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Gov't forces in South wary of insurgents’ retaliation

BANGKOK, Feb 13 – Security agencies in Thailand’s far South have been warned to be on special alert for possible retaliation by insurgents following this morning's attack on a military base in Narathiwat in which 16 assailants were killed, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said today.

Hailing efficient intelligence among government forces, the premier said local residents who tipped off the authorities will be given protection. In addition, the premier advised the security agencies in the South to make full use of technology and to create understanding among southern residents as part of improving security measures.

“The government has increased the number of security personnel while people are told to be vigilant in their respective communities,” Ms Yingluck said.

The latest incident will not be taken as a reason for a curfew, if any, in the South, she said, adding that the government did not want to impose a curfew or creating inconveniences to people.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said the attack on the military base in Narathiwat prompted the authorities in Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla to beef up security, especially at risk-prone locations such as airports.

Lt-Gen Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary general of the National Security Council, said the Malaysian authorities have been informed of the latest situation in Thailand and were told that some insurgents might flee into Malaysia.

Thai security officials plan to raise the issue during a meeting with their Malaysian counterparts next Thursday, he said.

Lt-Gen Paradorn said military bases remain the most-attractive targets for attacks by insurgents who prefer to stay away from communities to avoid conflicts with local people. (MCOT online news)

Defence Minister praises Marines for defence against southern insurgents

BANGKOK, Feb 13 – Thai Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat today praised Marines in Thailand’s southern province of Narathiwat for successfully protecting a military base from an insurgent attack in which 16 assailants were killed.

The incident prompted the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) to impose a 24-hour curfew in six sub-districts of Narathiwat and nearby Pattani, starting at 6am today.

Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol quoted an official report as saying that 70-80 heavily-armed insurgents, clad in military uniforms and some with bullet-proof vests, attempted to storm into the military base in Narathiwat early this morning but were met with fierce retaliation by marine forces.

Sixteen insurgents were killed while nine assault rifles and two pickup trucks were seized. The authorities found ropes and metal wire on the insurgents’ bodies, and believe that the assailants planned to capture some officers as hostages.

Local authorities said the confiscated weapons were stolen from military, police and defence volunteer units while the bullet-proof vests belonged to volunteers.

The defence minister said an overall curfew depends on a decision by the Centre for Implementation of Policies and Strategies for Solving Southern Problems, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung. The committee is scheduled to meet on Friday. (MCOT online news)

Moving toward obesity: Too bad Thai people are too fat

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Feb 13 – The trend toward obesity among Thai people is escalating with more young people suffering from ailments related to being overweight, a senior public health official said today.

Dr Kamron Chaisiri of the Public Health Ministry said more than 100,000 Thais died from non-contagious chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in 2010 and 40 per cent of them were under 60 years old.

Seventeen million Thais aged under 15 are obese or suffer from metabolic syndrome – symptoms that lead to non-contagious chronic diseases.

He said these ailments cost Thailand about Bt300 billion in medical treatment each year.

The unfavourable health phenomenon prompted the Public Health Ministry to launch a hula-hoop campaign to urge people to exercise at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week.

The ministry also organised a mass hula-hoop exercise on the Rangsit campus of Thammasat University on Tuesday to set a new Guinness World Record. Nearly 5,000 people jointly hula-hooped in the event. (MCOT online news)

24-hour curfew imposed in parts of Narathiwat, Pattani

BANGKOK, Feb 13 - Security agencies have imposed a 24-hour curfew in four Narathiwat sub-districts and two Pattani sub-districts following an assault early today by uniformed insurgents who attempted to storm a Narathiwat military base.

Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 Front spokesman Col Pramote Phrom-in said the curfew was in effect in the areas near the military base in Narathiwat's Bacho district..

The areas under curfew are Barae Nue, Barae Tai, Balookasamoh and Kayohmati sub-districts in Narathiwat as well as Saithong and Don Sai in Pattani.

