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Update May 2018


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

Update May 10, 2018

Thailand seeks ASEAN-wide cooperation on illegal fishing policies

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand has hosted a meeting between representatives of ASEAN nations to crackdown on illegal fishing activities in the region.

Thailand's Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, Luck Wajananawat, reminded attendees of the deterioration seen in marine ecosystems in the ASEAN region due to over fishing and illegal activities in protected areas. He called for concerted efforts between member nations to enforce fishing policies, to boost confidence among consumers and trade partners, to prevent aquatic animal diseases and to crack down on illegal fishing.

Director-General of the Department of Fisheries, Adisorn Promthep, said Thailand's own measures to address illegal fishing include registering fishing vessels, monitoring traffic, installing tracking systems on vessels and amending laws where appropriate.

The meeting aims to establish a consensus on illegal fishing policies, create an ASEAN-wide database for fishing vessels and share information on vessel traffic. So far, only Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar have agreed to cooperate on these agenda.


Don Muang New Market operator could face legal action

NNT

Bangkok - Police are set to take legal action against the operator of Don Muang New Market for violating several laws.

Deputy Commissioner of the Tourist Police Bureau, Pol Maj Gen. Surachet Hakpan convened a meeting Wednesday with officials from the Anti-Money Laundering Office, the Revenue Department, Don Muang District Office and the Food and Drug Administration regarding a lawsuit against the operator.

They reviewed the evidence involving those suspected of invading public spaces, selling substandard food and beauty items and forcing vendors to pay extra money for their businesses. Pol Maj Gen. Surachet said all cases will be handled fairly.

Meanwhile, Pol Lt Col Santhana Prayoonrat, Advisor to Pattana Talad Mai Don Muang Co Ltd, said he was not collecting extra fees from vendors at the market as accused, claiming that the money was for expenses related to security, traffic management and cleaning. However, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said it is inappropriate for Pol Lt Col Santhana to be doing such a thing.


Checkpoints set up in Rayong to prevent sale of unripe durians

NNT

Rayong - Rayong authorities have set up checkpoints to prevent vendors and farmers from selling unripe durians to consumers, as durian prices continue to rise.

Klaeng District Chief Wittaya Chapanont and a group of village heads, soldiers, police officers and local agriculture officials set up three checkpoints in Klaeng district in an attempt to stop unripe durians from being delivered to consumer markets.

The need for 24-hour checkpoints was due in part to the growing demand for the fruit. Vendors and farmers could be taking advantage of the rising prices by selling unripe durians to consumers in the hope of making fast money.

The three checkpoints in Klaeng district were set up on roads reportedly used by dodgy vendors. However, no unripe durians have so far been found at these checkpoints. The inspection will continue for one week.


Preparation for Royal Ploughing Ceremony makes 80% progress

 

NNT

Bangkok - Deputy Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Surapong Cheasakul attended a meeting with various governmental agencies this week to discuss preparations for the upcoming Royal Ploughing Ceremony.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary said during the meeting that preparations have made 80% progress. No difficulties have been reported during the construction of the venue for the ancient ceremony which will take place on May 14.

More rehearsals will be carried out to ensure the readiness of the venue.

The ploughing festival has been held every year since ancient times to mark the start of the rice growing season.


Update May 9, 2018

217 officials found embezzling state funds for the destitute

PACC Secretary-General Lt.Col. Kornthip Daroj talks to the media.

NNT

Chiang Mai - The Office of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) has reported 50% progress in its investigation into the embezzlement of state funds for the destitute in Chiang Mai province.

PACC Secretary-General Lt.Col. Kornthip Daroj visited the Chiang Mai Protection Center for the Destitute to follow up on the alleged malfeasance. He noted that investigators found it difficult to contact all 1,000 victims, as they live in remote areas of Chiang Mai province.

Investigations in 67 other provinces also found 217 low and high-ranking officials involved in the embezzlement of the state funds. They will be subjected to disciplinary action by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

More investigations are expected to be conducted at 28 highland development and co-op centers in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang and Nan to examine whether other state funds have been misappropriated.


PM backs idea to develop Buriram as sports city

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha rides a motorcycle at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Monday, May 7.

NNT

Buriram - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has told the people of Buriram that he hopes to see their provincial capital be developed as a sports city.

The PM on Monday met with around 30,000 Buriram residents at the Chang Arena Stadium in Mueang district. He said Buriram is a city of culture and people in the province live together peacefully, setting a good example for society. However, the premier expressed his concerns over the province’s low per capita income and suggested the local people use technology with marketing and e-commerce to better sell their agricultural produce.

