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Update by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
NEWS 

All schools in Thailand’s southernmost provinces reopen normally

YALA, Dec 17 -- All schools in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala as well as four districts of Songkhla reopen normally amid tight security and worry on the part of teachers who have a heightened sense of having become prime targets for attack.

The Malaysian border provinces have been the scene or a renewed low-level insurgency since 1994.

In Yala, schools that closed December 13-14 by resolution of the Federation of Teachers in Three Southern Provinces have reopened, while joint military and police operations are providing security around the clock.

The security measures now cover school premises as well as outside, at the demand of the teachers federation to foster confidence among educators who work in the violence plagued southern border provinces.

Meanwhile, 125 schools in four border districts of Songkhla -- Chana, Thepha, Na Thawi and Saba Yoi -- are also reopened as students and teachers came to school in the early morning.

The schools were closed Thursday and Friday to permit security agencies to assess their operations in providing teacher protection, after two teachers were killed when insurgents invaded a school lunchroom at Baan Bango School in Mayo district on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra made an inspection trip to Pattani on Thursday and listened to concerns of educators from several southern provinces. Teachers demanded better security measures following the murder of several of their colleagues and local residents in the past few weeks.

Ms Yingluck promised to provide them full welfare, risk and rehabilitation payments. (MCOT online news)


Poll: Economy, violence, politics and drugs top Thai people’s woes

BANGKOK, Dec 17 – Economic constraints, violence in Thailand’s South, political conflicts, constitutional amendment and drug trafficking are the five topmost concerns among Thai people, according to an independent survey.

The poll, conducted by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, reveals that 40.26% of the respondents complained about economic hardship, rocketing commodity prices and inability to make ends meet, saying they have to think twice before spending, buy only necessities and find extra jobs to earn additional income.

The decade-long crisis in Thailand’s far South bothers 18.57% of the people most, who proposed military and police reinforcement and harsher punishment against insurgents in the region.

Of three other concerns raised in the survey, 17.53% said they wished for an end to the years of ongoing political conflicts and looked forward to national reconciliation, 12.30% feel uneasy with the public uproars over constitution amendment and 11.34% wanted efficient action on drug problem.

Asked about their sympathy for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, half of the respondents pitied her for widespread corruption in various government projects, 20% cited her political inexperience and inept public speeches, almost one-fifth feel sorry for her inability to act independently due to ex-premier Thaksin’s (her brother’s) shadow over her, and 12.38% say pressure on her is extreme, especially from the opposition and academics.

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is sympathised by almost half of the respondents for the murder charge against him by the Department of Special Investigation, which accused him of conspiring in the murder of civilians during the 2010 political upheaval. One-third of them say it’s an uphill task for Mr Abhisit, as leader of the opposition bloc, to check the performance of the government which enjoys a majority in the Lower House. Some respondents say it is unfair that Mr Abhisit’s personal issues, including military conscription, were brought up and attacked again, and his Democrat Party is isolated in the opposition bloc.

What will dampen people’s merriment most during the New Year holiday? Their replies are accident and traffic congestion (35.79%), exorbitant commodity prices, insufficient money to spend and give as gifts to parents (25.74%), domestic unrest, political conflicts and rallies (19.31%), crisis in three southernmost provinces of Thailand (13.87%) and natural disaster and the predicted doomsday (5.29%). (MCOT online news)


Land Transport Department prepares road safety to welcome New Year holiday

BANGKOK, Dec 16 - Land Transport Department is preparing road safety measures for commuters to welcome the coming Christmas and New Year holidays.

The department's director-general Somchai Siriwattanachok said many people are expected to travel during the festivities despite only a few days off as public holidays.

He said his department is cooperating with the Vocational Education Commission Office, private sector, and other automobile companies, opening up over 2,000 checkpoints for vehicle capacity check-ups for the general public before their travel.

According to Somchai, passengers opt for more van services as a choice of travel, therefore public vans are restricted to carry no more than 15 passengers each at speeds of no more than 90km/hour for safety reasons.

Meanwhile, Transport Company President Wuttichart Kalayanamitr said at least one million passengers are forecast to use services of the company's buses, or about 250,000 passengers/day, over the four-day New Year holiday period from Dec 29-Jan 1.

