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Update December, 2019


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Their Majesties the King and Queen preside over cremation rites for Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda

BANGKOK (NNT) - His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua and Her Majesty Queen Suthida have attended cremation rites for the late President of the Privy Council and Statesman, Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda.

At 5:29 p.m. on Sunday (Dec 8), Their Majesties the King and Queen proceeded to Debsirindrawas Ratchaworawihan temple in Pom Prap Sattru Phai district, Bangkok, to attend the cremation rites for Gen. Prem. He was 98 years old at the time of his death.

Their Majesties the King and Queen were accompanied by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati Krom Luang Ratchasarinee Siripatchara Maha Watchara Ratchathida.

His Holiness Somdet Phra Ariyavongsagatanana, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, presided over the cremation rites.

Gen. Prem was born on August 26, 1920, at Bo Yang subdistrict in Muang Songkhla district of Songkhla province. He was the son of Bueng and Odd Tinsulanonda, and was the sixth of eight children.

Gen. Prem graduated from Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy (CRMA) in 1941, and started his military career as a civil servant. He served in the tank corps on the Thai-Cambodian border during the French Indochina War, and also participated in the Greater East Asia War. He was later promoted to the position of captain and commanded a military unit in Lopburi province.

In 1968, Gen. Prem was given the rank of major general and appointed commander of the Cavalry Centre and the Saraburi Military District. In 1974, he was given the rank of lieutenant general and appointed commander of the Second Army Region. In 1977, he was promoted to the rank of general and appointed commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army. The following year, Gen. Prem pursued his career in politics and served as a senator, a member of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), the Deputy Minister of Interior and the Defense Minister. He became Thailand’s 16th Prime Minister, serving three terms from 1980 to 1988.

His Majesty King Bhumibhol Adulyadej the Great appointed Gen. Prem to the Privy Council on August 23, 1987. He was granted the title "statesman" six days later. On September 4, 1998, he was appointed to president of the privy council.

Gen. Prem also served as the regent in the reign of the current monarch. Due to his trustworthiness, Gen. Prem remained the privy council president until his death.

Gen. Prem was considered a venerable person who had performed to the best of his ability. His honesty and loyalty to the kingdom, the institution of the monarchy, and religion have set an example for all Thais.


Election Commission rules Thanathorn’s loan to Future Foward party illegal

 In this Nov. 20, 2019, file photo, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, center, leader of the anti-military Future Forward Party is surrounded by his supporters on his arrival at Constitutional Court in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)

By BUSABA SIVASOMBOON

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's Election Commission ruled Wednesday that a popular opposition party broke the law by accepting an illegal loan from its head, a decision that could lead to its dissolution and unsettle the country's politics.

The commission announced Future Forward Party chief Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit's 191 million baht ($6.3 million) loan violated election laws, and said it will forward the case to the Constitutional Court, which could dissolve the party and force its lawmakers out of Parliament. The brief statement from the commission implied that it considered the loan to be a donation by referring to an article that limits legal donations to 10 million baht ($330,000).

The commission must refer its motion to the court within 15 days.

Thanathorn's party, which finished third in a March general election, has been an irritant to Thailand's conservative establishment, in whose favor the courts have consistently ruled. The party is disliked by the officialdom only for its anti-military stance, but also because of its strong popularity.

The coalition government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha currently holds a shaky majority in Parliament, and the expulsion of Future Forward Party members would strengthen its position.

However, it could also energize Prayuth's opponents, who believe that the March election was conducted under unfair rules implemented by the military regime he headed from a 2014 coup until earlier this year. They also feel the Future Forward Party is being unfairly targeted, contending that members of government parties have acted in a similar manner without punishment.

Party executives had no immediate reaction to the ruling.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club last week, Thanathorn said that the legal cases against him and his party were "īrrelevant" compared with an effort by the establishment to not allow "peaceful transitions through democracy to happen."

"Nobody knows what could happen when people lost faith in the parliament system, where there is no hope left, where there is no possibility to win the power peacefully,"' said Thanathorn. "The establishment, the junta, they seem certain that they could contain it, that they could control it. But many think otherwise. Many I talked to are not convinced. I think this is a very dangerous gamble."

Political battles caused serious turmoil in Thailand from 2006-2014, including two coups and massive street protests involving contending groups, police and the military.

Thanathorn's defense in the latest case against him was that the Political Parties Act makes no mention of loans. The law limits anyone from donating, giving money or assets in any form in excess of 10 million baht ($330,000) in any 12-month period, but it allows parties to conduct fundraisers and receive donations to finance their activities.

Prayuth told reporters Wednesday he had nothing to do with the process against Thanathorn, saying a ruling was solely under the court's jurisdiction.

"I can confirm that I have never given any order or interfered with any legal process," he said. ""I know what my role is, trust me."

The Constitutional Court last month ruled that the 40-year-old Thanathorn could not keep his seat in the lower house because he had violated another election law barring owners of media companies from running for Parliament. Thanathorn said the company in which he had a share was defunct and he had divested his holding by the necessary deadline. If further investigation determines that he knowingly broke the law, he could face a ban from holding future political positions.

The Future Forward Party has been seeking to amend the country's constitution — adopted during a period of army rule — to make it more democratic.


Father’s Day exhibition attracts many visitors

BANGKOK (NNT) - An exhibition to celebrate Father’s Day has drawn many visitors to Sanam Luang in Bangkok, with one of the main highlights being the sculpture zone.

The exhibition attracted a wide variety of visitors, including the general public, students and tourists, on Constitution Day, a public holiday in Thailand on December 10. The event reveals details about His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great’s Sufficiency Economy philosophy and other royal initiatives. The event is held for people to express their gratitude and loyalty to the late King and to celebrate His Majesty’s birthday on December 5.

This morning, many visitors took pictures in the event’s sculpture zone. The zone features sculptures of the giants of Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram temple, the giants of Arun Ratchawararam temple, the Four Diamond Kings of Heaven and the royal barges. Other highlights include a water fountain presentation and booths selling community products.

People are invited to visit the exhibition at Sanam Luang until December 14, 2019. The event is open to the public between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. from today until Thursday and between 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.


Temperature decreases in upper regions

LAMPANG (NNT) - The northern and northeastern regions continue to experience colder weather, especially on mountain peaks where the frigid climate has been causing frozen dew in the morning.

At Ban Mae Chaem village in the highlands of Chae Son National Park, Lampang province, the lowest temperature has been 1-3 degrees Celsius, causing a phenomenon called Mae Kha Ning or Moei Kab where morning dew gets frozen in the frigid temperature. This phenomenon occurred today for the third consecutive day, causing much excitement among visitors. Villagers have to wear more than two layers of winter clothing and sit by bonfires for warmth in the early morning.

On Doi Inthanon mountain in Chiang Mai, visitors are pleased to face the -1 degree Celsius morning temperature and to see frozen dew on Kew Mae Pan trail, up to the mountain peak. As today was a national holiday, many visitors came here yesterday and camped overnight to see the sunrise and the sea of fog. The number of visitors yesterday alone was around 7,000 persons, both Thais and foreigners.

