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Update April 2018


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

Update April 21-22, 2018

No swimming at Hua Hin beaches following bull shark discovery

A school of silhouetted bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) circle for food near the ocean's surface. (AP Photo | Keith A. Ellenbogen)

NNT

Prachuap Khiri Khan - Authorities in Prachuap Khiri Khan province have asked tourists to refrain from getting into the water off the beaches in Hua Hin district at this time, following the recent discovery of bull sharks in the area.

Many Thai and foreign visitors have come to Tham Khao Tao Temple in Hua Hin to witness the bull sharks, which are commonly seen when seawater temperature decreases.

Signs in Thai, English, and Chinese languages have been placed along the Sai Noi Beach, warning visitors from entering the water during the installation of shark prevention nets which will take about 20 to 30 days to complete.

Officials are also on-site with necessary equipment and boats to provide immediate assistance to visitors in case of emergency.


Cardiac deaths rise significantly in Thailand

Dr. Witoon Pitikueakoon.

NNT

Bangkok - A doctor at Bangkok Hospital has advised people to keep fit as the number of cardiac deaths in the nation has risen significantly.

Deputy Director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department of Bangkok Hospital, Dr. Witoon Pitikueakoon, has urged Thai people to exercise regularly, get a good night’s sleep and quit smoking as more people become victims of cardiac diseases.

He claimed the number of heart-related deaths is currently as high as those who die from cancer, which is the 2nd biggest cause of death in Thailand. Dr. Witoon said unhealthy eating, stress and smoking can put people at risk of a heart disease, adding that the symptoms could worsen in the summer when the weather is hot.

According to the Ministry of Public Health, more than 58,000 people died from heart diseases in 2014 or an average of 7 people per hour. Cardiac deaths were found more in men aged 40 years old and above compared to women.


Thai court acquits northeastern gold mine protesters

 

The seven environmental activists are shown outside Loei Provincial Court in this September 25, 2017 photo. (Photo courtesy The Nation)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Bangkok (AP) — A court hearing found seven environmental activists not guilty Thursday of violating a law on public gatherings that imposes severe penalties for actions that disrupt public services.

The activists, all women, in November 2016 blocked access to a meeting at a local government office in Loei province in Thailand's northeast to protest a request by a gold mining company to expand operations near their homes. They were charged by prosecutors on behalf of 16 people who said they were unable to attend the scheduled meeting due to the 20-hour protest.

The Loei Provincial Court dropped all charges against them, stating they had "innocently expressed their opinions, which is within their basic rights under the system of democracy." They had also been charged with compelling a person, by threat or violence, to act against his will. Had they been convicted they could have faced more than five years in prison.

The court also stated that the defendants lived in the area of the Tungkum Ltd. gold mine and thus their livelihoods were directly affected by the mining operations, which they said contaminated public water sources with dust, heavy metals, rat poison and high levels of manganese.

Villagers had been protesting since 2006 against the mine's alleged pollution and had blocked the company's trucks from the road leading to the mine's entrance at least three times since 2013. On one of those occasions in 2014 they were attacked and beaten at night by about 200 armed men. Two military men were convicted and jailed for orchestrating the assault.

Tungkum has brought at least 19 criminal and civil complaints against 33 Loei residents since 2007.

The company's license to operate in forest areas expired about five years ago, curtailing most of its operation.

Pornthip Hongchai, one of the acquitted defendants, said she was "satisfied and happy" with the court's ruling. She was worried, however, that a new mining law might allow operations to resume, and that nothing had been done to deal with the residual pollution.

"There is still contamination within our six villages surrounding the mine. No officials or any department have come to seriously fix or address the problem yet. Villagers know that the water is contaminated and we have to be careful and look after ourselves. We still have to buy water to drink and cook with. We've been buying water since 2009 when there was a public health announcement."

In December 2016, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha issued an executive order halting all gold mining in Thailand.

However, the order also mandated creation of a committee to manage and oversee the country's mineral resources, with power to allow gold mining to resume at a later date.