Transport Company has ordered another 50 buses to serve during this period, thus increasing the number of rounds of bus services during the New Year holiday to 7,000/day from the usual 5,000. (MCOT online news)


Police arrest three with Bt250 million drug haul

BANGKOK, Dec 14 -- Three suspected members of drug syndicate were arrested in Pathum Thani with 500,000 methamphetamine pills and 50 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine or 'ice' with an estimated street value of Bt250 million.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrong, in charge of national drug suppression, told a news briefing of the arrest of three suspects identified as Chartchai Chanphukhew, Kongsak Woomae, both Chiang Rai natives, and Chen Xiangye, a woman with Chinese nationality.

Personnel from the Narcotics Control Board searched two housing estates in Pathum Thani's Lam Luk Ka district and seized a half-million meth pills and 50 kilos of ice.

The investigators said the three were members of a Chinese drug ring but its leading members are still at large and hiding along the border. Arrest warrants will be issued for them.

Mr Chalerm said that he would visit Chiang Rai next week to seek cooperation from local leaders including village heads to inform the authorities on drug smuggling.

Narcotics Board Sec-Gen Pongsapat Pongcharoen said that the drug gangs buy or rent houses in suburban Bangkok housing estates to store drugs before delivering to customers.

Pol Gen Pongsawat said the anti-narcotics agency will searching the housing estates where drug gangs are suspected to be sheltering. (MCOT online news)
 


Deputy PM Chalerm woos village headmen to fight southern insurgency

BANGKOK, Dec 14 – Village and community leaders in insurgent violence-affected provinces in Thailand’s far South will be asked to lend their hands to the government’s counter-insurgency response, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung said today.

He said he instructed governors of the four southernmost provinces – Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla – to meet with subdistrict and village leaders to relay his message with a promise of extra rewards if they are successful.

Mr Chalerm has quite publicly only reluctantly assumed directorship of the Operations Centre on Strategic Policy and Solutions to Problems in Southern Provinces, a position assigned to him by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Since taking his cabinet post in the present government, he has avoided travelling to the insurgency-plagued southern region. He said Thursday that he would have turned down the new assignment if the premier had informed him in advance.

The deputy premier said he will meet with Asis Pitakkumpol, a Muslim spiritual leader, on January 7 to discuss the southern quagmire. He also plans to appear on television to address the public on the southern situation.

“The Foreign Ministry will be asked to inform the Muslim world about the brutal shootings of teachers in the South so that financial support to the southern insurgents are suspended,” Mr Chalerm said.

He said he will travel to Malaysia and Indonesia to “solve the southern problem externally since tackling it internally alone is not successful.” (MCOT online news)


Thailand's coalition parties back referendum ahead of charter change

BANGKOK, Dec 14 – Thailand’s government coalition bloc today advocated a referendum to decide whether the constitution amendment should go ahead on the parliamentary third reading.

Jarupong Ruangsuwan, Interior Minister and leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, said all political parties in the coalition deem that the referendum is necessary to avoid conflicts among different quarters in the country.

“The government should sound out Thai people’s opinions on whether the 2009 constitution needs changes for more legitimacy and democratic equality,” he said. “There should be an election of members of the constitution drafting assembly to write a new charter in which the sections on the constitutional monarchy and the royal institution will be untouched.”

Mr Jarupong said the government should support and cooperate with all political parties, academic institutions, democratic organisations and the people in creating understanding on the reasons behind the referendum.

Once the result is announced, everyone should respect the result, he said

Justice Minister Pracha Promnok said he will submit the multi-party resolution on referendum to the cabinet next Tuesday for consideration.

The resolution was reached today in a meeting of political parties in the government bloc including the Pheu Thai, Chat Thai Pattana, Chat Pattana and Palang Chon parties. (MCOT online news)


Over 60 teachers in Narathiwat seek transfers from insurgent active areas

NARATHIWAT, Dec 14 - Sixty-two teachers requested transfers from schools in active insurgency areas in this southern border province after a mounting campaign of assassination directed at teachers by the insurgency.

Charnwit Rangsau, a lawyer in the Primary Education Zone One in Narathiwat, said that teachers fear for their safety after successive recent attacks on teachers.

157 teachers have been killed since the insurgency reemerge in the troubled region in early 2004.

