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Update February 2016

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Thailand News

Motorway extension in Chonburi expected to begin late this month

CHONBURI,(NNT) - The Ministry of Transport has revealed that the construction of a motorway linking Pattaya to Map Ta Phut will begin later this month.

Transport Minister Akom Termpittayapaisit presided over the agreement-signing ceremony for the extension of Special Highway No. 7, also known as Motorway Route 7. It will be 31 kilometers long from Pattaya municipality to the town of Map Ta Phut.

The construction is part of this year's motorway development plan, which is aimed at connecting Laem Chabang Port and industrial estates in the East to the Central Plains. The construction project is valued at 14.2 billion baht and will take approximately three years to complete.

The Transport Minister also revealed that the bidding process is currently underway for the construction of a motorway connecting Ayutthaya province to Nakhon Ratchasima province.

Regarding the motorway project linking Bangkok to Kanchanaburi province, Mr. Akom said that authorities are currently conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA). The EIA will be submitted to the Office of National Environment Board for consideration later this month.

Prime Minister bolsters mosquito fighting campaign

Bangkok,(NNT) – The Prime Minister has promoted the government’s mosquito combating campaign and voiced a desire to see ASEAN wide cooperation to stem disease transmitting insects.

Ahead of the day’s Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha took part in a campaign to eradicate mosquitoes organized by the Disease Control Department of the Ministry of Public Health. He called on all relevant agencies to ensure the public is made aware of the threat of mosquitoes and the diseases they can spread, especially in the southern region where due to a large amount of rubber farms, mosquitoes are able to thrive.

Pointing out that the ASEAN region is mostly tropical; the premier said he wants to see regional cooperation to eliminate mosquitoes.

The Disease Control Department has reported that in 2016 it expects 166 thousand people to contract dengue fever. To cut the number it is utilizing the Civil State philosophy to combine the efforts of the public and private sector. The department has created a campaign titled “3 clean ups, 3 diseases” calling for all citizens to clean their homes, garbage and water sources to protect themselves from dengue fever, the Zika virus and Chikungunya.

The department is also introducing a new application to help educate the public on how to eradicate mosquitoes.

35bn baht economic stimulus campaign to be approved on 12 Feb

BANGKOK,(NNT) – More fundamental economic stimulus measures under the civil-state policy is set to be approved with a budget of 35 billion baht in a conference on 12 February, says Village and Urban Community Fund chief.

The Office of Village and Urban Community Fund Director Nathee Clibtong has revealed that the office is set to approve the manual and regulations to run projects under the fundamental economic stimulus campaign within a 35 billion baht budget on 12 February 2016, allowing the proposed project to commence immediately after approval.

He said more than 30,000 funds have been requested under this campaign to promote long-term and sustainable developments in villages and communities, while the office is recruiting community volunteers to monitor the progress and outcome of local projects, and to promote a conciliatory approach in both the project's social and economical aspects.

The criteria for project approval include the public benefits, employment and income generation in communities, infrastructure development, basic manufacturing factors development, and water sources development.

The Village and Urban Community Fund's chief further disclosed that all project in this campaign should operate under the civil-state mechanism to receive support from the government sector, but the main principles are that the participants are responsible for the projects, emphasizing on ownership through engagement.

Health Ministry hold workshop on developing system for purchasing medical supplies

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Deputy Permanent Secretary of Public Health Somsak Akksilp, MD, chaired a workshop on developing and improving a system for purchasing medicine and medical equipment.

The workshop suggested that the most optimal way to purchase medical supplies is to group up hospitals and place an order together, which would give the group the upper hand in negotiations over the suppliers. The workshop was in line with the National Anti-Corruption Commission's guidelines and the Cabinet's policies.

In addition, a talk on using "e-bidding" to purchase medical supplies online was held by Associate Professor Kitti Pitaknitinan, the President of the Pharmacy Council of Thailand.

The workshop was attended by about 400 representatives from general hospitals, community hospitals, provincial hospitals, inspectors general, regional senior medical officers, and other related authorities.

Sukhothai unveils marigold field as new tourist attraction

SUKHOTHAI,(NNT) – Sukhothai Province is promoting the blooming marigold field in the province as the latest “unseen” tourism attraction, a TAT official says.

Sukhothai Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Office’s Director Patsarin Sawetrat has revealed that TAT Sukhothai is now inviting tourists to come and enjoy the beauty of blooming marigold in vast fields located in Pak Khwae Subdistrict, Sukhothai Province.

Marigolds are planted in the area as substitute to tobaccos during the dry season starting from November and ending in April, adding the golden-yellow color to the local scenery.

Visitors can observe the livelihood of local farmers harvesting marigold flowers in the morning, while the marigold fields are gaining popularity as a new tourism attraction, from the images shared on the internet by numerous visitors.

Interested individuals can contact TAT Sukhothai for more information about visiting the fields by calling 0-5561-6228-9.

