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Update March 2016


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

Private sector actively campaigns for less water use amid drought crisis

 

BANGKOK, (NNT) - The private sector sets a target to decrease water use by 30% by June this year. It suggests that the tap water price should be increased during the Songkran Festival next month.

The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking on Tuesday announced that it had launched a project to campaign for less water use in the dry season. The project encourages all sectors to use less tap water by 30% from now until June 2016.

Deputy Chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce Wichai Atsaratkorn said more than 100 organizations had expressed their intentions to cooperate with the committee in the project. Indistrial plants would help provide water for nearby farms and water-saving toilet manufacturers would discount their products during the drought crisis, said Mr.Wichai.

The committee also proposed that households which used more water during Songkran this year, compared to the same period last year, have to pay higher water bills.

The committee is seeking cooperation with relevant government units such as the Royal Irrigation Department, the Department of Water Resources and the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority to find long-terms solutions to drought.
 


No Thais hurt in Brussels explosions

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that no Thai citizens were affected by the latest bombings in Brussels, Belgium.

Based on information from the Royal Thai Embassy in Brussels, the Foreign Ministry has made an announcement regarding three deadly explosions in the Belgian capital, saying all Thai people there are safe and unharmed by the incidents.

Two bombs reportedly went off this afternoon at Zaventem Airport, killing more than ten people and injuring dozens. The incident was shortly followed by another attack at Maelbeek subway station near the headquarters of the European Union.
 


Cabinet increases assistance funds for infants

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Cabinet has approved an extension of funds for infants to ensure the proper development of children up to the age of 3.

At its weekly meeting today, the Cabinet approved a proposal to have funds for children, originally available to infants up to 1 year old born between October 2015 and 30 September 2016, to be increased from 400 baht per month to 600 baht and for children up to 3 years old to be able to access the assistance.

The increase was due to information pointing out the cost of feeding an infant is between 500-800 baht a month.

Data from the Thailand Research Development Institute and Unicef indicates that birth to the age of 6 is a crucial time for the development of children with close care leading to proper growth and eventually the individual’s ability to contribute to society.


Stricter traffic rules to prevent road fatalities during Songkran Festival

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has instructed every agency related to road safety to campaign against drunk driving during the renowned Songkran festival next month.

NCPO Deputy Spokesperson Col Sirichan Nga-thong said the council expressed concern over road safety during the festival, which goes from April 12 - 14. Checkpoints will be set up in various spots across the country to facilitate traffic, suppress illegal activities, and provide first aid treatment.

Authorities have been instructed to strictly enforce road rules to safeguard the lives of motorists during the festival period. Meanwhile, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is gearing up to organize this year’s festival under a traditional theme at Sanam Luang.

A famous Buddha statue ‘Buddha Sihing’ will be transported from the National Museum Bangkok and placed at Sanam Luang for people to pay their respects. The 50 district offices in the capital city are also expected to observe Songkran in a traditional manner at a temple within each district.


Roll out of envinronmentally friendly boat prototypes

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Bangkok Governor M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra has overseen a test run of environmentally friendly boat prototypes, before officially deploying them in Khlong Phasi Charoen next month.

M.R. Sukhumbhand and members of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) officials attended the experiment and inspected the 8-kilometer waterway connecting Saphan Taksin pier in Phasi Charoen district and the pier at Taling Chan district's floating market.

The Governor said the prototype boats are made of fiberglass which minimizes the effect of waves while the boats are maneuvering. He stated that each boats' capacity is 60 passengers. The vessels are equipped with a GPS based automatic speed control system, four CCTV cameras and a free Wi-Fi service. The boats also have a space for wheel chairs and bicycles.

M.R. Sukhumbhand disclosed that his agency has already received three boats from the manufacturer, while adding that the remaining nine are being assembled and would be delivered by this August. He said the BMA is currently testing the three boats, training helmsmen and extending boat routes to connect with BTS Sky Train stations.


Unmanned firefighting machines deployed at Chiang Mai Zoo as temperatures rise

CHIANG MAI,(NNT) - The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Region 10 has delivered unmanned firefighting machines to Chiang Mai Zoo to spray water and provide some relief from the hot weather for both animals and zoo visitors alike.

Chiang Mai Zoo Director Nipon Wichairat welcomed DDPM Region 10 Director Komson Suwanampha, who arrived with officials to provide assistance to the zoo amid rising temperatures.

The machines are spraying water to keep the animals, trees and the air inside the zoo at comfortable temperatures throughout the day, especially as the zoo sees more visitors during school holidays.

The water sprinklers will be turned on every Sunday, when there is a large crowd, to ensure the well-being of both animals and visitors until the temperatures and smog situation improve.


Health Ministry ramps up road safety policies

BANGKOK,(NNT) -The Minister of Public Health Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, said today that improving road safety measures is one of his agency's most urgent policies.

The Minister said his ministry is aiming to reduce the number of road accident victims, while pointing out that the majority of them are from the working-age population, often family leaders.

The latest records from the ministry show that more than 27,000 people were injured and 436 killed in road accidents from December 29, 2015 to January 4, 2016. He said driving under the influence of alcohol was the major cause of the accidents.

The Minister said his agency had come up with new road accident prevention measures that have yielded effective results. The measures involve installing alcohol checkpoints together with a center to temporarily detain drunk motorists.


Online booking for drivers license exams now available

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Department of Land Transport (DLT) has launched an online scheduling system for automobile and motorcycle driving license applicants in Bangkok and its vicinity to make the process more convenient.

DLT Director-General Sanit Phromwong has said that Bangkok Land Transport Offices 1-5 field a large amount of license applicants each day, each requiring theoretical training sessions that last up to 4 hours to ensure that they are socially responsible drivers.

To speed the process, the DLT has created an online booking system for first-time applicants available at http://ebooking.dlt.go.th/booking-training/. Those registering for theoretical training need only to use their 13 digit identification card number and their first and last names and will be able to select the transport office most convenient to them. Applicants will receive an electronic Ticket ID, which will indicate when and where they must report for training.

