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Update February 2016


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

Buriram prepares 3,000 jobs for drought-hit farmers

BURIRAM,(NNT) – The public and private sectors in Buriram have prepared more than 3,000 vacancies for drought-hit farmers whose number is likely to exceed 4,000.

Buriram Employment Office chief Anan Klankayan suggested that job seekers enquire about vacant positions at the Buriram Employment Office or meet prospective employers at an upcoming job fair on 8rd March.

Most of the jobs on offer are in the production, service, sales and repair and maintenance industries. Mr. Anan said the job placement was to enable drought affected farmers to earn income during the suspension of farming, so that they would not have to leave their home town to look for jobs elsewhere or would fall victim to illegal employment agencies.
 


Thai & Myanmar military discuss haze reduction plan

TAK, 21 February 2016 (NNT) – Thai and Myanmar military officers have met in Tak Province to discuss a cooperative plan to prevent and reduce haze.

Both sides have agreed to step up their campaign warning people along the border against burning forest trees and slash and burn farming to prevent air pollution and facilitate border tourism.

Haze density in the North has begun to lower after the recent ban on outdoor burning. Dust levels in the northern provinces of Tak, Lamphun, Chiang Mai and Lampang range between 97 and 101 microgram per cubic meter.

Meanwhile, ozone concentration in Mae Moh District in Lampang Province was recorded at 85 parts per billion while that in Muang District, Phayao Province, stands at 75 parts per billion.
 


Suvarnabhumi’s tarmac renovation plan approved since 2014

BANGKOK,(NNT) – Concrete will be used for paving the taxiways and airport aprons at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, as detailed in a renovation plan approved since July 2014, says airport chief.

Airports of Thailand’s (AOT) Suvarnabhumi Airport Director Sirote Duangratana has said in response to the suggestions made by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for Suvarnabhumi Airport, to expedite the taxiways and aprons renovation process, that the AOT is currently working on this issue.

IATA’s suggestion calls for the change of taxiways and aprons surface material from asphalt to steel enforced concrete in order to reduce the frequency of required maintenance operations, which has affected the airport's service capacity.

The airport director disclosed that experts have been hired to study these issues, and identified two factors contributing to deterioration. A combination of the two factors, including high amount of underground water at the airport and the surface material (asphalt), was the source of the problem. The water had softened the asphalt, especially in areas which receive significant weight, particularly at parking aprons and turning points.

To address this issue, Suvarnabhumi Airport is carrying out the renovation process in three phases, involving daily inspection and to immediately fix the affected areas, the resurfacing of taxiways and aprons with better quality asphalt, and the reduction to underground water through the subsurface drainage method.

Operations to improve the airport’s taxiways and aprons had begun since 2014, and has reached 45 percent completion. Renovation works will be completed in 2017, under a total budget of 2.58 billion baht, says Suvarnabhumi Airport director.


Interior Ministry extends school lunch agriculture project

BANGKOK, 21 February 2016 (NNT) – The Ministry of Interior is working to extend the Agriculture for School Lunch project, to cover all provinces nationwide, as part of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy promotion campaign.

The Ministry of Interior’s Permanent-Secretary Grisda Boonrat has revealed that the Ministry has appointed all provinces to extend the operation of the Agriculture for School Lunch project, under Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s initiative, as part of the government’s campaign to promote Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.

District chiefs will push forward this campaign in cooperation with local school directors and board, village headsmen, and the related government agencies, to support the school’s plan to extend its Agriculture for School Lunch project, which shall be selected from officials.

Budget to support this campaign can be requested until 31 March 2016 through the committee, with the budget capacity of 100,000 baht per school. The continuous financial support for the next academic years will be instead allocated from the provincial budget.


Condo project to be established in Mae Sot, Tak

TAK,(NNT) - A multi-million baht condominium project, "The Master Pride @ Mae Sot," will be established in the heart of Mae Sot district, Tak province, in order to satisfy the need for premium residences in the Thailand-Myanmar border area.

The project has recently held its launch ceremony. In attendance were former Interior Minister Sujarit Patchimnan, representatives from government units and the private sector, and residents from Mae Sot and Myawaddy in Myanmar.

The 150-million-baht condominium will be built over a four-rai area in the central business district of Mae Sot. The project is in line with the government's policies to boost the economy in the district, which has been declared a Special Economic Zone, and get it ready for the ASEAN Economic Community.

The condo project is expected to draw attention from both local and foreign investors, as Mae Sot is located in the East-West Economic Corridor. The corridor is an economic development program initiated to promote the development and integration of four ASEAN countries, namely Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.


Chiang Mai Zoo debuts baby albino deer

CHIANG MAI,(NNT) – Chiang Mai Zoo has recently debuted a newborn albino deer and it is giving the public the chance to name him.

The baby albino deer was born on 4th February. He is sired by albino deer Khun Phut and is a grandson of Khun Phet, the albino deer royally given to Chiang Mai Zoo by Her Majesty the Queen in 2009. Albino deer are protected by the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of B.E. 2535.

The newborn’s birth is regarded as a success of Chiang Mai Zoo since the likelihood of breeding an albino deer is extremely low. The zoo is holding a naming competition for the baby deer which is now on display. The winner will get 2,000 baht in prize money and one-year free entrance to the zoo.


Samut Prakan to hold agricultural fair

SAMUT PRAKAN,(NNT) – Samut Prakan will be holding an agricultural fair to promote the province’s products.

The fair will start from 23rd February until 3rd March at Imperial World Samrong. Vice-governor Siam Sirimongkol and the chief of Samut Prakan Agricultural Office jointly held a press conference to publicize the event.

The fair aims to offer consumers agro products and processed food at a reasonable price and give operators the chance to discuss business deals. The event features numerous food outlets by selected agriculturists across Samut Prakan, a seminar on agricultural productivity and value increase, an agro-food contest and an exhibition by Samut Prakan's Agricultural Office.

The event is also to complement the government’s plans to upgrade the country’s agro sector and make the country the kitchen of the world.


