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Update May 2016


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

National E-Payment system to come into operation in 2017

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Ministry of Finance has affirmed that a National E-Payment system will be up and running by January 1 of next year.

Minister of Finance Apisak Tantiworawong has stated that the setting up of a national electronic payment system, designed to reduce the need for cash transactions, has made considerable progress. The system is now adding an “Any ID” capability that will allow citizens to use either their identification numbers or phone numbers to perform financial transactions without the need for a bank account. The system is to open for registration this July 15 and will begin limited operation in the fourth quarter.

Other crucial steps taking place include the installation of over 100,000 electronic payment machines at government stores by this September, the Revenue Department allowing for tax payments to be done completely digitally by this October and for payments to the state to be made electronic by the end of this year. Overall, the ministry is confident the National E-Payment system will be up and running by January 1 of 2017.

Further information on the system can be found at www.epayment.go.th


Thailand aims to be world leader in food exports

Thai PBS
Thailand aims to become the world's leader in food exports with target for 10% growth in the average 800 billion baht food export value a year.

This was declared by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak at the opening of “THAIFEX-World of Food Asia”,at Challenger, Muangthong Thani, Bangkok yesterday.

He said Thailand exported food to over 200 countries with five food exports among the world’s highest in export values.

They are rice, processed chicken, canned seafood, processed seafood, and food flavour which amounted to get 800 billion baht average annually.

He said Thailand’s strength in the food industry are of its great variety of raw materials and highly experienced producers.

But as about 45 per cent of Thai food exports are unprocessed raw materials, more modern technology and more innovation will be promoted to add value to its food export and decrease the proportion in near future.


April’s exports shrank 8 percent

Thai PBS
Exports for the month of April contracted 8 percent to US$15.1 billion after two months of positive expansion, Deputy Commerce Minister Suvit Maesinsee disclosed this week.

Imports for the same period, meanwhile, shrank 14.92 percent resulting to trade surplus in favour of Thailand amounting to US$ 721 million, he said.

Exports for the first four months of this year amounted to US$6.93 billion baht representing 1.24 percent drop while imports for the same period shrank 12.73 percent to US$6.04 billion.

Thailand’s trade surplus for the first four months amounted to US$8.9 billion.

Mr Suvit attributed to the decrease of exports for the month of April to slow global economic recovery.


Mae Hong Son to kick off OTOP fair in June

MAE HONG SON,(NNT) - Mae Hong Son province is gearing up to host OTOP Fair 2016, which will take place from June 16 - 19 on Samphan Charoen Muang Road.

The event is aimed at raising the standards of One Tambon One Product (OTOP) items, as Thailand is now part of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). It will also inspire OTOP manufacturers to be more competitive and make their products known regionally.

A singing contest, as well as local food, performances and OTOP products from seven districts in Mae Hong Son are expected to feature at OTOP Fair 2016. Mae Sa Nga village will also be recognized as the next OTOP community on the first day of the fair.

To further promote tourism in the province, various species of trees and flowers will also be planted along the road, leading to various tourist attraction sites in the province.


Government revenue exceeds targets

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Ministry of Finance has revealed government revenue over the past 7 months has exceeded targets due to the 4G auction.

Director-General of the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO) Krisada Jeenavijarana has reported the state took in 1.247 trillion baht over the past 7 months of fiscal 2016, surpassing its target by 75 billion baht or 6 percent. The figure is also 8.7 percent higher compared to the same period last year.

Auctions for 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz frequency bands, which netted the government 48.2 billion baht, have put the state enterprise segment 24.7 percent ahead of its revenue total during this period last year. Income tax, excise tax for alcohol and auto tax collection also all exceeded targets.

For the remainder of the fiscal year, the Ministry of Finance believes revenue collection will benefit from the improving economy and allow it to hit its target for the entire year.

During the first 7 months of this year, the government handed 1.220 trillion baht to the Ministry of Finance while spending 1.790 trillion baht, or 8.5 percent more than the same period last year. Most the state’s expenses were for stimulus investment.


Medical Services Department urges cigarette smokers to quit

BANGKOK,(NNT) – Medical Services Department Director General Suphan Srithamma has warned cigarette smokers against dangers of smoking and urged them to quit on occasion of World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

He said the World Health Organization (WHO) set May 31 as World No Tobacco Day which focuses on promoting public places, workplaces, public transportations and homes as non-smoking areas and such campaign is helpful to those who intend to quit smoking.

Despite several years of encouraging smokers to break the smoking habit, it remains difficult, considering the rate of only 2-3% of habitual smokers who successfully quit smoking each year, he said.


Luxury car dealer faces eight charges

Thai PBS

A luxury car dealer who crashed his sports car into the rear of a saloon killing two people inside will face eight charges and may be kept at a hospital for public safety because of his mental instability in case he is not imprisoned.

Mr Yongyuth Kiatisaksophon, Region 1 public prosecution director-general, said Friday that the public prosecution had wrapped up the case and decided to lodge eight charges against Mr Janpob Veeraporn, a luxury car dealer, for the death of Mr Krisana Thavee and Ms Thanthapat Horsaengchai, following a fatal car collision in Ayutthaya province.

The charges include reckless driving causing death to the other people; driving while not capable of driving; drunk driving; driving without regard to public safety; speeding; driving while under the influence of narcotic drug and defying an order of officials for alcoholic tests.

Ayutthaya public prosecutor Krisada Rojanasuwan said that, besides the eight counts of charges, the public prosecution would ask the court to withdraw the driving licence of Mr Janpob and to recommend that the suspect be kept at a hospital for mental treatment because of his mental disorder which could pose a threat to public safety if he is allowed to go free in the society.