In Bueng Kan, a walking street market by the Mekong River takes place every Tuesday and Friday on Khao Mao road amidst the cold conditions and strong winds. The wind has blown some tents and items away, requiring sellers to secure their tents with cables. However, many people continue to visit the walking street to buy winter clothes at affordable prices, some sold directly from factories and some second-hand.

In Nong Khai, cold weather has made lotus flowers and Wang Bua Daeng bloom all over the famous pond of 2,000 rai (3.2 km2). Villagers in Ban Nong Bo village in Pa Kho subdistrict are now providing boat services for tourists, and have placed pontoons on the pond allowing tourists to take pictures with the blooming lotus lake all around them.


Constitution Day commemorated in Thailand

 

BANGKOK (NNT) - On the occasion of Constitution Day in Thailand, which falls on December 10 each year, civil servants and members of political parties are paying homage to His Majesty King Prajadhipok (Rama VII), who granted the first permanent charter to the Thai people on this day in 1932.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chuan Leekpai, together with members of parliament (MPs) and the President of the Senate, Prof. Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, laid wreaths and paid homage before the statue of His Majesty King Prajadhipok at the Parliament Building in Bangkok’s Kiak Kai area to mark Constitution Day.

Representatives of government agencies, educational institutions and political parties also laid wreaths on this day. Among political figures were the Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister, Jurin Laksanawisit, and members of the Pheu Thai, Chartthaipattana and Future Forward parties.

Constitution Day falls on December 10 each year to commemorate His Majesty King Prajadhipok (Rama VII), who granted the first permanent charter to the Thai people. The country’s system of government changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy on June 24, 1932.

The current constitution is the 20th charter of Thailand. It was drafted by the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), following a military coup on May 22, 2014. Several political parties have put forward proposals on constitutional amendments.


Preparations for royal barge procession complete

BANGKOK (NNT) - The committee overseeing the royal barge procession says preparations for accommodating spectators along the route on the Chao Phraya River are complete. The procession is part of nationwide celebrations of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua’s coronation earlier this year.

The Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Pol. Maj. Gen. Jirasan Kaewsaeng-ek, said a meeting of the committee overseeing the event on December 12 reports that all units are prepared to perform their duties and take care of the spectators, using the experience gained from previous royal processions. Every effort has been made to ensure the convenience and safety of the public. There will be 19 security checkpoints in six zones. People arriving to watch the royal barge procession are advised to carry their identification cards with them. They should also avoid bringing valuables, as the event is expected to attract a large crowd. Stringent security screening will be conducted to check for weapons and other prohibited items.

Rama VIII Bridge and Phra Pinklao Bridge will be closed to traffic from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The bridges will reopen to traffic after the procession reaches Ratchaworadit Pier. Eight routes around the Grand Palace will also be closed to traffic for the rab yai foot procession. For more information, please call the 1197 hotline.

The Director of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), Surachai Eamvachirasakul, said his agency has prepared 221 shuttle buses on 19 routes to serve commuters this Thursday. The buses will be located near Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) and Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) stations as well as Hua Lamphong Railway Station. The shuttle bus service will start at 9 a.m. and continue until the royal event is over. Those who wish to watch the procession are advised to avoid using personal vehicles.


Unsafe PM2.5 levels in some areas of Bangkok

BANGKOK (NNT) - People in Bangkok have recently enjoyed a brief period of cool weather. However, as temperatures steadily rise in the city, members of the public have to be prepared for rising levels of PM2.5 particulate matter in the air due to a high pressure system and low wind speeds. Today (Dec 10), the levels of PM2.5 have exceeded the safe threshold in several areas of Bangkok.

According to the Pollution Control Department’s Air4Thai mobile application, levels of particulate matter 2.5 micrometers and less in diameter (PM2.5) measured 25 to 76 micrograms per cubic meter in Bangkok this morning, with PM 2.5 levels ranging from moderate to good in most areas of the capital.

However, levels of PM2.5 were above the safe threshold of 52 micrograms per cubic meter in a number of districts of Bangkok. They included Din Daeng, Rama IV Road in Pathum Wan, Rama III Road and Charoen Krung in Bang Kho Laem, Charoen Nakhon Road in Khlong San, Phet Kasem Road in Phasee Charoen, Bang Sue, Lak Si and Bang Khen.

The levels of PM2.5 also exceeded the safe threshold in Bangkok’s surrouding areas, namely Muang Nakhon Pathom in Nakhon Pathom province, Pak Kret district in Nonthaburi province, Phra Pradaeng and Muang Samut Prakan districts in Samut Prakan province and Om Noi and Muang Samut Sakhon districts in Samut Sakhon province.

The overall air quality in northern, northeastern, eastern and southern Thailand ranged from moderate to good levels.

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department has issued a weather report, saying the upper region of Thailand is experiencing cool to cold weather with strong winds. Temperatures range from five to 14 degrees Celsius in the northern and northeastern provinces. Frost is likely on mountain peaks, with temperatures ranging from one to eight degrees Celsius. In the eastern and central regions, including Bangkok, temperatures are around 13 to 21 degrees Celsius. People should be mindful of their health during this period.


Healthy New Year gifts campaign

 

BANGKOK (NNT) - The New Year holidays are a season of giving good and healthy gifts to loved ones. The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) is recommending the general public select food products bearing the Healthier Choice symbol as gifts ensuring good nutritional value.

The FDA yesterday held an event promoting food products with Healthier Choice symbols as New Year gifts. There are now some 1,442 items certified with the Healthier Choice symbol, available at supermarkets, shopping malls, health stores, and grocery stores.

The FDA Deputy Secretary General Poonlarp Chantavichitwong, said today that healthy food items with good nutritional value, help reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.

He said those looking to purchase gift baskets should make sure all the food items they contain have labels showing the name or product type and expiration dates. The label should not have been removed from the product, allowing recipients to check the expiration date. Canned products should have no dents, swelling, leakage, or any sign of rust.


Paralyzed Humboldt crash survivor takes first steps

This photo provided by Tom Straschnitzki shows Ryan Straschnitzki as he plays with an orangutan during a visit to the Safari World zoo in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. (Tom Straschnitzki/via AP)

This Nov. 5, 2019, photo provided by Tom Straschnitzki shows an X-ray film image of the spine and a stimulator surgically implanted in the back of Ryan Straschnitzki in Bangkok, Thailand. (Tom Straschnitzki/via AP)

By DAN GELSTON

The day Ryan Straschnitzki underwent surgery that would turn his body into something like a remote-controlled robot, the paralyzed hockey player had one deep worry: The 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman who once didn't miss a shift even after dislocating a shoulder told his dad he was afraid of needles.

"I said, 'Pal, they're going to open you up. Who cares. Let's just get this done,'" said his father, Tom Straschnitzki.

So began the path toward Ryan's first small steps since he was paralyzed from the chest down 17 months ago in the devastating Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Canada that killed 16 people, including some of his teammates and coaches.

Early last month, Straschnitzki was wheeled into a Thailand hospital for a four-hour procedure that involved an epidural stimulator — think of it as a spinal pacemaker — being placed in the bottom left side of his back to help bridge the gap between his brain and his nerves.

