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Update July 2016


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
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Ministry of Commerce pushes for growth in organic farming sector

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Ministry of Commerce, in partnership with the private sector, has organized the Organic & Natural Expo 2016 at Bangkok’s Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre until July 31st. The event aims to meet the rising demand in the health and wellness market.

Permanent Secretary for Commerce Chutima Bunyapraphasara said the market for organic produce has continued to grow each year. In 2015, Thailand exported approximately four billion baht's worth of organic produce.

The government has therefore encouraged farmers to grow crops organically. The government is aiming for 10 percent annual growth in organic farming as a way of tackling the slump in agricultural prices. Thailand currently has 5,000 rai of organic farms, which mostly consist of riceberry rice paddies. Riceberry rice tends to have a higher market value than other types of rice.

The Ministry of Commerce also plans to support trade networks and finding new foreign markets for agriculturists. The ministry recently held a program to push standout organic products to global markets, such as organic jasmine rice, organic ginger beer, instant pumpkin tea, tamarind plums with honey, and cosmetics made from rice.


Monk questioned to determine money trail of Wat Dhammakaya

Thai PBS
A senior monk of Wat Dhammakaya who is in charge of financial matters of the temple was questioned for over five hours by enquiry officers of the Department of Special Investigation on Friday.

Phra Thawalsak Yatiko later told the media that he was summoned by the DSI to give testimonies but he declined to elaborate.

However, he said that Phra Dhammachayo is still sick and is being treated at a germ-free room at the hospital.

Pol Lt-Col Pakorn Sutheevakul, commander of the financial and banking office of the DSI, however, said the questioning of Phra Thawalsak was part of the DSI’s attempt to trace the money trail of Wat Dhammakaya as the monk is one among those who are in charge of financial affairs of the temple.

But he declined to offer any details about the questioning, saying that it might affect the case.

He added that the public prosecutor had asked for more details about the money laundering case in connection with Klongchan Credit Union Cooperatives and, hence, the need to question Phra Thawalsak.

Next to be questioned by the DSI is Phra Maha Boonchai Charuthatto who is in charge of financial and accounting affairs of the temple.


Bangkok Metropolitan Administration eyes clearing all street vendors from Thon Buri by September

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) estimates that the relocation of street hawkers out of the Thon Buri side of the capital will be completed by September.

According to Mr Wallop Suwandee, Chief Advisor to the Bangkok Governor, the policy to reclaim sidewalks from vendors has so far been implemented in seven areas under the jurisdiction of four districts on the west side of the Chao Phraya River. The operation is scheduled to continue in nine more areas on August 1. The nine areas include Nakhon Luang Market, Bang Khun Si Market, Wat Amarinthararam, the Law Execution Department and Khlong Khwang Intersection.

Mr Wallop made known that there are altogether 177 spots in the Thon Buri area in need of reorganization. After negotiations with the affected vendors, the BMA has agreed to extend the deadline for them to move out to August 31. Therefore, it is expected that, by September, all main roads on the Thon Buri side will be completely free of illegal occupation.

As for the Phra Nakhon side, land plots have been rented out to the BMA by the State Railway of Thailand and the Expressway Authority of Thailand in order to accommodate street hawkers who were previously relocated from several areas, such as Pratunam, Siam Square, Silom and the Victory Monument.


Chiang Mai wholeheartedly welcomes Chinese tourists

Thai PBS
Chiang Mai province is now launching citywide campaign to attract Chinese tourists with the erecting of signboards, posters at public places and stickers at shopping centres telling them that Chiang Mai people welcomed them wholeheartedly.

The campaign was jointly held by both the private sector and local government sector amid concern that the number of Chinese tourists to Thailand’s northern cities dropped significantly following strong criticism in the social media of the inappropriate behaviour of the Chinese tourists.

In Chiang Rai province, report said the number of Chinese visitors driving to Thailand via Chiang Rai border checkpoint dropped to almost zero following the imposition of stricter regulation for Chinese visitors who drive their own vehicles to the Thai northern cities.

The drop in Chinese visitors also followed the wave of negative feedback from the Chinese media towards tourism in Chiang Mai.

But now local administrators and private sector have assured everyone that they were happy to welcome Chinese tourists.

With signboards written in Chinese putting up all over Chiang Mai municipality, local people and authorities said they are part of a campaign that has been launched to reassure Chinese tourists that people in Chiang Mai were wholeheartedly welcoming Chinese visitors.

Also, stickers showing a Thai elephant shaking hands with a Chinese panda have been made to support the effort and are being widely distributed to all shops catering to tourists.