The case file was submitted to Ayutthaya provincial court this afternoon and the first pre-trial hearing was scheduled on May 30.


Last four Rohingya escapees arrested

Thai PBS

The last four Rohingya illegal migrants escaped from Phang Nga immigration office's detention centre since Monday were recaptured after four days of hiding in jungles.

Kamnan village headman of Tambon Tamnampud Songyos Narkrit said today that one escapee was spotted by locals near an abandoned shrimp farm in Tambon Tamnampud.

Authorities were alerted and recaptured him in exhausted condition.

The remaining three were also recaptured not far from the place by special action force police.

All were brought back to Phang Nga immigration office’s detention centre.

A total of 21 Rohingya illegal migrants escaped from the centre. All were recaptured, except one who was shot dead for attempt to assault authorities trying to arrest him.


DSI to search temple to look for Phra Dhammachayo

Thai PBS

Enquiry officers of the Department of Special Investigation and a special public prosecutor will meet tomorrow (Friday) to discuss about a plan to search Wat Dhammakaya to look for its embattled abbot, Phra Dhammachayo, who missed an appointment with the officers today at Klong Luang police station.

Special public prosecutor Mr Kachornsak Putthanuparb said today that he expected a search warrant to be issued quickly because an arrest warrant had already been issued against Phra Dhammachayo.

He explained that a search warrant was needed to search the temple because it is a private property. Also, he said that the DSI had treated the embattled abbot with respect by agreeing with Phra Dhammachayo’s lawyer to meet the monk at Klong Luang police station.

Asked whether police reinforcement is needed for the temple’s search, Mr Kachornsak said the DSI has enough manpower and is capable of doing the job by itself.

At about 3.50 today, doctors treating Phra Dhammachayo notified the DSI that the abbot could not turn himself in as appointed at the Klong Luang police station claiming that he suddenly suffered from dizziness and could not travel out of the temple.

Mr Kachornsak said that DSI had made available an ambulance from the Police General Hospital and a team of three medical specialists at the police station in case the abbot was sick and had to be taken to Thammasat hospital.

Meanwhile, Dhammachayo’s team of lawyers issued a statement insisting on the abbot’s innocence and his readiness to follow justice process. The lawyers also claimed that the abbot could not make it to the Klong Luang police station because he suddenly suffered from dizziness.


Two died, 5 missing in Samui speedboat accident

Thai PBS
Two tourists died and five went missing after a speedboat capsized off Samui Island late Thursday afternoon.

Of the 36 people on board the speedboat, Angthong Explorer, two are Thais and the rest foreign tourists.

The boat was returning to Samui at 4 pm after a day trip to Angthong Island, as the sea was rough.

But the incident was spotted by several fishing boats which rushed to rescue the tourists, they were able to get them on board apart from two female who tourists died as they were trapped inside the capsized boat.

Five others are still missing.

Of all the rescued tourists, 21 were injured, 7 are in serious condition.

The cause of the incident is not yet known.

Rescue teams have resume searching for the missing.


Three rights organizations voice concern over new computer crime bill

Thai PBS

Three organizations have submitted a letter to the National Legislative Assembly vice president Surachai Liangboonlertchai expressing their concern over the computer crime bill which they noted may clamp down on free expressions.

Ms Pornpen Kongkachornkiat, a representative of Amnesty International Thailand, told the media that Amnesty International Thailand, Privacy International and Netizens Network are particularly concerned with Section 14 of the bill which might be interpreted in a way to penalize individuals who post message in the social media “in a way which may cause public panic”.

She pointed out that the phrase “in a way which may cause public panic” is very broad and individuals who express opinions which do not pose a threat to national security or public safety may be liable to criminal litigation.

Mr Arthit Suriyawongkul, representing the Netizens Network, pointed out at Section 15 of the bill which states that internet service providers will be liable to punishment similar to the perpetrators who violate Section 14 of the bill if they cannot prove that they did not conspire with or did not consent the actions of the perpetrators.

He said that the service providers might resort to self-censorship to play safe.


The longest-living Thai elephant in Japan dies

Thai PBS
Hanako, the longest-living female Thai elephant in Japan, has died at the age of 69 at the Inokashira Park Zoo in Tokyo, the Thai embassy in the Japanese capital reported in its Facebook page on Thursday.

Affectionately called “Grandma Hanako” for her old age in the zoo, arrived in Tokyo in 1949 at the age of two. It was the first elephant to arrive in Japan after the end of the Second World War in 1945.

The Thai embassy said that Hanako was regarded as a goodwill ambassador from Thailand and a healing medicine for Japanese children after the war.

Early this year however, Hanako became a headline news in Japan when both Thai and Japanese animal rights protection activists launched a campaign to have the ageing elephant moved out of Inokashira Park Zoo in Tokyo to another zoo where there are other elephants.

Because of her old age and travelling might be dangerous to her health, Hanako was kept in the zoo in Tokyo until her death.

The only elephant in the zoo since 1949, Hanako was ironically called the most lonely elephant in the world.


First Thai woman conquerer of Mount Everest recalls her inspiration

Thai PBS

The first Thai woman to conquer Mount Everest, Ms Napassaporn Chumnarnsit, said the success was inspired by her determination to have the picture of the King and the Thai national flag on the mountain summit.

The 32-year-old dentist at Prachuab Khiri Khan provincial hospital recalled her May 19 successful adventure to the world’s highest mountain after she and her team of mountain climbers were honoured by the Nepalese minister of Tourism and Sports after they returned safely to ground.