Now 20, Straschnitzki has since had three stem cell injections in hopes of reversing the damage from an injury that had saddled him without much prospect of ever leaving his wheelchair

"I went in knowing there had been some good outcomes," Ryan Straschnitzki said, "but everybody's different."

About two weeks later, the former junior hockey player started to get results.

With the aid of a device that sends electrical currents remotely to the spinal cord, stimulating both nerves and limbs, Straschnitzki clutched a gait-training E-Pacer to take a few simple, halting steps. A therapist nearby guided him to ensure his knees didn't buckle or his ankles twist.

"The last time he walked when was when he walked onto the bus that day of the accident," his father said.

Ryan has essentially had his body reprogrammed, one reason why father and son have spent more than a month in Thailand as doctors map his movements through an iPad, and search for healthy muscles and nerves that could open a path toward walking again.

The procedure was done to strengthen core muscles — the ones around the trunk and pelvis — and allow Straschnitzki to move more independently.

"It didn't really feel real," he said. "I didn't necessarily feel it but it was actually moving. I kind of took into consideration that maybe this isn't going to be a cure, but it's the next best thing for me."

He was paralyzed on April 6, 2018, in one of the worst tragedies in Canadian sports history when an inexperienced truck driver blew through a stop sign at a rural intersection in Saskatchewan and ran directly into the path of the hockey team's bus. Many survivors have struggled in various ways, their lives forever changed.

The Straschnitzkis' hunt for the right medical treatment has stretched from their Alberta home to steamy Bangkok. He spent time at a rehab hospital in Philadelphia this spring and went to a spinal cord injury and neurological rehab center in Calgary.

He struck up a relationship with former surgeon Richi Gill, who was paralyzed after a boogie board accident in Hawaii and had traveled to Thailand to have the same implant placed in his lower back. He suggested Straschnitzki needed to make the trip to have any hope of improving his core muscles — a key for playing sled hockey — to regain some control of his body.

Some hurdles loomed, namely the $110,000 Canadian it cost to undergo surgery that wasn't covered by insurance for an operation in Thailand. The Straschnitzkis had exhausted cash raised via a crowdfunding platform and are still accepting donations through the #strazstrong campaign to cover the remainder of the bill.

Father and son hope to return home to Airdrie, a short drive north of Calgary, early next week for a reunion with the rest of the family. Straschnitzki was confined to the hospital for three weeks and couldn't even shower until the last few days. They were finally cleared to leave the hospital and had a guide accompany them to a shopping district and a zoo in Bangkok. Straschnitzki, all smiles when an orangutan sat on his lap, will have to return to Thailand for a stem cell treatment.

"Our main focus was getting his core back so he can live a normal life," Tom said. "Like going to the bathroom, be able to do that, to know when he has to go. The legs and moving them, to us, is a bonus."

Since Straschnitzki is up and about, his father wants to put him to use, joking his son needs to start making beer runs. Straschnitzki did pass his driver's test this year and drives a car built for people with disabilities.

"I've got that freedom back," he said.

He also feels that independence on the ice, just like when he started playing at age 5.

Straschnitzki's life outside of rehab starts with sled hockey for players with physical disabilities. He hit the ice for the first time this past week and was able to slow and cut on the sled in part by using his strengthened core muscles rather than just thrusting his picks into the ice.

He has publicly remained idealistic about regaining his motor skills, and has started to consider a future as a motivational speaker. Former Humboldt teammate Tyler Smith has become an advocate for mental health and triggered the idea that Straschnitzki can share his journey of grief and renewal from a catastrophic injury where there is no finish line.

"Never give up, stay positive and you never know what can happen in the future," Straschnitzki said. "The road is never over."


Search on for missing kayak with Polish man, Thai companion

BANGKOK (AP) — Rescue teams in southern Thailand were searching Monday for a Polish man and a Thai woman who went missing when the kayak they were paddling carried them away from shore into the open sea.

Marine Police Lt. Col Suriya Khunto said 26-year-old Mateusz Juszkiewicz and 23-year-old Werakan Sirirakon went missing around 6 p.m. Saturday while kayaking to an islet off Yanui beach on the popular resort island of Phuket. Friends were in three other kayaks.

Suriya said the owner of the rented kayaks was told by the friends that Juszkiewicz called them from his mobile phone to say he was being pulled out to sea by high waves and strong winds and his kayak had already flipped over once.

The search began Saturday but was cut short by darkness.

Suriya said navy and police personnel took part in searching Sunday, along with provincial workers and volunteers.

Five ships and a helicopter joined the operation Monday in areas away from shore, while searchers on jet skis combed areas closer to shore, he said.


Minister urges businesses to focus on beauty and food, not on rate of exchange

 

Phiphat Ratchakitprakan, Minister of Tourism and Sports greets foreign tourists on Koh Samui.

SURAT THANI (NNT) - The Minister of Tourism and Sports has urged Samui island tourism operators to help upgrade the standard of service, to attract more tourists.

Mr Phiphat Ratchakitprakan, Minister of Tourism and Sports, visited Koh Samui district, Surat Thani province, to follow up on the tourism situation and meet the private sector’s entrepreneurial representatives. Samui island is a world famous tourist destination and was listed as the 9th most beautiful tourist destination in the world in 2018, with millions of Thai and foreign visitors each year. However, the representatives of tourism operators claim that they are currently experiencing problems related to exchange rates because of the baht’s steady appreciation. They have called on the government to establish a bank for tourism, solve infrastructure problems, ensure tourists’ safety, promote environmentally friendly tourism, manage waste in a sustainable manner and develop a deep sea port.

Meanwhile, Mr Phiphat discussed the reduced tourist spending which the operators believe has been caused by the currency’s appreciation. He said the strength of Thailand is not the value of currency but the beauty of the nation’s tourist attractions, delicious food, service and friendliness that impresses tourists. He called on the private sector to focus on these strengths.

Mr Phiphat granted a plaque of honor of good Samaritans including Mr Saroj Chuaykerd, who saved a tourist from drowning at Chaweng beach, Mrs Pranit Senat, Mr Aphiwat Khongrat and Mr Theerawat Kaewnopphakhun, good Samaritans who returned belongings to foreign tourists and helped maintain the good image of Thai tourism.


DIT Director General follows up on product prices

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Department of Internal Trade (DIT) has inspected product prices at Bang Yai Central Market ahead of the New Year Festival to prevent the products from being overpriced, confirming that the product prices are within the normal range while ensuring that the minimum wage hike does not affect the prices of products.

Internal Trade Director General Wichai Phochanakit inspected prices of agricultural products, ready-cooked food and consumer products and discussed problems related to product prices with vendors at Bang Yai Central Market in Nonthaburi. He also checked on the standard of scales. A symbol which certifies the scales’ standard was attached to each set of scales that meet the standard. Advice was provided to vendors whose scales were found to be not working properly. About 20 sets of scales that didn’t meet the standard were seized.