The Federation of Teachers in Three Southern Provinces this week close all schools yesterday and today to permit security agencies ‘sufficient time’ to assess their operations in providing teacher protection after two teachers were killed when apparent insurgents invaded a school lunchroom at Baan Bango School in Mayo district on Tuesday. (MCOT online news)


DSI boss undiscouraged in Democrat leaders 'murder' case

BANGKOK, Dec 14 – Thailand’s embattled chief investigator Tarit Pengdith vowed today to continue his probe into the fatal shootings of 91 civilians in 2010 which implicated two Democrat Party heavyweights and drew public criticism.

Giving assurances that transparency would be maintained in the investigation, the director general of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) told a press conference that he will not resign as chief of the investigative team.

“I don’t want to simply walk away and leave the pressure to my subordinates,” he said.

He said the charges against former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his then-deputy Suthep Thaugsuban was co-signed by Panupong Chotisin, executive director of the Attorney General Office who agreed with the DSI.

The DSI charged the two Democrat MPs with conspiring in the fatal shootings of 91 protesters in the 2010 political demonstrations in Bangkok in their capacities as heads of the then government and the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), specially set up to keep public order.

Mr Tarit said the defendants signed to acknowledge the charges against them but gave only verbal acknowledgement to the DSI’s four-point condition which, among other points, bars them from leaving the country and appearing at the podium or on public stages in political gatherings.

Mr Abhisit said after appearing before the DSI Thursday yesterday that he rejected all the charges against him and Mr Suthep and refused to acknowledge the DSI’s four-point condition.

At the four-hour hearing, the Democrat MPs were fingerprinted – a procedure made behind closed doors but a photo of them was shown on a social media network last night.

Mr Tarit said he has set up a committee to investigate the leak of the photo to the public. He argued that some Democrats who accompanied the pair made photographs with their mobile phones. (MCOT online news)


Abhisit, Suthep reject DSI charges, refuse future appearances

BANGKOK, Dec 14 – Former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his then-deputy Suthep Thaugsuban flatly rejected all charges laid against them by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) yesterday and declared they would never appear before the DSI in the future.

In a four-hour appearance before the DSI on Thursday, they denied the DSI allegations of their involvement in the shootings of protesters in the 2010 political upheaval in Bangkok which resulted in the deaths of 91 people.

They refused to sign the DSI’s four-point statement of conditions which, among others things, bans them from travelling overseas.

Mr Abhisit said he would not appear before the DSI again, but that he would provide documents if additional information is required.

He said he will continue to appear on political stages and travel abroad without seeking DSI permission since he has never intended to flee.

The DSI also charged him with giving financial contributions to the Democrat Party by deducting funds from his parliamentary salary, but he has never signed a cheque for the purpose. Mr Abhisit is leader of the Democrat Party.

DSI Director General Tarit Pengdit is hosting a press conference on the subject today. (MCOT online news)


Schools in four Songkhla districts remain closed

SONGKHLA, Dec 14 -- Schools in four districts of Songkhla remained closed as teachers in so-called "red zones"--deemed by the authorities as high rsk -- urged the government to step up security measures for teacher protection similar to the measures provided for teachers in the neighbouring three southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.

Schools in the four districts under the Office of the Songkhla Educational Service Area Zone 3 are closed for the second day in accordance with the resolution of the Federation of Teachers in Three Southern Provinces.

The Federation on Wednesday agreed to close all schools yesterday and today to permit security agencies sufficient time to assess their operations in providing teacher protection after two teachers were killed when apparent insurgents invaded a school lunchroom at Baan Bango School in Mayor district on Tuesday.

Teachers working in the “red zones”, villages with high rates of insurgent activity, are worried that they could be targets of insurgent attack as well.

The Songkhla teachers called for government protection including the same security measures as teachers in the three southernmost provinces.

The schools will reopen Monday or not would depend on the Federation's decision. (MCOT online news)


Hesitating deputy premier decides to make southern trip

BANGKOK, Dec 13 – Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung today admitted anxiety over his latest assignment to fight against the southern insurgency, saying he would have turned down the job if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had informed him before the appointment.

“I will make an inspection trip to the South now that my fear (of the southern violence) has subsided. I was initially concerned but I feel less anxious since the prime minister officially instructed me to do the job. I won’t tell you why I was afraid,” he said.

Mr Chalerm, who was appointed director of the Operations Centre on Strategic Policy and Solutions to Problems in Southern Provinces, said the government is determined to solve the southern problems and it has so far fared better than the previous government under the Democrat Party.

