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Update July, 2019


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Long Live His Majesty the King!

This year marks the 67th Royal Anniversary of the Birth of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua, King Rama X. All of us at the Chiangmai Mail would like to join the Kingdom of Thailand in humbly extending our loyal greetings and best wishes to His Majesty the King in celebration of the auspicious occasion of His Royal Birthday on July 28. HM the King’s birthday is a national holiday. Since this year the holiday falls on a Sunday, banks, government offices and most business offices will close on Monday, July 29, in observance of this special day (Photo courtesy Bureau of the Royal Household)


Happy Birthday HM King Rama X

“Glory protects Thai people”

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His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua greets an audience from the balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok.

Photos courtesy Bureau of the Royal Household

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vaji­raklaochaoyuhua was born on Monday 28 July 1952 at 17:45 in the Ambara Villa, Dusit Palace in Bangkok.

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua, King Rama X has reigned since 13 October 2017 after the death of Phra Bat Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX. He is the only son of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit.

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His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua sits on the throne as he is officially crowned king at the Grand Palace, Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Bangkok.

When HM the King was one year old, Somdet Phra Sangkharat Chao Krom­ma­luang Wachirayanwong, the 13th supreme patriarch of the Rattanakosin Era gave the child his first name at birth,  “Vajiralongkorn Boromma­chakkrayadisonsantatiwong Thewetthamrongsuboriban Aphikhunuprakanmahitt­aladunladet Phumiphonna­retwarangkun Kittisirisom bunsawangkhawat Borom­makhattiyaratchakuman”.

Vajiralongkorn was a combination between “Vajirayana”, ordination name of Phra Bat Somdet Phra Paramaintara Maha Mongkut Phra Jom Kao Chao Yu Hua, King Rama IV, and “Alongkorn”, a part of the name of Phra Bat Somdet Phra Paramintara Maha Chulalongkorn Phra Junla Jom Kao Chao Yu Hua, King Rama X, meaning “wearing jewelry”.

His Majesty has one older sister, Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana, and two younger sisters, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn.

Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, King Rama X has reigned since 13 October 2017. He is the only son of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit.

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His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua is bathed with sacred water from several holy rivers and ponds and other water sources in the country in a rite known as the Royal Ablution and Anointment ceremonies.

HM the King began his education in 1956 when he entered kindergarten at Udon Mansion in Dusit Palace. Soon after, he studied in primary and secondary education at the Chitralada School from 1956 – 1962.

After completing Mathayom 1 (through grade seven), he was sent to study at public schools in the United Kingdom. First at King’s Mead School, Seaford, Sussex, and then at Millfield School, Somerset, where he completed his secondary education in July 1970. In August 1970, he attended a five-week military training course at The King’s School, in Sydney, Australia.

In 1972, HM the King enrolled at the Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra, Australia. His education at Duntroon was divided into two parts: military training by the Australian Army and a bachelor’s degree course under the auspices of the University of New South Wales. He graduated in 1976 as a newly commissioned lieutenant with a liberal arts degree.

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His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn receives one of the many items of investiture including the royal golden plaque upon which is inscribed his royal official title, together with the royal seal of state, the royal regalia, the royal utensils, and the weapons of sovereignty.

In 1982 His Majesty completed a second bachelor’s degree in law and in 1987 he also completed a Master’s Degree of Laws at the Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University. In 1990, he studied at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.

Aware of the importance of education, His Majesty established his scholarship program in 2009 with the aim of improving children’s access to quality education and instilling the concept of lifelong learning. The scholarship program has been operating with His Majesty’s personal funds amounting to 42 million baht a year together with donated funds presented to him for charitable purposes. The funds have been used to support education for needy students on a continual basis.

His Majesty has special ties to the Rajabhat University system of 40 institutions of higher learning. HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn has presided over commencement ceremonies at all Rajabhat Universities nationwide and personally handed out degrees to all Rajabhat university graduates every year since 1978.

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Their Majesties King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida wave to an audience from the balcony of Suddhaisavarya Prasad Hall in the Grand Palace during the coronation ceremony Monday, May 6, 2019, in Bangkok.

After completing his studies, His Majesty served as a career officer in the Royal Thai Army. He served as a staff officer in the Directorate of Army Intelligence, and attended the Command and General Staff College in 1977.

His Majesty attended numerous military training courses in Australia and the United States, with observation tours in England, Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands. A long list of military courses attended by His Majesty includes helicopter and high performance aircraft flight training, special warfare training, demolition training, parachute training, and courses in small arms and other weapons used in modern warfare.

He joined the Air Operation Special Unit in Advance Patrol and Navigation Course, Air Transportation Course December 1979 – January 1980. In addition, he studied the UH–1 H helicopter for general use and trained in the Bell AH-1H Cobra attack helicopter. He is an expert aviator.

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His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua pays his respects to a portrait of HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and HM Queen Sirikit at the Dusit Palace Thursday, Dec.1, 2016.

With his ability in aviation and knowledge in new technologies in both theory and practice, he completed air weapons training at the Arms Training Stadium, Chai Badan, Lopburi and won the competition on 1 April 1987. Moreover, he served as aviation instructor of the F-5 Freedom Fighter since 4 May 1994. HM the King’s achievements are the pride of the Thai Army and Thai people.

In 1978 he became Commander of the King’s Own Bodyguard Battalion. Later that year on 6 November 1978 at age 26, His Majesty interrupted his military career to be ordained as a Buddhist monk at Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). He was given the name ‘Vajiralongkornno’ and resided at Wat Bowon Niwet Wihan Ratchaworawihan for 15 days.

On December 28, 1972, at the auspicious time of 12.23 p.m. in the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej conferred then Prince Vajiralongkorn with the title of “Somdech Phra Boroma Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam Makutrajakuman” (His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn) making him the heir to the throne in accordance with the Palace Law on Succession B.E. 2467 (1924).

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HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn joins over 10,000 people in Bangkok in Bike for Mom, August 2015.

His Majesty has continued the Royal Family’s assistance programs to underdeveloped areas around the country and visited depressed urban areas around Bangkok distributing food and necessity items to people in need.

At a ceremony held on 1 May 2019 at Ampornsathan Throne Hall in the Dusit Palace, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn married Gen. Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, conferred upon her the formal title of Her Majesty the Queen, presented her with the traditional royal regalia and accorded her royal rank and status in keeping with royal traditions.

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn was officially crowned king at the Grand Palace, Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Bangkok. The world watched on as His Majesty the King took the throne in an elaborate centuries-old royal tradition that last happened seven decades ago. After completing the rites, His Majesty issued his post-coronation royal command, “I shall continue to preserve, and build upon the royal legacy and shall reign with righteousness for the benefit and happiness of the people forever.”

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His Majesty opens the ceremonial curtain to reveal the RVYC signboard inaugurating the new clubhouse in 2005.

His Majesty has been recognized for his tireless efforts to promote the well-being of Thai people by visiting people in various regions to listen to their problems. His Majesty has gained in-depth experiences in many fields and has provided his initiatives for the benefits and happiness of the people and prosperity and security to the country.

The Chiangmai Mail humbly joins the Kingdom of Thailand in offering our best wishes to His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua on the occasion of his birthday, July 28, 2018.

Long live the King!


HM The King changes Emerald Buddha’s attire for rainy season

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NNT

Bangkok - His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua has changed the Emerald Buddha’s summer season attire to mark the beginning of the rainy season.

His Majesty and Queen Suthida proceeded to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha within the precincts of the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Wednesday to perform the ceremony and were accompanied by Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati.

The King removed the crown from the Emerald Buddha and cleaned the image with holy water from a royal conch shell. His Majesty then dabbed the Emerald Buddha with a clean white cloth and placed a headpiece on the deity.

Phra Phuttha Maha Mani Rattana Patimakon, or the Emerald Buddha, is considered the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand. The holy image is dressed in seasonal costumes. In this sacred and auspicious ritual that has been practiced by the monarchs of the Chakri dynasty, the attire of the Emerald Buddha is changed three times annually to correspond to the summer, rainy and winter seasons of Thailand. The ceremony falls on the first day of the fourth, eighth and twelfth lunar months.

