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King urges people to show compassion and help each other

BANGKOK, 1 January 2013 (NNT) – His Majesty the King’s utmost wish on the New Year’s Day is to see Thai people have compassion towards each other, help and encourage each other and keep strong bonds of friendship. In his televised New Year address this morning, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej urged people in every sector to cooperate for the happiness, stability and prosperity of all individuals and the nation as a whole. He also expressed grateful appreciation to the people who had turned up in full force on his birthday with good intentions which he would never forget. His Majesty then wished the people happiness, success and good health in the new year.

Road accidents kill 254 during New Year holidays

BANGKOK, Jan 1— Thailand's death toll from road accidents nationwide during the first five days of the New Year's holiday has climbed to 254, while the number of injured has reached 2,454, the national Road Safety Centre reported Tuesday, New Year's Day.

Yesterday alone, New Year's Eve, 52 deaths and 556 casualties were reported in 524 road accidents.

The central province of Nakhon Pathom had the highest death toll of 12 persons, followed by Chiang Mai with 11 and Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok with 10 deaths each.

So far, the eastern province of Trat has not recorded any road accident in the past days.

The major causes of road accidents were attributed to drunken driving and speeding.

The government's Road Safety Centre was set up to prevent and reduce the number of the road accidents, deaths and injuries as well as serve as headquarters to link all commands at all level, to solve immediate problems occurring from road accidents and to adjust traffic plan to response the needs arising during from the 2013 New Year period from December 27, 2012 through January 2.

In related developments, holidaymakers on Tuesday began gradually returned to their homes as well as to Bangkok.

In Lamphun, traffic is congested on Highway No 11 while Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal 2 is crowded with travellers.

Meanwhile, Mo Chit Bus Terminal in the capital began to be packed in the afternoon through evening. The number of travellers who returned to the capital was expected to be approximately 200,000-300,000. (MCOT online news)

PM pledges to work at her fullest capacity without discouragement

BANGKOK, Dec 30 - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday pledged that she will work to her fullest capacity without discouragement and insisted time would prove her performance, while urging all parties to end conflicts to help the country move forward.

The premier gave an interview with media at Government House today saying her government has only eight months to drive and solidify the government's policies as the first six months of her work after taking office was dealing with the country's worst flooding in history while another six months were spent in post-flood rehabilitation.

Ms Yingluck conceded that the government's work at the early stages had some obstacles and concerns from the public. But she was willing to adjust and improve the government's performance in the second year.

"I can't say that I am perfect but I can say that I am very willing to serve the public," said the premier. "Some people may love (me), while others may not, and I can accept that."

Ms Yingluck said she will improve her work capacity in two ways. The first is through leadership, she said she needs time to prove her leadership to the public as she is also new to politics but she will work to her fullest capacity.

The second, the premier said, is working effectively with her cabinet and the government which is a massive organization. The first year is therefore a period of adjustment, but she pledged to take criticisms and concerns and fix them for general advancement of the country.

"I am ready and I am not discouraged," stated Ms Yingluck. "Time will be the ultimate judge and the people will be the ones who decide."

For the government's policies to be highlighted in 2013, the prime minister said the government will continue and follow up with urgent policies implemented from the first year and will focus on the country's development with long term stability, including water management, agricultural zoning to increase productivity, the promotion of alternative energy and the development of human resources and quality of life.

Ms Yingluck said the year 2013 will also be the year of children, women and disabled people are well taken care of and receive equal treatment, with One Stop Service.

She added the government will also adjust its workflow by using technology to facilitate the work in order to reduce risk and corruption.

Regarding the political issue, the premier thanked the Opposition for working with the government, including scrutiny of the government's work and their role in legislative body.

Ms Yingluck however called on all parties and all colour factions to help end conflict in society, while remaining active participants in the democratic system. (MCOT online news)

Two Phatthalung districts still critically flooded

PHATTHALUNG, Jan 1 -- Two districts in the southern province of Phatthalung remain critically impacted by flooding as they are the lower areas still under floodwater.

More than 2,000 households in six subdistricts of the provincial seat and Khuan Khanun district were affected by the flood, which was 70-80 centemetres deep.

The two districts were lower areas and received water from Bantat Mountain before the water would flow into Songkhla Lake.

Many village roads were impassable, particularly at Ban Plai Thong and Ban Khao Jingjo in the provincial seat.

Meanwhile, areas near Bantat Mountain such as Chumpol and Banna sub-districts in Srinagarindra district; abd Kong Ra's Charad sub-district where floods on Monday have returned to normal after rain stopped last night.

The Southern Meteorological Centre (East Coast) in Songkhla today said that a strong northeast monsoon prevails over the Gulf of Thailand and the southern portion of the country making more rain with heavy rain in Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

Due to the strong winds, 2-3 metre high waves will occur across the lower Gulf of Thailand. People along the coast should beware of high waves inshore.

All ships should proceed with caution, and small boats in the lower Gulf from Surat Thani downward keep ashore during today and tomorrow. (MCOT online news)

Thai celebrants out in full force for New Year

BANGKOK, Dec 29 – Leading tourist attractions nationwide are mostly booked, filled with New Year's celebrants, while many people are leaving the capital or their home towns for the holidays.

National parks, especially in the wintry North, are crowded with tourists gathering for countdowns into the Year 2013.

In Phitsanulok province, 370 km north of Bangkok, accommodations in all national parks and botanical gardens are fully occupied, some until mid-month in January. Tents have been set up in reserved areas in the parks.

Some provincial administrations organised special activities as part of the New Year’s celebrations.

In Uthai Thani, 500 km north of Bangkok, the Second Buffalo Festival is being held in the provincial seat to promote tourism and create awareness among farmers on buffalo breeding. Farmers and tourists alike enthusiastically joined the festival.

In the central province of Suphan Buri, about 100 km from Bangkok, the Thai Orchid Festival is held until January 5. More than 3,000 orchids of nine different species are on display. Highlighting the festival is a 300-metre-long orchid tunnel.

Samila Beach in the southern province of Songkhla has been beautifully decorated to welcome Thai and foreign visitors who are pouring to the seaside resort for the New Year. Tourists are streaming to take pictures with the mermaid statue, a signification attraction at Samila Beach.

New Year’s celebrations in Bangkok are organised at several leading venues including Ratchaprasong intersection which is the main countdown arena on New Year's Eve, December 31. The countdown event in the eastern beach resort of Pattaya, with colourful fireworks, is no less extravagant than in Bangkok.

At Sanam Luang, people traditionally wake up early on the morning of January 1st to offer alms to Buddhist monks – a merit-making ceremony for the start of a new year. (MCOT online news)

Bangkok governor to contest second term

BANGKOK, Dec 28 – Incumbent Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, nominated by the Democrat Party to stand for a second term in the coming gubernatorial election, vowed today to create a “sustainable pleasant metropolis” for city residents.

The Democrat Party, which announced the decision to field Mr Sukhumbhand on Thursday, appointed former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin to lead the election campaign, while names of the governor’s administrative team have yet to be disclosed.

Mr Sukhumbhand's term in the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration governorship is due to expire January 10 while the Bangkok election is scheduled for February 17.

Mr Sukhumbhand said he was not concerned with a possible complaint against him on the recent BMA’s signing of an agreement to extend the construction of elevated train line despite the fact that the concession is due to expire in the next 13 years.

He assured that the deal was made in a transparent manner and he had not breached the law.

Bangkok is facing lots of challenges that need to be tackled including traffic congestion, security in the people’s lives and properties and environmental issues, he said.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the decision to field Mr Sukhumbhand for a second term was reached among party executives, selection committee members, Bangkok MPs and Bangkok council and district members.

He commended Mr Sukhumbhand for his deep-rooted experience and understanding of the city problems, and his ability to coordinate with all parties concerned including the government without regarding to political conflicts.

Mr Sukhumbhand has made progress in several aspects including mass transportation, education, public health and landscape development, Mr Abhisit said, assuring that the Democrat Party is ready to contest in the election.

The Pheu Thai Party, which controls the current national government, will tentatively field Deputy National Police chief Pongsapat Pongcharoen in the Bangkok election. The party has yet to make an official announcement. (MCOT online news)

Azarenka gives alms to monks in Hua Hin

HUA HIN, Dec 28 - Belarusian professional tennis player Victoria Azarenka, ranked the World No.1 player, and her beau gave alms to Thai Buddhist monks in Thailand's seaside resort town of Hua Hin
ahead of her exhibition match tomorrow.

The World's No.1 along with US rapper Redfoo joined merit-making activities on a beach near the InterContinental Hua Hin Resort Hotel this morning.

Ms Azarenka told reporters that she was really impressed by the Thai-style alms giving. She also enjoyed Hua Hin which she had visited twice and hopes to visit again.

She rode a jet ski with rapper Redfoo and relaxed on the beach yesterday.

Ms Azarenka arrived in Thailand Wednesday and is scheduled to meet China's Li Na, the world number 7, in the Saturday match of Hua Hin World Tennis Invitation to be held at Centennial Park.

She won the 2012 Australian Open singles title, becoming the first Belarusian player to win a Grand Slam in singles. (MCOT online news)

Train services nationwide under improvement: SRT

BANGKOK, Dec 28 -- Train services nationwide will be upgraded in a 2 and 1/2 year improvement programme beginning early next year with a planned completion date of August 2015, for track and facilities improvement, according to the State Railway of Thailand (SRT).

SRT public relations chief Nual-anong Wongchan said the agency has received Bt17.6 billion to improve its infrastructure, including track bed, tracks and signals improvement. Railway bridges will be standardised to reach international standards.