Prime Minister calls for clear digital economy plans to be drafted

Bangkok,(NNT) – The Prime Minister has called for each of the ministries of the cabinet to draft plans in line with the government’s 20 year Digital Economy strategy.

Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has chaired a meeting of the commission established to transition the nation’s economy and society to the digital era at Government House. At the beginning of the meeting, the premier made known he wants all ministries of the government to outline clear plans based on the 12th National Economic and Social Development Board blueprint, which outlines a 20 year plan for national development. He asserted that the plans are needed to ensure that once general elections take place, the new government will be able to move forward with national reforms.

Among the meeting’s agendas was the presentation of a master plan for the development of a digital society and economy and a plan proposed by Electronic Government Agency Plc (EGA). Both adhere to the government’s 20 year plan, which is divided into 5 year phases.

The first phase of the plan utilizes proposals by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and Ministry of Education to create networking infrastructure. The Information Ministry is to set up 10 thousand high speed internet relays to give the public wider access to Free Wi-Fi. Relevant laws to implement the plan are to be concluded within this year.

Suspect in murder of dismembered Spaniard in Thai custody

Thai police escort Artur Segarra Princep, 36, of Spain, center, after arriving by helicopter on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. at the police airport in Bangkok from Cambodia.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Jason Corben, Associated Press
BANGKOK (AP) — A Spanish man who is the prime suspect in the gruesome murder of a fellow Spaniard was in Thai custody Monday after being arrested in Cambodia, where he fled after the victim's dismembered body was recovered over several days from Bangkok's Chao Phraya River.

The suspect, identified as Artur Segarra Princep, 36, was arrested Sunday evening at a restaurant in the Cambodian coastal town of Sihanoukville where he had checked into a guesthouse a few days earlier, regional Cambodian police chief Gen. Chuon Narin said Monday.

"We received a request from Thai police to arrest this man, and after launching an investigation we found him," Chuon Narin said.

Thai police sent a helicopter to Cambodia and it returned with the suspect Monday evening.

Thai police have identified the victim as David Bernat, who was described as a consultant. They have speculated that he was abducted, tortured and forced to transfer a large amount of money before being killed. Thai police have declined to publicly comment on media reports of large transfers of money from Bernat's bank account to accounts in Spain and Singapore.

At a news conference, Thai National Police Chief Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda told reporters that Segarra "only said that they were friends," referring to him and the victim.

Police obtained records showing that Segarra had withdrawn money from ATM machines in the Bangkok area as recently as Thursday, and also had video of him with an unidentified woman and in a black Isuzu pickup truck. Immigration police said Segarra has visited Thailand frequently, but his latest visa expired late last year.

Records show that Bernat also visited Thailand many times, arriving most recently on Jan. 19 on a flight from Iran. He was last seen alive while leaving his Bangkok apartment on Jan. 20. Medical examiners said they believe he died between Jan. 25 and Jan. 27, with the cause being suffocation.

Thai media reports over the weekend said Segarra's motorcycle was found at the Thai border, and a Thai woman described as his girlfriend was quoted saying that he fled Bangkok after seeing his picture on Thai television news reports.

Associated Press writers Nattasuda Anusonadisai in Bangkok and Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

1 dead in Thai boat mishap; all survive Cambodia accident

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Police said they have rescued six Chinese tourists and two Cambodians after their speedboat sank in rough waters on the way to celebrate the Lunar New Year on a popular island. The rescue came a day after a Chinese tourist died in a similar boat accident in neighboring Thailand.

Sihanoukville police chief Gen. Chuon Narin said the Cambodian boat overturned after being hit by strong waves on Monday about 18 kilometers (12 miles) from the coast.

He said the Chinese had rented the boat to visit Koh Rong island even though authorities had banned all sea traffic including fishing boats because of bad weather.

Koh Rong is regarded as the most beautiful Cambodian island because of its white sand beaches and virgin forests. Located in the Gulf of Thailand, it is close to Sihanoukville, 240 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of Phnom Penh.

In neighboring Thailand, strong waves took the life of a 64-year-old female Chinese tourist, Thai media reported.

Thai PBS public television quoted police as saying the accident occurred Sunday afternoon in the Andaman Sea off popular Phi Phi island when a boat carrying a Chinese family of four adults and two children was capsized by a big wave in rough waters, causing the woman to drown and injuring the five other passengers.

It quoted an official from the national park on the island as saying that a warning had been issued for small boats not to take to sea because of high winds and choppy water.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thailand, Japan conducting test run on rail system in Ratchaburi

RATCHABURI,(NNT) – Thailand and Japan are testing a rail system that connects the port of Laem Chabang and the port of Dawei in Myanmar.

The railway project resulting from the cooperation of Thailand and Japan is being tested before its official opening. The test run was presided over yesterday by Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, who was accompanied by Deputy Transport Minister Omsin Chiwaphruek and Tsutomu Shimura, Deputy Director-General of the Railway Bureau under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan.