The curfew is aimed at helping the authorities track the assailants who were wounded in the assault, the spokesman said. For the safety of the public, the populace is banned from leaving home from 6am today until 6am tomorrow.

Over 30 insurgents dressed in camouflage-like security force uniforms attacked the military base at about 1am Wednesday.

Sixteen attackers were killed and no casualties were reported on the government side.

Sixteen assault rifles, a motorcycle and a pick-up truck were seized. The police believed that several wounded attackers still at large are attempting to flee. (MCOT online news)

Public Health & Defense join in alcohol-free campaign at nationwide military camps

BANGKOK, 14 February 2013 (NNT) – The Public Health Ministry and the Defense Ministry are joining force in a campaign to turn all military camps across the country into an alcohol-free zone.

Permanent Secretary for Public Health Ministry Narong Sahametapat, on Wednesday, joined Deputy Permanent Secretary for Defense Air Chief Marshal Tatchai Dhanadchaipuen, representative of the Supreme Commander Admiral Kraisorn Chansuvanich and other high-ranking officers from the Royal Thai Navy, the Royal Air Forces and the Royal Thai Army in the signing of an agreement on intensified control of alcohol drinks at nationwide military camps.

A similar agreement was once inked by the Public Health Ministry, the Defense Ministry and other ministries in 2009 to turn all state offices into alcohol-free zones, except in authorized areas.

While the result of the initial campaign is said to be satisfactory, its effect has not reached the many military camps and military personnel stationed throughout the country, yet.

The 2 ministries hope that the boosted anti-alcohol effort will encourage Thai solders to give up or, at least, cut down on drinking in order that they will become a good role model for people around Thailand.

And as the 2008 Alcohol Control Act will mark its 5th anniversary of implementation on February 14, police officers will step up the clampdown on all violations of this law throughout the country. Anyone found selling, drinking or advertising at banned locations or hours will be subject to a maximum jail term of 1 year or a maximum fine of 500,000 baht or both.

Thai Navy chief commends latest military operation in Wed clash as success

NARATHIWAT, 14 February 2013 – The Royal Thai Navy Commander-in-Chief has commended the military operation in the latest clash with Islamist insurgents, which ended with the deaths of 16 militants.

Admiral Surasak Rounroengrom, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy, on Wednesday visited a military operation base in Narathiwat Province, which was raided by Muslim insurgents earlier in the day.

After the visit, Admiral Surasak said that the morale of all officers stationed at the base has not been shaken by the early-hour clash and everyone is ready to continue their duty in the restive region.

The Royal Thai Navy chief stated that while the authorities have begun the manhunt of the other culprits involved in the Wednesday raid, locals can also play their part to capture the suspects by lending all possible cooperation to officers.

He also praised the operation of the navy officers as a success while offering condolences to the families of those whose lives were lost.

Concerning the curfew imposition in the southern border region, Admiral Surasak said that more work remains to be discussed a meeting with all related units on Friday.