The budget covers construction of dual tracks between Nakhon Pathom-Hua Hin; Lop Buri-Nakhon Sawan and Bua Yai junction-Khon Kaen.

SRT also plans to purchase new diesel locomotives to replace old ones, she said.

Ms Nual-anong said that the improvement work will begin early next year and will be completed by August 2015. Construction may affect railway services during the construction period.

She said that if the work completed as planned, the rail tracks would be stronger and the train would be safer in the future. The train could use higher speed and build confidence among the passengers in terms of punctuality and could shorten the travel time. (MCOT online news)

Thai-Cambodian Acmecs visa to start tomorrow

Tourists from 35 countries will be able to enter Thailand and Cambodia by applying for just one entry visa at Thai or Cambodian embassies or consulates, starting from tomorrow onwards.

The agreement was reached as Thai foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong met today at the 8th Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation meeting in Bangkok.

The single visa, under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (Acmecs), is similar to the European Union’s Schengen agreement. There are five Asean members in Acmecs comprising Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

It is expected that other Acmecs members will follow Thailand and Cambodia later on after the operation has been proven successful.

Thailand and Cambodia will also improve road and rail transportation between the two nations for better connectivity and transfer of goods and services. Trade between the two countries this year rose by more than 2 billion US dollars, and the two sides agreed to maintain the growth.

In addition to related economic matters, Thailand and Cambodia agreed to enhance cooperation in labour management and the transfer of inmates.


No expressway toll for 8 days

Motorists will enjoy travelling free of charge on the Burapha Withi Expressway and other expressways that connect with it from tomorrow until January 3 as a gift from the government to the public for the New Year.

The Cabinet yesterday resolved to exempt tolls for motorists from 12.01am on Thursday until midnight on January 3. The proposal for the waiver came from the Ministry of Transport.

The Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT) earlier announced a similar decision for toll ways under its authority. The roads where the free access were allowed by the state are the Burapha Withi Expressway from Bang Na to Chon Buri, the southern elevated road linking Suvarnabhumi Airport with the Burapha Withi expressway and the Kanchaphisek toll route from Bang Phli to Suksawad.


Road Safety Centre starts operation to reduce casualty during New Year festival

BANGKOK, Dec 27 -- The Thai government's Road Safety Centre -- the centre which every year in this season swings into action to prevent and reduce the number of the road accidents, deaths and injuries during the 2013 New Year holiday period opened today.

Pol Lt-Gen Chat Kuldilok, Deputy Minister of Interior, presided over the the opening ceremony of the centre set up at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

The centre will also serve as headquarters to link all commands at all level, to solve immediate problems occurring from road accidents and to adjust traffic plan to response the needs arising.

Gen Chat said the centre will promote road safety and monitor the number of traffic accidents during the so-called “Seven Dangerous Days” from December 27, 2012 until January 2, 2013.

The government has a target to reduce the number of road casualties during this period by at least five per cent from the same period of last year, he said.

During last New Year, a total of 335 people were killed and 3,375 injured in 3,093 road accidents .

As usual, emphasis will be given to controlling speed, cracking down on driving while intoxicated, wearing helmets for motorcyclists and controlling pickup trucks carrying passengers.

The deputy minister said that checkpoints will be in place, especially at minor roads, to monitor risky behaviour.

Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Director General Chatchai Promlert said that daily press briefings on the death toll and casualty counts will take place between December 28th to January 3rd at 10am to inform motorists to be more careful when travelling and to strictly observe traffic rules. (MCOT online news)

Police to step up security for New Year holidays

The Royal Thai Police will step up security measures throughout Bangkok and its vicinities and road safety operations throughout the country during the New Year celebratory period.

Royal Thai Police Spokesperson Police Major General Piya Uthayo said the agency has prepared to increase its patrol in residential areas while people are away on their trips in an effort to provide safety for residents.

Police officers will also be stationed to help alleviate traffic congestion during the festivities for holidaymakers while mobile units will also be on standby to provide assistance for road users.

Police Major General Piya also advised club owners and business operators against igniting any firecrackers to prevent accidents during their countdown events.

Securities for New Year countdown events have been tightened after a fire occurred on 1 January 2009 in a nightclub in Bangkok, killing 66 people and injuring 222 others.

In addition, authorities in major southern cities have also been instructed to closely monitor all New Year activities and to prepare for any unexpected violence from insurgents.


No holiday for Thai police on New Year’s holiday

BANGKOK, Dec 28 – Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung has banned police throughout Thailand from taking leave during the New Year’s celebration.

In a video conference with provincial and southern border police on Thursday, he clearly announced that police nationwide must be on special alert and provide security to the public during the New Year’s festival.

He admitted having safety concerns with the huge gathering scheduled at the New Year countdown at Central World, one of Bangkok’s busiest shopping zones, fro, New Year's Eve December 31 into January 1 and the fragile situation in three southern border provinces.

“We must adopt precautionary measures though there has been no sign of violence so far,” Mr Chalerm said. (MCOT online news)

Court rejects libel charge against Red Shirt leader Jatuporn

BANGKOK, Dec 28 – Thailand's Criminal Court on Thursday ruled out a libel lawsuit against Red Shirt activist Jatuporn Prompan who publicly charged former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva with ordering the murder of anti-government demonstrators.

Mr Abhisit said in his lawsuit that he was slandered by Mr Jatuporn during his public speech to a gathering of more than 10,000 people in Don Muang area on May 10, 2009.

Calling Mr Abhisit a murderer whose hands were soaked with blood, Mr Jatuporn said during the speech that the former premier ordered soldiers to open fire at civilians – an action which deserved execution.

Mr Abhisit said the Red Shirt core leader made false statements against him and violated Section 326, 328 and 332 of the Criminal Code.

In turning down Mr Abhisit’s lawsuit, the court said the defendant and plaintiff were political opponents and retaliations between both parties during an election campaign were normal under the democratic system.

Mr Abhisit’s attorney said he would appeal the court’s verdict.

Mr Abhisit has filed four libel cases against Mr Jatuporn, two of which the defendant was already found guilty.

The Criminal Court earlier sentenced Mr Jatuporn to six months’ imprisonment and a Bt50,000 fine for each case. He was put on a two-year probation instead of receiving a jail term. (MCOT online news)

Six Yellow Shirt leaders indicted for Government House, parliament intrusion in 2008

BANGKOK, Dec 27 - Thai prosecutors today indicted six co-leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), known as Yellow Shirts, for leading their protesters in an intrusion of the Government House compound during anti-government demonstrations in 2008.

The PAD leaders, who appeared at Criminal Court today and were indicted, are media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul, Maleerat Kaewka, retired-General Chamlong Srimuang, Pipob Thongchai, Somkiat Pongpaiboon and Prapan Koonmee.

Prosecutors indicted the six yellow shirt activists in three separate cases.

All were indicted for leading PAD protesters to seize the Government House compound in their month-long campaign to topple the Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat administration in 2008.

Another case involved the accusation that 20 PAD Yellow Shirt activists led the blockade of the Parliament by the movement in October 2008.

Mr Sondhi alone was indicted for defamation of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

PAD lawyer Suwat Apaiyapakdi said only six protest leaders turned up at the court today, while the rest will report to hear the prosecutors' decision on January 22.

He said each PAD leader submitted Bt90,000 bail bond for Government House invasion case, and an additional Bt100,000 for the Parliament blockade case.

Mr Sondhi also posted another Bt100,000 as collateral to seek his temporary release.

Prosecutors said they have thoroughly considered the three cases based on evidence submitted by investigators, as well as video clips from the media which documented wrongdoings by the accused.

They said the cases have been delayed for more than a year as they also considered the complaints of the defendants with caution. (MCOT online news)

Democrat Party to field Sukhumbhand for re-election as Bangkok governor

BANGKOK, Dec 27 -- Thailand’s opposition Democrat Party on Thursday resolved to field incumbent Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra as its candidate for to again head the city government.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said the party executive committee voted by majority to select Governor Sukhumbhand as the party candidate to contest the gubernatorial election early next year.

Mr Sukhumbhand's four year term ends in January.

Four party members expressed willingness to run for the top job in the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

They are Mr Sukhumbhand, current Bangkok governor; Prakorb Jirakitti, former deputy Bangkok governor; Korbsak Sabhavasu, formerly the PM’s secretary general and Apichai Techaubon, former vice minister.

The party believes that Mom Rajawongse Sukhumbhand would be the perfect party candidate and would win the confidence and the hearts of Bangkokians to govern the municipality for another four year term, he said.

Mr Chavanond said Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva will invite Governor Sukhumbhand; deputy party leader Apirak Kosayodhin, who directed the party’s most recent Bangkok gubernatorial election and deputy party leader Korn Chatikavanij to discuss and draft the strategy for the election.

Mr Abhisit will hold a press conference for the party candidate tomorrow, he said. (MCOT online news)

Deputy interior minister visits flood-stricken Thai South

BANGKOK, Dec 27 - Deputy Interior Minister Pol Lt-Gen Chat Kuldilok, accompanied by senior officials of the disaster prevention and mitigation department, is visiting the southern region today and tomorrow to direct assistance and follow up operations to help flood victims.

The deputy interior minister said that the prime minister is concerned about the flooding in the South and ordered the interior ministry to assist local residents.

Regarding the southern province of Narathiwat, a number of low-lying areas in all 13 districts have been under 30-60 centimetres of floodwater.

Flooding in some communities in the Sungai Kolok municipality on the Sungai Kolok River remains high at around 80-120 centimetres. Local residents lack drinking water.

The local unit of the Armed Forces Development Command has distributed relief supplies to villagers by boat.