“We have not failed as claimed by some people,” he insisted.

Citing insufficient manpower to cope with the southern crisis, the deputy premier said he has instructed the governors of five southern provinces to assign more peacekeeping personnel to subdistrict and village leaders since they know their neighbourhoods best.

In his new capacity as director of the operations centre, Mr Chalerm said he will evaluate the authorities’ performance every six months, and the situation every 24 hours in order to improve regular operations without having to restructure the centre.

He said he will also invite Democrat MP Tavorn Senniam to seek advice and exchange information on resolutions to southern problems as well as hold talks with high-level people in the field.

The southern violence has worsened and hundreds of state-run schools are closed again following a spate of attacks, many fatal, against teachers, civilians and government personnel in the past few weeks. (MCOT online news)


Thailand, Malaysia to discuss border issues in Phuket

BANGKOK, Dec 13 – Thailand and Malaysia will hold two meetings on Thailand’s resort island of Phuket this week to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul was interviewed today in his capacity as foreign minister about the third Ministerial Meeting of Joint Development Strategy for Border Areas (JDS) between Thailand and Malaysia and the twelfth Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JC), scheduled here tomorrow and Saturday.

The meeting will deal with bilateral cooperation in all matters, the Thai minister said, adding that Malaysia is ready to coordinate in resolving problems, particularly the issue of dual nationality.

Malaysia has a civil registration database ready but Thailand has not yet linked its data base.

Mr Surapong also said killings in Thailand’s southern border provinces this week will be raised at the meeting as Thailand needs to explain the situation to its neighbour.

Asked if the insurgency in Thailand's far South will be on the agenda, the Thai foreign minister said it is Thailand’s domestic problem. Malaysia expressed its concern over the issue and is ready to help if Thailand asks for cooperation to tackle the problem as it used to help the Philippines.

Mr Surapong also said that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries should be peaceful before the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as foreign investors need confidence to do business in the region.

According to a press release on the Foreign Ministry's website, the Third JDS Meeting is aimed at promoting physical, institutional and people to people connectivity along the border areas between Thailand and Malaysia.

On infrastructure, expediting construction of two proposed bridges across the Golok River linking Narathiwat province with Kelantan state at Sungai Golok-Rantau Panjang and Tak Bai-Pengkalan Kubor, and integration of a development plan and special economic zones of CIQ Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam will be discussed.

The meeting will also request agencies concerned to speed up agreeing on new Framework on Inter-State and Transit Transport of Goods and Passengers between Thailand and Malaysia.

The 12th JC Meeting will emphasise cooperation on dual citizenship, trade and investment promotion, convening a Second Joint Trade Committee Meeting (JTC) in March in Chiang Mai, and cooperation on rubber matters. (MCOT online news)


Southern teachers welcome PM Yingluck's gesture of assistance

PATTANI, Dec 14 – Teachers in three insurgency troubled provinces in Thailand’s far South were satisfied to a certain extent after Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised to fully provide them with welfare, risk and rehabilitation payments.

In a meeting with educators from the Federation of Teachers in Three Southern Provinces here on Thursday, the premier agreed to set up an ad hoc committee on security for teachers.

Federation Chairman Bunsom Thongsriprai said the teachers submitted a proposal on security measures for teachers which the prime minister accepted.

Pattani Governor Pramook Lamun said the prime minister vowed to lend her full support to achieve the people’s better quality of life and public order.

The prime minister also promised to improve the economic situation, particularly among female occupational groups, he said.

It was agreed that measures to tackle southern violence must be worked out on a province-by-province basis, he said, adding that military reinforcements will be needed in risk-prone areas while personnel from the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre and civic groups will monitor less-sensitive areas.

Defence volunteers will join in security protection for civilians and more closed-circuit television cameras will be installed to monitor teachers’ movements, the governor said.

Ms Yingluck made an inspection trip to Pattani yesterday and listened to concerns of educators from several southern provinces. The teachers demanded better security measures following the murder of several of their colleagues and local residents in the past few weeks.

The premier stayed overnight in the South after meeting the teachers and senior state officials. (MCOT online news)


Abhisit, Suthep hear charges at DSI

BANGKOK, Dec 13 – Thailand’s former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his then-deputy Suthep Thaugsuban appeared before the country’s Department of Special Investigation today, affirming that they will contest all charges against them without compromising or fleeing the country.

