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Update by Saichon Paewsoongnern

Red Shirts told to avoid DSI Thursday

BANGKOK, Dec 11 – Deputy Commerce Minister and Red Shirt co-leader Nattawut Saikua today called on pro-government activists to refrain from rallying at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) Thursday when two opposition Democrat Party MPs appear to acknowledge criminal charges against them.

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his then deputy, Suthep Thuagsuban, are scheduled to meet with DSI officials to hear allegations of conspiring in the murders of Red Shirt supporters during Bangkok’s political upheaval in 2010 in their capacity as supervisors of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES).

Mr Suthep was officially appointed director of CRES, which was set up to specifically to deal with the civil protest.

Mr Nattawut said the Red Shirt demonstration at the DSI, if organised, will contribute to verbal attacks by their opponents.

“However, it can be done if relatives of the deceased activists show up at the DSI to protest against requests to bail the pair,” he said.

The DSI earlier implicated Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep with murder following a ruling by the Criminal Court that taxi driver Phan Kamkong was shot dead by soldiers under CRES command.

He said the government is currently beset with several issues including the constitutional amendment process and the unexpected appearance on state-run television Channel 11 of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra which has drawn criticisms from several anti-government quarters.

Mr Nattawut, however, defended the ousted prime minister and said it was not inappropriate (for Mr Thaksin) to pay homage to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in his capacity as a Thai citizen.

Mr Thaksin’s appearance during a Thai boxing event in Macau over the weekend has stirred an uproar in Thailand but the deputy commerce minister stood firm that it will not have any negative impact on the government since the former premier merely showed his loyalty to the monarch.

Regarding a move against the government’s unrelenting attempt to amend the constitution now pending parliamentary debate in its third reading, Mr Nattawut said it is an ideological conflict between liberal democratic and conservative factions in Thai society.

The opposition raised the conflict as a condition (to avoid amending the constitution), but the government must listen to the majority of people, Mr Nattawut said. (MCOT online news)

Thais pour out opinions on charter change

BANGKOK, Dec 11 – Sixty per cent of Thai people are aware of the government’s move to amend the constitution but 90 per cent admit to not having any knowledge about details of the proposed changes, according to a poll by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA).

The poll was conducted on Friday and Saturday to mark Thailand’s Constitution Day which falls on December 10. A total of 1,255 people of varied educational levels and occupations nationwide responded to the survey.

Among the 60 per cent of respondents who know about the constitution amendment, 4.75 per cent say the changes will include Sections 68, 117, 190, 237, 291 and 309, while 4.63 per cent say the amendment process will involve pardon and amnesty to politicians and the political/administrative system.

Asked who will benefit from the charter change, 30 per cent say they don’t know while 20 per cent say the move will be advantageous to politicians; 16 per cent say benefit will go to the people; and some two per cent say every sector will gain from it.

Regarding whether they agree with the amendment or not, four in 10 -- 40 per cent -- disagree for fear of conflicts and favour being given to certain groups of politicians rather than the people or the nation, while 34 per cent advocate the move, reasoning that some sections in the charter need change and they believe that the amendment will lead to reconciliation among politicians and all sectors in the country.

Those uncertain if the constitution should be amended are 26 per cent of the respondents. (MCOT online news)

Teacher, school principal shot dead in Pattani

PATTANI, Dec 11 - Police said a male teacher and a female school principal were gunned down inside a school in this southern border province in the latest—and most intrusive--fatal attack on teachers to date.

The violence took place as hundreds of government schools in the troubled region reopened today amid tight security after being closed for several days in the wake of recent attacks on teachers.

The latest victims were identified as teacher Somsak Kwanma and Tiyarat Chauykaew, principal of Ban Ba Ngo School in Mayo district.

Police investigators said a group of at least five men entered the school, shot the teachers, and then fled in a pickup truck.

Two teachers were attacked in separate incidents last week in Narathiwat, killing Chatsuda Nilsuwan, 32, of Ban Ta-ngoh School in Cho Airong district and wounding Tirapol Chusongsaeng, 52, of Ban Bokoh School in Su-ngai Padi district.

In neighbouring Yala province, the army today sent a Humvee armoured vehicle to pick up teachers at a meeting point in the provincial seat and sent them to various schools in Krongpinang district while defence volunteers and rangers were on duty at various checkpoints.

Schools in Yala were also closed for a week after the attacks on teachers in Narathiwat.

In another development, the death toll in a tea shop shooting in Narathiwat rose to four
after the latest victim succumbed to her injuries. The victim was identified as Nissaba Muso, 25. The four dead include an 11-month-old baby girl.

According to the initial investigation, a pickup truck stopped outside the shop and three armed men fired into the shop before fleeing.

The police believed the attackers were insurgents intending to extend atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in the general public. (MCOT online news)

Thai students poor in math, science

BANGKOK, Dec 11 – Thai students fare poorly in mathematics and science mainly due to the teaching method of rote learning rather than by comprehension and analysis, according to a senior educator.

Precharn Dechri, deputy director of the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology, said today that Thai students’ disappointing performances in the two subjects
were revealed in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) – an international assessment of the mathematics and science knowledge of fourth and eighth grade students worldwide – which was conducted in 2011, with the results only recently announced.

Thai students in Prathom 4 (fourth grade) and Matayom 2 (eighth grade) joined their colleagues from 63 countries in the assessment.

Thai students in Prathom 4 level ranked 34th in mathematics and 29th in science among their peers from 52 countries and seven states. In the eighth grade, Thailand ranked 28th in
mathematics and 25th in science among 45 countries and 14 states.

