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Update December 2017


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

Update December 30 2017 - January 2, 2018

Chiang Mai to host 37th ASEAN Tourism Forum

NNT

Chiang Mai - The Ministry of Tourism and Sports held a press conference Friday on the 37th ASEAN Tourism Forum 2018 (ATF 2018), which will take place in Chiang Mai province in January.

Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Sports, Pongpanu Svetarundra said the event would bring together delegates from the 10 ASEAN member nations and regional allies such as China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and India. More than 2,000 people, including business operators, members of public and private organizations are expected to attend the forum, which will be held on the theme: "ASEAN – Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity."

Participants will discuss opportunities to strengthen cooperation for mutual tourism development. Pongpanu pointed out that the event would allow Thailand to demonstrate the preparedness of its tourism sector and promote the ASEAN region as a single tourist destination.

Next year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand will launch its "Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018" campaign, in a call for sustainable tourism. The first event being promoted in the campaign is the ASEAN Gastronomy Conference. It will feature various speakers from different countries, as well as tours of Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, the Nong Hoi Royal Project Development Center and the Ban Rai Kong Khing Community, which has won national and international awards for exemplary community-based tourism.

The conference will be staged from January 21st - 27th at the Shangri-La Hotel in the capital district of Chiang Mai.


Crowds of people head home for New Year

NNT

Bangkok - Holidaymakers have been arriving in big numbers at Mo Chit Bus Terminal and Hua Lamphong Train Station in Bangkok to begin their trips home for the New Year holidays.

Bangkok Bus Terminal, commonly known as Mo Chit 2, was crowded with people on Thursday and Friday, many of them trying to buy tickets and waiting for their buses to arrive. Many had to sit on the floor as there were not enough chairs to accommodate everyone at the bus terminal.

Managing Director of the Transport Co Ltd., Jirasak Yaowatchakul disclosed that more than 300,000 people have used the company’s bus services to return to their hometowns since Monday. He assured travelers that no one would be left behind.

Nearly 170,000 passengers used the bus services on Thursday alone. Due to a large number of passengers, Transport Co. Ltd, which operates at Mo Chit 2, has increased the number of bus trips to 8,700 from the previous 6,200 trips per day.

Meanwhile, Hua Lamphong Train Station has also been crowded with people leaving Bangkok. Most of them said traveling by train helps them avoid the capital’s notorious traffic jams.

The State Railway of Thailand will offer 14 additional train services to Udon Thani and Ubon Ratcha Thani provinces on December 30 and 10 more from these provinces to Bangkok on January 2 and 3. For more information, call 1690.

The number of people traveling by plane at Don Mueang International Airport has also increased 5% compared to a year before during this period. Around 111,630 passengers visited the airport each day this past week.  The number of passengers is expected to rise to 113,000 on December 31. Passengers are urged to arrive at the airport 3-4 hours before boarding times due to the large number of people traveling at present.


Police bust Cambodia-based scammer gang

NNT

Bangkok - Police have busted a scammer gang based in Cambodia.

Deputy Chief of the Tourist Police Bureau, Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakpan, held a press conference Friday to announce the arrest of the gang of 20 members following complaints that a number of victims were duped into transferring money to those claiming to be state authorities.

General Surachet said police had been tracking several fraud gangs and had captured one led by a Taiwanese named Chen Yuan Kai. Chen’s gang members were divided into two groups: the first group consisted of females who posed as government officials while the latter was comprised of males who pretended to be police.

The Taiwanese scammer had been arrested before but escaped from the country after being released on bail. He then formed a scammer ring. His Thai wife undertook the procurement of conmen with Paisan On-em as an assistant. Five gang members have already fled overseas. All the gang members have been charged with fraud and involvement in a transnational crime organization.

Police also held a media conference on countrywide sweeps against crime, with news of the arrests of 30 suspects found in possession of firearms and drugs.


Study finds teens accessing beer gardens

NNT

Bangkok - A new survey has found high school students are able to access beer gardens, with the head of the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee suggesting the establishments could be considered in violation of the law.

Rangsit University instructor and member of the Anti-Alcohol Network, Dr. Srirach Lapyai Loisamutr has reported the findings of a survey of beer gardens since 2015 that found one in three, or about 34 percent, of all high school students had at least once visited a beer garden despite being under age for drinking.

