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Update March 2016

World News
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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Thailand News

Rainmaking efforts continue in Northeast and Central Plains

BANGKOK,(NNT) – Cloud seeding operations are being performed continuously across the country in a bid to replenish reservoirs, particularly in the northeastern and central regions.

Mr Lersak Rewtarkulpaiboon, Director-General of the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation, reported progress of the department’s rainmaking mission, saying cloud seeding flights have already been conducted nationwide. He said an emphasis has been placed on the Northeast, where the drought situation is critical. The flights recently made in the region have successfully produced rainfall, replenishing Ubonrat Dam in Khon Kaen and Lam Takhong Dam in Nakhon Ratchasima.

Mr Lersak also indicated satisfactory results from the operations around Pa Sak Jolasid Dam in the Central Plains and in other areas in the western zone, including Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

In cooperation with the Royal Irrigation Department, the Director-General affirmed that the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation will continue to monitor the water situation closely and make sure that water management throughout the dry season will go according to plans.

Thailand seeks cooperation from Sri Lanka on sea port development

SRI LANKA,(NNT) - Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak has visited Sri Lanka to try to establish cooperation on sea transport between the Port of Colombo and Dawei Deep Sea Port.

Dr. Somkid, along with Industry Minister Atchaka Sribunruang and a group of businesspeople, received a warm welcome by Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Arjuna Ranatunga.

The Port of Colombo, which was built in 1979, connects the West and the East. It is also a gateway to countries like India and Pakistan. Further developments are now underway to transform the Port of Colombo into one of the world’s best sea ports in 2020.

Upon completion, the port will be able to accommodate 200 million tons of cargo and generate one billion US dollars per year, making it the 15th largest sea port in the world.

The Deputy Prime Minister is hoping to model the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) after the Port of Colombo. Dawei SEZ is a joint effort between Thailand and Myanmar.

Marine Department to stop illegal waste disposal around Ko Sichang

CHONBURI,(NNT) - Chonburi Province has instructed the Marine Department to care for the oceanic environment along Ko Sichang, as illegal discharges of oil has damaged the area’s ecology and tourism.

Governor of Chonburi Province Komsan Ekachai met with related officials to address environmental concerns of the area as the area’s ecology has been damaged by illegal dumping of waste, dirty water from boat-cleaning process and discharges of oil. The waste then gets carried by waves and washes ashore on beaches in Bangsaen and Pattaya. This process also kills marine wildlife in these waters.

Currently, the Ko Sichang Municipality lacks the jurisdiction to enforce regulations, as the responsibility rests with the Marine Department. Mr Komsan has therefore urged the department to be on the lookout for waste disposal activities and prosecute those that violate the law.

Air quality in Chiang Mai and Prae found unhealthy

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) has launched efforts to combat haze in nine provinces of the northern region and called on local villagers to refrain from burning garbage, which might only worsen the situation.

DDPM Director-General Chatchai Phromlert has ordered the department's officials in the nine provinces of Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lampoon, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Prae, Payao and Tak to closely monitor the haze situation and spray water to combat dust particulates which could otherwise form haze clouds.

The particulate matter found in the air in the northern region rose over 10 micrograms during the previous day.

The situation in Chiang Mai and Prae has reached emergency level and begun to pose hazards to the people's health. The DDPM has strongly urged the residents to refrain from torching garbage, which might worsen the haze situation.

However, those affected by haze can call Hotline 1784.

Vans must comply with traffic laws for the safety of passengers

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Department of Land Transport has reminded vans to strictly comply with traffic laws for the safety of their passengers.

Director-General of the Department of Land Transport Sanit Promwong revealed that his department has hired the Institute of Transportation of Chulalongkorn University to conduct safety studies on vans used as buses, taking into consideration factors such as the structural integrity of the vehicles, readiness of safety equipment, fuel installation systems and the nature of services. The study is expected to be completed by September this year.

Vans currently are allowed an operational lifespan of 10 years with checkups due every 2 years during that duration. In addition, a new policy by the National Council for Peace and Order and the Department of Land Transport to allow for private vans to be registered as transportation vehicles has added 2,149 passenger vans.

All passenger vans are urged to strictly follow regulations such as adhering to the route, charging fares appropriately and adhering to the maximum capacity of passengers per vehicle. By the end of 2016, all vans will have a GPS navigation system installed to track the safety adherence of vans.

Government satisfied with human trafficking eradication effort

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The government has indicated satisfaction with the work of its officials to stem human trafficking and is preparing to submit a second report on the matter to the United States in April.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has chaired a meeting of the Human Trafficking Prevention and Eradication Commission, which was also attended by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, the Ministry of Justice and various security agencies.

Gen Prawit used the opportunity to laud the achievements of relevant agents in dealing with human trafficking, noting that their work has been concrete and has shown clear progress. He bid all officials continue to adhere to the law in dealing with the issue as the government prepares to submit a second report on its human trafficking situation to the United States in April after its first report was handed in last year.

He especially encouraged agents to prosecute any state officials found to be involved in the illicit activity and to ensure human trafficking is eradicated from Thailand. He assured that the state would assist those impacted by human trafficking in line with the principles of human rights.

Innovation fair at Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem

BANGKOK,(NNT) - For those seeking everyday conveniences, Thai tech products are now for sale at the floating market Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem.

Deputy Prime Minister ACM Prajin Juntong presided over the opening ceremony of the innovative product fair held to promote the commercialization of Thai innovations.