For the rainy season, the Emerald Buddha wears a gold-plated monk’s robe with a pointed-headpiece of enameled gold studded with sapphires.

Lent Day is an important date in the Buddhist calendar, which begins from the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month to the 15th day of the waxing moon of the 11th lunar month. Buddhist monks will remain in their temples to learn and practice Dhamma during the three-month period and many people will make merit during this time of the year.


Happy Birthday HRH Princess Chulabhorn Walailak

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Chiangmai Mail on July 4 joined the Kingdom in humbly wishing a Happy Birthday to a most remarkable person, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn, the youngest sister of His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. For more interesting reading about the life of HRH Princess Chulabhorn. (Photo courtesy Bureau of the Royal Household)

Staff reporters

Born on July 4, 1957, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Walailak is the youngest sister of His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebaya­varangkun. She has two daughters, HRH Princess Siribhachudhabhorn and HRH Princess Adityadhornkitikhun.

Princess Chulabhorn graduated from the Faculty of Science and Arts at Kasetsart University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organic Chemistry, First Class Honors, in 1979, following with a doctorate in 1985, being awarded a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Organic Chemistry from Mahidol University in July of that year, capping off a record of excellent academic achievement.

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(Photo courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household)

In 1986, she was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in London and was awarded the Einstein Gold Medal by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The following year, she undertook post-doctoral studies in Germany, and has since been a visiting professor at universities in Japan, Germany, and the United States, as well as holding Honorary Doctorates from many universities around the world.

Her Royal Highness is chairperson of the Working Group on the Chemistry of Natural Products, a collaborative program between the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and the National Research Council of Thailand.

HRH the Princess has received international recognition for her scientific accomplishments, resulting in her appointment to various United Nations posts, namely special advisor to the United Nations Environment Program and member of the Special High-Level Council for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction of the United Nations.

As a result of her experience as a scientist, HRH the Princess became aware of the difficulties Thai researchers have in obtaining the necessary funding for their research and so, in 1987, she established the Chulabhorn Research Institute to provide a new fund-raising agency for such research.

This institute now acts as a focal point for the exchange of intellectual and other resources in Thailand, for the purpose of solving urgent problems confronting the country in areas of health, environment, and agriculture.

As president of the Chulabhorn Research Institute, HRH the Princess currently directs many special research projects, including the AIDS program; a program on restoration and integrated development of the flood-affected areas in Southern Thailand; seawater irrigation for cultivation of economic marine species and preservation of the mangrove forests; a rabies eradication program, with a special project for accelerated immunization in five southern provinces in Thailand; the Light for Life Foundation for Epilepsy, Chulalongkorn Comprehensive Epilepsy Program; Tabtim Siam Secondary School in Surin province; and the ‘Voice of Dharma for the Public’ Radio Station in Udon Thani province.

Through these programs HRH the Princess plays an auspicious role in improving the environment and living standards of the villagers in a number of Thai provinces.

Thank you HRH Princess Chulabhorn for your lifetime of dedication.

All of us at the Chiangmai Mail join the entire Kingdom in wishing Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn a Most Happy Birthday on the fourth of July 2014.


Happy Birthday Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha

Chiangmai Mail joins the people of Thailand to humbly wish Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha a very Happy Birthday Saturday, July 13. (Photo courtesy of the Bureau of the Royal Household)

Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha was born on July 13, 1957 at Guy’s Hospital in London, England. She is the eldest child of Mom Rajawongse Adulyakit Kitiyakara (her father was an elder brother of Queen Sirikit of Thailand) and Thanpuying Bandhu Savali Kitiyakara (Princess Bandhu Savali Yugala). She has one younger sister, Mom Luang Sarali Kitiyakara, born April 8, 1966.

Her father was the second child of Prince Nakkhatra Mangkala Kitiyakara, the Prince of Chantaburi II and Mom Luang Bua Sanidvongs. Her mother was daughter of Prince Bhanubandhu Yugala and Mom Luang Soiraya Sanidvongs.

She first attended the primary level at Chitralada School, then moved to Chiang Mai with her father when he was a judge at the Chiang Mai Court. She moved to study at Regina Coeli College, the all-girls academy in Chiang Mai in 1967.

Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha has shown keen interests in public health and social welfare. The following Thai Red Cross Society programs are officially under her patronage: The Reducing AIDS Infection from Mother to New-Born Baby Program; Medical Funding for AIDS patients; Funding for Reducing AIDS infection from Mother to the New-Born Baby; Milk funds for infants under the “Reduce AIDS effects from Mother to the New-Born Baby” Program; The Foundation of Professor Dr. Mom Rajawongse Galyanakit Kitiyakara; The Program of Life Giving to the Parents of AIDS-infected Babies; Funds for Cancer Treatment in Children; and The Princess Pa Foundation.

Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha, through her office, is very active in relief efforts throughout Thailand.


HRH Princess Sirindhorn opens exhibition to mark Thai Heritage Conservation Day.

NNT

Bangkok - Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn attended the Throne Hall at the Bangkok National Museum on Thursday to preside over the opening ceremony of an exhibition to mark the Thai Heritage Conservation Day. The exhibition is being held on the theme "The Thai City in the Land of Suvarnabhumi".

The event is being organized by the Department of Fine Arts to promote Thai history and stories of the Thai people from the past to the present. The exhibitions in 2017 and 2018 focused on the first people living in the country and the city’s origin. This year it features the history of the kingdom and the people of Thai-Lao origin before and after the Buddhist Era. More than 200 antiques and artifacts are on display.

People can visit the exhibition until October 25, 2019, from 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays as well as national holidays.


His Majesty the King delivers birthday message of unity

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua delivers a birthday message at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Sunday, July 28.

NNT

Bangkok - Members of the royal family, the Prime Minister, the President of the Parliament and the President of the Constitutional Court conveyed their wishes to His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua at the Amarindra Vinijaya Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace on Sunday, to mark the occasion of His Majesty’s 67th birthday

His Majesty the King sat high on the Pudtan Kanchana Singhasa Throne under the Nine-Tiered Great White Umbrella of State and delivered a birthday message to those assembled.

"I am rejoiced and have great admiration for all of you who come together to convey your birthday wishes that are filled with good intentions and goodwill, and as such, I would like to extend my best wishes and goodwill to all of you. The nation can prosper when different institutions together with the people of Thailand are aware of the interests of their country and jointly make them grow.

“All of you who are representatives of different institutions and the Thai people do recognize this importance. I urge you to perform your duty to the best of your ability and work together towards a common goal in order to succeed and bring goodness and prosperity to yourself and the public. Our nation will then be able to maintain its stability, move forward and achieve happiness accordingly. May the Triple Gem and all things held sacred protect you and bless you with happiness and prosperity."

A group of officials then performed a ceremony to draw back a curtain before the throne. A marching band then performed the royal anthem, while the Royal Thai Army, the Royal Thai Navy and the Royal Thai Air Force each fired a 21-round gun salute outside to celebrate the special occasion.


Dams discharge less water after more rain

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Royal Irrigation has reduced the water discharge from four major dams along the Chao Phraya River Basin, as many areas of Thailand have received more rain.

The Director-General of the DRI, Thongplew Kongchan, said the minimum water requirement for domestic consumption and ecology, excluding agriculture, is 18 million cubic meters per day. The water management plan, from the dry season to the rainy season next year, covers nine months. The demand for water is about 5.04 billion cubic meters, while the country currently has 4.90 billion cubic meters in its water supply. The Chao Phraya River Basin still has room for an additional 136 million cubic meters of water. The Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR) has suggested that the Department of Royal Irrigation should conserve at least 300 million cubic meters of water. The department will reduce water usage in the Chao Phraya River Basin from 2.06 billion cubic meters to 1.76 billion.

The Department of Royal Irrigation has reduced water discharge from Bhumibol, Sirikit, Pa Sak Jolasid, and Kwai Noi Bumrung Dan dams in order to ensure that there is enough water during the upcoming dry season from November 2019 to April 2020. The next rainy season is expected to run from May to July 2020.

