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Update September 2016


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

PM says Thailand will be corruption-free in 20 years

 NNT

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government will not intervene in the Thai justice system, while urging everyone to cooperate with the government to combat corruption.

Presiding over the opening ceremony of the government's Anti-Corruption Day event, the premier said that corruption is the cause of social unrest and prevents the country from growing and developing in a sustainable way.

Gen Prayut said the Anti-Corruption Day event aimed to encourage everyone in the country to fight against all types of graft, to augment the government’s ongoing efforts. He further stated that every corruption-related case must be handled fairly, according to the legal procedures. The premier affirmed that the government will not interfere with the legal process.

He also cited the need to instill in younger generations negative attitudes towards corruption, in order to prevent it from occurring in the future. Gen Prayut also expressed confidence that Thailand will be free of graft in 20 years, as his government has an effective plan in place.


ALRO told to demolish a police general’s luxury house

Thai PBS

The Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO) has been ordered to demolish a luxury house and several buildings on a 535-rai land plot located on Sor Por Kor land occupied by Pol Maj-Gen Chalee Pekanan, said Agriculture Minister Chatchai Sarikalaya on Monday.

The planned demolition of buildings on the land plot followed a final ruling by the Supreme Court on July 15, evicting the police major-general from the land that he had illegally occupied.

General Chatchai said that Pol Maj-Gen Chalee had asked for 120 days for him to carry out the demolition of an expensive log cabin himself instead of by workers from ALRO.

After the completion of the demolition work, he said this particular plot of Sor Por Kor land will be turned into a learning centre and demonstration plot for farmers and some of the land will be allocated to landless farmers to make a living.

The agriculture minister is also due to inspect a 1,028-rai land plot in Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima illegally occupied by heirs of Chukiat Tangpongprat.  He said this land plot will be reclaimed and reallocated to landless farmers.


Airport operator issues warning on Samsung smartphones

 NNT

Airports of Thailand (AOT) has warned passengers to refrain from placing the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone into their checked baggage, following an advisory issued by the FAA and EASA.

AOT President Nitinai Sirismatthakarn asked all passengers to adhere to the new advisory for safety reasons.  The warning is in compliance with statements issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The full advisory from the two organizations also forbids the use and charge of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 onboard aircraft, requiring the device to be turned off completely and disconnected to any power source throughout the entire flight.

The latest regulation comes after several reports of the device exploding due to a battery defect.  Numerous airlines are now enforcing these measures, including the Thailand’s national flag carrier THAI Airways.

AOT is the operator of 6 major airports in Thailand, namely Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok Don Mueang, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Hat Yai.


VAT rate to be pegged at 7 percent for another year

Thai PBS

The Revenue Department has proposed the Finance Ministry to keep the value-added tax (VAT) rate at 7 percent for another year until the end of September 2017, citing the slow economic recovery and impact on business operators and the public if the VAT rate is raised.

Revenue Department chief Prasong Poonthanet said Monday that the government, in the past year, has meted out various packages to help grassroots people who have been hard hit by drought while exports are contracting due to the global economic slowdown.

Increasing the VAT rate from 7 to 10 percent would add more burden on the consumers and increase the production costs of business operators, he noted.

Mr Prasong predicted that the collection of revenue taxes for the 2016 fiscal year would fall short of the adjusted target of 1.75 trillion baht by approx. 140 billion baht due to a substantial drop in petroleum taxes because of low oil prices.

However, he said the department would be able to meet next fiscal year’s target of 1.82 trillion baht in revenue tax collection in light of the forecast of economic expansion over the next 12 months.


90,000 rai of trespassed forest successfully reclaimed this year

 NNT

The Royal Forest Department has reclaimed 90,000 rais of trespassed forest land so far this year, and is undergoing investigations on holding rights for lands prepared for resort construction at 1,000 locations.

Royal Forest Department Director-General Chonlatid Suraswadi has revealed that the department has now almost reached its target goal of 100,000 rais set at the start of the year.

The forest reclamation campaign was conducted in parallel with the conservation campaign for existing forests, as Thailand loses forest land at the rate of 100,000 rais each year.

The Forest Department's director-general disclosed that the reclaiming campaign has shown the reduction of trespassing since the start of campaign in 2015, signaling optimism for the plan to increase the nation’s forest area during the next 20 years according to the government’s strategy.

The Royal Forest Department is now working to accelerate the verification process for resorts and vacation homes in 1,000 locations for their land holding rights, as they are reported to be built on the location of trespassed lands.


Use of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 banned by three Thai airlines

Thai PBS

Three Thai airlines have separately announced the ban of the use of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones on board their airlines and in storing the phones in their check-in luggage.

The ban followed an announcement by manufacturer Samsung to recall all its Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after it was reported that several phones had exploded and caught fire during and after recharging.

Thai Airways International’s director for safety Prathana Pattanasiri said that for the sake of safety, the airline would like to ask for cooperation from all passengers not to switch on or to recharge their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones while on board a plane.

Also, he said passengers would be asked not to load their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in their check-in baggage which are loaded in the luggage compartment.

He added passengers were also advised to report to cabin crews if their electronic appliances heat up, get lost during in-flight or are accidentally dropped in gaps between seats.

Use of and recharging of Samsung Galaxy Note smartphones during in-flight are also banned on Nok Air and Thai Air Asia planes and passengers were advised not to load the devices in their check-in baggage.


Student in coma after college prank goes wrong

Thai PBS

A student of a university in Sri Racha is in a coma with a severe lung infection in the ICU of Chonburi provincial hospital after he was forced to dive in a waste water pond by his seniors during a hazing ritual.

The incident was posted in the Facebook page of a netizen who was believed to be the elder sister of the victim identified as Chokechai Thongnuakhao or Boss.

Her message reads: “Yesterday (Sept 9), whichever senior who, while conducting a hazing activity in an unconstructive fashion, forced my brother to wash in a waste water pond until he drowned. It took two attempts of diving before he was retrieved from the pond. He is now in ICU with severe lung infection and in serious condition. Whichever seniors are responsible for the life of my brother?”