In attendance were Minister Attached to the Office of the Prime Minister ML Panadda Diskul, Energy Minister Gen Anantaporn Kanjanarat, as well as representatives of the National Research Council of Thailand.

The fair is divided into three different zones showcasing over 100 tech products. The first zone displays items with distinctive academic purposes, while the second zone exhibits products designed for everyday use.

The third zone is said to have products specifically developed to help local communities supplement their income. The fair will be held until March 27 from 10:00am – 7:00pm.

Phang Nga holds tsunami evacuation drill

PHANG NGA,(NNT) – Phang Nga Province has held the rehearsal for emergency situations, an activity that will enhance disaster management efficiency.

Phang Nag Province's Vice Governor Sakol Chantarak, along with related agencies, has held the disaster prevention and mitigation workshop in the province at Police Boat 813 Memorial, Phang Nga, with rehearsals on public evacuation in case a repeat of the tsunami incident occurs.

The rehearsal begun with a mock detection of a 9.2 magnitude earthquake offshore to the north of Sumatra Island, 444 kilometres away from the shores of Takua Pa District, Phang Nga Province.

The rehearsal focused on executing the Incident Command System (ICS), enforcing related agencies to engage in disaster management with maximum efficiently to protect lives, properties, and the environment through cooperation.

The training activity also covered other disasters and incidents such as road accidents and building collapse.

Laboratory tests show His Majesty’s health is improving

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The team of doctors tending His Majesty the King at Siriraj Hospital has stopped giving an intravenous antibiotic injection to His Majesty after additional results of special laboratory tests showed the King no longer has bacterial infections.

In the 22nd statement on the condition of His Majesty the King while staying at Siriraj Hospital, the Bureau of the Royal Household said that His Majesty’s fever was decreasing gradually after taking antibiotics along with physical therapy.

The statement said the result of blood test indicated that His Majesty’s joint inflammation has disappeared.

The doctors would continue giving His Majesty the King anti-biotics to reduce infections, and also oxygen and physical therapy. The medical team would continue to watch His Majesty’s condition closely, the statement said.

Government continues to seek cooperation from villagers to save water during dry season

BANGKOK, (NNT) – The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry has adjusted its water distribution plan after the water in 10 main dams across the country receded to critical levels. People have been advised to conserve water as a matter of urgency, as the remaining supplies are critically low.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chatchai Sarikulya said that the water discharge plan of each dam has been tweaked to cope with severe drought as water levels continue to drop.

The dams include Ubolratana Dam in Khon Kaen, Mae Ngat Somboon Chon Dam in Chiang Mai, Huai Luang Dam in Udon Thani, Lam Pao Dam in Kalasin, Kra Seaw Dam in Suphan Buri and Lam Phra Phloeng Dam in Nakhon Ratchasima.

The Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister has noted that water will still be discharged according to the schedule of each dam. For example, Mae Ngat Somboon Chon dam will release 1.2 million cubic meters of water a week

Bangkok canal boats switch from gas to diesel after recent explosion

BANGKOK,(NNT) - After the explosion of a transport boat along Bangkok’s Khlong Saen Saep canal, authorities have called for a switch from gas to diesel to restore public confidence.

On March 5th, a transport boat exploded while docking at Wat Thepleela Pier on Khlong Saen Saep, injuring several residents. Surveys conducted earlier on February 8 have indicated thin traffic at the pier, possibly due to a lack of public confidence in its safety measures.

However, the head of Wat Thepleela Pier, Thanapong Waitayakul, has argued that nearby residents continue to use the boat service, particularly between 6:00am to 8:30pm.

Mr Thanapong affirmed that 25 boats have replaced their natural gas tanks with diesel systems, according to orders from the Marine Department.

Mukdahan holds workshop for SMEs

MUKDAHAN,(NNT) - The Mukdahan Provincial Industrial Office has held a workshop to educate small and medium industrialists on business management, production, marketing and related laws.

The event was aimed at increasing the competitiveness of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and community enterpreneurs in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The workshop was in line with the government's policy to help SMEs and community enterprises expand their businesses in the region.

The topics being discussed at the event were on managing working capital, raising local goods standards on par with the AEC and increasing marketing capability for the AEC era.

Betong in Yala Develops a New Tourist Attraction

BANGKOK, (NNT) – Betong, a district in the southern border province of Yala, is a major tourist town, with several famous tourist attractions. As Betong is surrounded by high mountains, the weather is cool all year round, and it is common to see a mist above the town in the morning.

Over recent years, a great number of local residents, as well as Thai and foreign tourists, have traveled to Aiyoe Weng subdistrict in Betong to appreciate beautiful sunrises over the sea of clouds. It is said that the sea of clouds in Aiyoe Weng is the most enchanting mist in southern Thailand.

Aware of the fact that the mist in Aiyoe Weng has become a new attraction, the Betong District Office has joined hands with the Than Nam Thip Subdistrict Administrative Organization, and the Betong Municipality in developing Aiyoe Weng as a new tourist site.

After the pictures of the Aiyoe Weng mist have been publicized in the media, a great number of tourists from Malaysia and Singapore have visited this small town, where local officials facilitate their travel and ensure their safety. Members of the local community have worked as a team, together with volunteers, in maintaining tourist confidence.

It is expected that more and more visitors from neighboring countries will come to the new attraction, which is only about 15 kilometers from the Betong Municipality and land transport is convenient. The scenic viewing point, where people see the fantastic sea of clouds, is only 330 feet above sea level.