The applicants will have to produce their real identification card, a copy of the card and a physical check-up report no more than 1 month old to be able to sit for the training and take an E-Exam, after which a practical exam will be scheduled..


2016 Earth Hour saves 8m baht electricity cost

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Earth Hour activity yesterday helped the country save 8 million baht in electricity costs from turning off lights for one hour, says the MEA.

The Metropolitan Electricity Authority’s (MEA) Deputy Governor Pongsak Lamoonkit has announced the outcome of 60 Earth hour 2016 lights-off activity, which took place yesterday during 8:30 pm-9:30 pm, that the event helped reduced up to 2,020 megawatts of electricity from Bangkok’s recorded maximum electricity usage.

He has said the activity has helped the country to save 8,034,694 baht of electricity cost, and reduce 1,057 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

60 Earth Hour activity has been held every year to raise the awareness on global warming and the need to reduce unnecessary use of electricity.

During 2009 to 2015, a total of 60 Earth Hour activities have helped saved a sum of 12,324 megawatts, saving the nation up to 40.98 million baht and reduced 7,114 tons of carbon emission, equivalent to carbon absorption of 790,000 trees.


Thailand-Myanmar discuss haze solution

CHIANG RAI, (NNT) – Officials from Thailand and Myanmar have met to discuss solutions to the haze issue, that has continued to affect the local public.

Local officials in Chiang Rai Province led by Col Chakret Siripong held an unofficial meeting with local officials from Myanmar’s Tachileik Town, addressing the issue of air pollution. During the past 2-3 days, air quality has been significantly depreciating.

From this meeting, Thai officials were notified of Myanmar’s burning prohibition measures aimed at reducing airborne particulate matter, carried out for 60 days since 17 February to 16 April 2016.

The officials then observed the operation of spraying water mist at border crossing points, held by local authorities in Thailand to bring down the airborne particulate matter. The air pollution index in Chiang Rai spiked above safety levels, during the past few days.


Government business matching strategy helps solve oversupply of rubber

BANGKOK, (NNT) – The government’s business matching approach has proven successful in the rubber industry as more than 785,000 tons of Thai rubber have been purchased by foreign companies.

Government Spokesperson Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the Ministry of Commerce had recently organized two business matching events. The first event took place in Surat Thani Province and attracted 58 companies from 17 different countries. According to him, the combined value of purchases at the event totaled 33.738 billion baht.

At the second event in Bangkok, 147 companies from 28 countries purchased 19.66 billion baht worth of Thai rubber.

The spokesperson said the two business matching events allowed Thailand to release more than 785,000 tons of raw and processed rubber.

In addition, he said there remained a number of countries interested in placing more orders including China, India, South Korea, Japan, USA, and European countries. Govt’s business matching strategy helps solve oversupply of rubber.


Chiang Rai maintains stringent haze controls

CHIANG RAI,(NNT) – Military and administrative sectors in Chiang Rai Province have combined forces to maintain reasonable air quality in the face of a thickening haze.

Navy officers and local administrative officials in Chiang Saen District have mobilized fire-fighting equipment to spray water in and around the Golden Triangle in an attempt to lessen dust particles and moisten the air.

Smog in Chiang Saen District is growing dense, particularly near the Mekong River. The pollutants have reportedly caused visibility problems and impaired transportation activities. The smog control operation is concentrated in populated and frequently-visited areas.

The commander of the navy's Mekong peace-keeping operation unit, has revealed that the operation had helped improve the air quality somewhat, but smog from a neighboring country had continued to blow towards Chiang Rai diminishing the benefit of official efforts.

The navy's Mekong peace-keeping operation unit has requested the neighboring country to cooperate in the campaign against all forms of burning during this period.


Bangkok Metropolitan Administration dredges weeds out of canals for water management

BANGKOK, 18 March 2016 (NNT) – The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has dispatched more than 500 officials to different areas across the capital city to remove water hyacinths, as part of efforts to mitigate flood and drought.

Bangkok Deputy Governor Amorn Kitchawengkul presided over the opening ceremony at Lat Krabang district. The event was attended by Director of the Department of Drainage and Sewerage Sompong Wiangkaew, relevant division heads, and BMA officials.

Mr. Amorn explained that the canal cleanup was aimed at improving the capital city’s drainage system. The BMA is to complete the task by the end of the month, as instructed by the prime minister.

The BMA has since January dredged 971 canals out of 1,682. More than 400,000 tons of water hyacinths has been removed. The Deputy Governor said the BMA had also launched other measures to seek public participation in the canal cleanup campaign.


Zoos keep animals cool by spraying water as temerpatures rise

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Hotter temperatures in Thailand have prompted several zoos to spray water on animals and provide them with frozen treats to keep them cool.

As the days grow hotter, zookeepers at Dusit Zoo have resorted to feeding the monkeys and bears with sweetened ice cubes. Water sprinklers and large buckets of water have also been placed inside the cages to cool down large animals like elephants and tigers.

The rising temperatures could potentially be dangerous to animal well-being. At Songkhla Zoo, a firefighter truck has been brought in to spray the tiger cage. Summer this year is expected to last longer than the year before.

In Chiang Rai province, smog continues to affect communities in Mae Sai district. Air particles were last recorded at 175 micrograms per cubic meter, which is considered to exceed safety standards. Water trucks are being used to spray water into the air along the street and in populated areas to lower the pollution density.


Thai rice research to recieve more support from research agencies

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Agricultural Research Development Agency (ARDA) has been promoting scientific research and development (R&D) on rice, in a bid to increase the competitiveness of rice products from Thailand in the global market.

ARDA Deputy Director Kunvara Chotiphansophon said her agency has always been supportive of agricultural research. ARDA would recommend technologies to the farming sector to help increase the quality of grains.