Meanwhile, in Ruso district, the Saiburi River is swollen and flows swiftly, sweeping the river bank at Saithong Temple, damaging a home and a deserted monk’s cell.

In Phatthalung, about 350 households living by the lake in four sub-districts have been under 50 centimetres of water for several days due to rainfall and high tide. Strong wind has forced fishermen to stay ashore. (MCOT online news)

Pheu Thai to finalize the charter amendment in mid Jan

The ruling Pheu Thai party has expected that the conclusion of the charter amendment will be drawn in the middle of next month.

According to Pheu Thai Party Spokesperson Prompong Nopparit, the government is waiting for a resolution from the Commission of Referendum Studies, which has been appointed by the cabinet last week.

The final resolution will be reviewed during the party seminar which will be held in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima on January 6-7.

Party members of parliament have been assigned to visit people and make them understand about the disadvantages of the 2007 constitution and what they will get from the charter amendment in order to ensure that the new constitution will be widely accepted.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Police Captain Chalerm Ubumrung said he will not feel disheartened if his proposal to amend the charter by section is rejected by the party. He said he will always follow the party resolution regardless of the final decision.

Police Captain Chalerm also reaffirmed that no amendment will be made in Article 309 of the constitution which deals with the actions of the 2006 coup-makers who overthrew former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as well as any sections related to the monarchy.


BMA to issue last batch of flood payout by next month

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will complete distributing flood relief budgets to almost 200-thousand residents in Bangkok and its vicinities within the end of next month.

Deputy Permanent Secretary for BMA Krisda Klantanan said the BMA, with the assistance of the Comptroller General Department, has so far distributed over 1.1 billion baht to affected Bangkok residents.

The second round of compensation will be for approximately 130-thousand people who previously failed to register themselves for financial assistance from the government.

Mr. Krisda stated that residents without a bank account can expect to receive a cashier’s check in the post by tomorrow, while those with a Krung Thai bank account will receive their compensation by January 31st.

The BMA has also requested the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation to take over the distribution of the assistance funds after the designated period. The matter is currently being considered by related officials.


Princess leaves hospital for home

BANGKOK, Dec 27 – Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, discharged from Chulalongkorn Hospital, arrived at Sa Pathum Palace this morning amid cheers from well-wishers on her way home.

She underwent surgery to remove calcium deposits from her chest – successfully conducted on Sunday.

A team of physicians said the princess is in good health with no complications. The princess was advised to refrain from her royal duties and engagements for a period.

Until this evening members of the public can sign their names in the book to wish the princess a speedy recovery and good health. The book is available at the Ananda Mahidol Building, Chulalongkorn Hospital. (MCOT online news)

Photos of 4 insurgents distributed to preclude Hat Yai attack

SONGKHLA, Dec 26 – Thai security agencies have distributed photos of four leading insurgents believed to be planning to carry out an attack in the commercial district of Hat Yai in this southern border province.

Pictured in the photos were Wan Koyree Sarai Araseh, Abdulhalem Jehku, Paming Jehkae and Muhamad Mutorlasae, all born in Narathiwat.

The security agencies received a tip that the four men might enter Hat Yai to attack the southern region's commercial centre and main tourist attraction.

All agencies concerned were instructed to be on high alert and closely monitor the situation as well as keep a close watch on the movement of the four suspects.

A combined force of police, military and administrative staff remains vigilant. Security measures have been put in place including setting up checkpoints along routes into the Hat Yai city centre.

Security measures have been tightened in line with the provincial policy to be on high alert during New Year festival. (MCOT online news)

Thailand, Cambodia hail successful meeting

BANGKOK, Dec 26 – Thailand and Cambodia today agreed to facilitate communication, travel, trade and cooperation between their countries, Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.

Mr Surapong and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong co-chaired the 8th Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation which both parties described as a mechanism in enhancing relationship between the two countries and cooperating in various aspects.

They agreed to speed up a management plan to open permanent border crossings at Ban Nong Eiang in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province and Stung Bot in Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey province to make it more convenient to expand investment and transport goods across the border.

There will be a joint survey for new checkpoints at Ban None Mark Moon in Sa Kaeo and Ban Prai Chan in Banteay Meanchey, he said, adding that the issue of illegally cutting Siamese rosewood was also discussed, with agreement to set up a committee to provide a durable solution of the problem.

The meeting agreed to implement a single visa, effective tomorrow, under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS).

ACMECS is a cooperation framework among Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam to use member countries’ diverse strengths and to promote balanced development in the sub-region.

Mr Surapong said the bilateral agreement for a single visa will be a precedent for other ACMECS countries.

He said Thailand will assist Cambodia conduct feasibility studies on building roads and the Klong Luek-Poipet railway to facilitate goods transport and travel across the border.

Managing migrant workers in Thailand and deporting convicts from the two countries was also discussed, he added.

Mr Hor Namhong hailed the results of the meeting and said that the improved Thai-Cambodian relationship has boosted the trade volume to US$2 billion this year.

He said both countries look forward to a 30 per cent increased trade each year.

The Cambodian foreign minister expressed deep gratitude to HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for extending assistance to Kampong Chetien College and appreciation to the Thai government for granting employment licences to more than 200,000 Cambodian workers. (MCOT online news)

Lamphun declares two districts cold-wave disaster zones

LAMPHUN, Dec 27 - Thailand’s northern province of Lamphun has declared two districts disaster zones affected by the current cold spell on Thursday as the temperature kept dropping for three consecutive days.

Lamphun Governor Pinit Harnvanich said 38,992 persons in 134 villages in Thung Hua Chang and Li districts were affected as temperatures dropped below 15 degrees Celsius for the third day.

The governor said he has coordinated with concerned agencies to provide warm clothing and blankets to affected residents to prevent illness, particularly among children and the elderly.

Local residents have also been warned of possible fire hazard caused by dry weather as well as road accidents due to thick fog. (MCOT online news)

Thailand’s southern provinces mark tsunami’s 8th anniversary

PHANGNGA, Dec 26 – Thailand’s Andaman coastal provinces commemorated the eight year anniversary of the 2004 tsunami.

Both tourists and local residents attended the event at the Police Boat memorial in Takua Pa district. The boat was swept onshore by the tidal wave on the Boxing Day eight years ago. A merit-making ceremony was held at Bangmuang temple where ashes of both Thai and foreign victims have been stored.

An interfaith service was held at the Baan Nam Khem tsunami memorial, the fishing village where the large number of people was killed. About 500 lanterns will be launched in the evening.

In Phuket, local residents and relatives of the dead attended a religious ceremony at the international cemetery on Maikhao Beach in Thalang district. They laid flowers at the cemetery and observed a moment of silence.

In Krabi, interfaith services were held on Phi Phi Island and observed the one-minute moment of silence. A metallic wreath was laid at the underwater tsunami memorial.

On the morning of December 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.15 earthquake off Indonesia triggered the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami which left somearound 226,000 dead or missing in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and nine other countries.

In Thailand, six provinces -- Phangnga, Krabi, Phuket, Ranong, Trang and Satun -- were hit by the unprecedented tsunami, with 5,395 local residents as well as Thai and foreign holidaymakers losing their lives in the tidal waves. (MCOT online news)

Heavy rain warning for South during New Year

BANGKOK, Dec 26 – Residents of Thailand’s southern provinces have been warned of the possible impact of depression Wukong which is moving towards the Gulf of Thailand.

Royol Chitradon, director of the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute, said today that residents of the provinces of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung and Surat Thani should be specially prepared for the storm on Saturday through Monday, New Years Eve.

The southern region will have less rainfall in the next few days, possibly misleading people that the situation has improved but the storm Wukong is still developing, he warned.

He said the storm will definitely move into southern Thailand before the New Year and produce torrential rains at some 100mm per day.

People in risk-prone areas are instructed to move their belongings to higher ground, take special care of their children and the elderly and practice relocation drills in preparation for landslides and water runoff.

He said the coming storm will be less severe than last year’s phenomenon which caused widespread rains in the South, peaking at 400 mm. (MCOT online news)

PM mulls alternative if referendum for charter change fails

BANGKOK, Dec 26 – The government will seek other means to change certain sections of the constitution if a referendum on charter amendment fails to acquire sufficient votes from the people, according to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

She said the government will not take it as a failure if supporting votes in the referendum are less than the legally required half of all votes.

“We merely follow the court’s instruction on two options – holding a referendum to seek public consent or amending some sections of the constitution,” she said.

She ruled out a report of conflicts among Pheu Thai Party members about the referendum, saying their opinions are different but they don’t have any conflicts.

“The ad hoc committee on referendum must clarify [to the public] and gather feedback from every sector. We need constructive views to find the best solution for the country,” said the premier.

In conducting a referendum, the government needs at least 24 million votes to advocate amending the constitution.

Ms Yingluck said it does not matter if the government gets sufficient votes in favour of the move since the government’s major task is to earn public support in the process of public participation.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the party’s meeting on Thursday, which was chaired by the prime minister, did not reach a conclusion on the next move concerning the charter change.

The ad hoc committee on referendum was assigned by the meeting to review the issue and submit it to the Pheu Thai conference on Jan 6-7, he said, adding that a tangible direction must be clearly outlined by the middle of next month.

Jurin Laksanavisit, an executive of the opposition Democrat Party, said the government should call off amending the constitution as it will lead to conflicts in Thai society.

If the government insists on carrying on the move, the opposition will oppose within and outside the parliamentary system, he said. (MCOT online news)

Men in uniform to teach southern students

NARATHIWAT, Dec 26 – Thai army soldiers and border patrol police will be assigned to teach in state-run schools in violence-plagued provinces in Thailand’s far South, according to the Thai defence minister.

Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol Suwanatat, who stayed overnight in Narathiwat Tuesday during his two-day inspection trip to the South, said instruction by military and police personnel will be a temporary measure given a shortage of Thai Buddhist teachers.

A series of attacks, many fatal, against Thai Buddhist teachers in the three southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani in the past few months has lowered the morale of educators, many of whom have sought Education Ministry permission to transfer from the troubled region.

He said the assignment of teaching job to soldiers, rangers and border patrol police was agreed to by the Federation of Teachers in Three Southern Border Provinces.

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has consulted the prime minister and given assurances of the military’s readiness to assume teaching responsibilities if the measure is approved by the government and the Education Ministry, the defence minister said.

Military personnel whose education background is applicable to education will be selected, he said. (MCOT online news)

Thai-Cambodian meet touches on crucial issues

BANGKOK, Dec 26 – Economic cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia along their common borders will be upgraded to emphasise road and railway construction, and opening more checkpoints, according to the Thai foreign ministry.

The resolution was made during the 8th Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission, held in Bangkok on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong attended the meeting.

Sihasak Puangketkaew, permanent secretary for foreign affairs, said among the essential issues discussed were the opening of permanent checkpoints at Ban Nong Eiang in Sa Kaeo province linking Stung Bot in Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey province, development of Route 48 from Thailand’s Trat province to Cambodia’s Sihanoukville, and a railway extension from the Aranyaprathet checkpoint on Thailand’s eastern border into Cambodia.

The Thai and Cambodian representatives agreed to a land survey for border demarcation, joint suppression of human trafficking and illegal logging of Siamese rosewood on the border, he said.

An MoU will be signed agreeing a single visa under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS).

ACMECS is a cooperation framework among Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam to join member countries’ diverse strengths and to promote balanced development in the sub-region.

Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Surapong hosted a dinner function in honour of Mr Hor Namhong on Tuesday night.

The Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission which reconvenes after a two-year recess is a signal of an improved relationship between the two countries, the Thai foreign minister said. (MCOT online news)

New Year spending expected to reach several billion baht, highest in 7 years

BANGKOK, Dec 24 - Thailand's spending during the New Year period is expected to reach several billions of baht, which will be the highest amount in seven years, according to the Thai Chamber of Commerce University's Economic and Business Forecasting Center.

Center director Thanawat Polvichai said a survey on Thais' consumption behaviour during the festive season recently conducted demonstrated that spending would reach some Bt105 billion, a 15.6 per cent increase year-on-year.

Factors driving such result include the public's less concern on the US and EU economies, the government's support on the rice pledging scheme, the Bt300 minimum wage, and the 'first-time carbuyer' tax refund policy.

However, Dr Thanawat said the public are still careful in spending due to some worries on the country's economic situation. They would buy the same amount of goods but with higher value.

Those surveyed said they are planning their expenses on parties (29 per cent), followed by merit-making, buying consumer goods, luxury merchandise, durable products, and tourism.

Some 89 per cent of those voting for tourism said they plan to travel in Thailand with a forecast expense of about Bt49 billion. The rest, some 11 per cent, will travel abroad with expected spending of Bt27 billion.

Some 71 per cent said the Thai economy next year will improve slightly at 4-5 per cent with internal politics, particularly the referendum issue, regarded as one of the risk factors.

What the public worries most about during the New Year celebration is road accidents, traffic, insufficient pubic transport, and higher consumer goods prices.

When asked which politician they most wished to give a New Year’s present, some 53 per cent said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, followed by opposition Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, and the outspoken Chuwit Kamolvisit. (MCOT online news)

Thailand’s southeastern coast on alert for storm

BANGKOK, Dec 26 – Several provinces on the southeastern coast near the Gulf of Thailand are warned of heavy rainfall, flash floods, landslides and strong offshore wind until next week, the Meteorological Department announced.

Meteorological department deputy director general Somchai Baimuang said tropical storm Wukong forecast to strike the Philippines from Friday through Monday will cause downpours from Surat Thani to Nakhon Si Thammarat, Songkhla, Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala.

Residents are instructed to be on alert for flash floods and landslides, and winds over the Gulf of Thailand will be extremely strong, he said.

Group Captain Somsak Kaosuwan, director of the National Disaster Warning Centre, called on residents to check weather reports before travelling during the New Year’s holidays.

The Interior Ministry was instructed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to closely monitor flood-prone provinces and immediately dispatch rescue workers to assist the public if needed. (MCOT online news)

42 pangolins seized in Nong Khai

NONG KHAI, Dec 25 -- Thai police on Tuesday rescued 42 endangered pangolins – commonly known as ant eaters – and arrested one endangered species wildlife smuggler in Thailand’s northeastern province of Nong Khai.

Pol Lt Thawan Suthawarat, an inspector specialist at Nong Khai provincial police station, said the detainee was identified as Sira Suwannakoon, 54, a native of Udon Thani. He was arrested while driving a van carrying the endangered species to Nong Song Hong checkpoint on Mitrapap Road, heading to Nong Khai.

The police search his van and found 42 of the scaly ant-eaters, contained in 12 plastic net bags.

Mr Sira told police that he was hired to drive van from Bangkok to deliver the pangolins to a customer in Nong Khai's Rattanawapi district.

The Lao national was to be waiting at Mekong riverside to transport the animals to that country, he said, adding that this was his second delivery of the endangered animal species.

Pangolin scales and pangolin flesh are in high demand in Vietnam and China as medicine although their international trade is banned.

The smuggling and sale of pangolins is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. (MCOT online news)

Floods wreak havoc in South; schools close, district declared disaster zone

NARATHIWAT, Dec 25 – Thirteen districts of this southern border province have been flooded, forcing the closure of schools, while one district in Surat Thani province was declared disaster zone on Tuesday.

In Narathiwat, 13 districts have been inundated by floodwaters up to 50 centimetres deep. Three schools were temporarily closed as classrooms were flooded, while 20 roads were impassable.

The Su-ngai Kolok and Bang Nara rivers overflowed, forcing the evacuation of residents of eight communities in Su-ngai Kolok district to higher ground.

In the southern province of Surat Thani, Kanchanadit district has been declared flood disaster zone following forest runoff affecting 1,200 households.

Residents were also warned of further forest runoff, landslides and strong wind-wave.

Meanwhile, Trang disaster response chief Amnuay Chantharat said 12 waterfalls in four districts remain closed for the second week for the safety of tourists due to continuous rain, particularly Kachong and Sairung waterfalls where water levels have increased.

Visiting Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said he has instructed military personnel in the South to provide assistance to flood victims. The army chief said he believes the situation will return to normal in the next few days. (MCOT online news)

Army chief orders tightened security in far South for New Year

BANGKOK, Dec 25 - Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered government security agencies operating in the southern border provinces to tighten their security measures with more checkpoints to ensure safety during the New Year celebrations.

Gen Prayuth is visiting Sirindhorn Camp in Pattani’s Yarang district today to review the latest developments in the southern border provinces and follow up the measures implemented to address the problems.

He is also offering moral support to the agencies on the occasion of the New Year and to thank them for working tirelessly in the violence-torn southern provinces.

He told reporters before departing to Pattani that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat have instructed all agencies provide special care for the military working in the areas.

Gen Prayuth said that during the long New Year weekend, he has ordered the military to be more vigilant, more checkpoints should be set up to provide more safety to the public.

He urged the public to be patient and to cooperate fully with the authorities, always have ID cards with them and to be more careful when travelling.

The army chief said he believed that the situation in the southern provinces would be improved if all sectors cooperate to solve the problems.

As for the idea to deploy more soldiers, paramilitary rangers and border patrol police to the south to help educators in teaching in schools, Gen Prayuth said that it would depend on discussions and decisions taken among the government, the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and Ministry of Education. (MCOT online news)

Government mulls assigning army to far South teaching posts

BANGKOK, Dec 24 -- Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat is considering enlisting active military and border patrol police to teach students in Thailand’s southern border provinces after many schools face a shortage of educators due to the recently escalating violence.

Defence Ministry spokesman Col Thanathip Sawangsaeng said the minister floated the idea of deploying more soldiers, paramilitary rangers and border patrol police to the south to help educators in teaching in schools in Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani following the shortage of Buddhist teachers in the areas.

He said the idea was also the result of the meeting between the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC)'s 4th Region Forward Command and the Confederation of Teachers in Three Southern Border Provinces on security measures for teachers.

The Confederation earlier urged the government and military to strengthen security for teachers who have lately become targets of insurgents’ attacks, as the Thai Buddhist teachers are highly prone to being attacked.

The defence ministry spokesman said that additional security forces would be deployed for this purpose and that now the agencies concerned are checking how many military personnel graduated from faculties of education or have experience teaching.

Col Thanathip explained that the move did not reflect a military failure to provide adequate security to educators, but was a part of the government’s short-term measures to ensure teacher safety.

Long-term measures would later follow suit, he added. (MCOT online news)

600,000 meth pills seized in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai

CHIANG MAI, Dec 25 - Almost 600,000 meth pills and 50kg of meth ingredients were seized in this northern province and the nearby province of Chiang Rai.

The methamphetamine components were estimated as sufficient to make as many as 50 million pills, according to police.

National police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew said 1,600 police were searching 107 targeted locations in the two provinces in accord with the government's policy to fight against drugs.

He said the drug smuggling ring was transferring the narcotics across the Thai border to Myanmar.

Police are searching others suspected of involvement who are still at large. (MCOT online news)

Thais told to ‘kick’ 5 bad habits

BANGKOK, Dec 25 – Stress, smoking, drinking alcohol, a lack of exercise and inappropriate eating are five unwanted behaviours that kill Thai people.