The top five achievers in both subjects are in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan. (MCOT online news)

Thai youth win 2 golds at International Junior Science Olympiad

BANGKOK, Dec 11 - Thai contestants won two gold, three silver and one bronze medal at the 9th International Junior Science Olympiad which ended yesterday in the Iranian capital of Tehran.
The two Thai gold medalists in the December 1-10 games are Veerapat Yosamornsunthorn and Apichartmethi Choteratanapitak both from schools in Bangkok, according to the Promotion of Academic Olympiads and Development of Science Education Foundation.
The three silver medalists are Siradanai Rimsakorn, Sirachat Charoenkasemvit from Bangkok, and Chonlanat Pheutpaiboon from a school in Hat Yai.
Thailand’s sole bronze winner is Chitipat Phetmunee also from Hat Yai School.
The Thai competitors returned to Bangkok today. (MCOT online news)

Graft buster vows to continue probe of rice pledging scheme

BANGKOK, Dec 10 – Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will press on with its investigation on alleged irregularities in the government’s rice pledging scheme despite the ruling Pheu Thai Party’s attempted intervention, a senior official announced.

NACC President Panthep Klanarongran said the NACC will carry on its duty as authorised by the Anti-Corruption Act until it finds facts relating to the charges.

Some Pheu Thai MPs said earlier they would seek the Constitution Court’s injunction to the NACC’s investigation on the rice pledging scheme, reasoning that the NACC is not in a position to do so since it is a disputant with the government.

Mr Panthep said the NACC is in the process of setting up a fact-finding sub-committee involving the allegations and the Pheu Thai’s move will have no impact on its work.

On Transparency International’s ranking Thailand at 88th for corruption, he admitted he felt sad with the result. He called on Thai people to jointly reduce, and eventually eliminate, corruption in the country.

The government has at least signalled its cooperation in eradicating corruption, he said, adding that corruption charges under the NACC’s investigation mostly involve politicians, state and provincial officials.

Thai people slam politicians as most corrupt: Poll

BANGKOK, Dec 10 – Thai politicians have been branded as the most corrupt people in the country, followed by civil servants, according to a Suan Dusit University poll.

The poll was conducted among 1,289 Thais nationwide after Transparency International ranked Thailand 88th among 176 countries in its latest global corruption survey.

Thailand received 37 out of 100 points on national transparency, with its position dropping from 78th in 2010 and 80th in 2011 – the worst in the past five years.

According to the Suan Dusit survey, 45.39 per cent of respondents believe politicians, both at national and local levels, are corrupt while 30.42 per cent point the finger at civil servants, 12.86 per cent at police/military and 11.51 per cent at businessmen/investors.

Asked for their feedback on Thailand’s 88th ranking worldwide, one-third -- 33 per cent -- say they feel ashamed and it tarnishes the country’s image, while nearly as many, 28 per cent, describe corruption as an urgent issue that must be addressed by the government now, 23 per cent say they feel sorry for the country having an increasing number of corrupt people, particularly politicians, and 16 per cent call for harsher punishment and serious enforcement of the law.

The Transparency International’s survey commends Denmark, Finland and New Zealand as the least corrupt countries while Singapore is top ranked in Asia, followed by Hong Kong and Japan. (MCOT online news)

Local graduates to work as teachers in their home communities in deep South

NARATHIWAT, Dec 9 - The Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre plans to encourage graduates to work as teachers in their own community to allay fears of teacher attacks in the violence plagued southern border provinces.

Pol Col Thawee Sodsong, SBPAC secretary-general said Sunday after listening to opinions on the violent situation from local people when he presided over the opening of a cultural area at a mosque in Narathiwat’s Bajo district.

An urgent policy to be implemented in the southern border provinces is to draw Bachelor's degree holders to be teachers in their own community areas, as education is a key to prosperity and peace, he said.

The move is also aimed to avert fears of insurgent attacks on teachers as those would-be teachers have grown up in the area and are part of the communities.

A spate of recent attacks on teachers in the southern border provinces has created anxiety among teachers and prompted them to demand more effective security from the government. (MCOT online news)

Cold spell hits Thailand's North

CHIANG RAI, Dec 9--- Hundreds of thousands of northern residents have been affected by the cold weather prevailing over the region while Chiang Mai’s disaster prevention office planned to ask the governor to declare disaster zones in three districts.

In the northernmost province of Chiang Rai, some 260,000 residents so far have been suffering from the current cold weather, particularly those living in remote mountainous areas.

Responding to the ongoing situation, Governor Pongsak Wangsamer and relevant officials on Sunday visited and distributed blankets to affected residents in 16 villages in the provincial seat.

In the neighbouring province of Chiang Mai, the provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office planned to propose to the governor to declare cold spell disaster areas in three districts-- Chom Thong, Omkoi and Fang.

Currently, around 30,000 households have suffered from the weather as the temperature has been lower than 15 degrees Celsius for three days.

Initially, local officials gave 700 blankets to the affected residents.

However, the warm clothing and blankets remain inadequate for the need. Residents in 25 districts, in particular those living in high mountainous areas and earning low income, still need more than 300,000 pieces of warm clothing and blankets. (MCOT online news)

Ad hoc centre to handle cold spell’s impact set up in North

CHIANG MAI, Dec 9 – The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation department in the North set up an adhoc centre to handle possible impacts from the cold spell in four northern provinces.

Prajon Pratsakul, director of the local disaster prevention and mitigation office in charge of four provinces –Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son – said that the temperature has rapidly dropped by five degrees Celsius. Local residents, living on mountains in Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son are vulnerable to be affected by the cold spell.

The ad hoc center has been set up to support providing assistance to local people this winter and also to help fight drought, which is forecast to be critical in March and April next year.

Thawatchai Therdpaothai, governor of Lampang province, issued a warning for the cold snap as the temperature has decreased from about 22-23 degrees Celsius to 16-18 degrees Celsius in the past week. The meteorological department also warned that the temperature was likely to drop further.

In Chiang Rai, the temperature in the provincial seat fell to 15.4 degrees Celsius on Sunday with thick fog and poor visibility of only about 50 metres. On mountaintops where the temperature has dropped to about 5-8 degrees Celsius, villagers have to burn firewood to keep themselves warm, as they lack winter clothing. (MCOT online news)

Chalerm : Thailand is not terrorism land

BANGKOK, 7 December 2012 (NNT) - Deputy Prime Minister Police Captain Chalerm Yubamrung has affirmed yesterday that Thailand is not a country of terrorism after it was ranked eighth in the global terrorism index by the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Police Captain Chalerm downplayed the ranking by the US agency and attributed the misunderstanding to recent political protests in the country. He expressed confidence towards the operation of immigration police, the special branch police and other security units.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that the US has once believed that the terrorist group Hezbollah came to Thailand, but the issue was later proven false.