DIP STARS program launched to promote SME

BANGKOK, (NNT) - The Department of Industrial Promotion (DIP) has launched the DIP STARS program to promote local small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The program would select SME operators from high growth and high impact sectors to attend courses on business development and organizational restructuring. Industries with high growth include electronics, automobile, food and drink, power distribution, cosmetics, and herbal products. Industries with high impact include machinery, latex, plastics, and textile and apparel.

Participants would learn more about technology and innovation related to their business, along with how to access more capital.

The department expects the attendees to be able to expand their business, explore the possibility of going public on the Market for Alternative Investment in the Stock Exchange of Thailand, receive international recognition, get support from the Board of Investment, and establish a foothold in international markets.


Police to be stringent against crimes during Makha Bucha

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Royal Thai Police have tightened measures against illegal activity during the coming Makha Bucha Day while indicating there have been no signs of a demonstration by Buddhist clergy.

Deputy Spokesperson for the National Police Office, Pol Maj Gen Songpol Wattanachai, has ordered officers to stringently monitor against the sale of alcohol this Makha Bucha Day and let on police will be visiting entertainment venues, transport hubs and gas stations to actively inspect retailers. Checkpoints will be set up from midnight on February 21 to midnight of February 22 to check drivers for alcohol consumption and those found to be driving under the influence will face up to 6 months in prison and a fine of up to 10,000 baht or both.

On rumors that members of the Buddhist clergy will hold a demonstration on the religious holiday, fellow Deputy Spokesperson for the National Police Office, Pol Col Krissana Pattanacharoen affirmed that intelligence has not indicated any action is being planned. He added that police have received complaints against monks previously gathered in support of the Sangha Association’s choice for the new Supreme Patriarch and are considering if the action was in violation of demonstration laws.


Aviation Authority to examine Nok Air's internal management after pilot strike

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Ministry of Transport has instructed the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) to probe the pilots and management of Nok Air.

Transport Minister Akom Termpittayapaisit revealed that Nok Air executives have already presented him a short-term plan to address their safety issues. His statement was made after the minister visited the CAAT and Department of Airports to observe progress on emergency passenger safety measures.

The CAAT has been instructed to find out whether or not Nok Air pilots have exceeded their standard flight hours or if they have broken any other regulations. Lawbreakers will receive a 50,000-baht fine and have their pilot license revoked.

The CAAT is also expected to examine Nok Air’s organizational management, which the Transport Minister said should be in line with global standards.

The CAAT will make sure that passengers receive a refund or have their flights replaced in case of cancellation. If the flight is rescheduled to another day, accommodations and food will be provided accordingly.


Commerce Ministry announces 8 goods barred from transfer in and out of Thailand

BANGKOK,(NNT)- The Ministry of Commerce has announced a list of 8 goods that have been barred from transfer through the Thai border by the United Nations.

The 8 goods that have been banned from being transferred in and out of Thailand include products that infringe upon intellectual property, reproductions of licensed goods, hookahs and E-Cigarettes, gaming devices, elephant products, ancient artifacts, Buddhist paraphernalia and caffeine. Those caught attempting to leave or enter the country with such items will be fined and imprisoned as well as have the goods confiscated along with any implements for transport.

The ministry has also reminded that sensitive agricultural goods that can impact Thai farmers, such as tapioca, rice, wood and products that require World Trade Organization treaties to transport such as palm oil, animal feed corn, onions, garlic and milk have yet to be authorized for transfer from Thailand. Those who wish to travel with such products must receive the proper documentation, which include verification of the goods' origins and their hygiene.


Rubber growers told to brace for severe drought

 

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Rubber Authority of Thailand has warned rubber growers to ready themselves for a severe drought.

The Rubber Authority of Thailand has suggested that rubber planters prepare contingency measures to cope with water shortages, which are expected to grip the country in a month.

Owners of young rubber trees are advised to weed their plantations, as well as use the weeds to cover their tree’s stems to maintain moisture.

Other ways to safeguard their rubber plantations include growing water-rich plants such as bananas or pineapples, as well as trimming branches to reduce the effect of wind.

Rubber growers who need advice on plantation care can contact local offices of the Rubber Authority of Thailand countrywide.


Phang Nga Chamber of Commerce eyes non-rubber industries

PHANG NGA, 18 February 2016 (NNT) – The Phang Nga Provincial Chamber of Commerce has devised assistance measures for non-rubber industries and supported rubber growers to shift towards more profitable agriculture.

Phang Nga Chamber of Commerce President Sitthichote Thongchumnum and division chiefs from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives have traveled to Bang Thong subdistrict to observe mixed-crop farming carried out by a group of rubber growers in Bang Thong village.

The Phang Nga Chamber of Commerce and local rubber cooperative have supported rubber planters to diversify their crops and also raise livestock. This mixed approach to agriculture has allowed these farmers to begin earning a profit.

Aside from mixed agriculture, Phang Nga Chamber of Commerce is planning to stimulate other economically important industries, such as healthy food production, food processing and herb cultivation to strengthen the agricultural sector in the province.


Tourism and Sports Ministry to boost domestic tourism

BANGKOK, 18 February 2016 (NNT)-Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports are trying to expedite tourism reform to attract more tourists to Thailand.

Dr. Somkid has attended a meeting with Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul to discuss tourism plans which include sustainable developmebnt of tourist sites, a tourism network among ASEAN nations and domestic tourism.

Mrs. Kobkarn said this year’s plan is aimed at both raising individual spending per person and encouraging foreign tourists to stay in Thailand longer. Meanwhile, Deputy Phuket Governor Prajiad Aksornthammakul welcomed Malaysia’s Johor State Tourism and Investment Minister YB Datuk Tee Siew Kiong who seeks tourism cooperation with the province.

According to the Malaysian Minister, Johor State is planning to develop a tourism zone on Mersing Island as well as a coastal town in Kota Tinggi.


His Majesty the King’s condition improves

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Bureau of the Royal Household has indicated that His Majesty the King’s condition has improved with less fever, and his breathing less accelerated.