She gave further details of the hazing ritual that her brother went through. She said her brother was forced to wash in one pond, but the senior students thought he was not clean enough and forced him to wash in another pond. She thought her brother might feel tired and drowned.

When the victim was brought up from the pond, he was rushed to the hospital. However, his condition was serious and he was transferred to Chonburi provincial hospital where he is now in a coma.

She disclosed that on the same evening a lecturer called her claiming that the hazing activity was held by the students themselves without permission from the university and the university had warned them before not to go to the waste water treatment facility because it is dangerous.

After the first post, more messages were posted on social media, apparently, by the victim’s classmates who went through a similar ordeal. One claimed that the pond was used to treat chemical wastes.


Thailand’s tourism continues expansion

NNT

Thailand’s tourism industry has continued its steady expansion while the situation in Hua Hin, which was one of the areas affected by fatal bombings in August, has returned to normal.

Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said that the tourism sector in southern Hua Hin has seen business as usual of late, after having suffered the effects of a number of bombings, which killed two and injured dozens of others, including foreign tourists in August.

Ms. Kobkarn said that the number of foreign visitors to Hua Hin has barely changed after the bombings and in fact registered an 11 percent rise from the preceding month.

With the number of tourists on the increase, Ms. Kobkarn believes that total tourism revenue will hit the 2.4 trillion baht target, which the Tourism Ministry has set for this year.


PM happy with fruitful talks with his Malaysian counterpart

Thai PBS

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha expressed his satisfaction with the talks on wide-ranging issues with his Malaysian counterpart, Najib Razak, and thanked Malaysia for its role as the facilitator in the informal peace talks between the Thai government and Mara Patani in Kuala Lumpur.

In a joint press conference held at the end of 6th bilateral meeting between Thailand and Malaysia, the prime minister said the two sides agreed on the need for the two countries to cooperate on security affairs and exchange of information to deal with terrorism, transnational crimes and illegal immigration.

The prime minister disclosed that the two sides also agreed to increase bilateral trade to the tune of US$30 billion, to support greater use of para rubber and to accelerate the creation of special economic zones, among others.


DDPM advises 19 provinces to brace for heavy rains

NNT

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) has advised 19 provinces to brace for heavy rains while villagers in risk areas have been advised to closely monitor weather forecasts and warnings as well as strictly follow the instructions.

The 19 provinces reportedly risking possible flooding include Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Payao, Nan, Prae, Tak, Kampaengpet, Nakorn Panom, Sakon Nakorn, Nong Khai, Bueng Kan, Uthai Thani, Chantaburi, Trat, Ranong, Pang-nga, Phuket and Krabi.

In particular, the flooding situation in Sakon Nakorn has reportedly improved, according to the department.

Nevertheless, flood victims in those provinces are encouraged to contact local DDPM units or call Hotline 1784 around the clock.


Three Chinese nationals arrested for kidnapping another Chinese man

NNT

Tourist police have arrested three Chinese nationals for allegedly holding hostage another Chinese national for ransom.

The three suspects, who are all in their fifties, were identified by police as Zhou Junrong, Liangzhi Yun and Xu Zhiwei. They were apprehended after tourist police were informed by the Chinese Embassy that another Chinese national, Jian Tian Ming, was being held hostage.

Tourist Police Chief Police Major General Surachet Hakpaan said Jian Tian Ming arrived in Thailand last month to have a business discussion with one of the suspects, whom he met in China.

The victim claimed the three of them appeared to be hospitable and took him to several tourist sites. They later took him to a hotel on Charoen Krung Road in Bangkok where they then detained him.

The three of them forced him to call his relatives in China and asked them to transfer 1.5 million baht. They also threatened to hurt him if the money was not wired to their account on time.

However, his relatives only transferred half the ransom amount and decided to contact the Chinese Embassy in Thailand to seek its assistance in finding him.


Supreme Court holds third hearing in rice-pledging scheme suit

NNT

The Supreme Court’s Political Position Holders Division has held the third hearing for the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) case of negligence leading to corruption in the national rice scheme against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The third hearing in the case seeking fault against the former premier for allowing rampant corruption within her government’s rice-pledging scheme saw 2 new witnesses giving statements. The two were Sumet Laomoraporn, chief executive officer of CP Intertrade Co. Ltd., and Chai Wacharong, an independent academic.

Ex-Prime Minister Yingluck was present for the hearing on Friday and took the opportunity to voice her agreement towards the government’s decision not to use Article 44 of the interim constitution to seek further damages over the failed scheme. She also noted her opposition to a former Democrat party member preparing to make the monetary damage total of the scheme public, saying the figures could sway public sentiment and would be inappropriate.


Air Asia management: crew volunteered to apologize before passenger

Thai PBS

Air Asia management has categorically denied that it forced one cabin crew member to apologize to a passenger by means of prostrating before her and her autistic niece.

The incident occurred on September 2 and was eventually posted on social media and went viral, sparking off dissenting comments against the woman passenger and also against a manager of the airline for allegedly forcing the crew to apologize in this fashion.

Many of the comments came from staff of Air Asia as they vented frustration on social media against the passenger as well as the manager.

The incident prompted Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandez to fly into Bangkok to personally assure the company’s Thai staff that it will continue to be fair to its employees.

Tony Fernandez, accompanied by the airline’s Thai executives, will on Friday fly to Hat Yai to personally apologize to the air crew member and her family over the unfortunate incident.

At a meeting with the Thai staff on Thursday, the CEO vowed to take responsibility for the incident and assured them that the management has always attached importance to its staff.

Tassapol Belevelle, CEO of Thai Air Asia, said the airline did not force the crew member to prostrate in front of the passenger but it was the crew member herself who offered to perform the prostration in order to end the dispute with the passenger.

The incident reportedly stemmed from the crew member approaching the passenger’s autistic daughter to offer help but her approach was mistaken by her mother to be a mocking of her daughter’s condition, prompting her to demand an apology from the crew.