Effort by Chiang Mai authorities and residents was launched to counter the outcry raised by Chinese media over a number of negative comments that were posted online over the unseemly conduct of some Chinese tourists.

Chiang Mai deputy governor Mr Mongkol Suksai said people from different parts of the world have varying attitudes and behavioral practices.

Sometimes what they regard as normal is either unacceptable or considered ill-mannered for Thai people.

“But that doesn’t mean that they are wrong,’ he said.

“It is just a significant difference between cultures which on many occasions we as Thais are not accustomed to. That is why it is vital that we make them understand how Thai people are. It is our job to show them what is acceptable and more importantly what is inappropriate in Thai culture,” the deputy governor explained.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) stated that last year approximately 700,000 Chinese tourists visited Chiang Mai.

They represent the highest number of foreign tourists there and for the first 3 months of this year almost 250,000 Chinese tourists have already arrived in Chiang Mai.

Compared to the same period last year, this represents a 40% increase.


Japan’s most wanted stock swindler nabbed in Thailand

BANGKOK, (NNT) – Immigration police have arrested Japan’s most-wanted, white-collar criminal, who spent 11 years hiding in Thailand.

The suspect, identified as Yasuo Tsubaki, was apprehended while having his visa extended at Government House on Thursday. The man is said to have had facial surgery to avoid detection by the authorities.

Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda disclosed that existing documents indicated Tsubaki is the same person in the arrest warrant forwarded by Japanese authorities. An examination by Japanese police will be carried out to reconfirm his identity.

Tsubaki was a lawyer and businessman that used to work for a well-known machinery manufacturer in Japan between 2001 and 2006. During that time, he allegedly orchestrated a 'pump and dump' of his company’s shares, artificially inflating its value from 200,000 yen per share to 1.2-1.5 million yen per share. He then sold or 'dumped' all his shares in the company, causing Japan’s stock market to lose 12 billion yen or four billion baht.


Gasohol 91 will be phased out in two years

Thai PBS

The Department of Energy Business has said that by 2018 or two years from now Gasohol 91 will be banned from sale at all patrol stations nationwide.

And by 2027, Gasohol 95 will also be banned while biofuel will replace the disappeared fuels.

This was disclosed by the director-general of the department Gen Witoon Kulcharoenwirat, according to the National News Bureau of Thailand.

NNT quoted the general as saying that by that time the country would be left with two high-percentage ethanol fuels, Gasohol E20 and Gasohol E85.

He said that once Gasohol 91 and 95 are phased out, the demands for biofuel are expected to triple to 25.4 million liters a day.

He said energy policymakers would begin to gradually widen the gap in retail prices between gasohol 91/95 and E20 from the current two baht per liter.

Given the current price gap between Gasohol 91 and Gasohol 95 at just 42 satang per liter, the policymakers would have to gradually widen the gap by increasing excise tax and levies for the state-run Oil Fund.

He said now all new cars can fill E20, but if its price is not significantly lower than that of E10, motorists would choose to use a lower-percentage fuel.

The Energy Business Department expects the consumption of Gasohol 91 and Gasohol 95 to remain at a low level of 7.8 million liters per day throughout this year to be on par with the 2015 level.


Bank of Thailand predicts improved economy for the second half of the year

Thai PBS
Thailand’s economic performance in the second half of the year is likely to improve steadily but slightly, said Ms Pornpen Sodsrichai, director of the Bank of Thailand’s office of macro economics, on Friday.

Economic situation for June has slightly slowed down compared to the situation a month ago as consumption of the private sector or public expenditure contracted slightly by 0.3 percent – an indication that purchasing power of the households of the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors remains weak.

Expansion of the income of the agricultural household sector dropped to 1.7 percent in June from 6.5 percent in May while tourism sector dropped 1.3 percent compared to the figure in May largely due to decline in tourists from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East due to the fasting month of the Ramadan.

Exports with the exception of gold declined 1.4 percent compared to the May’s figures due to economic slowdown in importing countries.

Mrs Pornpen, however, attributed government sector’s spending and tourism sector for boosting the economy with inflation dropping slightly to 0.38 percent.


2016 Trademark Act now enforced

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Department of Intellectual Property has announced that the 2016 Trademark Act has come into effect, emphasizing its mechanisms to prevent copyright infringement of product packaging and music.

Department Director Nuntawan Sakuntanaga said the 2016 Trademark Act, which became effective yesterday, better responds to modern issues related to copyright infringement.

Those found to have displayed or stolen a registered or trademarked packaging design could receive a maximum jail sentence of four years and a maximum fine of 400,000 baht, instead of the one-year jail sentence and 2,000-baht fine under the old law.