In its 21st statement on His Majesty the King’s condition while staying at Siriraj Hospital, the Royal Household Bureau said His Majesty the King showed less fatique compared to the condition on Feb 16 while his pulse rate also improved.

The statement went on that results of blood tests showed no signs of bacterial infection. However, there are still traces of internal infection, and His Majesty still has joint inflammation, but with less swelling.

The team of doctors tending His Majesty the King was continuing to administer two doses of antibiotics intravenously, as well as provide oxygen and physical therapy to His Majesty, pending more results of special laboratory tests, the statement said.


Thai & Singaporean armies hold joint training

BANGKOK,(NNT) – Thai and Singaporean soldiers are taking part in a joint military training program in a move to promote defense cooperation and ties between the two countries.

The program’s opening ceremony was co-chaired by commander of the 4th Infantry Division Maj Gen Nopporn Ruanchan and Commander of the 8th Singapore Armoured Brigade Col Frederick Choo. More than 700 Thai and Singaporean soldiers are participating in the activity.

During the training, Singaporean army officers are to take military exercises with Thai counterparts to foster military ties, friendship and cultural understanding of each other’s countries. The program consists of cross training exercise and field training exercise which are to take place at training camps in Tak and Sukhothai. The activity will continue until 28th February.


PRD holds training for anchors

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Institute of Public Relations has opened training in radio and television announcement and mass media to prepare personnel to test with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC).

Public Relations Department Director-General Apinan Chantarangsri opened the 4th class of “High-Level Radio and Television Announcer Training” to take place today to February 19. A total 57 aspiring anchors from the public and private sector are taking part in the total 21 hours of training where they will be taught personality skills and methods for efficient dissemination of information.

Among the topics participants will be taught will be proactive strategies for ASEAN, professional management of media and theories and practices for the NBTC radio and television announcer test.


Cabinet nods to development of border checkpoint, adds flights to/from Russia

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Cabinet has set aside a budget for the development of the Aranyaprathet border checkpoint in Sa Kaeo province while giving the green light to the adjustment of the flight schedule between Thailand and Russia.

Government Spokesperson Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd stated that the Cabinet on Tuesday agreed to the Finance Ministry’s proposal to allocate approximately 114 million baht from the central budget for the improvement of the customs checkpoint at the Aranyaprathet border pass.

The budget is to be spent particularly on upgrading the system for the examination of goods, vehicles and cargoes going in and out of the Kingdom. The development plan is aimed to enhance the checkpoint’s capacity in line with the expansion of the local special economic zone and the opening of the ASEAN Economic Community.

Furthermore, Maj Gen Sansern added that the Cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding between Thailand and Russia to make flight adjustments on certain routes.

Flight frequency between the two countries was increased from 42 flights to 70 flights per week, with the number of flights from Russia to Phuket doubled from 14 a week to 28. Flights to Chiang Mai were also diverted to Krabi while flights to Irkutsk, Russia were redirected to Novosibirsk.


HM the King has fever, doctors finding cause of bacterial infection

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Doctors tending His Majesty the King are closely monitoring his condition as the monarch has recently experienced fevers intermittently while his blood test showed signs of bacterial inflammation.

In its 20th statement concerning His Majesty the King’s condition while staying at Siriraj Hospital, the Bureau of the Royal Household said the King had a temperature of 38.1 degrees Celsius on Feb 15. An examination on Sunday night (Feb 14) showed His Majesty was breathing faster. However, a chest x-ray showed no signs of inflammation in his lungs.

The statement also referred to an echocardiography test on Feb 7 which showed an unusual blood pressure in his lungs and diastolic dysfunction. Besides, an earlier measurement of inflammatory biomarkers in his blood showed signs of inflammation. The royal medical team had therefore prescribed His Majesty antibiotics from time to time while constantly giving him oxygen together with rehabilitation and draining of saliva to prevent blocked windpipe.

The statement continued the royal medical team is trying to find the cause of bacterial infection and inflammation that could be generated by other diseases using special laboratory methods. Pending the finding, the royal medical team has begun providing His Majesty with additional antibiotics intravenously and is monitoring His Majesty’s condition closely.


At least 60,000 new companies will be registered this year

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The government’s economic stimulus measures have created approximately 2,500 new companies from December last year to January.

Department of Business Development (DBD) Deputy Director-General Rattana Theanvisitsakul has revealed that there were more than 5,700 new companies registered in January. This represents a 78% increase from the previous month, but a 4% decrease year-on-year. The combined value of all new company registrations is 28.1 billion baht.

The DBD Deputy Director-General expects there will be around 60,000 – 65,000 new companies registered by the end of 2016, due to government mega projects and a higher investment budget for this year.

The most popular category for new companies is construction, followed by real estate, consulting, construction materials and machinery.


2 foreign suspects in Bangkok bombing plead innocent

Thai correctional officers escort Bilal Mohammad, center, from a military court in Bangkok.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Nattasuda Anusonadisai, Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — Two Uighur Muslims from China pleaded innocent Tuesday to carrying out the deadly bombing of a Bangkok landmark last year, with one man's lawyer saying his client claims to have been tortured to elicit a confession.

Thai correctional officers escort Mieraili Yusufu from a military court in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

The two men — Bilal Mohammad, 31, and Mieraili Yusufu, 27 — face eight charges related to the bombing, including conspiracy to explode bombs and commit premeditated murder. Twenty people, including 14 foreign tourists, were killed and more than 120 injured in the August attack, one of the deadliest acts of violence in Bangkok in decades.

Bilal, also known as Adem Karadag — the name on a fake Turkish passport he was carrying when he was arrested — faces two additional charges of violating immigration law by entering Thailand illegally. The defendants had refused to take a plea at an earlier count appearance because there was no Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) translator available.

Both men told the court Tuesday they were Chinese citizens of the Uighur minority, from the city of Urumqi in western China's Xinjiang region.