Buriram has changed for the better in terms of economy, tourism and sports, the PM said. The province could be developed as a sports city with a national sports university and medical center, he said.

Buriram has been chosen to host the MotoGP motorcycle racing events for three consecutive years from 2018 - 2020. The province has an important policy to develop its sports tourism.


Investigation underway at hospital in Sa Kaeo following death of 2-year-old girl

Dr. Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk.

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Public Health has set up a panel to investigate the death of a 2-year old girl following a complaint from her parents.

Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk said that his ministry is expediting its effort to develop a nationwide one-stop medical service to increase public access to medical care and lower the number of deaths.

Regarding the death of the 2-year old girl at Somdet Phrayupharacha Sa Kaeo Hospital, Dr. Jedsada said an investigation is now underway to prove whether the alleged closure of the hospital’s ER department was in fact the cause of the child’s death.

Despite the claim, the Permanent Secretary said every hospital is equipped and ready to provide around-the-clock medical care to every patient. The family of the girl will be compensated a maximum of 400,000 baht according to Section 41 of Medical Treatment Compensation Act.


Thailand to introduce new passport with 10-years validity

NNT

Bangkok - A new Thailand passport will be introduced with a validity for 10 years, twice as long as the current one.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced that it is progressing with the introduction of a third edition of the electronic passport, which will come out with a 10-year validity for holders over the age of 20 years.

Deputy MFA Permanent-Secretary Thani Thongphakdi said the longer validity will provide greater conveniences for travelers who will no longer have to renew their passport as frequently, while the passport validity for persons aged under 20 years will remain unchanged at five years as the biometric facial features for young people can still change.

The new passport will store more security features with biometric data of holders, including iris scans, in keeping with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) requirements.

The MFA is currently drafting the Terms of Reference (TOR) for private firms in a transparent bidding process to manufacture the new passport. The fee for the new passport has yet to be announced.


Update May 8, 2018

Asia threatened by Carfentanil adulterant

 

Carfentanil. (Photo/RCMP via AP)

NNT

Bangkok - The Asian region is facing a threat of Carfentanil, a lethal chemical used as adulterant in illicit drugs currently widespread in Europe, said International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) chief Wiroj Sumyai.

He said there has been a widespread use of the lethal chemical named Carfentanil in Europe and Asia at an alarming rate.

Carfentanil comes as white powder commonly used with heroin by smugglers who sought to raise the drug's prices and the consumption of the adulterant might result in death. There is currently no known withdrawal for such chemical, unlike heroin which can be treated.

The INCB chief said there were some 10,000 deaths due to the use of Carfentanil in the United States in 2017. The chemical, which is considered much more dangerous than cocaine or heroin, can be absorbed through the skin, which can cause acute failures to the respiratory system.

The authorities are keeping an eye on Carfentanil which might be smuggled into Asia via an online black market using BitCoin or other crypto-currencies.

The INCB has established agreements with postal service providers in many countries on the inspection of suspicious packages using scientific equipment as an attempt to stop the smuggling.

The Asian region has been reportedly prone to the trafficking of methamphetamine.


Buriram gears up for MotoGP 2018

NNT

Buriram - Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat has confirmed that Buriram province will host a MotoGP race from October 5th - 7th this year.

Public and private agencies are collaborating to host the motorcycle racing event at the province's Chang International Circuit and ensure the stadium receives Grade A certification from the International Motorcycling Federation. The stadium is to undergo renovations, including pit lane expansions and adding stadium seating to accommodate over 50,000 viewers.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has also trained 500 police officers, military personnel, nurses, and students as language interpreters and will deploy them in many key locations. A shuttle service from the local airport and bus terminal will be available, while over 1,000 security officials will be deployed to safeguard the running of the competition.

The event, which will be broadcast live to 207 countries around the world, is an opportunity to stimulate the local economy and elevate the image of Thailand as a prominent destination for motorsports competitions.


Wet weather conditions expected in capital and rural provinces

NNT

Bangkok - The national weather bureau expects that the capital and several rural provinces will experience more rainfall from now to May 12.

According to the Meteorological Department, Bangkok and its vicinity have a 60% chance of precipitation over the next couple of days, while the South will likely experience heavy rain during the same period. It also forecasts similar weather conditions in the North from May 9 to 12.