Copyright protection now extends to music, including jingles for ice-cream carts and TV programs. The law will enable ice cream makers and TV operators to take full advantage of their music for marketing purposes. The trademark registration period has also been reduced from 90 days to 60 days.


Industry confidence index falls

Thai PBS

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) says industry confidence index dropped last month as global and domestic economies have not yet recovered.

FTI president Jane Namchaisiri said Thai Industries Sentiment Index (TISI) in June has fallen from the previous month to 85.3 from 86.4 in May.

He attributed factors affecting the index to concerns over the domestic economy, decreasing sales orders, and currency fluctuations.

But the TISI outlook for the next three months stood at 99.8, increasing from 98.7 in May.

The increase was partly due to the government’s efforts to tackle labor problems in the fisheries sector.

He also said automobile production in June increased by 18.57 percent compared to the same period last year.

Automobile sales in the country also increased by 9.5 percent compared to the same period last year, due to the government’s stimulus measures, he added.


Inspectors to check Major Pinklao mall on Saturday

Thai PBS

Officials from the Engineering Institute of Thailand and the Public Works Department will examine the building of Major Pinklao shopping mall on Saturday to ascertain the extent of damages caused by a huge fire on Thursday and how they are to be maintained.

EIT secretary-general Associate Professor Siriwat Chaichana said that maintenance of the damaged building might take about four months and he suggested the owner of the building to find their own inspector and contractor to undertake the repairs.

From initial assessment, he said that the building’s foundation, supporting pillars and structure were not affected by the fire which caused parts of the roof on the 4th floor to cave in while the ceilings of the 3rd and 4th floors cracked from the fire.

He expected city officials to issue an order declaring the building off-limits for public safety until repairs are completed and ready for reopening. Unauthorised removal of any parts of the damaged building should be prohibited, he said.

The fire was put under control about two hours after it started. No one was injured however.


Three more indicted in Somdet Chuang’s car scandal

Thai PBS

The Department of Special Investigation has decided to charges against three more individuals for alleged involvement in Somdet Chuang’s vintage Mercedes Benz scandal.

The decision to indict Mr Kasemsak Pawangkanant, Mr Metheenan Nitithitiwong and Somnoek Boonprapai came after a meeting of enquiry officers of the DSI and public prosecutors to examine all the relevant evidences pertaining to the smuggled vintage car belonging to the abbot of Wat Paknam Phasicharoen who is also acting supreme patriarch.

The meeting agreed there are sufficient evidences to indict Mr Kasemsak with charge of involvement in the smuggling of the vehicle and to indict the two others with the charge of giving false statements to authorities in order to evade taxes.

Pol Lt-Col Korawat Panprapakorn, director of the special cases operations office of the DSI, said two other people, Mr Pichai Veerasitkul and Mr Vasu Chittipattanakulchai, were also implicated in the offences allegedly committed by Mr Kasemsak.

DSI chief Pol Col Paisit Wongmuang, meanwhile, disclosed that the DSI was waiting for a report of excise tax assessment of the Mercedes and who should be liable to tax payment from the Excise Department.


Over one million foreign migrant workers are expected to register with Labour Ministry

Thai PBS

Over 960,000 foreign migrant workers have registered with the Labour Ministry since April 1 and the number is expected to surpass one million as the deadline for registration ends today.

According to the Labour Employment Department, altogether 965,203 migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have registered since April 1 until July 27th.

Of these, 570,893 are migrant workers from Myanmar, 338,141 are Cambodians and 56,169 are Lao. There are also 20,627 dependents.

The Labour Employment Department predicted that the total number of registered migrant workers would surpass one million mark after the expiry of the deadline on July 29.

Department head Mr Arak Prommanee urged employers to bring their employees to register before the expiry of the deadline, warning that, after that, labour inspectors will start checking work places to find out if any of them are harbouring illegal workers.

Employers will face a maximum fine of 100,000 for having one illegal migrant worker and illegal migrant workers will face a maximum jailterm of five years and/or a fine of between 2,000-100,000 baht.


Somkid: Government has done more for the poor than its predecessors did in 5 years

Thai PBS

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha administration has done more for the grassroot people than the previous governments did in five years, said Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak on Thursday.

“There is no need for me to appease the prime minister. And if you open your eyes – if you are not blind – you should know what the government has done. Everybody knew the farmers were in bad shape last year as the government dumped the rice pledging scheme because of rampant corruption. So we thought what should be done to help the grassroot people. And when we talk about grassroot people, farmers must come first,” said Dr Somkid.

He cited a programme through which the government had channeled several hundred billion baht through the village fund, the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives and the Government Savings Bank to help the farmers.