Rice research, which is managed by the Rice Department, has received funding from a network of national agencies, including ARDA. These studies also serve various commercial purposes, such as identifying premium rice species, improving nutritional value, and helping farmers raise productivity while lowering costs.

According to Director-General of the Rice Department Anan Suwannarat, rice research has been primarily concerned with the development of a new strain that thrives in dry weather conditions. One such strain that has come out of rice R&D is known among researchers as ‘Kor Khor 61’.

In addition, researchers are trying to introduce rice as ingredients in dietary supplements and cosmetics. Fifteen studies have so far yielded promising results. They will soon be introduced to the rice industry.


Thailand ranks 33rd as world’s happiest country

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Department of Mental Health Director General Jessada Chokdamrongsuk said that Thailand ranked 33rd on a list of 156 countries as the world's happiest nations surveyed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network this year, inching one place up from last year’s 34th ranking.

Topping the world's happiest countries was Denmark while the happiest country in the ASEAN region was Singapore, followed by Thailand.

The World Happiness Report calculates the rankings by considering a country’s income, a citizen’s number of healthy days, availability of health care, degree of freedom and severity of corruption.


Thailand to host the 2016 Global Finals

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The final round of the Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) will kick off here in Bangkok. This marks the first time world’s oldest social venture competition is held outside of the United States.

Manager of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) Ketsara Matchusri said the first GSVC took place in 1999. To win the competition, contestants must present original business ideas that are able to yield sustainable profit from solving social or environmental issues.

The GSVC has so far given awards for over 200 business ideas related to health, education, the environment, and alternative energy, to name a few.

Thailand will host the 2016 Global Finals from April 1st to 2nd at Centara Grand, CentralWorld. A total of 17 teams from 14 countries, including Thailand, will compete in the last round.

In the past, many business projects from Thailand have made it to the final round. The SET Manager cited the online platform entitled ‘Wheel Go Round,’ which was developed to provide traveling information for wheelchair users via Facebook. Wheel Go Round made it to the Global Finals in 2014.

Those interested in learning more about the GSVC are encouraged to visit www.gsvc.org for more information.


Army joins UK Ministry of Defense to hold seminar on explosive ordinance

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters has organized a seminar on the removal of explosive ordinance and mines with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense.

Army Chief Joint of Staff Gen Surapong Suwana-adth welcomed Lt Col Steve Jeremy, a mine and explosive ordinance consultant for the UK Ministry of Defense, to the seminar being held to upgrade the work of Thailand’s military, police and security forces against explosives. Members of the UK Ministry of Defense will exchange their knowledge on dealing with explosives and mines with Thai authorities, who themselves will pass on experiences in the field.

The seminar is also taking place to enhance relations between Thailand the UK so that they may further benefit from each other in the future.


Science & Technology Minister observes wildfire situation in North

CHIANG MAI,(NNT) - Science and Technology Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj has visited Chiang Mai province to observe the suppression of wildfire and haze.

The minister and representatives from Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) have met with officials of Huay Hong Khrai Royal Development Center to discuss the wildfire situation in the North. Dr. Pichet and his retinue were greeted by the chief officer of Doi Saket district, community leaders, and local officials.

Specialists of Huay Hong Khrai Royal Development Center have applied hot spot detection and water management technologies to prevent and control wildfires and smog.

The minister suggested that the center set up rapid firefighting units and develop new technologies to better handle the problem. He pushed for all sectors participate in the solution.


Geographical indication product fair at Central Plaza Chaeng Wattana

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) is hosting a geographical indication (GI) product fair, in an attempt to provide more sales channels for GI goods.

More than 60 stores were selling GI products at the event held at Central Plaza Chaengwattana. The fair is taking place from now until March 23.

DIT Deputy Director-General Suphat Saquandeekul revealed that there are currently 74 GI products that have been registered with the department. Of this figure, 63 products are made in Thailand, while the remaining 11 products are from overseas.

The DIT is determined to add more GI products from another eight provinces. These products include salted eggs and clay powder from Lopburi province and corns produced in Ayutthaya province, to name a few.

Mr. Suphat expressed confidence the DIT will have registered GI products in all 77 provinces of Thailand by the end of next year. Four Thai GI products that have been registered in the European Union (EU), including Thung Kula Ronghai jasmine rice, Sang Yod rice, Doitung coffee beans, and Doi Chang coffee beans.


Rice deal winners can now tranport rice out of warehouses at night

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Public Warehouse Organization (PWO) has informed five winning rice bidders of requirements from the rice purchase deals, before they can transport rice out of the government stocks.

The five bidders won the purchase deal under the scheme developed by the Rice Policy and Management Committee to sell 140,000 tons of low-quality grains to producers of animal feeds and noodles.

Representatives from relevant industries were also invited to provide the winners with advice on how to manage rice. All rice deals are expected to be made within March 23. Most criteria under the agreements will remain unchanged, except for the transportation time.

The grains can now be transported out of the warehouses at night. However, the nighttime transport permit will be deliberated on a case by case basis. Violators will be prosecuted if the low-quality rice is being used for purposes other than producing animal feeds and noodles.


Digital IP infringements in Thailand on the rise

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) has announced it is taking serious actions against digital infringements, following a reported rise in violations.

DIP Deputy Director-General Thosapone Dansuputra said his department will enforce stricter measures to suppress IP infringement on digital media. The DIP will work with the Ministry of Education to include IP infringement in the national curriculum and educate students, in order to prevent future crimes.

The DIP has discovered more than 100 websites with reported violations. Mr. Thosapone said some of these sites cannot be shut down, because they are hosted on servers outside of Thailand. In these cases, it is beyond Thai jurisdiction to order the removal of infringing content or shut them down.

However, 29 locations across the country have been identified as hot spots of IP rights violations. Mr. Thosapone is confident they will be eradicated within four years. Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the Ministry of Commerce to keep markets along Thai borders under surveillance, following reports of counterfeit products.


