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Update October 2018


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

Update October 24, 2018

PM leads official ceremony for Chulalongkorn Memorial Day

NNT

Bangkok - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha led government officials and representatives of private firm and members of the public in an alms-offering ceremony for 570 Buddhist monks to mark King Chulalongkorn Memorial Day on Tuesday, commemorating the passing of King Chulalongkorn or King Rama V.

Donated items will be given to shelters of underprivileged persons under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

The alms-offering ritual was followed by a wreath laying and homage paying ceremony before the statue of King Chulalongkorn the Great at Royal Plaza in front of Dusit Palace in Bangkok. The ceremony was joined by members of the armed forces and students from various educational institutions.

Later in the evening, a candle-lit ceremony was held at Sanam Luang to show Thai people's appreciation for the great monarch.


Immigration Police nab Taiwanese extortionist

NNT

Bangkok - Immigration Police have detained a Taiwanese individual entering the Kingdom on an Indonesian passport for attempting to extort a fellow Taiwanese businessperson of over 10 million baht.

Immigration Police detained 58-year old Simon Jiang on charges of defamation and extortion after a Taiwanese entrepreneur indicated he had threatened to release a pornographic video containing the business owner via WeChat, if not provided with over 10 million baht. It was previously reported by Taiwanese media that the alleged extortionist had already deeply troubled the businessperson’s family and brought great shame to the victim.

Acting Commander of the Immigration Police, Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal, said that authorities had expedited their investigation into the case due to its impact on Thailand’s tourism image. It was found that while the alleged criminal is Taiwanese, he entered Thailand on an Indonesian passport. A background check has revealed he once led a human trafficking gang and engaged in fraud and forgery of documents. He was detained on October 20 carrying two iPhone 8 mobile phones, which have led police to believe he has further accomplices in the Kingdom.


Deputy PM calls for investigation into Thaksin - Pheu Thai affairs

Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan.

NNT

Bangkok - The Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, said the Election Commission (EC) should investigate to see whether former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra had recently interfered in the Pheu Thai Party's internal affairs, as it could be in violation of the law.

Violating individuals risk a jail term and a political ban, while violating parties could be dissolved.

Thaksin recently forecast that Pheu Thai would win some 300 seats in the House of Representatives in the next general election.

The Deputy Prime Minister also maintained that the election would certainly be held in February next year.


NCPO on guard against smuggling of drugs, weaponry in Deep South

NNT

Bangkok - The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has assigned security units in the southernmost region of Thailand to beef up measures against drug and arms trafficking along the border.

Secretary-General of the NCPO, Gen Apirat Kongsompong, has chaired a videoconference with officials of the NCPO, the Royal Thai Army and the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), and Forward Command, during which he declared an intention to eradicate narcotic drugs and illegal weaponry in the country.

On this occasion, all security units in the far South, including police, the military, the administrative sector and ISOC, were instructed to join forces in intensifying measures to prevent illicit drugs and weapons from being smuggled across the southern border into Thailand.

The officials are to set up more security checkpoints, enhance the stringency of their inspection of individuals and vehicles crossing the border, and conduct more patrols in border areas. Additionally, they are to work with local volunteers to operate mobile Damrongtham units in the region in a bid to receive any complaints from residents.


Update October 23, 2018

Police announce discovery of Dutch tourist believed missing

NNT

Chonburi - Authorities have found a Dutch tourist previously declared missing via social media, after his father lost contact with him earlier this month.

Hans Wielaard of the Netherlands had called for assistance after losing contact with his son Dennis despite him being scheduled to return on October 15 from a trip to Thailand that started on September 24. Authorities have now tracked him from his last known whereabouts on Koh Tao in Surat Thani province to Pattaya.

Surat Thani Provincial Police Commander Pol Maj Gen Apichat Boonsriroj reported Monday that Pattaya police found Dennis Wielaard in a hostel in the city. The Dutch traveler was found safe and well, and not in need of any assistance. The Immigration Bureau has nonetheless called Dennis in for questioning and discovered that he had never traveled to Koh Tao, rather he had just discussed doing so with a friend.

The tourist entered Thailand on September 25 and was staying in Bangkok before traveling to Chiang Mai on October 10 and finally making his way to Pattaya for a stay scheduled from October 14 to 22. The Embassy of the Netherlands is being briefed on his whereabouts.

The Surat Thani Police commander thanked all volunteers and community leaders for aiding in the search for Dennis, pointing out that their efforts have helped boost the tourism image of Thailand.


Stormy weather still wreaking havoc across the nation

NNT

Yala – Heavy rain has continued to cause damage and loss of life in Thailand, with a major landslide reported in Betong, in Yala province.

Residents reported that the entrance to Baan Chulaborn 10 was heavily damaged by the landslide, which slid six meters down a cliff. Soil and debris now cover an area 8 meters long and 2 meters wide, after being loosened by heavy rains.