About 140 kilometers from the town of Yala on Highway 410, Betong is located on a mountain range along the Thai-Malaysian border and connects with the Malaysian states of Perak and Kedah. The population in this town is about 60,000, and the number of Muslims equals the number of Buddhists. The Muslim Thais in this town are of Malay descent. In 1900, the Chinese began to migrate into this area, passing through Malaysia.

The town of Betong reflects a harmonious mixture of Buddhist, Muslim, and Chinese cultures, as evident in its local way of living and cuisine. This has made Betong distinctive, becoming a place of enchantment. The unique way of life in Betong attracts numerous Malaysian tourists, who travel by car through the Betong border checkpoint. The old town of Betong is famous for many delicious dishes, some of which are found only in this area.

The Government realizes that Betong has great potential in terms of investment, border trade, and tourism. However, transportation in this province needs to be further developed, especially Highway 410, which links the town of Yala to Thanto and Betong districts. The construction of a commercial airport in Betong is expected to start in 2016 to facilitate travel to this district and contribute to local trade, investment, and tourism. It is likely to be completed in 2018.

As for Aiyoe Weng subdistrict, which is being developed as a new tourist site, it is about 32 kilometers from the Betong District Office and 100 kilometers from the town of Yala. This subdistrict covers an area of 818.7 square kilometers. Most local people are engaged in farming.

Aiyoe Weng is one of the development areas included in the Yala Provincial Development Plan. Under the plan, a route from this area will be developed to lead to the Hala-Bala forest, also in Betong district. Dubbed the Amazon of ASEAN, Hala-Bala is part of the most fertile forest in the deep South of Thailand.

2016 dengue patient number doubles last year

NONTHABURI,(NNT) – The number of dengue patients this year has doubled since last year, while the public urged to eliminate mosquito breeding spots on a weekly basis, says the MOPH.

The Ministry of Public Health’s (MOPH) Permanent-Secretary Sopon Mekthon has revealed a concerning number of dengue patients according to the Buerau of Epidemiology, showing the number of dengue patients recorded since 1 January to 1 March 2016, was at 9,639 persons with 3 fatalities. This figure is twice the number of the same period last year.

Most patients were found in the central, northeastern, southern, northern regions, and Bangkok respectively.

The general public have been asked to cooperated in destroying mosquitoes' breeding spots on a weekly basis. Other than Dengue, mosquitoes are carriers of the Zika virus and the Chikungunya disease.

The public are also advised to avoid being bitten by Mosquitoes by wearing mosquito repellent and sleep inside mosquito nets at night.

Dengue is a disease which can be found in people at all ages, mostly found in children aged 5-10 years. Indicating symptoms include high fever, sleep helplessly, headache, eye socket pain, lost of appetite, vomit, and stomach ache.

Patients with showing signs of the indicating symptoms and suffering from a continuous fever for a period longer than 2 days should seek immediate medical attention to prevent the dangers from acute conditions, which usually exhibits on the fourth day of disease. Dengue patients must not consume painkillers due to the irritation it causes to the stomach, and due to the risk of causing internal bleeding, which can be fatal.

No more 91-octane gasoline in next few years

BANGKOK, (NNT) – Energy Business Department director general Witoon Kulcharoenwirat disclosed that 91-octane gasoline will be no longer available for use by automobiles from 2018.

He added that the Ministry of Energy released a 20-year plan, called the "Alternative Energy Development Plan: AEDP 2015" aiming to boost domestic consumption of gasohol. The goal is to increase demand for ethanol to 11.3 million liters per day by 2036.

If everything goes as planned, the Thai ethanol industry will grow at a rate of 7% per year and demand for cassava and sugarcane (molasses), the main raw materials for ethanol production, will reach 59.5 million tons and 182 million tons per year respectively within a 10 years time to achieve the goals set by AEDP 2015.

Japanese car giants promise to use Thailand as production base

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the Ministry of Industry to be responsible for developing a plan to promote investment in the automotive industry with a focus on the manufacturing of future cars.

The PM on Monday met with high-ranking executives of four automotive companies including Toyota, Isuzu, Nissan and Honda at Government House. The meeting is part of the “Prime Minister Meets CEOs” project aimed at exchanging opinions about their problems and obstacles of doing business in Thailand. The premier also took this opportunity to clarify the government’s economic, trade and investment policies.

After the meeting, Permanent Secretary for Commerce Chutima Bunyapraphasara said all of the executives, whose companies had combined exports of around 58% of Thailand’s total car exports, confirmed to use Thailand as the production base with a plan to expand their investment in vehicles, especially future cars such as electric, hybrid and environmentally friendly cars. The promotion of future cars was the government’s policy to support and promote the manufacturing of vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said the permanent-secretary.

The PM told the companies’ executives that the government was urgently revising regulations while promoting free and fair trade in support of foreign investment in Thailand. He said the Ministry of Industry had been tasked with developing a long-term plan to make Thailand the regional hub of future car production.

Chiang Mai gearing up for next dry season

CHIANG MAI,(NNT) – The northern province of Chiang Mai is bracing for the next dry season as more water pumping machines are now being installed.

The Chiang Mai Irrigation Department is installing two giant water pumping machines at Mae Yuak back-up reservoir in Muang District in an attempt to prepare for the upcoming drought season. The two pumping machines are expected to increase the capacity of the province’s irrigation system.

Mae Yuak reservoir now stores water up to 90 percent of its total capacity and is the only back-up reservoir in the central Chiang Mai.