BMA to raise water retention areas in the face of drought

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is planning to increase the capacity of swamps and monkey cheek water retention areas in the capital city to cope with the drought crisis.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra and BMA executives surveyed Bueng Rang Khe swamp in Bang Khun Tian district. The governor disclosed that the BMA’s Department of Drainage and Sewerage has planned to dredge the swamp to raise its capacity from 15,000 cubic meters to 20,000 cubic meters, so that agriculturists can also benefit from the program.

Bang Khun Tian District Office is preparing to develop the area around Bueng Rang Khe into a recreational area. The BMA has approved a budget of 11 million baht for the project. MR Sukhumbhand revealed that the BMA was also looking for 20 locations to expand monkey cheek water retention areas to mitigate the effects of the dry season.

As for the drought situation, the governor said that the East Bangkok was heavily affected due to intensive off-season rice farming, while the impact on the West was minimal.


Stronger baht currency affects Thai exports

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Thai currency's appreciation will affect Thailand’s export sector while this month's export index is expected to be in the red, according to Thai Chamber of Commerce.

The Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) Vice Chairman Poj Aramwattananont has revealed that the Thai export industry will likely be affected from the appreciation of the Thai baht currency, due to the US Federal Reserve’s decision to keep interest rates at 0.25-0.50 percent.

FED’s decision caused the Thai currency to strengthen to a 7 month high, with the exchange rate recorded at 34.83 baht per 1 US dollar this morning.

The baht's strength may cause Thailand’s export index in March 2016 to fall to negative figures, consecutively to February’s index that is expected to fall between the range of -8% or -9%. January’s export value was revealed to be at -8.91 percent.

The TCC’s vice chairman stated that export stimulus and the strategy of entering new markets may be insufficient to boost Thai export to positive figures this year, which is mainly due to the global economic recession.

He has said the government should implement measures to control the Thai currency's fluctuation to prevent it from appreciating too swiftly.

He has also spoke of the drought situation, saying that it is a challenge which all sectors must join hands to resolve.

The government has been issuing serious measures to address the drought, be it the water management scheme, alternative cultivation promotion, and the reduction of rice farming, however all sides must help spare the use of water to overcome this crisis together, TCC vice chairman has said


Police raise public awareness of online offenses

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The police are warning the general public to be careful of posting online and to help promote creative and beneficial uses of online media.

The Technology Crime Suppression Division’s (TCSD) superintendent Olarn Sukkasem said in a TV broadcast program some users lack the knowledge of the law on online media uses or lack the discretion which might possibly lead to the violation of the law.

He said illegal acts include the sharing and forwarding of false information via all kinds of media and the clicking of ''like'' to such postings, which might possibly be considered an offense.

Such offenses could possibly hold the wrongdoer subject to a maximum of five years in imprisonment or a maximum of 100,000 baht in fine.

However, the police cannot make arrests over online offenses without hard evidence, thus users are suggested to have discretion while consuming and deciding to share any information online, the TCSD superintendent said.

Offenses online and in social media can be reported to the TCSD, while more information regarding lawful uses of the internet can be found on www.tcsd.in.th.


Panda World Tour to promote wildlife conservation in Thailand

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Panda World Tour, an event to raise awareness and support for WWF to preserve wildlife in the most natural environment, now arrives to Lumpini Park, one of the most iconic gardens in central Bangkok.

The Panda World Tour was first hosted for the purpose of panda conservation in which only 1,600 were believed to survive their natural environment, the same number of the Panda model displayed in all of previous events.

However, the campaign has proven to be a stunning success with the number of panda raised from 1,600 to over 1,800 in the wilderness. As such, the panda has since become champion of wildlife preservation efforts and been moved from place to place around the world to raise awareness and support for not only the panda but the wildlife in their host country.

Thailand is of no exception, the role of the Panda model is rather aimed at the local wildlife such as the Indochina Tiger and Asian Elephant in Thailand which are both seriously in need of support to survive. The former only have 200 left in the wild while the number of the latter is only in a few thousands.

Noppharat Nuangchamnong, the WWF Fundraising Manager, said 2016's drought in Thailand has driven wild elephants in such places as Guiburi invading local farmland which caused a human-animal conflict. The major part of the fund raised in this event will therefore be used to improve the elephant habitats to keep them in the forest.

Similarly, the tiger which often used as indicator of forest conservation value will also be supported. Some forest in Thailand has up to 14 tigers which indicates their high value for conservation and could benefit from the fund raised through this event.

Participants as well as members of the Thai public can offer to support the work of WWF via various activities in this event. Something as simple as sharing a photography of the pandas can be used to raise awareness of WWF mission in Thailand. Others can volunteer to participate in the organizing of this event which will not only result in striking a success but also solidifying the will and network of like-minded individuals in bid to support the wildlife conservation of Thailand.


Phu Thap Boek land reclamation continues, 30 encroachers prosecuted

PHETCHABUN,(NNT) – Director-General of the Royal Forest Department Chonlatid Suraswadi has traveled to Phu Thap Boek to carry on with the forest reclamation mission.

Mr. Chonlatid was accompanied by deputy director-general of the Social Development and Welfare Department Narong Kongkam who directs the Phu Thap Boek land reclamation operation, Phetchabun Governor Bundit Teweetiwarak and local forest conservationists. Relevant agencies are to solve the problem within eight months.

A survey, which began in November last year, found that 200 rai out of 13,000 rai of the mountainous area have been taken by more than 90 resort operators. Thirty of them are local people while the rest are from other areas.

Over 30 land encroachers have been prosecuted, 18 of whom were handed a court order to leave the area and demolish their constructions. Under the laws, only the Hmong ethnic people who earlier settled in Phu Thap Boek are allowed to live in the mountainous area.


Skill Development Center in Bueng Kan holds tourism seminar

BUENG KAN,(NNT) – The Skill Development Center in Bueng Kan has held a seminar on tourism development in the province, at Udon Thani Rajabhat University.