Thai ambassador to Nepal was also at the meeting where she was honoured with a certificate and flowers.

Ms Napassaporn or Doctor-Oeem said her success in climbing Mount Everest was inspired by her strong determination to have the image of His Majesty the King and Thai national flag on the top of the Everest.

She recalled that the first moment when she reached the Everest summit was that she felt empty.

This was because the moments before reaching the summit, she didn’t think of anything else, even herself, but only one thing in mind that the King image and the Thai flag must be there.

It was also the many desires that had wished and encouraged her to fufill her dream, she said.

She said if she just think of herself she would never achieve the mission.

She said as she was climbing higher and higher, she seemed to feel like discovering some facts of life.

It was that if one has strong determination to do something, nothing could stop no matter how big the obstacle and the difficulty will be.

Her team which include another Thai climber Komrat Pichitdet, and a Norwegian climber will be in Katmandu to celebrate the team’s success on May 29 before returning to Thailand.

Earlier a Thai climber Vithitnan Rojanapanich has also conquered the Everest peak on May 22, 2008.


State Railway of Thailand to ask Prime Minister to shut down high-risk railway crossings

Thai PBS
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will propose Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha to shut down railway crossings which are highly unsafe and may lead to fatal accidents involving trains and cars, said SRT governor Wutthichart Kalayanamit on Wednesday.

He said that SRT officials recently met with officials of the Interior Ministry to discuss measures to reduce accidents at railway crossings across the country.

The Interior Ministry has ordered all provincial governors to find out how many railways crossings there are in their respective provinces and whether their numbers and locations match with the information of the SRT.

According to the SRT information, there are currently 2,624 railway crossings of which 1,935 are legal and the rest illegal or not approved by the SRT.

Governor Wutthichart said once the Interior Ministry’s data about railway crossings is completed and double-checked with the SRT’s and high-risk crossings are identified, the SRT would ask the prime minister to exercise his special power to shut down those dangerous crossings.

The SRT, he said, will look for alternative crossings which are safer for motorists.

To ensure better safety for motorists, the Interior Ministry has ordered that civilian volunteers be deployed at railway crossings in accordance with the railway timetables.

Moreover, the SRT will ask local communities not to arbitrarily build railway crossings without prior permission from the SRT.


Red Bull heir given another chance to surrender to public prosecution

Thai PBS

Red Bull energy heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya will be given another chance to turn himself in to meet with public prosecutors to acknowledge charges against him in connection with the death of a traffic policeman in a road accident three years ago.

Mr Sutthi Kittisupaporn, public prosecution director-general of Bangkok South Criminal Litigation Office, said that, if Vorayuth failed to show up by 4 pm on Wednesday without giving any proper reason, public prosecutor in charge of the case would ask police enquiry officers to find out what happened to the suspect and to issue another summons against him.

Failing to answer this summons without a good reason, Mr Sutthi said that the public prosecutor would seek the court’s warrant for the arrest of the Red Bull heir because his failure to turn himself in this time would be considered as an attempt to foot-drag the case.

Vorayuth is facing charges of reckless driving causing death to the other people, failing to stop his car to help the victim and failing to inform the incident to the nearest police.

Mr Sutthi said the victim’s relatives had petitioned the attorney-general to consider whether additional charges could be lodged against Vorayuth regarding his conduct.

But for the time being, he said that the prosecutor would stick to the two original charges which are reckless driving causing death to the other people and failing to stop to help the injured victim.

He explained that, normally, police enquiry officers would be given between 15-20 days to issue summons to a suspect to show up to acknowledge charges.


Melted fluorescent lamp holder may be the cause of dorm’s fire in Chiang Rai

Thai PBS
The burning of a fluorescent lamp holder is suspected to be the cause of the fire at the dormitory of Pitakkiat Witthaya school in Chiang Rai province which killed 17 girl students.

Pol Lt-Gen Thanitsak Thirasawat, commissioner of Region 5 Provincial Police Bureau, said Wednesday that police investigators found a melted fluorescent lamp holder on a pile of cloth in the burned-out dormitory and that is the only linkage with the fire. He dismissed the possibility of an arson.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, it was reported that the Lampang governor, Mr Samart Loyfah, ordered officials of Sueksa Songkroh Chit-aree school under the patronage of the late Princess Mother to check electrical equipments at a dormitory in the school to find out whether they are in good working conditions or not and whether fire extinguishers are still working.

Several other schools in different provinces also took precautions by rechecking electrical equipment and electric wires in schools.


Bank driver admits robbing bank to take revenge on manager

Thai PBS
The driver of the manager of the Bangkok Bank in Cha-am district which was robbed of over 10 million baht in cash on May 9 has been arrested for allegedly robbing the bank.

The suspect, Mr Wichukorn Sudthanom, was presented before the media on Tuesday in the presence of the national police chief, Pol Gen Chakthip Chaichinda and several senior police officers.

Pol Gen Chakthip told the media that after the bank heist on the night of May 9, police questioned several Bangkok Bank staffers in Cha-am district who made observations about some staff members who appeared suspicious.

He said that police took the images of the suspicious staffers to compare with the suspected robber who was shown in the bank’s CCTV system. Further checks with backgrounds of the staffers and their cars, police managed to narrow down the list to Wichukorn, the driver of the bank manager, and an arrest warrant was sought with the Petchaburi provincial court, he added.

Wichukorn allegedly admitted he robbed the bank not after money but to take revenge on the bank manager for planning to sack him. He claimed that he first wanted to kill the manager but changed his mind to rob the bank instead because, by so doing, the manager would be held accountable and might be fired.