Meanwhile in Sisaket Province, local authorities are handing out fresh water to residents in Prang Ku District following a 3-day water shortage. Fresh water will also be distributed to other drought-affected areas.

Prices of consumer goods slightly increase due to hot weather

BANGKOK,(NNT) – According to the Ministry of Commerce, the hot weather has driven up prices of consumer products in the capital.

Commerce Ministry spokesperson Banjongjitt Angsusingh, along with officials from the Department of Internal Trade, paid a visit to shops and stores at Ratchawat Market in Bangkok.

During the inspection, Ms Banjongjitt found that prices of meat, vegetables, and fruits had increased slightly while citing the weather condition as the main cause.

The price of coriander has increased from 50 baht to 70 baht per kilogram. The price of cow peas has risen from 70 baht to 80 baht per kilogram. Chicken is now sold at 70-80 baht per kilogram.

Ms Banjongjitt also examined measuring scales used at the market and urged sellers not to take advantage of their consumers.

Yala Holds Its Annual ASEAN Barred Ground Dove Festival

BANGKOK,(NNT) -Each year Yala province holds the ASEAN Ground Barred Dove Festival as its major cultural event, which attracts a great number of visitors, not only from various parts of Thailand but also from other ASEAN countries.

Organized jointly by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center, the Yala City Municipality, and the Yala Provincial Administrative Organization, the festival is listed as an event on the TAT calendar that is publicized worldwide.

Also referred to as Zebra doves, or Javanese doves, barred ground doves are raised as popular pets in southern Thailand and other ASEAN countries, especially Indonesia and Malaysia. In Thailand, many people believe that having this kind of bird in their home will bring the family good luck. Known for their pleasant cooing calls, the doves are taken to competition fields and have become a part of economic activity in the region.

The ASEAN Barred Ground Dove Festival this year is the 31st of its kind and was held on 5th-6th March 2016 at Khwan Mueang Park in the town of Yala. It saw the participation of about 2,000 doves and their owners. Apart from the dove competition, there were cultural activities and a food fair, with delicious food from the southern border provinces offered to visitors.

At this event, participating doves compete to make the sweetest and most melodious cooing sounds. For a dove to be awarded a prize, its cooing must be resonant and rhythmic, and it must be able to sing for a relatively long time.

Mayor of the Yala City Municipality Pongsak Yingchoncharoen said today that the festival helps stimulate the local economy, promote tourism, and generate income from the dove business, which also involves dove farming and regional culture.

He described dove farming as a lucrative business, which generates supplementary occupations, such as those concerned with the making of birdcages, the production of bird feed and bird medicine, and other related necessities, as well as the planting of Saba bananas which are popular as a food for the doves. At one time a bunch of Saba bananas was priced at 15-20 baht. The price has now increased to 40-50 baht.

Local residents have also exported doves to various countries, such as Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Mr. Pongsak said that in terms of tourism, the hotel business, transport services, restaurants, the sale of souvenirs and other local products, all have benefited from the annual ASEAN Barred Ground Dove Festival. At least 100 million baht is thought to have been in circulation during the festival, which will contribute to the economy of the far South.

It is believed that the cultural event also helps promote peace in the southern border provinces. The festival helps boost people-to-people contact and bring ASEAN people closer together. It also opens cultural space, which will lead to better understanding among the people of different faiths who share a mutual interest in raising doves.

Not only residents of Yala, but many people in other southern border provinces – Pattani, Narathiwat, Satun, and Songkhla –share a commitment to raising barred ground doves.

Haze starts to cover Phayao despite 60-day burning ban

PHAYAO,(NNT) - Haze has started to cover a large area of Phayao after wildfires and weed burning in several areas as well as neighboring provinces, again led to the problem.

Athough the PM10 value has not exceeded the standard 120 micrograms per cubic meter, the haze can clearly be seen and is starting to affect locals residents.

At the air monitoring station, the PM10 value on Sunday measured 82 micrograms per cubic meter. Most areas were covered with haze which causes irritation to people's eyes during daytime heat and generally poor visibility.

The province earlier took measures to strictly ban burning during the 60 dangerous days from 16th December to 15th April 2016.

Newly discovered limestone cave in Tak to become a new tourist site

TAK,(NNT)-A newly discovered cave in Tak province is set to receive an upgrade to become a new tourist attraction.

The cave, known locally as “Tham Pha Khao Morakot”, was discovered at Taksin Maharat National Park in Mae Sot district. The cave has beautiful formations of stalactites and stalagmites.

Tak Governor Somchai Hatayatanti said a limestone chamber inside the cave is large enough to accommodate several thousand people at a time. The cave was named Tham Pha Khao Morakot as these rock formations glow like the diamond in the presence of light.

Those wanting to visit the cave are able to contact a nearby village of Poupae at 082-882-3196. A tour guide will be provided by the village committee during weekdays.

Department of Fisheries warns of blue-ringed octopus

RAYONG,(NNT) - The Department of Fisheries warns the public of venomous blue-ringed octopus again after it was found mingling with other types of octopus at a seafood stall in Rayong province.
The rare blue-ringed octopus can be found in both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. It is approximately 4-centimeter long with iridescent blue rings all over its body and tentacles. The octopus lives on sandy bottoms of the sea at the depth of 20-40 meters. They can camouflage themselves and change color.

Fishery academic of the Rayong Marine Fishery Station Montri Sumontha said the octopus was lethally venomous and able to kill humans easily. There was still no antidote for the animals’ lethal venom. Those who were bitten by the octopus would receive the similar treatments to those who are stung by puffer fish. Their symptoms would improve after 24 hours, said Mr.Montri.