The Meteorological Department has forecast that the amount of precipitation between August and September this year will return to average levels.


Free rides on MRT Blue Line extension

NNT

Bangkok - To celebrate His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua’s 67th birthday on July 28, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand will offer free services to commuters using its Blue Line extension from Wat Mangkorn station to Tha Phra station between July 29 and September 28, 2019.

The Blue Line extension consists of five stations, including Wat Mangkorn, Sam Yot, Sanam Chai, Itsaraphap and Tha Phra. Passengers can ride for free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the two-month test run.

Three trains will be in service for this route. They will take about eight minutes to reach each station. Commuters can change trains at Hua Lamphong station if they want to proceed to the Blue Line extension.


Premier assures policies can be implemented

NNT

Bangkok – Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha assured the public that the new government’s policies can be implemented despite opposition MPs voicing doubts that they can be put to work.

The premier said the policies have been laid out in line with national reforms, national strategies and master plans and assured that they will not unduly favor any capitalists.

Next month, the government will hold meetings with various government agencies on the policies to be carried out within given time frames to meet the people’s demands. The premier assured that budgetary and financial disciplines will be strictly observed.


PM Prayuth leads citizens in signing message of blessings for HM the King

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his wife Naraporn pledge their loyalty to HM the King.

BANGKOK, 28 July 2019 (NNT) - Important figures and groups of people from many agencies have conveyed their blessings on the occasion of His Majesty the King’s birthday, today July 28, 2019.

In the Red Room, His Majesty the King’s Personal Affairs Division Building, in the Grand Palace, important figures placed vases of flowers before His Majesty the King’s image on the occasion of His Majesty the King’s birthday today. They also signed a message of loyalty and gratitude for His Majesty’s benevolence. The important figures included Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, his wife and members of the Cabinet; Sheikul Islam; the President of the Supreme Court,; the Attorney General; the Chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Commission; the President of the Administrative Court and the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

At Sahathaisamakhom Pavillion in the Grand Palace, high-ranking officials and groups of people from many agencies from both the public and private sectors placed a vase of flowers and other items before His Majesty the King’s image to express their loyalty to His Majesty and gratitude for his benevolence. They also signed a message of blessings for His Majesty the King. Some are from the SUPPORT Arts and Crafts International Center of Thailand (Public Organization), as well as the Directorate of Civil Affairs, the Department of Civil Affairs, the Finance Department, the Bangkok Opera Foundation, the Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Permanent Secretary, the Prime Minister’s Office.

In the tent beside Lukkhun Pavilion, people from provinces all over the country arrived to sign a message of blessings for His Majesty the King on the occasion of His Majesty’s birthday to express their loyalty to the King, and gratitude for His Majesty’s benevolence.
Meanwhile, government officials have accompanied people in all provinces across the country to a ceremony for the signing of a message of blessings for His Majesty the King on the auspicious occasion of His Majesty’s birthday; the tribute took place at City Halls nationwide.


Recent rains replenish northeastern dams

NNT

Bangkok – Heavy rain and showers over the past two days in many parts of the northeastern region have helped increase the quantity of water held in dams, reducing the severity of the recent drought disaster.

In Bueng Kan, the rainfall has led to a marked increase in the quantity of water stored in nine dams under the supervision of the provincial irrigation project, which now hold 85.37 percent of their overall capacity, as well as benefitting another 44 reservoirs overseen by local administrative organizations. The rain has also helped raise the water level of the Mekong River, which nevertheless remains 11.4 meters below its banks.

In Nong Khai, precipitation in recent days helped fill canals connected to the Mekong with water gates allowing the water to be retained in the canals.

In Khon Kaen, the water level in Ubolrat Dam remains lower than at this time in previous years. The reservoir now holds only 563 million cubic meters of water, or 23 percent of the dam’s capacity, which is well below the average figure from August to October of 1,800 million cubic meters. The dam is discharging 500,000 cubic meters of water daily..

In Loei, many areas are now affected from the drought disaster and continuing lack of rain there, The Governor of Loei, Chaiwat Chuenkosum has ordered related agencies to gather data from affected areas for water retention planning and the construction of dykes, as well as requesting rainmaking operations from a royal rainmaking unit in Khon Kaen.


Suvarnabhumi Airport waives parking fees for holiday weekend

NNT

Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi Airport is waiving fees for cars parked at its long-term car park, zone C, which can accommodate 718 cars, during the substitution holiday for the birthday of His Majesty the King from Friday July 26 until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30. The airport will provide a free shuttle bus service for passengers from the car park to the passenger terminal,

It is expected there will be a large number of travelers over the weekend so passengers are asked to leave for the airport three hours before international flights and two hours before domestic flights. For more information, contact the AOT Contact Center 1722 around the clock.


ONCB permits cannabis cultivation as economic crop

NNT

Bangkok - The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) will permit the planting of cannabis sativa as an economic crop in controlled areas. The board plans to develop cannabis sativa seeds for medical purposes, after studies showed that cannabidiol (CBD) in cannabis sativa is higher than in marijuana.

The Secretary-General of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Dr. Tares Krassanairawiwong, said the FDA will revise three laws to remove cannabis sativa from the country’s list of narcotic drugs, in August this year. One of the laws must be submitted to the cabinet for its consideration.

The ONCB has taken media members to see cannabis sativa plots at the Pada Royal Agricultural Station in Chiang Mai province. The agricultural station serves as a center for the study of medical cannabis.

The Highland Research and Development Institute (Public Organization) is in the process of asking for permission to import cannabis sativa seeds from Europe, the United States and Canada to develop strains of better quality for medical use.


PM gives 1st policy statement before elected lawmakers

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha smiles during a parliamentary session in Bangkok, Thursday, July 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Associated Press

Bangkok (AP) —Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gave his first policy statement in the face of genuine parliamentary scrutiny Thursday after five years as an unchallenged military leader.

He read out a 34-page statement to lawmakers about how his government would handle issues such as the economy, education, labor, and the fight against drugs and corruption.

"We must move our country forward though progress, stability, discipline in Thai society, unity and generosity," Prayuth told Thursday's parliament session. "The quality of Thai people's lives must improve and we must be ready for life in the 21st century."

Prayuth raised his voice on several occasions as he addressed Thursday's parliament session which prompted opposition lawmakers to ask him to soften his tone. But the former army commander made a noticeable effort to keep his cool and humor intact, despite repeated interruptions and strong criticism from the opposition.

"I have no confidence that the government will utilize the policies presented today to fix the country's problems," said Sompong Amornvivat, leader of the opposition Pheu Thai party.

"The lack of trust for the leadership of the prime minister and the economic team that features the same faces, who had failed over the past five years will lead the country to disaster, dark times, and bring danger to the people," Sompong said.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary general of the opposition Future Forward party, said Thursday's policy statement was worse than the one issued under the previous military government and much worse than ones issued by other former democratic governments.

He said the policy statement was full of promises but lacked methodology and included populist and conflicting policies. He said it also failed to include policies that were promised during the election campaign of the pro-army party that nominated Prayuth, such as a minimum wage guarantee.

Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, leader of the opposition Prachachart party, said he doesn't trust Prayuth to restore democracy and recalled the events leading up to the coup.

"How can someone who led a coup say that he will adhere to democratic principles?" Wan asked the parliament session.
 


Sugar tax increase to take effect October 1

NNT

Bangkok - A sugar tax increase is going to take effect from October 1, this the second round of taxes that the Thai government is levying on sugary drinks.

From October, sugary beverages such as sodas, ready-to-drink green tea, coffee, energy drinks and fruit juice are going to be taxed at a higher rate in line with the Excise Tax Act 2017. The progressive tax rate will be levied per 100ml of the beverage volume.

This will be the second tax increase and a third is scheduled for October 1, 2021.

This time, a beverage containing 10g of sugar per 100ml of product will not be taxed. But drinks in the 10-14g range will be taxed 1 baht per litre, from 14 to 18g - 3 baht per litre, and over 18g of sugar per 100ml - 5 baht per litre.