Police arrested father of 8-year old victim of rape

Thai PBS

A man who allegedly force-fed his own 8-year old daughter with boiled krathom water mixed with methamphetamine before raping her has been arrested by police in Trang province.

Police hold the press conference at the headquarter of the 9th region provincial police bureau on Tuesday. The suspect allegedly confessed to the police that he was under the influence of methamphetamine or ya baa when he committed the offences against his own daughter who later died at a hospital in Trang province for overdose.

Pol Lt-Gen Veerapong Choenpakdee, commissioner of 9th region provincial police, said police had substantial forensic evidences against the victim’s father which led to his arrest. The suspect tried to commit suicide while being detained at the police station but police managed to intervene and save his life.

Earlier, police arrested the victim’s neighbor under suspicion of involvement in the murder of the 8-year old girl.


Ex-chief of Klongchan Credit Union Cooperatives slapped with money laundering charge

Thai PBS
The Department of Special Investigation on Tuesday lodged an additional charge of money laundering against the former chairman of Klongchan Credit Union Cooperatives in connection with the money that he arbitrarily donated to Wat Dhammakaya.

DSI deputy director-general Pol Lt-Col Somboon Sarasith together with Mr Kachornsak Putthanuparb, a special public prosecutor and a team of police enquiry officers went to Bangkwang maximum security prison in Nonthaburi to notify Mr Supachai Srisupa-aksorn of the money laundering charge for his acknowledgement.

The additional charge against the former chairman of Klongchan Credit Union Cooperatives was in correspondence with similar charge that the DSI is to file against Phra Dhammachayo, abbot of Wat Dhammakaya.

The embattled abbot of Wat Dhammakaya is yet to acknowledge the money laundering and receiving stolen object charges against him claiming that he is too sick to travel to the DSI to acknowledge the charges. He has wanted the DSI enquiry officers to go to the temple to notify him of the charges for his acknowledgement.

Earlier, Mr Supachai and other officials of the cooperatives were charged with misappropriation for stealing about 22 million baht from the cooperatives. He was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment by the Criminal Court.’


Rice sold on government auctions cannot be delivered because of different qualities

Thai PBS

Rice traders who have won the auctions for government rice are unable to take delivery of the grains because they do not meet the specifications specified in the the bidding terms of reference, said Mrs Duangporn Rodpayat, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, on Tuesday.

She disclosed that the rice stored in some warehouses was different from type put on auction. “For instance, we put on auction 5 percent rice but the buyers found out that the rice in the warehouse was different. Or in the latest case, we put on auction sticky rice. But the buyers found out they were rotten rice,” she said.

Asked how come? Mrs Duangporn blamed the warehouse owners and the surveyors for not checking the rice bought by the previous government that were kept in their warehouses whether they met with the specifications or not.

Asked why the discrepancy was not detected before the auctions were staged by the government, she admitted that officials concerned only made random inspection of the rice for auctions because they could not examine all the rice in the warehouses.

However, she said that the Public Warehouse Organistion and the Market Organisation for Farmers, the two state-owned organizations, had been told by the Commerce Ministry to address the problem for the successful rice bidders.

She suggested that the warehouse owners and the surveyors would have to be held accountable for the discrepancy on the qualities of the grains because the successful bidders would have to export the rice to their customers within the timeframe as agreed upon.


DNA tests needed to identify Thai school fire victims

BANGKOK (AP) — Relatives of a dozen primary-school girls who died in a dormitory fire in northern Thailand are awaiting the results of DNA tests because the bodies of all but five of the 17 victims are too disfigured to be recognizable.

"I can't even tell which one is my daughter, they all just look like blackened dolls," Yupin Saewa, the mother of a 10-year-old victim, said in an interview Tuesday with the state Thai News Agency.

The Pithakkaiat Witthaya school outside Chiang Rai city provides free housing for impoverished children who are members of hill tribe minorities.

Fifteen girls and a teacher escaped the fire Sunday night by tying bedsheets together and using them to climb down from a second-floor window. Five others were rescued by emergency responders who found them unconscious in their beds, overcome by smoke.

"Right now, all of the survivors have gone home with their families," said Jakkrich Promrueangrit, an emergency responder. "The bodies, though, are still awaiting DNA analysis because their faces are unrecognizable."

Some grieving relatives made offerings of food and drink on the front steps of the dormitory to honor the dead.

Initial reports said 18 girls died. The fire's cause is under investigation. News reports cited police as saying the fire could have been caused by a fluorescent light that malfunctioned.

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


Cabbie nabbed for allegedly assaulting and robbing a tourist

Thai PBS

A taxi driver was arrested in Bangkok on Monday for allegedly assaulting and robbing a Turkish female tourist in Prachin Buri’s Kabin Buri district on May 18.

The cabbie, Mr Watchara Thanoi, was nabbed at his lodging in Paholyothin Soi 48 in Bangkhen district together with a laptop and a passport belonging to the victim.

According to police, the tourist hailed the taxi driven by Mr Watchara at Don Meuang airport to take her to Aranyaprathet on May 18. The taxi fare was agreed at 2,000 baht with a condition that the tourist must pay for the gas.

On the way to Aranyaprathet, the cabbie stopped at an LPG gas station in Kabin Buri for refueling. He then demanded 500 baht from the tourist who declined claiming that the meter only showed 277 baht of gas being refueled.