Previously the capital and nearby provinces experienced heavy rain and inundation in several areas including Bangkok’s Lak Si, Bang Khen, Don Muang, Sai Mai districts, and other districts of Nakhon Pathom, Chachoengsao, and Nonthaburi. Ngamwongwan road was severely flooded. Rattanathibet road in Nonthaburi was also heavily inundated, triggering hours of traffic congestion.

The department also reported flash floods in Phetchabun and Uthai Thani provinces. About 3,000 rai of agricultural areas in Si Bun Rueang and Lan Sak districts of Uthai Thani were submerged, damaging newly planted crops, roads and residences.

In Phetchabun, flash floods inundated 157 households in the capital district, and 90 rai of farmland. Initially, officials were dispatched to provide assistance and clean up the area. Floods also ruined a major organic farm ‘Greenfield Farm & Bistro,’ causing more than five million baht in damage.


PM wishes to foster reconciliation among politicians

 

NNT

Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has said he wants to cultivate a culture of reconciliation between the ruling party and the opposition as a basis for a peaceful society.

In his national televised speech on Sunday, Gen Prayut pointed out that the members of the public are familiar with a parliamentary system where the ruling party administers the nation and the opposition party keeps the government in check, adding that the existence of both sides is solely to protect the best interests of the public.

The prime minister said he wished to rename the opposition party the “opposing and supportive party” so as to change the negative vibe in parliament.

Under the proposed term, the opposing and supportive side will hold the ruling party accountable to the public while at the same time contributing to development projects and reform related undertakings.

This way, he said, the country will be able to cultivate a culture of reconciliation, unity, and trust, and the upper and lower houses will be able to settle differences rationally and peacefully.


Update May 7, 2018

Kanchanaburi pushes for Death Railway to become World Heritage Site

NNT

Kanchanaburi - Kanchanaburi is pushing for its historically significant Death Railway to become a World Heritage Site.

A public hearing was held at the River Kwai Hotel in Kanchanaburi over the weekend to hear the views of local residents. The event was presided over by Kanchanaburi Governor Jirakiat Phumsawat. Almost 52 per cent of local residents backed a proposal by a national committee on the protection of cultural world heritage sites to have the railway line recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, according to results of a survey by Kanchanaburi Provincial Office of Culture and Kanchanaburi Rajabhat University.

The relevant authorities will then prepare a report to apply for the recognition of Death Railway.

A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties.


Don Mueang market searched for illegal beauty products

NNT

Bangkok - Crime-busting and public health agencies have continued with their joint crackdown on the production of illegal beauty items in Don Mueang district of Bangkok.

More than 800 policemen and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials raided Talat Mai Don Mueang on Sunday, targeting 67 remaining shops. The raid found 164 outlets were selling illegal goods, including cosmetics and food supplements. Many of them claimed to be imports from South Korea, Japan and Europe.

The FDA Secretary-General, Dr Wanchai Sattayawuttipong said that legally imported goods must carry Thai-language registration labels issued by the FDA. Meantime, a large volume of beauty items and seven machines have been seized for inspection.

Deputy national police chief, Pol General Weerachai Songmetta disclosed that police will examine whether the market's owner has violated construction laws or has breached the lease contract with the Treasury Department.


Thailand remains on US’s IP watch list

 

Commerce Minister Sonthirat Sonthijirawong.

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Commerce has revealed that Thailand is still on the US’s intellectual property watch list despite its continued efforts to crack down on violations of intellectual property rights.

Commerce Minister Sonthirat Sonthijirawong says the U.S. Trade Representative’s annual report on global IP infringements included Thailand on the Watch List under the 2018 Special 301 report.

Thailand moved up from the bottom tier (Priority Watch List) in December last year, which has since boosted the country’s image, trade, and investment.

The report stressed that there remain IP concerns in Thailand such as counterfeit pharmaceuticals, border and criminal enforcement against counterfeiting, government use of unlicensed software, procedural obstacles to enforcement against unauthorized camcording, just to name some.

Sonthirat promised that the current administration will continue to fight all forms of IP infringement and develop new measures to protect IP rights.


Interior Ministry sets up flood command centers across country

NNT

Bangkok - The Interior Ministry has instructed all agencies to prepare disaster prevention measures ahead of the upcoming rainy season.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) has set up emergency command units at all administrative areas to monitor the situation in flood-prone communities around the clock.

The DDPM has been working closely with the Meteorological Department, Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), Department of Water Resources, Royal Irrigation Department and the military in mapping out flood prevention and relief measures.