The research found 80.2 percent of those questioned had a desire to go to large beer gardens, mostly for entertainment purposes. Dr. Srirach noted that one alarming finding was that 23.4 of respondents reported seeing such establishments near schools or outside of commercial zones with as many as 31.2 percent seeing the venues set up near flea markets. Researchers who inspected the gardens themselves indicated that vetting of entrants was lax and that young people drinking at the gardens often drank to excess and were at risk of then driving under the influence.

Director of the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee, Dr. Nipon Chinanonvej, remarked that beer gardens can be considered equivalent to marketing events for alcohol beverages, which are banned by the Alcohol Act of 2008. He called for stricter control on the gardens and for punitive measures to be taken, including jail sentences of up to 1 year and fines of up to 500,000 baht.


Update December 29, 2017

Thailand mulls plan to build own satellite

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand is considering a plan to build the country’s own satellites to enable it to pursue its earth exploration and research ambitions.

Minister of Science and Technology, Suvit Maesincee attended a meeting on Wednesday with executives of all related offices under the ministry’s supervision, during which he provided an update on the issues discussed during this week’s Cabinet Retreat in Sukhothai Province.

Suvit said that the Cabinet touched on a mission to inspire children and the country's youth to become more interested in science and technology while helping find capable individuals to prepare Thailand for the 21st century.

The minister added that the government is particularly keen on pursuing a Big Bang plan, which is a small satellite project for domestic use, comprised of a 100-kilogram satellite for Earth exploration and a research satellite that would weigh between 50 to 100 kilograms.

Suvit said that the budgets for the two units are estimated at 400 million baht and 375 million baht respectively.

He went on to say that the government has also been considering the setting up of a National Innovation Biobank to accommodate the integration of three targeted industries: herbal medicine, future medical technology and an industry for the elderly.


Toon Bodyslam continues resting up in Chiang Rai

NNT

Chiang Rai - Rock star and national hero Atiwara Kongmalai, better known as Toon of the band Bodyslam, says he will remain in Chiang Rai for 2-3 more days after completing the Step by Step charity run to great acclaim.

Many of the runners that took part in the campaign that raised over 1.1 billion baht for 11 hospitals nationwide have begun returning to Bangkok after concluding the run on December 25. Toon led the run from the southern city of Betong in Yala province to the country’s northernmost district of Maesai in Chiang Rai province. He and his girlfriend, celebrity Koi Rachawin, have decided to stay and rest in the province for another few days but assured the public that they were not suffering from injuries.

Dr. Samitda Sangkapoh, Toon’s personal physician during the run, noted however that he is still dealing with an injury acquired during the campaign but said more thorough tests will be done at King Mongkut Hospital upon his return to Bangkok.

Royal Thai Army Chief, Gen Chalermchai Sittisat said the singer may still choose to fly by military aircraft when returning to Bangkok and hit back at claims it would be a misuse of military equipment by saying that the aircraft routinely fly between the capital and the north each week, adding that their minor deviation from schedule would be a small price to pay to assist an individual who has been such an inspiration to the nation.

Minister of Public Health Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsathayadhorn called Toon a model citizen in terms of sacrifice as well as physical health, saying that his ministry will seek out the star to serve as an ambassador for exercise.

Citizens have continued to donate money to the Step by Step project despite its conclusion with accounts for donation to remain open until May 31, 2018.


Khon Kaen Zoo dresses up orangutan coping with cold weather

NNT

Khon Kaen - Authorities at Khon Kaen Zoo have dressed their celebrity orangutan in special clothing, to allow him to continue to meet with visitors in spite of the cold weather.

The 7-year old orangutan “Jacky” has donned winter clothing so that children and other visitors can continue to see the star attraction. Authorities have acknowledged that orangutans do not enjoy cold weather and have fashioned winter garb for their resident celebrity using towels and sacks. Jacky is the star of performances that take place several times a day at the zoo.

More lights and hay have been provided to all of the zoo's animals as they contend with the cool temperatures just like other residents of the city.


Welfare card user awarded 1 million baht under government program

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Finance has for the first time awarded 1 million baht to a welfare card user as part of an effort to promote digital money usage.

Permanent Secretary for Finance, Somchai Sajjapong chaired the seventh series of awards to lucky winners under a program promoting the use of debit cards and welfare cards. First-prize winner Neng Kamjamras, a welfare card user from Kalasin province, was awarded 1 million baht. The ceremony also gave a reward to a retail shop operating within the Blue Flag program.

Somchai announced that on January 3, 2018, the Ministry of Finance will propose the second phase of its welfare program to the Cabinet. It will include a budget to help people who earn less than 30,000 baht a year and ways to better integrate the work of relevant agencies combating poverty.