During the test period, small containers are being transported across various routes such as Kanchanaburi-Bangkok, Bangkok- Chachoengsao - Aranyaprathet, and Bangkok- Chachoengsao-Laem Chabang.

According to Mr Arkhom, Japan has been a great partner in implementing this project, passing on its extensive knowledge on rail technology to Thailand. With Japan’s expertise, he said Thailand will be able to stabilize its infrastructure, which will in turn bring greater economic growth.

In the meantime, Mr Shimura said Japan is determined to help Thailand reduce transportation costs as well as improve the country’s logistics system.

Prime Minister to take part in US-ASEAN Summit on Feb 14-18

BANGKOK,(NNT) – Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha is scheduled to attend the US-ASEAN Summit in California between February 14th and 18th.

Sek Wannamethee, Director-General of the Department of Information and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the prime minister will take part in the inaugural US-ASEAN Summit which will be held in Rancho Mirage, California on February 14th to 18th, at the invitation of US President Barack Obama.

The spokesperson said it will be the first time the US and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet on an official platform following the formation of the ASEAN Community on December 31st, 2015.

The platform will allow the US and the ASEAN Community to discuss economic relations, strategic partnership, and international issues.

Mr Sek said while attending the summit, the Thai Premier will push for greater economic cooperation between both sides with a hope of benefiting sustainable development.

Premier invites tourists to Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem Market

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The prime minister has invited Thai and foreign tourists to Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem Market near Government House.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Cha-o-cha said Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem Market is presenting the land of smiles event from now until February 26th, hosted by the Ministry of Culture.

The event supports the traditions and culture that are unique to various regions and features unique products from local communities. The event will alternate themes to attract visitors and encourage consumer spending.

February 1st-7th which is the first week features a prosperity market to coincide with the Chinese New Year.

The second week, from February 8th to February 14th, will be a celebration of Valentine’s Day.

The third week, from February 15th to February 21st, will be on the theme: “Market of Happiness”.

The final week, from February 22nd to February 26th, will be presented on the theme: “Market of Merit” in order to celebrate Magha Puja Day.

General Chatchai observes rubber purchase project in Trang

TRANG,(NNT) – Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya, has travelled to Trang Province to observe the rubber purchase project in the province.

Gen Chatchai inspected the purchase activity in Wangwiset District and met with local rubber growers registering for the project to listen to their problems and suggestions. Gen Chatchai then visited a rubber co-op to witness rubber processing.

Gen Chatchai disclosed that rubber growers who discussed the problems with him were mostly small scale operators who preferred to sell natural rubber to the co-op. They also asked the government to increase its purchase quota.

The rubber purchase project is one of the government’s efforts to alleviate the effects of the price slump. The purchased rubber will be used in the construction of public facilities such as roadways. In Trang, around 50,000 rubber planters are taking advantage of the helpful project. More than 7,000 of them have already been paid. Some rubber-producing provinces have turned to edible plants and vegetables as another income source.

Health Ministry: Zika virus outbreak unlikely in Thailand

Bangkok, (NNT) – The Ministry of Public Health has indicated it is unlikely the Zika virus will enter and spread through the Kingdom.

Department of Disease Control Adviser and Virology Expert, Dr. Prasert Thongcharoen, recently took part in a meeting to prepare measures against emerging ailments. Following the meeting, the adviser stated that there is only a low to medium risk of a Zika virus epidemic in the Kingdom as so far it has spread mostly only through mosquitoes with very few instances of sexual transmission suspected.

The Ministry of Public Health has erected 4 blockades against the illness ranging from virologist techniques to entomologist techniques. It is also monitoring the public for signs of the virus, especially newborns as the disease has been linked to abnormal development of fetuses. It has noted for those traveling back from risk areas that the illness itself is not dangerous and can be self-treated.

On an Omani man in Thailand found to be infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), ministry officials stated his overall condition is good and he only requires breathing assistance from time to time. Nonetheless, they asserted that precautionary measures should continue.

Fishing license to require background checks

BANGKOK, (NNT) - The Department of Fisheries has proposed to the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) that background checks be conducted on a boat operator before issuing a fishing license.

Admiral Na Areenich, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy and Commander of the CCCIF, has recently chaired a meeting with other members of the CCCIF, as well as representatives from the Department of Fisheries. They have agreed that background checks must be conducted to make sure the boat operator has a clean record of fishing operations.

Records can be obtained from the Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Center and other relevant agencies. Meanwhile, the Department of Fisheries is expected to determine the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and provide it to boat registration officers at the CCCIF before next Friday.

MSY is the largest catch that can be taken from a species' population under prevailing environmental and economic conditions. As for illegal fishing equipment and boats, a CCCIF legal team will identify individuals responsible for their usage.

DSI seizes 11 plots of land in Kanchanaburi

KANCHANABURI, (NNT) – The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has seized 600 rai of land illegally held as trespassed and misused land in the national forest reserve, says a DSI official.