Mr Wichai stated that general prices of both fresh meat and vegetables were in the normal range and consistent with the market price. Pork was at 130-140 baht while the price of vegetables was cheaper, such as kale at 30 baht per kilogram. He confirmed that the product prices will not affect ready-cooked food. Regarding the increase in the minimum wage of 5-6 baht, he said it was an average increase of only two percent of the total wage, and expressed his confidence that it has not affected the prices of products. Meanwhile, workers must adjust themselves to being more effective as well. During the New Year festival, the DIT will dispatch its officials to ensure that products do not become overpriced.

Fresh vegetable vendors stated that the market price of vegetables is not very high at this time despite the approaching New Year Festival. Prices of popular fresh products such as sea food have gone up slightly ahead of the New Year Festival.

The visit was aimed at encouraging people to read product labels and price tags before buying, in order to get good quality products at reasonable prices In the event that members of the public have any queries or wish to file a complaint, please contact the DIT’s Hotline 1569.


H.M. the Queen Presides over Assumption University’s 50th Anniversary Grand Celebration

Assumption University

Her Majesty Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana graciously presided over the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Assumption University on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at Suvarnabhumi Campus.
On her arrival, Rev. Bro. Dr. Bancha Saenghiran, President-Rector Magnificus, H.E. Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanij, AU management, University Council members, administrators, faculty, AU Alumni Association members, the Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel in Thailand, honored guests, staff, students and members of the public were on hand to welcome the Queen.
On this occasion, Her Majesty presented souvenirs to a number of donors in appreciation of their financial contributions towards the AU 50th Anniversary Celebration.
After unveiling the sign ceremonially kicking off the celebration, Her Majesty signed the visitor’s book and then granted a group photo session among the AU management and administrators.
She later viewed the elaborately arranged exhibitions which showcased the university’s 50- year highlighted historical background, major events and activities.
During this royal visit, Her Majesty was conferred upon an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science by Assumption University. Conferment of the honorary doctorate took place at the Chapel of St. Louis Marie de Montfort which was officially performed by H.E. Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriangsak Kovitvanit, President of the Council of Ministers of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Thailand, and witnessed by all congratulatory and jubilated audience.


EEC to go ahead with sustainable waste management

BANGKOK (NNT) - A meeting of the Eastern Economic Corridor Policy Committee (EECPC) has looked into the progress of development projects in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and is to press on with its sustainable waste management project.

The EECPC Secretary-General, Kanit Sangsubhan, said today the EECPC meeting, chaired by Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, acknowledged the progress of various development projects in the EEC, such as the high-speed train route linking three major airports of Thailand. The meeting also approved a plan to transfer land titles and relocate public utilities. Relevant agencies are to submit their budget proposals for consideration by January next year.

The EECPC meeting considered ways to manage waste in the EEC in a sustainable way. The quantity of waste is expected to increase from 4,200 tons per day in 2018 to 6,800 tons per day in 2037. Tons of waste is currently going into landfill, which causes environmental pollution. The EEC has to find 1.66 rai of land for garbage disposal each day. The sustainable waste management project is to cover the three EEC provinces of Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong. The region will be able to handle 6,000 tons of waste a day and generate 120 megawatts of electricity. The project is expected to dispose of 5.57 million tons of accumulated waste in the EEC over 12 years.

The EECPC meeting instructed relevant units to come up with a plan to dispose of land and marine waste in the EEC in a sustainable way within three months. PTT Public Company Limited and Global Power Synergy Public Company Limited (GPSC) will lead the project, and the Ministry of Energy will consider buying electricity from waste-to-energy plants in the EEC.

The meeting also approved 14 EEC public health projects, such as establishing a hospital network and managing medical services. The EECPC agreed to set up two working bodies to follow up on the high-speed train route linking Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao airports. They will oversee related contracts and project management.

The EECPC has approved a human resource development plan, where the private sector can fully or partially finance their activities. The plan aims to identify and employ 475,793 workers in 10 industrial sectors.


Govt to increase minimum wage up to by 6 baht daily effective January 1st

BANGKOK (NNT) - The minimum wages committee has finalized the minimum daily wages for 2020 to range from 313 baht to 336 baht, with a 6 baht increase in 9 provinces. The new wages will be effective from 1 January 2020 after the approval from Cabinet.

The Ministry of Labour Permanent Secretary Suthi Sukosol revealed the that the committee has approved minimum wage adjustment for 2020, which will range from 313 baht to 336 baht daily in 10 tiers, according to each province.

The highest daily minimum wage of 336 baht will be imposed in Chonburi and Phuket, while the lowest of 313 baht daily will be imposed in Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala. The minimum wage for Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathumthani, Samut Prakan, and Samut Sakhon will be 331 baht daily.

Changes in the minimum wage include 6 baht increase in Chonburi, Phuket, Prachinburi, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, and Samut Sakhon, while other provinces will see a 5 baht increase.

This finalized wage adjustments will be proposed to the Cabinet as quickly as possible to seek approval in time for the effective date of 1 January 2020.

The Labour Ministry permanent secretary said many factors have been taken into consideration, including living costs, the inflation rate, national competitiveness. He said the new wages will be beneficial to the economy. The Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Industry now have measures in place to maintain the living costs, providing an unemployment insurance scheme and increasing worker skills.


Minister Tewan holds talks with car dealers at Motor Expo

BANGKOK (NNT) - New car sales at the end of the year have increased thanks to the Motor Expo 2019 event. A Minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office has urged car dealers to adhere to the contracts and treat customers fairly. Customers can make complaints of unfair treatment or misleading contracts by calling the 1166 hotline.

Prime Minister’s Office Minister, Tewan Liptapallop has held talks with representatives of vehicle dealers at the Motor Expo 2019.

The PMO Minister said he urged dealers and brand managers to adhere to the contracts made with customers, ensuring the vehicle is delivered on time, in the agreed model and color, and with any additional premium items agreed to in the contract.

Dealers are required by law to refund money to customers within 15 days should they fail to deliver vehicles and additional items as agreed to in the contract, which invalidates such a contract.

An inspection of 2019 Motor Expo orders show there have been only four or five cases of delivery issues, which have already been rectified by the dealers. The PMO Minister praised the dealers on their commitment to delivering products according to the signed contract.


Mekong River's new aquamarine color may be sign of trouble

Fishing boats are moored in Mekong River, which has turned blue instead of its usual muddy color, in Nakhon Phanom province, northeastern Thailand Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Chessadaporn Buasai)

Sightseers play on a sandbar in the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom province, northeastern Thailand Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Chessadaporn Buasai)

By BUSABA SIVASOMBOON

BANGKOK (AP) — The Mekong River has recently acquired an aquamarine color that may beguile tourists but also indicates a problem caused by upstream dams, experts in Thailand say.

The river usually has a yellowish-brown shade due to the sediment it normally carries downstream. But lately it has been running clear, taking on a blue-green hue that is a reflection of the sky. The water levels have also become unusually low, exposing sandbanks that allow the curious to stand in the middle of the river.

Low water levels pose an obvious problem for fishermen and farmers, but experts say the decline in sediment exposes a different danger that can result in greater erosion of the river's banks and bed.

The experts and people living along the river blame a large hydroelectric dam upstream in Laos that began operating in October for contributing to both problems, though rainfall has also been sparse.