It was reported in social media that even though the crew member had apologized and given a “wai”, the passenger was not satisfied and demanded that she prostrate on the floor to apologize.

In the aftermath of the incident, Mr Tassapol said the airline would adjust the in-flight protocols regarding conflict between cabin crew and passengers by referring the incidents to the customer’s relations department.


Chiang Rai police take in major haul in latest drug bust

NNT

Chiang Rai police have reported the apprehension of a drug trading ring with 500,000 pills of methamphetamine and 7 kilograms of heroin seized.

Mae Sai Police Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Songkris Ontrakrai led a joint police and military force to intercept drug smugglers found operating in Huay Krai sub-district.

Authorities seized a black Honda with Chiang Rai license plates carrying 5 large bags containing a range of narcotics. They were also able to arrest a man so far only named Arjoh likely of Myanmar citizenship, another man named Arsoh also from Myanmar and two possible ring leaders, one named Abdullah Buena from Narathiwat province and an unnamed woman from Chiang Rai province.

The seizure uncovered 500,000 pills of methamphetamine, 60 kilograms of amphetamine and 7 kilograms of heroin.

Initial questioning has revealed the group picked up the haul from the Thai-Myanmar border in an area populated by the Lahu people. The group is being further interrogated for leads to other members of their ring.


Mekong River level cause for concern in Nong Khai

NNT

Nong Khai province has reported a sudden rise in the level of the Mekong River with concerns it will continue to escalate.

The Nong Khai water monitoring office under the Department of Water Resources has reported the latest height of the Mekong River at 8 meters and 63 centimeters, up by over 1 meter from the same time on Wednesday and only 3.57 meters below its flood barriers.

With indications that waters in Chiang Kan of Loei province to the north have already risen 83 centimeters in one day, authorities are fearful that Nong Khai’s river levels will reach critical heights. The monitoring office has called for close watch over the next 24 hours.

Authorities have also inspected the readiness of the province’s 14 water pumps installed along the Mekong River in anticipation of flash flooding. With more rains forecasted during this period, the office has decided to go on high alert.


Marine police seek freighter suspected of causing oil spill

Thai PBS

Saensook municipality has asked the marine police to track down a freighter suspected of discharging used bunker oil into the sea which has eventually been swept ashore by waves on the popular Bang Saen beach since Wednesday.

Black oil slicks were spotted floating from Laem Chabang in Si Racha district and from Si Chang island toward Bang Saen beach. Eventually, the slicks were swept ashore about two kilometres long on the Bang Saen beach.

Saensook municipal mayor Narongchai Khunpleum said he suspected the slicks were discharged by one of the freighters which anchored in the sea off Bang Saen beach or which sailed through Bang Saen beach.

However, he said he had asked the marine police to try to track down the culprit or culprits.

Workers were mobilized Thursday by Saensook municipality to clean up the beach. Absorbing films were put into the sea to absorb the oil slicks before they reach the shoreline while other workers removed oil-stained sand from the beach.


Many provinces continue to experience flooding

NNT

Many areas across Thailand remain submerged under flood water following days of heavy rainfall.

In the southern province of Pang Nga, residents in Kapong district have been warned of possible mudslides and flash floods until further notice. Those traveling to the municipality area have reportedly had difficulty driving on Petchakasem Road due to the inundation.

In the North, 18 homes in four villages in Santisuk district of Nan province have been affected by flash floods. Local residents in Thung Chang district have also been coping with the flood after their flood walls collapsed. Soldiers have already been deployed to help those in need.

In Nakhon Sawan, the surface runoff from Phetchabun Mountain has flooded hundreds of rice fields in Chum Saeng district. The Office of Local Administration was forced to lift the sluice gates to relieve the flood water to prevent further damage to the crop.

In the northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom, provincial authorities continue to monitor water levels in the Mekong River as water has already flooded more than 500 rais of farmlands and three villages in Natom district.


Cabinet green lights Golden Route monorail project

Thai PBS

The cabinet has in principle approved the Golden Route monorail project from Thonburi electric train station to Klongsarn district office-Prachathipok to facilitate the travelling of people in Thonburi side of the capital and to link up with the mass transit system.

Implementation of the project is to be divided into two stages. The first stage, which is from Thonburi electric train station to Taksin hospital covering a distance of 1.7 km, will be undertaken by Bangkok Metropolitan Administration which will conduct a study on the format of the project – be it an underground or above-ground system and investment whether it will be a joint venture with the private sector or wholly-funded by the state. The project is expected to be operational in 2018.

The second stage covers a distance of 0.9 km from Taksin hospital to Wat Anongkharam to connect with the Purple Line extension. This project is expected to be completed in 2023. On top of that, there is a plan to extend the route to Asiatique entertainment complex.

The cabinet also approved the construction of highway No 2136 to link Sukhumvit Road with U-tapao airport in correspondence with the government’s policy for the Eastern Corridor Economic Development. Construction will take three years at an estimated cost of 225 million baht.


PM affirms Thailand's readiness to support business at ASEAN Summit

NNT

The Prime Minister has urged investors to be confident in his government’s commitment to supporting trade and business on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit.

Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, in Vientiane of Lao PDR for the 28th and 29th ASEAN Leader Summits being hosted by the Laotian government, has met with his Lao counterpart Thonglun Sisoulith to congratulate him on his country’s work as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. He affirmed to the Lao premier that Thailand is ready to support its neighbor in all areas both bilaterally and multilaterally. Gen Prayuth also used the opportunity of their meeting to invite PM Thonglun to the Asia Cooperation Dialogue taking place in Bangkok on October 9-10.

The Thai prime minister then jointed in witnessing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Thailand and Lao PDR on joint energy development, which will see Thailand increase its purchase of power from Lao from 7,000 Megawatts to 9,000. He affirmed to PM Thonglun that he would support infrastructural developments such as more connecting bridges in the future.