There was a very slim chance that people would be in contact with the octopus since it did not come close to the beaches or shallow water, the academic added. He confirmed the department prohibited imports of blue-ringed octopus and urged consumers and seafood vendors to be careful when buying octopus.

Federation of Thai Industries to hold Beyond Beauty ASEAN Bangkok 2016

BANGKOK, (NNT) – The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) has geared up to hold Beyond Beauty ASEAN Bangkok 2016, set to be ASEAN’s most expansive health and beauty products exhibition.

Vice Chairman of the FTI Chernporn Tengamnuay elaborated that Beyond Beauty ASEAN Bangkok 2016 is the third incarnation of the event and will take place this September 22-24 at Impact Muang Thong Thani. The convention will seek to showcase Thailand’s cosmetics and health goods producers to elevate their standing on the global stage as well as to spur export in the sector. Over 550 companies are signed on to showcase at the event with an additional 200 brands from South Korea to also join in. More than 15,000 people are expected to attend.

Chernporn added that the FTI has sought to strengthen Thailand’s domestic network of industries and entice them to use local materials while also improving their competitiveness. He voiced confidence the upcoming event will help drive the national economy to the forefront of the region.

Health Ministry launches child drowning prevention campaign

NONTHABURI,(NNT) – The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has launched a campaign urging adults to prevent children drowning as the school break is approaching.

Director General of the Department of Disease Control Dr. Amnuay Gajeena has presided over a press conference announcing the campaign which began in response to the alarming child drowning statistics over the past decade.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 140,000 children aged under 15 lose their lives in the water each year. Drowning is the third greatest cause of death in juveniles after meningitis and AIDS.

In Thailand, drowning is the number one cause of child death. For example water-related fatalities in the country are 14 times higher than those resulting from dengue fever. The Bureau of Policy and Strategy revealed that drowning killed one child every eight hours on average. Over the past 10 years, more than 10,000 juveniles have died from drowning.

Dr. Amnuay said the campaign aimed to raise awareness of child safety among adults. Various activities will be held to urge families, schools, day care centers and communities to pay even closer attention to minors.

Lat Lum Kaew Highway District reorganizes sidewalks for food vendors

PATHUM THANI,(NNT) – Lat Lum Kaew Highway District Office in Pathum Thani province and the 13th Signals Battalion’s officers reorganized roadside areas for food vendors along Highway 307 between Bangkuwat and Pathum Thani provincial seat to provide conveniences to motorists and travelers.

If found to have violated the regulations, the food vendors will be prosecuted in court, said Highway District chief Anek Chansombat. Moreover, the Lat Lum Kaew Highway District Office cleaned the sidewalks and repainted No-Parking signs to prevent road accidents and solve traffic problems.

The head of the Lat Lum Kaew Highway District Office said that the authorities needed to reorganize the sidewalks though such measures would adversely affect the food vendors.

Smart phone app launched for consumers to check legality of food and drug products

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is due to launch its latest version of the ‘Oryor Smart Application,’ which allows consumers to check whether certain dietary supplements and drugs are FDA approved.

FDA Deputy Secretary-General Paisarn Dunkum said the first version of the application was introduced in 2013 for both iOS and Android phone users and has since been downloaded more than 200,000 times. As a result, the FDA was recognized with an award from the Thai Public Relations Association in 2014.

The application's updated version contains nine menus, which include FDA updates, product registration numbers, and health information tips, to name a few. Oryor Smart Application is available for free for iOS and Android devices.

Chonburi's "Active Beach" policies to serve as role model for sustainable tourism

CHONBURI, (NNT) - Deputy Prime Minister Gen Tanasak Patimapragorn says the new “Active Beach” policies in Chonburi Province will serve as a model for other provinces in maintaining a sustainable tourism industry.

Gen Tanasak along with the Minister of Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, delivered a policy address to the committee meeting on tourism development in the eastern region, while inspecting Pattaya beach to observe the management of jet ski and assistance services for tourists. The officials also observed the progress of the new bike path along the beach under the Sports Tourism Destination policy.

Gen Tanasak remarked that tourism in the area is on the rise with increased revenue being gained from the increase in the number of tourists. However, most tourists are still concentrated in Chonburi Province, so the government aims to further develop tourism in the area by creating new tourist attractions and accelerating development of major projects.

He added that the successful cooperation of Chonburi and the eastern provinces as a tourism cluster, serves as a model for tourism development in other clusters in the country. The government will support each cluster’s uniqueness and culture as well as facilitate the ease of transportation between provinces.

120 more firefighters deployed in Nakhon Nayok

NAKHON NAYOK,(NNT) – The prolonged forest fires in Nakhon Nayok have prompted the Royal Thai Army to send more firefighters to the province.

Col Sirichan Ngathong, deputy spokesperson of the Royal Thai Army, said the forest fire prevention center in Nakhon Nayok is working around the clock to extinguish forest fires which started late last month.

She said 120 additional firefighters had been deployed in the area whereas fires in some parts of the forest had been extinguished. Furthermore, fires which broke out at Mount Farami and Mount Lamduan are now under control.

Other measures are being taken to put out fires at other locations while local authorities are now considering aerial firefighting.

Ministry of Public Health to monitor hospitals' water management

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Ministry of Public Health has established a situation room to urge hospitals in drought-affected areas to conserve water. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has expressed confidence that the country will not experience a shortage of water for consumption water until July.