Both engaged in a heated quarrel before the victim handed over 15 US dollars to the cabbie who however demanded 500 US dollars. The two again quarreled in the car and the victim wanted to go to the nearest police station but the cabbie said he would drive her back to Bangkok.

While in the car, it was reported that Watchara assaulted the victim as he tried to seize her handbag. The victim later managed to get out of the car and shouted for help.

The cabbie sped away with her belongings, including a laptop and a Turkish passport.


Koh Tao murder convicts appeal against their death sentence

Thai PBS

Two Burmese migrant workers sentenced to death for the murder of two British backpackers on Koh Tao in 2014 submitted an appeal against their conviction to the Samui provincial court on Monday.

Lawyers from the Law Council of Thailand submitted the appeal together with a 200-page argument against the conviction and sentencing of Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo. They were accompanied by the two defendants’ mothers and a diplomat from the Burmese embassy in Thailand.

The two migrant workers were guilty by the court of first instance for the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge and the murder of David Miller on Koh Tao in 2014.
 


Forestry Department reclaims 5,000 rai of encroached forest land in Nan

NAN,(NNT) - Forestry Department director general Chollathit Surassavadee said a combined force of forestry officials, police and the 32nd Rangers Regiment had reclaimed 5,000 rai of encroached forest land in Wiangsa district of Nan province.

They found a number of permanent structures built on three rai of forest land which will be demolished after the reclamation, the department head said.

He said all alleged forest encroachers, particularly those who have paid for such illegal practice, will be prosecuted by law while a solution to the problem will involve a long-term and integrated process. He called on all Thais to lend a hand in conserving the forests for future generations.


Schools told to have fire response plans in place after Chiang Rai blaze

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Ministry of Education has instructed all schools to be ready to respond to fire accidents after many students were killed by a fire in Chiang Rai.

In the wake of the recent blaze that occurred at a girls’ dormitory of Pitakiatwittaya School in Wiang Pa Pao district, Chiang Rai province, Education Minister Gen Dapong Ratanasuwan revealed that related officials have been dispatched to the site to investigate the cause of the deadly incident as well as to inspect the school’s security and alarm systems. He said he has assigned the Office of the Private Education Commission (OPEC) to provide assistance for all affected students and people.

Deputy Secretary-General of OPEC Peerasak Rattana said an initial assistance fund of 5,000 baht has been given to relatives of each victim for organizing the funeral rite.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security is considering a plan to compensate injured students at the rate of 8,500 baht each and families of the deceased at 2,000 baht each.


Thai tourism continues to grow in 2016

BANGKOK,(NNT) - The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has reported that the number of Thai and international tourists in Thailand in the second quarter this year will likely increase by 9.2% following continuous tourism growth.

Minister of Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavarangkul on Monday said in the first quarter Thailand’s tourism revenue was 680 billion baht, increasing by 16% compared to the same period last year. The second quarter revenue was expected to stand at 560 billion baht—355 billion baht of which from foreign tourists. Most of the international tourists visiting Thailand this year were Chinese people, followed by those from Europe and ASEAN, said the minister.

The ministry has estimated that the combined tourism revenue of the first and second quarter will stand at 2.4 trillion baht. It has set plans to promote tourism in seven major and 12 minor cities with the objective to distribute tourists and tourism revenue to communities.

Furthermore, the ministry is preparing to promote health and wellness tourism in line with the government’s Thai tourism strategy for the years 2015 - 2017.


Meteorological Department warns of heavy rains and high tides this week

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Meteorological Department has issued an alert warning that Cyclone Roanu will bring heavy rains to most parts of Thailand and stir the Andaman Sea this week.

The North, Northeast, Central, East and upper part of the South will have a greater chance of heavy rains so villagers in those areas are being warned of possible dangers of the rainstorm, the department announced.

The cyclone will cause high tides in the Andaman Sea and the upper part of the Gulf of Thailand.

Sailors of small vessels are advised to remain ashore until May 26 and monitor weather conditions closely during the upcoming days since waves of up to three meters high might occur in the sea.

The department earlier issued an alert warning of adverse weather conditions in a number of provinces including Chiang Mai, Lampoon, Lampang, Uttaradit, Pitsanulok, Tak, Petchaboon, Loei, Chaiyapoom, Nakorn Ratchasima, Surin, Buriram, Srisaket, Amnat Charoen, Ubon Ratchathani, Prachinburi, Sra Kaeo, Chonburi, Rayong, Chantaburi and Trat.


17 girls died in dormitory fire in Wiang Papao

Thai PBS
Seventeen girls died and five injured after a fire broke out before midnight and quickly engulfed a two-storey half wooden dormitory of an welfare elementary school in Wiang Papao district of Chiang Rai province last night.

About 38 girls, aged from 5-12 years were staying at the girl dormitory of the Pitak Kiatwithaya school in Tambon Wieng of Wiang Papao district at about 11.00 pm.

Fire fighters spent three hours to put the fire.

Primary inspection revealed that so many lives were perished because the dormitory was locked from outside, thus trapping the victims inside.

Charred bodies of the girls were found at the scene. They were all burned beyond recognition.

Fire fighters said they could rescue five girls from the raging half cement half wooden building, two in serious condition.

Another girl remains missing.

The cause of fire is still unknown.

Forensic police along with Chiang Rai governor and Wiang Papao district chief officer were at the scene this morning.

DNA samples of all the bodies would be collected for identification.

The school is closed for five days from 23 – 27 May due to fire.


HM the King’s conditions have improved

Thai PBS
His Majesty the King’s health conditions have improved considerably after medical treatment at Siriraj hospital to correct excess fluid in the spinal cord and brain.