Officials to handle temple fund corruption case with sensitivity

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikalya.

NNT

Bangkok - Deputy Prime Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikalya, who oversees the National Office of Buddhism (NOB), has said he will act with sensitivity in the temple fund corruption case as per the wishes of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha, remarking that clarity in the matter will help Thai Buddhists return to confidence in the faith.

The NOB recently filed a third round of complaints, naming five senior members of the Buddhist clergy.

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuwattana, who also oversees the NOB, stated that investigations in the matter must be based on evidence and the judicial process. He let on investigations are ongoing to clearly separate justice matters from matters concerning the clergy.

Abbot of Wat Sam Phraya Phraphromdilok, as head of the Bangkok clergy and a member of the Sangha Supreme Council, took part in a meeting of other high ranking Buddhist leaders on Thursday to collect opinions and suggestions on how to proceed. He declined to comment on the fact his own name is among the five filed by the NOB, stating he has yet to be briefed on the matter.

At the same time, Commander of the Counter Corruption Police Division Pol Maj Gen Kamol Rhienarcha made known that NOB Director Pol Lt Col Pongporn Phramsaneh has pushed out a scheduled meeting with investigators and has yet to schedule a new date.


Update April 20, 2018

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba sets plans for Thailand

Founder and chairman of Alibaba Jack Ma delivers a speech before signing four memorandums of understanding linked to the investment in Thailand during a press conference Bangkok, Thursday, April 19. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Jerry Harmer

Bangkok (AP) — Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has agreed to step up investments in Thailand as competition between online retailers heats up in the Southeast Asian region.

The founder of the online shopping giant, Jack Ma, met with prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Thursday and later signed several agreements, including one to help set up a "smart digital hub" in the showcase Eastern Economic Corridor project, to facilitate trade between Thailand, China, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Both Ma and Prayuth sought to allay concerns that Alibaba's growing involvement might increase Chinese influence without benefiting Thailand. Across the region, such concerns have deepened as Beijing expands investments in a slew of projects that help expand transportation and supply chain networks linked to China.

"Are we going to occupy Thailand, are we going to take away the jobs?" Ma said at a news conference. "We are not interested in that. We are interested in and focusing on enabling entrepreneurs and partners in Thailand."

Prayuth told reporters that the amount of investment involved would be determined later. Earlier, Thai media reported that Alibaba plans to invest 11 billion Thai baht in the Eastern Economic Corridor.

Reports said the hub, due to be completed next year, would also serve as a research and development center for Alibaba.

Prayuth said he asked Ma to help Thailand boost its exports of rice, palm oil and rubber and to help the country's low-income and farm workers.

Ma told the Thai premier that Alibaba could help develop logistics systems to speed up delivery of farm products, he said.

"Therefore, this is beneficial to Thailand. Don't think of this as being disadvantageous for Thailand," Prayuth said.

The government said Alibaba also plans to help train Thai entrepreneurs and small businesses in e-commerce and to set up an online tourism platform.

Alibaba and Amazon have both been expanding in Southeast Asia, an increasingly affluent region of more than 600 million people. E-commerce still accounts for less than 3 percent of retail sales in the region but is growing quickly.

Last month, Alibaba announced it was investing another $2 billion in regional online retailer Lazada Group, doubling its stake in the company that it gained control of in 2016.


Russian sex guru, follower blame US for continued detention

Anastasia Vashukevich sits inside a prison transport vehicle outside a courthouse in Pattaya, Tuesday, April 17. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Pattaya — A Russian sex guru and his followers, one of whom claims to have evidence of Moscow's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, were acquitted Tuesday of violating labor laws in Thailand but still face other charges that could land them in prison for more than 10 years.

Alexander Kirillov and follower Anastasia Vashukevich, a model and escort, told reporters they placed the blame for their continued detention on U.S. officials, to whom they previously appealed for help and political asylum.

Vashukevich's earlier revelation of an alleged affair with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin, fueled opposition allegations in Russia of official corruption and enraged the Kremlin.