He said the prime minister did not want farmers to become poorer and get less from their crops and, hence, the project to promote farmers to engage in SMEs.

Implementation of mega infrastructure projects is easier said than done, said Dr Somkid due to messy politics in the past which discouraged bureaucrats from taking initiatives. Some officials were investigated and others were taken to court and he himself faced two court cases, he added.

Implementation of each train project is not easy and the main obstacle is the public loss of confidence in government bureaucracy. The confidence rating is so low that everytime a project is to be launched someone will ask are there kickbacks, said the deputy prime minister.

Dr Somkid noted that several good things which have happened in this country have been overshadowed by apprehension over the referendum.

“Thailand is the best performer among exporting countries as far as exports are concerned. The stock market has registered the highest sale volume and Jetro has given Thailand the highest confidence rating in history. But all these have been overshadowed by apprehension whether the draft charter will survive the referendum or not,” said the deputy prime minister.


Prime Minister spurns Democrat party’s standpoint on draft charter

Thai PBS

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha brushed aside the Democrat party’s political standpoint to reject the draft constitution, saying that it is the party’s own decision.

When asked by a reporter whether the decision will affect the party’s political supporting base, he told the media to ask the party.

But the prime minister pleaded for sympathy for the drafters of the charter whom, he said, had been ridiculed and discredited all along despite the fact that they had good intention for the country and tried to work out how the country’s pressing problems could be resolved so that there will be confidence for the future.

He warned that, in the future, there might be no one to volunteer for drafting a new charter, if the charter drafters are not properly treated.

Asked whether the announcement of the standpoints on the draft by both the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties amounts to leading opinion which may influence the way people vote in the referendum, the prime minister suggested the media to ask from the public whether they felt they had been insulted by the politicians.

Asked what the new charter will look like if the draft fails the referendum, the prime minister said he might put together all the good points of all previous charter as the basis for the new charter.


June’s exports drop 0.1 percent

Thai PBS

Share immediately: NoThailand’s exports for the month of June dropped 0.1 percent to US$18.1 billion, representing a decline for the third month in a row.

In the meantime, imports for the same period dropped 10.1 percent to US$ 16.1 billion, resulting in trade surplus amounting to $1,965 million.

Exports for the first six months of this year totaled $105 billion, representing reduction of 1.6 percent compared to the same period last year. Imports for the same period dropped 10.2 percent to $124 billion.

The main reason cited for export reduction was the slowdown in global economy.


Coca-Cola producer denies it asked for price increase

Thai PBS
Thai Namthip Company, the producer of Coca-Cola soft drinks, categorically denied a widely-circulated report in the social media that the company as well as the other soft drink bottlers have notified retailers of price adjustment by two baht for a can or bottle of soft drinks.

In a clarification, the company said that the report of planned price increase was misleading. In fact, it said that the company has two different sizes of Coco-Cola – the 240cc priced at 10 baht a can which has been marketed since 2012 and the 245 cc priced at 12 baht a can which was introduced two years ago.

Mr Thongchai Sirithorn, director of social activities and organizational communications, explained that the different sizes of canned soft drinks were meant to meet the different wishes and tastes of the consumers which is a key of soft drink business.

Thai Namthip, he said, is not the only bottler that churns out different can sizes of soft drinks.

He explained that soft drinks are not controlled products whose prices are subjected to control by the Internal Trade Department. However, he said the company has been cooperative with the department all along.


Ombudsman asked to review gold mine shutdown order

Thai PBS
A group of community leaders and villagers living around the Chatri gold mine in Phitsanuloke province on Wednesday petitioned the ombudsman to put on hold the government’s recent decision to close down the mine but to allow extracting operations of Akara Resources Company to continue for six months.

The petition was received by Mr Rakkecha Chaechai, secretary-general and spokesman of the Ombudsman’s Office.

Leader of the group of petitioners, Mr Fai Mahasak, president of Wang Prong Tambon Administration Organisation, said that the shutdown of the gold mining operations would affect mine workers who are mostly local people who will lose their jobs and the means to make a living.

He pointed out that about 29 villages located around the mine site would be deprived of the subsidies paid from mining royalties that they used to receive plus the funding provided by the mining company.

Mr Fai claimed that people living around the mine site had been co-existing peacefully with the mining company for the past 15 years. The conflict, he noted, was incited by a minority group of people who had wanted to sell their land at a profit or who had wanted higher compensation in exchange for their land.


Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn inspects progress of royal projects in Nakhon Nayok

Thai PBS

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn yesterday visited the demonstration farms in the compound of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in Nakhon Nayok province to observe the progress of His Majesty the King’s project to turn wasteland into agricultural plantations.