Authorities have set up barriers and reflectors to divert traffic around the affected area and are warning travelers of conditions on the already difficult roadway.

In Khon Kaen province, a tour bus carrying travelers from Roi Et province skidded off the road after hitting a pot hole, resulting in 30 injuries. The driver said that heavy rain had concealed the pot hole and caused him to lose control.

Kamphaengpetch Governor Chaowalit Saeng-uthai meanwhile, has met with Myanmar victims of a van crash. The accident, in which a van carrying passengers from Myanmar slammed into a tree, resulted in nine deaths and four injuries. The injured were sent to Khlong Klung Hospital and Kamphaenpetch Hospital. Police say the driver of the van, traveling from Petchaburi province to Tak, lost control of the vehicle due to rainy conditions.


PM says World Economic Forum improves Thailand's standing in competitiveness index

NNT

Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has voiced satisfaction that Thailand rose to 38th among 140 countries with a score of 67.5 out of 100 in this year’s World Economic Forum 4.0 Competitiveness Index. Last year the nation was in 40th place with a score of 66.3.

The PM highlighted that Thailand was placed 14th globally for financial stability due to its readiness in terms of capital. The ranking was considered a reflection of the availability of loans to SMEs and start-ups as well as the stability of commercial banks. Thailand also ranked 18th this year in terms of market size due to strong domestic consumption, investment and export.

In ASEAN, Thailand is ranked third after Singapore and Malaysia and maintains the sixth spot among the 12 countries of ASEAN+3 behind Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and China. Gen Prayut mentioned that Thailand’s regional standings have been maintained for several years now, indicating stability.

The Prime Minister has directed all relevant agencies to attend to any weaknesses revealed by the ranking such as inequality in competition, regulation complexity, innovation support and development of special skills. He concluded by commending all for bringing Thailand into the world’s top 40 despite its status as a low-income nation.


New Army Commander issues policy in Pattani

 

NNT

Pattani - Royal Thai Army Commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong has led a delegation to review the work of agencies operating in the southern region of the kingdom, starting the visit with a meeting at the Internal Security Operations Commander Center Region 4 Forward Command headquarters in Sirindhorn Camp of Pattani province. The delegation was received by the Region 4 Army Commander, Region 9 Provincial Police Commander and the governors of Songkhla, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat. Religious leaders and Islamic council members from Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat were also invited to the discussions.

Gen Apirat revealed after the meeting, which highlighted his first visit to the south as army commander, that he had issued policies continuing the work of his predecessor Gen Chalermchai Sittisat . He said Gen Chalermchai’s policies were strong while adding that violent incidents in the south must be better categorized as they stem from different reasons such as narcotics dealing, general crime and personal issues. The commander pointed out that once listed according to cause, it can be seen that separatist activity has reduced. He commended police and the cooperation of religious leaders for their hand in resolving regional conflict.


Update October 16, 2018

Political parties active despite lack of clarity on election

NNT

Bangkok - Despite details of the general election not yet made clear, activity among political parties has already begun to increase with the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) announcing its official support of the Pheu Chart Party, and the Future Forward Party unveiling its “Bike for the Future – 7,305 KM” bicycle rally.

The Future Forward Party’s bicycle rally will pass through 36 provinces with the intent to recruit new members. It will kick off at Democracy Monument in Bangkok before heading east. The two month rally will cover a distance of 7,305 kilometers and conclude on December 2. Up to 6,000 membership registration cards have been prepared for the event.

Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit addressed concerns that many of the party’s past activities were barred by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the Election Commission (EC) by assuring participants that the rally is purely to attract members and meet with the people and thus does not violate any regulations.

The Pheu Chart Party meanwhile held a meeting to further revise its logo and policies. The discussion was notable for the presence of UDD leader Jatuporn Phromphan , who officially announced his movement’s support for the party. He was adamant that the party is neither an entity created by the UDD nor an off-shoot of the Pheu Thai Party.

Democrat party leader candidate Alongkorn Polabutr announced elsewhere his stance that the party needs to be revamped for a new era and that he would not accept a non-party aligned prime minister.

Pending Secretary-General of the Phalang Pracharat Party and current Deputy Minister of Commerce Sonthirat Sonthijirawong meantime has made plans to visit the Khlong Lad Mayom and Taling Chan Floating Market areas to meet with citizens and present his party’s policies. He dismissed any suggestion that the visit posed a political advantage for his party and remarked that Thai politics should move past conflict and debate.

The Deputy Minister has released a two minute long clip detailing his achievements in the current administration, emphasizing the success of helping small stores to sell online and saying that the welfare card program has attracted over 11 million registrants.


Prayer session held to honor the Chakri Dynasty

NNT

Bangkok - A prayer session devoted to King Rama the Fourth, King Rama the Fifth, His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the late Princess Mother and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of the Ninth Reign was held on Monday evening, October 15, in front of Dusit Palace.