The DSI’s Special Operation Center Region 7 Director Pol Lt Col Anon Untarichan has revealed that the DSI has finally seized all 11 plots of land, reported by the general public as trespassed lands in the national forest reserve area, reclaiming the land rights back to the government on 3 February 2016.

Land reclamation operations were carried out starting from the seize of 4 out of the 11 plots of land back on 26 August 2015, followed by additional investigation using satellite images to identify the remaining 7 plots of land located in the East Chong Insee and Don Salaeb-Laokwan forests.

Initial observation from officials shows that the land was trespassed by locals for the cultivation of farm plants such as sugar cane, tapioca, and rubber trees.

Land reclamation operations are in accordance with the government’s policy to eliminate the trespassing of lands by capitalists without disturbing the local people who may use the land for daily occupation.

The criteria for retaking the land is based on ownership and usage. Trespassed land areas larger than 25 rai by local people will be determined by Cabinet resolution, while the use of land plots under 25 rais for commercial usage, including resort development, will be deemed illegal and immediately seized.

GSB to launch low interest loans for home buyers

Bangkok,(NNT) – The Government Savings Bank (GSB) has prepared to offer low interest loans through its “Civil State Homes for Low Income Earners Project”, aiming to dole out 30 billion baht to low income earners for home purchases starting this March.

GSB President Surachai Danaitangtrakul, elaborated that the project targets low and medium income earners and seeks to enable them to purchase their own homes. The project is to be presented to the Cabinet next week so that it can be approved for implementation by March.

GSB will join with the Islamic Bank of Thailand to offer up homes that were used as collateral in non-performing loans to low income earners. Up to 12 thousand units will be presented in the first batch with an additional 2,900 units expected from the Treasury Department.

The terms of the project mandate that eligible applicants must make between 15-20 thousand baht a month and have never owned real estate before. Such individuals will be able to request loans up to 700 thousand baht for homes and land, 600 thousand baht for apartments and 500 thousand baht for homes offered by the Treasury Department. Interest for the loans will be 2 percent over 3 years with the government subsidizing 1 percent to the GSB each year. Payments will start at as low as 3,000 baht a month.

Bangkok unveils QR code system of tracking the supply chain of meats

BANGKOK,(NNT) – Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra visited Bangkok’s Sam Yan Market to test a new smartphone scanning system to track the whereabouts of meat products.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) unveiled its new project to provide consumers with a database of the origins of meat in order to create credibility and transparency during the Chinese New Year. The database will reveal to consumers the entire process of preparation, processing and packaging to affirm that the produce is safe and hygienic.

Bangkok’s Sam Yan, On Nut, Ying Charoen, Thung Khru and Bang Khun Markets are participating in the “Scan Me” project where smart phone users can download a QR code reader from the App Store or Google Play Store and scan the QR codes attached to the meat packaging. In addition to providing information on the produce’s whereabouts, the application also allows users to make comments and suggestions while all information will be forwarded to the Veterinary Office of Public Health to further improve quality control.

Sri Lanka's primary industry minister visits Thai commerce minister

Bangkok,(NNT) – Sri Lanka's Primary Industry Minister Daya D.K. Gamage visited Thailand and was received by Thai Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn today.

His visit came in advance of Deputy Thai Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak’s upcoming official tour to Sri Lanka between March 9 and 12, which is aimed at improving trade relationships between the two countries.

Mr. Somkid's planned visit to Sri Lanka will involve a high-level government dialogue, a Business Forum and a Business Matching fair to promote economic ties between the two countries.

Sri Lanka offers promising potentials for Thailand's jewelry, fishery, pharmaceutical, agricultural sectors and tourism industry.

Mrs. Apiradi said the Sri Lankan government is interested in inviting Thai businesses to invest in its infrastructure development projects such as mass transit construction and fishery. Besides, Sri Lanka needs investment in food processing industry while its tourism sector is yet to be developd to draw visitors from Thailand, given Sri Lanka's abundance of Buddhist religious sites and attractions. ”

Sri Lanka has become Thailand’s fourth largest trading partner in the South Asia region, accounting for 488 million USD in trade and representing 0.12 percent in a total of Thailand's trade value. Thailand has had 380 million USD in trade surplus to Sri Lanka.

Thailand and India sign coastal logistics cooperation

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and Vice President of India Hamid Ansari have presided over an agreement-signing ceremony for coastal logistics cooperation.

Under the agreement, Thailand and India will join hands to set up a transport route between a seaport in the Andaman Sea and those in India. Thailand will study a new Indian investment law before proposing the subsequent establishment of a free trade area (FTA) agreement with India. Another deal for tourism cooperation will allow India to study Thailand’s tourism management.

Mr. Ansari is the first Indian vice president to visit Thailand in half a century. He and his wife, Salma Ansari, had the opportunity to observe the Royal Chitralada Projects. The Indian Vice President then delivered a keynote speech at Chulalongkorn University, entitled “India, Thailand and ASEAN: Contours of a Rejuvenated Relationship.” Both later traveled to Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm, also known as Wat Pho, and the Grand Palace.