According to Excise Department, the purpose of such a tax is to encourage less sugar consumption. The Thai Health Promotion Foundation says that sugar consumption should not exceed 6 teaspoons, or 24g per day. Statistics indicate that Thai people consume an average of 20 teaspoons of sugar per day, 3 times the recommended amount.


PM orders compensation for Pattani attack victims

NNT

Bangkok - The Prime Minister has ordered security agencies to enhance protection levels and provide compensation to victims of Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Pattani.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha also expressed condolences to families of those killed in the attack and ordered the military, police, administrative agencies, and intelligence units in the southern region to be on high alert and track down those responsible for the violence.

Members of the general public in the area are advised to remain calm and continue with daily life, while at the same time remaining vigilant to any suspicious items or persons, which should be reported immediately to security officials.

The Prime Minister has promised to provide assistance to victims of the attack and the families of those who lost their lives.


Rainmaking operations underway at key dams

NNT

Bangkok - The government is promoting drought mitigating measures in many areas, including royal rainmaking operations to supply water to key reservoirs.

Measures currently being implemented are categorized in two groups, with the first being urgent action to assist farmers and villagers, including royal rainmaking operations to increase water in storage dams using 23 aircraft, which are being modified for the operation, and the drilling of groundwater wells as additional water sources.

The second set of measures covers compensation for farm products damaged by drought, including rice and other produce. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Rice will be collaborating with agriculture officials in all districts to survey actual damage, and will urgently declare some areas to be disaster areas to enable the compensation process to begin. The Department of Rice will be offering rice seedlings for farmers whose crops are damaged.

The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives is currently offering a 3-year loan payback suspension for registered clients, and offers a 1-year suspension for unregistered clients. Related agencies are tasked with drafting their plans to realize urgent measures, and submitting them to Deputy Ministers of Agriculture for consideration before forwarding the plans to the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives.


4 dead in southern Thailand attack on military outpost

Police forensic officers examine the wreckage of motorcycle in Pattani province, southern Thailand, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo)

Associated Press

Hat Yai (AP) — Four people were killed in an attack on a military outpost in southern Thailand, where Muslim rebels are active, police said.

An unknown number of assailants carried out the attack Tuesday night using firearms and explosives, triggering a gunfight that left four dead and three injured, said Pol. Col. Yanapong Ubolbarn, chief of the Muang Pattani police station.

Two people who were part of a village defense unit were killed immediately, while a soldier and a volunteer officer died in a hospital. The attack also left three other volunteer officers wounded.

Police said the attackers Tuesday were riding on motorcycles as they threw explosives at the outpost. They waited for the explosions to subside before opening fire on the outpost and security officers. A firefight took place for several minutes before the attackers retreated.

The unidentified assailants also scattered nails on the road to intercept incoming vehicles that came to help the attacked security officials, police said.

Separately, rebel groups in Thailand's deep south issued statements Tuesday to condemn an incident in which a suspected insurgent was allegedly taken from his home for interrogation by officials and within 24 hours was rushed to a hospital in critical condition with brain injuries.


Another Bangkok deputy governor resigns

NNT

Bangkok - Bangkok city hall continues to be in hot news as another deputy governor, Taweesak Lertprapan, has resigned and removed his documents from the office, while the city governor has immediately announced the replacement for two vacant deputy governor positions.

Lertprapan submitted his letter to quit soon after the resignation of another deputy governor, Jakkapan Phiewngam. Alleged procurement irregularities of waste incinerator projects are speculated to be the cause of these resignations. Opposition parties are now prepared to bring up this issue in parliament.

Minister of Interior Gen Anupong Paojinda said the auction of the 1.3 billion baht garbage incineration plants in Nong Khaem and On Nut went through verification from committees at several stages, including a central committee chaired by the Ministry of Interior’s permanent secretary. The minister said he is not concerned with this matter and is positive there is no corruption involved.


Health chief outlines dangers of massage for pregnant women

NNT

Bangkok - The Director General of the Department of Health has advised pregnant women to avoid having a massage and turn to light exercise instead, after a pregnant woman died on July 20 following a traditional massage.

Health chief Dr. Phanphimon Wipulakorn has warned that women who are less than three months into their pregnancy should avoid getting a massage at all because it will stimulate the uterus to tighten and may cause a miscarriage. Women who are 4-6 months pregnant can get a massage from those who have been trained while those who are more than six months into their pregnancy, when their uterus will pressure their veins and the arteries in their stomach, should only get a massage from qualified practitioners of traditional Thai medicine who have undergone at least 800 hours of training. They are warned not to go for a massage at a general massage parlor. For safety, pregnant women who suffer from aches or wish to relieve stress should turn to light exercise instead.


Thai students join medal hunt at 30th International Biology Olympiad

NNT

Bangkok - Thai students were in the medals at the 30th International Biology Olympiad held in Hungary from July 14-21.

The students and advisory teachers returned to Thailand this week following a successful trip to Europe. Atsukhi Matsusawa from Mahidol Wittayanusorn School, Nakhon Pathom, won a gold medal while her classmates Aphissada Somjai and Phumphat Laohawiroj both won silver medals. Kritin Wenunan from Triam Udom Seuksa School in Bangkok also won a bronze medal.

The event gathered 285 competitors from 72 countries and territories. Chinese students were the top scorers and also took the first runners-up position in the contest.


Premier orders armed forces to help with rainmaking operations

 

NNT

Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha is concerned over the current drought in the provinces and has urgently ordered the armed forces to support royal rainmaking operations.

The premier has ordered the armed forces to provide aircraft and personnel for the operations to increase the volume of water flowing into major dams, and help civilian authorities cope with the present lack of water. Due to the lack of rain, the volume of water in the dams has dropped by 40% while neighboring countries have reduced the volume of water flowing into Mekong River.

The government has continually followed and assessed the water situation and declared drought disaster zones in many provinces. Measures have been taken such as the distribution of water by water trucks, along with royal rainmaking operations and the excavation of artesian wells.


Minister visits area affected by wild elephants

NNT

Kanchanaburi - Natural Resources and Environment Minister Warawut Silpa-archa visited Salak Phra wildlife sanctuary in the district of Kanchanaburi province over the weekend and met with local villagers who have been affected by wild elephants eating their farm crops.

Warawut talked with the villagers for nearly an hour, accepted their complaints and listened to their demands that the minister provide a budget for the creation of food and water sources for the wild elephants in the inner part of the wildlife sanctuary. The existing electric fences also need upgrading as they cannot keep the elephants from encroaching upon the farmland.

Warawut also met with high-ranking government officials at the operation center of Salak Phra wildlife sanctuary for about two hours.


BMA finalizes Khao San Road renovation model

NNT

Bangkok - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is set to proceed with the Khao San Road renovations, expecting street food vendors to return in a new format in February next year.

The renovation model includes the resurfacing of the road and walkways to be at the same level, paving the road with flamed stone, and arranging areas for some 240 street vendors which will be zoned according to category, namely food, clothing, and souvenirs.

Rising stainless-steel bollards will be installed to separate street food areas and vehicular traffic, and to arrange one-way road traffic. Street vendors will be allowed to sell from 9 am to 9 pm daily, with permits to be randomly drawn to admit newer vendors every 1-2 years.

The BMA is studying the feasibility of rejuvenating nearby roadways, such as Ram Buttri road in the tourist quarter of Bangkok, following the same renovation model as Khao San road.


TAT, Vogue Thailand launch ‘Lost in Thailand’ campaign

NNT

Bangkok - The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Deputy Governor for Domestic Marketing Noppadon Pakprot says TAT has been promoting domestic travel among high-end Thai travelers with high purchasing power through its Amazing Thailand Premium campaign.

In the latest move, the TAT has joined hands with Serendipity Media Company Limited, the publisher of Vogue Thailand magazine, to launch the Lost in Thailand campaign presenting tourism, cultural and gastronomic attractions in five regions of Thailand which deliver the most refined services and experiences.