Privy Councilor Kasem Wattanachai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha together with his spouse, members of the Cabinet, the National Legislative Assembly, ministerial officials, high ranking government officials, commanding military and police officers and a large number of residents attended the three-hour prayer ceremony.

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn had graciously called upon the Phra Buddhamanee Ratana Patimakorn Buddha image to serve as the chief Buddha image during the ceremony and for members of the public to be able to pay their respects to the revered statue.

The prayer was also to fulfill Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of the Ninth Reign’s wish of propagating Buddhist-based values.

A total of 207 monks jointly conducted the prayer which began at about 6pm.


Tourism to northeast picking up as temperature winds down

 

NNT

Loei - Tourists have flocked to the northeastern region, especially Phu Kradueng , to enjoy cooler weather.

The past weekend saw close to 3,000 campers on Phu Kradueng with most making sure to take in the sunrise at the national park’s Lom Sak Cliff. The park is currently open daily from 4am with security provided by authorities who are also making sure that visitors are not taking plastic bottles and bags or foam up the mountain.

Phu Thap Boek in Petchabun province has seen a similar uptick in visitor numbers due to its 15 degree Celsius weather and daily sea of mist phenomenon. Officials have encouraged travelers to the location to use the Nakhon Thai -Baan Yang -Phu Hin Rong Kla route instead of Highway 2331 due to its present state of maintenance.

The long weekend also drew travelers to Nong Khai to enjoy the Sky Walk at Wat Pa Tak Sua , Thailand’s first ever glass walkway viewing point. The attraction is seeing both Thai and Laotian visitors due to it offering views of both sides of the Mekong River. Only 20-25 people are allowed on the Sky Walk at a time in the interests of safety.

In Si Sa Ket province, thousands have headed to Pha Mo E Daeng at Preah Vihear National Park to take in both its natural beauty and the charm of the over 1,500 year old historical ruins.


MOPH seeks to tackle large overcrowding at hospitals

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has introduced a seamless patient transfer system and hospital networking to reduce the overcrowding at hospitals.

Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsattayathorn admitted that the problem of hospital overcrowding has been unresolved for more than 10 years and the ministry has been trying to solve it.

The solutions so far include a system to seamlessly transfer patients and hospital networking which means patients can receive treatment at any hospital in the same network, he said.

There will be permanently based physicians at every community health promotion hospital so that patients don't have to go to large hospitals, said the Public Health Minister.

The MOPH also has a proactive plan to reduce hospital overcrowding by raising the public health awareness and promoting physical exercise.


Update October 15, 2018

PM Prayut instructs officials to boost tourists' confidence

Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha.

NNT

Bangkok - The Prime Minister has instructed related agencies to step up efforts to boost tourist confidence.

Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha meanwhile, denied claims that Thailand had limited the number of visas for Chinese travelers, an allegation that went viral via YouTube, while the Thai consulate generals and Embassy in China also confirmed the reports were groundless.

Gen. Prayut has accordingly instructed related agencies to keep a close eye on all news and reports, to preempt false news, while clarifying the issue with the public, as there are groups that have been trying to hurt Thailand’s reputation, particularly among the people of China, he said.

The PM confirmed that the Thai government has reacted to the false claims in social media, and various units have already been asked to reinvigorate Thailand’s tourism and to prevent any repeat of such attacks.

He added that the Royal Thai Embassy and Thai consulate generals in China have already addressed the problem of a shortage of visa stamps and confirmed that there has never been any policy to limit the number of visa applicants, while working with Chinese authorities to take action against those, who have spread false reports.


Energy Ministry to find fuel pricing aid for low-income motorcycle taxi drivers

NNT

Bangkok - Energy Minister, Dr. Siri Jirapongphan, said his ministry has been assigned by the cabinet to discuss with PTT and oil station operators details of a campaign to help maintain fuel prices for low-income motorcycle taxi drivers holding the state welfare cards and registered with the Department of Land Transport.

The campaign will be applicable to some 300,000 persons across Thailand. Initial measure will be a discount for gasohol 95 oil price at three baht per liter. A clear direction and offers from this campaign are still being discussed and will be officially announced by the end of this year.

The campaign helping taxi and passenger van drivers by offering three baht per kilogram discount for natural gas vehicle (NGV) will be extended for a while, and the 363 baht sale for a 15-kilogram cooking gas canister for street retailers will continue to be offered until mid-2019 to help maintain food production costs.

On this matter, PTT's Chief Operating Officer on Downstream Petroleum Business Group, Auttapol Rerkpiboon, said the company is willing to support this measure.

He said PTT oil stations may take money from the Oil Fund to help subsidize the gasohol price at two baht per liter, while other private gas stations may follow suit at one baht per liter.