The seminar featured speakers from Udon Thani Rajabhat University, Bueng Kan’s Provincial Office of Labour Protection and Welfare and also Provincial Office of Tourism and Sports who gave lectures on tourism management. Vice governor Sopon Suwannarat presided over the opening ceremony.

The activity aimed to update tour and service operators on the province’s tourism policy and strategies. Mr. Sanchai Chobpimai, Chief of Bueng Kan Provincial Office of Skill Development disclosed that more than 1.2 million tourists visited Bueng Kan last year.

Mr. Sanchai added that relevant agencies had arranged a variety of itineraries to enable visitors to spend their time at different attractions in the province throughout the year.

More than 30 people, including tour and service operators, attended the seminar. Participants are expected to apply information and suggestions collected from the meeting to their services.


ASEAN agrees on digital media cooperation enhancement

CEBU,(NNT) – The 14th SOMRI meeting concluded with ASEAN member states agreeing to cooperate on developing digital media along with communications, in accordance to the ASEAN master plan.

The 14th Senior Officials Meeting for Responsible Information (SOMRI) that took place in Cebu, the Philippines, was attended by delegates from 10 ASEAN member states and the ASEAN Secretariat addressing regional cooperation in media development and communications.

The ASEAN Secretariat delegate has expressed the main concept of communications development which answers to the public’s needs in the ASEAN region, while the meeting has agreed to expedite the development of communications among ASEAN countries according to the ASEAN Communication Master Plan.

The meeting has agreed on the development of new media to provide better reach among the general public and on Social Media platforms, to raise the awareness and communicate the objective of ASEAN’s unification.

On this matter, the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Wongthep Attagaivalwatee said general information is an important tool to publicize information related to the ASEAN Community, that will promote various aspects of the community in addition to the heavily focused economic community part.

He has said regional mass media plays an important role in promoting awareness about the community, especially on recognition of the ASEAN Community among children and the youth, individuals who will eventually become the community's major driving force.

The Deputy Director-General of the Public Relations Department (PRD) Charoon Chaisorn, representing the Kingdom's delegates at SOMRI, has said the PRD has an important role to push for public relations strategies in all aspects, and will utilize the different forms of media to communicate with the general public, and provide beneficial information, which is in line with the ASEAN master plan.


Officials react to southern violence

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Prime Minister has ordered increased security in the southern region following a spate of attacks.

Prime Minister’s Office Spokesperson Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd has disclosed that following violence in the 3 southern border provinces, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has issued an urgent command for all relevant authorities to secure at-risk locations and tend to those injured. He called for the quick apprehension of those behind the attacks while affirming his government’s commitment to uprooting insurgents, influential individuals, drug dealers, fuel smugglers and human traffickers within the next 6 months.

The premier also voiced support for physicians, nurses and staff at Joh Irong Hospital, which was besieged by BRN insurgents in the latest bout of violence, which took place on the 56th anniversary of the group’s formation. The prime minister stated that authorities must pay closer attention to the anniversaries of insurgent groups to protect against acts of violence.

National Police Commander Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda has given his view that the hospital siege was merely a show of force by the BRN but nonetheless has ordered stringent care by police.

The National Human Rights Council meanwhile, has issued a statement urging all sides to work towards peace and for insurgents in the southern region to cease their action.


Songkran to be cut by 1 day due to water shortage

BANGKOK, 15 March 2016 (NNT) – The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has decided to restrict Songkran festivities by 1 day due to the national water shortage.

Deputy Governor of Bangkok Amornkij Chawengkul disclosed after a meeting of the BMA’s Songkran committee that this year’s celebration will be held under the theme “Traditional Songkran, Valuing Conservation” to encourage citizens to use water more sparingly.

The committee has decided to reduce festivities in the city by 1 day to only 3 days from April 12-14 as well as to restrict water play in each area to only until 9PM.

Central World Department Store has agreed to cooperate with the BMA in its conservation effort and has cancelled its water tunnel and 24 hour water station services. Festivities will also be downplayed on Silom Road.

The BMA has also resolved to continue to uphold the 5 issues it monitors for each year, which include, deterring the consumption of alcohol, the use of powder, nudity, weapons and the encouragement of water conservation. The city will work with the military and police to ensure the holiday is kept within bounds.


Survey finds most entrepreneurs still hard hit by economic slump

BANGKOK,(NNT) – A survey finds that most entrepreneurs in the country view that the Thai economy has not yet recovered. They also report that their performance in the first quarter 2016 did not improved compared to the same period last year.

Conducted by the Faculty of Economics of the Dhurakij Pundit University, the survey found that most of the respondents or 41.6% thought that their situation worsened, 36.4% thought it barely changed and 11% thought it was better. As for the business outlook for the next six months, they said risk factors for their business included the Thai and global economies which had not yet recovered and higher competition caused by drought. These factors made them spend more carefully, reduce costs, delay investment and cancel marketing campaigns.

The faculty’s rector Kiatanant Luankaeo said the government’s financial assistance for SMEs did not cover all of them and urged the government to provide more aid.


Thailand and Taiwan to cooperate on tackling IUU fishing

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Thailand and Taiwan have agreed to cooperatively enforce laws related to tuna fishing, in a bid to remove the European Union's yellow card for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya said Thai and Taiwanese fisheries officials have recently convened a meeting to solve issues related to IUU fishing. It is Thailand’s plan to seek cooperation from other nations as a way of providing more comprehensive IUU fishing prevention.

The EU gave a yellow card to Taiwan after its fisheries were allegedly found trawling for tuna in international waters. Thailand has also been issued a yellow card, due in part to its association with Taiwan as a major tuna processor. Taiwan is a major exporter of tuna to Europe and the United States.

Under the agreement, the two countries will share important information on tuna fishing activities, such as boat registration, fishing licenses and landfalls. A committee will be set up to inspect Taiwanese fishing vessels arriving in Phuket to offload their catch. The committee will consist of fisheries officials from both nations.