The DDPM has estimated that the rainy season will start in the third week of May.


Update May 5 - 6, 2018

Thailand becomes world’s No.1 rice exporter

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) says that Thailand has become the world’s No.1 rice exporter during first four months of this year. 

From January 1 to April 17, the nation exported some 3.31 million of rice.  Last year, Thailand exported about 11.63 million tons of rice.

DFT Director General Adul Chotinisakorn said Thai rice exports are expected to grow continually on the back of news that the Kingdom was this week awarded a contract to export 120,000 tonnes of rice to the Philippines.  He said that the prices of most kinds of exported rice rose continually in April and major export markets are located in the Philippines, Africa and China.


Use of cap seals to be phased out in one year

NNT

Bangkok - The Pollution Control Department has sought cooperation from 7,000 water bottle manufacturers to stop using plastic cap seals within a year, in order to reduce plastic waste.

The department has also sent letters to 19 ministries, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Federation of the Thai Industries to seek their cooperation in promoting water bottles without cap seals. They are expected to cultivate an understanding among their employees that drinking from a bottle without the seal is just as safe.

To eliminate cap seals nationwide, schools, hotels, religious institutes, banks and airlines have been discouraged from buying bottles with cap seals. Cap seals are expected to be phased out completely by 2019.


PM reviews exhibition on digital innovation

NNT

Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha attended an innovation exhibition organized by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society on Friday.

Notable works on display included the Digital Park Thailand project, which is the country's first center for supporting investment in digital innovations. At the center, CAT Telecom will provide the high-speed broadband infrastructure necessary to connect with submarine cables across the world.

Another project is the Big Data Analytics Sandbox by CAT Telecom, which displays market trends and other useful data for making business and policy decisions. Other exhibitions included the coordination center on cyber security, the cyber security personnel development project, and a demonstration of digital forensics verification.

The Prime Minister thanked everyone for their hard work over the past four years. He urged officials to implement the government's policies, such as state administration reform, according to the national strategy.


Maha Sarakham announces rabies epidemic zones in 2 subdistricts

NNT

Maha Sarakham - Maha Sarakham province has recently declared rabies outbreaks in Wapi Pathum district, after detecting the virus in a dog and a buffalo calf.

Chatchawan Prasert of the Provincial Livestock Department revealed that on April 11, villagers in Hua Ruea subdistrict reported that a feral dog had bitten 14 dogs and five villagers. The dog was later diagnosed with rabies. The Wapi Pathum District Livestock Office therefore announced a rabies epidemic zone in Hua Ruea subdistrict. Officials have vaccinated the bitten villagers and quarantined the 14 dogs.

Another epidemic zone was announced in Nong Saeng subdistrict, where a two-year-old calf died of rabies on April 18. The calf is suspected to have contracted the virus from a dog bite. The Wapi Pathum District Livestock Office has responded by vaccinating 42 dogs and one cat.


Update May 4, 2018

Laem Chabang port holds market sounding for Phase Three development

NNT

Chonburi - Laem Chabang port is pushing forward Phase Three of its development project with a market sounding.

Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn said the Phase Three plan, a 1,600-rai development project, will be performed as on PPP basis between the public and private sectors, with the Port Authority of Thailand being responsible for the investment in the construction of infrastructure, the excavation of canals, and the installation of utilities with a 40 billion baht budget.

The private sector will invest in the container yard development, the installation of logistics technology and the construction of piers, with the investment budget estimated at 80 billion baht.

The planned expansion of Laem Chabang port will add five more piers to the existing facilities, with four piers being for cargo ships, and one other for ferry boats, passenger ships, and small cargo ships.

Two more negotiations with private firms will be held prior to the summarization of the project and the proposal to the cabinet by the end of this year. The construction is expected to commence in early 2019, and will take five-years to complete. The port's new facilities are expected to be operational in 2024.

The expansion will turn Laem Chabang port into an important logistics gateway for the Eastern Economic Corridor, being one of the 20 most important ports of the world, and being the most important port in ASEAN. The port capacity will be expanded from 11 million containers to 18 million annually, cutting down the country's logistics costs for export from 14 percent to 12 percent, or saving about 250 billion baht.


Govt affirms availability of rabies vaccines

NNT

Bangkok - The government has affirmed its commitment to eliminating rabies and has assured the general public there is enough vaccine available.