He added that the ministry’s National E-Payment promotion effort has progressed satisfactorily with many citizens showing an interest in the availability of QR codes for payment.


Police at checkpoints may be punished over road accidents

NNT

Bangkok - The Deputy Commander of the Royal Thai Police has said he is considering punitive measures against officers operating in areas where a high rate of accidents take place during the New Year holidays.

Pol Gen Sriawara Rangsiphramnakul says that police officers at 60 checkpoints across the country may be subject to punitive measures if avoidable accidents occur at or near their posts. He has instructed them to be proactive in dealing with drunk drivers and other such dangerous motorists.

Elsewhere, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha has asked that citizens drive carefully and ensure their own safely during the holiday, reminding motorists that they must respect traffic laws by driving in an orderly fashion and remaining sober. He said more checkpoints are to be set up along minor roads that have seen a high incidence of accidents, while rest stops are to be added to encourage travelers to take breaks. The PM impressed upon the police force that they cannot use the period to take advantage of citizens.


Memorial events held for tsunami victims

In this December 28, 2004 file photo, a boat passes by a damaged hotel at Ton Sai Bay on Phi Phi Island, southern Thailand, after it was hit by a tsunami. (AP Photo)

NNT

Bangkok - Many Andaman coastal provinces on Tuesday offered tributes to the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Provincial Governor of Phang Nga Sitthichai Sakda, and representatives of various organizations, along with the local people and tourists laid wreaths and white roses in memory of people who were killed in the tsunami. There were also religious and merit-making ceremonies for the victims.

At the Ban Nam Khem Tsunami Memorial Center in Takua Pa district, Buddhist, Islamic and Christian religious ceremonies were arranged for the victims. Relatives brought their pictures, food and flowers to join in the ceremonies. White rose bouquets were placed in front of an image of Khun Poom Jensen, the late son of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya. A period of silence was observed for all the victims.

At the Mai Khao cemetery in Phuket, Thalang Deputy District Chief Ornanong Thimbua presided over a memorial service to mark the 13th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Apart from religious ceremonies, the national flags of 45 countries whose people were among the victims were erected at the ceremonial site.


Cabinet gives green light to Smart Visa project

NNT

Bangkok - The Cabinet has given the green light to the implementation of a Smart Visa project which was proposed by the Committee for Strategic National Administration.

According to Prime Minister’s Office Spokesperson Lt Gen Sansern Keawkamnerd, the project will be implemented to allow foreigners to apply for a visa electronically. The online system is expected to be operational in 8 months.

Foreigners are still required to apply for a visa in a traditional way for the time being at the One Stop Service Center for Visas and Work Permits. The implementation of the Smart Visa program is expected to begin in January next year.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet endorsed the extension of a tax scheme for startup businesses for another year because there were fewer participating companies than previously anticipated. Since the scheme began two years ago, only 92 startups have joined.

The aim of the tax program is to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are in the government’s 10 targeted industries.

To be eligible for the tax scheme, SMEs must have their qualifications checked by the National Science and Technology Development Agency.

The requirements are 1) annual sales revenue must not exceed 30 million baht, 2) 80% of income must not come from the sale of assets, and 3) registered capital must not exceed 5 million baht.


COE investigates after boat fells bridge

COE Secretary-General Amorn Pimanmas.

NNT

Nakhon Pathom - The Secretary-General of the Council of Engineers (COE) has reached his conclusions on the reasons that a boat colliding with a bridge in Nakhon Pathom resulted in the complete destruction of the bridge, and has issued four recommendations for improving safety.

COE Secretary-General Amorn Pimanmas, oversaw preparation of a report by council members who earlier studied the incident in which a cargo ship rammed into a Ta Chin River bridge in Nakhon Pathom, causing it to disintegrate. They pointed out the ship, weighing as much as 900 tons with its cargo, collided with the base of the bridge’s middle section, pushing it out and causing its support beams to be dislodged. As the middle of the bridge gave way it pulled the bridge’s land support structure down with it.

The council's inspectors pointed out perceived design flaws with the bridge’s load-bearing base.

The councilors have issued four guidelines for bridge design to prevent the structures from collapsing in boat collisions. They have suggested that new bridges be equipped with energy dissipation features, have support bases near the river banks and feature protective structures around their bases. They decreed that designs always be undertaken by engineers licensed by the COE.


Update December 27, 2017

PM wishes everyone a happy New Year and safe holidays

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha.