Blue flag campaign launched to help residents affected by drought

BUENG KAN,(NNT) - The Ministry of Commerce is launching the Blue Flag campaign in areas affected by drought in a bid to help shoulder the daily expenses of struggling families.

The ministry introduced the campaign several years ago and sold household goods at affordable prices to help curb the cost of living.

The scheme was recently offered in Bueng Kan province to assist residents suffering from water shortages in the districts of Sriwilai, Sega, Bueng Khong Long, So Pisai and Porn Charoen. Everyday items will be sold at discounts of 30-50% at the Office of Commercial Affairs.

As for Surin province, Governor Attaporn Singhawichai said Jom Phra district has been declared a drought-stricken zone. As many as 578 homes are without drinking water.

Two other districts, Tha Matoom and Samrong Thap, are at risk of water shortages. Water is currently being pumped into a storage unit to ensure there will be enough clean water for home consumption.


Thai Red Cross Society Fair to honor Her Majesty the Queen

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Thai Red Cross Society is inviting all members of the public to join in the 2016 Thai Red Cross Fair being held to raise funds for the society’s work as well as in honor of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen serving as its chairwoman.

Deputy Director-General of the Public Relations Department, Prawin Pattanapong, as vice chairman of the Thai Red Cross Society Fair 2016’s public relations committee, recently held the third meeting of the body to follow up on promotional work for the coming fair. The meeting, attended by state and private organization representatives, discussed the use of social media, radio, television and public relations materials to entice the public to join in the Thai Red Cross Society fair taking place this March 30 to 7 April at Suan Amporn.

The fair this year is being held under the theme “Under the Care of Her Majesty the Queen, in Celebration of Her 84th Year”, in honor of Her Majesty the Queen, who has been the society’s chairwoman for 60 years and will celebrate her 84th birthday this August 12 2016.

The fair is to feature a range of stores which will be using their proceeds to maintain the Thai Red Cross Society.


Government to launch easy contact center in April

BANGKOK, (NNT) – Related state agencies are preparing to set up the Government Easy Contact Center at the beginning of April for the convenience of the general public.

Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office ML Panadda Diskul convened a meeting with the committee supervising the Government Easy Contact Center (GECC). Among the attendants were officials from various ministries, the Office of the Permanent Secretary for the Prime Minister’s Office, the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission and other government agencies.

The meeting discussed directions for the management of the GECC, with an aim of ensuring the center’s efficiency in disseminating information to public members and facilitating their communication with the government. It was acknowledged that the guideline for the center’s evaluation should be clear and easily comprehensible and that personnel should have service mind as well as proper skills and knowledge to serve the people.

ML Panadda has scheduled the official opening of the GECC for April 1, which will coincide with Civil Service Day.


Interior Ministry urges drought relief aid

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Ministry of Interior (MOI) is urging officials to provide relief aid and assistance to the drought affected public, urging the local administration to establish a disaster mitigation center on the local level too coordinate relief efforts, says MOI official.

The MOI’s Permanent-Secretary Grisada Boonrach has revealed relief measures for the drought affected public, which calls for provinces and district offices to set up drought disaster prevention and mitigation centers, along with the coordinated effort of government agencies. Local officials will be assigned tasks that will ensure that close and constant assistance will be provided to the general public.

He has said provinces and district offices should gather local information to maximize the efficiency of relief operations, such as the amount of available water for consumption and for cultivation, the estimated time before remaining water runs out, and a contingency plan if the area receives no additional rainfall before June 2016.

The authorities must first prioritize on the allocation of water for consumption, followed by other uses such as cultivation and environmental conservation.

Local authorities have also been advised to fix the appropriate water distribution and service areas should there be a need to provide water supply through transports. They are also urged to work closely with other related agencies such as agencies under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.


Deputy Education Minister: Parents vital for child development

BANGKOK,(NNT) – Deputy Education Minister Theerakiat Jareonsettasin has highlighted the role of parents in child development.

At the 4th Think Beyond Learning motivational activity on Saturday, Dr. Theerakiat commented that quality upbringing, particularly exemplary conduct, fosters intellectual growth among children.

According to Dr. Theerakiat, good parents shouldn't force their expectations on their children but should give them the freedom to think and express their opinions. As for language learning, parents should spark a desire for learning among their offspring so that they will be persistent in seeking their goals.

The deputy Education Minister also advised parents to remember the saying of HRH Princess Sirindhorn that learning is a lifelong activity.


Liquefied natural gas is safe, says PTT

BANGKOK,(NNT) - PTT Public Company Limited, a Thai state-owned oil and gas company, reassured that public that liquefied natural gas is very safe compared to other common fuel types.

Responding to a criticism about the safety of LNG which followed a boat explosion that took place in Saen Saeb Canal, Executive Vice President of the PTT Somkiat Masunthasuwun said the public should not be drawing any conclusions about the incident until investigation results are revealed.

He said LNG is produced by cooling natural gas and has the best safety record of all common fuel types; therefore, it is very difficult for LNG to ignite. In addition, when LNG spills on the ground or water it vaporizes quickly and leaves behind no residues. As LNG vaporizes, the vapor cloud can ignite if there is a source of ignition, but otherwise LNG dissipates completely.

As a result, the executive vice president asked all sides to refrain from making negative criticisms.


More than 100,000 Thais receive unemployment benefits each month

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Social Security Office (SSO) currently pays unemployment benefits to over 100,000 individuals on a monthly basis, covering unemployment or those who have had their employments terminated, says SSO Secretary-General.

The SSO’s Secretary-General Kowit Sachavisad has said that the SSO pays a sum of 350-450 million baht to more than 100,000 individuals holding the social security benefits, either from resignation or termination of employment.