Greeted by supporters at the Democrat Party head office before leaving for the DSI headquarters, Mr Abhisit thanked them for not gathering at the DSI to avoid possible confrontation with Red Shirt activists.

The Democrat leader and his deputy are to acknowledge charges of conspiring in the fatal shootings of Red Shirt demonstrators during the 2010 political demonstrations in Bangkok in which 91 people were filled.

He speculated that the DSI will apply an additional charge involving donations to the Democrat Party, calling the DSI to add the new allegation so that they will acknowledge all the changes together at one time.

Mr Abhisit said he and Mr Suthep had never intended to assault the public but they had the responsibility to return order for the public when violence occurred and when weapons were used.

“I’m neither a coward nor a crook, though I may be a little stingy,” he said. “I’m confident in my innocence and I’ll fight straightforwardly without making any compromise.”

“I will accept it [even] if the court’s verdict on me is the death sentence. I abide by Thai law and if convicted I must be jailed in Thailand. May the Thai people be assured that the truth will eventually prevail.” (MCOT online news)


Educators in Thai South close schools after two teachers killed in Pattani

PATTANI, Dec 12 – Thailand’s teachers in the besieged southernmost provinces, represented by their Teachers Federation, on Wednesday endorsed a collective decision to close all schools in the provinces one day after presumed insurgents entered a school in Pattani and killed a teacher and the school principal.

The two teachers were shot dead while they were having lunch in the Baan Bango school in Mayor district on Tuesday.

The federation meeting action effectively closes all school tomorrow and Friday (December 13-14), to permit security agencies time to assess their operation in providing teachers’ protection, find and apprehend those who are guilty of attacking and killing the teachers.

The teachers are asking the security agencies to propose improved security plans to protect teachers on Monday.

Federation representatives conceded that both Buddhist and Muslim teachers fear for their safety and dare not to go to school.

Schools will reopen if the teachers can be confident in their safety and in the security that is provided. However, if their demands are not met, the educators will again reassess the situation and announce their next decision. (MCOT online news)


UNICEF calls for end to violence against children in Thailand’s deep South

BANGKOK, Dec 12 – United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) urged an immediate halt to violence against children in Thailand’s restive southern provinces, where an 11-month-old girl was among five people killed in an attack at a Narathiwat tea house on Tuesday.

In a statement published on the UNICEF website, Bijaya Rajbhandari, UNICEF Representative in Thailand, termed the slayings “a tragic, senseless and unacceptable act” and called upon all parties involved “to use every means at their disposal to end the violence and ensure that all children are protected from it.”

The infant girl, Infani Samo, was killed early Tuesday morning when gunmen armed with automatic weapons sprayed gunfire into a tea house in Narathiwat’s Rangae district.

More than 50 children have been killed and some 340 wounded in Thailand’s southern border provinces since the resurgence of violence in January 2004. In total, more than 5,000 people have lost their lives as a result of the violence.

In late October this year, an 11-year-old boy was slain along with his father when gunmen fired on their pickup truck in Yala’s Raman district.

“Every time a child is killed or injured, every time a child loses a parent or relative, and every time their schools and teachers are attacked, the more all children in the deep south suffer,” Mr Rajbhandari said. “Bringing an end to the violence is the only way to ensure that the rights of all children in the south are fully protected and respected.” (MCOT online news)


Army chief says money alone cannot end southern insurgency

BANGKOK, Dec 13 – Without civic cooperation, the decade-long violence in Thailand’s far South will not be resolved despite the government’s allocation of a huge anti-insurgency budget, according to Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha.

He was apparently referring to the government’s approval of a new Bt7 billion budget to combat the southern insurgency which has recently escalated with a series of fatal shootings of civilians and teachers.

The army chief today accompanies Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to inspect the southern region and join a meeting of state officials in charge of security.

Gen Prayuth said 70 per cent of the Bt7 billion budget (about US$225 million) will go to salaries and allowances for military forces on duty in the trouble-plagued provinces.

“Everyone has asked for total safety, which is impossible in the present situation. Not only teachers but state officials are prone to attacks,” he said. “In the past, some teachers did not want soldiers to be near them or provide security to their schools for fear of becoming targets of attack.”