Dr Prakit Vathesatogkit, secretary general of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation Thailand, said 11 million Thai people are suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes, mainly the consequences of the five behaviours.

Smoking is reported in 40 per cent of Thai men and 60 per cent drink alcohol while half fail to exercise and 70 per cent do not eat enough fruit and vegetables, he said.

Dr Prakit said smoking is practiced by 31 per cent of male diabetes patients and 31 per cent of men with high blood pressure.

He voiced strong support of a campaign by Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew to change the behaviors of high blood pressure and diabetes patients by encouraging them to reduce smoking and drinking alcohol, to exercise more and to eat appropriately.

According to the Public Health Ministry, the deaths of Thai people in 2009 were mainly due to high blood pressure (86,882 people), smoking (50,710 people), drinking alcohol (22,672 people), lack of exercise and inappropriate eating (31,743 people).

The total figure represented 44.5 per cent of the total deaths. (MCOT online news)

Thailand’s South hit by severe rainfall, flooding, water runoff

SURAT THANI, Dec 25 – More than 200 homes in Kanchanadit district in this southern province are cut off from the outside world after a 60-metre bridge was destroyed by logs carried down with water runoff from two highland national parks.

Two consecutive days of downpours have caused a substantial waterflow from Tai Rom Yen and Namtok Sikeed national parks into Klong Kram, a major canal in Kanchanadit district.

Rescue workers were immediately sent to the scene but their relief mission was called off as dusk fell. They are scheduled to resume work today.

There were no reports of death or injury as of yesterday.

Provincial authorities said the bridge was reconstructed after it was destroyed by similar rainfall runoff two years ago. Construction was finished only four days ago.

In nearby Nakhon Si Thammarat province, runoff from Khao Luang mountain in Sichon district damaged three makeshift bridges linking three villages, cutting communication with hundreds of households.

It has rained for the last three days and several canals overflowed in Surat Thani town and Ronpiboon district.

The provincial disaster service has warned residents in risk prone areas to be on alert for possible landslides or soil slippage due to excessive water in hillsides and sloping areas. (MCOT online news)

Migrant deal stalls as talks break down

BANGKOK,The signing of a labour employment agreement between Thailand and Myanmar has been postponed indefinitely after the two countries failed to agree on extending the nationality verification process for migrant workers.

Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsapand his Myanmar counterpart Myint Thein were scheduled to sign an agreement on alien labour employment yesterday, with the verification process for foreign workers in Thailand having ended on December 14th.

But, according to an anonymous source, the signing of the agreement was postponed as working panels from the two countries could not reach a conclusion on the extension of the verification programme.

Myanmar wants Thailand to extend the scheme beyond the expiry date.

Myanmar labour authorities claimed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised an extension for another three months when she met Myanmar President Thein Sein recently.

But Somkiat Chayasriwong, permanent secretary for labour, said that claim was based on a misunderstanding. Instead, the Thai government will allow foreign workers who failed to complete the process to continue to work with their employers for three more months, but the employers must report the workers to labour authorities within one month. Cabinet approval for this relief measure will be sought in early January.


Defence minister to visit deep South tomorrow

BANGKOK, Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat is scheduled to visit Thailand's insurgency-torn deep South on Tuesday to follow up the situation and boost moral support for military personnel.

Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol said his visit is set near the New Year festive season to boost the spirit of security personnel deployed in the restive southern border region.

The minister said he believes the situation there will improve as all concerned agencies understand well the government's policy to tackle violence in far South.

He said the operations plan will be adjusted in accordance with the situation as the violence in the deep South is quite complex, while the assailants' operations are quite dynamic.

"The New Year gift that (we) want to give the public on behalf of supervisor of security agencies is that (we) will monitor the situation in the restive region at best and there will be some changes in the areas soon.", pledged the defence minister.

Marshal Sukumpol urged the media to use caution in reporting the southern unrest as it is a sensitive issue.

More than 5,000 people, including local residents, security officials, monks and insurgents, have been killed since violence erupted in the restive southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat in 2004. (MCOT online news)

Fire at Chachoengsao Toyota factory causes millions in damage

CHACHENGSAO, Dec 24 -- Fire broke out Sunday night at a Toyota assembly plant oil storage tank in this province, about 100 km east of the capital, causing millions of baht damage.

Explosions about 7pm at Toyota’s Ban Pho district factory at storage tank far from the main facility.

During the blaze, sporadic explosions occured. A dozen fire trucks were sent to the assembly plant.

The fire was brought under control about 10pm. but a warehouse for oil storage tanks, hydraulic fluid and lubricants was destroyed.

There are no reports of casualties, as most workers were off for the weekend.

Police suspected that a worker left the battery of an electric forklift truck charging too long, that it overheated and caused the fire.

Investigators have yet to determine the exact cause of the fire and the company has not yet estimated the damage, but some reports have put the loss at Bt100 million.

The factory was Toyota Motor Asia Pacific Engineering & Manufacturing's spare parts production centre for the Asia Pacific region. (MCOT online news)

Thailand, Bangladesh agree to expand various forms of cooperation

DHAKA, Dec 22 -- Thailand and Bangladeshi Prime Ministers held bilateral talks and have agreed to expand various forms of cooperation to mark 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrived in Dhaka on Friday for a two-day visit to boost bilateral trade, investment and cooperation in prospective areas of mutual interests between Thailand and Bangladesh.

Accompanying her is a delegation of some 100 people, at least a third of them members of the business community.

Ms Yingluck on Saturday held "Four-Eye' talks with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed before both sides had full plenary session at the Bangladeshi's Prime Minister Office.

Both leaders exchanged congratulations that the two countries have marked the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic ties.

Bilateral trade between Thailand and Bangladesh was worth US$1.2 billion in 2011, a 38 per cent increase from the year earlier.

Ms Yingluck said Thailand wanted to double its two-way trade -- export and import -- with Bangladesh by 2015 in an effort to boost commerce and investment.

She said there was great potential for further expansion of economic partnership between the two countries. The two nations needed closer cooperation between governments and more importantly between the private sectors.

Ms Yingluck and Sheikh Hasina have agreed to reactivate the existing Thai-Bangladesh Joint Trade Committee (JTC) to foster trade and investment, while the Thai premier has proposed Bangladesh consider Thailand as a gateway to ASEAN while Bangladesh would be a gateway for Thailand to South Asia.

During the talks, Dhaka has expressed interest to buy more rice from Thailand as proposed by Bangkok. The two countries have earlier signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which Bangladesh would buy one million tons of rice from Thailand annually between 2011-2013 and today they agreed to extend the MoU for another three years.

As for connectivity, Ms Yingluck has proposed Thailand and Bangladesh promote both land and sea routes, especially sea linkage through Myanmar-Chittagong, Dawei and Ranong.

She said this route will help boost both economies, reducing transportation costs and saving time.

During Ms Yingluck's visit, Thailand and Bangladesh signed two MoUs to strengthen their bilateral relationship, which were witnessed by Ms Yingluck and Sheikh Hasina.

The first MoU was to foster regular meetings at the level of foreign secretaries, and the other one to increase cooperation in the field of agriculture between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni signed the agreement with Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

The MoU on agricultural cooperation was signed by Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Monzur Hossain and Thailand's Permanent Secretary on Agriculture Chavalit Chookajorn.

The second agreement would encourage institutional cooperation among private companies for the development and expansion of agriculture in the two nations.

Earlier in the day, Ms Yingluck paid tributes to the martyrs of the nation's 1971 War of Independence at the National Memorial in Savar.

The Thai premier was given a red-carpet reception on Friday evening as she reached Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina received her at the VVIP terminal of the airport. An impressive contingent of the Bangladesh Army presented her the Guard of Honour. (MCOT online news)

North, Northeastern regions feel the freeze as temperatures drop sharply

LAMPHUN,   Many provinces in the north and northeastern provinces are affected by cold spells as the active high pressure area from China is covering upper Thailand causing temperatures to drop sharply by 4-7 degrees Celsius.

The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office in the northern province of Lumphun has coordinated with the district and local authorities to survey those affected by the cold weather in order to promptly provide assistance amid the chilling weather.

Heavy fog covered the province early this morning leaving visibility at only 20 metres.

In the northeastern province of Maha Sarakham, the temperature morning stayed at 16 degrees Celsius, dropping by five degrees Celsius as strong winds have lowered the temperature.

Students must in the sunshine to stay warm, while students were allowed to wear trousers to protect themselves from cold.

The provincial disaster response service estimated that some 160,000 people would be impacted from the cold weather this year.

In Nakhon Phanom, people in many districts have to light fires to stay warm as the provincial meteorogical office reported that the temperature this morning was recorded at 12 degrees Celsius.

The Northeastern Meteorological Centre in Ubon Ratchathani said the high pressure ridge from China has covered upper Thailand. Temperature would drop by 4-7 degree Celsius in upper Thailand today through Wednesday. The temperature will be below 16 degrees Celsius in many areas with very cold weather at the high mountain in the North and the upper Northeast, including frost in some areas on the mountaintops. (MCOT online news)

Heavy rain causes floods in several areas of Thailand's South

NARATHIWAT, Continuous rain in this far southern province has caused floods in six districts with water levels as much as 30cm, but the roads are still passable.

The six districts are Su-ngai Kolok, Tak Bai, Si Sakhon, Su-ngai Padi, Waeng, and Chanae. Floods cover over 30km of the Waeng-Tak Bai route.

Local residents have started to move their belongings to higher ground.

In Songkhla province, rain has continued for almost two weeks, while the water situation there is closely monitored, particularly on main canals and in the provincial seat. The water level there is so far still not worrying.