Police Captain Chalerm also expressed confidence that Thailand is not terrorism-prone as it is a Buddhist country and is not aligned with any major power bloc. He said the unrest in the south is deemed as being instigated by insurgents and separatists, not an act of terrorism.

The Deputy Prime Minister then pointed out that media reports which cover the incidents in the Deep South has been causing fears among the public while the local people do not share the same level of panic.

He however noted that he has been working closely with the authorities and is aware of the situation in the region.


China presses hard on high-speed rail projects in Thailand

BANGKOK, Dec 8 – China has reaffirmed its determination to invest in a high-speed rail system in Thailand as clearly stated in an earlier memorandum of understanding (MoU).

Luo Chunfang, China’s deputy minister for railway, raised the issue in a meeting with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday and assured that an joint investment with China on the system would be much cheaper than with Germany or Japan.

According to the MoU signed on April 17 this year, Thailand and China will cooperate in the development of high-speed rail system on two routes: Bangkok-Chiang Mai, 677 km, and Bangkok-Nong Khai, 615 km.

Mr Luo said construction of high-speed rail by China costs US$20 million per km while the German system is US$50 million per km and Japan US$81 million per km.

It would take 6-7 years to finish while speeds can reach 250 km/hour or 300 km/hour, he said, adding that workers for the projects will be hired locally to spur domestic employment.

Ms Yingluck said she hoped the Thai-Chinese cooperation would materialise.

She asked the Chinese deputy minister to give priority to safety and take into consideration integration of Thailand’s existing rail system and development of communities and the environment along rail routes. (MCOT online news)

Clean energy urged for Thailand’s key islands

BANGKOK, Dec 8 – Greenpeace Southeast Asia has called on the Thai government to adopt clean energy in generating power on major islands in light of a three-day electricity disruption on the two resort havens of Samui and Pha-ngan in the Gulf of Thailand.

Miss Natvipa Iewsakul, energy and climate change coordinator for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the power failure indicate the state’s inefficiency in energy management given the centralisation of power services and sole dependence on mainland.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia is the regional office of the global environmental organisation.

She quoted an earlier study by the National Research Council of Thailand on wind speed from Surat Thani to Songkhla provinces which concluded that it could potentially generate at least 10,000 megawatts of power.

It is about time solar and wind energy is developed to generate electricity on the islands to lessen their reliance on power supply from the mainland and help reduce carbon dioxide emission, she said. (MCOT online news)

Awareness of Gender Equality in Preparation for the ASEAN Community

The Government is attaching great importance to promoting gender equality, as part of its campaign to increase the public’s awareness of the ASEAN Community.

Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Sansanee Nakpong stressed the need for Thai people to learn more about ASEAN countries in various dimensions, such as culture, language, and society.

She said that the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on November 19 agreed to adopt the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. Thailand believes that the declaration will help develop this region immensely, as it calls for the promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms of every person.

She said that Thailand has been working actively to promote the rights of women and children and eliminate violence against them. Apart from developing children, great efforts have been made to promote gender equality and provide more opportunities for women.

Minister Sansanee quoted the current 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan, 2012-2016, that seeks to improve attitudes toward gender equality in children, youth, and the populace. Cooperation is needed among institutions, particularly the family, educational and religious institutions, and the media, to foster values and attitudes that would advance gender equality. More opportunities should be given to women for career advancement toward managerial and decision-making positions at both local and national levels in the public and private sectors. This can be accomplished by strengthening the potential of women.

She said that the Government had set up the National Development Fund for Women to promote women’s roles in Thai society. The fund is among the projects to prepare Thai women for the ASEAN Community. It provides a revolving funding source for women to borrow from with low interest or without interest. The money will be used to develop their occupations, generate employment and income, promote their welfare, ease their problems, and enhance the potential of women’s networks.

According to Minister Sansanee, much progress has been made for the implementation of the National Development Fund for Women, chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Committees for the women’s development funds at provincial and subdistrict levels have also been formed.

Small provinces, with a population of less than 450,000, will be provided with 70 million baht each by the Government to operate the fund. Medium-size provinces, with more than 450,000 people but not over 900,000 people, will receive 100 million baht each. Large provinces, with a population of over 900,000, will receive 130 million baht each.


New ASEAN head advised to boost region's role in world fora

BANGKOK, Dec 7 – Thailand has urged the incoming leader of the ASEAN Secretariat to actively promote the role of the Southeast Asian grouping on the international stage, a senior Thai foreign ministry official said today.

Sihasak Puangketkaew, permanent secretary for foreign affairs, met with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh who will become ASEAN secretary general next year, replacing Surin Pitsuwan who is due to complete his five-year term at the end of this month.

The new secretary general will assume the post January 1, and occupy the position until 2018 – the exact timing for the most vital agenda of ushering the region to become ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

“It is indisputable that the AEC will be the most significant issue but the secretary general was asked not to overlook the region’s social and cultural aspects which directly involve peoples’ ways of life,” he said.

“People have questioned ASEAN cooperation in bracing through challenges. The future will be crucial to the region. ASEAN will have to speak in one voice to promote peace and security in Southeast Asia,” Mr Sihasak said.

Mr Minh said his most urgent task as ASEAN secretary general will be to ensure that the AEC is functional as targeted, adding that regional peace and security are essential to success.

Touching on the unresolved crisis in the South China Sea, he said ASEAN will have to reach conclusions on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) and strengthen relationship with negotiating partners while maintaining its neutrality.