In a hearing held by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), lawmaker Wallop Tangkananurak asked Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Luck Wajananawat about the government's rabies prevention plan, the quantity of available vaccines, and its policy to support domestic vaccine production.

Luck said his agency has been tackling rabies since the outbreak in 1992 and has since reduced the rate of contraction. Due to a new outbreak in 2016-17, the government has put in place a strategy for 2017-20 in accordance with Thailand's shared goals with the World Health Organization to eliminate rabies by 2020.

Measures include procuring one million doses of rabies vaccines to meet the government's goal of inoculating dogs across the country. The deputy minister affirmed that there is enough vaccine and expressed confidence the country will be able to meet its goals.

Furthermore, the ministry has tasked the Department of Livestock Development with studying the feasibility of domestically producing the vaccine and will be able to reach a conclusion by September.


Kanchanaburi court grants bail to construction tycoon Premchai and employees

NNT

Kanchanaburi - Thong Pha Phum Provincial Court of Kanchanaburi province has granted bail to Italian-Thai Development president Premchai Karnasuta and three company employees accused of poaching at the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary.

The court on Wednesday spent around two and a half hours completing the defense examination procedure before allowing Premchai and three others, Yong Dodkrua, Nathee Riamsaen, and Thanee Thummat to apply for bail. The suspects have reported to the court for the last round.

Bail was raised to 400,000 baht each for Premchai, Thanee and Yong. Nathee meantime was required to post bail of 150,000 baht for her release. The suspects face at least six charges of trespassing in a wildlife sanctuary and hunting protected animals, including a black Indochinese leopard, a Kalij pheasant and a barking deer.

Premchai insisted he did not order his men to kill the leopard. The court is due to examine the plaintiff's witnesses on May 21 and has asked the public to trust the justice system.


Farmers start cultivation as drought ends prematurely

NNT

Saraburi - Persistent rainfall in several provinces has caused farmers to begin planting rice ahead of schedule and prompted disaster management agencies to prepare themselves for flood-related hazards.

Farmers in Saraburi province are pumping water into their paddy fields to begin rice cultivation, after the Royal Irrigation Department began supplying water on May 1. Local farmers have chosen to grow the Kor Khor 41 rice strain to complete harvesting by September, during which natural flooding is likely to occur.

Meanwhile, in Nong Khai province, days of thundershowers have produced ideal breeding conditions for frog farms. Farmers have reported an increase in healthy tadpoles.

The early arrival of rainfall has raised water levels in natural water sources in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Uthai Thani province as well as of major reservoirs, benefiting farmers in both irrigated and non-irrigated zones. The water levels of the Thap Salao and Huai Khun Kaew reservoirs reportedly exceeded 50% of their respective capacities.

In Nan province, around 250 disaster response officials across 15 districts have participated in flash flood and mudslide-rescue training. The government has accelerated this year's rice growing schedule by a month to prevent later flood damage, as the dry season has ended earlier than expected.


Update May 3, 2018

Thai court sentences 6 to death for southern bombings

In this August 24, 2016 file photo, bomb squad officers examine the wreckage of a car after an explosion outside a hotel in Pattani province, southern Thailand. (AP Photo)

Hat Yai (AP) — An army spokesman says a court in southern Thailand has condemned six men to death for several bombings in 2016 that killed two people and wounded more than 20.

The spokesman says 10 defendants had originally received death sentences on Monday from the Pattani Provincial Court. Because of their cooperation, three had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment and another to 40 years in prison.

Thailand's three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat have been plagued for over a decade by Muslim insurgents and more than 6,500 people have been killed in the violence since 2004.


Siriraj Hospital conducts Asia's first triple organ transplant

NNT

Bangkok - Siriraj Hospital has successfully transplanted three organs into a single patient - the first medical achievement of its kind in Asia.

The successful operation was announced by Prof Prasit Watanapa, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Mahidol University in Siriraj Hospital, and Assoc Prof Visit Vamvanit, Director of Siriraj Hospital, along with the organ transplant team.

The surgery was performed on 26-year-old Rachanond Rungsawan, who was admitted to hospital in August last year for heart failure resulting in liver damage, while also suffering kidney disease since early childhood. The medical team therefore decided to replace his kidneys, liver, and heart with donated organs sourced by the Thai Red Cross Society.

The procedure lasted 12.5 hours, beginning with the heart transplant, followed by the liver and kidneys. The patient then underwent a recovery phase at Siriraj Hospital for a total of 83 days from December 3rd, 2017, to February 23rd this year. Rachanond has now been cleared to return home and resume his normal life, with all three organs functioning normally.