Next year, Thailand and India will celebrate their 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

Chinatown vendors urged not to raise prices of religious goods

BANGKOK, 5 February 2016 (NNT) - The Office of the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB) has urged Chinatown vendors to maintain reasonable prices for religious and ceremonial items ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations.

Minister Attached to the Office of the Prime Minister ML Panadda Diskul joined the OCPB Secretary-General, Ampol Wongsiri, in reaching out to vendors and gold shop owners in a campaign to maintain the cost of living for consumers.

Those selling religious and ceremonial items have been urged not to increase their prices as Chinese New Year approaches.

The two government officials have also affirmed that no gold shops were found in violation of the law. Their demonstrations of gold weighing procedures are also in line with the OCPB guidelines and the prices of gold were displayed clearly.

Health Ministry holds teen health & beauty activity

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has organized an activity to raise awareness of the dangers of unsafe diet and beauty regimens.

At the opening speech, Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn has cautioned teenagers planning to undergo plastic surgery to consider the possible side effects and to only choose certified hospitals.

Dr. Piyasakol said that teenagers are naturally endowed with youthful beauty, arguing that they can maintain their health and looks by having a balanced diet, enough rest, and regular exercise. The activity featured talks by health and beauty experts, as well as entertainment shows by volunteer artists.

The ministry has planned to launch a similar activity at several campuses to raise awareness of a healthy lifestyle among youngsters.

Prime Minister says 2017 expenditure budget to be drafted with stringency

Bangkok, (NNT) – The Prime Minister has called for greater care to be taken in drafting the 2017 government spending budget with an emphasis on fiscal discipline and wider dispersion.

Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has handed down policy to a meeting discussing the Government Expenditure Budget for 2017 attended by high ranking government officials, state enterprise executives and the heads of state offices. Throughout the meeting, the attendants will be briefed on the approach to be used in drafting their budgets for next year, which have been decided with an aim to achieve the greatest benefit to the public and the nation.

The premier asked that all in attendance gain a clear understanding of the changing situation of the world so that they may draft their budgets with consideration to both domestic and international factors. He asserted that the central budget must be dispersed to all local offices with efficiency and address matters in a direct manner. He affirmed that this year, drafting of the budget would be done with stringency and fiscal discipline.

Prime Minister discusses bilateral ties with Indian VP

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha welcomed the Vice President of India during his official visit to Thailand to promote bilateral ties.

Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari arrived in Thailand with his wife, Salma Ansari, and Indian foreign officials. Both Gen Prayut and Mr. Ansari inspected a military formation at the Government House.

They were later scheduled to discuss the possibility of further cooperation in areas of tourism, trade, culture, academia, defense and security. Gen Prayut and his wife, Naraporn Chan-o-cha also hosted a dinner party for the Vice President and his delegation.

This marks first time in 50 years that Thailand has had a visit from an Indian vice president. Next year, the two nations will celebrate their 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

M.L. Panadda urged unity among public & private bodies

BANGKOK, (NNT) - Minister Attached to the Office of Prime Minister ML Panadda Diskul has urged unity between public and private agencies to solve the country’s problems.

During his special lecture on the government’s core values at the Royal Thai Armed Forces' Institute of Security Psychology, ML Panadda stressed the need for both public and private sectors to remain united. He explained that all provinces needed to rely on one another, given their multicultural communities.

ML Panadda talked about his experience as a former provincial governor. He said it was for wealthier provinces to share their income with low-income provinces to enable equal development.

The Minister affirmed that the government would try its best to lead the country towards prosperity within the administration's remaining term by fostering unity and a sense of social responsibility among various bodies.

Upper regions to see chilly weather in early February

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The northern and northeastern regions of Thailand are likely to face a new set round of cool weather due to a strong high pressure, while the public are urged to keep themselves healthy.

The Meteorological Department has announced weather forecast for cool climate in the north and northeastern regions of Thailand, as influenced by a rather strong high pressure from China covering the upper parts of Thailand during 2-7 February 2016.

The conditions will initially cause rainfalls and strong winds, followed by a temperature drop by 2-4 degree Celsius.

The general public are advised to ready themselves for weather change, while people living in the affected areas should take extra care by wearing warm clothes, protecting their houses from strong wind, and be careful when setting up bonfires for warmth.

Motorists should drive with caution, especially when passing through foggy areas, and farmers are advised to be aware of possible damage to their farm from weather change.

Prachuap Khiri Khan constructs drought-resisting dykes

PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN,(NNT) – Prachuap Khiri Khan Province has constructed dikes to slow water flow in drought affected areas, in an attempt to retain more water for consumption and irrigate water into the remote areas.

Hua Hin District Chief Sutipong Klaiudom has revealed that officials in four drought-hit districts in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province have agreed to construct dykes to slow water flow down, in an attempt to retain soil moisture, and increase water reservoirs for consumption.