Thai authorities have said the bombing of the popular Erawan Shrine was revenge by a people-smuggling gang whose activities were disrupted by a crackdown. However, some analysts suspected it might have been the work of Uighur separatists angry that Thailand in July had forcibly repatriated more than 100 Uighurs to China, where they may be persecuted. The Erawan Shrine is especially popular among Chinese tourists, and many were among the victims of the bombing.

"I couldn't say what my exact address in China is because I'm afraid of the Chinese government," Bilal told the court through a translator from Uzbekistan.

Police are hunting for another 15 suspects in the case, but no progress has been announced.

Bilal's lawyer, Chuchart Kanpai, told reporters after the court session that his client said he had been tortured in late September, about three weeks after his arrest, to pressure him to admit that he was the person seen in surveillance video planting the bomb.

Bilal claimed his captors poured cold water into his nose, threatened to send him back to China and had a barking dog frighten him. Chuchart said he filed a complaint with the court last month over the torture allegations.

"He was tortured by officials. He didn't know if they were soldiers or police because they were non-uniformed," Chuchart told The Associated Press on Monday. "Back then, he confessed so that he wouldn't be tortured again. He was just saying it."

The court on Tuesday appointed a military attorney to represent Yusufu, who said he wanted to find his own civilian lawyer, whose fees he would pay himself.

Police say the case against the two men is supported by closed-circuit television footage, witnesses, DNA matching and physical evidence, in addition to their confessions. Police believe Yusufu detonated the bomb minutes after a backpack containing the device was left at the shrine by Bilal.

The court set further hearings in the case to begin April 20.

Military courts in Thailand have handled criminal cases deemed to involve national security since a May 2014 coup.

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


Deadline extended for migrant workers to register nationality

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The policy committee on migrant workers and human trafficking will propose to the Cabinet a deadline extension for one million migrant workers to register their nationality.

Members of the policy committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, have agreed to a deadline extension to allow Myanmar, Laotian and Cambodian workers to stay in the Kingdom temporarily until the Cabinet determines a new deadline for the nationality registration period.

The current period will come to an end on March 31. The policy committee also wants to extend work permits for these migrant workers from one year to two years and allow alien workers in seafood factories to have their employment legally recognized.

Department of Employment (DoE) Director-General Arak Prommadee said these proposals will be submited to the Cabinet for consideration next Tuesday. The DoE has also been instructed by the policy committee to conduct a study on the possibility of setting up a new government unit to manage the migrant worker population.


AEC allows freer travel of personal cars

Bangkok,(NNT) – The Department of Land Transport has made known that the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community has allowed for the simplification of regulations on traveling by personal car between neighboring ASEAN countries.

Deputy Director-General of the Department of Land Transport Jirut Wisanjit explained that Thai citizens can apply for an Automobile Passport that would allow them to use their personal car to cross the border into the Kingdom’s neighbors. At present, Lao PDR and Cambodia have allowed the issuance of the passports to both sedans and pick-up trucks while Vietnam only allows pick-up trucks to apply for the pass. Other ASEAN countries are currently brainstorming applicable regulations.

Drivers are advised that they must also possess their vehicle registration alongside car passports while traveling abroad.

The department is currently drafting regulations to allow temporary usage of automobiles from other ASEAN nations in the Kingdom.


New strategies for Malaria set

 

Bangkok,(NNT) – The National Malaria Eradication Administration Commission has established new strategies to prevent the spread of Malaria and approved a budget of 2.3 billion baht as World Health Organization (WHO) funding assistance for the Kingdom is set to conclude this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Adm Narong Pitpattanasai disclosed the conclusions of a recent meeting of the commission, letting on that the 2.3 billion baht budget will be dispersed over a 5 year period. The new budget is to take the place of 211 million baht provided by the WHO each year to Thailand for combating Malaria. The funds will no longer be provided after this year as the nation’s revenue status has been upgraded.

The commission’s new strategy against Malaria will focus on stopping its spread as the disease is relatively under control in the Kingdom. The body has targeted complete eradication of the illness within the next 10 years. It has also tasked the National Science and Technology Development Agency and the National Research Council of Thailand to work on a cure for the ailment.

On the emerging Zika virus, the Department of Disease Control has assured that it is monitoring the situation and will be able to control its spread. It has asked Thai citizens not to travel to countries with known Zika epidemics and for authorities to stringently screen arrivals to the Kingdom.


Khon Kaen farmers growing drought-tolerant crops

KHON KAEN,(NNT) – Authorities in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen are encouraging local farmers to grow crops that require only a small amount of water amid the ongoing drought.

Producers in Khon Kaen have been asked to switch from rice to asparagus as the province is faced with a water scarcity. According to authorities, farmers can generate an income of more than 100,000 baht per year growing and selling asparagus.

Officials from the Office of Agricultural Extension and Development Region 4 paid a visit to a 5-rai plantation where around 40 households are growing asparagus.

At the plantation, producers use sprinklers to provide irrigation to the vegetation. The sprinkler system helps the area save a large amount of water per year and works more effectively than other systems.


Drainage tunnel under Bang Sue Canal to be ready in 2017

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) expects the construction of a drainage tunnel under Bang Sue Canal to be completed by 2017.

M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra, Bangkok Governor, this week followed up on the progress of the construction. The tunnel starts from Ratchadaphisek Road and continues down to the Chao Phraya River.

The Governor said when completed the tunnel would prevent flooding in six districts namely Dusit, Bang Sue, Phaya Thai, Chatuchak, Din Daeng, and Huai Khwang.

A pumping station will be placed at the end of the tunnel where it reaches the Chao Phraya River, with a pumping capacity of up to 60 cubic meters of water per second.

The entire project will cost around 2.48 billion baht. At this point, the tunnel is 46% complete and is expected to be ready by 2017.


Surin agriculturists turn to corn, watermelons, peanuts amid water scarcity

SURIN, 13 February 2016 (NNT) – Rice farmers in Surin are now growing corn, sweet potatoes, watermelons, and peanuts as a secondary source of income to support their families.