According to the National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT), Her Royal Highness was on this occasion briefed on the result of last year’s planting of Pathumthani 1 rice strain on the 8-rai demonstration plot which had yielded 1,500 kilograms of rice. Their seeds were distributed as parent seeds to farmers in the province.

After the briefing, Her Royal Highness also grew rice seedlings using a rice tractor. Produce from the demonstration field is partly used in the preparation of meals for the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy cadets. The plot also serves as a learning site on efficient organic rice farming for local farmers and interested public.


Parents place 20,000 baht cash deposit to guarantee their kids won’t return to street race

Pol Col Sompot Suwancharas, Bang Pongpang police chief

Thai PBS

Parents of the 63 young motorcycle street racers and pillion riders today came to Bang Pongpang police station to place 20,000 baht each as cash deposit to guarantee that their children will not go to the street race again or else it will be confiscated, and parents facing 3-month jail term and extra 30,000 baht fine.

They came to place the deposit with the police after their children have finished a week-long rehabilitation programme and training at the army camp since their arrest since July 17.

At the police station, some parents voiced opposition to the cash pledge to guarantee that their kids won’t return to the race agsin, reasoning that it was a heavy burden for them.

Some said they have to borrow money to pledge and they also doubted the handling of the police in concluding quickly that their kids were street racers.

But Bang Pongpang police chief Pol Col Sompot Suwancharas said the police enforced the law under the directive of the military junta.

He said disagreement voiced by parents was tantamount to pass the burden to the societies.

He said the cash deposit would be sent to the Finance Ministry to take care of for two years.

If these racers are caught for racing during the to the two-year protective period, the cash deposit will be confiscated and contributed to Children Protection Fund.

Their parents will also face three months in prison, and a 30,000 baht fine, or both.

He said the 61 motorcycles seized will be returned to their owners after nothing illegal


Top businessman warns Thais not to chase away Chinese tourists

Thai PBS
Charoen Pokphand vice chairman and CEO Thanakorn Seriburi warned Thai people not to chase away or boycott Chinese tourists because of the misbehavior of some of the tourists.

Delivering a speech, entitled “Tales of the Land of the Dragon” at a seminar by the Foreign Trade Department at the Centara Grand Central Plaza Hotel, Mr Thanakorn cited the recent wave of criticisms in the social media against the alleged misconduct of some Chinese tourists, resulting in widespread dissent and misperception among Thais of Chinese tourists in general.

The prominent experience with a long working experience in China pointed out that the number of Chinese tourists who misbehaved and caused troubles at several tourist destinations were just a minority while most Chinese tourists.

“Do not miss out the opportunity. More Chinese will travel abroad and if Chinese tourists avoid coming to Thailand and visiting other countries instead, Thailand will lose heavily,” said Mr Thanakorn.

He predicted that as many as 10 million Chinese tourists would visit Thailand this year – up from seven million last year. “Out of a population 1.3 billion, 65 million of them have passports and many of them are yet to travel overseas. Just imagine if they all come out of China and many of the head for Thailand, we won’t be able to accept them,” he said.

Earlier last week, some Chinese press repeated the publication of cartoons with a plea for Thai people not to reject or look down upon Chinese tourists in general because of the alleged misbehavior of a minority of tourists.

Some hotels in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have reportedly felt the heat of suspected boycott by some Chinese tour agencies due to the negative criticisms against Chinese tourists in the social media.


50 million baht worth of contraband goods torched in Aranyaprathet

Thai PBS

Customs director-general Kulis Sombatsiri on Monday presided over the ceremonial destruction of 50 million baht worth of fake brandname products seized by customs officials in Aranyaprathet.

Accompanied by Sakaew governor Pakarathorn Thienchai, Colonel Charoenchai Hinthao, deputy commander of Burapha Task Force and senior customs and local officials, Mr Kulis led the destruction of the counterfeit products by using scissors to cut some of the products.

The bulk of more than 100,000 pieces of fake brandname products which include sport shoes, hand bags, glasses, garments and blankets were later transported to an incinerator in the municipal area to be burned.

The customs chief said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha had instructed customs officials and security units along the Thai-Cambodian border to crack down on the smuggling of fake brandname products from Cambodia.


Group demands action against Somdet Chuang

Thai PBS

A group of self-proclaimed defenders of Buddhism on Monday lodged a complaint with the Department of Special Investigation against Somdet Phra Maha Mangkalajarn in connection with the vintage Mercedes Benz car scandal.

Leader of the group of about 20 representatives, Mrs Somboon Puenthong, told the media that the group wanted the DSI to file charges against the senior monk, also the acting supreme patriarch, for giving false statement to authorities about the vintage luxury car.

