowledging figures were still high despite the best efforts of all involved. He urged the public to prioritize the reduction of road accidents beyond the holiday period and to obey traffic laws.

Meanwhile, deputy Permanent Secretary for Public Health Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong reported that overall injuries and fatalities from RTAs were down 15-20 percent this year with 2 percent less accidents than in 2016.  The provinces with the highest rate of accidents were Nakhon Ratchasima, Buriram, Udon Thani and Roi Et with most collisions due to drunk driving and speeding.  Instances of motorcycle riders failing to wear a helmet were also high and motorcycles made up 79 percent of all road accidents, followed by pickup trucks at 7 percent.

The Ministry of Public Health worked with the Royal Thai Police to inspect the blood alcohol level of drivers from 28 December 2017 to 1 January 2018, testing more than 1,000 people, 179 of whom were under the age of 20. In total, 101 people were found to have a blood alcohol levels exceeding the legal limit. The data will be used to inform measures during upcoming holiday periods.


Tropical Storm Bolaven to bring rain in East and lower Northeast

NNT

Bangkok - The Meteorological Department has reported that Tropical Storm Bolaven is rapidly weakening into a low-pressure cell before making landfall in Vietnam, resulting in rainfall in Thailand's eastern and lower northeastern regions from January 6-7. Bolaven is currently moving westward across the South China Sea at a speed of 25 kilometers per hour.  Farmers are advised to beware of potential crop damage.

Meanwhile, the lower south will experience some rainfall while waves in the Gulf of Thailand are currently approximately two meters high. Vessels have been advised to proceed with caution.


Wild elephants invade farmland in Yala’s Than To district

NNT

Yala - A herd of wild elephants has reportedly been invading farmland in Than To district of Thailand's Yala province and wildlife officials have been dispatched to inspect the area.

The chief of Kirikhet sub-district in Than To informed the officials of the invasion, suspecting that the herd, which comprises 3-5 elephants, came from Malaysia. He said that these animals have been in Than To for a couple of days, triggering fear among the locals.

The chief has already reported the incidents to the Than To District Office and the provincial office of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Security agents have been assigned to patrol the Thai-Malaysian border while volunteers and patrol officers are tracking the elephants in a nearby forest.


Update January 4, 2018

Accidents down during first five days of ‘dangerous’ period

NNT

Bangkok - Authorities have reported a reduction in the instance of road accidents and deaths during the first five days of the annual Seven Dangerous Days period.

Permanent Secretary for Public Health, Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong reported that over the first five days of the of the holiday period, a total 3,056 road accidents took place, claiming 317 lives with most attributed to speeding.

On January 1, 2018, 677 accidents resulted in 71 deaths and 696 injuries. Bangkok and Roi Et saw the most loss of life at five people each. The province with the most injuries was Udon Thani where 39 people were injured in traffic accidents. The most common reason for collisions was drunk driving, making up 47.27 percent of instances, followed by speeding which made up 26 percent. The vehicles most commonly involved in accidents were motorcycles and trucks.

Udon Thani saw the most injuries overall with 114 people hurt in the five days. Si Sa Ket province had the highest number of fatalities as 13 people perished on its roads. The total tally however was 70 fewer accidents than the same time last year.  As many as 102 fewer injuries were reported during the period and 54 fewer people died.


Police reminder that law violating cabs will be punished

Pol. Maj. Gen. Surachet Hakpal.

NNT

Bangkok - Tourist Police are maintaining stringent safety measures for citizens returning home from New Year celebrations this week, reminding all that taxis that deny passengers or refuse to turn on their meter are violating the law.

Deputy Commander of the Tourist Police Division, Pol. Maj. Gen. Surachet Hakpal, led his officers, immigration police and representatives of Don Mueang Airport in an inspection of Mo Chit Bus Terminal in Bangkok on Wednesday as it receives returning holidaymakers. The focus of their tour was to remind cab drivers that they must accept passengers, turn on their meters during trips and serve as good hosts.