Provinces commemorate passing of His Majesty the late King

NNT

Thailand - Provinces across Thailand held volunteer activities over the weekend to commemorate the passing of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

More than 500 people converged at Wat Saeng Siri Tham in Pak Kret district of Nonthaburi province to beautify the landscape, clean the monastery, prune bushes, and remove rubbish from the area, as part of the “Altruistic Heart: We Love Doing Good” campaign initiated by HM King Rama X to commemorate the passing of his late father.

In Kanchanaburi province, soldiers from the 9th Infantry Division, together with local people, on Saturday joined the Altruistic Heart: We Love Doing Good campaign to spruce up residential areas in Don Chedi district.

In Chai Nat province, Governor Ronnapop Luengpairoj presided over a ceremony to hand over cows and buffaloes to 34 rice farmers, as part of the Royal Cattle-Buffalo Bank for Farmers project.

In Nakhon Phanom, the Provincial Waterworks Authority visited local communities to offer free plumbing services and advice on water use efficiency.

In the southern province of Yala, students from Yala Rajabhat University took part in a volunteer project to clean canals and ditches. Students said they were happy to be able to express their loyalty and love to the late monarch through such good deeds.


Yala steps up security measures to preempt violent attacks

NNT

Bangkok - Authorities in Yala have stepped up security measures to preempt planned violent attacks.

The Yala Provincial Police have led military personnel and security volunteers in setting up security checkpoints to inspect drivers and vehicles.

The checkpoint initiative is intended to prevent any attacks, based on intelligence reports about a possible use of a stolen vehicle to set up bomb attacks.

All security units in the province have been instructed to watch out in particular for a black-and-white Honda Wave motorcycle, which was stolen from Bannang Sata District on September 20, due to concerns that it might have been weaponized.

Yala police chief Pol. Maj. Gen. Krissada Kaewchandee said Sunday that all units had already been instructed to be more active and boost the security levels in their patrols, inspections and measures, especially in the districts of Mueang Yala and Betong, to bolster the confidence of residents.


Update October 13-14, 2018

Culture Min opens art exhibition in honor of late King

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Culture has inaugurated an art exhibition to commemorate the anniversary of the passing of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam on Friday presided over the official launch of the art exhibition entitled “Thai Masterpieces of the Ninth Reign”, which has been curated by the Culture Ministry to honor His Majesty the late King Rama IX on the second anniversary of his demise, October 13. Also attending the opening ceremony were Culture Minister Weera Rojpotchanarat and other ministry executives as well as national artists, renowned singers and actors, and members of the public.

As its highlight, the exhibition showcases numerous outstanding works of art created throughout the reign of the late monarch. Visitors will also have the opportunity to enjoy ten highly-acclaimed Thai films, which will be screened for ten days free of charge, along with Thai music and a seminar on the evolution of Thai television soap operas from the past to the 4.0 era.

In his opening address, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu noted that His Majesty the late King was a gifted artist in many fields, including music, painting, photography, literature and handicrafts, and was offered the title “Supreme Artist” by the National Culture Commission on February 24, 1986.

In this regard, the Department of Cultural Promotion, Ministry of Culture, has set up the “Thai Masterpieces of the Ninth Reign” exhibition in the hope of raising awareness of the royal artistic talents and the value of Thai arts among Thai citizens and foreigners alike and encouraging them to join in preservation efforts.

The art exhibition is taking place from October 12 - 31 at the Hall of Fame on the M floor of Siam Paragon Shopping Center.


Sanam Luang ready for remembrance ceremony for King Rama IX

NNT

Bangkok - Officials at Sanam Luang have completed preparations for the commemoration of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Renovations and landscaping operations have been undertaken to accommodate the merit-making ceremony that takes place on Saturday. Officials have installed four large LED screens on the ceremonial grounds.

The consecration ceremony was due to commence on Saturday at 7:00am, with traffic lanes closed on Na Phra Lan and Na Phra That from Tha Phra Chan intersection to Wiset Chaisri Gate intersection.

The evening candle ceremony will begin at 7:00pm. Officials will close inner Ratchadamnoen Road as well as Na Phra That, Na Phra Lan, and the roads connected to Sanam Luang.

The government has invited Thais across the country and abroad to observe the day through religious practices according to their faith and to wear yellow, the symbolic color of the monarchy.


Government says pet registration still being considered

NNT

Bangkok - The Deputy Prime Minister for Legal Affairs has responded to a backlash to news that the government may obligate pet owners to register their animals by saying the draft law containing the mandate is still pending review by the State Council and can still be altered.

Prime Minister’s Office Spokesperson Lt Gen Sansern Kaeokamnerd has clarified that the Cabinet has only approved the principles of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives proposed law and called for portions of it to be reviewed, noting the Prime Minister had expressed concern over the part that has caused a public stir.

The PM has reminded citizens however that the law must pass through the State Council and the National Legislative Assembly, which are sure to factor in public concerns.