After the ceremony, the premier joined his fellow ASEAN leaders in meeting with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council to exchange views on trade and investment in the region. At the discussion, Gen Prayuth assured Thailand is ready to support public-private connections and exchanges of electronic information. He played up the Kingdom’s focus on small and medium enterprises and start-ups and its Thailand 4.0 model. He affirmed to the council that Thailand is ready to facilitate trade and investment to help drive the region’s economy.


Jatuporn unfazed with bail withdrawal prospect

Thai PBS

 United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) chairman Jatuporn Promphan said on Wednesday that he was unfazed with the prospect that he may return to the detention cell if his bail is withdrawn by the Office of the Attorney-General.

Also, the OAG has asked the court to withdraw the bails granted to other UDD leaders who include Natthawut Saikua, Weng Tochirakarn, Veerakarn Musikapong and Nisit Sindhuprai accusing them of breaking the terms of the bail.

Jatuporn said that the political groups, UDD, the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee share different ideologies and have different origins.

Both the PAD and the PDRC are finished with the exception of the UDD which will carry on its struggle until democracy is restored, said Jatuporn.

The PDRC, said Jatuporn, was created to protest against a law in order to put itself into the corridor of power but when this failed it opened the door for the military to stage a coup two years ago and, now, the PDRC has downgraded into just a foundation.


Alibaba Group CEO meets with Prime Minister

NNT

The CEO of one of China’s largest companies has taken the opportunity to meet with Thailand’s Prime Minister while he was in Hangzhou, China for the Group of 20 summit (G20).

Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha was visited Monday by Jack Yun Ma, the chief executive officer of Alibaba Group, one of China’s largest E-commerce corporations. The two discussed supporting and developing small and medium enterprises in Thailand, with the premier pointing out that up to 90 percent of Thailand’s exports are from SMEs while noting that they have been lacking in proper management. He invited the successful CEO to share his experience and knowledge with Thai businesses as well as to aid in creating an SME network in Thailand, which he said would also benefit foreign investors.

Ma meanwhile, lauded the Gen Prayuth for prioritizing SMEs, giving his view that current global conditions benefit large corporations while serving as an obstacle to small enterprises. Nonetheless, he indicated he believes new avenues of sale will dominate in the next 30 years.

He also noted Thailand has many strong supporting factors for business, such as quality human resources, and said that with the application of new technology it could greatly boost its competitiveness. He said his company is looking to use its Alitrip system to boost travel to Thailand by Chinese citizens.

The premier concluded the meeting by urging the CEO to work with Thailand’s OTOP makers with the businessman responding he was interested in the sector.


Unicef expresses concern over violence in Deep South

Thai PBS & AP

Unicef representative for Thailand on Tuesday expressed deep concern over continuing violence in restive southernmost provinces of Thailand, particularly the motorcycle bomb blast yesterday morning in Narathiwat which killed three people, including a 4-year old girl and her father, and injured ten other people.

In a statementt issued Tuesday, Thomas Davin, Unicef representative for Thailand said the organization was shocked and saddened by the incident, noting that schools must be places for learning, discovery and recreation for children.

“No children, nor any caretakers or education professionals should live or learn under of such attacks. All schools must become safe havens,” said the statement.

Unicef then called upon all parties concerned to do everything in their power to ensure that children are protected and no more children fall victim of violence.

Preliminary investigations into Tuesday's incident show that a suspect drove a motorcycle and parked it in front of a small store across from the school in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province, police Lt. Col. Noppadon Kingthong said. He said the bomb was placed in the front basket of the motorcycle and was detonated remotely.

The targets were traffic policemen and people dropping off their children at the Baan Ta Baa School, Noppadon said.

In addition to the father and daughter who died of their injuries while being taken to a hospital, a 23-year-old man who was one of eight people hospitalized died of his injuries. Three of those hurt were police personnel and one was from the military, Noppadon said.


CTH Cable TV ordered to pay 20,000 baht in fine each day

Thai PBS

CTH Cable TV Company has been ordered by the Broadcasting Board of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to pay fines amounting to 20,000 baht a day starting August 28 until the cable TV service provider fulfils the board’s order for it to refund its clients.

NBTC deputy secretary-general Pakdee Manaves said Tuesday that the broadcasting board on Monday rejected CTH Cable TV Company’s request for the postponement of the submission of its rehabilitation plan to the board following its suspension of its service through KU band.

The board, on the same day, decided to impose a fine of 20,000 baht/day on the company dating back to August 25, he said, adding that the company may have its operating license suspended or revoked if it continues to defy the board.

Meanwhile, the broadcasting board also fined GMM B Company under the management of CTH Cable TV 20,000 baht in fines per day for its refusal to refund its Z Pay TV clients.

The board also considered the cancellation of a rental contract between Mass Communications Organization of Thailand and users of digital TVB network which are yet to pay the rental fees to MCOT.


Seminar calls for more severe punishment for child molesters

NNT

The Office of the Attorney General has sought to more severely punish those convicted of child molestation in response to the growing prevalence of such cases.

At seminar titled “Society’s Way Out from Molestation” organized by the Department of Children and Youth and the Commission for Improving Child Laws in line with the Constitution and Children’s Rights Treaties, Expert Public Prosecutor Wanchai Rujanawong remarked that laws must be implemented with greater severity against those convicted of molestation.

He called for distinctions to be drawn between rapists who also murder their victims, rapists who cause injury and rapists who pose a threat to society, with punishments differing from execution and life imprisonment to asset seizure. He asserted convicts of such crimes should not have the chance at lowered sentences.

Deputy Director of the Department of Mental Health Dr. Panpimol Wipulakorn indicated that the frequency of molestation cases is on the rise with offenders ranging from family members to high-level officials. She also noted that the ages of victims in children molestation cases now range from as low as 11 months to 5 years of age. She stated that her office agrees that punishment for instigators of such crimes should be severe as their victims, despite extensive treatment, often are unable to completely move past the trauma inflicted upon them.


PM meets Chinese president on sidelines of G20 summit

NNT

The Prime Minister has met with China’s president on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit now taking place in Hangzhou in the People’s Republic of China.