Vashukevich claims to have audio recordings of Deripaska that provide evidence of Russian meddling in the U.S. polls.

Deripaska has been linked to Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign manager who has been indicted on money laundering charges in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

The group was arrested Feb. 25 in a hotel meeting room in Pattaya. The sex lessons they hosted were attended by about 40 Russian tourists.

Kirillov and Vashukevich, with half a dozen other people, were taken Tuesday to a Pattaya court from the immigration detention center in Bangkok where they are being held.

Unashamed sexual activity is business as usual for Pattaya, which is notorious for its sordid nightlife, but the allegations by Vashukevich, who uses the name Nastya Rybka on her racy social media postings, have drawn worldwide attention.

Charges of working without proper permits were dropped Tuesday due to technicalities involving implementation of new regulations for work permits for foreigners, said a lawyer who represented the defendants and was present at their hearing. He spoke to reporters on condition that he not be named.

Foreigners found working without a work permit can face fines of up to 100,000 baht and imprisonment for up to five years.

Police last week added additional charges against them of soliciting to provide sexual services, which carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, and conspiracy to solicit, which is punishable by up to seven years.

It was unclear when they will be tried on the new charges.

Kirillov, also known as Alex Lesley, and Vashukevich managed to smuggle out a letter soon after they were arrested which was delivered by a friend to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, asking for asylum and saying they had important information about the U.S. election.

They also said they feared for their personal safety, especially if deported to Russia. Vashukevich repeated her claims in comments to reporters before Thai authorities cut off media access to her.

Speaking to the media Tuesday after they were acquitted, they took a more conciliatory tone toward Russia, and a more suspicious one toward U.S. authorities.

On arrival at the court, when reporters asked Kirillov what he wished to tell the U.S., he responded in English: "Help us. Help us any way because we don't know what is happening."

But after his acquittal, he told them he thought that U.S. officials, including the FBI, may have been trying to engineer the legal proceedings to keep them in Thai detention for three or four months. In broken English, he appeared to suggest the Americans wanted to find the alleged evidence themselves rather than get it by dealing with them.

"This information is much more interesting for the American side. I think Russia is not involved so much as we thought about this," he said.

He added that Vashukevich wrote a message for Deripaska to tell him hello and that she was waiting for him to "'come and do something' because this is everything about his case and she don't want to participate in some political situation. This is love story."

Vashukevich, speaking in Russian, voiced similar sentiments.

"I want to say this to Oleg Deripaska and say that we were wrong, it's not the Russian government who are trying to put us in jail, it's the Americans."

At the same time, she insisted that the recordings she claims to have are still safe. "They took my phone and laptop away from me, because I have all of it on my phone and laptop. But don't worry, many people have it stored safely. And if I want for it to be revealed it will be."

Vashukevich, who carries a passport from Belarus, became the center of a public scandal in early February when Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny published an investigation drawing on her social media posts suggesting corrupt links between Deripaska and a top Kremlin official, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko.

The report featured photos from Deripaska's yacht in 2016, when Vashukevich claims she was having an affair with him and allegedly recorded him.


BMA considers reviving Giant Swing religious ritual after 86 years

NNT

Bangkok - The Governor of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has revealed that his office is considering reviving an old Brahmin ceremony at the capital’s landmark ‘Giant Swing’. The ritual was discontinued 86 years ago for safety reasons.

The Giant Swing is a religious structure in Phra Nakhon district. It is located in front of Wat Suthat Thepphawararam and the BMA headquarters.

Bangkok Governor Asawin Kwanmuang explained that the suggestion came at a recent meeting of BMA officials. The ancient ceremony was discontinued in 1932 during the reign of King Rama the Seventh. The BMA is concerned that the old ritual could be forgotten and thus seeks to introduce it to the younger generation.