The obligation would be part of the revamped Animal Cruelty and Welfare Act, which is intended to protect animals and ensure proper care of pets by their owners. Its review was prompted by the prevalence of abandoned animals and epidemics among strays.


Bearcat remains sent for further testing

NNT

Kanchanaburi - The remains of an Arctictis or bearcat found during the inspection of an off road group’s vehicles have now been sent for forensic analysis at the Department National Parks, Wildlife and Plants (DNP) with results expected in a month.

The remains are comprised of four paws, one jaw bone and other yet to be identified animal body parts. They have been sent along with hunting equipment, knives, cooking utensils and another 11 items seized from the off road group on October 7 for forensic analysis.

Head of the Wildlife Forensic Science Operation Unit, Kanita Uytaworn, said this week that while the remains are still in relatively good condition tests will take up to a month to return results.

Two of the six vehicles seized after the search are to be probed by the Central Police Forensic Science Division on suspicion they had their identification markers altered.

Somkiat Plengnaren, one of the suspects in the case who fled detainment, has now reported to officers at Thong Pa Phum Police Station.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commander of the Royal Thai Police, Pol Gen Sriwaran Rangsiphramnakul, has personally questioned Anusorn Ruangngam, another of the suspects. The Volunteer Defense Corps member confessed that he had given his older brother’s firearm to Tata, a Mon caretaker of the Tao Dam Monastery who admits to having shot the bearcat. Evidence is being collected to corroborate the statement and will be forwarded to the district attorney within the month. The case has resulted in 11 charges so far.

A 10 year old minor who was part of the group and is now suspected of taking one of the firearms home has been called in for questioning and could also face legal action.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha has acknowledged that the case involves state agents but confirmed legal action must be taken without exception where fault is found. Minister of the Interior, Gen Anupong Paojinda, said that action against the district chief who was found among the off road group is still at the discretion of Kanchanaburi’s governor.


Update October 9, 2018

Police seek shooters who killed tourist in crossfire

A police forensics team investigates a shooting scene where one tourist was killed in Bangkok, Monday, Oct. 8. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Bangkok (AP) — Police searched Monday for suspected teenage gang members involved in a shooting that killed a nearby Indian tourist and injured four others, two critically, outside a Bangkok shopping arcade.

Police spokesman Col. Krissana Patanacharoen said the shooting occurred Sunday night after a group of teenagers got into a heated argument and opened fire at each other near the parking lot of the Centara Watergate Pavilion arcade. He said a group of tourists that was waiting to board a bus was caught in the crossfire.

Police Lt. Col. Kasem Pipitkul, the investigator in charge of the case, said four people were hospitalized — an Indian and a Laotian who are in critical condition and two Thais.

Krissana said police are examining bullet casings, interrogating witnesses and viewing security camera video to try to identify the shooters, who fled the scene.

Maj. Gen. Surachet Hakpal, commissioner of the immigration bureau, said the shooting stemmed from an earlier dispute between two groups of teenagers whose conflict flared Sunday night when they began drawing weapons at a nearby snooker club. He said one of the groups had an AK-47 rifle.

Surachet said police will close off the country's borders to the suspects once arrest warrants are issued for them.

He said he has also instructed immigration officers to extend the expiring tourist visa of the Indian citizen being treated in a hospital.

"They traveled here for a vacation and were hit by a stray bullet," Surachet said of the tourists. "They didn't know anything."


One-month campaign launched to crack down on overstaying foreigners

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Defense plans to crack down on any foreigners who might possibly stay in Thailand beyond the expiry of their visa under a one-month campaign.

Ministry of Defense's spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered national security agencies in military and administrative sectors to enhance measures to protect visitors and eliminate alleged transnational criminals who might possibly enter the country as tourists.

He said the authorities have recently received many complaints from the general public regarding communities of foreigners residing in Bangkok and other provinces, allegedly running suspicious businesses.

The immigration bureau has been instructed to strictly enforce the immigration law to any foreigners residing in Thailand beyond the expiration or revocation of their visa, especially regarding any blacklisted persons, along with the verification of a foreigner's work permit within the one- month time.

The immigration bureau is yet to speed up the establishment of the foreigners' biometric identification database, the immigration screening system, and linking the visa information system electronically at all immigration units to enable immigration officials to access a centralized data base that includes information about visas and residency.

He encouraged the general public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity of foreigners to authorities.


Unauthorized group found with weapons, animal carcass in Sai Yok National Park

NNT

Kanchanaburi - Sai Yok National Park authorities have reported the capture of an unauthorized off-road travel group led by a district chief found with rifles and an animal carcass.

The authorities were led by head of park security and the Phaya Sua Task Force Panachakorn Pothibundit, and were acting on a tip that six off-road vehicles had entered Sai Yok National Park without authorization. An inspection of the vehicles found rifles equipped with silencers, two pistols, ammunition for the weapons and an Arctictis carcass.