It is important that the regional grouping moves forward through the available mechanisms, including the ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit. (MCOT online news)

Ex-Thai PM, aide to hear DSI murder charges Thursday

BANGKOK, Dec 7 – Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy premier Suthep Thuagsuban will appear before the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) next Thursday to acknowledge charges of conspiring in the murder of anti-government protesters during the 2010 political upheaval in Bangkok.

The Democrat Party leader and Democrat MP for Surat Thani were officially asked to present themselves before the DSI next Wednesday to acknowledge the charges concluded by the DSI-led tripartite committee yesterday.

The DSI implicated the pair with murder charges in light of the Criminal Court’s ruling that taxi driver Phan Kamkong was shot dead by soldiers under the command of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) which was specially set up to deal with the civil protest.

The charges were made against Mr Abhisit in his capacity as prime minister overseeing CRES and Mr Suthep who was appointed the agency’s director.

Mr Abhisit said he will acknowledge the charges at the DSI next Thursday, a day after his return from an overseas trip.

The former premier said, “Mr Suthep and I are not above the law. We are willing to cooperate in the judicial process. The charges are without surprise given direct and indirect signals pressuring us to accept the amnesty law which Mr Suthep and I will not compromise.

“Even though the punishment is jail term or execution, we will accept it. We will fight under the rule of law without fleeing. Don’t waste (your) time trying to compromise with us.”The Democrat leader indicated that the statement by DSI chief Tarit Pengdith yesterday was in line with a similar account earlier made by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung.

Mr Suthep said he told the DSI and police several times that he was solely responsible for ordering specific CRES actions during the 2010 protest in his capacity as its director.

“But the attempt to implicate Mr Abhisit has never stopped. Taking legal action against me alone is too weak to press on with the amnesty law. That’s why Mr Abhisit is dragged into it,” he said.

He added that the DSI was rushing to press the charges and demand their acknowledgment before December 20 when Parliament will reconvene and they will be automatically entitled to parliamentary immunity. (MCOT online news)

Master plan to fight southern insurgency unveiled soon

BANGKOK, Dec 7 – A comprehensive counter-insurgency plan under the government’s Bt13 billion budget to tackle mounting security problems in Thailand’s Muslim-majority far South is set to be initiated early next year, according to a senior official.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is scheduled to visit the trouble-plagued South before the plan is launched, probably by the end of this month.

Paradorn Patanathabutr, secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC), said an integrated plan on security and development of southern region — the key factors in solving chronic crisis in the region — is almost complete and will be submitted to the committee on strategic policy and solutions of southern unrest, chaired by the premier on Wednesday.

The final operation plan will have to be approved by the cabinet, possibly on December 25, before it is implemented in the South between January and September next year, he said.

Lt-Gen Paradorn said seven government agencies will be jointly responsible for exercising the counter-insurgency plan with the Internal Security Operations Command taking the lead.

The plan also includes a Bt9 billion development scheme in which 12 state agencies are instructed to execute under the leadership of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, he said.

The NSC chief said teachers have lately become another target of attack by insurgents, in addition to military and police.

“In fact our security measures (for teachers) are sufficient but communications between teachers and security officials should be improved, he added (MCOT online news)

Rifles stolen from Pattani defence volunteer outpost

PATTANI, Dec 7 – Insurgents are presumed responsible for the theft of weapons from a defence volunteer outpost in this southern border province.

The police early Friday morning inspected the outpost at Bango School in Kapho district after a raid by about ten armed men.

They used weapons to threaten the defence volunteers but did not shoot them.

The armed men stole four AK47 assault rifles, an M16 assault rifle, five bulletproof vests, a communication radio and a mobile phone before leaving the scene. (MCOT online news)

Cambodia to face mass return of nationals working in Thailand

BANGKOK, Dec 7 – Thai and Cambodian labour officials will facilitate the re-employment in Thailand of more than 160,000 Cambodian workers who will possibly be deported to their home country after the nationality verification process ends next Friday, a senior Thai official said today.

The process involves 222,430 Cambodian workers of which only 56,776 have had their nationality verified (between March and November this year) while the remaining 165,654 have yet to complete the required formality.

Prawit Kiengpol, director general of the Thai Employment Department, said the nationality verification process would not be completed by the Friday deadline and unverified Cambodians will be sent back.

He urged Seng Sakda, director general of the Cambodian Labour and Occupational Training Department, to be prepared for a mass exodus of Khmer workers, saying Cambodian officials may have to issue travel documents for those wishing to cross the border into Thailand to work on daily or seasonal basis.

Thai and Cambodian labour officials discussed the matter in a joint meeting today to cope with the return of Cambodian workers after the nationality verification.

Mr Seng urged Thai authorities to speed up the re-employment of Cambodian workers given Thailand’s continued need for foreign labour. He said that Cambodian authorities will urgently issue travel documents or passports to their citizens wanting to work in Thailand on whichever basis.

Mr Prawit called on Thai entrepreneurs who hire foreign workers to inform the Labour Ministry of their required re-employment of Cambodian workers to prevent labour shortage. (MCOT online news)

Group backs study, work rights of those who have HIV/AIDS

BANGKOK, 2 December 2012 (NNT) - To mark World Aids Day yesterday, the Thai Network of People Living With HIV or Aids urged an end to discrimination and violations of their rights, and campaigned for public acceptance of their rights to study and work.
The network made their call at Bangkok's Mor Chit 2 Bus Terminal, where they also held events to educate the public about HIV and handed out condoms.

Network president Apiwat Kwangkaew said that although overt discrimination against people living with HIV had eased, other more discreet methods persisted. For example, some universities and workplaces had an obligatory blood-test policy before accepting students and employing people. Mr Apiwat said that such obligatory testing was not only a severe violation of human rights but it also affected the future and life of the person.

The network demanded all parties to stop such right violations, stigmatisation and discrimination. Mr Apiwat urged all agencies to abandon obligatory blood testing before and during employment. He said that no educational institutions should be allowed to use HIV as a reason to violate students' right to education.

He added that the government must promote learning and understanding about HIV prevention among everyone, not just the people living Aids.