The Songkhla local meteorological office has issued warnings for those living in the South from Surat Thani further South be careful of heavy rain today and tomorrow, while small boats should avoid going off shore.

In Phatthalung, rain has continued for three days, causing water levels of about 30cm in four districts -- the provincial seat, Khao Chaison, Srinaharinda, and Khuan Khanun. Over 2,000 households and 5,000 rai of rice and rubber fields are affected. Local authorities have been draining out water into Songkhla Lake.

Meanwhile, rainfalls and flashfloods have continued in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Lan Saka district is the latest area where flooding has occurred.

In Prachuap Khiri Khan province, four-metre waves occurred today, overflowing 1,500 metres of a beach road, in a main tourist destination, with water about 50cm deep. Over 100 fishing boats could not leave shore this morning. (MCOT online news)

PM frets over vote turnout; Govt may become lenient on migrants

BANGKOK,  (NNT) - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has voiced concern that the voter turnout for a referendum on charter amendment risks failing to reach the required total.

Nevertheless, she said a conclusion must be reached on the charter rewrite regardless of the turnout. Concerning comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who voiced opposition to a referendum, Ms. Yingluck said the deputy premier is entitled to express his opinions.

The prime minister also said the cabinet has assigned a working panel to determine how best to proceed with charter amendment. The panel will look into both the benefits of holding public hearings and staging a referendum.

She said the government's task is to encourage the public to participate in the charter amendment process in order to find a peaceful solution to political conflict, while it was the duty of parliament to amend the constitution. The proposed referendum question is to ask the public whether or not it “likes” the proposal to rewrite the constitution in its entirety.

Former charter writer Seri Suwanpanont has said the phrasing of the question is confusing, adding that the term "approve" should be used instead.

The Ministry of Labour will be asking the Cabinet to give employers another three months before making migrant workers part of the legal system.

Permanent secretary of Labour, Somkiat Chayasriwong, disclosed the measure yesterday after emerging from a meeting with representatives of the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

These representatives expressed concerns about labour shortage if the government went ahead with deporting more than 300-thousand foreign workers who failed to get their nationality verified by the 14th of this month.

Somkiat said the ministry now planned to ask the Cabinet to be lenient and give employers three more months to complete the process of registration and nationality verification for their migrant workers.


Preah Vihear area to be de-mined

According to the Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Army, General Tanasak Patimapakorn, The Thai-Cambodian Joint Working Group (JWG) has agreed to survey the provisional demilitarised zone (PDZ) around Preah Vihear temple and clear all landmines in the area by April of next year.

This was agreed upon at the Thai-Cambodian JWG meeting on the 18th to 19th of this month, which was co-chaired by Cambodian Deputy Defence Minister General Neang Phat and head of Thailand's joint chiefs of staff, General Padetkarn Chansewok.

The supreme commander said that at the meeting, the two countries agreed to send teams to determine the exact locations of demarcating posts A, B, C and D of the PDZ, and to speed up the clearing of landmines in the area.

He said the work would be completed by April of next year and would also serve to complement the launch of the Asean Economic Community, as it would ensure the safety of those who want to visit the area.

General Tanasak also said the JWG had not yet discussed bringing Indonesian observers into the area, adding that the Indonesians would only be allowed to see whether the PDZ, as fixed by the International Court of Justice, was suitable or if it required alteration.


Thailand investing Bt2 trillion to close ASEAN-India trade gap

NEW DELHI, Dec 21 – Thailand has set an ambitious investment target of Bt2 trillion to pave the way for the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area, a regional partnership which Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra described as a key element in fostering the country’s competitive edge.

Ms Yingluck, who attended the two-day ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit, said a bill on the Bt2 trillion investment will be issued to ensure Thailand’s uninterrupted economic cooperation with Southeast Asian countries and India despite domestic political changes in the future.

Meeting with Thai businessmen after the Summit, the premier asked the private sector to set up an ad hoc committee to follow up on the FTA while the National Economic and Social Development Board will act as facilitator.

She said the combined population of ASEAN and India will contribute to a gigantic market for trade and investment, and closer cooperation.

She added that Thailand and India will need to discuss details of the FTA while the Thai private sector should regularly communicate with the government to be prepared for its implementation.

Ms Yingluck said Thailand’s shortage of skilled workers has become an urgent problem and the Education Ministry has been instructed to revamp the country’s educational system to realistically serve the labour market.

“2013 will be the year of private sector development. The government and private sector will need to talk more,” she said.

The prime minister left New Delhi for Bangladesh today. She is scheduled to return to Bangkok tomorrow. (MCOT online news)

30 aliens to be granted Thai nationality

BANGKOK, Dec 22 – The first batch of 30 aliens of Thai origin whose parents migrated from Cambodia’s Koh Kong to Thailand will be given Thai citizenship next month, according to a senior Interior Ministry official.

Prapas Bunyindee, deputy permanent secretary for interior, said the 30 people who were born in Thailand had applied for Thai nationality with officials at Klong Luek district in Thailand’s eastern province of Trat, opposite Koh Kong.

The approval was given by the National Screening Committee, chaired by Mr Prapas.

Viroj Srisawat, director of the Civil Registration Division, said their nationality will be changed to Thai and their housing registration will state Thailand as their country of birth.

The cabinet resolved in 2010 to ease restrictions on the right to Thai nationality for aliens who were either born in Thailand or have lived in the country for many years. (MCOT online news)

PM Yingluck backs upgrade of ASEAN-India ties to strategic partnership

BANGKOK, Dec 14 – Thailand faces an imminent acute labour shortage with more than one million migrant workers expected to be repatriated this weekend for failing to have completed nationality verification as required by the government, a senior member of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) said toda
TCC Deputy Chairman Pumin Harinsut said the mass repatriation will greatly affect the manufacturing industry, as well as the tourism and hospitality sectors, contributing to reduced possible exports next year by as much as 5 per cent.

Thailand requires migrant workers to pass a complex nationality verification procedure by the end of the day today, and those who fail to leave the country will be prosecuted.

Mr Pumin said the TCC is awaiting the government’s immediate response to deal with the problem now that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has acknowledged the issue.

The cabinet earlier announced that repatriated workers could be re-employed in accord with agreements made with the migrant workers home countries.

Pote Aramwatananont, a TCC officer, said the government has not consulted the private sector on the re-employment of migrant workers regarding agreements reflected in various memoranda of understanding and that the new procedure will merely facilitate the Labour Ministry procedures, not the private sector where the workers are to be employed.

He said the repatriation of migrant workers without privision of new workers will have a severe negative impact on Thailand’s industrial manufacturing. agricultural production, food processing, fisheries, and the construction sector – all of which rely heavily on migrant labour.

Damage to the construction industry alone may reach 20 per cent of the sector’s total value, he said.

The Labour Ministry reported that 356.351 migrant workers are awaiting nationality verification while others working illegally in Thailand could number 500,000-800,000 persons. They are mainly from Myanmar, the Lao PDR and Cambodia. (MCOT online news)

Embattled Pheu Thai MP gets temporary freedom to join House session

BBANGKOK, Dec 21 – Pheu Thai MP Korkaew Pikulthong was released from Bangkok's Laksi Temporary Prison this morning under his parliamentary immunity to attend House meeting until the present session ends.

He was sent to jail on Nov 30 after the Criminal Court revoked his bail on terrorism charge.

He was greeted by Red Shirt activist Thida Thavornseth, leader of the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), his family and some supporters.

Talking to reporters after his release, Mr Korkaew stood firm that he will continue to join the lineup on the Red Shirt’s political stage but will be more careful in his words to avoid future problems.

He called on Red Shirt supporters to refrain from anger and to cooperate in lifting Thailand from the six-year pitch so that it moves on.

“The opposition should overlook [fugitive ex-prime minister] Thaksin shinawatra and Red Shirters should also overlook [opposition Democrat leader] Abhisit Vejjajiva,” he said, adding that he would fight on steadfastly as a UDD core leader.

He will return to jail when the present parliamentary session ends.

The Criminal Court announced on Thursday that the detention of the Pheu Thai MP remained unchanged but he would be temporarily released to attend the parliamentary session as requested by Parliament. (MCOT online news)

Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission meet opens Tuesday

BANGKOK, Dec 21 – Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers will meet in Bangkok on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss, among other topics, development of overland links between the two countries.

Damrong Kraikruan, director general of the Thai Foreign Ministry's East Asia Department, said the 8th Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission will be co-chaired by Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong, both of whom agreed that the meeting is necessary after a two-year recess.

High on the agenda is discussion on opening more land connections between Thailand and Cambodia, including development of Route 48 from Thailand’s Trat province to Cambodia’s Sihanoukville, a land bridge from Sa Kaeo province, and a railway extension from Aranyaprathet checkpoint on Thailand’s eastern border.

Mr Surapong also planned to discuss with Mr Hor Namhong the problem of illegal logging of Siamese rosewood on the border and the possibility of signing a memorandum of understanding on single visa under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS).

ACMECS is a cooperation framework among Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam to use member countries’ diverse strengths and to promote balanced development in the subregion.

Mr Hor Namhong is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday afternoon. (MCOT online news)

Bangkok building first park for dog lovers

BANGKOK, Dec 21 - The Thai capital is to build its first dog park for dog lovers to cosy up to their canine pals, according to Deputy Bangkok Governor Vallop Suwandee.

The City Hall official said dogs are currently not allowed in most Bangkok parks.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has discussed pros and cons of the project, having details discussed by dog experts and bureaucrats.

The park for man's best friend is designated to be built on a 4.6 rai plot of farmland in the Vacharaphol area.

Dog facilities will be provided such as an park centre building for vets to give advice to dog owners and their pets, dog exercise fields, and service points for water.