The dykes will be constructed using local materials from the effort of local communities as drought relief. Despite a report of lowered water levels in Pranburi Reservoir, officials have confirmed that the remaining reserves are sufficient for tap water manufacturing in Hua Hin District.

Water tankers will continuously be dispatched to deliver clean water to remote areas, where water shortage is expected.

The general public are also advised refrain from harming elephants that drink from the ponds that have been excavated by the local people, but to instead drive them away.

Prime Minister confirms intention to see draft charter pass public referendum

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Prime Minister has confirmed his intention to see the new draft charter passed in the public referendum.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said this week that although he may disapprove, criticism of the draft constitution is a basic right of the people. He said that he has not reviewed any suggestions from the Constitution Drafting Commission but he is glad that the new draft constitution was completed and released to the public.

The Premier added that he wants the latest draft charter to pass the public referendum as planned. He went on to say that should the draft charter fail to receive public endorsement, a contingency plan has been prepared.

When asked what could delay the planned general election, the Prime Minister said that it could be the draft constitution’s failure to secure the people’s support or political conflicts.

Deputy Prime Minister gives speech in Iran promoting business with Thailand

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak

TEHRAN,(NNT) – The Deputy Prime Minister gave remarks promoting investment in Thailand in front of businessmen at a forum in Iran, aiming to increase trade between Thailand and Iran by ten times from the current volume.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak gave a speech at the event held in Tehran, Iran, and represented the Thai companies that attended.

He said Thailand is in the process of developing its infrastructure to allow transportation connectivity within the ASEAN region and to China and India, which are both highly capable markets. His visit to Iran on this occasion was intended to tighten the relations of both countries in all aspects, including trade, diplomacy, and tourism.

It is reported that Iran is interested in engaging in the exchange of food and energy goods with Thailand. The trade value between the two countries could be expanded by ten fold, estimated to be as high as 3 billion US dollar value as opposed to the current 300 million.

Culture Ministry to hold Muay Thai Day event

Bangkok,(NNT) – The Ministry of Culture has prepared to organize “Muay Thai Day” in honor of King Suriyenthrathibodi as well as to promote its Muay Thai Alliance project.

Culture Minister Weera Rojpojanarat has said that as the Cabinet mandated February 6th of each year “Muay Thai Day” in honor of King Suriyenthrathibodi, who was an accomplished Muay Thai practitioner, the ministry will be organizing an event to mark the date. The aim of the celebration will be to promote awareness about Thai boxing and its popularity worldwide.

The minister pointed out there are over 240 Muay Thai gyms in the Kingdom and 27 across the world, including in China, the UK and Brazil.

“The Prime Minister’s policy is for teachers to encourage students to learn Muay Thai in school, if only for self defense. For professional boxers, he has asked that more opportunities be created for them to compete. From this year onward, the ministry will seek to ensure that Muay Thai remains a defining characteristic of the Kingdom that is preserved by all”.

At the Muay Thai Day event, the ministry will hold a mass “Wai Kru” ceremony, an act practiced by boxers which shows respect to their teachers. Fights and performances will also be part of the day with One Round Knockout matches between 8 men’s pairings and 2 women’s. The event will take place this Saturday the 6th of February 2016 at the Thailand Cultural Center from 16.00 to 22.30 hrs.

Chinese New Year goods maintain prices

Bangkok,(NNT) – Thais of Chinese descent have been observed stocking up on goods for the coming Chinese New Year celebration, buying up ducks, chickens and other offerings but have yet to spur a jump in the prices of such goods.

An inspection of traditional offerings for the Chinese New Year holiday at Yaowarat Market has shown that prices for most goods have remained at similar levels to last year. Chicken, duck and pork for offerings have remained at 450 baht per set from last year. Sellers however, have noted a drop in sales, which they attributed to the ailing economy and its effect on buying power.

Traditional desserts and sweets were said to be the only products that have maintained their sales levels.

Prices of fruits and vegetables have risen, with sellers reasoning that the drought situation has impacted supplies. Most fruits are selling at 10 baht higher than last year.

Tourism Authority of Thailand moves to expand tourism from Iran and Oman


BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Tourism Authority of Thailand has pushed to expand foreign tourist arrivals from Iran and Oman, following a recent government delegation to the Middle Eastern countries.

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said the Middle East is considered a “high-end market.” He revealed that the average Middle Eastern tourist spends 6,500 baht per day on a trip to Thailand, beating out European tourists who spend an average of 5,500 baht per day.

The TAT Governor added that Thailand’s healthcare and hospitals have also gained the trust of Middle Eastern tourists. On this official trip led by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and six ministers, several agreements have been brokered with the Omani government on providing healthcare for public officials in Thailand and packages for medical tourism.

Similar healthcare deals were struck in Iran, where the TAT will also work in collaboration with Mahan Air to schedule new flights.

TAT welcomes couples to tie the knot for the month of love

Mr. Charles and Mrs. Maria Jacobs from Israel, the first couple and honeymooners of Amazing Romance in Thailand activity.