He has said that the amount of Social Security bearers requesting to receive unemployment allowance has increased slightly from last year, to 39,000 more persons during January-February 2016. Unemployment rates have remained relatively low, as reflected from a total of 11,510,000 individuals enrolled in the unemployment subsidy.

Social Security bearers will receive the allowance at 30 percent of their wage for 90 days, in case of resignation, while unemployed persons from contract termination will receive an allowance at 50 percent of their wage for 180 days.

The SSO’s secretary-general has said the unemployment rate in Thailand is at normal conditions despite the slight increase of unemployment, as many usually find new jobs in a short time.

He suggested the increased perception regarding big layoffs have emerged from society’s focus on foreign companies more than Thai companies.


Civil Servant’s Day 2016 to be held next week

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Office of the Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office plans to organize the 2016 Civil Servant’s Day next week.

According to Prime Minister's Office permanent secretary Ake Angsananon, the planned celebrations for the Civil Servant’s Day 2016 are meant to pay respect to the late King Rama VII who set foundations for civil servants.

The first day of the celebration will feature Music in the Park at the Public Relations Department's Hall (PRD) on March 17, at 4.00 p.m. under the theme of “Civil Servant's Day”.

On March 27, Thai National Symphony Orchestra (TNSO) will perform at the National Theater.

On March 31, the celebrations for the Civil Servant's Day will be held at Prince Palace Hotel.

On April 1, charity and alms-giving events will be held at Government House.

Lastly, from April 1 until April 3, an exhibition will be held to depict a history of civil servants, coupled with a seminar, OTOP trade fair and various services provided by all ministries at Zpell, Future Park Rangsit Shopping Mall.

In addition, the permanent secretary suggested all civil servants to tend to activities such as cleaning up their premises, religious sites and public places.


Chiang Rai tightens boat safety ahead of Songkran

CHIANG RAI, (NNT) – Chiang Rai province has begun tightening safety and security measures of its transport boats to prepare for the Songkran holiday.

Chiang Rai Boat Authority Sub Lt. Thammathon Pulperm has joined a meeting with Chiang Rai Mekong Riverine Unit Head of Strategies and Intelligence Naval Commander Nanthapol Naksuwan held to consolidate efforts to ensure the safety of boats during the Songkran period.

Naval Commander Nanthapol pointed out that as the Mekong River connects Thailand, Lao PDR, Myanmar and China and sees a large amount of traffic, its handling must match international standards.

Officials have been dispatched to make sure boats on the waterway are well maintained and adhere to safety standards. The measure is being implemented to prepare boats to accommodate the large amount of tourists expected to use them during Songkran.


PSU alumni get together to provide knowledge in rubber technology

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Thailand has become the site of the Global Rubber, Latex & Tire Expo 2016 or GRTE during March 9-11.

The event, which featured a grand exhibition of many stakeholders in rubber industry, including a reunion of alumni from a rubber technology program of the Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus or the PSU, who got together again to freely offer their knowledge in polymer technology in the form of a Rubber Clinic program.

One of the highlights of the Clinic was a long list of research successes which greatly advanced knowledge in the field of polymer science and rubber materials. The most prominent among these was definitely the Silica-Reinforced Natural Rubber Tread Compound by Kanika Sahakaro who was awarded the Winner Rubber Technologist of Thailand.

"Carbon black and silica work differently in rubber. In case of carbon black we basically have only physical interaction between rubber and carbon black but in terms of silica, we use this silica with a kind of a bridging agent. So we have another chemical to link silica with rubber. Given a deformed tire, the stress of rubber can transfer to filler more effectively. So you lose less energy during the running of the tire", Dr. Kanika said.

The PSU was the first, and currently, the only university in Thailand to offer a Rubber Technology Program. In the southernmost region, rubber is among the most important resources of Pattani and arguably the entire southern peninsula. In the face of a rubber price crisis, the technologies that open up new possibilities in making rubber products and the combined efforts of alumni researchers from the PSU are more than welcomed by everyone.


Thais warned of employment scams in South Korea

SEOUL,(NNT) – Thai nationals are warned to be careful while considering job offers in South Korea as job opportunities may be scams to lure people into illegal employment, according a warning from the Thai Embassy.

The Royal Thai Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, has issued a warning to Thai people looking for employment in South Korea, stating that job-seekers must be cautious for illegal employment frauds which may result in forced labour.

According to the Embassy, some massage parlors in South Korea are known to force Thai employees into prostitution. South Korean authorities have rescued two Thai employees who were forced to work against their will, and arrested the employer.

Thai citizens are exempted from visa while entering South Korea and are permitted to stay for no longer than 90 days per each entry, making this a chance for some employers to bring in workers from Thailand illegally into South Korea.

Persons charged with illegal employment in South Korea will be banned from entering the country, and must pay the fine for illegal residence from 100,000 won to 4,000,000 won, depending on their duration of stay.


Iranian FM delivers a special speech at MFA

BANGKOK- (NNT) - Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's Foreign Affairs Minister delivered a special lecture on the Paradigm shift from a Zero-sum game to a Win-Win solution: How best to Understand and Resolve Common Global Problems Emanating from Extremism, Based on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and Experience, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand

The Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister stated that in an era of globalization, non-state actors have a great impact, all countries faces common challenges, including terrorism, poverty and illicit drugs. He urged all countries to be watchful and aware and deal with problems in decisive ways in order to cope with trans-national threats effectively.

Iran's Foreign Affairs Minister also emphasized the need to educate people that radical or extremist doctrines are not an extension of Islam, for a better mutual understanding. Iran's openness after the lifting of sanctions and willingness to engage with the world community, will benefit every country around the globe. He also insisted that we need to develop our way of life together as no country can live alone


Kasikornbank says Thai economy to grow 3% this year

BANGKOK,(NNT) - Kasikornbank (KBank) has forecast that continuous government spending this year could lead to a maximum of 3% economic growth.