The governor said that the campaign needs approval from related agencies including the Prime Minister’s Office, the Bureau of the Royal Household, and the Fine Arts Department, amongst others. He estimated that his office would take at least a week to prepare the details of the campaign before proposing it to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Pol. Gen. Asawin also indicated that the Giant Swing itself is being renovated, adding that the process would be completed this month. The Bangkok Governor said if the campaign receives a green light, the BMA will construct a replica of the Giant Swing for the ceremony, in order to preserve the integrity of the original one.


Government prepared to declare safety zones in southern border region

NNT

Bangkok - The government is preparing to declare safety zones in Thailand’s southern border region.

Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha said he is hoping the government will be able to declare safety zones in the three southern border provinces before the end of this month.

Gen. Prayut said that the first such zone is set to be in Cho-airong District of Narathiwat Province.

In addition, he said that the peace talks plan between the government and groups with different views is expected to progress, which will help build trust among all while showing the government’s sincerity to opposing groups.

The Prime Minister went on to say that, if the government’s sincere attention to promote peace is well-received, there should be a decline in acts to instigate violence in the conflict-torn area, while more cooperation should be achieved from all sides to bring the situation there back to normal.


Update April 17-19, 2018

Airports ready to handle end of Songkran travel

NNT

Bangkok - Immigration officers at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport are expecting to handle 150,000 people a day now that Songkran has ended and Thai tourists are returning home and foreign tourists are departing.

During the festivities, Suvarnabhumi Airport logged approximately 140,000 people passing through per day, 20,000 more than the average. While numbers eased on April 13 and 14, now that Songkran has concluded, it is expecting between 140 and 150,000 travelers per day until April 20. The Immigration Bureau has prepared a full complement of officers to handle the crowds until the end of the travel period.

Immigration Police are working closely with airlines and Airports of Thailand (AOT) to handle arrivals. Police are to be notified of all flight details and airlines are to hand out Immigration Cards in-flight to arriving foreigners, providing them with any information needed before landing. Volunteers have also been stationed to help arriving passengers prepare their documentation before reaching the immigration desk.

Thai travelers are reminded that they can use the Automatic Channel at the airport to speed up their immigration process as the system takes only 20 seconds to complete. Authorities will be manning lines to reduce congestion. Those departing from Suvarnabhumi, Don Muang or Phuket airports are asked to allow no less than three hours for check-in and to pass through security.


Chonburi governor inspects ferry operations

NNT

Chonburi - The governor of Chonburi Province, Phakkharathon Thianchai, inspected two piers in the province on Sunday to ensure safety for boat passengers during the Songkran Festival.

The governor, his deputy and chiefs of relevant government agencies in the province met with officers who are manning boat safety centers at the two piers from 11-17 April. The two piers are Charin Pier, a temporary pier for boats operating between Si Racha and Si Chang Island, and the southern Pattaya Pier at Bali Hai.

The governor instructed the officers to enforce regulations with all ferries to make sure that the boats and their skippers are in good condition. Overloading is strictly prohibited and all passenger boats must operate on their designated routes.


Summer storms wreak havoc across northeast

NNT

Nakhon Panom - Summer storms have wreaked havoc in many areas of Thailand's northeast, affecting Songkran festivals.

Nakhon Panom’s 2018 Songkran Festival space, setup at the Panomnaka atrium of the province’s municipal office, was heavily damaged by summer storms through Sunday night. Downpours and high winds toppled tents and damaged goods setup for the activity. Nearby residences were also damaged by the weather.

A 40 minute storm in Nong Khai province hit the Pae Pan Rai tourist destination, severely damaging 20 of the area’s 24 pontoons along with local shops and its parking space. Locals noted that temperatures before the storm reached as high as 40 degrees Celsius for several days but the change in weather brought hail and heavy rain. Some 50 tourists had to be evacuated from the area but no injuries were reported.

Sikornphumi district of Surin province experienced similar weather conditions with winds damaging homes as well as felling an over 100-year old Bodhi tree, which toppled onto six parked cars. Assistance is being provided to affected residents. Trees, including rubber trees, were similarly felled in the province’s Buachet district, where one resident’s home was completely demolished. A large tree, uprooted by winds, blocked the district’s main road, causing traffic to backup for about one kilometer. It has since been removed by locals.