Deputy Governor Vallop said park users must strictly follow the rules at the dog park such as having all canines trained and listening to orders, not bringing sick dogs to the park.

He noted the process is now at the stage of finding a contractor for the project, expected to start its construction early next year for a 240-day period.

It is expected that the park would be ready for service sometime next year. (MCOT online news)

More artificial reefs to promote marine life off Phuket

PHUKET, Dec 21 – Nearly 2,000 concrete blocks have been constructed on the sea floor off Kata Beach in this southern resort province as habitats for marine life, a senior provincial official reported.

Paiboon Upatsaring, chief of the Phuket Provincial Administration, said the artificial reefs extend eight kilometres from North to South, covering 24 sq km of Karon Bay.

An undersea survey in 2009 discovered that natural reefs in the area had rapidly deteriorated due to a lack of management which impacted marine and seaboard natural resources.

Artificial reefs built at Sirinart Marine Park, (Naiyang Beach), in Talang district, in the last two years have been successful in attracting and accumulating fish, corals and natural reefs, he said. (MCOT online news)

Petition to block whale import gathers steam

BANGKOK, (NNT) - More than 10,000 people have signed an online petition against the planned import of six beluga whales from Russia for display at a Bangkok zoo. The campaign is demanding the Fisheries Department ban the import order.

Coordinator of the Love Wildlife Foundation, Jirayu Ekkul, which initiated the signature campaign, said he had heard that a private zoo in Bangkok had sought permission from the department to import Beluga whales.

The department has been slated to decide whether to grant import permission to the zoo operator last Wednesday.

Jirayu said his group would submit the petition to fisheries chief Wimol Jantrarotai ) ahead of the meeting, asking him to reject the request. The group will also submit scientific reports about the impact of keeping the marine mammals in captivity.

The beluga is a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora's appendix II, which allows international trade of the species under close supervision.

It is estimated there are about 150,000 belugas living in the wild and 200 in zoos worldwide.


Traffic in bangkok set to worsen in 2014, official warns

BANGKOK,  The Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning (OTP) has projected that traffic congestion will climb to a new peak in 2014, due to increased motor vehicles and several infrastructure projects.

The number of vehicles registered daily in Bangkok has increased by 39.6 percent from last year and OTP Director General Chula Sukmanop claimed the first-car buyer scheme will exacerbate the situation, despite 80 percent of vehicles purchased under the scheme being registered in other provinces.

He added that traffic in the capital will suffer from the construction of tunnels in Bangkok, as well as the Purple, Red and Blue Line railways.

The OTP is gearing up to launch a campaign to reduce the number of personal vehicles on the streets and improve public transport services with special bus lanes.


BMA to install 20 CCTV in violence-prone-communities

BANGKOK,  The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) next year will install an additional 20-thousand closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) in the capital city, especially communities plagued with crimes and drug trafficking in an effort to provide security for Bangkok residents.

Speaking at a press conference after a BMA executives meeting today, BMA Spokesperson Wason Meewong said the BMA’s Department of Traffic and Transportation reported that it will install the CCTVs in all 50 districts across the capital.

At the end of the project in 2013, the BMA will have approximately 40-thousand CCTVs to help ensure safety in Bangkok. More security cameras will be installed in drug and crime-prone communities.

Mr.Wason added that the first batch of 1,600 CCTVs will be installed in 300 communities by a private contractor. Document signing will be completed within this week, and more security cameras will be installed in parks and residential zones.


Ministry of Transport to build Thai-Laos Bridge in Buengkarn province

BANGKOK, The Ministry of Transport has announced a plan to construct a bridge between Beungkan province and Laos, in an effort to boost trade and logistics between Thailand and its neighbor.

Following a meeting between representatives from the government and private sector, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Transport, Sornsak Sansombat, said a plan to increase bilateral trade, investment and transportation between the two nations was hatched, involving a project to build a bridge across the Meh Kong River connecting Thailand and Laos via Beungkan.

Mr.Sornsak stated that the construction project is currently in its initial stages with a blueprint being penned by relevant officials. Construction of the bridge is expected to begin at the end of 2013.

He added that the bridge, once completed, will also serve as a major transport route between Thailand and several major ASEAN cities, including Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.


PM attends ASEAN-India Summit in New Delhi today

BANGKOK, Dec 20 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra leaves for New Delhi today to join the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit focusing on enhanced economic cooperation and partnership in developing land, sea and air infrastructure among member countries.

She said the two-day summit is to mark the 20th anniversary of relations between ASEAN and India. The theme of the summit is ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace and Shared Prosperity.

Trade, investment, economy and connection of land transport routes as well as cooperation on culture, education, medical science, military training exchanges are the major issues to be discussed, she said.

High on the agenda for bilateral talks is the Thai-Indian Free Trade Agreement to boost the two countries’ trade and investment, the premier added.

Ms Yingluck is scheduled to visit Bangladesh after the ASEAN-India Summit for bilateral talks on cooperation and partnership in trade and investment, and cooperation on security, intelligence, and suppressing human and drug trafficking.

A Thai business delegation from various industrial sectors will accompany the premier to Bangladesh to explore the possibility of trade cooperation. (MCOT online news)

Deputy PM Plodprasop indicted for illegal tiger exports

BANGKOK, Dec 19 – Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi was indicted in the Criminal Court today for illegally exporting 100 Bengal tigers to China in 2002 when he was director general of the Royal Forestry Department.

He was brought to court to be arraigned for approving the tiger exports by the Sriracha Tiger Zoo between September 9 and December 24, 2002 – a violation of Thai law and a breach of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The Attorney General, in filing the case with the court, charged Mr Plodprasop and senior forestry official Manop Laoprasert with being implicated in the corruption case. The Department of Special Investigation initially submitted the allegations against them to the National Anti-Corruption Commission which found sufficient evidence to file suit against them.

Mr Plodprasop was released on bail after his lawyer put a Bt120,000 bond. He said he has been waiting for a decade to prove his innocence in court.

“I insist that I’ve done nothing wrong for I have performed my duty. Exporting tigers to China is not wrong. Anyone who charged me with malfeasance should produce evidence to substantiate their allegations and prove whether the export has caused any damage [to the country],” he said. (MCOT online news)

Land, air services set for New Year’s holiday travellers

BANGKOK, Dec 20 – Thailand’s rail and air travel services will be augmented to cope with a massive increase of holidaymakers during the New Year’s celebrations, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) announced.

Currently operating 242 trains a day , the SRT announced that it will add 24 more trains between December 28 and January 3 while carriages will be added to some trains to transport at least 115,000 passengers a day.

Special carriages will be connected with some trains, if necessary, to service stranded passengers in Bangkok and outlying areas.

The SRT Airport Rail Link between downtown and Suvarnabhumi International Airport announced that operating hours for the City Line, normally between 6 am and midnight, will be extended to 2am on January 1.

The Express Line which has two trains – Phyathai-Suvarnabhumi and Makkasan-Suvarnabhumi – will operate normally between 6am and midnight.

Baggage check service at Makkasan station is open from 7am to 9pm, and passengers can check baggage 3-12 hours before their flight departure. Parking at Makkasan Station, accommodating 300 vehicles, is free of charge.

Airports of Thailand, which operates six airports in the country, expects at least 255,000 passengers a day at the six airports between December 25 and January 5 – a possible increase by 24 per cent from the same period of last year.

The six airports will serve an average 1,476 flights a day during the coming holiday season, an 11 per cent increase from last year.

Somchai Sawasdipol, acting director of Suvarnabhumi Airport, said a coordination centre will be specially set up at the departure lounge of the airport to provide security and conveniences to travellers.

Airport and tourist police, security officials and medical personnel will be on duty at the 24-hour centre from December 25 to January 5. (MCOT online news)

Nearly 2 million persons likely involved with drugs next year: Health Ministry

BANGKOK, Dec 19 - Thailand's Ministry of Public Health said nearly two million persons are projected to be using illicit drugs next year, even as the ministry targeted the rehabilitation of at least 300,000 drug addicts.

Deputy Health Minister Sophon Petchsawang said the drug situation in the country is still worrisome and the number of drug-involved persons tends to increase.

Department of Medical Services Deputy Director-General Dr Jirot Sindhvananda said about 1,900,000 Thais are expected to be entangled with drugs in 2013, with the government targeted 300,000 for rehabilitation and another 700,000 under ongoing rehabilitation and close watch.

Dr Jirot said the government will increase the quality and efficiency of its rehabilitation programme, noting that last year about 460,000 persons received approximately 4-month treatment per person.

The deputy director general added that methamphetamines are listed as top illicit drug, followed by crystal methamphetamine or 'ice', and marijuana, with the drug addiction rate among youth having risen.

The record youngest drug addict is a nine-year old boy who has been lured to take drugs and worked as a distributor to avoid police observation, said Dr Jirot.

Among the patients at the ministry's five drug rehab centres, he said, 80 per cent are outpatients as they are not heavily addicted to drugs, 20 per cent must stay at the centres, while another 10 per cent are in the group who have become readdicted to drugs. Some have returned to receive treatment for the third time after first rehab course. (MCOT online news)

Highway Police arrest ethnic Hmong with 1.3 million meth pills

CHUMPHON, Dec 19 -- Highway Police intercepted a shipment of 1.3 million methamphetamine pills hidden in a pickup truck carrying vegetables to Phuket.

Chunmporn-based Highway Police inspector Charoenpong Khantilo led police to set up checkpoints to prevent crime and illegal smuggling before Christmas and New Year's Festival and found suspicious pickup truck on Phetkasem Road at Hat Krai sub-district.