He said the military is willing to withdraw its forces from the South if local security authorities including defence volunteers and police are ready to take care of the situation. (MCOT online news)


400-strong police contingent to guard DSI at tomorrow’s ‘legal showdown’ Share on facebook

BANGKOK, Dec 12 – Some 400 police officers will provide security at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) tomorrow when former Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his ex-deputy Suthep Thaugsuban appear to acknowledge charges of conspiring in the murder of civilians during the 2010 political protest in Bangkok.

DSI Director General Tarit Pengdith today made a thorough inspection in and around the agency’s headquarters to ensure public order given reports that two opposing civic groups will gather there tomorrow.

The DSI will charge Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep with conspiring in the fatal shootings of demonstrators during the anti-government protest in the capital in 2010 which resulted in the deaths of 91 people.

According to the DSI, Mr Abhisit was held responsible for the murder in his capacity as prime minister and consequently the commander of the specially-established Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES). Mr Suthep was appointed director of the CRES which deployed military forces to maintain order at the demonstration grounds.

Mr Tarit urged the two conflicting groups who may rally at the agency tomorrow to keep their distance from one another.and avoid clashes, but gave assurances that preparations of tear gas and batons are unnecessary.

He said the acknowledgement procedure, which should take about three hours, involves the pair’s testimonies to the investigative committee.

Mr Abhisit asked his supporters to give him moral support at the Democrat Party headquarters, but told them to not go to DSI headquarters to avoid any possible clash with its rival group.

A group of Red Shirt activists gathered at the DSI this morning, presented flowers to Mr Tarit and complimented him for carrying out the investigation against the two Democrats. They said they represented 12 community radio stations nationwide.

Mr Tarit accepted the bouquet after which the Red Shirt activists shouted in unison:“Tarit, fight on! Tarit, fight on!.” (MCOT online news)


PM will meet southern teachers in Pattani tomorrow

BANGKOK, Dec 12 -- Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will travel to Thailand’s southern provinces tomorrow to meet teachers to discuss security measures as teachers have become primary targets for being killed by insurgents.

Ms Yingluck said she will visit Pattani to hear first hand information from teachers working in the area, to listen to their concerns and recommendations, and to discuss security measures for their protection.

She said the government is ready to help revive the shattered morale of the teachers as they are now under attack as four teachers were slain and one wound in the past three weeks.

The premier said the government is not only paying attention to the needs of teacher but it must be concerned for the safety and well being of all the residents.

The Ministry of Education was instructed to work closely with teachers in the southern border provinces, to listen to their problems and to seek solutions together.

As for the recommendation to establish a special force to provide special protection to teachers, Ms Yingluck said there is a possibility to set up of such a security force but no details have not yet been discussed.

The premier also called for unity among the various agencies to integrate their dealings with the southern problems as many ministries are involved.

More security personnel are needed, she said, as there are many teachers and schools in the area while they did not have such items as bulletproof vests and armoured vehicles.

Ms Yingluck said the government has approved an increase in the number of police in the southern region, but she explained that new recruits are still undergoing training.

She said that the insurgents have taken the opportunity while the police were preparing reinforcements to launch new attacks.

Ms Yingluck today presided at the first meeting of a committee to implement policies and strategies to solve problems in the deep South at Government House.

The meeting resolved to set up a centre for implementing policies and strategies for solving problems in the deep South and appoint Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung as its director. (MCOT online news)


Number of LINE users in Thailand passes 10 million

BANGKOK, Dec 12 - Tech-frenzy Thailand has up to 10.2 million LINE users, an increase of 1,150 per cent in just one year. This intriguing number, a large chunk of the total 85 million users worldwide, has grown rapidly.

Lee Jin-woo, LINE Business Office senior manager of NHN Corp. and overseeing business in Thailand, stated that most Thai users enjoy sending stickers to other users as a way to express emotions and communicate through smart-phone devices.

Users in Thailand are active purchasers of Line stickers, while at the same time also enjoying the free selections of stickers available on the hit-application.

More important, alongside its conveniences in communication, LINE has also joined with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in launching a special sticker collection that promotes Thailand's tourism wonders.