Over 90 groups submit documents to register new political parties

Meechai Ruchupan.

NNT

Bangkok - Meechai Ruchupan, the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), said it is a positive sign that many groups have already submitted documents to register new political parties.

Meechai expressed his belief that the next election will yield new politicians who will bring changes to Thailand. He said more than 90 groups have submitted documents seeking to register new political parties, and the number is beyond his expectation.

The creation of so many new parties will give people a wider choice political discourse, said Meechai and he believes the next election will lead to a positive change for the country. He hopes voters will choose new candidates in order not to bring politics back into conflict.


Update April 16, 2018

Songkran celebrations all week

With assistance from its mahout, an elephant blows water from its trunk to locals and tourists in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand. The annual Songkran festival, which heralds the traditional beginning of the Thai New Year, is celebrated throughout the country. Once again, officials down here on the coast are calling for a more cultural approach to what has turned into 10 days of water splashing fun for some and madness for others. Locally, the wet and wild celebrations are supposed to take place a week later, on April 18 in Naklua and April 19 in Pattaya. But we all know this doesn’t happen, no matter who’s in charge. Note: Next week on April 19, Beach Road Pattaya will be closed from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)


Different provinces conclude Songkran with religious activities

TRAT, 15th April 2018 (NNT) – Many provinces have now performed religious activities to conclude the Songkran festival.

In the eastern province of Trat, large numbers of Thai and Cambodian Buddhists today gathered at Wat Khlong Phet in the capital district to offer alms to monks and take part in the making of sand pagodas, which are considered items of worship for Buddha.

In the Central province of Ang Thong, many families spent their Songkran holiday visiting Wat Muang in Wiset Chai Chan district to pay homage to the world’s biggest Buddha statue. Meanwhile in Pho Thong district, Wat Khun Inthapramun was filled with visitors who came to see the country’s second largest reclining Buddha statue.

The Songkran festival will come to an end today, but the government has extended the Thai New Year holiday to include Monday.


Govt supporting GI products, community development

BANGKOK, 15th April 2018 (NNT) – Thailand's Prime Minister has expressed his support for local communities to make their products unique and attractive.

Commenting on the country’s economy in recent months, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said today prices of agricultural goods – rice, rubber, and cassava – have significantly improved partly thanks to cooperation between different sectors.

The harvest season has arrived, he stressed, as many types of fruit are entering the market and are still in high demand.

Realizing that demand goes up and down, Gen Prayut called on producers to enhance the specific characteristics of their products, making sure that their crops possess qualities that are due to their origins. Linking the products to their origins helps create demand in a sustainable fashion.

Once specific characteristics are created, crops can be certified as geographical indication (GI) products.

At present, Thailand possesses 87 GI products which can be found in 59 provinces. This past year, 20 products were certified.

Lastly, Gen Prayut asked responsible agencies to link GI products to cultural tourism in 55 secondary provinces.


PM instructs agencies to facilitate revelers’ return

BANGKOK, 15th April 2018 (NNT) – Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered traffic and security officers to facilitate holidaymakers’ return with a focus on safety.

Relaying the prime minister’s concerns over the safety of road users, Government Spokesperson Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said today security agencies including the military and the Thai Police are working hand in hand to make sure people return safely from their holiday and continue to educate road users about the traffic law.

To improve road safety, checkpoints and rest areas have been set up at more than 2,000 locations across Thailand.

Apart from ensuring that public transport operators comply with the law, these checkpoints offer free vehicle inspections and refreshments.

The prime minister also urged drivers to avoid speeding, driving while intoxicated or drunk, and riding motorbikes without safety helmets.

Gen Prayut also asked security officers at bus terminals, airports, train stations, and seaports to be on a 24-hour lookout for scams and criminal activity and to make sure that no passengers are left stranded.


Highway police rigorously enforce traffic laws to prevent road accidents

BANGKOK, 15th April 2018 (NNT) - The Highway Police have been rigorously enforcing traffic laws during the Songkran holiday in order to minimize road accidents.