The group was comprised of 10 men, two women and three children, with one adult purporting to be the chief of Dan Makam Tia district. All have denied any transgression but their details were filed. The contraband discovered in their vehicle has been sent for testing by police.

Kanchanaburi Governor Jirakriat Phumsawad said he has received a general brief on the incident and that if it is proven a state official was involved in such crimes a committee would have to be formed to consider punitive measures including expulsion from the civil service.

Sai Yok Police Director Pol Col Thanee Sanguanchin assured members of the public that even if the case involves a district chief of police it will proceed as usual, noting that the evidence gathered appears straight forward. He added that one of the group has already asked to take full responsibility for any transgressions discovered, but said no aid will be given and all involved will face justice.

The Arctictis found with the group is listed as an endangered species protected by CITES.


Suthep says he will not contest upcoming general election

Suthep Thuagsuban.

NNT

Bangkok - Suthep Thuagsuban, one of the founders of the Action Coalition For Thailand Party, insists that he is not planning to run for office in the next general election.

Suthep traveled to Bang Khen district at the weekend to meet with 41 community leaders to listen to their problems and explain to them why national reform is needed in order for Thailand to move forward. He will use their opinions to develop his party’s policy.

Suthep said he joined the Action Coalition For Thailand Party only as an adviser, adding he never wanted to be on the board or a party leader. He added that even if his party wins the next general election, he will remain as an adviser.

Regarding the Election Commission of Thailand’s demand for the party to comply with party requirements, Suthep said he has already made certain changes to ensure that his party meets those criteria.


Update October 8, 2018

Boys rescued from Thai cave play friendly match in Argentina

Young soccer Thai team Wild Boars play a friendly match against River Plate youth team at Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Oct. 7. (Eitan Abramovich/Pool via AP)

Buenos Aires, Argentina (AP) — The 12 boys and soccer coach from Thailand who were found in a partially flooded cave once again found themselves capturing the media's attention on Sunday.

The team played a friendly match against the prestigious River Plate youth soccer team of Argentina — which was somewhat of a dream come true for the young Thais who want to become professional soccer players.

A day prior, the Wild Boars soccer team participated in the opening ceremony of the Youth Olympic Games, which are taking place from Oct. 6 to 18 in the South American country.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, called the boys "brave" and said they "showed us all the importance of sports values." They were loudly applauded by thousands of people attending the event.

Nearly 4,000 athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 will participate in the youth games.


Southern floods recede; rain forecast for 14 provinces

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) reports floods in the southern provinces of Prachuab Khiri Khan and Surat Thani have receded but the ad hoc crisis management center warns rainfall will still cover the southern region.

Heavy rains late last week have inundated the districts of Hua Hin, Sam Roi Yot, Kui Buri and the capital district in Prachaub Khiri Khan. In Surat Thani, flooding has killed one person and hit five districts, namely Khian Sa, Phra Saeng, Khiri Rat Nikhom, Phanom and Phun Phin, damaging houses, infrastructure and more than 700 acres of farming areas.

The DDPM, the military and relevant agencies are speeding up relief efforts, pumping flood waters from agricultural zones to facilitate the aid operations. The ad hoc crisis management center has told 14 southern provinces to brace themselves for a new round of heavy falls.

Kaeng Krachan Dam in Phetchaburi and Pranburi Dam in Prachuab Khiri Khan have hastened preparedness amid large volumes of incoming water. Meanwhile, rainfall has started to subside in the North, Northeast and central region.


National police chief delivers reform policy to police at all levels

National police chief, Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda.

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Thai Police force has held a meeting to deliver its reform policy to police at all levels.

National police chief, Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda has urged police to implement the government’s policy by taking people’s needs as their main concern. Pol Gen Chakthip told police to protect the monarchy, maintain peace and order, prevent and reduce crime, solve drug problems, strengthen unity and support police reform.

The Royal Thai Police has divided the main missions for the fiscal year 2019 into six areas, including crime prevention and suppression, security and special missions as well as law and litigation, with the deputy national police chief as the supervisor.

The national police chief also spoke about a plan to improve the services of police stations and straighten out police, admitting there are more than 3,000 officers who fail to perform their duties or behave badly each year.


Royal Irrigation Department pleads for water conservation

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Irrigation Department is pleading with the public to help conserve water despite the fact that there is a good supply of water in dams nationwide.

Official records suggest that nearly 60 billion cubic meters of water are currently stored in reservoirs across the country, with an average storage level of 79 percent of the dam's capacity.

The Royal Irrigation Department says that there is over 18 billion cubic meters of water in all four major dams in the Chao Phraya River Basin, including Bhumibol Dam, Sirikit Dam, Kwae Noi Dam and Pa Sak Jolasid Dam, and they can still take on more than six billion cubic meters of water.

The department said it would make sure the water management program is efficient even though at present there is a great volume of water stored in the dams, in order to help prevent any shortage.