Around 70 million people depend on the Mekong River for water, food, commerce, irrigation and transportation. Critics charge that large-scale development projects such as the Xayaburi dam dangerously disrupt the region's ecology.

The dam blocks much sediment from moving further downstream, which accounts for the water becoming clear, said Pravit Kanthaduang, chief of the fishery office at Bueng Khong Long, a district in Thailand's Bueng Kan province. Less sediment means less nutrition for plants and fish in the river, threatening the ecological balance, he said.

With less sediment, the water also has more stream power, a phenomenon known as "hungry water," said Chainarong Setthachau of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science at Mahasarakham University in Thailand's northeast who has studied changes in the Mekong's ecology for the past two decades.

"The current has less sediment, which unleashes energy onto the river banks downstream. This so-called 'hungry water' will cause much more erosion to the banks, uprooting trees and damaging engineering structures in the river," Chainarong said.

The dam's developers have denied that they were responsible for low water levels that some critics tied to trial runs of the generators that began in March. In October, the Xayaburi Power Co. Ltd. said the project has spent more than 19.4 billion baht ($640 million) to mitigate negative impacts on the environment, including the building of outlets for sediment passage and flow and facilities to allow the passage of fish. The plant's total cost was $4.47 billion.

Daeng Pongpim, from a farming family that used to fish in Ta Mui village in Ubon Ratchathani province, lives 800 kilometers (500 miles) downstream from the Xayaburi dam, but said she still believes it is responsible for the river's recent unusual condition.

"I am 67 years old and have never seen anything like it before. What makes me concerned the most is the low level of the water. Now, we are in early winter, the water level should not be this low. I can't imagine how hard it could be for us at the height of the dry season, in March and April."

Chaiwat Parakun, who lives 200 kilometers (125 miles) downstream from the dam, said he abandoned his fishing gear several years ago because of the declining amount of fish available to catch. He now has a tourism business.

"The Mekong has gradually lost its abundance. People who depend on the river like us could sense it many years ago. But that was nothing like the effects from Xayaburi. We cannot figure out how we can live with this degraded environment," he said.


PM Prayut leads volunteer activity to mark World Soil Day

BANGKOK (NNT) - Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, together with his wife, Naraporn Chan-o-cha, presided over a volunteer activity supported by people from different sectors to celebrate Father’s Day and World Soil Day on December 5 in Sanam Luang, Bangkok.

At the event, the Prime Minister noted that today was the birthday of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, as well as Father’s Day and World Soil Day. People from different sectors attended the activity to pay homage to the late King, who did a great deal for the nation, including eradicating poverty, improving the well-being of the people, supporting the agricultural sector and initiating the philosophy of a Sufficiency Economy for everyone to follow. The Prime Minister encouraged the people always to observe such virtues and express their loyalty to His Majesty King Bhumibol.

The Prime Minister then visited the World Soil Day exhibition and called in at different booths. One of the highlights is the production of fertilizer from water hyacinth.

After the volunteers prepared a mixture of soil and fertilizer for 778 tamarind trees around Sanam Luang, the Prime Minister said he would like the volunteers to continue to do such good deeds and uphold the country’s three main pillars, which are the nation, religion and the monarchy. When issues arise, they have to work together. Gen. Prayut insisted that he had no issues with anyone. Inspections can be conducted, but they must not affect the country’s civil service system he noted.

In addition to Father’s Day, December 5 is internationally recognized as World Soil Day in appreciation of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol’s work to conserve soil resources essential for food security and sustainable development. In recognition of His Majesty’s tireless efforts, the International Union of Soil Science honored His Majesty with the first ever Humanitarian Soil Scientist Award in 2012. In 2013, the 68th United Nations (UN) General Assembly designated December 5 World Soil Day, to raise awareness of the importance of soil.


General public make merit for King Rama IX

THAILAND (NNT) - Many people throughout Thailand make merit and pay their respects to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (IX) on December 5, which is Father’s Day and the birthday of the late King. This morning in Sanam Luang, Bangkok, Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, led cabinet ministers, heads of government agencies and members of the public in offering alms to monks in remembrance of the late King.

The Prime Minister together with his wife, Naraporn Chan-o-cha, presided over the merit-making ceremony to mark Father’s Day. Among prominent figures were the Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan; the Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul; the Interior Minister, Gen. Anupong Paojinda; the Speaker of the House of Represenatives, Chuan Leekpai, the President of the Senate, Prof. Pornpetch Wichitcholchai and Bangkok Governor, Pol. Gen. Aswin Kwanmuang. The event was also attended by court officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil servants and members of the public. The group offered alms to 489 Buddhist monks and made merit for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol.

Following the religious ceremony, the Prime Minister opened an exhibition to celebrate Father’s Day and visited booths selling products supported by the Friends in Need (of PA) Volunteers Foundation at the BBG Club.

The Prime Minister then led the officials in placing trays of flowers and paying their respects in front of His Majesty the late King’s image. They expressed their gratitude and pledged to perform their duties in the best interests of the nation.


Father’s Day events held across country

THAILAND (NNT) - Government agencies and members of the general public across the country, today held activities to commemorate His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and celebrate Father’s Day and National Day.

At King Rama V monument in front of Nong Khai Provincial Hall, members of the public this morning gave alms to 89 buddhist monks in tribute to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on his birthday 5th December.

Similarly, in Nonthanburi province, government officials, military and police officers, students, and the general public today attended an alms giving ceremony, paying their respects to the late monarch in front of the provincial hall.

In Ranong, members of the public today wore yellow shirts and participated in a Father’s Day event showing their loyalty and appreciation to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The event started with a ceremony of alms giving to 89 buddhist monks at Ranong City Municipality plaza.

Some 200 people in Yala, all wearing yellow shirts, today organized a walk-run activity expressing their loyalty on King Bhumibol’s birthday 5th December, starting from the City Pillar Shrine and following a 9.99-kilometer route. The run took approximately an hour.

In Songkhla, Tuk Tuk, taxi, and mortorcycle taxi drivers provided free services for the general public and tourists within Hat Yai City Municipality from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, using the same stops. Vehicles providing a free service had stickers with the words "Free rides, doing good for father."

In Bueng Kan, the Abbot of Wat Pa Ban Pan La temple, Phra Sombat Sampattithakaro and volunteers, set up a free vegetarian canteen in front of Bueng Kan Subdistrict Municipality Fresh Market, providing a free lunch to the general public as a tribute to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The kitchen was run by nuns, cooks, and volunteers serving food to villagers.


Memorial activities held in honour of HM King Rama IX

THAILAND (NNT) - As generations of Thais know, 5th December was the birthday of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. This year, many agencies are holding activities commemorating the life and reign of the beloved monarch in Bangkok and other provinces.

Starting with the Royal Thai Army, the army Commander in Chief, Gen Apirat Kongsompong, presided over a tribute commemorating the royal grace of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He observed a blood donation activity and an exhibition showing the deep respect and loyalty the people feel for the late monarch.

At the Royal Thai Air Force, Deputy Commander in Chief ACM Weerapong Nilchinda has presided over a religious service and alms giving ceremony commemorating the birthday of His Majesty the late King. The air force has held a blood donation ceremony and provided free medical services at Bhumibol Adulyadej Hospital and an exhibition on the nine remarkable aptitudes of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, remembering with gratitude his royal contributions towards the Thai people.