Pol. Lt. Col. Jatupol Rengthanomsap, superintendent of Highway Police Section 6, has visited the service units in Nakhon Ratchasima, where he reconfirmed the policy to strictly enforce traffic laws to ensure road safety throughout this year’s Songkran holiday.

Pol. Lt. Col. Jatupol also stressed the importance of the PR campaign and the rigorous enforcement of speeding fines as such driving behavior has long been one the main causes of road accidents.

In addition, he instructed all officers to ensure no drunk driving among motorists while ordering all units to stand by to facilitate the travels of holiday-makers, who are now making their way back to Bangkok via Highway 24 and Highway 304 as the holiday comes to an end.

Pol. Lt. Col. Jatupol also urged motorists to keep their car headlights on and for drivers and pasengers to fasten seatbelts at all times while traveling, as well as to avoid reckless speeding.


Police provide free trips in Bkk on April 15-17

BANGKOK, 15th April 2018 (NNT) – The Royal Thai Police force is offering free trips to holidaymakers returning home between April 15th and 17th.

Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police said today that the Metropolitan Police Bureau will be offering free van services from Mo Chit Bus Terminal to Mo Chit BTS Station and Victory Monument in the city, from 4am to 9am and from 4pm to 8pm.

He noted that there are not enough taxis for travelers returning to Bangkok from other cities during those times.
In addition, traffic police and volunteers will be helping passengers with their bags and offering other forms of assistance upon request.

In the meantime, the Department of Land Transport has prepared 140 taxis at Mo Chit Bus Terminal to facilitate holidaymakers’ return. These taxis can be accessed at the back and in front of the terminal building.


Transport Minister makes inspection trip to road service unit in Uttaradit

BANGKOK, 15th April 2018 (NNT) - The Transport Minister has undertaken a journey to an official road service unit in Uttaradit, at a location formerly known to be at high risk of road accidents.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has taken a team of ministry officials to inspect the road service unit on Khao Plung in Mueang Uttaradit District, where many accidents have taken place in the past.

Since being noted as a high-risk location, around 30 kilometers of Khao Plung have been made into an exemplary example of success in stopping road accidents occuring at such a risky spot.

Several measures have been introduced in the area, including more no speeding signs on both sides of the road, more warning lights on the barrier and an anti-skid road surface.

It was also announced that the Transport Ministry has set up service units on 61 routes, which were chosen after a review of accident records in 2017 and the previous three years.

These roadways were picked because of high volume traffic conditions.


PM stresses importance of family and love

BANGKOK, 15th April 2018 (NNT) – Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has called on every family to be loving and spend quality time together this Songkran holiday.

Gen Prayut’s message was conveyed on the weekend by Government Spokesperson Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

He said family is one of the most important institutions of Thai society and serves as the foundation of a strong and stable nation. Family provides for the rearing of children, provides a sense of identity among its members, and transfers culture between generations.

Because a peaceful society is made up of warm and loving families, Gen Prayut has asked family members to spend time during this year’s Songkran Festival, just being with one another.

To make sure that Thai families can support themselves, the government has introduced many campaigns and assistance measures such as the state fund for infants, career development programs, the National Savings Fund, monthly allowances for senior citizens, and the employment of elderly persons.

The prime minister then asked Thai youngsters to reach out to their older relatives more often and find topics to talk about such as the history of Thailand and its regions or useful tips to live a happy life.


Update April 14-15, 2018

PM gives annual Songkran speech, urges gratitude towards elderly

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha.

NNT

Bangkok - The Prime Minister has given a speech on the occasion of this year’s Songkran festival, urging all to express gratitude towards the elderly.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha gave his best wishes to the citizens of Thailand. He said Songkran is a beautiful tradition that reflects several qualities of the Thai people in terms of religion, society, and culture. He stressed that during the celebration period, two characteristics of the culture are being emphasized. The first is gratitude towards one’s elders and the other is social cohesion.