She claimed that her group had closely followed up the scandal and thought that the monk, also known as Somdet Chuang, possessed the car with full knowledge that it was not properly taxed.

The car actually costs 4 million baht but was declared as costing only one million baht, said Mrs Somboon, adding that the senior monk should be held accountable for tax evasion in his capacity as the car owner.

Pol Maj Woranan Srilum, director of Special Cases Centre, promised to pass on the group’s complaint to the DSI chief for acknowledgement.


Thais can visit Taiwan up to 30 days without a visa as of August 1st

Thai PBS

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Thailand announced in its website that Thai nationals can visit Taiwan without a visa for up to 30 days beginning on August the 1st

The visa exemption for Thai nationals is in force for a year from August 1 until July 31 next year and it is meant to improve the people-to-people relationship between Thailand and Taiwan.

Details about the visa exemption are to be released later on, said the announcement.


Metropolitan police to strictly enforce motorcycle ban on flyovers, tunnels this week

Thai PBS

Beginning this week, Bangkok traffic police will strictly enforce traffic law banning motorcycles to use 39 flyovers and six tunnels.

This was disclosed today by Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan Pingmuang, deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Police, after the ban was published in the Royal Gazette and became effective July 23.

But as the law took effect, motorcyclists were still seen using all the said 39 flyovers and six tunnels this morning.

Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy commissioner said it would take a few more days for the police to begin tough enforcement of the law as motorcyclists were still unaware of the ban after they were given almost a three month grace to use these banned flyovers and tunnels.

But within this week, those who violated the ban will be arrested and fined.

Highway officer earlier said flyovers, bridges and tunnels in Bangkok and its vicinity were built to solve traffic problems and not designed for use by motorcyclists.

Their main purpose was facilitating the flow of traffic for cars.


Government to mull free trade of LPG

Thai PBS

The Ministry of Energy is to propose to the National Energy Policy Committee at its meeting in August to scrap the quota system for the import of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and to allow free import of the product without going through bidding system.

An informed source in the Energy Ministry said that the free market policy for LPG would enable operators to export LPG or to import LPG for export to neighbouring countries in order to keep a balance between domestic supply and demand.

Price control at refineries will be lifted to reflect global prices so it will serve an incentive for refineries to increase LPG production or for importers to import more LPG for domestic use and for export to neighbouring countries.

The National Energy Policy Committee will also mull lifting of ex-factory LPG prices to promote competition and to reflect market prices.

In case there is a domestic shortage of LPG, the Energy Business Department is authorized to order LPG traders to import the gas into the country as an emergency case with the traders entitling to refund from the Oil Fund for the price discrepancy.

Mrs Chintana Kingkaew, deputy managing director of Siam Gas and Petrochemicals welcomed the proposed LPG free trade, saying that the company is ready to import LPG for local consumption and for export to neighbouring countries.


Beggars face arrest as new begging law comes into force July 28

Thai PBS

Starting on July 28, beggars will face arrests and deported to their countries if they are foreigners and, if they are Thais, they will be sent for rehabilitation and occupational training.

Government spokesman Maj-Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said that the new measure to deal with beggars was in line with the government’s policy to set an order on begging which is a part of the efforts to get rid of human trafficking.

A new begging law which was endorsed by the National Legislative Assembly some months ago will become effective as of July 28. This means beggars, both Thais and foreigners, will face arrests if they continue to beg.

Maj-Gen Sansern put the number of beggars at 4,618 as surveyed since October 2014. Of these, 2,927 are Thais and the rest foreigners.

He said that the foreign beggars will be sent back to their home countries while the Thai beggars will be sent for physical and mental rehabilitation and given job training under the principle of sufficiency economy.

According to the new begging law, a beggar faces one month jailterm and/or a fine of 10,000 baht. Those who exploited from beggars are liable to three-month jailterm and/or a fine of 30,000 baht.

Anyone who comes across a beggar a homeless person should call emergency line 1300 around the clock.


BMA tests airboats to counter criticism

Thai PBS

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) yesterday conducted performance tests of its airboats amid strong criticism that they are not suitable for use in Bangkok's canals.

The BMA under the helm of M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra purchased four sets of airboats from the United States at the total cost of 40 million baht, or 10 million baht a set which comprises an airboat and a tow truck fully equipped with fire extinguisher gears.

The governor intended to use the airboats to fight fires on buildings built on river and canal banks where road access is not possible.

But the purchase made in March last year sparked outcry from some assembly men that the price was too high and irregularities might be involved.

Besides the airboats might be useless for Bangkok’s canal conditions.