Police searched the vehicle carrying 12 baskets of vegetables and found each basket had a hidden bag inside, and bags contained 1.3 million meth pills.

The driver was identified as Ong-art Sengya, 39, an ethnic Hmong living in Chiang Mai's Mae Wang district.

Mr Ong-art said he was hired to carry the drug by vegetable vendor named Jeh Phon in Ratchaburi’s Sri Mueang market to deliver to a major drug agent in Phuket. (MCOT online news)

Integrated counter-insurgency measures launched to protect southern teachers

PATTANI, Dec 19 – Thai government security authorities and provincial officials at all levels have been instructed to remain alert without respite and work in full force to ensure safety for school teachers in this southern province, the provincial governor said.

Pattani Governor Pramook Lamoon invited community, village, and religious leaders, as well as teachers and local educators, to a meeting with security officials to inform them of the new measures to provide security to teachers who have been targets of insurgent attacks.

Teachers are to commute between their homes and schools in armoured vehicles if requested, the governor said, adding that border patrol police and rangers who have teaching background or credentials are encouraged to apply for teaching jobs due to the shortage of educators.

He said insurgency-affected areas are divided into three degrees--serious, mild and light--in order to facilitate deployment of government forces accordingly.

The new measures called on the authorities to strictly abide by the law in carrying out their duties without violating human rights or creating hatred among the people.

Mr Pramook said a series of attacks on teachers in a number of districts has shaken the public’s faith in the government’s security measures, compelling provincial authorities to be more proactive in providing safety, especially to teachers.

A number of teachers at government primary schools in this southern province have been killed or wounded in shootings by insurgents, some in broad daylight.

The worsening situation prompted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to go South last week to boost teachers morale with a promise to improve their welfare. (MCOT online news)

Defence minister says government must go 'on offensive' for southern teachers’ safety

BANGKOK, Dec 18 – Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat admitted today that providing 24-hour security for teachers in Thailand’s far South is a defensive measure but the government is working on a proactive strategy to cope with the escalating violence.

He refused to disclose details of the proactive plan, but said he would make an inspection trip to the South next week.

There has been no violence in the area under the authorities’ surveillance, he said, but problems remain in the non-protected zones.

The minister said his trip to the South was meant to boost the authorities’ morale, especially as the New Year’s holiday is approaching.

Many state primary schools in three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat reopened Monday after being closed for several days of closure. Teachers have feared for their safety following a series of shootings, many of them fatal, against their colleagues in the past several weeks. (MCOT online news)

Holiday road accidents expected to decline 5%

BANGKOK, Dec 19 – The government has targeted reducing road accidents during the New Year holiday by 5 per cent, according to government deputy spokesman Pakdeehan Himathongkham.

He said the cabinet acknowledged the Interior Ministry’s campaign against road accidents nationwide between December 27 and January 2.

Emphasis will be given to speed control, crackdown on drunk driving, helmet wearing for motorcyclists and truck drivers’ behaviour behind the wheel, he said.

Related government agencies in Bangkok and the provinces have been instructed to follow the Interior Ministry’s guidelines on road accident prevention, he said. (MCOT online news)

Court rules authorities killed taxi driver victim 2010 violence

BANGKOK, Dec 17 – The Bangkok South District Court ruled today that a taxi driver from Surin who joined an anti-government rally in the 2010 political riot in Bangkok was shot dead by the authorities.

Chatchai Chalao, 25, a native of Surin province, was the third Red Shirt protester whom the court pinpointed as victim of shooting by state authorities. The court did not give a specific identity of the shooter.

Mr Chatchai, a member of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) which led the months-long demonstration in 2010, was shot dead on Rama IV Road, opposite Lumpini Park on May 13, 2010.

It was the first ruling by the Bangkok South District Court in relation to the 2010 political upheaval. The Criminal Court earlier announced that two other victims, Pan Khamkong, a taxi driver and Charnnarong Polsrila were shot dead by soldiers under the command of the now-defunct Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Decree (CRES).

The CRES was specially set up by the then Abhisit Vejjajiva government to deal with the political demonstrations and accompanying violence which had spread widely in the capital during the time the Emergency Decree was in force.

The Attorney General has submitted 19 similar cases relating to the 2010 crisis to the Criminal Court and Bangkok South District Court. The fourth case, involving the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old boy on Rachaprarob Road, is pending the Criminal Court’s ruling on Thursday.

Ninety-one persons were killed during the Red Shirt (UDD) organised demonstrations. (MCOT online news)

4th Army Region Commander asserts soldiers work 24/7 for teachers security

BANGKOK, Dec 17 -- Fourth Army Region Commander Lt-Gen Udomchai Thamsarorach said today that the government’s security agencies have mobilised forces to provide safety protection for educators around the clock in the southernmost provinces.

He said the security forces work 24 hours a day, every day for the safety of teachers and other "soft targets" including Buddhist monks.

However, he admitted that the military alone could not provide security for all areas as there are many routes and a wide range of areas in the southern border provinces.

Gen Udomchai urged the public to give a helping hand to protect lives of teachers as they play a vital role in educating children.

He added that the military is hard at work every day, no matter whether holidays or not, and he is confident that the situation in the southern provinces would be better next year.

Meanwhile, all schools in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala as well as four districts of Songkhla reopened normally amid tight security.

However, not all students have come to school as there was heavy rain in Narathiwat.

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)

40,000 CCTVs for Bangkok next year

BANGKOK, Dec 18 – Thailand’s capital of 6 million people will be fully equipped with 40,000 closed-circuit cameras (CCTVs) by the end of next year, according to a Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) official.

BMA spokesman Wasan Meewong said the project of installing CCTVs in Bangkok has hit a snag following an investigation of problems with transparency in procuring the equipment.

Now that the BMA is found to purchase CCTVs at cheaper prices than other government agencies, the procurement will continue and CCTVs will be installed at 1,600 spots within January and 20,000 locations by the end of next year, he said.

CCTVs have already been installed at 20,000 locations and the capital should have 40,000 units, particularly at danger-prone areas, by the end of next year, Mr Wasan said.

He added that the BMA will also install the cameras in 317 communities with a high rate of drug-related offences. (MCOT online news)


Daily Update


Back to Main Page

King urges people to show compassion and help each other

Road accidents kill 254 during New Year holidays

PM pledges to work at her fullest capacity without discouragement

Two Phatthalung districts still critically flooded

Thai celebrants out in full force for New Year

Bangkok governor to contest second term

Azarenka gives alms to monks in Hua Hin

Train services nationwide under improvement: SRT

Thai-Cambodian Acmecs visa to start tomorrow

No expressway toll for 8 days

Road Safety Centre starts operation to reduce casualty during New Year festival

Police to step up security for New Year holidays

No holiday for Thai police on New Year’s holiday

Court rejects libel charge against Red Shirt leader Jatuporn

Six Yellow Shirt leaders indicted for Government House, parliament intrusion in 2008

Democrat Party to field Sukhumbhand for re-election as Bangkok governor

Deputy interior minister visits flood-stricken Thai South

Pheu Thai to finalize the charter amendment in mid Jan

BMA to issue last batch of flood payout by next month

Princess leaves hospital for home

Photos of 4 insurgents distributed to preclude Hat Yai attack

Thailand, Cambodia hail successful meeting

Lamphun declares two districts cold-wave disaster zones

Thailand’s southern provinces mark tsunami’s 8th anniversary

Heavy rain warning for South during New Year

PM mulls alternative if referendum for charter change fails

Men in uniform to teach southern students

Thai-Cambodian meet touches on crucial issues

New Year spending expected to reach several billion baht, highest in 7 years

Thailand’s southeastern coast on alert for storm

42 pangolins seized in Nong Khai

Floods wreak havoc in South; schools close, district declared disaster zone

Army chief orders tightened security in far South for New Year

Government mulls assigning army to far South teaching posts

600,000 meth pills seized in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai

Thais told to ‘kick’ 5 bad habits

Thailand’s South hit by severe rainfall, flooding, water runoff

Migrant deal stalls as talks break down

Defence minister to visit deep South tomorrow

Fire at Chachoengsao Toyota factory causes millions in damage

Thailand, Bangladesh agree to expand various forms of cooperation

North, Northeastern regions feel the freeze as temperatures drop sharply

Heavy rain causes floods in several areas of Thailand's South

PM frets over vote turnout; Govt may become lenient on migrants

Preah Vihear area to be de-mined

Thailand investing Bt2 trillion to close ASEAN-India trade gap

30 aliens to be granted Thai nationality

PM Yingluck backs upgrade of ASEAN-India ties to strategic partnership

Embattled Pheu Thai MP gets temporary freedom to join House session

Thai-Cambodian Joint Commission meet opens Tuesday

Bangkok building first park for dog lovers

More artificial reefs to promote marine life off Phuket

Petition to block whale import gathers steam

Traffic in bangkok set to worsen in 2014, official warns

BMA to install 20 CCTV in violence-prone-communities

Ministry of Transport to build Thai-Laos Bridge in Buengkarn province

PM attends ASEAN-India Summit in New Delhi today

Deputy PM Plodprasop indicted for illegal tiger exports

Land, air services set for New Year’s holiday travellers

Nearly 2 million persons likely involved with drugs next year: Health Ministry

Highway Police arrest ethnic Hmong with 1.3 million meth pills

Integrated counter-insurgency measures launched to protect southern teachers

Defence minister says government must go 'on offensive' for southern teachers’ safety

Holiday road accidents expected to decline 5%

Court rules authorities killed taxi driver victim 2010 violence

4th Army Region Commander asserts soldiers work 24/7 for teachers security

40,000 CCTVs for Bangkok next year




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