The premier further indicated that the government has policies to promote Thai art, culture and history. He said these cultural values must be incorporated with tourism to create a tourism that preserves Thai ideals. Gen Prayut said he is confident that the implementation of the Pracharat or public-private partnership approach will lead to the long-term preservation of Thai values in traditions such as the Songkran celebration.

He called for everyone to partake in Songkran festivities that respect safety regulations and the rights of others, while being mindful of water resources.


Police chief checks Songkran operations in Pattaya

Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda.

NNT

Chonburi - The national police chief inspected traffic facilitation and road safety measures in Pattaya on the first day of the Songkran holiday.

The Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda, took a helicopter ride to observe the traffic conditions in Pattaya on Thursday (April 12th).

Following the inspection, Pol. Gen. Chakthip met police officers and volunteers who are working to take care of the local people and tourists. He said the police are promoting road safety without unnecessary prosecution by encouraging road users to comply with the existing traffic regulations for everyone's safety.

He said the police have reviewed flaws in their operations in the past years and they want to minimize the number of road accidents and ensure public safety at tourism attractions during this time of the year.


Public Health Min warns of heatstroke due to intoxication

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Public Health has warned citizens of the dangers heatstroke, urging them to refrain from drinking alcohol during the day in the summer months.

The public service announcement was made by Ministry Spokesperson and Deputy Permanent Secretary Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong. He explained that high daytime temperatures during this time of the year will raise body temperatures also. The condition is further exacerbated by intoxication, causing some people to suffer heatstroke. Heatstroke can lead to a coma or even death.

Dr. Opas also said that people with high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, as well as those suffering from lack of sleep, are more susceptible to heatstroke. He urged people to drink plenty of water, in order to help regulate body temperature.


Officials reclaim encroached land in Kaeng Krachan National Park

NNT

Phetchaburi - The Phaya Sua Task Force has reclaimed encroached land in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi province, following the discovery of an illegal durian farm.

The team, which included local administrative authorities, police officers, and park rangers, apprehended and interrogated six workers found at the three-rai plantation. The raid was quickly organized, after satellite imagery indicated encroachment in the area.

Initial questioning revealed that the mastermind behind the encroachment is a police officer working in Hua Hin district of Prachuap Khiri Khan. The workers also indicated that the encroachment began in 2016.

The suspects are now being detained at the Kaeng Krachan Police Station for further legal proceedings and investigation. Authorities confiscated all evidence from the site and will soon summon the alleged mastermind for questioning.


Update April 13, 2018

HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn honored for her work against hunger

 

NNT

Bangkok - A summit of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has honored Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for her assistance to the malnourished and impoverished people in Thailand and beyond.

Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Krisada Boonrach, attended the 34th FAO Asia and Pacific Summit, which took place April 9-13 in Nadi in Fiji on the topic “Ending Hunger” and was attended by 46 UN member nations.

Director-General of the FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva, spoke in honor of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, in her role as the UN Special Ambassador for Zero Hunger and for her efforts to end malnutrition and poverty in Thailand and its surrounding region.

Krisada also spoke at the summit on the Thai government’s progress in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through the application of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s teachings and guidance on remediating soil, and water issues. He elaborated that the systems presented by His Majesty the late King have been transformative in managing Thailand’s natural resources and boosting its farming output, leading to food security for the nation. He concluded by confirming Thailand’s continued cooperation with the international community towards sustainability.


Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi Airports operating smoothly despite holiday throng

NNT

Bangkok - Don Muang Airport has reported smooth operations despite a high volume of passengers for the Songkran holiday, pointing out proper preparations to handle the crowds.

Despite a large volume of people arriving at the airport’s departure terminal, most have been met with prompt assistance and service from beefed up airline staff who recommend that those not in need of help checking their baggage use provided automatic check-in kiosks.

Deputy Minister for Transport Pailin Chuchotetaworn has affirmed a full deck of immigration officials has been dispatched to the airport to facilitate outbound travelers.

To address complaints over overpriced food, both Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports have provided passengers with pamphlets indicating where they can find differently priced fare.