In Bueng Kan province, a blood donation campaign has been taking place with mobile units collecting blood from donors in various locations. Military and police officers, members of the general public, university students, military students, and volunteers have donated their blood in this campaign.

Moving south to Yala province, a forest planting campaign has been held. 500 Payom trees were planted at Wat Chomphu Sathit temple in Yupo subdistrict as an expression of the people’s loyalty. The campaign helps increase the nation’s forest area and restore the ecological balance. The newly planted forest will serve as a plant genetics learning space for children and youths, encouraging them to cherish the forests in their community.


U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport opens new terminal

Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha arrives at U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport to officially open the new terminal.

RAYONG (NNT) - Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, presided over the opening of the second passenger terminal at U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport. The new terminal can handle 3 to 5 million passengers a year.

The Prime Minister said the opening of the terminal is another step for U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport towards becoming a fully functional commercial airport. It will help stimulate the domestic economy and serve as a gateway to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and other regions. With the new terminal, the airport will be capable of accommodating more travelers, creating more jobs for the locals and boosting investor confidence.

The Prime Minister then visited an exhibition and facilities inside the new passenger terminal. He was accompanied by the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy, Adm. Luechai Ruddit.

U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport began commercial operations in 1989. The airport currently handles more than two million passengers annually, with about 15,000 flights per year. The second terminal was built due to the increasing number of travelers and commercial flights. The airport will help support the EEC, as it connects with Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

The new passenger terminal will help U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport become the eastern aviation hub of Thailand. Following its testing and pre-opening stages, the terminal is now fully ready to serve travelers. U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport is the country’s third fully functional commercial airport. It can handle up to 1,500 passengers per hour.


People support No Plastic campaign

Say ‘NO’ to plastic bags.

BANGKOK (NNT) - A recent survey shows that most people support the government’s No Plastic campaign, which will start on January 1st, and changing consumer behavior to promote a clean environment

The Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, said today his ministry has arranged an event to mark Thai Environment Day as well as the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Volunteer Day, which falls on December 4 every year. This year, the event encourages people to take care of the world for future generations. The event is held to show gratitude to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, as he was called "Thailand’s Father of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation" and to promote His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua’s royal policy of doing good deeds for the public and preserving the natural resources and environment. The event encourages people to cut down on the single use of plastic materials.

A Suan Dusit Poll conducted a survey on the ban on single-use plastic bags in 2020. The survey was conducted between October 30 and November 15 this year, and involved 2,032 respondents nationwide. According to the survey, 90% of the respondents agreed with the ban, 91.28% said they have changed their consumer behavior, 88.78% were aware of the government’s No Plastic campaign, 86.71% supported the idea of using reusable bags, 77.46% wanted the government to enforce a law to control uses of plastic materials and 61.42% approved the idea of having consumers pay for plastic bags.

The Permanent Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, Jatuporn Buruspat, said today that members of the public will have to be prepared for the ban on single-use plastic bags, starting January 1 2020. Seventy-six companies overseeing department stores, supermarkets and convenience stores have joined the No Plastic campaign and will no longer provide plastic bags that are less than 36 microns thick to their customers.


Elon Musk in court dances around meaning of 'pedo guy' tweet

In this frame grab from video, Tesla CEO Elon Musk leaves court, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. Musk denied that he meant to call a British cave diver a pedophile when he dubbed him "pedo guy" on social media. (AP Photo/Krysta Fauria)

By BRIAN MELLEY

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Elon Musk has owned up to insulting a British spelunker in a rash tweet, but wouldn't concede on the witness stand that he called the man a pedophile.

The Tesla CEO returns to the witness stand Wednesday after spending several hours at his defamation trial trying to dance around the meaning of the "pedo guy" tweet he aimed at Vernon Unsworth, a cave diver who helped rescue a dozen boys and their soccer coach from a flooded Thailand cave last year.

Musk said the insult meant only "creepy old man" and did not literally mean he was calling Unsworth a pedophile.

The spat began when Unsworth ridiculed Musk's effort in the rescue by having engineers at his companies, including Space X and The Boring Co., develop a mini-submarine that could transport the boys to safety. Despite working around the clock to build the sub in short order, Musk arrived in Thailand late in the rescue effort and the craft was never used.

Unsworth called it nothing more than a "PR stunt" and said Musk could stick the sub "where it hurts." Musk watched the CNN clip of Unsworth several times before lashing out in a series of tweets July 15, 2018.

"It was wrong and insulting, so I insulted him back," the billionaire told a Los Angeles federal court jury. "It was an unprovoked attack on what was a good-natured attempt to help the kids."

Unsworth is seeking unspecified damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress from the tech entrepreneur whose net worth exceeds $20 billion.

Musk's lawyer, Alex Spiro, said during opening statements that Unsworth deserves nothing for what he called "joking, taunting tweets in a fight between men."

The shame and mortification Unsworth said he experienced is undercut by the attention he received after the rescue, Spiro said, including honors from the Thai king and British prime minister and offers from agents and film crews.

Musk, who was dressed in a charcoal gray suit and white shirt, remained composed on the witness stand during questioning from Unsworth's lawyer, who called him as his first witness.

His answers were at times humorous and sometimes seemed like those of an executive under court order to be careful about what he says.

Musk is required to have his tweets about Tesla screened as part of court settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations he posted misleading information about the company that caused wild stock swings.

His tweet about Unsworth caused Tesla's stock to drop about 3% the following day, though it recovered a day later.

After company officials tried to get Musk to apologize for the tweet, he responded in an email that he didn't want look "foolish and craven" by doing so right after the stock dropped.

Musk projected an air of humility as he was asked about his influence in the world. He said he didn't think his efforts to address climate change were taken seriously, that few people were aware of his goal to colonize Mars and he didn't really pay attention to how his fortune stacks up against other billionaires.

With his arms crossed, Musk at times squinted and stared off in the distance as he searched for answers to events that occurred more than a year ago.

He clashed at one point with attorney L. Lin Wood, telling him he interpreted the lawyer's letter threatening to sue as a shakedown and extortion attempt.

"I get these shakedown letters a lot," Musk said. "I think you're looking for a significant payday."

Spiro attempted to humanize Musk, having him discuss his family — sets of 15-year-old twins and 13-year-old triplets, all boys. Musk choked up talking about a son who died as a baby and when asked about his childhood in South Africa.

"It wasn't good," he said after a long pause.

Musk said he was asked to help with the cave rescue and decided to get involved when he heard a Thai Navy diver died in the cave system and that a monsoon was forecast that could drown the soccer team.

Musk received no compensation for his efforts, though he acknowledged his work could have been interpreted as a "narcissistic" publicity effort.

Musk deleted the July 15, 2018, tweets and apologized on Twitter, though subsequent statements he made have called into question what he meant.

Musk responded to a question on Twitter about whether he had accused Unsworth of being a pedophile by saying, "Bet ya a signed dollar it's true."

He told a Buzzfeed reporter seeking comment on the threat of a lawsuit by Unsworth to "stop defending child rapists," followed by expletives.