Bangkok, – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in cooperation with Suvarnabhumi Airport and the Immigration Division, staged a special ceremony to welcome the first group of couples and honeymooners at Suvarnabhumi Airport as part of the “Amazing Romance in Thailand” activity. This event was joined by Mr. Sugree Sithivanich, TAT’s Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, Mr. Noppadol Mongkolsin, Deputy General Manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport (Business Support), Mrs. Pataraporn Sithivanich, TAT’s Executive Director for the Americas Region and Mr. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT’s Executive Director of Advertising and Public Relations Department.

The tourists can find three special photo booths and registration counters throughout February in the East and West Concourses of Suvarnabhumi Airport’s Arrival Gate D4 and D6 as well as Departure Halls.

Academic seminar held to support Thai workforce

BANGKOK,(NNT) - An academic seminar under the theme "Power of Global Knowledge & Innovation" was held at Stamford International University, Asoke campus.

Distinguished panelists disseminated knowledge relating to Thailand’s recent economic situations in international perspectives which have affected the process for recruiting potential employees of many companies.

With respect to the challenging competitiveness of Thai workforce in the ASEAN community, Mr.Peerapol Sa-ngamuang, head of Marketing, Zalora Thailand, pointed out that the company planned to hire potential employees with a passion to learn new things. He also suggested Thai youths to develop soft skills regularly because there are no boundaries of learning.

That comment was endorsed by Mr.Rawit Hanutsaha, managing director of Srichand United Dispensary Co., who explained that his company mostly relies on international markets and has invested over 90% of its budget in human resource development. The company focused on logical thinking process of employees to run the business effectively. He said a potential workforce will be largely demanded in the ASEAN community while the Thais should have strong discipline in learning and developing their capabilities.

Thai Politians visit Oman and Iran

BANGKOK, (NNT) - Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and six ministers are conducting an official visit to the Sultanate of Oman and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The six ministers travelling with Mr. Somkid are Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj, Industry Minister Atchaka Sibunruang, Energy Minister Gen Anantaporn Kanjanarat, Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong and Commerce Minister Apiradee Tantraporn.

Mr. Somkid, the six ministers, and 71 representatives from public and private agencies stayed in Oman from January 31 to February 1 and will visit Iran from February 2 - 5. The delegation will seek new markets for Thai agricultural products in these countries. Initially, Thailand hopes to export at least 300,000 tons in rice to Iran, while the Middle Eastern nation provides for Thailand's energy security.

Commerce Minister Apiradee Tantraporn revealed that the trade value between Thailand and Oman is worth about 1.1 billion US dollars. She said Thailand's key exports to the nation include automobiles, auto parts and chemical products.

Ms. Apiradee pointed out that trade value between Thailand and Iran was 600 million US dollars before international sanctions slashed it in half. She expects Thailand will sell more rubber, sugar and rice to these target nations.

Cool weather returning this week

Bangkok,(NNT) – The Meteorological Department has pointed out that despite warmer weather over the past weekend, cool temperatures will return to the nation this week, urging members of the public to be mindful of their health.

A new low to medium pressure front from China is expected to move to the north of Thailand this week, which combined with winds from the South China Sea will result in rains and a drop in temperature of 2-4 degrees Celsius. The northeast will be the first area to feel the cooler weather.

Monsoons in the northeast are forecast to pick up in intensity and waves in the Gulf of Thailand will reach 2 meters.

Authorities have already begun assisting residents in provinces such as Nan, Bueng Kan and Nong Bualamphu where the cool weather has resulted in fog and affected residents.

Health Ministry enhances measures against Malaria

NONTHABURI,(NNT) – The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has enhanced disease control measures for Malaria, aiming to maintain malaria-free areas for at least 3 years while eliminating drug-resisting vitiates in border provinces, official says.

The MOPH Permanent-Secretary Sopon Mekthon has revealed the progress of malaria control measures in Thailand, that the MOPH has shifted focus from controlling the disease to elimination, which will be completed within the next 10 yeas.

Four strategies will be executed to achieve the malaria-free goal, namely the urgent control of outbreaks, the development of technology and innovation, heightened cooperation, and the promotion of self-prevention capability among the general public.

The MOPH is now aiming to create malaria-free environment in the entire nation for at least 3 years.

According to the Department of Disease Control’s (DDC) Director-General Amnuay Gajeena, Thailand has achieved a satisfactory outcome on malaria control with 36 percent less patients during 1 January 2015 to 7 January 2016, when compared to the same period of the previous year.

However, authorities must now focus on the elimination of drug-resistant malaria disease commonly found in 6 border provinces, namely Tak, Kanchanaburi, Rayong, Surin, Sisaket, and Trat, which cost 7-8 times more for effective treatment.

Decisive elimination of malaria will differ according to each specific area, while the focus remains on quickly identifying infections and providing immediate treatment to cut off the infection circuit, says DDC Director-General.