A statement of the Bureau of the Royal Household which was issued on Sunday said that the King’s abnormal movements of facial muscle have returned to almost normal, his breathing, pulse rate, body temperature and blood pressure have returned to normal.

HM the King was admitted to Siriraj hospital on May 20.


Gold shops warned to have proper accounting books or face money laundering charges

Thai PBS
Gold shops which have revenues over 10 million baht a year and do not have proper accounting books will face money laundering charge and have their assets frozen under a new tax law being mulled by the Revenue Department.

Revenue Department director-general Prasong Poonthanet said that out of some 7,000 gold shops, 75 of them which are major operators have proper accounting books.

Combined gold turnover of all the gold shops in the country are estimated at between 400-500 billion baht annually but only between 200-300 billion baht are properly taxed, said Mr Prasong, adding that when the E-payment system is applied as of June 1 the Revenue Department will be able to keep tap on the turnover and revenues of gold shops.

He recommended all gold shops to register as business entities which will make them pay less income tax than paying personal income tax.

Mr Chitti Tangsitpakdee, president of the Association of Gold Traders, said that most gold shop operators were concerned that they would pay more income taxes if they are registered as legal entities.

“But if the Revenue Department assures that they will pay less tax, then gold shop operators will be willing to cooperate,” said Mr Chitti.

Global gold prices remain volatile and steadily drop in anticipation that the US Federal Reserves may increase interest rate at its next meeting. Gold price is expected to register US$1,300 per ounce and domestic gold price is expected to reach 22,000 baht per baht weight if the baht currency weakens to 36 baht against a US dollar.


Commerce Ministry pushes to develop Thai restaurants

BANGKOK, (NNT) - The Ministry of Commerce has been preparing to push forward Thai restaurants as outstanding service businesses that generate income for the country.

Commerce Minister Abhiradee Tantraporn disclosed that the Minister of Commerce has a policy to accelerate promoting Thai service businesses, with an emphasis in restaurant businesses so that they have a business management system which is equivalent to international standards.

She has instructed the Department of Commerce to seriously promote Thai restaurant businesses by collaborating with the Food Franchise Institue (FFI) to organize a 36-hour intensive training course. The training will seek to provide knowledge on management, modern marketing, technology, innovation, human resources management, financial and accounting management to the entrepreneurs to increase their potential and standardize the quality of Thai restaurants.


Vast forest areas damaged from fire in Narathiwat

NARATHIWAT,(NNT) – The forest fire incident in Narathiwat has damaged 1,700 rais of forest land in the Peat Swamp Forest and National Reserve Forest, while the prosecution of involved persons is being expedited, says governor.

Narathiwat Governor Sittichai Sakda has revealed that local officials have been ordered to arrange the first fire patrol to prevent arson in Su-ngai Kolok, Su-ngai Padi, and Bacho districts, while the situation in Yi-ngo and Tak Bai districts is under control as is being observed to prevent the fire from spreading underground.

The incident has caused initial damage to 990 rais of Peat Swamp Forest land, 715 rais of National Reserve Forest land, contributed to 1,705 rais of land damaged, while the fire also burned away 120 rais of land in the Bacho Cooperative Park’s reserve forest, and 2,049 rais in private forest areas. The total area of damage to forest land in 6 districts is at 3,874 rais.

It was reported that rainfalls on 17 May 2016 have helped to increase aerial moisture in the area and extinguished the fire.

Narathiwat Provincial Natural Resources and Environment Office has been appointed to execute their power in order to arrest and prosecute persons involved with arson, while all private lands affected from the fire will receive assistance from the district disaster victims helping committee.

After the incident, the Songkhla Royal Rainmaking Unit has now adjusted its operation plan from controlling the fire, to drought relief in the Southern border provinces.


Stricter observance of safety rules ordered at petrol and gas stations

Thai PBS

The Department of Energy Business has issued an announcement warning all petrol and gas stations to strictly enforce safety protocols for their clients to prevent the risk of fires.

The announcement was ordered by Mr Witoon Kulcharoenwirat, the director-general of the Department of Energy Business, in wake of insufficent observance of fire safety instructions.

He stated that he has handed out a new set of safety guidelines to all petrol and gas station operators in the country to prevent the risk of fires.

The guidelines stipulate that petrol stations must look after the safety of all its customers by requiring them to switch off their engines, banning smoking and shutting off all mobile phones and other possible spark generating equipment while filling up.

The new effort came about as it has been discovered that safety measures at many petrol stations are lax and sometimes operators ignore these safety protocols resulting in a number of potentially dangerous accidents.

A recent clip went viral on the social media showed a petrol station attendant using a mobile phone while refilling a motorcycle’s fuel tank.

A fire was ignited.

The incident is one such example of the dangerously low safety awareness at many petrol stations, he said.


Former drug addicts in Phrae get seed money

PHRAE,(NNT) – Several bodies in Phrae province have contributed seed money to former drug addicts to give them a second chance after rehabilitation.

The seed money allocation program is a collaboration by the Narcotics Control Office Region 5, the Phrae administration and the provincial anti-drug network. Fund recipients are those who have completed job training, but lack money to support themselves and their families while looking for employment.

A total of 196,590 baht was offered to 17 people. Most former drug addicts planned to work as farmers, craftsmen and vendors. Phrae Governor Pichet Paiboonsiri said he hoped to see them to enjoy a decent career and a happy life as they reintegrate into society.