HM makes space for public audience

BANGKOK, 3 December 2012 (NNT) - His Majesty the King has ordered royal guards to reposition themselves during his birthday address to allow his well-wishers more space and a better view of his public audience this December 5.

The King has been scheduled to appear for a grand audience this Wednesday to mark the occasion of his 85th birthday.

According to the Royal Household Bureau, His Majesty has called for royal guards from 12 battalions to line up in formation inside the grounds of Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall instead of in the Royal Plaza where well-wishers will gather.

Initially, the armed forces planned to hold an oath of allegiance ceremony before His Majesty in the Royal Plaza to mark the King's birthday.

However, His Majesty has instructed 2,126 royal guards comprising the three armed forces to hold the ceremony inside the Throne Hall compound instead.

Commander of the 1st Division, King's Guards, Major General Wara Boonyasit, explained that the new arrangement would lessen the distance between His Majesty and his subjects. He elaborated that the King wants more space to be given to the hundreds of thousands of well-wishers expected to turn up for his public audience.


Another teacher killed in Narathiwat

NARATHIWAT, Dec 4 -- Another teacher was killed in Narathiwat last night while riding her motorcycle home from school. The victim became the second woman teacher slain by presumed insurgents in 11 days.
Identified as Chatsuda Nilsuwan, a 32 year old teacher at Ban Ta-ngo School in Marue-ok subdistrict, Cho Airong district of Narathiwat, the victim was shot dead by attackers on another motorcycle after leaving school on her motorcycle going home to Su-ngai Padi district, around three kilometres away.

Her body was found on the roadside in Ta-ngo village. She was still wearing her helmet but her motorcycle was taken by presumed insurgents.

Ms Chatsuda was believed to have been working late to prepare a performance report and did not inform the security agency seeking any protection when she left school at 6pm. The attackers may have seen her as a target of opportunity.

Her death raises the death toll among teachers to 155 who have been killed since the southern violence erupted in 2004.

She was the second female teacher shot dead in 11 days. Nanthana Kaewchan, principal of Ban Tha Kam Sam School in Pattani's Nong Chik district, was gunned down on November 22.

Her death prompted more than 300 schools in Pattani to close to pressure the authorities for more effective security protection.

After being reassured of protection, teachers allowed all Pattani schools to reopen normally yesterday. (MCOT online news)

Renovated Fisheries Department aquarium honours King’s birthday

BANGKOK, Dec 3 – Thailand’s Department of Fisheries officially reopened its aquarium today in honour of His Majesty the King to celebrate his birthday.

The Bangkok aquarium was officially reopened after a one-year renovation necessitated by the last year’s devastating flood.

The aquarium is now showing more than 100 local freshwater fish as well as rare and economically important fish species and major aquatic plants.

A special exhibition displays the King’s royal duties and initiatives regarding fisheries development.

The King’s initiatives are breeding and distributing the Nile Tilapia fish species as a source of protein for the Thai people and conservation of the giant Siamese carp in the Chao Phraya River.

The Siamese giant carp, Catlocarpio siamensis is a migratory fish are found only in Thailand and Indochina in the Mae Klong, Chao Phraya and Mekong rivers. It is disappearing due to a loss of its habitat and overfishing and is considered a critically endangered species.

Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Siriwat Kajornprasart presided at the opening of the royal exhibition.

The aquarium is open Tuesdays through Sundays 10am to 4pm. There is no admission fee until January 13. (MCOT online news)

Yellow shirts in great demand as King’s birthday nears

SA KAEO, Dec 3 - As the December 5 celebration of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 85th birthday draws nearer, shirts in yellow—the colour of Monday which is his birthday, are selling ‘like hot cakes’.

Many major markets and outlets throughout the country reported extremely- brisk sales of yellow shirts and prices have been rocketing.

In Sa Kaeo province, the Rong Klua market—the largest trading post on Thailand’s eastern border—has been unusually busy with Thai shoppers looking for yellow shirts.

More than 1,000 shops in the market said yellow shirts are sold out and most vendors said they had received orders for yellow shirts beginning last month. The prices of new yellow shirts which normally sell for Bt90-Bt100 have increased to Bt120-Bt150.

In the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani, shops in the provincial town and Warin Chamrap district said yellow shirts are out of stock due to the great demand from customers.

In the southern seaboard province of Ranong, not only yellow shirts but yellow flags with the King’s emblem are selling extremely well.

His Majesty will make a public appearance on the balcony of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in Dusit Palace on Wednesday and the Royal Household Bureau called on Thai citizens to wear yellow shirts in symbolic homage to His Majesty. (MCOT online news)

BMA to crack down on littering in the city

BANGKOK, 3 December 2012 (NNT) - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will begin enforcing its use of fines for litterers in an effort to crack down on pollution in the city.

Deputy Permanent Secretary for BMA Manit Techa-Apichoke, said there has been an exponential increase of rubbish in and around the capital’s canals. In a bid to strictly enforce the anti-littering law, the BMA will now fine offenders 200 to 2,000 baht for each offence without warning. Those who dispose of garbage in canals will be fined 10-thousand baht.

An additional punishment for littering has been outlined as performing community service by collecting garbage in public places.

Mr Manit added that garbage discarded in public waterways and roads has been clogging sewer lines in Bangkok, causing flooding during rainy seasons.

Previously, the BMA only issued warnings to offenders. The stricter stance will see fines immediately lodged for violations.


Expansion readies university for AEC challenge

BANGKOK, 3 December 2012 (NNT) - Huachiew Chalermprakiet University (HCU) has unveiled a 2-billion baht project to build additional facilities and boost academic proficiency in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), to be established in 2015.

The Poh Tek Tung Foundation approved the budget to add roughly 101-thousand square meters of facilities to the university’s campus. Construction is expected to begin before February 2013 and finish by June 2014.

HCU is among the latest Thai universities preparing for the AEC, which is now set to launch on December 31st 2015. Several have looked into altering their academic calendar in order to synchronize study across the region.

Nation University executives have pushed for at least 20 percent of subjects in Thai universities to be taught in English, along with a mandatory language proficiency test for graduation.