Permanent Secretary for Public Health Sophon Mekthon revealed that his ministry has established a situation room to monitor the drought’s effect on hospitals, urging all healthcare facilities to maintain their water reserves. The ministry will also conduct random hospital inspections to monitor the quality of the water stored.

Meanwhile, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya revealed after a meeting of the committee on drought-relief measures that assistance has been dispatched to 42 provinces and 152 districts in the form of water trucks and well-digging operations. Thailand’s four major dams currently have a combined 2.929 billion cubic meters of water, enough to sustain the country until July.

Deputy Director-General of the Public Relations Department Chamlong Singtongam revealed that he has tasked the department with promoting water conservation and to hold events to push for efficient water usage.

Thailand promotes investment opportunities to Japan

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Chairman of ASEAN-Japan Cultural and Economic Exchange Committee Norio Yamaguchi has met with Industry Minister Atchaka Sriboonrueng to discuss investment opportunities in Thailand.

Mrs. Atchaka promoted 10 target industries during the meeting, which was also attended by the Japanese Ambassador to Thailand, His Excellency Shiro Sadoshima. They discussed the kinds of investment support that are need by industries in both Japan and Thailand.

Mr. Yamaguchi said that ASEAN has become more attractive to investors following its regional integration, as other nations continue to suffer from the economic slowdown.

He further stated that Japan is interested in expanding its investments in this region. Japan expects the ASEAN economy to show significant growth, provided there is more development in its transportation network. As Thailand faces an aging population, Mr. Yamaguchi said Thailand could adopt the island nation’s policy for elder care.

Water levels critical in northeast

RATCHABURI,(NNT) – The drought situation is persisting in many provinces with water levels at Ratchaburi’s Huay Mai Teng Reservoir now at concerning levels.

Ratchaburi is experiencing its driest conditions in 15 years. Drone surveillance of its main reservoir has found that only 2.8 million cubic meters of water, or 8 percent of its capacity is left. Water for agriculture has been completely suspended.

Similarly, Ubon Rat Dam in Khon Kaen only has 638 million cubic meters of water, or 20 percent of its capacity with only 2 percent available for general usage. The region’s waterworks authority has had to prepare reserves by drawing water from nearby areas to avoid having to use possibly contaminated dam water.

In Udon Thani, Water Resource Department authorities have stepped up the drilling of ground water wells to supply water to Ta Boh district of nearby Nong Khai province, which no longer has clean water for drinking and usage.

Emergency assistance is being considered for up to five districts of Chai Nat province.

Prime Minister calls on media to report constructive news

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has asked the media to perform their duty constructively to help bring peace to Thailand on the occassion of the Thai Journalists' Day celebrated on 5 March every year.

The PM said on Wednesday that the government did not censor news reporting. He asked that the media should separate the country's internal conflicts from political issues and the national reform campaign and avoid reporting news which incited hatred.

The premier confirmed that the government did not instruct civil servants not to appear in a TV program of famous news anchor Sorrayuth Suthatsanachinda who was found guilty of embezzlement. He also questioned the program's broadcasting of an interview of the Revenue Department's director-general after the court delivered the verdict.

Thai government and United Nations coordinator discuss political, human rights issues

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Luc Stevens, the United Nations resident coordinator in Thailand, paid a courtesy call to Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai.

The United Nations resident coordinator urged Thailand to bring back democracy and said the United Nations will appreciate collaboration with Thailand in all aspects. The United Nations tends to extend cooperation with Thailand though it has been suspended since 2014.

The Thai foreign minister explained about Thailand's political situation and human rights issues and said Thailand is now proceeding on the roadmap's second stage and all suggestions about the draft constitution are being considered.

Touching on the human rights issue, Don said Thai citizens, especially including the media, still have freedom of expression in every way. Moreover, he said, Thailand can be considered to be the most flexible state in terms of freedom of expression in the Southeast Asia region.

Public Relations Department contributes to effort to return peace to South

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Public Relations Department (PRD) has stepped up integrating its work with agencies in the southern border provinces to contribute to the area’s peace process.

PRD Director-General Apinan Chantarangsri has opened a proactive meeting of representatives from 7 mission streams, who are seeking to create a network for the dissemination and management of information under the Public Relations for Southern Border Provinces Peace Building Project of 2016.

The PRD is targeting using information to foster understanding and awareness in the southern region in support of efforts to develop the area and remedy local strife initiated last year for completion by 2017. The effort utilizes His Majesty the King’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy as well as his “Understanding, Accessibility, Development” strategy.

The PRD is working as part of the 3 tiers of the effort, which places the National Council for Peace and Order at the top tier and Internal Security Operations Regional Command 4 at the bottom tier.

Don Mueang International Airport now ready to handle 30 million people

BANGKOK,(NNT)-The second phase of the development at Don Mueang International Airport is now complete and ready to accommodate more passengers as of March 8th.

According to Airports of Thailand (AoT) President Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, the second phase of the development consists of improvements to Passenger Terminal 2, three concourses, a southern walkway and toilet facilities.

A ceremony will be held on March 8 to mark the opening of the new development. Don Mueang International Airport is now able to accommodate 12 million more passengers annually or around 30 million people per year.

Mr. Nithinai added that the third phase of the airport development will focus on renovating and transforming the old domestic terminal into a new passenger terminal. A walkway will be built to connect the building to the new Sky Train station. There will also be a new car parking building nearby that can accommodate up to 3,000 cars.

The AoT President claimed around 10 billion baht is needed to complete the third phase which will increase the efficiency of the airport to accommodate as many as 40 million travelers per year.