A triple organ transplant involving heart, kidney, and liver has only been performed on 14 patients in the United States, and now in Thailand.


DE responds after hackers use Thai servers to launch attacks

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of the Digital Economy and Society (DE) has assured the population that Thai servers were not harmed when hacker groups launched recent malware attacks on various nations, and that it has integrated the work of six groups to strengthen defenses.

DE Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj has ordered Thammasat University to sever its digital connections and begin a retroactive probe, while voicing confidence in the integrity of Thai data systems as well as in global systems, which stringently protect data exchanges.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defense, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan similarly voiced confidence in protections enacted by the DE and gave an assurance that the Kingdom’s security systems have not been damaged.


Govt to meet with citizen groups against judges' housing project in Doi Suthep

Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Wissanu Krea-ngam.

NNT

Bangkok - The government is scheduled to meet with civil groups in Chiang Mai province on May 6 to address the controversy surrounding a housing project for judges in Doi Suthep.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Wissanu Krea-ngam, Minister attached to the Prime Minister's Office Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana has been tasked with resolving the issue. Suwaphan will be put in contact with local agencies to obtain information that will be forwarded to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha for a decision. So far, the opposition movement has shown no sign of unrest or other political motives.

Suwaphan revealed that he will travel to Chiang Mai this coming Sunday to meet with the 17 civil groups who oppose the judges' housing project. He said he will be accompanied by the Inspector-General of the Prime Minister's Office and will work to reach a timely conclusion according to the Prime Minister's wishes.


Update May 2, 2018

PACC probe finds corruption of the destitute fund in 67 provinces

PACC Secretary-General Lt Col Kornthip Daroj.

NNT

Bangkok - A probe into misappropriation of funds intended to aid the destitute by the Public Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) has found corruption in 67 provinces, with 189 civil servants involved and 264 million baht misused.

PACC Secretary-General Lt Col Kornthip Daroj reported the findings of the probe and said similar graft was also found in six communes helping the destitute, one homeless shelter, one highlands development center and one village cooperative coordination center.

The PACC has ordered that 43 agencies be probed and is coordinating with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to handle the matter.

Transgressions uncovered by the PACC include forging of payment documents, alteration of payment documents, embezzlement of state funds and misappropriation of funds to unqualified recipients.


Thailand earns Bt799m from foreign film productions

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Tourism has disclosed that revenue from foreign film productions shot in Thailand generated 799 million baht in the first quarter of 2018.

Department Director General Anan Wongbencharat said a total of 224 films were shot in the country last quarter, with China as the top film producer, followed by India and the United States. Last year, Thailand made 3.074 billion baht from 810 foreign film productions.

Anan said Thailand is considered one of the popular countries for international film productions. He said revenue from foreign film productions is also distributed to local communities to stimulate the economy.


Thai authorities assist at Yangon landfill fire

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand has sent fire suppression officials to Myanmar to advise on putting out a landfill fire on the city limits of Yangon.

Thai authorities attended a meeting chaired by Chief Minister of Yangon Phyo Min Thein. The meeting discussed strategies to suppress the fire, which has been raging for over seven days. Myanmar authorities have so far been able to extinguish a quarter of the affected area, while the remaining area has mostly been reduced to smoke plumes.

Thai officials have recommended that firefighters dig a firebreak around the remaining area to contain the blaze and to extinguish the smoke plumes with water. This method had proven successful during a landfill fire in Samut Prakan province and in many other areas in Thailand. They also suggested evacuating any communities affected by the smoke.

The Chief Minister of Yangon expressed his gratitude to Thailand for sharing its expertise in the matter.


Government to end need for photocopies of documents in push towards Thailand 4.0

NNT

Bangkok - A recent meeting of the Reform for Thailand 4.0 Commission headed by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha was briefed on the setting up of 40,000 service spots by the Electronic Government Agency (EGA). The various locations are to begin operations this month as part of the government’s plan to digitize public services in line with the Thailand 4.0 agenda.

In August, the government plans to end the need for photocopies of identification cards, home registrations and other such documentation when seeking public service and will replace them with a digital application. The application will be extended to juristic entity documents in October.

In January of 2019, the Citizen Feedback service will be launched, allowing members of the public to indicate their satisfaction and any opinions on public service. The system will be among the first moves towards the goal of elevating the Thai people into the 21st century. The goal includes five principles to be instilled in all Thais; sufficiency, discipline, morality, volunteerism and responsibility. The goal has already been declared in joint agreements entered into by 275 organizations and partners.


