Update December 30 2017 - January 2, 2018
Chiang Mai to host 37th ASEAN Tourism Forum
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
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
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
The conference will be staged from
January 21st - 27th at the Shangri-La Hotel in the capital district of
Crowds of people head home for New Year
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
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
Police bust Cambodia-based scammer gang
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
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
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
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.
Thailand mulls plan to build own satellite
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
Bangkok - Many Andaman coastal
provinces on Tuesday offered tributes to the victims of the 2004 Indian
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
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
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
COE investigates after boat fells bridge
Secretary-General Amorn Pimanmas.
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.
PM wishes everyone a happy New Year and safe holidays
Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Immigration police beef up security at airports for holidaymakers
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
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
Health Department says over 1 million teens likely suffering from depression
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
Police to deploy over 20,000 officers in Bangkok during NY countdown
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
Red Lotus Sea attracts tourists to Bueng Kan
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
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.