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Update February 2019


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Thailand News
 

EEC committee reviews 86 investment projects

NNT

Bangkok - The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Policy Committee reviewed 86 projects worth 13 billion baht in a meeting on Friday.

Chaired by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the EEC Policy Committee tabled investment proposals from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

The committee was informed of the projects being developed along Thailand’s east coast between 2018 and 2021 and a plan to produce as many as one million skilled workers over the next 12 years to meet the demand of industries in the EEC zone and other special economic areas. The 86 projects require a budget of 13 billion baht.

In addition, the committee acknowledged other investment projects including the high-speed rail project connecting three major airports - Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, and U-Tapao - as well as phase three of the Laem Chabang Port expansion and the establishment of an aviation maintenance facility in Thailand’s east.


More auctions to be held for high-speed rail project

NNT

Bangkok – The Ministry of Transport will be accepting bids for the much-anticipated high-speed rail project in March.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said that the construction of the Klang Dong-Pang Asoke railtrack, which is the first phase of the high-speed rail project, is 50% complete while the second phase, the Sikhio-Kut Chik route, will see a contractor appointed sometime in March.

He added that more auctions will be held this month and next, with 12 contracts up for grabs, amounting to 235 kilometers of high-speed railway to be constructed.

To further improve the country’s transportation system, the ministry will push for more infrastructure projects in Ayutthaya province including the expansion of Highways 3053, 309, 3477, and 356, the construction of a new road linking Rojana Road and Rojana Train Station, a bridge construction project, a new bus terminal in Ayutthaya, and the expansion of Ayutthaya Port.

In Sara Buri, the minister said several construction projects are expected to be carried out including an overpass project in Kaeng Khoi district, the extension of Highways 360, 3222, 3034, 3048, 3188, and 362, and a road project connecting the Sara Buri Government Complex and Sara Buri Train Station.


Thailand-Cambodia GBC reaches mutual border security, economic deals

NNT

Phnom Penh - The Thailand-Cambodia General Border Committee (GBC) has reached an agreement to enhance mutual border security and economic deals without taking border issues as disputes.

The Spokesman for Thailand’s Ministry of Defense, Lt. Gen. Kongcheep Tantravanich, said the Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, led government and military officials to attend the 14th Thailand-Cambodia GBC session in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on February 13th and 14th, 2019.

During this visit, Gen. Prawit met with his Cambodian counterpart, Gen. Tea Banh. The two sides praised the development in the Thai-Cambodian relations and tight cooperation between both governments and armed forces.

Both sides have agreed to enhance cooperation between the armed forces on land and maritime security, with regular joint military chief meetings to be held annually, and to promote areas that used to be battlefields to become mutual development areas, especially at Chanthaburi and Trat - Pursat, Pailin, and Battambang borders, where regional border committees will be established to facilitate further talks regarding developments for mutual benefits.

Gen. Prawit and his Cambodian counterpart then chaired the 14th GBC meeting, which emphasized on social and economic development at border areas as a way to promote security and stability, without taking border issues as a dispute between both countries, and to take peaceful actions when conflicts arise.

The Thai and Cambodian officials have agreed on the enhancement of cooperation with other neighboring countries to suppress drug manufacturing and distribution rings, international crimes, and criminals at large.


Commerce Min eyes more exports to USA

NNT

Bangkok – The Ministry of Commerce is optimistic that Thai food exports to the US could rise this year, according to its deputy minister.

Deputy Minister of Commerce Chutima Bunyapraphasara says the US will increase the quantity of food imported from overseas to meet rising demand as Americans are looking to hoard food in preparation for natural disasters. Products that will be popular, according to her, are frozen chicken, corn, soya beans, and other agricultural goods.

She added the ministry expects US food production to lessen, hence an opportunity for Thailand to export more agro-products to the American market.

The ministry said Thai food exports to the US will be generally stable during the next couple months, but will boom later this year due to harsh weather conditions in the US which will hinder its domestic output.


Sukhothai Provincial Prison helps exemplary prisoners

NNT 

Sukhothai - The Sukhothai Provincial Prison has held an occupational training program and offered financial assistance to the inmates participating, lending them a helping hand in reintegrating back into the society.

Sukhothai Governor Maitree Traitilanan presided over the workshop with 200 inmates attending the event.

The program to provide prisoners with job training and funding is to mark the auspicious occasion of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s birthday anniversary on July 28th, 2019.

The governor handed out the financial assistance to three inmates at the event. A total of 31 inmates are shortlisted to benefit from the 760,000 baht fund.