Update May 1, 2018

Two Thais killed in factory fire in Taiwan

Beijing (AP) — Taiwan is mourning the deaths of five firefighters and two Thai migrant workers in a weekend blaze at a computer equipment factory.

The fire broke out Saturday night at a plant belonging to Chin Poon Industrial in the city of Taoyuan just south of the capital, Taipei, the official Central News Agency reported.

CNA said the firefighters had lost contact with colleagues outside and became trapped under heavy equipment. Another seven firefighters were injured in the blaze, it said.

It quoted Chin Poon spokesman Hsiao Kung-yen as saying Sunday that the first fire alarm sounded in an area where thin layers of polymer are applied to printed circuit boards.

Large amounts of flammable chemicals apparently fueled the blaze and five firefighters were injured by being splashed with caustic and acidic materials. A total of 189 firefighters and 67 trucks and ambulances were sent to the scene of the fire, CNA said.

The two Thai nationals were 24-year-old Phanupong Sangiem from Chachoengsao province and 42-year-old Chertsak Buramsungnern from Buriram.

The two individuals were legally employed in Taiwan and were part of the fund managed by the Department of Employment to assist workers abroad. Therefore, their families are eligible to receive 40,000 baht in compensation, plus a reimbursement for funeral expenses not exceeding 40,000 baht.

Local labor officials in Chachoengsao and Buriram were dispatched to their families' homes to offer their condolences, as well as to inform them of their compensation. Requests from the families to transfer the bodies back to Thailand have been forwarded to the Thai labor office in Taipei.


ASH Thailand continues push for smoking control measures

NNT

Phuket - ASH Thailand has stressed on the importance of smoking control measures to discourage new smokers, help those who wish to quit smoking and protect non-smokers.

Action on Smoking and Health Foundation (ASH Thailand) President Prakit Vathesatogkit gave a lecture this week in Phuket on why Thailand needs to control smoking with regards to the existing legislation.

He said efforts to control smoking started with the introduction of the Tobacco Control Act B.E. 2509, the Non-Smokers' Health Protection Act B.E. 2535, the raise of tobacco tax, the display of warning texts on cartons, Thailand's participation in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and the new Tobacco Products Control Act B.E. 2560 which was promulgated last year.

The ASH Thailand president highlighted the number of smokers in Thailand, which reduced by 20 percent according to a 2014 survey. The number of smokers reduced by 40 percent in the northeastern region, by 43 percent in the northern region, 13 percent in the southern region, 37 percent in the central region, and by 29 percent in Bangkok. The overall number of smokers in Thailand currently accounts for 20 percent of the population.

ASH Thailand is committed to further campaigning for the reduction in the consumption of tobacco products.


BMA starts beautifying Mahakan Fort

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Public Works of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has started laying the groundwork for the landscape improvement of Mahakan Fort, following the recent relocation of the dwellers previously found invading public spaces.

Currently, only five buildings remain to be removed after the BMA enforced the law to reclaim public spaces. The office will spend a month reorganizing the area for public use.

Deputy Bangkok Governor Chakkapan Piewngam said the Department of Public Works on Monday started turning the area into a temporary public park. The process is expected to take four to six days, before the land is ready for planting and light installation. The entire operation is expected to complete by the end of next month.

He noted that the funding for the reorganization of Mahakan Fort came from residents and independent organizations, stressing that the BMA did not get involved in budgeting.

Vehicles are still allowed to use the roads around the area during the activity. However, motorists traveling at night are advised to use alternative routes until the installation of lamp posts in the area is completed.


Up to 38,000 foreign laborers verified by OSS centers last week

NNT

Bangkok - One Stop Service (OSS) Centers set up to register foreign laborers in Thailand have reported nearly 38,000 registrations over the first week of operation, with the Ministry of Labor encouraging workers to verify their nationalities and undertake health checks at the centers as soon as possible.

The OSS centers have been in operation across the country for over a week with 10 of the centers in Bangkok alone. Of the 38,000 migrant workers who have already been to register, 11,964 were Cambodian workers, 1,581 Laotian and 24,455 were from Myanmar.

There are still 441,299 workers who must verify their nationality and undergo health checks at the centers to be permitted to work legally. Of the total, 190,233 are Cambodian, 38,604 are Laotian and 212,462 are from Myanmar.