Police have been sent to oversee traffic on Vipavadee Rangsit road heading into Don Muang Airport due to the closure of its entry bridge resulting in added congestion. Travelers are still recommended to travel to the airport 2-3 hours ahead of schedule to avoid any issues.

At Suvarnabhumi Airport meanwhile, impressions from travelers have been majority positive in spite of the large amount of people making their way through the terminal to their various destinations. Most noted their own pre-bookings as helping to facilitate departure.

The airport has organized free parking in Zone C of its parking building until April 17. Shuttle buses are available from the area to the main terminal.

Up to 193,400 people are estimated to make their way through Suvarnabhumi Airport daily between April 11 and 17, 10.4 percent more than last year. Flights have been increased to 1,040 per day, up by 11.2 percent, to speed up the processing of travelers.


DSI and Thanachart Bank unveil video clips combating call center scams

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has joined forces with the Thanachart Bank to unveil 10 video clips warning against call center scams.

Director of the DSI, Pol Col Paisit Wongmuang joined Thanachart Bank CEO and President Somjet Moosirilert in announcing the “Keep Up with Scams, Keep Your Finances Safe” project, which is seeking to promote awareness and caution against call center scams through the use of 10 video clips to be available online.

Among the lessons the clips will be teaching are that while some call centers may contact victims using a phone number starting off with the appropriate 02, they are actually using an internet based system. Most of the centers seek to have victims open an account with the promise of a 500-1,000 baht pay off. Those accounts are then used for nefarious purposes which incur legal penalties for the victim. They will also note that billions of baht are lost annually to such scams with much of the money never recovered.

The DSI is now coordinating with the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) to track and freeze the accounts used by scammers.

Members of the public can view the videos on Thanachart Bank’s Youtube channel, on the bank’s Facebook page or at www.dsi.go.th.


21 TCC expects cash flow of ฿130 billion during Songkran

NNT

Bangkok - The Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) has estimated that 132 billion baht will be circulated in the economy during this Songkran holiday, up 3.5 percent year-on-year.

The Director of the Economic and Business Forecasting Centre at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), Thanawat Polvichai, said a survey was conducted and questioned 1,222 respondents ahead of the Songkran festival. The survey found that about 80 percent of all respondents plan to travel within Thailand this holiday period. The expected spending is set to see a 3.5-percent rise from a year ago.

Thanavat said that this forecast amount is the highest recorded during the Songkran festival in 13 years, partly due to this year’s long holiday of five to six days that allow people to travel and spend more. However, he noted that economic growth in Thailand is not yet broad-based as farm product prices remains low and the government has not yet successfully addressed it.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

No swimming at Hua Hin beaches following bull shark discovery

Cardiac deaths rise significantly in Thailand

Thai court acquits northeastern gold mine protesters

Officials to handle temple fund corruption case with sensitivity


Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba sets plans for Thailand

Russian sex guru, follower blame US for continued detention

BMA considers reviving Giant Swing religious ritual after 86 years

Government prepared to declare safety zones in southern border region


Airports ready to handle end of Songkran travel

Chonburi governor inspects ferry operations

Summer storms wreak havoc across northeast

Over 90 groups submit documents to register new political parties


Songkran celebrations all week

Different provinces conclude Songkran with religious activities

Govt supporting GI products, community development

PM instructs agencies to facilitate revelers’ return

Highway police rigorously enforce traffic laws to prevent road accidents

Police provide free trips in Bkk on April 15-17

Transport Minister makes inspection trip to road service unit in Uttaradit

PM stresses importance of family and love


PM gives annual Songkran speech, urges gratitude towards elderly

Police chief checks Songkran operations in Pattaya

Public Health Min warns of heatstroke due to intoxication

Officials reclaim encroached land in Kaeng Krachan National Park


HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn honored for her work against hunger

Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi Airports operating smoothly despite holiday throng

DSI and Thanachart Bank unveil video clips combating call center scams

TCC expects cash flow of ฿130 billion during Songkran

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