Prime Minister’s Office Deputy Spokesperson Col Weerachon Sukhontapatipak reported on the bilateral discussion between Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and Chinese president Xi Jinping, making known the Thai premier started their meeting by congratulating the Chinese leader on his hosting of the G20 Summit.

The prime minister affirmed to the president that he wanted Thailand and China to continue to work together and cooperate on meeting their mutual challenges as well as to achieve the shared objectives of China and ASEAN. The Chinese president responded by assuring that China has given great importance to developing its relations with Thailand and strategic partnerships.

Gen Prayuth thanked the president for inviting Thailand to the summit as the current chair of the Group of 77 developing nations (G77), stating that China’s desire to bring together the G20 and G77 indicates vision. He relayed thanks through the president to the people of China for their frequent visits to Thailand and assured them they would be well cared for while in the Kingdom.

President Xi ended the meeting by assuring that his government is ready to work with Thailand on a Thai-China rail system despite minor delays.


More water discharged downstream from Chao Phraya dam

Thai PBS

The Royal Irrigation Department has started increasing the amount of water discharged from the Chao Phraya dam from 80 cubic metres/second to 120 cubic metres/second into the Chao Phraya river in anticipation of the arrival of northern runoffs.

Suthep Noipairote, the department head, said on Monday that the increased discharge of water through the sluice gates would slightly overflow the banks of Plongpleng canal.

As more rains are expected this week in the northern region, he said there is a good chance that the water level of major dams in the North which include Bhumibol, Sirikit, Kwae Noi and Pasak will increase.

As of September 5, the volumes of water in the four major dams are as follows: Bhumibo, 4,787 million cubic metres with 987 million cubic metres usable; Sirikitl 5,982 million cubic metres with 3,132 million cubic metres usable; Kwae Noi, 383 million cubic metres with 340 million cubic metres usable and Pasak, 315 million cubic metres.

Mr Suthep said rainmaking aircraft fleet based at Hua Hin had been moved to bases in Tak and Chiang Mai to step up rainmaking efforts with an anticipation to add another 800 million cubic metres into the northern dams.


NRSA expects to complete work before being disbanded

NNT

The National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) has stepped up its efforts to install concrete reforms in the nation as the end of its term approaches.

At the latest meeting of the NRSA, chaired by its head Capt Thinaphan Nakata, the assembly was informed of the Cabinet’s decisions on suggested reforms, which included moves to strengthen communities and a proposed draft on welfare. It was also given a report on the work of the three sided coordinating committee or Whip 3.

Deputy Chairman of the NRSA Alongkorn Polabutr made known that a total 88 reform proposals have been sent to the Prime Minister with 9 approved for review by the government and 65 by the Whip 3. He also indicated that the premier has ordered relevant agencies that have received reform decisions to enact them immediately and report on progress every 15 days.

Alongkorn stated that over the final seven months of the NRSA, which is to be disbanded once the new constitution comes into effect, it must complete all needed draft laws to support its reform initiatives.


Police yet to confirm the cause of Thawatchai’s death

Thai PBS

Police are yet to conclude whether Thawatchai Anukul, a former land officials of Phuket and Phang-nga provinces, was murdered or whether he hanged himself.

Pol Col Mana Pohchuey, superintendent of Thung Song Hong police station which has been investigating the case, said Monday that his men had been in the process of gathering relevant evidence for the past five days since Thawatchai’s death, including autopsy reports and testimonies of those interrogated by the police.

He said that, so far, three men had been interrogated, including the security guard manning the detention room at the Department of Special Investigation on the night of Thawatchai’s death, the police officer who made the arrest and the enquiry officer who questioned the victim.

More were due to be questioned this week including the victim’s younger brother, Charnnarong, and the medics of Mongkut Wattana hospital who performed the CPR on Thawatchai.

The security guard, Sommart Narkwong, an employee of the War Veterans Organization, reportedly told the enquiry officer that Thawatchai hanged himself with his T-shirt while, in fact, it was his socks, said Pol Col Mana who, however, added that such an error was not serious because he might have been in a state of shock.

Sommart was subjected to lie detection by the DSI but the result has yet to be sent to Thung Song Hong police, said the colonel.

He went on to say that he was yet to receive CCTV footage of the detention room from the DSI.


PM says ‘there will be a general election’

NNT

Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha insists that a general election will take place according to the country’s roadmap, adding that a cabinet reshuffle is unnecessary at the moment.

Gen. Prayut, who is also head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said ministers and deputy ministers have been working to the best of their abilities and that he is content with their performance.

When asked about the appointment of a new chief adviser to the Ministry of Defense, he said the appointment was not meant to reciprocate or return a favor, nor was the position lobbied for by Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda, the President of the Privy Council of Thailand.

The recruitment process went through a thorough and careful deliberation by what he called “the five tigers”. The five tigers refer to five generals of the Thai army.

He then called on the public to be cautious when consuming new information as it could be misguided, while confirming that a general election will be staged in due course.


Rain-making efforts to be stepped up to replenish water in four main dams

Thai PBS

The Department of Royal Rain-making and Agricultural Aviation has stepped up rain-making operations to increase water stored at the country’s four major dams to ensure sufficient water supply to meet demands during the upcoming dry season.

Surasee Kittimonthon, deputy director-general of the department, said that the weather conditions now until October 20 are suitable for rainmaking and the department hopes to add an addition of 800 million cubic metres of rain water into the four dams, including about half of them in Bhumibol dam, during the period.

In the worst case scenario of the lowest level of water in the Bhumibol dam, he estimated that the dam can still hold about 5,000 million cubic metres of water which may have effects on farming areas in Tak, Kamphaeng Phet, Sukhothai and Nakhon Sawan provinces.

In order to step up rain-making efforts, two more rain-making centres were set up in Phitsanuloke and Buri Ram in addition to the five existing ones in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan, Khon Kaen, Rayong and Surat Thani.