Bank of Thailand affirms magnetic strip ATM & debit cards valid until end of 2019

BANGKOK, (NNT) - The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has affirmed that the public will still be able to use ATM and debit cards with magnetic strip technology until the end of 2019, following the move by commercial banks to introduce new cards with verification chips.

Deputy Governor of Financial Institutions Stability Tongurai Limpiti said debit and ATM cards issued from May 16 onward will utilize chip verification technology for enhanced security.

Existing cards with magnetic strips will be valid until December 31, 2019, while commercial banks will fade out magnetic strip cards as they expire. Those wishing to switch to chip cards before the expiration date of their magnetic strip cards can do so with a surcharge.

The new chip cards will be compatible with all ATMs of the issuing bank, while certain ATMs may temporarily be unable to accept chip cards from other banks.

Those who wish to find out more information can visit the website www.bot.or.th or contact the call centers of each bank.


Monkeys relocated to island in Satun

SATUN,(NNT) - Delinquent monkeys in Satun’s municipality have been transported and released on an island.

Satun Deputy Governor Somjade Jongsuphawisalakij and a team of officials traveled to Khoy Island to release the monkeys. Mr. Somjade said the animals had to be relocated, as they began to search for food near homes in the municipality. Various types of fruit trees have also been grown, in the hopes of sustaining the island population.

The Deputy Governor assured they will not be abandoned by the authorities. Fruits will be brought to the island weekly to ensure their well-being.

The island is located 20 kilometers away from Tanyong subdistrict. The island is uninhabited, although fishermen occasionally stop by and take refuge during stormy weather.


Thai Buddhists celebrated Visakha Bucha Day nationwide

Thai PBS

Millions of Thai Buddhists joined together yesterday to mark Visakha Bucha Day going to temples across the country offering alms to monks in the morning as part of merit-making in this important Buddhist day.

Later in the evening, Thai Buddhists returned to the temples again to perform “Wien Tien” in the evenings, or circling the bodh, or main sermon or prayer hall, carrying candles, incense and lotus flowers.

This important day, a national public holiday, is the day that marks three important events, the birth of the Lord Buddha, the enlightment of the Lord Buddha, and the pass away of the Lord Buddha.

The day is also recognized by the UNESCO in 1999 as “World Heritage Day”, and Thailand where the permanent location of the World Fellowship of Buddhists is located was chosen to host celebrating event for the day.

Activities observed by devout Buddhists across the country on this day includes offering food to monks and novices in the morning, visiting temples tolisten to sermons, to make merit, to give donations and join in the other Buddhist activities.

Some also set birds and fishes on belief that this will get them out of bad lucks, and bring fortunes to them.

In Bangkok, Bangkok deputy governor Amorn Kitchawengkul presided over a mass merit making ceremony at Sanam Luang offering food to 10 senior monks and 234 monks.

In Chiang Mai, governor Pawin Chamniptasart led several thousands of Buddhist in a 11-kilometre march on foot from Chiang Mai University to the top of Wat Doi Suthep last night at about 9 pm in preparation for the morning alm offering to monks today on the mountain.


Pig farmers warned not to use Beta-agonist or face imprisonment

Thai PBS

Livestock department chief Mr Soravit Thaneeto said that the department’s inspectors had conducted random urine tests of live pigs at slaughter houses during last December 1 and May 10 this year and found out that pigs from 59 pig farms were fed with Beta-agonist, a hazardous chemical that makes meat turn red.

Of the 59 pig farms that used Agonist compounds in animal feeds, he said that the department had taken 22 of them to court and two of them were found guilty by the court with the owner of one pig farm given jailterm.

Investigation is under way for the 37 other pig farms, said Mr Soravit, adding that the department has tighten up control of slaughter houses to prevent illegal activities.

99 illegal slaughter houses have been charged during the six-month period from last October to March this year and, of these, verdicts have been delivered for 37 slaughter houses.


‘Buddhism Promotion Week’ held in Uthai Thani

UTHAI THANI,(NNT) – Uthai Thani Province is hosting the ‘Buddhism Promotion Week’ event in conjunction with the Vesak festival.

Provincial officers, students, teachers, and other members of the public numbering more than 1,000 attended a circumambulation procession and a candle-lit ceremony at Wat Mani Sathit Kapitatharam.

They also vowed to uphold the five precepts and follow the teachings of the Lord Buddha.

Buddhists in Thailand and many other countrie are celebrating Vesak which is one of the most important days in the Buddhist calendar that is observed in May. Also known as "Buddha Day", it commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha.

The Buddhism Promotion Week also features an exhibition, Dhamma lectures, sermons, prayers, and alms-offering ceremony.


People warned of dengue fever as rainy season begins

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Ministry of Public Health has called on the public to take precautions against dengue fever, which is usually prevalent during the rainy season.

As the rainy season in Thailand is approaching, Permanent Secretary for Public Health Sopon Mekthon advised that people eradicate all stagnant waters around their homes as a way of preventing mosquitoes from laying eggs and keeping at bay mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue, Zika fever and Chikungunya.

According to statistics from the Bureau of Vector Borne Diseases, Ministry of Public Health, 17,000 people have been diagnosed with dengue fever since the start of the year and 14 of them have died. The majority of the patients are children aged 10-14 years and more than 42 percent are school students. Early symptoms of dengue fever include high fever, headache, loss of appetite, vomiting and stomach ache.

Dr Sopon stated that the best method to keep mosquitoes and their larvae away is to keep the house organized, dispose of garbage regularly, close garbage bins with lids and empty all outdoor containers of stagnant water. People in need of advice on protecting against dengue fever are welcome to contact the Department of Disease Control’s hotline at 1422.