Relevant bodies launch winter-relief mission in Mahasarakham

MAHASARAKHAM,(NNT) – Relevant agencies in Mahasarakham Province have jointly carried out winter-relief missions in two districts.

The administrative sector, the military and the Mahasarakham Red Cross Chapter have dispatched a caravan to Nongthum Sub-district to hand out winter gear and relief kits to 110 underprivileged villagers as part of the quality of life development project of the Ministry of Interior.

The Rajaprajanugroh Foundation Under Royal Patronage also held a similar activity for the elderly in Wapi Pathum District. The program is aimed at easing the difficulties of disadvantaged residents during winter.

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department has reported that the cold weather will continue in the Northeast with a 2-4 Degree Celsius temperature drop between 1st and 5th February. Occasional rains are forecast in some areas.

Prime Minister asks public to appreciate veterans

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Prime Minister has asked members of the public to commemorate the sacrifices Thai soldiers made in times of conflict, as National Veterans’ Day approaches.

In his national televised address, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said people living ‘behind the wall of security’ should commemorate the heroic acts of soldiers standing on the front line and willing to make sacrifices in order to serve and protect their nation and the people.

Although the country is not at war, he said there are a large number of soldiers, police officers, security officers, and volunteers who are on duty in the field, to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

To demonstrate their gratitude, he asked the public to purchase remembrance poppies, which are an important symbol that recognizes the sacrifices of the country's soldiers.

The Thai Premier also urged all sides to make Thailand, the country that soldiers gave their lives to protect, a peaceful and prosperous nation.

Wildfires rage in Uthai Thani national park

UTHAI THANI,(NNT) – Forest fires have raged through different parts of Khao Luang National Park in Uthai Thani Province over the weekend.

The fires reportedly broke out on Saturday and spread quickly to at least three spots. It is assumed that plant collectors or hunters might have set bonfires in the course of their activities and left the park without putting them out. The ongoing dry season also provided favorable conditions for the wildfires.

Khao Luang National Park straddles the border between Uthai Thani and Nakhon Sawan. Wildfires are frequently reported during this period. Despite the park’s fire prevention campaign, man-made wildfires are still rife in forest areas.

Working committee formed to mobilize tourism development plan

PHUKET,(NNT) – A working committee has been set up to further advance a tourism development plan in five southern provinces.

Tourism related officials have been summoned to a meeting in Phuket to review the government’s strategic plan to boost tourism in the southern region of Thailand especially in five major provinces including Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, Ranong, and Satun.

The government’s tourism plan was formulated according to the National Tourism Policy Act, B.E. 2551 and was later incorporated into the Ministry of Tourism and Sports’ tourism development plan.

The meeting also resolved to form a committee which will be responsible for the implementation and the mobilization of the tourism development plan. The committee will also be tasked with assessing the outcome of the scheme.



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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Motorway extension in Chonburi expected to begin late this month

Prime Minister bolsters mosquito fighting campaign

35bn baht economic stimulus campaign to be approved on 12 Feb

Health Ministry hold workshop on developing system for purchasing medical supplies

Sukhothai unveils marigold field as new tourist attraction

Prime Minister calls for clear digital economy plans to be drafted

Suspect in murder of dismembered Spaniard in Thai custody

1 dead in Thai boat mishap; all survive Cambodia accident

Thailand, Japan conducting test run on rail system in Ratchaburi

Prime Minister to take part in US-ASEAN Summit on Feb 14-18

Premier invites tourists to Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem Market

General Chatchai observes rubber purchase project in Trang

Health Ministry: Zika virus outbreak unlikely in Thailand

Fishing license to require background checks

DSI seizes 11 plots of land in Kanchanaburi

GSB to launch low interest loans for home buyers

Bangkok unveils QR code system of tracking the supply chain of meats

Sri Lanka's primary industry minister visits Thai commerce minister

Thailand and India sign coastal logistics cooperation

Chinatown vendors urged not to raise prices of religious goods

Health Ministry holds teen health & beauty activity

Prime Minister says 2017 expenditure budget to be drafted with stringency

Prime Minister discusses bilateral ties with Indian VP

M.L. Panadda urged unity among public & private bodies

Upper regions to see chilly weather in early February

Prachuap Khiri Khan constructs drought-resisting dykes

Prime Minister confirms intention to see draft charter pass public referendum

Deputy Prime Minister gives speech in Iran promoting business with Thailand

Culture Ministry to hold Muay Thai Day event

Chinese New Year goods maintain prices

Tourism Authority of Thailand moves to expand tourism from Iran and Oman

TAT welcomes couples to tie the knot for the month of love

Academic seminar held to support Thai workforce

Thai Politians visit Oman and Iran

Cool weather returning this week

Health Ministry enhances measures against Malaria

Relevant bodies launch winter-relief mission in Mahasarakham

Prime Minister asks public to appreciate veterans

Wildfires rage in Uthai Thani national park

Working committee formed to mobilize tourism development plan



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