Malay-Language Television and Radio Programming in the Deep South

New Malay-language television and radio programming in the deep South, initiated by the Thai government, has received a positive response from local residents. It serves as a “voice” to promote better understanding and communication in the southern border provinces that make up a multi-cultural society.
The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center has joined hands with other relevant agencies and civil society groups in carrying out this project, which was officially launched on 3 January 2013 at Yala Rajabhat University in Yala province.
Referred to as "Hari Suara Kita," or “Voice of the People,” the daily television and radio programming is intended to offer broadcasting services around the clock. Previously, radio programs in Malay had been produced and broadcast by the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT), operated by the Government Public Relations Department. But listeners are now able to have them on a full scale, following the launching of the project in January 2013.
As for television programming in Malay, it is broadcast via C-band satellite. At the initial stage, the station will broadcast 30 minutes a day and will run 24-hour programming within one year.
The Secretary-General of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center, Police Colonel Tawee Sodsong, explained that although the Malay-language broadcasts were introduced by the state, they are considered the people’s strategy. He said that the Malay language is now spoken by 300 million people out of a combined population of 600 million in the 10 ASEAN countries. It is a language which is widely used in the Muslim-majority areas of southern Thailand, where more than two million speak Malay.
He said that this new television station would be a channel for local people to communicate in Malay, a major language in ASEAN, as Thailand and its ASEAN partners move toward the ASEAN Community in 2015. It would open up space for local people and those who have different views from those of the state.
The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center had constantly sounded out public opinion on the Malay-language television before the project was launched. It held the first meeting on the design of programming on 14 October 2012 in Pattani, with the participation of various groups of people, as the Government intends to develop both television and radio stations into the people's stations. It has been suggested that local residents be allowed to participate in producing programs that reflect the real voices of the people.
The program content includes news and information about the southern border provinces and beyond, as well as other interesting programs, such as those on education, Islamic affairs, culture, and tourism. It focuses on creating better understanding, easing the people’s suffering, and bringing about lasting peace and harmonization.
Former Secretary-General of ASEAN Surin Pitsuwan said that the introduction of the Malay-language broadcasts shows the respect of a multi-cultural society and would allow people of various groups to discuss significant topics among themselves and seek ways to tackle various problems in the deep South.

Deputy House Speaker brokers agreement on amnesty bill, while 40 senators oppose

BANGKOK, 12 February 2013 (NNT) - First Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Chaoren Chankomol met with Puea Thai party leader Jarupong Ruangsuwan on Monday to propose and gather ideas on the amnesty bill. He earlier talked with the representatives from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), and the Democrat party.

According to Mr Charoen, he told the Puea Thai leader that talks with various groups had suggested that the amnesty law should, firstly, grant immediate amnesty to ordinary participants of political protests while subjecting protest leaders' eligibility for amnesty to the consideration of an independent committee. Secondly, the law should take the form of a legal act to be passed by parliament, rather than a decree issued by the cabinet, he said.

Meanwhile, a group of 40 senators, most of whom appointed, expressed opposition to an amnesty law. They said the law drafts proposed so far had been vague as to who would be considered protest "participants" and who would be considered protest "leaders". In addition, the senators said they would oppose any law granting amnesty to lese-majeste prisoners.

So far three detailed versions of the amnesty law have been proposed by three groups - the Independent National Rule of Law Commission, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), and the group of legal scholars called "Nitirat". All the three versions of the law would grant immediate amnesty to those convicted of violating the Emergency Decree excluding protest leaders and authorities who gave orders.

It is unclear whether any of the three proposed drafts would grant amnesty to lese-majeste prisoners although a legal scholar from Nitirat has suggested that lese-majeste prisoners should be considered "political prisoners", and, therefore, covered by the bill.

Activist Ratree thanks PM Yingluck for securing her release from Cambodia

BANGKOK, 12 January 2013 (NNT) - Thai Patriots Network activist Ratree Pipattanapaiboon has expressed her gratitude to the Prime Minister for helping secure her release from Cambodia.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, on Monday, had a meeting with National Human Rights Commissioner Parinya Sirisarakarn and Ms. Ratree, who thanked the PM for holding discussions with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on her royal pardon and the reduction of jail term for her fellow activist Veera Somkwamkid.

Ms. Ratree, in particular, expressed her personal gratitude to PM Yingluck for doing her part in looking out for the people of Thailand.

Ms. Yingluck told the activist that she was delighted to finally meet each other while affirming that the government has always been responsible for the well-being of members of the public.

The PM stated that she has been trying to secure Ms. Ratree’s release since she had the opportunity to talk to her Cambodian counterpart but has not succeeded until the royal pardon was granted to her last week.

The Prime Minister also said that the government will continue its attempt to secure the release of Mr. Veera, either through further negotiation for more royal pardons or an official request for his transfer to Thai prison.