HRH Princess Chulabhorn hospitalized for medical treatment

Thai PBS
Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn was admitted to Vichaiyut hospital on Thursday for medical treatment, according to an announcement of the Bureau of the Royal Household.

Doctors have discovered a tumor in the neck of the princess which requires surgery for the removal of the tumor for a biopsy.

The announcement also said that the princess suffered from stomach ache and experienced vomiting resulting from inflammation of the pancreas that would require diagnosis and continuous treatment.


Lecturer dies after shooting himself

Thai PBS
The lecturer of Phra Nakhon Rajabhat University who shot dead his two colleagues on the campus on Wednesday committed suicide by shooting himself with the same pistol after more than five hours of standoff.

Dr Wanchai Danaitamonut was rushed to Paolo Memorial hospital by a waiting ambulance after he shot himself at a hotel in Sapan Kwai area where he had been hiding since the fatal shooting of his two colleagues on Wednesday. He was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at the hospital.

Police, friends, relatives and students of the university tried desperately for more than five hours since 12.30 p.m. to talk Dr Wanchai into laying down his weapon and turning himself in to the police.

Dr Narongsak Boonyamarik, a close friend of the suspected killer, said that the police had tried their best to persuade Dr Wanchai to surrender but without success.

He said that during the lengthy negotiation Dr Wanchai was hesitant and was heard to have complaining “Unfair, can’t stand it.”

Dr Narongsak further said he received a text message sent from Dr Wanchai lamenting of the unfair treatment and threatening to kill himself.


Vocational schools ordered to bring student brawls under control

BANGKOK,(NNT) – The Ministry of Education has instructed all vocational schools to adopt concrete measures to end student brawls while threatening to shut down any institute that fails to do so.

Education Minister Gen Dapong Ratanasuwan convened a meeting with administrators of both public and private vocational schools within Bangkok and its vicinity in a bid to hear their approaches to preventing student violence. The minister called on the schools to arrange an attitude adjustment camp for students who are often involved in fights and conduct follow-up assessments.

In the meantime, the schools were also assigned to coordinate with security units in monitoring the movement of alumni who have records of violence in order to make sure they do not attempt to instill the same behavior in current students. Measures against gambling among students are also to be adopted by the schools.

If any vocational schools are found to be incapable of handling the problem of student violence, Gen Dapong said they might have to be closed down. As for the custom of initiating new students, he admitted there are no rules that prevent it from being practiced. However, he warned that action will be taken against the school’s executives if any violence occurs during the process.


Yala to introduce stagecoach services to boost tourism

T
YALA,(NNT)-Yala wants to use stagecoaches to attract tourists to the province to boost local tourism and generate extra income for local families.

It began with a group of horse breeders in a community called Ban Jarupattana. They proposed the idea to the Office of Muang Yala District and sought financial support from the government’s five-million-baht-per-tambon program.

They believe the stagecoach project will also compliment the image of Yala as a bird city. Muang Yala District Sheriff Kongsakul Chantarat said the Bird City project previously received government financial aid of five million baht.

Mr. Kongsakul believes the stagecoach project will create job opportunities for low income earners as well as cover maintenance expenses. If approved, stagecoach services will begin at the end of this year.


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

National E-Payment system to come into operation in 2017

Thailand aims to be world leader in food exports

April’s exports shrank 8 percent

Mae Hong Son to kick off OTOP fair in June


Government revenue exceeds targets

Medical Services Department urges cigarette smokers to quit

Luxury car dealer faces eight charges

Last four Rohingya escapees arrested


DSI to search temple to look for Phra Dhammachayo

Two died, 5 missing in Samui speedboat accident

Three rights organizations voice concern over new computer crime bill

The longest-living Thai elephant in Japan dies


First Thai woman conquerer of Mount Everest recalls her inspiration

State Railway of Thailand to ask Prime Minister to shut down high-risk railway crossings

Red Bull heir given another chance to surrender to public prosecution

Melted fluorescent lamp holder may be the cause of dorm’s fire in Chiang Rai


Bank driver admits robbing bank to take revenge on manager

Police arrested father of 8-year old victim of rape

Ex-chief of Klongchan Credit Union Cooperatives slapped with money laundering charge

Rice sold on government auctions cannot be delivered because of different qualities

DNA tests needed to identify Thai school fire victims


Cabbie nabbed for allegedly assaulting and robbing a tourist

Koh Tao murder convicts appeal against their death sentence

Forestry Department reclaims 5,000 rai of encroached forest land in Nan

Schools told to have fire response plans in place after Chiang Rai blaze

Thai tourism continues to grow in 2016

Meteorological Department warns of heavy rains and high tides this week


17 girls died in dormitory fire in Wiang Papao

HM the King’s conditions have improved

Gold shops warned to have proper accounting books or face money laundering charges

Commerce Ministry pushes to develop Thai restaurants

Vast forest areas damaged from fire in Narathiwat


Stricter observance of safety rules ordered at petrol and gas stations

Former drug addicts in Phrae get seed money

Bank of Thailand affirms magnetic strip ATM & debit cards valid until end of 2019

Monkeys relocated to island in Satun


Thai Buddhists celebrated Visakha Bucha Day nationwide

Pig farmers warned not to use Beta-agonist or face imprisonment

‘Buddhism Promotion Week’ held in Uthai Thani

People warned of dengue fever as rainy season begins


HRH Princess Chulabhorn hospitalized for medical treatment

Lecturer dies after shooting himself

Vocational schools ordered to bring student brawls under control

Yala to introduce stagecoach services to boost tourism

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