The BMA plans to deliver them to three fire stations under the supervision of the Bangkok Center for Disaster Prevention and Mitigation in Samsen, Dao Khanong and Lad Krabang.

The main purpose of the performance tests was to determine if the equipment were actually suitable for use in Bangkok or were they an unnecessary waste as accused by some assemblym

The airboat has a flat bottomed hull and much criticism has been raised over its seaworthiness for use on the Chao Phraya River.

Many people feel that being flat bottomed these crafts will be unstable and could easily capsize.

The airboat is made from aluminium alloy and is 2.4 metres in width and 5.5 metres in length.

Each weighs approximately 1,500 kgs.

It is equipped with pump that takes water from canals and river and able to reach fires as high as 10 stories.

After the test, officials of the Center for Disaster Prevention and Mitigation voiced satisfaction of the efficiency of the airboat saying it was up to international standards.

The airboat is of great help in case of fighting fires at waterside homes along Bangkok canals in which many areas cannot be conveniently accessed by vehicles.

For example waterways that are clogged with debris will be difficult for boats with conventional propellers to traverse.

But they are not a problem for these airboats.

Furthermore their bottoms are covered with superlene sheets that allow them to travel even on grassy or earth and muddy ground.

But some firemen taking part and observed the test voiced concern over the airboat’s height at the rear which may reduce its maneuverability.

They were concerned that the boat might not be able to pass under some low canal bridges.

Besides the waves created by its propeller might disturb homes along the canals.

Their comments are backed up by engineers from Lad Krabang King Mongkut Institute of Technology who say that airboats are more suited to open waters and not suitable for narrow canals in the capital.


Domestic paddy price for July surpasses 10,000 baht/tonne – the first in three years

Thai PBS

Increased purchase orders for Thai par-boiled rice from Africa coupled with substantial drop in second-crop rice production as a result of prolonged drought have driven the price of paddy in the domestic market to surpass 10,000 baht per tonne - the highest price recorded in three years.

Mr Manas Kitprasert, president of Thai Millers Association, said that the price of 5% paddy with 15% moisture was quoted at Phichit rice market at 10,500 baht per tonne compared to 8,500 baht in early July – an increase of about 2,000 baht which is the highest in three years.

He said that several buyers in African countries had placed orders for the purchase of Thai par-boiled rice – hence driving up the paddy of new crop required to turn into par-boiled rice.

The price of par-boiled rice itself has increased to 15,500-15,800 baht pertonne as export price was quoted at US$395/tonne.

But Mr Manas predicted that the price of paddy would drop reflecting a slowdown in exports as buyers have already placed huge orders for par-boiled rice.

Mr Chukiat Opaswong, honorary president of Thai Rice Exporters Association, meanwhile, said that paddy price would drop as buyers would slow down their purchase orders.

He estimated that about 650,000 tonnes/month of rice would be exported during July-September period and would then increased to about 800,000 tonnes per month during the fourth quarter of the year.

For the whole year, between 9.2-9.3 million tonnes of Thai rice are expected to be exported.


Activist monk urges monks and Buddhists to stand up against “threats” against Buddhism

Thai PBS

Buddhist monks and lay people were urged to wake up and to join forces to brace for what was alleged to be an unprecendent organized threat against the monastic order and Buddhism.

The “wake up” call was made by Phra Methithammajarn, secretar-general of Buddhism Protection Centre and a vocal supporter of Wat Dhammakaya and acting supreme patriarch Somdet Chuang in a message posted on his Facebook page on Sunday.

The monk claimed that Buddhism in Thailand is mired in an unusual situation in which several groups of people of different powers ganging up to push the monastic into the corner by making false allegations to discredit monks as a whole, citing the vintage luxury scandal against Somdet Chuan, the abbot of Wat Paknam Phasicharoen and the Sangha Supreme Council.

Phra Methithammajarn said that the ill-intent elements were able to do this because the monastic order itself is weak and is not united.

He then called upon all Buddhist monks and Buddhist lay people to be aware of the threats and to join forces to protect the monastic order and Buddhism.

“Please wake up, we are surrounded by dangers – so many dangers – how long the future of Buddhism in this country will last. If we do not to stand up to protect us, who will protect us?” said the monk in his message.

The “wake up” call followed a recent announcement by the Department of Special Investigation of the findings on the vintage car scandal which show that Somdet Chuang may face charge of tax evasion regarding the import of a used Mercedes Benz vintage car in the form of spare parts.

Earlier Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha brushed aside the threat made by Phra Methithammajarn, making it clear that anybody – be him a monk or a lay person – will be dealt with in accordance with the law if he defies the law.