Terrorism report prompts alert at US consulate in Chiang Mai

BANGKOK, Feb 12 – Security has been reinforced at the United States consulate in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai following a report of possible violence by Muslim extremists, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung said today.

He said details of the intelligence report were delivered to the Fifth Region Police Commander Suthep Dejraksa last week so that he will closely monitor the situation.

An untoward incident would have a negative impact on national security, he said, adding that the alert will continue until the joint Thai-US military exercise, code-named Cobra Gold 13, is finished.

Cobra Gold 13, which involves troops from the US, Thailand and allied countries on exercises in Thailand, began yesterday and continues through Feb 21.

Mr Chalerm gave assurances that the reinforcements at the US consulate will not jeopardise a trip by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to the northern region later this week.

It was reported that the security unit at the American consulate has contacted provincial authorities seeking round-the-clock protection.

Deputy Premier Chalerm later revealed that al-Qaeda has targetted US military personnel attending the joint exercise.

He said he has learned that some of the group members left the country and only a few remain in Thailand, under the close watch of the Thai authorities. An arrest could not be made since they did not commit any crime, he explained.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been notified about the matter and she has instructed agencies concerned to tighten security, according to Mr Chalerm.

Thailand endorses first Palestinian ambassador to Thailand

BANGKOK, Feb 12 – The Thai Cabinet on Tuesday endorsed the appointment of the first Palestinian ambassador to Thailand, Government spokesperson Tossaporn Serirak said.

Palestinian ambassador Abdulaziz Abuqhoush resides in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur as proposed by Thailand’s foreign ministry.

Thailand recognised Palestine as an independent state in January 2012 and established diplomatic ties.

Thailand also supports the right of the Palestinian people to have their own state, with mutual acceptance between Palestine and Israel.

Thailand's embassy in Amman, Jordan, is now responsible for the diplomatic mission for Palestine. (MCOT online news)

Nearly 3,000 volunteers posted in South for defence reinforcement

BANGKOK, FEB 12 – The cabinet today approved an Interior Ministry proposal to assign 2,700 territorial defence volunteers to Thailand’s far South to help maintain peace and security in the insurgency-plagued region.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra instructed the recruitment of southerners for the volunteer forces so that they could work closely with the southern authorities and people.

The Interior Ministry promised to dispatch the defence volunteers to the region as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, leader of the opposition Democrat Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva, called on the government, which contemplates imposing curfew in risk-prone areas in the far South, to learn from a similar lesson in 2005-2006 when curfew was declared in the South to gauge the impact of the measure.

If the government believes a curfew is efficient in solving the southern unrest, it should communicate with people in the region for common understanding and acceptance, he said. (MCOT online news)

Chiang Mai monitors burning to prevent worsening smog

CHIANG Mai, Feb 12 – Murky weather in the northern province of Chiang Mai could worsen if more forest fires occur, Deputy Governor Adisorn Kamnerdsiri said today.

Gloomy weather during the past few days was caused by a high pressure covering the area. Although air quality is in the moderate level, forest fires, if occuring, could aggravate haze and smog in the province, the deputy governor said with concern.

Outdoor burning can also worsen the problem. Since January, more than 100 burning locations were found in the province, particularly in Chom Thong, Hot, and Mae Chaem districts, he added.

These areas are closely monitored to prevent forest fires, mostly caused by burning by locals who are seeking forest products, Mr Adisorn said. Since the beginning of this year, some 800 rai forest (about 320 acres) have been damaged by burning. (MCOT online news)

Protesting farmers accept housing bank’s action on their loans

BANGKOK, Feb 12 – Protesting farmers called off their rally at the Government Housing Bank (GHB) headquarters today after receiving assurances from the bank that they would refrain from legal action against those who fail to pay their debts.

The GHB management promised to forward the farmers’ request for debt settlement to the Finance Ministry and agreed to suspend possible lawsuits against farmers who could not pay their debts.

The bank also agreed not to seize the farmers’ non-performing assets (NPAs).