Bangkok centers have processed 11,073 workers out of a targeted 158,011 and are hoping to process a maximum of 1,000 workers per day to meet the deadline set for June 30, 2018.

Employers and workers, who have already registered for the verification process, should check their appointment on the Department of Employment website www.doe.go.th, its express site at express.doe.go.th or by calling 02-248-7290.

Department of Employment Director-General Anurak Tossarat, has urged all foreign laborers to complete their verification and registration process as soon as possible and told those who completed initial registration between March 5 and 31, but have yet to receive a permit, to search for their name at www.doe.go.th. The permits are necessary to continue the process at OSS centers.


Update April 30, 2018

Trang warns of dengue risk following increasing casualties

 

NNT

Trang - Public health officials in the southern province of Trang have warned the general public about the spread of dengue fever following an increase in fatality rates this year.

Public health official Banjerd Sukpipatpanon said this year's mortality rates due to dengue have doubled in the central and southern regions at 0.25 and 0.26 percent respectively, although the rainy season has yet to arrive.

Members of the public are encouraged to eliminate breeding grounds of mosquitoes by tidying up their houses and ensuring there are no open air containers with water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. This will also help prevent the spread of other diseases such as Zika virus and Chikungunya fever.

Persons exhibiting symptoms of dengue fever, such as sudden high fever, muscle fatigue, blushing face and red eyes, rashes under the skin on arms, legs, or joints, should seek medical attention. More information about the disease is also available by calling the 1422 hotline service.


Authorities urged to better help beggars, homeless people

NNT

Bangkok - Social Development and Human Security Minister, Gen. Anantaporn Kanjanarat, has encouraged the general public and tourists to report to the authorities when they come across beggars and homeless people.

Gen. Anantaporn said the Department of Social Development and Welfare has launched a campaign for beggars and homeless people to receive proper assistance and protection from related agencies. The authorities must provide all needed assistance to beggars and homeless people.

He said a pilot campaign has been launched in the resort island of Phuket and is now also being implemented in Samut Prakan province, as it is one of the key industrial and tourism areas of Thailand.

The general public can call 1300, a 24-hour hotline to inform officials who will provide assistance and protection to homeless people.

The campaign is aimed at changing the perspective of the general public on the correct ways of giving help to the homeless and to maintain order in society.


Govt to bring forward rice growing season to avoid flood risk

NNT

Bangkok – The government has decided to bring forward this year’s rice growing season by one month to save crops from flood risks.

Government Spokesperson Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd disclosed the government would on 1st May start supplying water to 12 retention fields in 10 provinces downstream in the Chao Phraya River basin, namely Nakhon Sawan, Chainat, Lopburi, Saraburi, Singburi, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Suphanburi, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi.

Lt. Gen Sansern explained that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha was particularly concerned about the possibility of untimely flooding and therefore issued measures advancing the rice planting season from June to May.

The government expects to store around 1.5 million cubic meters of water, twice the capacity of Pa Sak Jolasid Dam, to lessen the impact of flooding on economically important provinces along the banks of the lower Chao Phraya River, including Bangkok and nearby cities. Meanwhile, flood embankments will be strengthened to safeguard waterfront communities and traffic from flood woes.


Wissanu: Amnesty ‘not’ included in Govt’s reconciliation plan

Deputy Prime Minister for Legal Affairs, Wissanu Krea-ngam.

NNT

Bangkok - Deputy Prime Minister for Legal Affairs Wissanu Krea-ngam has clarified that the government’s national reconciliation plan does not include the granting of pardons to those convicted of political offenses.

Commenting on the work of a government-appointed committee tasked with mapping out a policy framework for national reform, Wissanu said the reconciliation effort is making progress despite a slow start, thanks to Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan who has been at the forefront of the reconciliation process.

Wissanu also pleaded with the public and the media not to make a connection between reconciliation and amnesty, saying that the former is merely about building peace and unity in the nation and that the current administration has never talked about any issues related to amnesty.

He admitted that building unity and reconciliation is a herculean task because 90% of the work involves members of the public, and pointed out that such a task would be too great and too difficult without the help and cooperation of the people.


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

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BMA starts beautifying Mahakan Fort

Up to 38,000 foreign laborers verified by OSS centers last week


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Authorities urged to better help beggars, homeless people

Govt to bring forward rice growing season to avoid flood risk

Wissanu: Amnesty ‘not’ included in Govt’s reconciliation plan

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