In addition, the Royal Irrigation Department also asked people across the country to use water efficiently and avoid wasting any of the supply.

Meanwhile, the Department of Livestock Development is preparing to deal with possible flooding in the southern region, where the rainy season is expected to produce more problems in coming months.

Plans formulated include the moving of livestock to higher ground and the stockpiling of dry grass, animal food and medicine as well as the assignment of experts to help farmers, who may be in need of their guidance.


Update October 3, 2018

PM invites public to join activities in remembrance of the late beloved monarch

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

NNT

Bangkok - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is inviting all sectors, including the general public residing in and outside Thailand, to remember the benevolence of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13, by organizing religious rites and activities to mark the passing of the late beloved monarch.

Activities, such as alms offerings, religious ceremonies of other religions or other activities deemed appropriate, can be held before or after October 13.

The government will hold a merit-making ceremony as a tribute to His Majesty the late King and an alms-offering ceremony on Friday, October 12 at Government House.

Members of the public are also invited to wear yellow shirts on October 13.

The Prime Minister has urged Thai people to foster unity and follow His Majesty the late King’s teachings for sustainable happiness in life and for the prosperity of the country.


Bangkok district offices told to publicize ban on feeding pigeons

NNT

Bangkok - All 50 Bangkok districts have been instructed to put up signs directing vendors and citizens not to feed pigeons and to educate the public on their inherent danger.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has issued an order banning the feeding of pigeons after finding that many living among humans are carrying dangerous bacteria.

The capital is now embarking on urgent and long term measures. First up, district and health offices are to educate the public on the dangers posed by the birds and their excrement, making known that they can spread respiratory and neurological diseases. Feeding them is now illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 25,000 baht. In the long term, pigeons are to be removed from urban areas and released into the wild.

Sellers of pigeon feed have been warned that they are now in violation of the Public Cleanliness and Order Act and are subject to fines up to 2,000 baht as well as the Animal Feed Control Act, which brings with it a fine of up to 10,000 baht.


Min of Tourism urges officials to be mindful of their actions

Tourism and Sports Minister Wirasak Kowsoorad.

NNT

Bangkok - The Minister of Tourism and Sports has urged public officials to be mindful of their actions as the country attempts to regain trust with Chinese tourists.

Tourism and Sports Minister Wirasak Kowsoorad addressed criticism of Thailand’s Visa-On-Arrival process, where officials have been demanding up to 2,000 baht as a “special fee” or “tip” to expedite the process. He said he is preparing to meet with related officials to prevent such actions from occurring.

As for the recent altercation between an airport official and a Chinese tourist at Don Muang International Airport, he revealed that the airport has suspended the security guard in question and has forwarded a progress report to Chinese officials.

Wirasak implored officials to be mindful of their actions, as Thailand seeks to win back Chinese visitors whose numbers are currently on the decline.


Phu Kradueng opens for tourist season

NNT

Loei - Loei province has officially opened its popular tourist destination Phu Kradueng National Park but asked that overnight visitors avoid using foam and plastic materials for the sake of the environment.

The Governor of Loei province led a religious ceremony to launch the season and headed a group comprised of local administrators, village headmen, tour operators and tourists up the mountain. Lodgings, restaurants and transport services have been prepared for this year’s visitors with the cost of baggage transport set at no more than 30 baht a kilogram.

Visitors are being encouraged to help protect the area’s environment by avoiding the use of plastic and instead using cloth bags. Alcoholic beverages have also been completely banned from consumption in the national park.


Update October 2, 2018

30 Thai nationals safely evacuated from Indonesian earthquake, tsunami

NNT

Jakarta - A group of 30 Thai nationals have been safely evacuated from the earthquake and tsunami zone in Palu, Indonesia.

Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Busadee Santipitaks said Thai Ambassador to Indonesia Songpol Sukchan had led a team of officials to rescue the 26 Thai students, a Thai businessman, and three Thai workers stranded in Palu following the devastating earthquake and tsunami last week.

The evacuees were transported from Makassar airport aboard the Indonesian Air Force's C-130 aircraft. Two of the evacuees requested to stay in Palu with their Indonesian friends.

The Thai ambassador said all the evacuees were relieved at being quickly evacuated.

The Thai Embassy in Jakarta will provide transportation and accommodation for the evacuees, who may choose whether or not they prefer to stay in Makassar, Jakarta, or travel back to Thailand.


Police to wrap up investigation into murder of female tourist in two weeks

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Thai Police plans to wrap up its investigation into the alleged murder of a female Chinese tourist, whose body was found at a waterfall in Hat Yai district, Songkhla province, on September 20, in the next two weeks.

The acting Commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, Pol. Maj. Gen. Surachet Hakpal, on Monday (Oct 1) said police are seeking a warrant to arrest two suspects in connection with the case.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Surachet said the officers have sought cooperation from the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Kingdom of Thailand to obtain further information on the Chinese woman and to pursue the suspects.