The police chief remarked that authorities must be particularly alert during the last stretch of the holiday season and added that more personnel have been added to Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports to deter would be pickpockets and thieves. A combined police, military and airport official force has been established for the effort.

Explosive Ordnance Division police have also been put into position to ensure 100 percent safety for travelers from suspicious items.

Police are reminding travelers that taxi drivers who violate laws can be reported and might lose their license as a result. Reports can be made to the hotline 1155.


Dusit Zoo relocation could take at least 2-3 years

NNT

Bangkok - The Zoological Park committee tasked with studying the relocation of Dusit Zoo expects the process to take at least 2-3 years.

Last month, the managers of the Zoological Park Organization met with the Governor of Pathum Thani to kickstart the project. Another meeting will be held on January 9 to follow up on their progress.

The relocation project is currently in the process of appointing two committees to oversee and study the relocation of Dusit Zoo to Pathum Thani. One committee will oversee the construction of the new zoo, while the other will be tasked with studying the relocation process and oversee the facilitation of groundwater and electricity infrastructure.

Dusit Zoo currently has over 260 species that need to be transported. Director Pitak Ounsorn noted that the zoo regularly transports animals to and from zoos within its network. In the upcoming relocation, special care must be taken for the giraffes and hippopotamuses, especially a 50-year-old hippo which is the oldest animal in the zoo.

The new 300-rai zoo will be located on Klong 6 in Thanyaburi district of Pathum Thani.


Ministry of Justice seeks to provide citizens with basic legal knowledge

Deputy Permanent Secretary for Justice, Tawachai Thaikiew, speaks on the ‘Thailand Moves Forward’ TV show.

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand's Deputy Permanent Secretary for Justice has reminded the public that not knowing a law cannot be used as an excuse when violating that law.

Speaking on ‘Thailand Moves Forward’ Deputy Permanent Secretary for Justice Tawachai Thaikiew indicated that, by law, citizens cannot cite an ignorance of the law as a reason for violation, even if it not possible for a citizen to know the full extent of all the country’s laws. He stated that members of the public should seek to learn the most necessary parts of the legal code and understand the legal process.

The deputy permanent secretary said the Ministry of Justice has setup a fund to support the dissemination of legal knowledge and has tasked agencies, such as the Lawyers Council, the Attorney General’s Office and courts, to utilize the funds to hold activities that provide legal knowledge to the public.

The ministry is also building a network of the legally knowledgeable to communicate needed know-how to Thai society. Tawachai noted, however, that the most effective method so far has been directly teaching law to students in school, providing them with a basis for critical thinking about the legal system in the future.


Update January 3, 2018

Dept of Airports launches 10-year plan to increase air traffic capacity

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Airports has launched a 10-year plan to increase the capacity of its airports, following anticipation of tourism growth as well as the lifting of restrictions imposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The tourism industry in 2017 is expected to have attracted no less than 35 million foreign tourists, bringing in approximately 2.76 trillion baht. Meanwhile, the ICAO has lifted its red flag on Thailand's civil aviation industry.

Various airlines, especially low-cost airlines, have expressed a desire to begin regional services under the supervision of the Department of Airports. As a result, the department is moving forward with a 10-year plan to invest 38 billion baht to increase the annual capacity of 28 airports to 30 million passengers in 2025 and 58 million by 2035.

The department's goals include expanding air access, accommodating increased traffic, adhering to international standards, and effective governance, in order to make Thailand an aviation hub of the region.


National Police Chief thanks all sectors for peaceful NY

National Police spokesperson Pol Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen,

NNT

Bangkok - National Police Chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda has expressed his gratitude to members of all sectors for complying with safety regulations during the New Year holidays.

According to a National Police spokesperson Pol Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen, law and order was well maintained during New Year celebrations thanks to entertainment venue operators and revelers mostly obeying the law.

Gen Chaijinda also expressed gratitude to police officers and other security personnel for their hard work.

As for the home safety program in Bangkok, the spokesperson said more than 8,700 home owners participated this year, 42.6% more than the previous year.