KBank Executive Vice President Kattiya Indaravijaya said the Thai economy is likely to expand within the range of 2.8 - 3% by the end of 2016. Growth will become apparent in the second half of this year, when more public funding is injected into the economy.

However, the export sector remains susceptible to the Chinese economic slowdown. Export figures recorded during the first few months have contracted further than previously expected.

The KBank VP also said that politics can influence the economy. Thais are waiting to hear whether a public referendum will be organized to vote on the final draft of the constitution.

Meanwhile, the Thai stock market will continue to fluctuate according to the performance of emerging markets and the various fiscal policies of major economies. Investors are advised to spread the risk by diversifying their portfolios.


Media preparation for the 2nd World Irrigation Forum

Bangkok,(NNT) – The Director-General of the Government Public Relations Department (PRD)Apinan Juntarungsri has called a second public relations working group meeting to discuss a media plan for the 2nd World Irrigation Forum and the 67th International Executive Council Meeting.

The meeting was aimed at monitoring the public relations action plan for different media outlets in preparation for the 2nd World Irrigation Forum and the 67th International executive Council Meeting (IEC) which will be organized in November this year. Meanwhile, the working group discussed making a media production on the topic of “Water Management in a Changing World: Role Irrigation for Sustainable Food Production,” which will be publicized all around the globe.

The Director-General proposed having a working group to focus on how H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej's royal initiated projects can apply with water management. He added that the Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had stressed the need to solve all related water problem which have spread in all areas and is a global crisis.

The 2nd World Irrigation Forum and the 67th International executive Council Meeting will take place between 6th and 12th November at the International Convention and Exhibition Center Commemorating His Majesty’s 7th Cycle Birthday Anniversary in Chiang Mai Province


28 provinces brace for summer thunderstorm this weekend

BANGKOK,(NNT) – Northeastern and Eastern provinces are warned to brace for the imminent summer thunderstorm during 10-12 March 2016, while officials have been ordered to closely monitor the situation, says DDPM chief.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation’s (DDPM) Director-General Chatchai Promlert has revealed that 20 provinces in the Northeastern region, 7 provinces in the Eastern region, and 1 province in Central region have been warned of the potential harsh weather due to the summer thunderstorm, forecasted to occur during 10-12 March 2016.

He has said the higher temperature in the Northeastern region, mixed with the Southeasterly wind, which brings moisture from the Gulf of Thailand, and the high pressure system from China, will cause thunderstorms, strong winds, and hails.

Local disaster prevention and mitigation officials are now prepared, with officials monitoring the situation around the clock. Equipment have been prepared, along with placing a fast moving unit on standby, officials will be able to provide immediate assistance to the general public.

Buildings, advertisement billboards, and large trees will be inspected for their structural strength to prevent accidents from strong winds, while provincial disaster prevention and management protocols are in place to provide assistance to the affected people at risk from the dangerous situation.

The general public residing in the affected areas are advised to closely follow the weather forecast and official announcements, observe all safety instructions, inspect their houses for their strength, and refrain from using mobile phones or any communication device in open areas during a thunderstorm.

Requests for assistance can be made by calling the 1784 safety hotline available for 24 hours for further actions.

The provinces that will be affected by the impending thunderstorm are Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Buriram, Surin, Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Yasothon, Amnat Chaoren, Ubon Ratchathani, Sisaket, Loei, Nong Khai, Nong Bua Lamphu, Udon Thani, Bueng Kan, Nakhon Nayok, Prachinburi, Chachoengsao, Sa Kaeo, Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi, and Trat.


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Private sector actively campaigns for less water use amid drought crisis

No Thais hurt in Brussels explosions

Cabinet increases assistance funds for infants

Stricter traffic rules to prevent road fatalities during Songkran Festival


Roll out of envinronmentally friendly boat prototypes

Unmanned firefighting machines deployed at Chiang Mai Zoo as temperatures rise

Health Ministry ramps up road safety policies

Online booking for drivers license exams now available


2016 Earth Hour saves 8m baht electricity cost

Thailand-Myanmar discuss haze solution

Government business matching strategy helps solve oversupply of rubber

Chiang Rai maintains stringent haze controls


Bangkok Metropolitan Administration dredges weeds out of canals for water management

Zoos keep animals cool by spraying water as temerpatures rise

Thai rice research to recieve more support from research agencies

Thailand ranks 33rd as world’s happiest country


Thailand to host the 2016 Global Finals

Army joins UK Ministry of Defense to hold seminar on explosive ordinance

Science & Technology Minister observes wildfire situation in North

Geographical indication product fair at Central Plaza Chaeng Wattana


Rice deal winners can now tranport rice out of warehouses at night

Digital IP infringements in Thailand on the rise

BMA to raise water retention areas in the face of drought

Stronger baht currency affects Thai exports


Police raise public awareness of online offenses

Panda World Tour to promote wildlife conservation in Thailand

Phu Thap Boek land reclamation continues, 30 encroachers prosecuted

Skill Development Center in Bueng Kan holds tourism seminar


ASEAN agrees on digital media cooperation enhancement

Officials react to southern violence

Songkran to be cut by 1 day due to water shortage

Survey finds most entrepreneurs still hard hit by economic slump


Thailand and Taiwan to cooperate on tackling IUU fishing

Blue flag campaign launched to help residents affected by drought

Thai Red Cross Society Fair to honor Her Majesty the Queen

Government to launch easy contact center in April


Interior Ministry urges drought relief aid

Deputy Education Minister: Parents vital for child development

Liquefied natural gas is safe, says PTT

More than 100,000 Thais receive unemployment benefits each month


Civil Servant’s Day 2016 to be held next week

Chiang Rai tightens boat safety ahead of Songkran

PSU alumni get together to provide knowledge in rubber technology

Thais warned of employment scams in South Korea

Iranian FM delivers a special speech at MFA

Kasikornbank says Thai economy to grow 3% this year

Media preparation for the 2nd World Irrigation Forum

28 provinces brace for summer thunderstorm this weekend

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