Mr Surasee said the department had worked out a plan to increase its personnel, including pilots and scientists, who are in shortage, in cooperation with universities.

On top of that, the department has recently signed an agreement of cooperation with the Science and Technology Research Institute to develop locally-produced chemicals for use in rain-making instead of relying on imports.

The department is now experiencing a shortage of pilots, mechanics and scientists. It now has 57 pilots and 34 aircraft. But five men are needed for two planes, hence forcing most pilots to work seven days a week.


SRT suspends train services to three southernmost provinces

Thai PBS

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has temporarily suspended train services to the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat following a huge bomb explosion which tore apart a train carriage in Pattani, killing one railway official and wounding three other people.

The latest bomb blast which, this time, targeted a carriage of the Su-ngai Kolok-Hat Yai train took place in Kok Pho district of Pattani late Saturday afternoon. It was reported a 50kg improvised explosive device was planted underneath the last carriage of the train which was normally used by officials.

There were about 50 passengers on the train, said the SRT, adding that South-bound trains would stop at Hat Yai and would not go any further until the SRT is assured by security officials it is safe to resume the services.

Passengers who have made advance bookings to Su-ngai Kolok can change their tickets or ask for refund. For anyone who still want to use the train service, the SRT will arrange for transport to take the passengers from Hat Yai to Su-ngai Kolok.


Two subdistricts of Bueng Kan under Zika watch

NNT

Two sub-districts in the northern province of Bueng Kan will remain under surveillance for the Zika virus while Chiang Mai officials are going door to door to raise public awareness of the infectious disease.

After a meeting with related officials, Chaitawat Niamsiri, Bueng Kan's deputy governor, said a total of 96 Zika cases have been reported in the province. Of that number, 93 patients have fully recovered while three patients are still in intensive care. He said two sub-districts will remain Zika risk zones until declared otherwise.

Local officials have asked residents to eliminate all possible mosquito breeding grounds and are organizing cleaning activities throughout the province.

Meanwhile in Chiang Mai, public health authorities and volunteers are speeding up Zika prevention campaigns and raising public awareness of the mosquito-borne virus. Nine Zika cases have already been reported in the area.

Anti-mosquito sprays and other Zika-prevention measures have been deployed across the region.


Chiang Mai reports 2 more Zika cases

NNT

Chiang Mai province has reported the discovery of 2 new cases of Zika virus infection in San Sai district, bringing the province’s total number of infections to 9 people, and prompting the local health office to declare Mae Jo University a controlled area.

Chiang Mai’s provincial public health office has indicated that among 2 new cases of Zika virus infection is a freshman student of Mae Jo University who became ill on August 27 and was diagnosed with the virus on September 1. The student, who resides in the university’s dormitory, has prompted the office to declare the institution a controlled zone.

The office has commenced with anti-mosquito sprays and the eradication of mosquito breeding grounds to quell the spread of the disease. Among the now 9 total infections in the province, one was a pregnant woman.

The discoveries follow research by the UK’s Lancaster University indicating that up to one third of the world’s population lives in areas at risk of Zika proliferation, which include most of Asia.


Dr Wisanu: S44 may be invoked to suspend over 20 senior officials

Thai PBS

Section 44 of the interim constitution will be invoked to suspend from active duties over 20 senior government officials of C8-9 levels suspected to be involved in corruption, Deputy Prime Minister Wisanu Krea-ngarm disclosed on Friday.

After a meeting of the National Anti-Corruption Committee chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, Dr Wisanu said the committee received a report about 237 officials being investigated for alleged involvement in corruption. Of these, the probe concerning 62 cases were completed and eight of them were fired with 105 cases still pending probes and 63 other cases in the process of having more evidence collected.

He said that the investigation of all these cases concern disciplinary actions and the cases will go through the judicial process only after the disciplinary probes are completed.

Dr Wisanu declined to comment when asked about the National Reform Steering Council’s proposed recommendations about four organic laws for the Constitution Drafting Committee.

He maintained that it is the prerogative of the CDC to draft the organic laws and relevant agencies can propose their recommendations to the CDC for consideration.


Floods hit several provinces

NNT

The Royal Irrigation Department has warned downstream areas to prepare for flooding, which has struck several provinces.

Floods have reportedly inundated a number of districts in the central provinces of Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, and Phichit. In Nakhon Sawan, a local school has been submerged, forcing teachers and students to relocate to the community temple for the time being.

In Uthai Thani, the overflowing Tak Dad River has put more than 40 houses and farming areas under water. Residents were forced to move their belongings to higher ground.

In Phichit, flooding has brought on extensive damage to agricultural areas in three districts. Though the situation has nearly returned to normal, relevant agencies remain on high alert, as they anticipate run-off from the provinces of Phetchabun and Kamphaeng Phet.

Meanwhile, the Royal Irrigation Department has cautioned people in provinces located at the tip of the Chao Phraya Dam to beware of possible flooding. Rainfall in the upper part of the country has increased water at the reservoir and in the Chao Phraya River, which has risen by 80-120 centimeters.

Riverfront communities in the provinces of Chainat and Ayutthaya are advised to prepare themselves for flooding.


Inflation up 0.29% in August, expected to decline by year end

NNT

The Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) of the Ministry of Commerce reports that August inflation rose, but predicts a decline by the year end.

TPSO Director, Somkiat Triratpan, revealed that the inflation rate in August increased for a fifth month to 0.29 percent year-on-year, due to the price hike in fruit and vegetables as well as instant food during the Chinese ghost festival.

The inflation rate over the first eight months averaged -0.03 percent year-on-year since production in the auto, transport and communications industries fell by 3.01 percent. The TPSO expects the inflation rate to decline later this year.

The Ministry of Commerce maintains that the inflation rate in 2016 will average about 1 percent, based on its forecast of 2.8 - 3.8 percent economic growth for the year. The ministry also expects Dubai crude to range from 35-45 dollars per barrel and the Thai currency to appreciate to 35-37 baht per dollar.