Retirement age extension mulled

BANGKOK, 3 December 2012 (NNT) - The Office of the Civil Service Commission (OCSC) has revealed plans to push the retirement age to 60 or 62 for public officials, in order to help cope with problems relating to Thailand’s aging population.

OCSC Secretary General Nontikorn Kanjanajitra said the office is concerned over the country’s shrinking workforce, which is the result of increasing life expectancy coupled with a declining fertility rate. He noted that the average age of civil servants was 45 in 2004, and affirmed that public services would diminish in the coming decades if the issue remained unaddressed.

The Civil Service Act was previously amended in 2008 to raise the retirement age to 70 for technical civil servants in high demand. The retirement age for such officials can now be extended by a further four years, with the possibility of two renewals of three years each.

The OCSC has also been developing plans to extend the retirement age of civil servants working in other capacities. The one-year study is expected to be completed this month for proposal to the government next year.


Phuket issues arrest warrant for Hungarian murder suspect

PHUKET, Dec 2 – An arrest warrant was issued for a Hungarian suspected of murdering his business partner, who was also his compatriot in Phuket.

Phuket provincial police spokesman Chote Chavarnwiwat said Moshe David, 35, a Hungarian, is suspected of killing Peter Reisz, 47, a Hungarian businessman, whose body was put in a plastic bag and dumped in Kathu district.

Mr Reisz body was found on November 30 in an isolated area about two kilometres from the nearest road.

The suspect was charged with premeditated murder and concealing the body. Immigration offices countrywide were notified to arrest him.

Mr David had a conflict related to real estate business with the victim and earlier had allegedly threatened to kill the victim.

The two men were business partners. It is believed that accomplices might have been involved in the murder. (MCOT online news)

More charges of fraud against government’s rice pledging scheme

BANGKOK, Dec 3 – Thailand's main opposition Democrat Party today called on the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate irregularities in the government’s rice trading under the heavily-attacked rice pledging scheme, charging fraud in state conducted sales of rice to other countries.

Warong Dejkitvikrom, Democrat MP for Phitsanulok and Democrat-listed MP Ong-art Klampaiboon submitted documents to the NACC as evidence to substantiate their allegations.

Dr Warong said the Yingluck Shinawatra government’s announcements of rice sales to the governments of China, Indonesia and Ivory Coast were untrue and benefited Siam Indiga Co, a brokerage company based in Thailand.

There were no such deals, otherwise the government should disclose the trading agreements and letters of credit, he said.

Dr Warong, who produced strong evidence to support the censure debate against the government on the rice pledging scheme last week, presented eight documents to the NACC, including a chart of the monetary routes from the rice transactions and the rice distribution tracks.

He urged the NACC to probe the prime minister, commerce minister and related high-ranking officials. He said he will submit new evidence to the NACC tomorrow on monetary routes which he discovered.

Mr Ong-art petitioned the NACC charging the government with nepotism and collusion in managing the small and medium-enterprise scheme (SMEs).

He said Red Shirt advocates and some government-related MPs were given special privileges to sell their products through SMEs projects without inspections. (MCOT online news)

Thai toddlers victims of second hand tobacco smoke

BANGKOK, Dec 3 – Nearly 90 per cent of Thai children, aged under five, are at risk of damage from second hand smoke from their parents who use tobacco, according to research revealed today.
Siriwan Pitayarangsan, director of the Tobacco Control Research Knowledge and Management Centre (TRC), said a close monitoring of 80 households studied in Nakhon Ratchasima province in October- December last year found nearly 92 per cent of the toddlers suffered from flu and over 8 per cent from allergies and ailments related to inhaling cigarette smoke.
The TRC called on parents, especially fathers, to keep their houses smoke-free and prevent their children from becoming second hand smokers.
According to the research, 87.5 per cent of residents in the homes—including fathers, grandfathers and other relatives, were smokers, and 70 per cent of them smoked while under-five-year-old children were at home.
Almost all of the adults were aware that cigarette smoke was hazardous to children’s health but they continued smoking despite pleas from family members to stop
Dr Wanaporn Anantaseri of the Faculty of Medical Science, Prince of Songkhla University, said children under five are highly prone to respiratory infection and that smoke inhalation increases the risk. (MCOT online news)

Colourful illuminations decorate Ratchadamnoen Road to celebrate King's birthday

BANGKOK, Dec 3 -- The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has begun turning on the lights, colourfully illuminating the ‘Royal Way’, Ratchadamnoen Road, to celebrate HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej's birthday on Wednesday,.

BMA Public Works Department deputy director Thaweesak Lertprapan said that City Hall joined with the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) to decorate Ratchadamnoen Road, which the public began to enjoy on Saturday.

Mr Thaweesak said the lights to celebrate the royal birthday are on from 6pm until midnight, except overnight Tuesday and Wednesday, December 4-5, when the lights will be turned off at 6am the next day.

The public is invited to admire the beauty of the displays of portraits of HM the King and the dazzling display of lights for the whole month, he said.

Meanwhile, people flocked to buy flags and the royal seal of HM the King at Phramaine Road, the old quarter where shops selling decor for the royal celebrations are located.

The public will display the national flag, flags bearing the royal seal of HM the King, and install the royal seal at their homes to celebrate the special occasion of the royal birthday. (MCOT online news)

PM attends trooping the colour rehearsal

BANGKOK, Dec 2 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday along with the Army Commander in Chief joined Sunday’s rehearsal for the oath of allegiance ceremony and the Trooping of Coulours of the Royal Guards for the celebration of His Majesty the King’s birthday on December 5.

The rehearsal took place at the Royal Plaza near the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Dusit Palace. Three roads around the Royal Plaza, were closed to traffic Sunday morning for the rehearsal. More than 2,000 military officers joined the dress rehearsal.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej will make a public appearance on his birthday from the balcony of Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, starting at 10 am. December 5 marks His Majesty's 85th birthday anniversary.