Similar stickers will also showcase destinations such as Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

By 2013, LINE will officially launch up to 10 more applications for all users to enjoy. Without doubt, it has become an aspiring means for the public to communicate and express thoughts, he said. (MCOT online news)
 


Southern teachers’ federation to meet following deaths of two more teachers in Pattani

PATTANI, Dec 12 -- The Confederation of Teachers of the Three Southern Border Provinces will consider their next move after two more teachers including a school principal were killed in Pattani on Tuesday.

Boonsom Thongsriprai, chairman of the Confederation of Teachers of the Three Southern Border Provinces, expressed sorrow at the deaths of two more teachers despite security measures being stepped up to give protection for teachers working in the southern border provinces.

He said that the Confederation is convening a meeting of school administrators and teachers from three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat and from three districts of Songkhla today to assess the situation and review security measures for teachers.

He said the attacks against teachers have severely affected the morale of teachers particularly Buddhist teachers.

That the teachers have become the target recently was the intention of the insurgents as the teachers were soft target, he said.

Mr Boonsom said until now there has been no decision whether Pattani schools will be closed in response to the latest attack.

The meeting came after a male teacher and a female school principal at Ban Ba Ngo School in Mayo district were shot to death inside their school in the latest—and most intrusive--fatal attack on teachers to date.

Ban Ba Ngo School remained closed today after the incident panicked teachers and students. (MCOT online news)


Thai rice to aid Philippine disaster victims

BANGKOK, Dec 12 – Thailand will donate 500 tonnes of rice to the Philippines for distribution to people suffering from Typhoon Bopha which hit the southern island of Mindanao last week.

The Commerce Ministry informed the cabinet Tuesday that rice from this year’s second harvest will be shipped to the island country to help disaster-hit people who are facing shortages of food and medical supplies.

The assistance is a display of friendship from Thailand to a member country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In addition, the Philippines has been a long-time importer of Thai rice, both on a governmental and private sector basis, said deputy government spokesman Pakdiharn Himathongkam.

In the past five years, Thailand has donated rice to countries suffering from natural disasters including 1,000 tonnes to China for flash floods and an earthquake in 2007, 1,000 tonnes to Bangladesh after a cyclone in 2007, 660 tonnes to the Philippines after a typhoon in 2010 and 20,000 tonnes to Haiti after its earthquake in 2010. (MCOT online news)


Lao, 2 Thais nabbed for forcing Lao girls into prostitution

BANGKOK, Dec 12 – Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has arrested a Lao woman and two Thais for human trafficking and forcing Lao girls under age 18 into prostitution in Thailand’s far southern province of Narathiwat.

DSI Director General Tarit Pengdit said Ms Boulaphanh who carries a Lao passport and two Thai men, identified as Pricha Mongkolprajak and Paiboon Sae-Lim, were apprehended as a result of information given by a Thai man who was earlier sentenced to 50 years’ imprisonment on similar charges.

The Thai inmate, Sathit Sarawan, was jailed after the court found him guilty of human trafficking and supplying Lao girls to karaoke outlets in Narathiwat through Ms Buolaphanh.

Authorities said the three suspects have supplied at least 1,200 Lao girls to about 100 karaoke shops in Narathiwat’s Su-ngai Kolok district for more than seven years.

Ms Boulaphanh however said she has been involved in the network for less than a year with Lao parents sending their daughters to her.

She claimed that she has been involved with only eight girls in the prostitution network and received an average Bt10,000 for trafficking each girl.

Authorities also charged her with counterfeiting passports of the Lao girls and put their age over 18 years. (MCOT online news)


Minister urges deployment of security personnel at schools

BANGKOK, Dec 11 - Following the killing of two teachers in a Pattani school today, Deputy Prime Minister/Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana conceded that the lack of security personnel in the school compound was a security lapse which led to the latest violence against teachers.

He asked security agencies to deploy staff in school compounds to ensure safety for teachers.

The latest killing brings the total death toll of teachers in the insurgency-torn region to 157, according to the regional teachers association.

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 victims in the latest and most intrusive fatal attack on teachers to date were identified as deputy school director Somsak Kwanma and Tiyarat Chauykaew, director 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 slain teacher's 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 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)


Cabinet extends Thai-Malaysian border pass validity

BANGKOK, Dec 11 – The cabinet on Tuesday extended the validity and stay period of Thai-Malaysian border passes to facilitate mutual trade and tourism.

Deputy Government Spokesperson Pakdiharn Himathongkham said border passes issued for visiting, travel, short training courses, meetings or seminars for less than six months, earlier valid for six months, will be extended to one year after the cabinet endorsement.