The campaign features advertisement films and short video clips starring elite Thai travelers sharing their experiences.

TAT and Vogue Thailand expect the campaign will help encourage highly capable Thai travelers to make more domestic trips. Campaign materials and activities can be found on Vogue Thailand’s Facebook page, website, and YouTube channel.


PM expresses tourism concerns following Phuket taxi scam

 

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

NNT

Bangkok – The Prime Minister has reiterated his concerns about scams hurting the tourism industry after two Australian tourists were reportedly overcharged 3,000 baht for a van ride from Phuket airport to their hotel.

The Prime Minister stressed that the government is trying to implement all measures to promote tourism, making Thailand, and especially Phuket province, one of the world’s top tourism destinations.

He warned that unscrupulous vendors and businesses that seek to take advantage of tourists will not only affect Phuket’s tourism industry, but will also create a negative impression of the country and of the Thai people.

The Prime Minister said Thailand is not only home to beautiful tourism attractions but that the hospitality of the Thai people is also known across the world. He has asked all concerned to be good hosts to visitors and for officials to be on alert to prevent similar incidents in the future. 


UN finds organized crime expanding in Southeast Asia

In this July 15, 2019, photo, reporters view packages of seized crystal methamphetamine on a table during a press conference at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau in Bangkok. (AP Photo)

Pitcha Dangprasith and Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Bangkok (AP) — Organized crime syndicates in Southeast Asia are flourishing in the illegal trafficking of drugs, wildlife, counterfeit goods and people, a U.N. report said Thursday.

The 179-page report from the United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime said that corruption and freer movement of people and goods have facilitated the trafficking, adding that organized crime groups in the region are becoming more mobile as they exploit areas with weak border control and use advanced logistics to move products.

"Southeast Asia has an organized crime problem, and it is time to coalesce around solutions to address the conditions that have allowed illicit businesses to grow, and to secure and cooperate along borders," said Jeremy Douglas, a regional representative of the UNODC.

Douglas said cumulative value of the methamphetamine market is more than $60 billion this year. Facilitated by organized crime, the market has expanded since a 2013 study found the accumulated value was $15 billion.

He said accessibility and the price of methamphetamine enables the market to thrive.

"The groups that are manufacturing methamphetamine are literally flooding the region for the purpose of building demand, and they're making it accessible at any price points," Douglas said. "So you can buy methamphetamine in Bangkok for $2 a pill. It's basically a price of a quart of milk."

To tackle the growing drug problem, the report said law enforcement and forensic drug laboratories should be supported to identify shifts in the illicit drug market as organized crime groups diversify chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine.

It says the region should also adopt measures to prevent trafficking of equipment used in manufacturing illicit drugs.

Human trafficking is another major issue for Southeast Asia and the report said it largely stems from differences in economic development and demand for cheap labor.

The report said "migrants are often subjected to debt bondage, physical violence, and other forms of exploitation" and it noted that there are "gaps in the official data."

Douglas said governments in Southeast Asia should implement more effective recruitment and migration management systems.

"Governments of the region haven't properly developed the system to gather the data of the victims of human trafficking, and that needs to be changed," he said and added that governments should also raise awareness of vulnerable populations at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking.

On the illegal wildlife trade, the report mentions that Laos has become "a major global hub for the trafficking of high value and highly threatened species into other Asian markets, and the country has been identified as the world's fastest growing ivory market."

"Governments in Southeast Asia should review their criminal legislation to ensure that law enforcement agencies are fully authorized to follow the financial flows related to wildlife crime and to prosecute money laundering offences," the report said.

Another thriving trade among crime groups which the report identified as counterfeit goods — including apparel, watches, perfumes, alcohol, electronics and pirated movies and software — makes up a $33.8 to $35.9 billion market. It urged authorities to seize illicit gains from offenders and said internet platforms such as search engines, online market places, trading platforms and payment service providers should cooperate, and take responsibility for the illicit activities that take place on them.


Customs Department clarifies tax procedures for air passengers

NNT

Bangkok - The Customs Department has issued a new document clarifying which personal items belonging to air passenger are exempted from duty when arriving in Thailand.

If a passenger’s belongings exceed 20,000 baht they are liable for duty and taxes, however if the items are for commercial purposes, even if they are valued at less than 20,000 baht, they remain liable for duty and taxes.

Passengers can declare their belongings at the Goods to Declare channel, also known as the Red channel. A permit is required for restricted goods. Customs officers at the Goods to Declare channel will then determine duties and taxes of different items. For instance, handbags are subject to a 20% rate, watches 5%, and cosmetics and belts 30%, together with the 7% value-added tax (VAT).

If passengers are not treated fairly by customs officers or witness irregularities during the customs procedure, they can call the Customs Hotline at 1332.


Thailand replaces junta with new Cabinet

 

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha attends a group photo with his cabinet members at the Government House in Bangkok Tuesday, July 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda and Grant Peck

Bangkok (AP) — Thailand's new Cabinet was sworn in Tuesday, creating a nominally elected government after five years of military rule but keeping power in the hands of the same allies of the army.

HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over the swearing-in of the Cabinet, whose 36 members pledged their loyalty to the constitutional monarch. The Cabinet's inauguration dissolved the junta that had governed since 2014.

"Every task has obstacles. Every mission faces problems," the king told the Cabinet members. "It is normal to take on work and solve problems so that the country can be run smoothly according to circumstances." The Cabinet then held its first meeting at Government House.

"This Cabinet either represents old wine in a new bottle," said Paul Chambers, a political scientist at Naraesuan University in northern Thailand, referring to major posts held by members of the previous military government, "or a product of a multiparty and multi-factional balance of power."

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a professor of political science at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, described the Cabinet as "dominated by patronage politics and paybacks," including at least two members with questionable reputations who were recruited for their abilities to turn out the vote.

"The unsavory few who have had a shady and criminalized past are surprising because they will be a lightning rod on the Prayuth government's credibility," he said in an email interview.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, in a Monday night speech marking the political transition, said "Thailand is now fully governed as a democratic country with a constitutional monarch, possessing a parliament that is elected and a government endorsed by the parliament. Several rights and liberties are safeguarded by the constitution in line with the highest international norms. Pending problems will be solved through democratic processes without the application of any special powers."


Commerce Ministry launching private hospital complaints center

NNT

Bangkok - As part of the effort to regulate medical fees charged by private hospitals, the Ministry of Internal Trade is to disclose fee lists from hospitals online for customer’s information and discretion. The practice is expected to start on 31st July and the pricing lists will be published on www.dit.go.th website. The Ministry will also be opening a complaints center specifically for hospital-related comments.

The Department of Internal Trade’s Deputy Director, General Prayoth Benyasut, said the new complaints center is expected to begin operations from mid-August and will be situated on the 3rd floor of the Department of the Internal Trade office in Bangkok. Customers outside Bangkok can also file complaints at any provincial commercial affairs office.

The department has so far prosecuted one private hospital as a result of complaints made via the 1569 hotline for overpricing. The department is working on processing other complaints made.

The deadline for pricing list disclosure by hospitals has been extended from 12th July to 30th July. Some 60-70 hospitals have already submitted their lists. The department is positive all 353 private hospitals will submit their information as requested by the new deadline.


MOAC accelerates research on alternatives to pesticides

NNT

Bangkok - As a result of conflict over the use of agricultural chemicals including glyphosate, paraquat, and chlophyriphos, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) has accelerated research on alternatives to these three types of chemical substances.

Anan Suwannarat, MOAC Permanent Secretary, disclosed this week that the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives had instructed the MOAC’s Permanent Secretary, the Director-General of the Department of Agriculture and those concerned to consider legal issues and facts regarding the search for alternatives. The Department of Agriculture is currently accelerating research to find an integrated means to replace the three substances and it is expected to take about two years to reach a clear conclusion. Even if new information says that glufosinate ammonium can replace them, the cost of using the substance is three times higher per rai than the cost of paraquat and glyphosate. It can also not control as many types of weeds as well as paraquat and glyphosate do.