Members of the Indebted Farmers Network who rallied at the bank beginning yesterday also demanded that the bank wipe out all the farmers’ NPAs and non-performing loans (NPLs) including interest and other fees.

The farmers said their debts would be paid up by the Farmers Rehabilitation and Development Fund (FRDF) of which they are members.

They demanded that the GHB cut the required payment from the Farmers Rehabilitation Fund to the maximum of 30 per cent of the original capital.

GHB managers said the farmers’ proposals will have to be acted upon by the Finance Ministry.

Laiwan Pongsa-ngiem, deputy managing director of the Government Housing Bank, said 1,767 FRDF members are indebted to the bank for a combined amount of Bt500 million, but that the GHB has so far taken action against only 550 farmers who failed to repay their loans which were later became NPLs.

Yossawat Chaisiriwatanakul, a farmer representative, said the indebted farmers will rally at the Government Savings Bank tomorrow to seek similar leniency for their NPAs and NPLs. (MCOT online news)

Thailand won't withdraw candidacy to host World Expo 2020: PM

BANGKOK, Feb 12 -- Thailand will not withdraw its bid to host the World Exhibition in the year 2020 (World Expo 2020) as the operation and preparations are going ahead as planned, according to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Ms Yingluck said Thailand proposed the central province and ancient capital of Ayutthaya as the site for the World Expo 2020 and it is committed to the plan.

She said it was totally groundless that Thailand would withdraw from the candidacy.

The premier's comments came after opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called on the government to show its strong intention to host the international fair as it would be a good opportunity for the country.

A Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) Enquiry Mission met Ms Yingluck before going to Ayutthaya from Jan 28 to Feb 1 to inspect Ayutthaya's potential for hosting the world's largest fair.

However, the government was reportedly reassessing the utility of investing in a bid to stage the World Expo.

Meanwhile, Ayutthaya Governor Witthaya Piewpong confirmed that the province was ready to host the Expo. He said it was not true that the province would drop out from the competition.

Five cities are competing with their own bids for the BIE -- Izmir in Turkey; Yekaterinburg, Russia; Sao Paolo, Brazil; United Arab Emirates’ Dubai and Ayutthaya.

A decision will be made at the BIE General Assembly in November. (MCOT online news)

Talks on police stations construction contract set for Friday

BANGKOK, 12 February 2013 (NNT) - The Royal Thai Police is set to hold talks with authorities involved in the police stations construction scandal this Friday, in a bid to revoke the contract awarded to PCC Development and Construction Co (PCC).

National Police Spokesperson Pol Maj Gen Piya Uthayo said the meeting will be arranged on February 15 to resolve claims of alleged corruption in the long-delayed construction of buildings and offices at 396 police stations.

During the meeting, the panel will conduct a review of documents relating to the firm’s concession and will outline plans for a new bidding process before the existing contract with PCC ends on March 14.

The Royal Thai Police also plans to file a lawsuit against culprits behind the corruption scandal as the department has suffered losses incurred by the failed contract.

Thailand confident in defense of land around Phra Viharn

BANGKOK, 12 February 2013 (NNT)-The draft statement, which will be used to defend Thailand against Cambodia regarding the land surrounding the Phra Viharn Temple, will be reviewed by various committees before being presented to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in mid April.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, who heads Thailand’s legal team in the case, said the draft statement has been completed and will be reviewed by the committees involved in the Phra Viharn case.

Both Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads when it comes to claiming the ownership rights of the land surrounding the holy temple.

The revision is expected to be finished at the end of March and will be proposed to the Cabinet for consideration early April. The statement will be read to the ICJ in a hearing during April 15-19, 2013.

Mr. Phonthep said he is confident in the ability of the Thai legal teams in clarifying and defending any issues put against Thailand. The country has 1,600 pages to be used as evidence in its fight in the world court to claim the land around Phra Viharn Temple.