In one instance, sweet potatoes and corn are being grown on a 5-rai plantation which belongs to a local farmer named Suchart Chaiya. He has been earning an income amid the drought by selling the produce of the two crops.

According to him, both sweet potatoes and corn are drought-tolerant plants, meaning it takes less water for them to grow. Unlike rice, they do not need much attention.

After 60-70 days, Mr Suchart said he would be able to sell sweet potatoes at 10-12 baht per kilogram.

He noted that he could now make more money as the cost of growing potatoes is relatively low when compared to growing rice.

Apart from the crops mentioned, Mr Suchart is also growing watermelons and peanuts.


Thai fishing problems resolved in three to six years

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) speculates Thailand's illegal fishing problems to be completely resolved in three to six years.

As part of the government's ongoing measures against illegal employments in fishing industry, fishermen and fishery businesspersons will be informed of the new Fisheries Act and be obliged to perform accordingly, said CCCIF spokesman Vice Adm. Jumpol Lumpiganon.

He said the center has complied with suggestions from the European Union with respect to the enactment of the new law which has produced positive outcomes.

He said the authorities are now in the process of legislating other rules in addition to the Fisheries Act and are communicating with the general public through the issuance of fishery manuals, which help handle fishing industry in clear-cut and non-contradictory fashion.

The center forecasts that it will take six to three years from now to upgrade Thailand’s fishing industry on par with international standards, regarding the use of electronic devices to monitor fishing boats, the CCCIF spokesman said.

The CCCIF is now promoting the management of marine resources, installation of vessel tracking equipment, tracking system for volumes of catches, improvement of fishing-related operations at piers, elimination of labor and documentation problems and cooperation in fishing industry with neighboring countries.


3,486 Couples married on Valentine's Day

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has revealed that the number of couples who came to register at the capital’s 38 districts stand at 3,486, for an increase of 578 couples compared to last year’s Valentine's’ Day.

Bang Rak district remains the most popular site for couples to register with 1,045 couples, as the district's name symbolizes love. Lak Si came second with 173 couples, followed by Bang Sue with 160, Saphan Sung with 136, Don Mueang 125, and Bang Khun Thian with 114.

There was a vibrant atmosphere at registration stations throughout Valentine’s Day, with various districts organizing games and activities for the couples waiting in line. Random rewards for some couples in Bang Rak district included a distribution of gold, fully reimbursed Honeymoon trips to Korea for five days and three nights, along with insurance certificates.

Lak Si district was also another popular registering destination due to its name meaning the 4 pillars. It is believed that anyone who coming to register at the district will cement their bond with the 4 pillars of “tolerance,” “knowing one's duty”, “Morality to create goodness” and “A family to look after.” Gifts such as facial treatments and free health check-ups were also handed out to lucky couples.

Various other districts were also reported to be lively as Thailand fully embraced Valentines Day.


State-owned bank giving out soft loans to Thai SMEs

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Government Savings Bank (GSB) has been offering soft loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in a bid to help them improve liquidity.

Chatchai Payuhanaveechai, Chief Executive Officer and President of the GSB, said the bank had so far issued low-interest loans to 9,700 businesses, with an average loan of 5.1 million baht per business.

He said it was the second phase of the bank’s SME assistance project launched earlier this year. The main objective of the project is to improve the liquidity of Thai SMEs as well as allow them to expand their businesses.

Other financial institutions joining the project are Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Kasikorn Bank, and the SME bank.


Government develops elders’ healthcare system

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The government has developed a long-term plan to provide healthcare for elders, in preparation for the Kingdom's transition towards an aging society.

The government has revealed through its radio broadcast regards new projects to improve the healthcare system for about 100,000 elders with dependencies in 1,092 sub-district nationwide with a 600 million baht budget.

The plan will bring healthcare team to visit the elders’ home to educate their families on the proper method of care towards elders and provide health advice, to reduce the bed occupancy rate in hospitals and encourage the exchange of healthcare knowledge.

More elders are now able to participate as members of society, with a reduction of long term bed-ridden cases and exclusion from community. The government is constantly improving its healthcare service for elders to improve their quality of life, and lessen the national budget spent on providing medication as people in all ages will become more healthy.


Vocational schools meet on possible merger

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Vocational Education Commission (VEC) has convened a meeting of executives of vocational schools following the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s command to merge public schools with private schools.

Chaiyapruek Sereerak, secretary-general of the Vocational Education Commission, has met with the Office of the Private Education Commission (OPEC), the Federation of Private Vocational Schools of Thailand, and other related agencies to discuss the possibility of merging public and private vocational schools in compliance with Article 44 of the interim constitution which is being enforced by the NCPO.

Mr Chaiyapruek said relevant agencies had been talking about the issue for the past 6-7 months and had formed five responsible committees to mobilize the policy. He believed the NCPO’s order would work to their advantage and pave the way for educational reform.

At present, there are 425 vocational institutions owned by the state and 461 private vocational institutions, with 674,000 students and 325,000 students respectively.


Phi Ta Khon ghosts featured in Venice Carnival

VENICE,(NNT) – Phi Ta Khon ghosts from Loei Province have been featured for the first time at Venice Carnival 2016 in Italy.

Performers wearing Phi Ta Khon ghosts outfits were present in front of Doge's Palace, capturing the attention of the local media and tourists who took the opportunity to take selfies with the exotic phantoms. Venice Carnival 2016 was held between 28th January and 9th February.

The Venice Carnival is one of the most internationally known and one of the oldest festivals of Italy. The display of Phi Ta Khon is a collaborative effort of various bodies, including the cultural association of Venice, Thai people living in Italy, the Royal Thai Consulate of Venice and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

The Phi Ta Khon ghost festival is the best known event of Dan Sai District in Loei Province. The carnival normally takes place between March and July. The year’s event is scheduled for 6th to 8th July.


Finance Ministry pleased with SME Bank's plan to reduce non-performing loans

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Minister of Finance has expressed his satisfaction towards the SME Bank’s proposed policy to reduce non performing loans (NPLs) while calling for an e-payment project to help support small to medium startups.