Before having the power to revoke or prohibit the use of all three types of chemicals, in accordance with Section 25 of the Hazardous Substance Act, the Department of Agriculture must collect information from farmers, other users or related authorities to find solid evidence of the danger of using such substances.


Boeing 747-400’s farewell ceremony

 

NNT

Bangkok - A farewell ceremony has been held for the legendary Boeing 747-400 aircraft named "City of Bangkok" of KLM Airlines, the Dutch national airline. In 1989, Thai monks performed its naming ceremony in the Netherlands. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) received its name plate at a farewell ceremony this week and celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Bangkok-Amsterdam flight route.

Over the past 29 years, over six million passengers were carried by the aircraft with more than 130,000 hours of flights before it was decommissioned in November 2018.

The aircraft’s "City of Bangkok" name plate will be preserved at the museum of Bangkok City Hall to provide historical evidence of the warm relationship between Thailand and the Netherlands.


ONCB warns of packages containing illicit drugs

NNT

Bangkok - Niyom Termsrisuk, Secretary-General of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), has warned the public that illegal drugs are currently being solicited and sold on social media and the postal service is being used as a means of delivery.

The drugs that have been discovered include amphetamines, crystal meth, mitragyna speciosa leaf, marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine.

The extremely dangerous and risky method these drug dealers are using is to list your address as the receiver. People have to be careful of their name being wrongly used as the sender or recipient of a package, by avoiding lending other people their ID cards or any identification documents. Citizens are asked to alert officers at the nearest police station if they notice anything out of the ordinary.

Niyom emphasized that a drug delivery to domestic buyers will bring a charge of drug distribution with the highest penalty being imprisonment for life and a fine of 1-5 million baht.

A drug delivery to a buyer abroad will face a charge of drug exporting while the drug recipient is guilty of drug possession.

People who notice any drug-related offense or a business operator who delivers items that are not allowed to be mailed can notify the ONCB by calling its 1386 Hotline, at any time around the clock.


New dinosaur species discovered in Thailand

NNT

Khon Kaen - The Department of Mineral Resources has announced the discovery of a new dinosaur species, the 10th to be found in Thailand, at Phu Wiang National Park in Khon Kaen, set to be nominated as a World Geopark by UNESCO. The medium-sized Theropods dinosaur is the largest fossil ever found in Thailand.

Department of Mineral Resources Director General, Sommai Techawan said the dinosaur has a 5-6 meter body length and belongs in the Megaraptora period. It is expected to share characteristics with dinosaurs found in Japan, such as long front and rear legs indicating fast running, along with big claws, and a narrower skeleton compared to other carnivore dinosaurs.

The fossil found was the 5th ever located in Khon Kaen. The department and Khon Kaen province is planning to nominate Phu Wiang National Park for endorsement by UNESCO as a world geopark over the next four years, which would add another world-class tourism and ancient-knowledge attraction to the country.


BTS safety systems inspected following wall collapse

NNT

Bangkok - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is inspecting the safety system at BTS stations following an accident in which a concrete slab at Ari station fell onto the ground. The BMA engineers hope to complete the inspection at BTS Ari stations and 23 others within the next three-days.

Officials said the concrete slab which fell from BTS Ari station was part of a dilapidated wall which keeps objects from falling onto the ground below. Water had seeped into the concrete and damaged the steel rods inside it. The concrete wall might have to be replaced with a lighter, more durable one.

Meanwhile, the BMA has begun the installation of an elevator for persons with disabilities and a barrier at each BTS station. Elevators and barriers have already been installed at many BTS stations.


Officials close monk offerings packing factory

NNT

Bangkok - Officials in Samut Sakhon closed a large factory preparing monk offering packages after in it was discovered it was using substandard products and false labeling expired FDA numbers.

At the factory, some 20 migrant workers were found putting items into the packages, and offering baskets ready to be sent to other provinces. Products found included powdered drinks, drinking water, painkillers, cough medicines, and soaps.

Some of the items at the factory were found to bear expired product registration numbers from the Food and Drugs Administration, which may indicate these are fake products, while the redistribution of tea from big to small bags is considered product manufacturing without a permit. Some of the items were found in larger than usual packages, and were of poor quality.

Officials have collected documents and evidence for legal prosecution of the factory.


ASEAN defense ministers discuss security proposals

ASEAN defense ministers shake hands for a group photo ahead of the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting Thursday, July 11, 2019, in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Pitcha Dangprasith

Bangkok (AP) — Defense ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations met Thursday in the Thai capital to discuss issues including border controls, terrorism and illegal fishing.

Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, said the annual get-together of the ministers "guarantees the friendship, security and cooperation between our ASEAN members, which in turn reinforces liberty and stability in our region."

However, ASEAN members have varying priorities, so the ministers focus on approaches to problem solving rather than tackling potentially divisive substantive issues. Their agreements touched only indirectly on such critical issues as territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where Vietnam and the Philippines face aggressive claims by China.

The attendees agreed to study a Philippine proposal for guidelines on maritime conflict management "based on confidence building, preventive diplomacy, and peaceful tension management," said Prawit.

"We are stressing the importance of safeguarding peace, security and the freedom of sea and air navigation in the South China Sea," he said. "We also see the importance of building trust, and refraining from acts that could further complicate the situation."

The participants also agreed to study proposals for expanding a hotline to other regional powers in times of crisis; boosting the military role in border management and security; fighting terrorism through the timely exchange of strategic information; and raising awareness on the security implications of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

They agreed as well to strengthen cooperation in the field of military medicine.


Medical marijuana awaits proper studies: PM

NNT

Bangkok - The Prime Minister has confirmed the introduction of marijuana for medical purposes will proceed, but only after proper studies have been concluded. Related agencies are now working on appropriate scientific means of certifying medical marijuana usage.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has reassured the public that the government doesn’t have any objection to medical marijuana, but medical studies are required to ensure correct usage to maximize the benefit to those receiving treatment. He said this requirement is not intended to cause any conflict with any side, but a study committee will need to be set up to clarify the issue. He then added that the medicinal properties of medical marijuana products must have been properly certified, and that related agencies are now working on a recipe for Thai medical marijuana products in order to certify the manufacturing and recommended usage.

The Thai premier has discouraged the general public from using marijuana products which have not been certified, and are not in compliance with modern medicine, saying that the government must regulate the use of marijuana by following lawful steps, ensuring the best results, and allowing the application accordingly to suitable illnesses.


Ministry of the Interior orders prevention of graft in School Lunch Project

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of the Interior has instructed all provincial governors to see to it that corruption in the school lunch project doesn’t occur at any of over 20,000 public schools nationwide. The authorities are yet to investigate if any irregularities might have taken place in the project.

The Interior Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Chatchai Phromlert, said that Local Administration Department Director General Sutthipong Chulcharoen had sent an urgent letter to provincial governors throughout the country to take strict measures to prevent corruption in the important school lunch project.

The Department of Local Administration has taken several measures against possible corruption but officials and inspectors at many local units have failed to take strict measures, thus allowing some wrong doers to take funds from the project.

The department’s measures include an examination of financial and accounting activity of schools in the care of local administrative organizations; notification of the categories and amounts of food or food ingredients consumed on a daily basis; the periodical inspection of the local operation by a working group of local administrative officials involved in the procurement of school lunches, and the setting up of committees to oversee the reception of ingredients used in the project, members of which are to be rotated.


2020 tourism marketing plan aimed at generating 10 % more revenue

NNT

Bangkok - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has revised the tourism marketing promotional plan for 2020 which is focused on foreign tourists with high purchasing power and aims to generate 10 percent more revenue. The TAT will also propose that the government extend the visa fee waiver to attract more tourists to Thailand.

Yutthasak Suphasorn, TAT Governor, said that the TAT has clearly determined the guidelines for promoting the tourism market in 2020, in order for Thailand to remain among the top six countries that generate most income from tourism, and increase revenue by about 371 billion baht. It also wishes to create tourism sustainability by focusing on tourists with high purchasing power who give priority to quality rather than price.