Musk was asked about an almost comical attempt to dig up dirt on Unsworth when it became clear he could be sued.

One of his executives created a fake email account to communicate with a man who said he was an investigator, but then signed his own name on a nondisclosure agreement.

The investigator turned out to be a con man who was paid $52,000 and produced nothing damning about Unsworth.

Musk said he didn't know Unsworth had helped with the rescue when he first tweeted about him and said "pedo guy" wasn't asserted as a fact.

"Just as I didn't literally mean he was a pedophile, I'm sure he didn't literally mean shoving a sub up my ass," Musk testified, provoking snickers.

When asked about the final line of his email to the Buzzfeed reporter that said he hoped Unsworth would sue him, Musk quipped: "I guess be careful what you wish for."


Senate backs Wat Phra Mahathat temple world heritage nomination

BANGKOK (NNT) - The senate’s ad-hoc committee on arts and culture has pledged support for the nomination of Wat Phra Mahathat temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat as a world heritage site, while related agencies have already submitted supporting documents to the Fine Arts Department for consideration.

A member of the senate and the president of the senate’s ad-hoc committee on arts and culture, Naowarat Pongpaiboon, visited Nakhon Si Thammarat province to follow up on progress made in the nomination process of Wat Phra Mahathat temple as a world heritage site. He was welcomed by the governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Siripat Patkul.

The committee’s academic chief Chatchai Sukrakan said the temple was added to UNESCO’s tentative list for world heritage sites in 2013.

The temple is believed to comply with selection criteria 2, to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design; criteria 4, to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history and criteria 6, to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions.

The committee has prepared an in-dept report for the Fine Arts Department for consideration prior to submission to the Cabinet for final approval. The paper will then be submitted to UNESCO.

Mr. Naowarat Pongpaiboon said Wat Phra Mahathat temple is an important religious site for Buddhism, and the committee will be pushing for the temple to be officially given world heritage site status before the expiry of the processing time in the next 4 years.


Museum of talisman cloths opened in Phayao

PHAYAO, Dec 3 (TNA) - Thailand’s first museum dedicated to magic amulet cloths has been opened inside a temple in the northern province of Phayao.

Over 200 amulet or talisman cloths aged between 50-100 years are on display at Khunkhuan City Museum, Wat Thamikaram temple, in Pong district.

The main objective of the Museum is to conserve of the amulet clothes of the Lanna, the ancient civilization of Thailand’s north.

Some people consider amulet cloths, some in the forms of shirts and pants, hold magical powers that bring good luck to and ward off dangers from persons who possess them. (TNA)   


Chanthaburi Gems and Jewelry Festival this week

The International Chanthaburi Gems and Jewelry Festival 2019 will be held for the first time in Chanthaburi, well-known for the gemstone industry. 

Deputy Minister of Commerce, Weerasak Wangsupakitkosol said the festival will be organized between December 4-8 by the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (Public Organization) in cooperation with allies in the state and private sectors.

The venue is located in downtown area, covering the Chanthaburi Gems & Jewelry Center, the KP Jewelry Center and OTOP Lifestyle at the gems market on Srichan Road.

About 500 operators in gems and jewelry businesses will showcase and sell their products. Other highlights are gemstone auctions, a jewelry design contest, a gem-cutting competition and a gems and jewelry research contest.

A Memorandum of Cooperation will be signed with between local authorities and University of Siena, Italy at the opening of the event on Dec 4 to help Thai operators develop their skills in gem production techniques and jewelry designs.  

Tour packages and local products will be available at the festival. 

The commerce minister hopes the event will increase sales of Chanthaburi’s gems and promote this eastern province as the center of high-quality colored gemstones. (TNA)


Agriculture Ministry has measures to cope with farm chemicals

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Mananya Thaiset, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has prepared plans to tackle the effects caused by three farm chemicals after the National Hazardous Substances Committee resolved to delay a ban on the substances.

The Senate meeting on Monday asked the Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, about the declaration of the three agricultural chemicals as category 4 toxic substances and asked the Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister about the ban on the three chemicals as well as the government’s plans to address the matter.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives answered the questions on behalf of the Prime Minister that the government was still unable able to explain or comment on the ban since it had not yet been signed by the Industry Minister. She confirmed that the Ministry has prepared for the ban and promised to pay special attention to the matter.

The Deputy Minister added that she would take the information from the Ministry of Public Health about illnesses caused by the three chemicals into consideration in order to develop protective guidelines.

Ms. Mananya thanked the senators for their concerns over the health of Thai people and the chemicals’ effects on them. Thailand has prohibited the use of 89 toxic farm chemicals, except these three chemicals which are already banned elsewhere in the world.


Large crowds visit Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai

CHIANG RAI, Nov 30 - A large crowd of people are now visiting the Tham Luang cave daily after the movie about the dramatic rescue last year of 12 boys and their football coach has been screened at theatres in Thailand.

The movie called ‘The Cave’ is being shown at several theatres nationwide and approximately 3,000 people are visiting the cave in the northernmost province of Chiang Rai daily.

Concerned authorities at the Thamluang Khunnam Nangnon national park provide trolley service to the cave entrance.

Also, as many as 50 visitors are allowed to enter the first chamber for each round of the cave tour and they can take pictures there for five minutes.

Officially, the Tham Luang cave was officially opened for tourists in early November.  

Two nearby caves will be opened for nature study in the future.

A total of 12 young soccer players, members of the Wild Boars (Mu Pa)  football team, and their coach were trapped inside the flooded cave in July last year. Their subsequent rescue, after 17 days, made headlines around the world. (TNA)


Eight ethnic groups celebrate cultural festival in Ratchaburi

RATCHABURI, Dec 2 (TNA) - Eight ethnic groups in Thailand celebrate a cultural festival in the western central province of Ratchaburi to promote and preserve their unique traditions.

Over 1,000 members of ethnic groups in 10 districts of Ratchaburi on Sunday joined a parade enriched with cultural displays. 

They represented eight of some 70 ethnic groups in Thailand, showing the prides of Yuan, Chinese, Karen, Lao, Tai Dam, Mon, Tai and Khmer.

The colourful parade featuring old-styled wagons was headed for a gymnasium, the venue of the festival organized annually by the provincial culture office since 2011.

Varied forms of the ethnic groups’ cultural heritage such as cuisine, traditional dance and folk wisdom were arranged for visitors to enjoy and learn about the ethnic diversity of the Kingdom. (TNA)


Water in Mekong River falls to critical level, sand dunes

NAKHON PHANOM, Dec 2 (TNA) - The water levels of the Mekong River have fallen to a critical level, posing threats to people’s livelihoods, farming activities and tour boat operations.

The Mekong water level in the northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom dropped to one of the lowest on record and fell at the fastest pace in 50 years. 

Low rainfall in the past rainy season and water retention of Chinese dams are blamed for the worrying situation.  Farmers have faced problems and higher burden to find sufficient water.

Sand bars have emerged in the river and interrupted boat services.

A 62-year-old tour boat operator Narong Taosri said the water levels had fluctuated until it dropped unprecedentedly this time of the year. 