He has expressed his confidence that the police will be able to finish their investigation in the near future.


Large crowd visits Khao Din on its last day before relocation

NNT

Bangkok - A large crowd visited Dusit Zoo, locally known as Khao Din Wana on its last day, tripling the number of visitors compared to the normal period. Officials will now begin the process of relocating 1,088 animals to their new homes. The move is expected to be completed within 120 days.

Visitors to the zoo, young and old, have been taking pictures, visiting their favorite wildlife enclosures and buying various souvenirs to keep them as a memento of their visits to the long established zoo.

Many have expressed sadness at the closure of Dusit Zoo. Some of them told the media that they had visited the zoo since childhood. Most of them accept that the relocation is simply a product of time. They said they will cherish the memory of the Kingdom's first zoo.

Dusit Zoo will now begin moving all of its animals to six zoos under the supervision of the Zoological Park Organization under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King, namely Khao Kaew zoos in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Songkhla, Ubon Ratchathani, and Khon Kaen. These animals are expected to be moved again to their new home which will be constructed on a 300-rai site in Rangsit Klong 6 in Thanyaburi District of Pathum Thani Province. The new establishment will be three times the size of Dusit Zoo.

Officials also remarked on the recent number of visitors, saying that over past months the number reached the 318,000 mark. The figure from September 1st to 28th stood at about 180,000 visitors.

Dusit Zoo was originally a botanical garden called "Khao Din Wana ”. His Majesty King Rama the Fifth, during his foreign country visits became impressed by European botanical gardens as places of entertainment and relaxation for the people, and decided that a botanical garden should be established in Thailand. In 1895, His Majesty gave royal permission for the garden to be built on land east of Premprachakorn canal, across from Chitrlada Palace.

A large lake was dug with connecting canals and roadways; soil excavated in the digging process was piled up into a mountain in the middle of the garden, hence the name "Khao Din” meaning earth mountain. Various trees were planted and called "Wana” which means forest. And so the whole area was called "Khao Din Wana”.

Dusit zoo had been in operation for eight decades.


New Dept of Land Transport mandate on public vans takes effect

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Land Transport (DLT) is monitoring public van activity at Bangkok’s Victory Monument, after its ban on 10-year-old public vans takes effect.

DLT Director-General Peerapol Thawonsupacharoen, along with soldiers from the Royal Palace Guard 2nd Cavalry Division patrolled Victory Monument Monday to monitor the level of compliance by van operators.

The officials found that operators were cooperating with the new mandate and an orderly transition was taking place. Although passengers at Victory Monument reported longer waiting times than usual, their overall travel plans have yet to be disrupted.

Officials have also coordinated with the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority to supply an additional 65 buses to accommodate passengers during rush hour.

October 1st marked the beginning of the new mandate, resulting in the decommissioning of 840 vans. Those who refuse to comply face a fine of 20,000 - 100,000 baht and jail time of up to five years.


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

PM leads official ceremony for Chulalongkorn Memorial Day

Immigration Police nab Taiwanese extortionist

Deputy PM calls for investigation into Thaksin - Pheu Thai affairs

NCPO on guard against smuggling of drugs, weaponry in Deep South


Police announce discovery of Dutch tourist believed missing

Stormy weather still wreaking havoc across the nation

PM says World Economic Forum improves Thailand's standing in competitiveness index

New Army Commander issues policy in Pattani


Political parties active despite lack of clarity on election

Prayer session held to honor the Chakri Dynasty

Tourism to northeast picking up as temperature winds down

MOPH seeks to tackle large overcrowding at hospitals


PM Prayut instructs officials to boost tourists' confidence

Energy Ministry to find fuel pricing aid for low-income motorcycle taxi drivers

Provinces commemorate passing of His Majesty the late King

Yala steps up security measures to preempt violent attacks


Culture Min opens art exhibition in honor of late King

Sanam Luang ready for remembrance ceremony for King Rama IX

Government says pet registration still being considered

Bearcat remains sent for further testing


Police seek shooters who killed tourist in crossfire

One-month campaign launched to crack down on overstaying foreigners

Unauthorized group found with weapons, animal carcass in Sai Yok National Park

Suthep says he will not contest upcoming general election


Boys rescued from Thai cave play friendly match in Argentina

Southern floods recede; rain forecast for 14 provinces

National police chief delivers reform policy to police at all levels

Royal Irrigation Department pleads for water conservation


PM invites public to join activities in remembrance of the late beloved monarch

Bangkok district offices told to publicize ban on feeding pigeons

Min of Tourism urges officials to be mindful of their actions

Phu Kradueng opens for tourist season


30 Thai nationals safely evacuated from Indonesian earthquake, tsunami

Police to wrap up investigation into murder of female tourist in two weeks

Large crowd visits Khao Din on its last day before relocation

New Dept of Land Transport mandate on public vans takes effect