Police found to have requested 'Ang Pow' from people will be prosecuted

BANGKOK, 12 February 2013 (NNT)-Deputy Prime Minister Police Captain Chalerm Yubamrung said any police officers found to have extorted money from people during the Chinese New Year will be prosecuted to the full extent of law.

Following the report of dodgy police, the Deputy Prime Minister said giving 'Ang Pow', or a red envelop which usually contains cash, to officers during the Chinese New Year is not considered a form of bribery, as it is a common gesture during the Chinese festive season.

However, he said, it would be extremely inappropriate and unlawful for police to ask for the 'red envelop'.

Any policemen caught soliciting money by way of 'Ang Pow' will be punished by law. According to Police Captain Chalerm, he is confident that in spite of the report, no police commander has asked for money; however, some people might have used their names to trick ordinary people into giving the money.

The Deputy Prime Minister further reiterated that only few police officers have been involved in the unlawful act, and the number does not represent the entire police force.

Meanwhile, regarding the re-imposition of the curfew in the restive South, Police Captain Chalerm said it would be concluded on February 15th, 2013. He would also disagree with the curfew re-imposition if residents found it difficult living their daily lives with the curfew in force, he added.

PM: Conclusion on curfew in deep South should be reached Friday

BANGKOK, Feb 11 - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has instructed concerned agencies to come to a conclusion whether to impose curfews in selected areas of Thailand’s far South in a meeting set for Friday, while the army still insists that a curfew is unnecessary, the National Security Council (NSC) chief said Monday.

NSC Sec-Gen Lt-Gen Paradorn Pattanathabutr said after a security meeting chaired by the premier today that the army continues in the belief that there is no need for curfews in the Muslim-predominant provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

As the views on the special law enforcement are differing, Gen Paradorn said, the premier asked all concerned agencies to come to a conclusion on the matter in the Friday meeting of the operations centre for implementation of policies and strategies for solving problems in the region.

The idea of a curfew in selected areas of far South was floated by Deputy Premier Chalerm Yubamrung following repeated attacks on the public and government forces in the restive South.

Gen Paradorn also noted that the people's voice on imposing a curfew will also be taken into account. He stated that if the meeting agrees to invoke such law, the prime minister herself can endorse its enforcement immediately without cabinet approval.

Meanwhile, army deputy spokesman Col Winthai Suwaree said the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 which supervises the insurgency-torn areas is awaiting a decision from Friday's meeting

He said Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha instructed the military to tighten security and asked local residents to cooperate more closely with security agencies for their safety.

Regarding the Sunday bombing and shooting which claimed lives of five soldiers in Yala's Raman district, Col Winthai said one suspect was arrested and he confessed that he strewed spikes on the road and acted as a lookout for the assailants.

Investigators also learned that, within one month, the same insurgents launched three similar attacks targeting soldiers. (MCOT online news)

Ratree asks gov't to seek transfer of Veera to Thai jail

BANGKOK, Feb 11 – Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, the Thai woman political activist recently released from a Cambodian prison, today met with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and discussed the possibility of transferring her fellow inmate Veera Somkwamkid from Cambodia to serve his remaining prison term in Thailand.

Ms Ratree and Mr Veera were arrested and imprisoned by Cambodian authorities for trespassing into the neighbouring country. Ms Ratree, however, insisted that the area where she stepped belongs to Thailand but was occupied by Cambodian troops.

Ms Ratree, released by a royal pardon by the Cambodian government ,expressed her appreciation to the prime minister for her assistance.

She was accompanied by several noted human rights figures including Prinya Sirisarakarn, Dr Kusol Prawitpaiboon and Piyanuch Thitipattana.

Ms Ratree asked the prime minister to help Mr Veera who she said has been deprived of his fundamental rights while in detention in Cambodia.

Ms Yingluck gave assurances that the government had not relented in seeking clemency for Mr Veera or his transfer to a Thai prison instead of being held by the Khmer authorities.