PM wants crackdown on zero-dollar tour operations

Thai PBS

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has ordered a crackdown on zero-dollar tour operators and told officials concerned to strictly enforce the law without fear of dark influence to get to the bottom of the network of these illegal operations, government spokesman Maj-Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd disclosed on Friday.

The prime minister, said the spokesman, feels strongly that the zero-dollar tour operations have rendered huge losses to the country and have tainted the image of the Thai tourism industry.

He further said that the prime minister wished the Thai media to expose these illegal activities so that they would not recur.

Regarding the concern that the crackdown on the illegal tour operations will discourage Chinese tourists from visiting Thailand, Maj-Gen Sansern said that it was too soon to jump to a quick conclusion that the crackdown would backfire on tourism business.

He suggested there should be a clear distinction between legal tour operations and illegal operations, noting that Thailand has never gained anything from zero-dollar tour operations for the past several years as all the revenue from the operations were sent back to China through brokers and, worse yet, their nominee companies have never paid any income taxes.

“The government is doing the right thing to build up confidence among the honest tour operators,” said the spokesman, adding that the Tourism and Sports Ministry will invite representatives of the Chinese embassy and the Chinese Tourism Promotion Organization for a briefing of the Thai government’s policy toward zero-dollar tour operations.


Thailand's upper region continues to experience flooding

NNT

Authorities in the North and North East of Thailand have been monitoring the flood situation around the clock as continuous rainfall threatens to flood homes and farmlands.

In the northern province of Pichit, water levels in Sub Perb and Wang Daeng canals increased quickly due to surface runoff from the Petchabun mountain ranges. The canals overflowed the embankments and flooded thousands of rais of rice fields in Thub Kho district.

Nakhon Sawan residents stacked up sandbags around their homes and farmlands out of fear that several canals will soon overflow the embankments, if the province experiences more rainfall.

Meanwhile, Uthai Thani Governor Prapat Malakan and related agencies gave out relief bags to flood affected residents. More than 40 villages in four sub-district of Uthai Thani province have so far been damaged by the deluge.

Sukhothai Governor Piti Kaewsalubsee held a meeting with provincial authorities to develop a contingency plan should the water levels in the Yom River reach a critical point.

The water has also been diverted to a retention area nearby in an effort to prevent flooding in riverside communities. An emergency team is now on standby to provide immediate rescue to those in need.


NLA passes new loan bill that makes overcharging interest rate an offence

Thai PBS

The National Legislative Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved in principle a bill banning creditors from overcharging interest rate on their debtors beyond the limits permissible by law.

A total of 169 votes were cast in support of the bill and the NLA appointed an 18-member panel to scrutinize the bill within 60 days after which it will be tabled back to the NLA for the second and final readings.

The essence of the bill is that charging an interest rate on loans beyond the legally permissible limits is an offence liable to two years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of 200,000 baht. If the offence is committed by more than two people and it is deemed a threat to public peace, the alleged offenders are liable to four years’ imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of 400,000.

Also, creditors who intentionally specify false amount of loans in loan contracts will face two-year imprisonment and/or a fine amounting to 200,000 baht.

Overcharging interest rates, according to the bill, will be regarded as an offence in accordance with the anti-money laundering law.


Death threat as demolition at Phu Tab Berk resorts continues

Thai PBS

Phetchabun governor Bundit Thaveetivarak said that he and the chief of the Forestry Resources Management Office 4 received threats of death if they didn't stop the demolition of resorts in Phu Tab Berk mountain.

The threat was conveyed to him by the chief district officer of Lomkhao district.

He disclosed that the chief officer Charnchai Sonsrivichai informed him of the death threat he received in a phone call.

But the governor said he was unshaken by the threat and would continue to demolish all resorts which were illegally built on the mountain.

However he said before the demolition of any resort, members of the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) unit would go in first to make sure it was safe before heavy machinery and workers entered.

On Wednesday the operation to dismantle resorts was conducted by about 700-strong police officers, soldiers and forestry officials, volunteers.

They were divided into two teams, equipped with heavy machines to demolish two resorts. The work ran slowly as one of the resorts was located on steep area near a cliff.

Lomkhao district chief Charnchai said it would take one more day to demolish these two resorts.

Altogether a total of 50 resorts must be demolished on court order.

The latest report said the superintendent of the Lomkhao police station was transferred to an inactive post at the Provincial Police’s Operation Center, Region 6.

The order was issued on Aug 25 and it is believed to be related to the protest of resort operators and Hmong ethnic groups on Phu Tab Berk on Aug 22.


Education Minister says Thai students lack critical thinking and English language skills

NNT

Education Minister General Dapong Rattanasuwan has admitted there are problems in all aspects of Thai education, particularly issues concerning English proficiency and critical thinking.

Speaking during a weekly program “Thailand Moves Forward’, the Education Minister revealed results of a recently-conducted assessment that academic performances of Thai students in math, science, English and Thai languages are below standards.

He added that students also lack critical thinking skills and discipline. Their awareness of national history and the Royal Institution has also declined. Gen Dapong claimed courses provided at tertiary level do not reflect the demand for the workforce in the business sector.

To solve these problems, the ministry has reduced class hours and promoted English language learning as well as vocational skills in schools. Around 350 teachers who have undergone English language training are now qualified to teach at their respective schools.

The Ministry of Education aims to produce 13,500 more qualified English language teachers before the end of 2018. Gen Dapong is also considering reintroducing old-fashioned teaching methods in certain subject areas to improve students’ learning.


TBA warns of call centre fraud

Thai PBS

The Thai Bankers Association has warned members of the public to be on guard against the recent rise of call centre fraud.

TBA said that the fraudsters would use telephones through computer systems or VOIP (Voice over IP) which is capable of copying any phone number in Thailand to claim that they are from commercial banks to lure their prospective victims to make financial transactions through their ATM cards or to transfer money into their bank accounts.

The fraudsters have come up with an assortment of tricks or stories to shock or to surprise their targeted victims with offers of unexpected rewards or misfortunes such as a huge debt prompting the victims to disclose their confidential financial information to the fraudsters or to undertake transactions through the ATMs.