Tourists to Thailand will also see the introduction of a new concept "60 Happy Trails @ Muang Thai, The Series", a project to stimulate tourism throughout the year in three different seasons. Destinations will link major and minor tourism cities and communities that are keen to welcome and accommodate tourists.


Activist rejects police offer of conditional protection

 

In this Tuesday, May 22, 2018, file photo, pro-democracy leader Sirawith Seritiwat speaks during a gathering in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Associated Press

Bangkok (AP) — A pro-democracy activist who was attacked and left unconscious on a Bangkok sidewalk said Tuesday he will refuse an offer of police protection that would require him to stop political activities.

Sirawith Seritiwat, widely known as Ja New, was severely beaten by four assailants near his home on June 28. He received head injuries and a fractured eye socket.

"Apart from prohibiting me to not get involved with anything political, I must also report to police my plans and whereabouts at all times," Sirawith said by phone from his home, where he is recuperating after being released from a hospital on Sunday.

Sirawith was also attacked in a separate incident on June 3 by at least five men after he worked on a campaign to petition members of the Senate not to vote for Prayuth Chan-ocha to become prime minister.

Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said Monday that police had offered to guarantee Sirawith's safety if he distances himself from politics.

"It's up to the police. Let the police deal with it," Prawit told reporters. "They meant that Ja New is not allowed to be involved (with politics)."

Sirawith said he will not let police ensure his safety because he suspects the government was behind the attacks.

"I won't take the deal," Sirawith said. "And if I don't take the deal and these types of things happen to me again, it must mean that the government was behind the first two attacks, right?"

Authorities have not arrested any suspects in either attack on Sirawith, or in attacks on other anti-military activists.

One activist, Anurak Jeantawanich, said he was attacked in May by six to eight men, some wearing motorcycle helmets, who hit his head with metal bars after he announced a plan to protest the election of the pro-army speaker of the lower house of Parliament.

Another activist, Ekachai Hongkangwan, has faced physical abuse on multiple occasions in addition to having his car set on fire twice this year. He was subjected to at least four attacks in 2018 as he engaged in peaceful protests over official misconduct.


PM visits baby dugong Yamil

NNT

Phuket - Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha has visited and fed the baby dugong "Yamil", which was recently found stranded on an Andaman beach in southern Thailand. The young orphan is in the care of the Marine Resources Research and Development Center in its nursing and rehabilitative area under the supervision of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

The Prime Minister fed the dugong with milk and inquired about its ongoing care. He also thanked and provided moral support to a team of officials and veterinarians, who are taking such good care of Thailand’s native dugongs that their numbers have increased in the area.

A veterinarian who takes care of Yamil disclosed that the dugong is about 3-4 months old and has become stronger after being closely nursed and cared for, after being located lost and wounded

Meanwhile, Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya, who named the dugong "Yamil", a name which means a handsome man of the sea, has placed the dugong under royal patronage and protection.


Government orders inspection of school lunches

Deputy Government Spokesman, Lt. Gen. Werachon Sukondhapatipak.

NNT

Bangkok –Deputy Government Spokesman Lt. Gen. Werachon Sukondhapatipak says Prime Minister Prayut has received a report about some schools in the province of Nakhon Ratchasima serving elementary students with substandard lunches

He said the government is ready to work with all agencies to fight corruption without any exception and the PM has instructed the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of the Interior to closely oversee irregularities in all schools nationwide.

According to the investigation, both large and small schools are given a budget of 10,000 baht to prepare lunch meals for their students. However, some schools haven’t been spending all the money and school directors have failed to clarify where the remaining funding is located. In addition, the government’s school lunch project is exclusively for elementary students, but some schools have used the budget to buy lunch meals for high school students as well as teachers.


Trial run conducted on BTS Green Line to Lad Phrao

NNT

Bangkok - A BTS Green Line trial run on Mor Chit-Saphan Mai-Khu Khot route in Bangkok’s northern suburbs was conducted Tuesday from Mor Chit station to Lad Phrao intersection station. The new service starts on August 11.

Deputy MRTA Governor Surachet Laophulsuk said the trial run went very smoothly and similar test runs will be conducted daily for a month. The northern Green Line is designed to transport a growing number of passengers between Bangkok’s northern suburbs and inner areas on the BTS system.

Lad Phrao intersection is a major spot where many commuters converge to Take BTS trips daily. About 80,000 BTS passengers are expected each day. Four more stations will open along the route from Mor Chit station to Kaset intersection by the end of this year. The northern route will be extended to Khu Khot station by the end of next year.


Dengue controls implemented in Yala

NNT

Bangkok - Dengue fever commonly spreads every rainy season. This year, Yala Provincial Public Health Office has implemented an active disease control measure at hospitals and homes after some 500 dengue patients were diagnosed since January.

According to a recent national data release, the overall number of dengue patients in Thailand is about 40,000 persons, with 58 fatalities to date. Among seven provinces in the lower southern region, Yala province is ranked as having the highest number of patients, 7th in the country, yet without any fatalities. Most dengue patients in Yala are young children. The virus can be contracted by both children and adults through mosquito bites, and can occur all year. Infections are often concentrated in the rainy season as it is the reproductive season of mosquitoes.

This year, 523 patients with dengue fever have been found in Yala since 1st January, which is three times the number in the same period last year.

Yala Emergency Dengue Fever Response Center is now on high alert to control the spread of the disease, calling meetings with healthcare professionals in the district and at provincial level to ensure integrated work. It has launched a 1 Search 3 Knocks campaign to search for suspect patients, knocking on people’s doors to arrange to destroy mosquitoes and their larva, and visiting schools to destroy the breeding grounds of mosquitoes.


MRT Blue Line extension passenger test runs to start late July

NNT

Bangkok - The Mass Rapid Transit Authority is set to open the MRT Blue Line Thaphra extension for passenger test runs in late July.

Once the new tracks and trains have passed the initial testing stage, the MRTA is expected to allow passengers to travel between Hua Lamphong and Thaphra station free of charge as part of the test runs later this month. More stations will incrementally be opened for free introductory trips, before the scheduled launching of the service in September.

During the trial, trains will run back and forth only on the new extension tracks, requiring passengers to change to another train at Hua Lamphong to travel to other stations on the current Blue Line Network. The extension will be linked to the original section, allowing for through operations, once signalling tests on the extension are completed.


Earthen weir quickly fixed to contain tides off Samut Prakarn

NNT

Samut Prakarn - Officials scrambled to fix a damaged weir and laid a barrier of huge sandbags to contain tides off Samut Prakarn province.

The earthen weir at Cholaharn Phichit water pump station partly collapsed last week due to the force of the high tides in the sea off Bang Bor district of Samut Prakarn province, flooding houses of the Royal Irrigation Department’s personnel.

Officials opened water pumps to drain the floodwater and quickly fix the weir. Huge sandbags and steel plates have been used to obstruct the flow of floodwater and four water pumps at Charoenrat water pump station have been quickly put to work.

Deputy Royal Irrigation Department Director General, Praphit Chanma visited the project site at the weekend to assess the latest situation, which has largely improved with the water pumps continually at work. Two backhoe loaders have also been used to build two more earthen weirs about 100 meters from the damaged one.


Southern fishermen call for ban on young aquatic catches

NNT

Bangkok - The Federation of Southern Fishermen has issued a statement calling for the government to prohibit the catching of young aquatic creatures in the sea, beginning with infant mackerel and blue crabs. The ban is apparently designed to counter a situation in which marine life among certain species is declining.

Mackerel are reported to be currently on the verge of extinction, according to the federation, which has already proposed several times that some destructive fishing equipment be banned in an effort to protect and sustain sea life.

The southern fishermen’s calls were not met by the government however, which failed to respond to the federation’s appeal despite the existence of Article 57 of the Fishing Executive Decree, which is aimed to protect young aquatic creatures.


S.Korea actress charged in Thailand for catching giant clams

In this Feb. 24, 2007, file photo, a diver holds a giant clam. A South Korean actress has been charged in Thailand with catching endangered giant clams while participating in a reality TV show. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Pitcha Dangprasith

Bangkok (AP) — A South Korean actress has been charged with catching endangered giant clams while participating in a reality TV show and could face up to four years in prison if found guilty, a Thai official said Friday.