Chanthaburi to export more fruits to China

CHANTHABURI,(NNT) - A meeting was held between the provincial administration of Chanthaburi and Chinese importers on ways to increase Thai fruit exports to the Guangxi autonomous region in southern China.

Chanthaburi Governor Somsak Parisoottho Heimthanon received head of the Provincial Office of Commerce Niannuwa Sulaiman, and visiting Chinese traders from the Guangxi autonomous region. They discussed the distributors' hurdles, suggestions, and Chinese consumers’ demand for Thai fruits, particularly mangosteen and durian which are quite popular at the moment.

China’s Guangxi autonomous region last year purchased about 30,000 tons of fruit from the province via cooperatives, said the Chinese visitors, adding that they are pushing for an increase in quality fruit imports from Thailand this year. The fruits will be transported to Guangxi via Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Lao PDR and Vietnam.

Chanthaburi officials agreed to hold discussion with cooperatives which act as proxies of local agriculturalists at a later date. The discussion is to ensure the transparency of fruit distribution deals to be made with Chinese traders and at the same time help prevent over supplies and falling prices, thus increasing income of Thai farmers.

Garbage removal operation launched to protect sea turtles in Pang-nga

BANGKOK, 1 March 2016 (NNT) - A diving operation has recently been carried out at Pang-Nga province to collect garbage in the waters around Ko Huyong Island, after a large amount of litter was found washed up on its beaches.

The Sea Turtles Conservation Center of the Royal Thai Navy has made an effort to clean up Ko Huyong, which is part of the Mu Ko Similan National Park. In addition the diving operation, the center’s employees have been deployed to remove garbage from the beaches.

The move is also aimed at protecting sea turtles, which visit Ko Huyong each year to lay eggs. The island is off-limits to tourists to allow the animals to breed.

The turtle eggs are collected and hatched by the conservation center before the baby turtles are released into the sea. The Sea Turtles Conservation Center fears the turtles will leave Ko Huyong and lay their eggs elsewhere, should the amount of garbage increase.

Over 8,000 cases of dengue fever in the past 2 months

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Ministry of Public Health is accelerating its efforts to combat dengue fever, after more than 8,000 cases were reported in the past two months.

Permanent Secretary for Public Health Sopon Mekthon reported on the data released by the Bureau of Epidemiology. In the past two months, a total of 8,651 people were infected with dengue fever, resulting in one death. The number is two higher than the same period last year. This year’s infection rate is on course to being as severe as in 2013, which recorded more than 150,000 infected.

The ministry has instructed all hospitals to be thorough in diagnosing the disease, while ordering public health agencies to inform the public on how to destroy mosquito breeding grounds around homes, schools, and workplaces. The ministry recommends that the public clear these places of mosquito breeding grounds every week.

Thailand turns pearl into gold by synchrotron light

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Dr. Nirawat Thammajakr, a researcher from the Synchrotron Light Research Institute or SLRI has been awarded for the invention of golden-color pearls, using synchrotron radiation technology.

So what is synchrotron light and how can it turn a pearl into gold?

The term ''synchrotron light'' may sound somewhat too academic and remote from the people's daily life. However, most people would know this radiation very well from their most famous application, the X-Ray. Synchrotron X-Ray is radiation projection, using a particle accelerator in place of a conventional X-Ray tube.

Compare to the conventional X-Ray, the synchrotron light is much brighter, with hundreds of thousands of times more intense than that from typical x-ray tubes and highly collimated. As such it can penetrate much deeper into the object and can be even used to gain information about the material’s composition, including the type and location of individual atoms within it.

This property is one of the key aspects that SLRI’s researcher used to give the typical fresh-water pearl its brilliant gold color.

The synchrotron light is used primarily in X-Ray absorption spectroscopy technique employed by SLRI’s 8th beam line to analyze the compound and atom structure which determine the color of the pearl which existed in very small quantity.

The SLRI is committed to the study of synchrotron light technology; the manipulation of color element to produce the accurate and desirable color jewelry is one of the many useful applications of this advanced X-ray and proves that the research into this field is still relevant and highly useful today.

NRSA approves report on social media reform

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The National Reform Steering Assembly has approved a report on the reform of the country’s social media.

At the NRSA sitting on Tuesday, members of the reform assembly deliberated the report on social media reform, which was submitted by the corresponding committee.

In presenting the report, which focuses on amendments to the Computer Crime Act, the committee on mass communications reform said that a regulatory mechanism is needed to oversee all agencies involved in the use of online media and internet operators, as such a new form of media is still untested and is increasingly popular throughout the community.

The committee said that any unscrupulous use of social media could also affect national security.

Accordingly, the committee has proposed amendments to all articles of the Computer Crime Act that will authorize the court to order the destruction of photographs and place a ban on the possession of any destroyed electronic media while enabling responsible authorities to seek a ban on the dissemination of any photographs deemed inappropriate.

After the deliberations, the NRSA voted 157 to two, with nine abstentions, to approve the report.

Government seeks international recognition of Thai herbs

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn has stressed that the government is urging higher industry standards and seeking international recognition of Thai herbs.

The Minister said it is important to educate the public about traditional Thai medicine, as younger generations don't have much interest in Thai herbs. Dr. Piyasakol pointed out that Thai medicine is safe and potent in healing various illnesses. He also indicated that nowadays traditional medicine can easily be found in grocery stores and hospitals, adding that the use of some of them is eligible for medical expense reimbursement.