Water color turned to ocean-like turquoise; “although it looked nice it could mean disaster will follow,” he said.

Cargo boats that Thai and Lao merchant rely for their border trade now have to make long detour.

Large ship like Mekong Paradise Cruise was forced to suspend its operation.  The ship was anchored and served only as a floating restaurant.  

According to experts, the Mekong water levels during the rainy season from June to July are among the lowest on record due partly to below-average rainfall.  

The average lower-than-normal rain volume in the lower Mekong basin during June-July could also cause the deficient groundwater in the region. This means there is insufficient groundwater contributing to the Mekong mainstream. (TNA)


Industry Minister, car manufacturers discuss ways to boost exports

BANGKOK (NNT) - The ongoing trade war between the United States and China has continued to dampen world economic growth, as well as exports of Thailand’s automotive products. Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, has recently expressed his concern over the situation, after the Philippines announced its plan to impose tariffs on Thai automotive

The Industry Minister, Suriya Juangroongruangkit, met with representatives of the Thai automotive industry to discuss the Philippines retaliatory measures against Thailand’s automotive exports, following a trade dispute between the two countries. Thailand was found to have failed to comply with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ruling against its regulations on cigarette imports, which has affected Philippine cigarette exports.

The Industry Minister said information presented at the meeting will be revised and submitted to the cabinet meeting, so that relevant agencies can come up with proper solutions. Initially, negotiations between the sides must take place because the Philippines is the top importer of Thai automotive products, with about 120,000 vehicles being imported annually.

Suriya said, "Right now, there are reports from Philippine media about the cigarette situation. Our Customs Department say prices of cigarette products from the Philippines are lower than they actually are. This means less taxes are paid. This is why they raise the auto issue. If we don’t fix the cigarette issue, they will implement retaliatory measures. I think that there should be talks because we’re exporting a large number of cars to the Philippines. All these issues must enter the negotiation process."

In addition, the Thai automotive industry has to deal with Vietnam’s non-tariff barriers. The country takes 14 days to a month to inspect each batch of imported vehicles. This has affected the manufacturers’ operating costs and created problems. The government and the Office of Industrial Economics have been asked to assist the Thai automotive industry and help Thailand maintain its position as the leading regional automotive manufacturer.


HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn confers diplomas on graduates of Suranaree University of Technology

 

Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn delivers her speech to the graduates.

Assoc. Prof. Charnchai Thongsopha, makes his presentation of the ionic air purifier to HRH Princess Sirindhorn.

NAKHON RATCHASIMA (NNT) - Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, on behalf of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua, conferred diplomas on graduates of Suranaree University of Technology for academic year 2018.

At 9:12 a.m. on Friday Nov 29, Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn proceeded to Suranaree University of Technology in Muang Nakhon Ratchasima district, Nakhon Ratchasima province, to present honorary certificates to three recipients and honorary pins to two beneficiaries of Suranaree University of Technology. The Princess then conferred diplomas on 3,628 graduates in doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degree programs. The Princess also presented an honorary plaque to a graduate acknowledged for outstanding achievements.

Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindorn delivered a speech to the graduates, saying "Suranaree University of Technology is a learning institution and a reliable pillar of society. This is admirable because the university is aware of its role and is socially responsible. The university has also tried to perform to the best of its ability, setting an example to all the graduates. Everyone is part of society, and we all have social responsibilities, especially university graduates. They are thoughtful and highly capable. They must carry out more duties than others to drive the country forward. I ask the graduates of Suranaree University of Technology to know their duties and responsibilities and use their knowledge, ideas and potential to bring prosperity to themselves and their country because this is a social commitment and an important responsibility."

At 11:58 a.m., Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn proceeded to Surasammanakhan Building in Suranaree University of Technology to receive Assoc. Prof. Charnchai Thongsopha, an electronics engineering professor at the Faculty of Engineering at Suranaree University of Technology who made a presentation of an ionic air purifier to remove PM2.5 particles. The purifier has the air-purifying power of 500 trees. The cost of electricity to operate the purifier is only 1.50 baht per hour. It can be used to help people with respiratory diseases and to protect the environment.


Culture Minister promotes the excellence of Thai food

Culture Minister Itthiphol Khunpluem opens the Sam Rap Thai Institute.

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Government has cooperated with Chulalongkorn University (CU) and Thai Fight to create Thai food through the Sam Rap Thai Institute to promote the excellence of Thai food.

Culture Minister Itthiphol Khunpluem, today presided over the opening ceremony of the the Sam Rap Thai Institute to promote Thai food and local food nationwide.

The institute has been founded by the government, Thai Fight, CU and network partners to promote Thai food through various activities.

The Sam Rap Thai Institute is to offer a Thai food cooking course to present the uniqueness of Thailand through the taste of authentic Thai food.

The Sam Rap Thai Institute has also won the Siam Charas Award for being a medium for disseminating Thai food standards worldwide.


Ancient city discovered in Nakhon Si Thammarat

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT (NNT) - An ancient city has been discovered on a mountain range in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

The stone construction on the mountain range in Nakhon Si Thammarat is believed to be over 1,000 years old. The architecture resembles an ancient deity, while the stones are laid out to form an image of the universe.

Phum Jiradejwong, a historian in Nakhon Si Thammarat, led an exploration team to the ancient city, which was noticed and recorded by an early Chinese explorer more than 1,000 years ago. The expedition led by Mr. Phum started three years ago. The group called themselves "Explorers of the Mountain City". This discovery could be one of the country’s most important archaeological finds.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great once had a conversation about this ancient city with the then Education Minister, Samphan Thongsamak. Furthermore, Khun Phantharak Rajjadej once asked a forest ranger to help find an ancient city wall in Nakhon Si Thammarat. No discoveries were made until recently, when Mr. Phum’s team explored the area. The Governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Siripat Patkul, was notified about the discovery.

He coordinated with the Protected Areas Regional Office 5 and Khao Nan National Park to deploy teams of explorers to thoroughly inspect the site and ultimately make this archaeological site official.


Khao Kheow Open Zoo holding vote to name new pygmy hippo

CHONBURI (NNT) - Khao Kheow Open Zoo has introduced its latest member, a baby pygmy hippopotamus to visitors; it is the sixth of the species born in the zoo.

The Director of Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Attaporn Srihayrun, called the birth of the new pygmy hippo a very welcome occurrence. The male baby was born to 20-year-old female Jonah and 21-year-old male Tony on October 27 this year. The zoo is now holding a vote to decide between the names Moo-tun and Kagi, with a 3,000 baht prize and 10 one-year free passes to the zoo, up for grabs. Votes can be cast via the zoo’s official Facebook page between now and December 20, with winners to be announced on the page on December 28.

Veterinarians at the zoo have evaluated both the newborn and its mother as being in good health, and visitors have noted that the mother and child are inseparable. They have become a major attraction with visitors snapping their photos.

A pygmy hippopotamus resembles others of their genus, but are only one tenth the average size of other hippos. They are usually a solitary animal and are normally averse to human contact. They have poor eyesight but a strong sense of smell and are herbivores.


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Khao Kheow Open Zoo holding vote to name new pygmy hippo