Governor Maitree then personally returned citizen ID cards to prisoners who are about to complete their sentences. He is also overseeing the correction facility’s campaign to encourage inmates to quit smoking.


Ministry of Commerce is organizing 63rd Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Commerce is organizing the 63rd Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair to serve as a trading platform that brings together businesses involved in the gem and jewelry industry from around the world.

The fair will underscore the attention to detail by Thai craftsmen and the quality of Thai products in order to push Thailand to be a global jewelry hub. Over 800 businesses are registered to set up over 1,800 venues featuring a variety of products.

In addition, the fair has also selected 123 SMEs from 21 provinces nationwide to showcase their expertise that has been passed on through the generations and handmade skills that even modern machinery cannot replace.

Director-General of the Department of International Trade Promotion, Banjongjitt Angsusingh, said the industry employs over 1.2 million people, with revenue in 2018 reaching 38.3 billion baht or 4.74% of total exports. Furthermore, the industry has been able to expand amidst global uncertainties, being the country’s 3rd largest export after electronics and automotive parts.

The 63rd Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair will be held at IMPACT, Muang Thong Thani from February 20-22 for businesses and the 23-24 for the general public. The fair expects an attendance of around 20,000 people, resulting in cash flow of no less than 2.4 billion baht, up from last year’s 2 billion.


Historic candidacy of Princess Ubolratana as prime minister of Thailand

Princess Ubolratana (AP Photo)

BANGKOK (AP) – A Thai political party on Friday named Princess Ubolratanaas its nominee to be the next prime minister, upending tradition that the royal palace plays no public role in politics and upsetting all predictions about what may happen in next month’s election.

The selection on Friday of the 67-year-old princess by the Thai Raksa Chart party marks a shock realignment of Thai politics and pits her against the preferred candidate of the military, which is considered one of Thailand’s most royalist institutions.

Current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup that ousted Thailand’s last elected government, on Friday accepted his selection as candidate to lead the next government by PalangPracharat Party, widely considered a proxy for the military.

Leader of Thai Raksa Chart party PreechaPholphongpanich, center, holds a picture of Princess Ubolratana at election commission of Thailand in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. The political party has selected the princess as its nominee to serve as the next prime minister, upending tradition that the royal palace plays no public role in politics and upsetting all predictions about what may happen in the March election. (AP Photo)

Princess Ubolratana is the first-born child of the late King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit. She married a fellow student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lived in the United States, where she and her husband had three children. She moved back permanently to Thailand in 2001.

Since then she has thrown herself into charity work, especially her “To Be No. 1” foundation to fight youth drug abuse. She also frequently promotes Thai tourism and movies at international forums. In general, like most of the royal family, she publicly kept herself aloof from Thailand’s recent political turmoil.

Thai politics for more than a decade has been shaken by violent street protests, coups and comebacks, but those are familiar events in Thai history. However, the death in 2016 of HM King BhumibolAdulyadej added a major element of uncertainty, as he had served as a stabilizing force since taking the throne in 1946.

The other destabilizing element in Thai politics was the 2001 election as prime minister of telecommunications tycoon ThaksinShinawatra.

His populist policies delivered him unmatchable electoral majorities, but he was resented by the traditional ruling class, including royalists and the military, and the army deposed him in a 2006 coup. Has been in exile since 2008 to avoid serving jail time on a corruption conviction he insists was politically motivated.

Thaksin’s well-funded political machine returned to power twice since and is seen as the key element in arranging for Ubolratana’s selection because she cast her lot with a Thaksin-affiliated party.


Gong Xi Fa Cai

Chinese New Year on Tuesday, February 5, marks the Year of the Earth Pig, the last animal in the Chinese zodiac. Every year, 130 million migrant workers in China make their way home for New Year celebrations creating the world’s largest human migration. Many events are planned here in Chiangmai, a list of which can be found on page 2. Gong Hei Fat Choy is the traditional greeting in Cantonese, which is spoken in parts of southern China and Hong Kong. It directly translates to “wishing you great happiness and prosperity.” In Mandarin, the official language of China, the same greeting is “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (pronounced gong she fa tsai). Whichever you prefer, we at Chiangmai Mail wish you a most healthy, happy and prosperous Chinese New Year. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)


UTCC expects 58 bil baht cash flow during Spring Festival

NNT

Bangkok - The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) forecasts 58 billion baht will be spent during Chinese New Year festivities.

Thanawat Polvichai, director of the Economic and Business Forecasting Centre at the UTCC, said the university’s latest survey conducted on a sample of 1,207 people found that 39% of the respondents will be traveling during the Spring Festival, between February 5 and 7.