Princess Chulabhorn back to hospital for treatment

Thai PBS
Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn has been admitted to Vichaiyut hospital for treatment of recurrent pancreatitis, according to the 4th announcement of the Bureau of the Royal Household.

Doctors who have been following the Princess’s health condition found out that she suffered from recurrent pancreatitis which steadily became acute. Also, she felt muscle pain at the neck where she was operated on to remove a tumor on May 20 which made her unable to move conveniently while on work.

Doctors at the hospital have advised the Princess to suspend all activities and not to receive guests for a certain period of time, said the announcement.


Face Time TV program moderator temporarily suspended

Thai PBS

Spring News TV station has temporarily suspended the moderator of Face Time programme until the completion of a fact-finding probe into an incident when a controversial part of the program was rerun in the social media.

Spring News had notified the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission that it decided to suspend Mr Danai Aekmahasawat from moderating the Fact Time programme for a temporary period pending the investigation.

Also, the station said it had stopped the rerun in the social media of a controversial part of the programme entitled “Drama Netiwit – a progressive or defiant student who refuses to kowtow in an oath-taking ritual”.

The controversial part was aired on July 20 between 8.25 pm-8.55 pm and eventually rerun in the social media.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tanthasit alleged that the controversial part has improper content which may violate Section 37 of the broadcasting law.


Prime Minister urges Thais to subscribe to Prompt-pay system

Thai PBS
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha urged all Thais to subscribe to Prompt-pay system, assuring that their personal information will not be leaked out to unauthorized people.

In his weekly “Returning Happiness to the People” address, the prime minister noted that Prompt-pay system is like ATM system when it was first introduced in this country which was viewed with suspicion by a lot of people who were afraid that some unscrupulous people might be able to steal their money with their ATM cards.

But look at today, an individual may have several ATM cards and the system has become common, said the prime minister, adding however that Prompt-pay system is something new and several people are not sure that their personal information may be vulnerable to hacking.

He claimed that, so far, more than 9.7 million people have already registered to use Prompt-pay system which make it much easier, more convenient and less expensive for them to transfer money online.

On top of that, he said that the government would use the Prompt-pay system as a channel through which tax refund or social welfare fees will be returned to taxpayers and pensioners respectively.

Prompt-pay system, the new order on Sor Por Kor land occupation and registration of low income-earners who earn not more than 100,000 baht a year each are parts of the government’s plan to set the foundation for sustainable development of the country, said the prime minister.


Somdet Chuang and Luangphi Namfon face charges of tax evasion concerning two vintage luxury cars

Thai PBS
Acting supreme patriarch Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn and Phra Khru Palad Sitthiwat, the abbot of Wat Phai Lom, will face charges of tax evasion concerning two vintage luxury cars allegedly in their possession.

The above findings regarding a Mercedes Benz vintage car allegedly belonging to the acting supreme patriarch and abbot of Wat Paknam Phasicharoen and a Panther vintage car allegedly belonging to Phra Khru Palad Sitthiwat were disclosed at a press conference by senior DSI officials led by the DSI chief, Pol Col Paisit Wongmuang.

The two vintage luxury cars were shipped into the country in the form of spare parts to avoid paying more import taxes and later reassembled.

Pol Colonel Paisit said that the engine of the Panther car which was imported from the US was falsely declared as a Jaguar engine. The car had changed hands 2-3 times before it was finally bought by Phra Khru Palad Sitthiwat or Luangphi Namfon from the owner of a Thai restaurant in the US.

He said that the car engine was imported from the US by the monk using his own name but the chasis was imported under the name of Mr Charin who is now being detained at Nakhon Pathom prison. But Narin claimed that his signature was fabricated.

Pol Lt-Col Korawat Panprapakorn, director of special cases of the DSI, said that import of fully-assembled used car was prohibited and, hence, the Panther car was imported in the form of parts to bypass the restriction and to dodge taxes.

As for the vintage Mercedes Benz bearing the name of the acting supreme patriarch or Somdet Chuang as its owner, Pol Col Paisit said the DSI had said before that false documents were used in the import and registration of the car.

He said that the actual selling price of the Mercedes was about four million baht but it was falsely declared at just 570,000 baht so that it was subjected to less import taxes.

The DSI chief said that the DSI had not notified Somdet Chuang of the charges against him yet.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

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Domestic paddy price for July surpasses 10,000 baht/tonne – the first in three years

Activist monk urges monks and Buddhists to stand up against “threats” against Buddhism


Princess Chulabhorn back to hospital for treatment

Face Time TV program moderator temporarily suspended

Prime Minister urges Thais to subscribe to Prompt-pay system

Somdet Chuang and Luangphi Namfon face charges of tax evasion concerning two vintage luxury cars

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