Seven-day stay period visas are extended to 30 days, covering Thailand’s southern border provinces of Songkhla, Satun, Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani and Malaysia’s Kedah, Kelantan, Perak and Perlis instead of an area within a 25-kilometre radius as earlier stated.

The decision is aimed to facilitate border trade and boost social and cultural cooperation, the deputy government spokesperson said. (MCOT online news)


DSI rules out detention of Abhisit, Suthep on murder charges

BANGKOK, Dec 11 – Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) will not seek a Criminal Court order to detain former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his ex-deputy Suthep Thaugsuban when they appear Thursday to acknowledge charges related to the deaths of Red Shirt activists in the 2010 political violence in Bangkok.

DSI Director Tarit Pengdith said today both are high-ranking political officials and members of parliament with no potential of fleeing.

The DSI will however impose four conditions--barring them from leaving the country without prior approval from investigative authorities, interfering in witnesses and evidence, creating violence and creating obstacles, or damaging the investigative authorities.

Earlier today, Karom Ponthaklang, a lawyer of the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), and some relatives of 91 activists who died in the 2010 political rally submitted a letter to Mr Tarit, protesting against the DSI’s temporary release of Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep.

Mr Tarit discussed the request with investigative authorities for nearly an hour before informing them of the four-point condition to be delivered to the two opposition heavyweights.

Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep were charged by the DSI with conspiring in the shooting of demonstrators during the political protest and suppression by military force under the now-defunct the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES).

Mr Suthep was then CRES director while Mr Abhisit was implicated in the murder allegations in his capacity as prime minister overseeing the CRES. (MCOT online news)


40kg ice, meth pills, seized after gun battle in Chiang Rai

CHIANG RAI, Dec 11 -- The Thai authorities seized 40kg of crystal methamphetamine "ice" and 100,000 meth pills after a gunfight between Thai soldiers and members of a drug syndicate along the Thai-Myanmar border in the northern province of Chiang Rai Monday night.

Pha Mueang Task Force deputy chief Col Chainarong Kaewkla and Chiang Rai Govenor Wangsamer jointly held a press briefing on drugs seized from smugglers after the special unit of the Pha Mueang Task Force's 3rd Cavalry Regiment engaged in a gunfight with the group at Baan Hmong Kao Lang in Terd Thai subdistrict of Mae Fa Luang district.

Col Chainarong said that soldiers were deployed at the location where the fighting occurred and an additional 10kg of ice was seized on top of 30kg seized earlier.

Some 100,000 meth pills were also confiscated after the fight.

Col Chainarong said the Thai military was on high alert monitoring the border as it was expected that the dealers were trying to smuggle drugs into Thailand. (MCOT online news)


2012 December 17

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Back to Main Page

All schools in Thailand’s southernmost provinces reopen normally

Poll: Economy, violence, politics and drugs top Thai people’s woes

Land Transport Department prepares road safety to welcome New Year holiday

Police arrest three with Bt250 million drug haul

Deputy PM Chalerm woos village headmen to fight southern insurgency

Thailand's coalition parties back referendum ahead of charter change

Over 60 teachers in Narathiwat seek transfers from insurgent active areas

DSI boss undiscouraged in Democrat leaders 'murder' case

Abhisit, Suthep reject DSI charges, refuse future appearances

Schools in four Songkhla districts remain closed

Hesitating deputy premier decides to make southern trip

Thailand, Malaysia to discuss border issues in Phuket

Southern teachers welcome PM Yingluck's gesture of assistance

Abhisit, Suthep hear charges at DSI

Educators in Thai South close schools after two teachers killed in Pattani

UNICEF calls for end to violence against children in Thailand’s deep South

Army chief says money alone cannot end southern insurgency

PM will meet southern teachers in Pattani tomorrow

Number of LINE users in Thailand passes 10 million

Southern teachers’ federation to meet following deaths of two more teachers in Pattani

Thai rice to aid Philippine disaster victims

Lao, 2 Thais nabbed for forcing Lao girls into prostitution

Minister urges deployment of security personnel at schools

Cabinet extends Thai-Malaysian border pass validity

DSI rules out detention of Abhisit, Suthep on murder charges

40kg ice, meth pills, seized after gun battle in Chiang Rai



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