Permanent secretary of the Prime Minister's Office Tongthong Chandransu earlier said gigantic LCD screens will be installed on both sides of Ratchadamnoen Avenue leading to the Royal Plaza and Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall to enable the crowd to clearly see HM the King and royal family members.

A candle-lit ceremony will be held at Sanam Luang to celebrate HM the King's birthday anniversary on Wednesday evening. (MCOT online news)

Defence volunteer shot dead in Pattani

PATTANI, Dec 2 – An unknown number of gunmen shot dead a defence volunteer in the southern border province of Pattani.

Pol Maj Gen Ekkapob Prasitwattanachai, Commander of Pattani police, led forensic police officers to inspect a shooting site where defence volunteer Ahamatorle. Dorlor, 33, was shot dead in Saiburi district.

He had worked in intelligence gathering.

The victim was shot several times in the head and torso while he was riding a motorcycle home from working in a rubber plantation.

It is believed that the shooting was intended to foment violence in the area. (MCOT online news)

Flood hits two districts of Satun

SATUN, Dec 2— Forest runoff flooded houses in Khuan Don district and the provincial seat of this southern province on Sunday, affecting residents particularly riverside communities.

Overflowing water from two canals reportedly flooded several transportation routes in villages and caused traffic inconvenience.

The inundation was triggered by heavy incessant rain and high tide during the past few days.

Responding to the ongoing situation, Satun Governor Nuachai Jiraapirak instructed relevant agencies to closely monitor the rainfall situation along foothills and near waterways, particularly in mudslide-prone areas. (MCOT online news)

PM invites Thais to join on Dec 5 as HM the King makes public appearance

BANGKOK, Dec 1 -- Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Saturday called on the Thai people to join together for an auspicious event on December 5 when His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej will make a public appearance on his birthday from the balcony of Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall.

The prime minister, on her weekly TV programme,“Yingluck Government Meets the People,” described the event as a special occasion when HM the King will appear at the balcony of Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall near the Royal Plaza, starting at 10 am.

December 5 marks His Majesty's 85th birthday anniversary.

Permanent secretary of the Prime Minister's Office Tongthong Chandransu earlier said there will be an oath of allegiance to be taken by the Royal Guards on the same day.

Ms Yingluck, the army commander in chief, the chief justices of Thailand's courts and more than 2,000 military officers will join the dress rehearsal on December 2.

Mr Tongthong said gigantic LCD screens will be installed on both sides of Rajdamnoen Avenue leading to the Royal Plaza and Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall to enable the crowd to clearly see HM the King and royal family members.

Ms Yingluck said that a variety of activities would be held to mark the event during December 1-5 and at 7.19 pm of December 5, a candle-lit ceremony will be held at Sanam Luang to celebrate HM the King's birthday.

Dissathorn Vajarodaya, deputy secretary general of the Royal Household Bureau, has called on Thai people to wear yellow—the King’s birthday colour—to pay homage to him during the royal appearance. (MCOT online news)

Thailand provides US$100,000 to help victims of violence in Myanmar

BANGKOK, Nov 30 - Thailand has provided US$100,000 in humanitarian aid to the Myanmar government to assist victims of violence in Rakhine state, a Thai foreign ministry official said on Friday.

East Asian Affairs Department Director-General Damrong Kraikruan said Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul presented the financial assistance to Myanmar Ambassador Tin Win in Bangkok.

The financial aid will be granted to Myanmar people who have been affected in the violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims, mostly Rohingya, in the western state.

Mr Damrong said the Thai government is confident in the Myanmar government's approach to solve the conflict and that it believes the unrest was caused by communities' conflict and that the Myanmar government did not get involved in the conflict.

He said Thailand also believes the Myanmar government has done its best and that it is ready to cooperate with the world community to tackle the problem.

As Thailand is Myanmar's close neighbour, he said, the kingdom stands ready to help clarify the situation in Myanmar to the world community for better understanding on the issue.

The deadly clashes in Rakhine state since May have left at least 167 people dead and 100,000 people homeless, most of them Muslims. (MCOT online news)

Red Shirt activist jailed after court revokes bail

BANGKOK, Nov 30 – Embattled Pheu Thai MP Korkaew Pikulthong was sent to the Bangkok Remand Prison today after the Criminal Court revoked his bail on terrorism charges.

Bail requests for five other Red Shirt activists remained intact. The five who were set free on a temporary basis were Deputy Commerce Minister Nattawut Saikua, Weng Tochirakarn, Wiphuthalaeng Pattanaphumthai, Karun Hosakul and Poomkitthi aka Pichet Sukchindathong.

They were however barred from travelling abroad and instigating unrest or breaching their bail conditions.

Democrat MP Nipit Indrasombat from Patthalung and the Secretariat of the Constitution Court earlier submitted petitions and relevant evidence including recordings and news clippings to the Criminal Court, charging Mr Korkaew with threatening the Constitution Court concerning a move to amend Section 68 of the constitution, and announced an attempt to slash the Constitution Court’s budget. They said Mr Korkaew’s behaviour was against his bail conditions.

Mr Korkaew and three witnesses testified before the Criminal Court this afternoon. He said he went on stage during the Pheu Thai-organised rallies with an intention to educate people on the party’s policy on amending the constitution.

He explained that his statement calling for reducing the Constitution Court’s budget was personal and unrelated to the judges’ safety, claiming that several academics had earlier proposed a dissolution of the Constitution Court but he objected.

Red Shirt activists Tida Tavornset and Vira Musikapong also appeared before the judges to speak in Mr Korkaew’s favour. (MCOT online news)

Education Minister to visit South next week to give moral support to teachers

BANGKOK, Dec 1 -- Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana and his ministerial deputy, Sermsak Pongpanich, will visit the southern provinces on December 6 to give moral support to teachers.

Mr Phongthep who joined Prime Minister weekly TV programme "Yingluck Government Meets the People," with Mr Sermsak said that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has expressed deep concern over the safety of teachers in the three southernmost provinces and ordered the Education Ministry to give full support to take care of these teachers.