Minister of Finance Apisak Tantivorawong spoke after his policy statement to the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand (SME Bank), expressing his satisfaction towards the bank’s proposed policy to reduce NPLs by 4-5 percent per year from the current amount of 26 percent. He also called for the bank to move forward with e-payment solutions to strengthen SMEs with support from the Ministry of Finance.

Meanwhile, President SME Bank Salinee Wangtan said the Finance Minister's policy address will focus more on the SME Bank realizing its principal purpose of supporting SMEs rather than garnering as much profit as possible. The Ministry of Finance has therefore adjusted its bonus system accordingly so that SME Bank employees will still receive performance benefits despite the bank garnering less profit.


The Asian Symposium on Creativity & Innovation Management to be held in Thailand

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Institute for Knowledge and Innovation Southeast Asia, at Bangkok University this week organized a press conference entitled “Creative Bangkok: Unlocking the Power of Creativity” to announce that it is hosting the Asian Symposium on Creativity & Innovation Management (ASCIM 2016)

The event was attended by Canada’s Ambassador to Thailand, His Excellency Mr. Philip Calvert, who presided over the press conference. Well-known business people also joined the occasion to give special talks, including Mr.Kriangkrai Kanjanapokin, Co-chief Executive officer of Index Creative Village Public Company Limited, who spoke about the secret to creative thinking in business development, and Mr. Sawyer J. Lahr and Mr.Adisorn Supawatanakul, Director and General Manager at Teak Research Company Limited, experts in research innovation who shared insights into how to truly understand the market and the consumers.

Mr.Petch Osathanugrah, President of Bangkok University, said at the press conference that it is time for Thai society to stop the copy-and -paste process and focus on creating one’s own innovations. He stressed that the most important thing for education in Thailand, whether for teachers or students, is the courage to unlock one's creativity and unleash new ideas in terms that make a difference

.Dr.Vincent Ribuire, Managing Director of the Institute for Knowledge and Innovation Southeast Asia said that the institute had worked with Canadian organizations and colleges to host the Asian Symposium on Creativity & Innovation Management (ASCIM 2016). The main Topic is “From Imitation to Innovation”. The symposium brings together more than 50 experts in creativity and innovation from around the world and various industries such as Index Creative Village, IKEA, Google, Cirque du Soleil, SCG Mosaic-HEC Montreal and NASA. The symposium will be held over the period February 21-26, 2016. For more information contact www.ascim.com


Smog in 6 northern provinces harms public health

BANGKOK, (NNT) - The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has reported that the air quality in six northern provinces currently poses threats to public health. The department suggested that they closely monitor the situation.

Director-General of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Chatchai Phromlert said the six provinces included Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun, Phrae, Phayao and Tak. The provinces were advised to keep monitoring the air quality and spraying water into the atmosphere to help reduce smog, said the director-general.

The department also urged the public not to burn solid waste and agricultural waste in order to help prevent the smog situation from deteriorating further.

People who live in the areas affected by smog are advised to use a face mask every time they leave the house. Motorists should be more careful when using roads due to low visibility.


NBTC to conclude license dispute in February

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will convene a meeting early next week to brainstorm ways to solve disputes between the broadcasting regulator and some digital TV operators.

NBTC Secretary-General, Takorn Tantasith disclosed that the commission would meet on February 16 to discuss solutions to the conflict. He affirmed that the NBTC would resolve the problem within this month.

At least five TV channel operators have filed lawsuits with the Central Administrative Court against the broadcasting committee of the NBTC for its alleged breach of duty and delayed transition from terrestrial-based broadcasting to the new digital system. The broadcasting regulator must deliver an action plan by the end of this month.

Other challenges facing the NBTC include delays in the third installment of auction fees due on May 24, the extension of the license period from May 2014 to May 2015, and plans by five digital TV operators to return their licenses to the commission.


Foreign Affairs Ministry discusses how to best inform foreign media about IUU fishing policies

SAMUT PRAKAN, 12 February 2016 (NNT) - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the Command Center for Combating Illegal Fishing (CCCIF) are accelerating their efforts to create understanding among foreign media regarding the government efforts to tackle illegal fishing activities.

Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s information department Sek Wannamethee revealed the results of an unofficial discussion with international news agencies in Thailand along with related agencies regarding the European Union’s disapproval of illegal fishing activities in Thailand, saying that the CCCIF will, from now on, be the media’s primary source of official information from the government.

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Royal Thai Navy Vice Adm Jumpol Lumpiganon added that the meeting discussed ways for the CCCIF to best serve as the liaison between the government and foreign media and will provide accurate information to Thai media outlets.

Meanwhile in Samut Prakan Province, Governor Siam Sirimongkol along with the subcommittee from the Operations Center Against Trafficking in Samut Prakan Province conducted an inspection of vessels in the province and reminded owners of fishing vessels to register their fishing boats.


Omani patient infected with MERS now cured and traveling back to Oman

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Ministry of Public Health has allowed the patient infected with the MERS virus to return to his home country of Oman after lab results indicated that he has been cured.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health Dr Sopon Mekthon revealed that the patient from Oman, the 2nd MERS patient in Thailand, has been released from quarantine on February 11 after 2 lab tests, conducted according to World Health Organization standards, revealed that he has been cured.

The patient had been hospitalized for 21 days after contracting the virus from Thailand's first patient, who was hospitalized for 14 days.

As for the 40 individuals who came into contact with the patient, test results yielded no signs of the virus and were released on February 5-6.

The Ministry of Public Health continues to monitor airports and hospitals for signs of the virus and has advised travelers who have experienced symptoms of fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat to see a doctor immediately.


Prime Minister calls for more efficient tackling of IP infringement

Bangkok,(NNT) – The Prime Minister has asserted that the issue of intellectual property infringement must be dealt with efficiently to ensure confidence in the nation.

Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, chairing the first meeting of the National Intellectual Property Commission for 2016, acknowledged that the issue of intellectual property infringement has long been a problem for Thailand. He pointed out that the country has been unable to effectively tackle the matter due to a lack of personnel and poor integration between relevant agencies as well as a lack of knowledge among authorities. He stated that he has discussed the issue with his ministers and relevant bodies and tasked with them drafting a clear plan so for more efficient action. Gen Prayuth said addressing intellectual property is important to ensuring international confidence in Thailand.

On the matter of personnel shortages across all state offices, the premier called for each body to adjust its structure as the government does not have the budget to acquire the needed amount of workers. He said if requests continue, he will have the Office of the Civil Service Commission restructure each ministry and the entire civil sector.


Prime Minister’s Minister gives speech on combating corruption to political science students

Bangkok, 11 February 2016 (NNT) – The Prime Minister’s Office Minister has urged students to be moral and vigilant against corruption for the peaceful future of the nation.

At the awards ceremony for “Political Science Honors” of Thammasat University’s Political Science Faculty, Prime Minister’s Office Minister ML Panadda Disakul gave a special speech titled “Capable, Moral and Happy”. In the speech, ML Panadda stated that national development and corruption cannot occur at the same time and urged the nation’s youths to use their skills and knowledge to lead the Kingdom towards prosperity. He bid them to be a part of the fight against corruption and recommended they find just individuals to serve as role models.

The Political Science Honor is awarded to students that while achieving academic success also perform social work. A total 57 students received the honor at the latest ceremony.


Labor Ministry stepping up production of auto sector workers

Bangkok,(NNT) – The Ministry of Labor has initiated efforts to enhance Thai laborers in the automobile industry in line with the government’s 10 industry clusters of the future strategy.

Minister of Labor Gen Sirichai Distakul has opened a seminar titled “Developing Human Resources for the Auto Super Cluster, Towards a New Engine”. The gathering is being held to collect ideas and views on how to improve an automobile personnel training institution jointly set up by the ministry and private sector to satisfy demand for labor in the auto-manufacturing and auto-parts sectors.

The institution was established after the government observed the rapid growth of the automobile manufacturing industry in Thailand and resolved to have the Kingdom become a center for auto production in ASEAN.

The institution is expected to produce up to 3,000 workers a year in 3 years to work towards the state’s goal of having 3.5 million automobiles produced in Thailand annually by 2020. Up to 200,000 skilled laborers are projected to be needed to fulfill the target.


Chiang Rai hosts largest international balloon festival in ASEAN

CHIANG RAI,(NNT) - Singha Corporation's Executive Vice President Rangsarit Laksitanonda and Managing Director Pongrat Luangtamrongcharoen have jointly launched ASEAN’s largest international balloon festival in Chiang Rai Province, titled "International Balloon Fiesta 2016.”

Residents and tourists have come to experience the beauty of the large balloon exhibitions in the midst cool temperatures at a lakeside garden filled with winter flowers.

The exhibition has gathered over 30 giant balloons from 14 countries with names such as Yellow Jacket, The Heart, Black Sheep, Pinky Pig, Blue Pumpkin, and Heart Hopper. The event will also feature a night show where the balloons will be illuminated in various colors. The event’s main giant balloon contest comes with a 500,000-baht prize.

Other entertainment activities at the event consist of cycling, giant balloon amusement parks and musical performances by famous Thai artists. The event will last until February 14, welcoming Valentine’s Day.


Thailand enhances its agro tourism offers with a pilot project near Bangkok

Bangkok, 10 January, 2016 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is corresponding with the Royal Thai Government’s initiative to boost the incomes of local communities by promoting agro tourism, offering the chance for tourists to enjoy eco-friendly activities and a taste of rural living as well as see local handicrafts being made. The initiative also forms parts of TAT’s ongoing efforts on promoting and developing community-based tourism in local destinations across the nation.

For visitors to Bangkok, TAT recommends the community-based tourism area along Mahasawat Canal, which is known locally as “Khlong Mahasawat” in Nakhon Pathom, about 30 km west of the Thai capital. Visitors to the area will be able to tour orchards and rice paddies, and visit local orchid farms to get a unique insight into Thai life.

The area around Khlong Mahasawat marked out for agro tourism is famous for its fruit orchards, rice paddies, orchid plantations and lotus ponds. Tourists can explore these by taking a six-seater, long-tail boat from Wat Suwannaram to visit the lotus ponds farm and take a smaller boat out into the flooded fields themselves to watch the pickers collecting flowers. They can take tractor rides around the local orchards before trying organic local fruits and meeting local producers.

The community-learning centre at Ban Saladin allows visitors to see how local dishes are made including brown rice crackers topped with sweetened pork and salted duck eggs. Another stop on the boat trip is the nearby orchid farm where the colourful flowers are grown for export. This aligns well with TAT’s community-based tourism objectives in helping to spread tourist’s spending to the locals.

Dr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, “This is a wonderful way for tourists to discover a simple way of Thai rural life at a location just over an hour’s drive from Bangkok. Farming communities such as those along Khlong Mahasawat are the backbone of Thai society and help grow some of the products we think of as uniquely Thai; such as, orchids, lotus flowers, rice and tropical fruits. By visiting these places, tourists will gain an insight into Thai culture and the chance to get amazing products, while farmers enjoy a boost to their incomes.”

Khlong Mahasawat is one of the four pilot agro tourism destinations launched in August last year under the three-phase agro tourism master plan for 2015-2017 by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (Thailand launches four pilot agro tourism destinations). The project targets agro tourism attractions in TAT’s designated 12 Hidden Gems destinations due to their uniqueness and readiness to welcome tourists as well as the potential to spearhead the number of tourists from key destinations. Three other pilot agro tourism destinations are Pak Phanang in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ban Khok Muang in Buri Ram, and Khao Kho in Phetchabun.

The agro tourism project is targeting both domestic and international travellers in a bid to attract quality tourists to the country as well as help to educate people about rural lifestyles while helping protect the environment and preserve traditional communities up and down the kingdom


Prime Minister to attend US-ASEAN summit in California

BANGKOK, 10 February 2016 (NNT) - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will participate in a United States - ASEAN summit in California, the U.S., during February 14-18, 2016.