Meanwhile, the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine's Director-General Suriya Wongkongkathep, says that his agency has developed several traditional medicines that are suitable for use by the public. He added that the department has pushed for the establishment of a Thai traditional medicine division in several hospitals, while providing assistance in the cultivation of Thai herbs and promoting traditional Thai massage, both of which have been generating significant income for the Kingdom.

Ministry of Social Development raises awareness about human trafficking

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Thai government is trying to prevent human trafficking in all areas, while educating people about its causes via exhibitions and activities.

Permanent Secretary for Social Development and Human Security Maitree Intusut presided over the opening ceremony of an anti-human trafficking event in front of MBK Center.

Mr. Maitree said human trafficking is a form of human rights violation and a threat to national security. Poverty and the lack of education often lead to people falling victim to human traffickers.

The government has made human trafficking prevention a national agenda and set up an agency to look into the problem, prosecuting people smugglers and those involved, as well as helping the victims. Mr. Maitree said cooperation from all sectors is needed in order to keep human trafficking at bay.

The event is aimed at raising awareness about human trafficking and the agencies that reach out victims and those at risk.

Defense Council calls for military focus on drought crisis

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Minister of Defense has ordered all military forces and related units to focus their efforts on remedying the drought situation while assuring that the mid-year top brass reshuffle will be based on capability.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Gen Prawit Wongsuwan disclosed after attending a Defense Council meeting that he has instructed all military leaders to maintain peace in the nation as well as pool their efforts to address the drought crisis.

The ministry of defense has been tasked by the government to distribute water to areas in need and to aid relevant agencies in digging ground water wells, construct reservoirs and dredge waterways, all of which are now 60 percent complete.

On the mid-year reshuffle of high ranking military officers, the minister said he has yet to receive the list of candidates for promotion but expects to obtain it by the middle of March. He let on that only several posts will be reshuffled and assured they would be based on capability and decided with fairness.

Trespassing buildings removed from Rayong beach

RAYONG, (NNT) – Constructions that trespass the beach area have been removed from Laem Charoen Beach after officials have vacated the allowance time expiration as part of the NCPO’s regulation campaign.

Rayong Governor Somsak Suwansujarit today led a team of officials to vacate and remove buildings that trespass Laem Charoen Beach in Pak Nam District, Rayong Province. This operation was part of the beach's regulation campaign, as ordered by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Owners and residence of these illegally built houses have been previously warned to vacate the area within 37 days. Despite warnings, owners of 30 buildings have continued to disobey the order, calling to officials to find the solution for the local people who lack working and living space.

The President of Rayong Small Boats Folk Fishermen Lamom Boonyong has said fishermen have been staying at the disputed areas for al one time, requesting the authorities to help them find a new working space before vacating the area.

He has said local people do not object the vacate order as they understand they are trespassing the land, while the authorities have agreed to hold talk with the affected people to find mutual solutions.

On this matter, the governor of Rayong states that it is necessary to remove all illegal buildings for orderliness, and the province will closely work with locals to conserve folk fishing practices by establishing a permanent zoning and strategy for their residence and working zones.

He said the province aims to develop the area into a fisherman themed tourism attraction, but insists that all illegally constructed houses must be removed without compromise.



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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Rainmaking efforts continue in Northeast and Central Plains

Thailand seeks cooperation from Sri Lanka on sea port development

Marine Department to stop illegal waste disposal around Ko Sichang

Air quality in Chiang Mai and Prae found unhealthy

Vans must comply with traffic laws for the safety of passengers

Government satisfied with human trafficking eradication effort

Innovation fair at Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem

Phang Nga holds tsunami evacuation drill

Laboratory tests show His Majesty’s health is improving

Government continues to seek cooperation from villagers to save water during dry season

Bangkok canal boats switch from gas to diesel after recent explosion

Mukdahan holds workshop for SMEs

Betong in Yala Develops a New Tourist Attraction

2016 dengue patient number doubles last year

No more 91-octane gasoline in next few years

Japanese car giants promise to use Thailand as production base

Chiang Mai gearing up for next dry season

Prices of consumer goods slightly increase due to hot weather

Yala Holds Its Annual ASEAN Barred Ground Dove Festival

Haze starts to cover Phayao despite 60-day burning ban

Newly discovered limestone cave in Tak to become a new tourist site

Department of Fisheries warns of blue-ringed octopus

Federation of Thai Industries to hold Beyond Beauty ASEAN Bangkok 2016

Health Ministry launches child drowning prevention campaign

Lat Lum Kaew Highway District reorganizes sidewalks for food vendors

Smart phone app launched for consumers to check legality of food and drug products

Chonburi's "Active Beach" policies to serve as role model for sustainable tourism

120 more firefighters deployed in Nakhon Nayok

Ministry of Public Health to monitor hospitals' water management

Thailand promotes investment opportunities to Japan

Water levels critical in northeast

Prime Minister calls on media to report constructive news

Thai government and United Nations coordinator discuss political, human rights issues

Public Relations Department contributes to effort to return peace to South

Don Mueang International Airport now ready to handle 30 million people

Chanthaburi to export more fruits to China

Garbage removal operation launched to protect sea turtles in Pang-nga

Over 8,000 cases of dengue fever in the past 2 months

Thailand turns pearl into gold by synchrotron light

NRSA approves report on social media reform

Government seeks international recognition of Thai herbs

Ministry of Social Development raises awareness about human trafficking

Defense Council calls for military focus on drought crisis

Trespassing buildings removed from Rayong beach



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