Actress Lee Yeol-eum cheered as she caught the three giant shellfish in a national marine park in March on the survival TV show "The Law of the Jungle." Participants in the show then ate the clams in an episode that aired on June 30.

Narong Kongeiad, chief of Hat Chao Mai National Park, said he filed police charges against Lee on Wednesday for violating wildlife laws by hunting the giant clams. The charge carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a fine of up to 40,000 baht.

"The one who must be responsible is the actress who caught the shellfish because she directly violated the law," he said. "Others who were involved with the incident could also be charged as well."

"The Law of the Jungle" has aired since 2011 and places South Korean celebrities in groups that are sent out to test their survival skills in remote locations.

Seoul Broadcasting System, the show's producer, issued a statement Friday saying it "deeply apologizes" for filming the episode without a thorough understanding of local regulations, and said it would be more careful in the future.

However, Narong said the producers had been informed of the regulations.

"Sea resources in Hat Chao Mai cannot be caught, hunted or cooked, and the cast and crew were fully aware of that because the park firmly informed them of the park's restrictions before they began filming," Narong said.

The incident has triggered an angry reaction among internet users, especially among South Koreans, who have called for the show to be canceled.

The marine park is in the southern Thai province of Trang, 670 kilometers south of Bangkok.


PM concerned about heavy rain; directs all provinces to assist villagers

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

NNT

Bangkok - The Prime Minister has expressed his concerns about expected thunderstorms and extensive rainfall in Thailand, and has ordered all provinces to provide immediate assistance to villagers when needed.

Mudslides, collapsing utility poles and road accidents have been reported nationwide due to recent poor weather. The general public is advised to exercise caution and closely follow weather forecasts and alerts from the Meteorological Department.

The Prime Minister has urged all provinces affected by tropical storm Mun, which is causing continuous heavy rain in places, to monitor the situation, issue alerts to residents when necessary, and provide assistance to all people affected by the downpours.


Thailand to nominate southern treasures as ASEAN Heritage Parks

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand is to nominate Hat Chao Mai National Park, Ko Libong Wildlife Sanctuary, and Mu Koh Angthong National Marine Park as ASEAN Heritage Parks at the 30th Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment (ASOEN) on 8th-12th July.

Thailand is to host the meeting to discuss regional cooperation in solving global environmental issues, such as cross-national environmental problems affecting the economy, society, and national development. The officials will be discussing the conservation of nature and biodiversity, the marine and coastal environment, water resources management, a sustainable urban environment, climate change, chemicals and waste management, and environmental studies on sustainable manufacturing and consumption.

Sub-meetings will also be held to discuss environmental issues, including the ASEAN+Japan meeting, ASEAN+3 meeting, and ASEAN+8 meeting, in which Thailand is set to nominate Hat Chao Mai National Park, Ko Libong Wildlife Sanctuary, and Mu Koh Angthong National Marine Park as ASEAN Heritage Parks in an attempt to promote tourism, and receive academic support on efficient area management in the future.

The 30th Meeting of ASEAN Senior Officials on the Environment will be taking place at the Sukosol Bangkok hotel. It is expected some 200 delegates from ASEAN countries and their partners will be attending the event.


SCB Securities: SET index could reach 1,750 points

Sukit Udomsirikun, Managing Director of the Research Division, SCB Securities.

NNT

Bangkok - Sukit Udomsirikun, Managing Director of the Research Division, SCB Securities, says the Thai stock market in the third quarter is in its best situation this year and the index has an opportunity to reach 1,750 points. However, investors must beware of profit-taking because the stock index has risen a lot. It is also necessary to follow the Federal Reserve’s meeting and developments in the trade war between the United States and China.

The SCB has expressed its belief that the Federal Reserve will not reduce the interest rate at its meeting in July after seeing that the United States is not raising import tariffs on China at this stage. If the import tariffs on Chinese goods are raised by another 300 billion US dollars, the United States and Chinese stock markets could fall by another 15-20 percent, while the Thai stock market could drop by 7-10 percent from the current level.

As for the overall picture, the Thai economy is likely to slow again from a growth rate of 3.3 percent due to the slowdown in exports. Therefore, it is necessary to rely mainly on consumption, investment and tourism and follow up on the constant high value of the baht, which could reach 30 baht per USD in this period.


Police hunt for assailants of Ja New

 

Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda.

NNT

Bangkok - National Police Commissioner General, Chakthip Chaijinda, confirmed Monday that his officers are searching for the men who seriously assaulted political activist Sirawith ’’Ja New’’ Seritiwat last week.

The police chief and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Sutthiphong Wongpin held a meeting on the weekend with senior police officers to discuss progress in the investigation and ongoing hunt for the four assailants.

The police chief said the officers were collecting witness statements in their effort to track down the suspects. The police probe is believed to have made some progress but no information can be divulged for the time being.

Pol Gen Chakthip meanwhile, advised those who may be planning to make political statements in public to call on police or officials of the Department of Rights and Liberties Protection to provide them with security measures. He said the possibility of men in uniform being responsible for the assault on ’’Ja New’’ had not been raised in discussions as yet but confirmed that the police will immediately arrest any suspects regardless of their position.


More rain, high waves expected this month

NNT

Bangkok - The early period of July will see increased precipitation in the northern and northeastern regions plus high waves in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. Captains of all boats should exercise caution, with small boats in particular advised to remain in port for safety, according to the Meteorological Department’s guidelines.

The Met Dept’s Director General, Phuwieng Prakhammintara, said a build-up of a low pressure system over the South China Sea is affecting weather systems in Thailand and intensifying the southwest monsoon.

Bangkok residents will see increased precipitation affecting over 40-60 percent of the area, usually in the afternoon and at night. The Andaman Sea will have 2-3 meters high waves, while in the Gulf of Thailand - off the coast of Rayong, Chanthaburi, and Trat - 2 meter high waves are anticipated. Sailors are advised to exercise extra caution while navigating passage at sea.

The TMD chief said that average temperatures in this period will be 33 degree Celsius while some parts of the northern and northeastern regions can anticipate very hot conditions during the day, peaking at around 37 degrees Celsius.


SRT begins train service to Cambodian border

NNT

Bangkok - The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has launched a new daily train service between Bangkok and Ban Klong Luek border station for the convenience of people travelling to Rong Kleua Market. The first train of the new service began operating Monday, July 1.

There will be four trips a day, two in each direction. The new service will facilitate the travels of Thai and foreign tourists wanting to cross the border between Thailand and Cambodia.

The route extension is expected to greatly promote border trade between Thailand and Cambodia and once the new service route is established, it is believed the number of train passengers will increase markedly.


Premier chairs EEC meeting

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

NNT

Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha chaired a meeting of the Eastern Economic Corridor Policy Committee on Monday, remarking that while the transition of government is currently underway, varied problems remain unsolved and projects are pending implementation.

The meeting acknowledged progress in the project to build a high speed railway to link three airports and the project to build Map Ta Phut industrial port’s Phase 3. The meeting also considered an appeal for an administrative ruling on the U-tapao airport development and eastern aviation hub projects. The meeting considered the setting up of a subcommittee for the evaluation of operations carried out by the Secretary of the Eastern Economic Corridor Policy Committee.


UPDATE

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

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PM visits baby dugong Yamil

Government orders inspection of school lunches

Trial run conducted on BTS Green Line to Lad Phrao


Dengue controls implemented in Yala

MRT Blue Line extension passenger test runs to start late July

Earthen weir quickly fixed to contain tides off Samut Prakarn

Southern fishermen call for ban on young aquatic catches


S.Korea actress charged in Thailand for catching giant clams

PM concerned about heavy rain; directs all provinces to assist villagers

Thailand to nominate southern treasures as ASEAN Heritage Parks

SCB Securities: SET index could reach 1,750 points


Police hunt for assailants of Ja New

More rain, high waves expected this month

SRT begins train service to Cambodian border

Premier chairs EEC meeting