NNT

Sukhothai - The Prime Minister met the press after a cabinet meeting in Sukhothai province on Tuesday, saying that he paid attention to every voice he heard from local residents and that the government intends to solve the problems of the people.

The mobile cabinet meeting this week was held at the Institute of Physical Education Sukhothai in the northern region. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha attended his “meet the press” session in the afternoon before returning to Bangkok.

General Prayut said New Year holidays are approaching and he wished Thailand an improvement in every respect. He also sent his best wishes to everyone in the country, and hoped people have safe journeys during the festive period.

Regarding the road accident prevention measures, the prime minister urged motorists to keep their bodies in good shape, and their minds focused on the road. Relevant agencies have set up checkpoints along highways to assist with traffic flow. He also asked those who sit in the back of pickup trucks on road trips to be extra careful.

The prime minister revealed that the Cabinet has discussed several issues during the meeting. Major topics included sustainable ways of water management to prevent floods and droughts, the transportation infrastructure that needs to be better connected, and solutions to poverty and income inequality.

General Prayut also thanked local residents in the mid-north for their smiles and a warm welcome on his visit. He promised to smile more and talk softer.


Toon’s charity marathon concludes with over 1.1 billion baht in donations

NNT

Bangkok - Weeks of running in a charity marathon by Thailand’s rock-star Toon Bodyslam has officially concluded in Mae Sai District of Chiang Rai Province.

At the end of the cross-country marathon, donations totaled 1.16 billion baht as Artiwara 'Toon Bodyslam' Kongmalai reached his destination at the Thailand-Myanmar border checkpoint in Mae Sai District.

The amount collected means all 11 hospitals chosen to be the recipients of the donated funds will each receive over 100 million baht.

Members of the public are also advised that donations to the fund are still possible until the end of January 2018.

At the official ceremony to mark the end of the marathon, local residents and supporters of the project joined in a chorus to call the name of Toon while offering him massive applause the moment he arrived.

Those at the ceremony said Toon’s campaign has taught others lessons of leadership and sacrifice, which have also encouraged the people to unite in doing good.


Drivers urged to turn headlights on during daytime

NNT

Bangkok - The Council of Engineers in Thailand (COE) has said that turning car headlights on during the day has the potential to reduce road accidents by as much as 30%.

COE Director Krai Tangsanga said 75% of road accidents occur during the day and early evening and advised that turning on car headlights during daylight hours can reduce the chance of accidents due to greater visibility of the vehicle.  With the lights on, he said that visibility of a car could increase from about 670 meters to 1,400 meters.

The COE Director also urged drivers to be respectful of other motorists and to obey traffic regulations for their own safety and the safety of others.

The COE is also preparing to regulate car headlights for all types of vehicle produced in 2017 and onward.


Tourists flock to Amazing International Flower Festival 2017 in Khon Kaen

NNT

Khon Kaen - Tourists have flocked to Khon Kaen province to attend the "Amazing International Flower Festival 2017" where they can admire rare winter flowers.

Organized by the Khon Kaen Municipality, the Amazing International Flower Festival 2017 opened to visitors on December 17. At least 126,000 people have visited the event so far.

The most popular spots within the festival are Khan Luang Tower and a tulip zone. Many visitors said the festival was truly impressive because it was not common for them to see winter flowers like lilies and tulips.

As temperatures remain low in Khon Kaen, the flowers continue to bloom and release pleasant scents throughout the festival venue.

The Amazing International Flower Festival 2017 event is held at Thungsang Park and will be open until January 3 in the new year. Around 100 million baht in cash flow is expected to be generated at the popular event.


Update December 26, 2017

Immigration police beef up security at airports for holidaymakers

 

NNT

Bangkok - An airport safety campaign has been launched by the Immigration Bureau in response to the rising number of travelers during the year-end holidays.

The Immigration Bureau, together with Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Airports of Thailand Plc, has dispatched teams of airport staff, EOD officers, immigration police and tourist police to patrol the airport and maintain security during the New Year 2018 Festival as part of the campaign titled “Love at First Sight by Thai Immigration”.

According to Commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, Pol Lt Gen Suttipong Wongpin, up to 150,000-170,000 people are expected to travel through Suvarnabhumi Airport each day during the holiday period. The Bureau has thus joined hands with other relevant agencies to show the airport’s readiness to accommodate holidaymakers.

The airport safety campaign is being introduced at Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and other airports nationwide. It will be executed under two approaches, the first of which is the facilitation of arrivals, with more officials to be stationed at immigration desks and interpreters to be deployed to assist foreigners. The second approach is the interception of individuals considered a threat to national security, illegal immigrants, drug dealers and human traffickers. Biometrics and fingerprints will be collected from every individual upon arrival.

General Manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport, Sirote Duangratana, made known that there will be about 7,200 flights operated to and from the airport from December 28-January 3, increasing from the same period last year, while the number of passengers is estimated at 1.3 million. As a way of facilitating travelers, he said the airport will waive its parking fees in Zone C between December 30 and January 2.


Health Department says over 1 million teens likely suffering from depression

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Mental Health has found up to 44 percent of Thai teens are at risk of clinical depression and estimates over 1 million of adolescents are contending with the condition.

Director-General of the Department of Mental Health, Squadron Leader Dr Boonruang Trairuangworawat, has disclosed that as many as 1 in 20 people globally are currently dealing with clinical depression, a disease he said that results in loss of life, output and social standing for sufferers and has a 50-70 percent risk of resurgence for those treated. The disease is a leading cause for teen suicide across the world and stops many from leading functional lives.

In Thailand, the department head revealed a study of citizens aged between 10 and 19 found up to 44 percent, or around 3 million people, are at risk of clinical depression and as much as 18 percent of the adolescent population, or over 1 million individuals, are suffering from the condition. He noted that most cannot access proper care because signs of depression in teens differ from those of adults, giving examples such as violent tendencies, self-harm, mood swings, isolation and risky behavior, which fools caretakers into believing the teen is simply acting out.

Dr Boonruang explained there are 4 groups mainly at risk from depression; they are those with a history of mental illness in their family, those with a chronic physical illness that is outwardly manifested, those experiencing social trauma and those in a less than optimal family situation.

The director-general said his office is developing tools to detect depression in teens, urged caretakers to have their children checked for signs of depression, suggested medicating those in need of psychological treatment and encouraged strengthening of family and school institutions to provide teens a support base for problem solving. He also stated there should be programs to watch out for and contend with clinical depression.


Police to deploy over 20,000 officers in Bangkok during NY countdown

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Thai Police is preparing to deploy over 20,000 officers to assist the public and ensure safety during the New Year Countdown.

Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Pol Maj Gen Montree Yimyam, chaired a meeting with related law enforcement officials and representatives of New Year countdown venues.

Major Montree said officials will be stationed at four of Bangkok's New Year countdown venues, which are CentralWorld, Khaosan Road, Asiatique, and Crystal Design Center, as well as at 144 temples across Bangkok.

Over 20,000 personnel will be deployed to assist the public, facilitate traffic, and establish security checkpoints across Bangkok. Celebration venues have been asked not to sell alcoholic beverages.


Red Lotus Sea attracts tourists to Bueng Kan

NNT

Bueng Kan - Cool weather and blooming red lotus flowers in Bueng Kan have attracted photo-happy tourists to the province.

The Red Lotus Sea of Bueng Kan province’s Porncharoen district, a 3,000 Rai pond full of distinctly red lotus blossoms in Santisuk Village, attracted large crowds over the past holiday weekend with both locals and visitors snapping photos of the annual attraction.

The blossoming has contributed to the local economy with long-tailed boat operators providing rides through the pond at 100 baht per trip to tourists. The flora has been boosted from the cooler weather, with highs at midday only topping out at 21 degrees Celsius.

Don Ya Nang Sub-District Municipal Authority is developing the site to be a environmental conservative tourist attraction and is holding the “Amazing Nong Lerng Pondside” event to promote local tourism.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Chiang Mai to host 37th ASEAN Tourism Forum

Crowds of people head home for New Year

Police bust Cambodia-based scammer gang

Study finds teens accessing beer gardens


Thailand mulls plan to build own satellite

Toon Bodyslam continues resting up in Chiang Rai

Khon Kaen Zoo dresses up orangutan coping with cold weather

Welfare card user awarded 1 million baht under government program


Police at checkpoints may be punished over road accidents

Memorial events held for tsunami victims

Cabinet gives green light to Smart Visa project

COE investigates after boat fells bridge


PM wishes everyone a happy New Year and safe holidays

Toon’s charity marathon concludes with over 1.1 billion baht in donations

Drivers urged to turn headlights on during daytime

Tourists flock to Amazing International Flower Festival 2017 in Khon Kaen


Immigration police beef up security at airports for holidaymakers

Health Department says over 1 million teens likely suffering from depression

Police to deploy over 20,000 officers in Bangkok during NY countdown

Red Lotus Sea attracts tourists to Bueng Kan

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