TBA said that commercial banks have no policy to call their customers to ask for their financial information or to demand debt payments through ATMs or through automatic cash deposit machines.

Members of the public are advised to keep their ID cards safe and not to give away personal information to people they are unfamiliar with.


OAG postpones decision on indictment against former Dhammakaya abbot

NNT

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has postponed its decision on whether or not to indict the former Dhammakaya abbot and the former Chairman of Khlongchan Credit Union Cooperative Limited on money laundering charges.

OAG Spokesperson Somnuek Siangkong revealed that the decision will be made October 6 as more investigation reports are needed. Phra Dhammachayo, the former abbot of Pathum Thani’s Dhammakaya Temple, and former President of Khlongchan Credit Union Cooperative Limited Chairman Suphachai Srisupa-aksorn are allegedly complicit in money laundering and financial fraud.

The OAG Spokesperson added the prosecutors needed more time to thoroughly look into case documents.

Currently released on bail, two former Khlongchan Credit Union Cooperative Limited employees allegedly involved in the case, Saranya Manmat and Thongpin Kanlom, are also expected to report themselves to the OAG on October 6, at 10 am.


Probe ordered for suspicious death of an ex-land official in DSI’s custody

Thai PBS

An investigation has been ordered into the suspicious death of a former Phang-nga land official held in the detention centre of the Department of Special Investigation.

Thawatchai Anukul was initially thought to have committed suicide by hanging himself to death but an autopsy by forensic experts of the police general hospital showed that he died of internal bleeding from ruptured liver as a result of being attacked with a blunt object and of suffocation.

However, DSI director-general Pol Col Paisit Wongmuang said Wednesday that he had ordered all the video footages of surveillance cameras in front of the detention cell to be examined to find out who had entered and left during the period the victim was held.

He further said he had asked doctors whether it was possible that the victim’s liver could be ruptured while officials tried to resuscitate him through heart pumping after finding him with his sock around his neck and thought he tried to hang himself before he was rushed to Mongkut Wattana hospital.

He dismissed the possibility that the detainee was beaten to death in the detention cell by his captors, noting that his relatives were with the suspect during the interrogation by DSI officials.

Meanwhile, Pol Lt-Col Prawuth Wongsrinil, director of consumers protection and environment office of the DSI, insisted that there was no need for any DSI officials to silence the former land official to cover any tracks.

He suggested that Thawatchai might have been suffering from stress from the charges against him, which prompted him to commit suicide. He pointed out that normally a person who hanged himself in a sitting position did not die immediately and officials tried to help him by applying heart pumping.

But for the sake of transparency, he said police forensic experts should conduct the autopsy instead of experts from the forensic science institute.


Provinces across nation step up measures against Zika

NNT

Local administrative offices across the country have enacted measures against the spread of Zika virus after a slew of infections were reported.

Ang Thong Municipality has begun spraying against mosquitoes following news 94 people in the province of Bueng Kan contracted the disease with one still recovering.

According to Bueng Kan public health officer Dr. Wissanu Wittayabumrung, the 94 were found in 5 districts of the province. He affirmed 93 are completely recovered and that monitoring practices are being maintained in all susceptible areas.

Ang Thong public health officer Dr. Songwuth Hutamai let on that an order has been issued for all public health offices to enact precautionary measures against Zika, including in areas where no infections have yet been found.

The action comes ahead of a World Health Organization emergency meeting prompted by an outbreak of Zika in Singapore, which also led to travel warnings against the country being issued by nations such as Australia, Taiwan and the US.

While Zika is relatively minor among other viruses, it has been tied to a fetal condition seen when pregnant mothers contract the illness.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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Back to Main Page

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

PM says Thailand will be corruption-free in 20 years

ALRO told to demolish a police general’s luxury house

Airport operator issues warning on Samsung smartphones

VAT rate to be pegged at 7 percent for another year


90,000 rai of trespassed forest successfully reclaimed this year

Use of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 banned by three Thai airlines

Student in coma after college prank goes wrong

Thailand’s tourism continues expansion


PM happy with fruitful talks with his Malaysian counterpart

DDPM advises 19 provinces to brace for heavy rains

Three Chinese nationals arrested for kidnapping another Chinese man

Supreme Court holds third hearing in rice-pledging scheme suit


Air Asia management: crew volunteered to apologize before passenger

Chiang Rai police take in major haul in latest drug bust

Mekong River level cause for concern in Nong Khai

Marine police seek freighter suspected of causing oil spill


Many provinces continue to experience flooding

Cabinet green lights Golden Route monorail project

PM affirms Thailand's readiness to support business at ASEAN Summit

Jatuporn unfazed with bail withdrawal prospect


Alibaba Group CEO meets with Prime Minister

Unicef expresses concern over violence in Deep South

CTH Cable TV ordered to pay 20,000 baht in fine each day

Seminar calls for more severe punishment for child molesters


PM meets Chinese president on sidelines of G20 summit

More water discharged downstream from Chao Phraya dam

NRSA expects to complete work before being disbanded

Police yet to confirm the cause of Thawatchai’s death


PM says ‘there will be a general election’

Rain-making efforts to be stepped up to replenish water in four main dams

SRT suspends train services to three southernmost provinces

Two subdistricts of Bueng Kan under Zika watch


Chiang Mai reports 2 more Zika cases

Dr Wisanu: S44 may be invoked to suspend over 20 senior officials

Floods hit several provinces

Inflation up 0.29% in August, expected to decline by year end

PM wants crackdown on zero-dollar tour operations


Thailand's upper region continues to experience flooding

NLA passes new loan bill that makes overcharging interest rate an offence

Death threat as demolition at Phu Tab Berk resorts continues

Education Minister says Thai students lack critical thinking and English language skills


TBA warns of call centre fraud

OAG postpones decision on indictment against former Dhammakaya abbot

Probe ordered for suspicious death of an ex-land official in DSI’s custody

Provinces across nation step up measures against Zika

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