Jakkrit Srivali, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of ASEAN Affairs, said the summit is considered the first since the establishment of the ASEAN Community.

The U.S. - ASEAN summit aims to discuss regional prosperity through innovation and entrepreneurship, regional strategic outlook and peace protection, prosperity and security in the Asia-Pacific region, transnational challenges and strengthen relationships between the U.S. and ASEAN as a Strategic Partnership under the U.S. rebalancing strategy.

Thailand would take a constructive engagement toward ASEAN and global community and promote cooperation between ASEAN and Strategic Partnership member countries while ASEAN would be a mechanism to push forward sustainable growth in accordance with the United Nations' Assistant Development Framework.


Interior Ministry to elaborate rural development plan

Deputy Permanent-Secretary of Interior Ministry Chayapol Titisak.

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Ministry of Interior is set to hold a meeting to explain the development plan for rural areas in accordance to the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, enhancing the strength of villages and communities.

The Deputy Permanent-Secretary of Interior Ministry Chayapol Titisak has revealed the Ministry will be holding a conference to elaborate the rural areas development plan in accordance with the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, to ensure direct communication between the working officials on 11 February 2016.

The conference will be streamed to all provinces, while the Ministry of Interior Gen Anupong Paojinda will give the policy on the operational integration to push forward the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy's practicality, and to answer any questions that may arise from the local public.

NBT station will also be broadcasting the conference live during 2pm-4pm.

The Ministry of Interior has been working with the Office of the Royal Development Projects Board and related agencies to encourage development in rural areas and the agricultural sector using the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy under the 4 year plan (2014-2017).


Ministry of Justice hands seed money to ex-drug addicts

BANGKOK,(NNT) – Justice Minister Gen Paiboon Khumchaya has presided over the ceremony to hand out seed money at the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB).

Seed money was handed to a drug withdrawal club as well as 65 former addicts who have successfully completed the ONCB’s drug rehabilitation program.

In attendance were Justice Vice Minister Gen Nivat Meenayotin and ONCB Secretary-General Narong Rattananukul. Other agencies represented at the ceremony include the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Department of Probation, Royal Thai Police, and the Ministries of Interior, Labor, and Public Health.

The project is one of the government’s efforts to reduce crime and the number of drug addicts. Those taking the drug withdrawal program were taught job skills and received monetary aid.

In 2015, over 23,000 rehabilitation participants registered for government aid, of which nearly 11,700 have received seed money.


Health Ministry to start mosquito extermination Feb 14

NONTHABURI, 10 February 2016 (NNT) – The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has instructed it provincial offices to ready themselves for the mosquito extermination campaign.

Permanent Secretary of Public Health Sopon Mekthon has convened a teleconference with the chiefs of provincial public health offices across the country to discuss preparations for the campaign to eliminate mosquitoes.

The MOPH has heightened its disease control measures in response to the recently confirmed case of the Zika virus. Mosquitoes are blamed for several viral diseases such as dengue fever, Zika fever and Chikungunya. Dr. Sopon has ordered all hospitals and public health offices nationwide to strengthen mosquito elimination in their workplaces and nearby communities from February 14 until April 13.

Dr. Sopon has also urged public health officials to concentrate surveillance measures on risk-prone groups, including pregnant women, children, visitors from countries with known outbreaks of Zika fever, and those exhibiting symptoms including fever, rashes, joint pain and conjunctivitis.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Buriram prepares 3,000 jobs for drought-hit farmers

Thai & Myanmar military discuss haze reduction plan

Suvarnabhumi’s tarmac renovation plan approved since 2014

Interior Ministry extends school lunch agriculture project


Condo project to be established in Mae Sot, Tak

Chiang Mai Zoo debuts baby albino deer

Samut Prakan to hold agricultural fair

DIP STARS program launched to promote SME


Police to be stringent against crimes during Makha Bucha

Aviation Authority to examine Nok Air's internal management after pilot strike

Commerce Ministry announces 8 goods barred from transfer in and out of Thailand

Rubber growers told to brace for severe drought


Phang Nga Chamber of Commerce eyes non-rubber industries

Tourism and Sports Ministry to boost domestic tourism

His Majesty the King’s condition improves

Thai & Singaporean armies hold joint training


PRD holds training for anchors

Cabinet nods to development of border checkpoint, adds flights to/from Russia

HM the King has fever, doctors finding cause of bacterial infection

At least 60,000 new companies will be registered this year


2 foreign suspects in Bangkok bombing plead innocent

Deadline extended for migrant workers to register nationality

AEC allows freer travel of personal cars

New strategies for Malaria set


Khon Kaen farmers growing drought-tolerant crops

Drainage tunnel under Bang Sue Canal to be ready in 2017

Surin agriculturists turn to corn, watermelons, peanuts amid water scarcity

Thai fishing problems resolved in three to six years


3,486 Couples married on Valentine's Day

State-owned bank giving out soft loans to Thai SMEs

Government develops elders’ healthcare system

Vocational schools meet on possible merger


Phi Ta Khon ghosts featured in Venice Carnival

Finance Ministry pleased with SME Bank's plan to reduce non-performing loans

The Asian Symposium on Creativity & Innovation Management to be held in Thailand

Smog in 6 northern provinces harms public health

NBTC to conclude license dispute in February

Foreign Affairs Ministry discusses how to best inform foreign media about IUU fishing policies

Omani patient infected with MERS now cured and traveling back to Oman

Prime Minister calls for more efficient tackling of IP infringement


Prime Minister’s Minister gives speech on combating corruption to political science students

Labor Ministry stepping up production of auto sector workers

Chiang Rai hosts largest international balloon festival in ASEAN

Thailand enhances its agro tourism offers with a pilot project near Bangkok


Prime Minister to attend US-ASEAN summit in California

Interior Ministry to elaborate rural development plan

Ministry of Justice hands seed money to ex-drug addicts

Health Ministry to start mosquito extermination Feb 14

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