Up to 56.1% said this year’s spending will be different from last year, with 24.8% believing that businesses will achieve better profits this time around given the increased prices of consumer products, with only 19.1% saying spending will be lower due to political instability and economic recession.

Thanawat expects the upcoming Chinese Festival to generate no less than 58.39 billion baht, a 2.7% increase year on year, adding that tourism is unfazed by the ongoing smog situation.


Somkid hails Govt’s economic achievements

NNT

Bangkok - Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak believes the current administration has done a praiseworthy job to sustain Thailand’s economic growth over the past four years.

The deputy premier in charge of economic affairs commented on Friday that the incumbent government was able to stabilize the Thai economy during its first year in office and has been able to stimulate growth continuously through reform, while calling on all sides despite their differences to work together towards sustainable development.

For the past four years, the government has placed an emphasis on the eradication of social inequality which has plagued Thailand for decades, and the government has consistently avoided using unsustainable solutions to address the agricultural price slump, but instead employed constructive forms of assistance including pushing for a structural change in the agricultural industry.

The deputy prime minister also pointed to the government’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project, saying the country has seen a huge influx of investment capital flooding into the east coast, along with the development of new gen industries such as robotics, aviation maintenance, automation, and advanced agriculture.


B20 fuel goes on sale in five provinces

NNT

Bangkok - PTT stations in five provinces started selling B20 biodiesel on Friday, to help the country fight air pollution caused by diesel engines.

The five stations are located in Pathum Thani, Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chonburi, and Chumphon. B20 is a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel. Not only does it combat the prolonged smog situation in various provinces including the capital city, but the production of biodiesel also helps absorb the oversupply of palm oil in Thailand.

Chairing the launch of the B20 distribution at PTT Gas Station in Pathum Thani, Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan said the utilization of biodiesel in the logistics industry and public transport, will assist the country’s endeavor to resolve air pollution stemming from particulate matter generally smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, known as PM2.5.

Citing a recent study, the minister said B20 can reduce the emission of black fumes from vehicles by 15-20 per cent, while it also helps drivers and logistics operators save 5 baht per liter on fuel.

Vehicles able to use B20 include six wheelers, ten wheelers, and public buses, according to Minister Siri.


Cherry trees blossoming in Nan

NNT 

Nan - Cherry trees have begun to blossom in Nan province and are likely to remain in bloom until the middle of February.

The Khun Satahn Water Research Center in Khun Satahn National Park of Nan province has reported cherry trees have begun to blossom, with the entire area almost completely covered in pink flowers, kicking off what is considered to be Thailand’s own Sakura season. It has been noted that weather conditions caused the phenomenon to begin early this year.

The station is home to over 300 cherry trees with many more blossoming throughout the province of Nan. Tourists have already begun to arrive to view and photograph the blooms. Authorities have created areas for visitors to enjoy seeing the flowers up close, but ask that visitors not attempt to pick them or climb the trees. The blooms are expected to last until mid-February.


Bangkok flies drones as PM warns of costs in pollution fight

A water-spraying drone is flown over the Suthat Temple in Bangkok, Thursday, Jan. 31. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Tassanee Vejpongsa

Bangkok (AP) — A fleet of drones, trucks and small planes sprayed water to try to reduce air pollution around Bangkok on Thursday while the city's governor invited critics to brainstorm better ideas to improve the air quality in the capital.

Unhealthy pollution levels forced city schools to close Wednesday for the rest of week, and many residents are wearing air-filtering masks while they're outdoors.

Faced with public discontent as well as a possible health crisis, Bangkok's governor, Police Gen. Asawin Kwanmuang, has declared the city a "pollution control zone," allowing firmer measures such as road closings and limits on diesel exhaust, outdoor burning and construction activities.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered inspections of factories to measure the pollution they are emitting. But he warned that implementing radical solutions could cause inconveniences that people might be unwilling to accept.

"To ban vehicles or to ban vehicles on odd and even dates, will people accept that?" he said. "If we provide (more public) transportation, will people use it?"

Even long-term measures raise questions, he said. "At the moment, we can improve the efficiency of cars and convert buses to use NGV gas. Are we ready to spend the budget for whatever it will cost?"

The measures proposed this week would focus on what are generally considered the main sources of Bangkok's air pollution, particularly vehicle exhaust, especially from diesel engines. Open burning and emissions from factories and power plants also are major problems, along with dust from construction sites.

Some scientists have speculated that smoke and haze from Thailand's less-developed eastern neighbor, Cambodia, also drifted into Bangkok, stirring up a bit of eco-nationalism, but the government's Pollution Control Department said evidence did not support this theory. Parts of northern Thailand, however, do suffer an annual air pollution crisis due to fires from slash and burn agriculture and other causes in remote rural areas and in another neighbor, Myanmar.