He said it was a good sign that the police had gained more confidence and cooperation from civilians and that they would be able to effectively prevent criminal activities in the future.


Min of Commerce unveils goals for 2018

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong.

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Commerce has announced its goals for 2018, which focus on mobilizing urgent policies to boost the economy and reduce the cost of living.

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong has revealed that the ministry will focus on issues, such as maintaining the stability of agricultural commodity prices. The Ministry of Commerce will collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives on marketing campaigns and promoting innovative agricultural products.

One urgent issue is to employ low-income citizens by collaborating with educational institutions in organized job training and providing local SMEs with additional sales channels, both offline and online.

To reduce the cost of living, the ministry aims to increase the number of stores with Pracharat flags to no less than 40,000 across the country, as well as mobile vendors that sell household necessities such as rice, sugar, vegetable oil, and chicken eggs at 30-45% below market price.


Govt to provide free high-speed internet for 3 years in 3,920 villages

Secretary-General of NBTC, Takorn Tantasith.

NNT

Bangkok - The government is planning to provide free high-speed internet in 3,920 villages across the country for three years, starting on August 1, 2018.

Secretary-General of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) Takorn Tantasith said that low-income villagers registered with the Ministry of Finance will be eligible for free high-speed internet service for three years. The program will cost approximately 4.68 billion baht, which will come from unused funds reallocated from the plan to provide telecommunications coverage and social services from 2012-2016.

According to the database of the Community Development Department in 2017, the average income of households in distant rural areas is 5,000 baht a month, while expenses average 10,000 baht.

The program is expected to benefit over 520,000 households and help reduce economic inequality between residents in urban and rural areas by providing access to information and opportunities for e-commerce and marketing. Even the most conservative estimate of 2,000 baht additional income per month per household can stimulate the grassroots economy by 12.48 billion baht per year.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Thailand seizes large elephant tusks worth over $450,000

Yakuza boss admits to killing rival gang member

Livestock Department visits rabies-hit Roi Et

PM receives gifts for children ahead of National Children's Day


AOT addresses airport food prices complaint

Thai PM urges linkage of economic corridors at MLC Leaders’ meeting

Education Ministry steps up measures to crack down on drugs at schools

Government representative to inspect area of elephant encroachment


Transport links planned to boost tourism

Snow sculpture champions return to hero's welcome

Sea-gypsies released on bail after being arrested in national park

Colder weather forecast in North, strong winds in South


Foreign Office confirms ex-leader Yingluck is in Britain

DLT continues to implement TAXI OK project

Local authorities in Phang Nga keeping beaches clear of vendors

Royal Thai Police returns stolen cars to Malaysia


PM tells reporters to quiz cardboard mock-up

Thai college takes top honor at international snow sculpture contest

Rice exports reach record high in 2017

NACC says no decision yet on gift limit


Thais pay their respects to royal relics of HM the late King

Police chief confirms continued efforts to bring Yingluck back to Thailand

NLA President: NCPO has no power to push back general election

DNP campaigns for Northern wildfire prevention


Increased toll for Bangkok-Pattaya motorway covers longer route

Kasikorn Research Center says Thai baht volatile amidst global uncertainties

No crime reported in year-end home watch program

Bangkok temple among ice festival sculptures


Officials expect to spend 90 days to disassemble Royal Crematorium

PM not satisfied with New Year road safety statistics

Tropical Storm Bolaven to bring rain in East and lower Northeast

Wild elephants invade farmland in Yala’s Than To district


Accidents down during first five days of ‘dangerous’ period

Police reminder that law violating cabs will be punished

Dusit Zoo relocation could take at least 2-3 years

Ministry of Justice seeks to provide citizens with basic legal knowledge


Dept of Airports launches 10-year plan to increase air traffic capacity

National Police Chief thanks all sectors for peaceful NY

Min of Commerce unveils goals for 2018

Govt to provide free high-speed internet for 3 years in 3,920 villages

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