Mr Phongthep said that he has also met with representatives from the Confederation of Teachers of Southern Border Provinces (CTSB) to hear their proposals on security measures and other related issues.

He promised to push forward the teacher welfare issues that the cabinet approved since last year with no positive development as yet achieved, and vowed that progress could be realised in three months.

The deputy premier said that he and Mr Sermsak would visit southern provinces on December 6 to give moral support to the teachers.

He added that all schools in Pattani would be opened normally on Monday.

Mr Sermsak said that he attended the funeral of Nantana Kaewchan, the director of Ban Tha Kam Sam School in Nong Chik district, who was killed last Thursday by presumed insurgent, and took the opportunity to discuss with the security agencies in the area as well as the Pattani governor about security measures for the teachers.

The killing prompted the CTSB to announce the closure of 332 schools in Pattani to pressure for a review of security measures.

Mr Sermsak said the ministry would consider increasing a monthly risk allowance for southern teachers from Bt2,500 to Bt3,500. More benefits would also be considered, such as low interest rate loans and tax rebates. (MCOT online news)

Myanmar frees 7 jailed Thais, 2 remain imprisoned

RANONG, Nov 30 - Myanmar authorities today released seven Thais sentenced to jail for illegal entry, forest encroachment and arms possession, while two others remain imprisoned for drug-related offences.

Col Uthit Anantananond, Deputy Commander of a special 25th Infantry Regiment task force, said the Myanmar's Township Border Committee (TBC) at Kawthaung informed him that the Myanmar has freed seven Thais arrested for illegal entry, forest encroachment and possession of firearms and military weapons.

A Myanmar court earlier sentenced seven Thai nationals to 10 years and six months imprisonment each.

Col Uthit, also vice chairman of Thailand's border committee at Ranong, said Thai authorities would collect them at Kawthaung and return to Ranong.

However, two remaining Thais sentenced to jail on drug offences remain in prison.

They were among 92 Thai villagers detained in July for encroaching into Myanmar. They claimed that they were persuaded by a broker to clear the land beyond the areas authorised by the Myanmar authorities for Thais to use as cultivated areas.

They were charged and sentenced for illegal entry, forest encroachment and illegal land occupation, growing illicit narcotics plants including cannabis and kratom, possession of firearms and military weapons.

The Myanmar authorities later released 83 Thais arrested for illegal entry and forest encroachment. (MCOT online news)

Election commissioner confirms accused UDD members are still MPs

BANGKOK, 30 November 2012 (NNT) - A member of the Election Commission (EC) has confirmed that Members of Parliament involved with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) and its actions in 2010 will maintain their political status until their court cases are finalized.

EC commissioner Sodsri Sattayatum said all UDD members will remain active as MPs until their involvement in the political turmoil 2 years ago is ruled by the Criminal Court as a crime and a sentence is delivered.

Ms. Sodsri also commented on a petition from senator Reungkrai Leekitwattana to consider the MP status of Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, following the stripping of his military rank, saying that the matter is being looked into and should be concluded within 30 days.

Meanwhile, UDD leader and MP Korkaew Pikulthong, who is expected to appear in court this afternoon, expressed readiness to accept any decision on his bail while citing another chance to prove his innocence at a hearing on December 13th.


TDRI studies how to better manage water

BANGKOK, 30 November 2012 (NNT) - The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) has launched an extended study into water management in the Kingdom aimed at both addressing floods and avoiding drought.

Project leader, Nipon Poapongsakorn explained that the study will examine water management systems which do not involve building major structures, such as dams. He said the results of the study should aid investment in efficient flood prevention projects which will ensure fairness for all who are affected.

The study covers patterns of land use with a focus on regulating the building of structures in low-lying places used as water retention areas. It also looks at the adaptation of communities and industrial estates in such areas.

The study began in October and will extend over three years, with the focus being on the Chao Phraya River basin. Nipon added that the study will look at communities which will be affected by the government's flood management projects, stating the research will help authorities weigh the pros and cons of water management projects and make better decisions.


2012 December 12


Back to Main Page

Red Shirts told to avoid DSI Thursday

Thais pour out opinions on charter change

Teacher, school principal shot dead in Pattani

Thai students poor in math, science

Thai youth win 2 golds at International Junior Science Olympiad

Graft buster vows to continue probe of rice pledging scheme

Thai people slam politicians as most corrupt: Poll

Local graduates to work as teachers in their home communities in deep South

Cold spell hits Thailand's North

Ad hoc centre to handle cold spell’s impact set up in North

Chalerm : Thailand is not terrorism land

China presses hard on high-speed rail projects in Thailand

Clean energy urged for Thailand’s key islands

Awareness of Gender Equality in Preparation for the ASEAN Community

New ASEAN head advised to boost region's role in world fora

Ex-Thai PM, aide to hear DSI murder charges Thursday

Master plan to fight southern insurgency unveiled soon

Rifles stolen from Pattani defence volunteer outpost

Cambodia to face mass return of nationals working in Thailand

Group backs study, work rights of those who have HIV/AIDS

HM makes space for public audience

Another teacher killed in Narathiwat

Renovated Fisheries Department aquarium honours King’s birthday

Yellow shirts in great demand as King’s birthday nears

BMA to crack down on littering in the city

Expansion readies university for AEC challenge

Retirement age extension mulled

Phuket issues arrest warrant for Hungarian murder suspect

More charges of fraud against government’s rice pledging scheme

Thai toddlers victims of second hand tobacco smoke

Colourful illuminations decorate Ratchadamnoen Road to celebrate King's birthday

PM attends trooping the colour rehearsal

Defence volunteer shot dead in Pattani

Flood hits two districts of Satun

PM invites Thais to join on Dec 5 as HM the King makes public appearance

Thailand provides US$100,000 to help victims of violence in Myanmar

Red Shirt activist jailed after court revokes bail

Education Minister to visit South next week to give moral support to teachers

Myanmar frees 7 jailed Thais, 2 remain imprisoned

Election commissioner confirms accused UDD members are still MPs

TDRI studies how to better manage water

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