In Bangkok, the crisis-level pollution, along with public awareness, has been spurred by meteorological events that trap the noxious pollution. These include a thermal inversion, which keeps the dangerous particles closer to the ground, and weak winds which fail to blow them away.

Governor Asawin acknowledged that drones aren't a long-term solution but said he thinks every bit of effort helps. At a news conference, he said critics calling the drones a meaningless stunt would otherwise criticize him for doing nothing.

Asawin invited private-sector experts and academics to share ideas to improve air quality.

"Those who are knowledgeable on this issue, don't give opinions to others, tell me. I am the one who is working on the issue, please give me advice," he said. "Do I know everything? No, I don't. Because I do not know everything, that's why I will hold a meeting. Please join us in brainstorming."

Critics say the authorities' attempt to combat pollution by using drones to spray water is ineffective.

The director of Greenpeace Thailand, Tara Buakumsri, said at best, the attempt will have a psychological impact on city dwellers, but it won't improve air quality. Tara said the government should determine the sources of the pollution and come up with long-term strategies to reduce emissions from those sources.

Police announced Thursday that they have arrested the operator of a website that falsely claimed that a woman had died as a result of tiny "PM 2.5" particulate matter that experts say is one of the most dangerous constituents of air pollution because it can penetrate deep into the lungs. A photo of a woman whose skin was swollen accompanied an article on the man's website.

The man was arrested last Sunday and charged with violating the Computer Crime Act by uploading false information that could alarm the public. The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison. Police said they are trying to track the operators of two other websites that published the same article, and have asked government telecommunications authorities to block them.


Inventors set to showcase their products

NNT

Bangkok - The National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) is gearing up to showcase innovations on Thailand Inventors’ Day 2019.

The event is held in commemoration of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej being granted the first patent on the Chaipattana aerator. His achievement has set an example for Thai inventors.

More than 1500 inventions will be in seen, including robot bartenders, edible coatings, and artificial bones made from rice field snail-shells.

The event will also feature exhibitions in seven categories: agriculture, energy, industry, medicine, the environment, education and national wisdom, and security. There are also award ceremonies for researchers and contests for young scientists.

“Thailand Inventors’ Day 2019” takes place at BITEC Bangna on February 2-6.


Thailand eyes economic opportunities

NNT

Bangkok - Following Thailand’s assumption of the ASEAN chairmanship, the ASEAN Trade Promotion Association has stressed emerging economic opportunities for the region, despite the uncertain global market.

Former director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Supachai Panitchpakdi said the volatile global economy and trade barriers will encourage trading partners of European countries to purchase products from ASEAN countries. Moreover, local resources could meet the growing demands of up to 8 billion people in the future.

He noted that most people and entrepreneurs are not aware of the situation or related legislation that could potentially impact their lives and businesses.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary for Commerce, Boonyarit Kalayanamit indicated that ASEAN trade accounts for 100 billion baht or 25% of global trade. Thailand, as the ASEAN chairman this year, will promote local currencies for business transactions to mitigate foreign volatility, and the Single Window System for cross-border trade.


Gen Prawit reviews programs in southern border provinces

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan..

NNT

Bangkok - The committee responsible for solving the southern border insurgency crisis has approved a program to install CCTV cameras and expand on the triangle urban development program for security, prosperity, and sustainability.

The meeting, led by Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, approved the 2018-19 CCTV camera program and expansion to the urban development scheme to Chana District in Songkhla as a model industrial city of the future. The meeting also approved the 2019-21 overseas field trip program for students based in the southern border provinces.

Gen Prawit emphasized efficiency in ensuring the safety of the lives and property of the public by integrating efforts across agencies to meet the needs of the public while also preventing misuse of government funds.


DAILY UPDATE

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

EEC committee reviews 86 investment projects

More auctions to be held for high-speed rail project

Thailand-Cambodia GBC reaches mutual border security, economic deals

Commerce Min eyes more exports to USA


Sukhothai Provincial Prison helps exemplary prisoners

Ministry of Commerce is organizing 63rd Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair


Historic candidacy of Princess Ubolratana as prime minister of Thailand


Gong Xi Fa Cai

UTCC expects 58 bil baht cash flow during Spring Festival

Somkid hails Govt’s economic achievements

B20 fuel goes on sale in five provinces

Cherry trees blossoming in Nan


Bangkok flies drones as PM warns of costs in pollution fight

Inventors set to showcase their products

Thailand eyes economic opportunities

Gen Prawit reviews programs in southern border provinces