Ms Ratree said Mr Veera has served one-third of his jail term and was entitled to a transfer from the Cambodian prison. The prime minister said the government would try its best as it is the government’s responsibility to take care of every Thai citizen.

The activist reasserted her confidence that area where she and Mr Veera were arrested belongs to Thailand.

She said she was a political victim of the Cambodian government and that the previous Thai government failed to protect the rights of Thai people and Thai territory. (MCOT online news)

Multinational military exercise Cobra Gold 2013 kicks off in Thailand

CHIANG MAI, Feb 11 -- Cobra Gold 2013, the annual joint military exercise, has officially begun in the northern province of Chiang Mai.

Adm Yuttana Phagpolngam, Deputy Supreme Commander and US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie A Kenney jointly presided at the opening ceremony of the military drill being held in Thailand from today through Feb 21.

The exercise is the largest multinational exercise in the Asia-Pacific region. Approximately 13,000 participants from seven full participating nations and many observer nations.

The exercise consists of a staff exercise, various senior leader engagements, a field training exercise, humanitarian and civic assistance projects. Fully participating nations in the exercise include the Thailand, the United States, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The observers are China, Brunei, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

During the field training exercise, the armed forces will conduct trainings including flight operations, amphibious training, and various training events that will enhance small-unit tactics and the ability to operate as part of a multinational team.

The humanitarian and civic assistance projects include construction projects, various community health engagements and medical assistance programs.

The exercise covers Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Lop Buri, Chon Buri and Chanthaburi provinces.

The US and Thailand have co-hosted Cobra Gold since 1982. Cobra Gold 2013 is the 32nd edition of the annual joint military drill. (MCOT onine news)

Pongsapat, Sukhumbhand attract fans in different age groups

BANGKOK, Feb 11 – Voters above age 26 prefer Pongsapat Pongcharoen, Pheu Thai Party candidate, as next Bangkok governor while 18-25 year-olds will cast their ballots for Democrat candidate Sukhumbhand Paribatra, according to a new academic survey.

The Bangkok Poll, conducted by the research centre of Bangkok University last Wednesday, found that Pongsapat’s advocates are mostly civil servants, traders, employees, househusbands and housewives and retirees. Their education is mostly below bachelor’s degree level.

Those who will vote for former Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand are mainly private employees, students and people holding bachelor’s degrees or higher.

According to the survey, Mr Pongsapat is leading Mr Sukhumbhand, while independent candidate Pol Gen Seripisut Temiyaves remained the third ranked choice. One-fourth of eligible voters remain undecided. (MCOT online news)

Salesman killed, 4 rangers wounded in two far South incidents

NARATHIWAT, Feb 11 – A computer salesman was killed in his car in Pattani, and four Thai army rangers were wounded in a bombing in Rangae district of this southern province on Sunday, according to official reports.

Kriangsak Sermsangsuk, a 35-year-old computer salesman, was shot dead by two gunmen on a motorcycle in broad daylight after leaving a school in Saiburi district enroute to another local school to sell tablet computers.

Four rangers attached to the 4513th Military Ranger Unit were wounded in the bombing as they sat in the vehicle. They were identified as Visarut Hunkratoke, chief of the 2nd military ranger team, Sataporn Chuaman, Ekapol Tonpisa and Sathit Poolkaew.

The rangers were on the way to attend a training at the 46th Military Ranger Command.

Responding authorities found a 1-metre by 2-metre hole on the road and an 80-metre electrical wire lead from the explosion site to a nearby forest, as well as the remains of a 50kg gas cylinder. Their Toyota pickup truck was destroyed.

Rangers immediately searched the nearby forest and arrested a suspect, identified as Asmadee Seng, who was charged with involvement in the bombing.

Both incidents are believed ot be connected to the southern insurgency. (MCOT online news)

30,000 Seized Wildlife: Burden of Care

As the number of seized animals in wildlife smuggling cases has increased, Thailand’s National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department now has at least 30,000 animals under its care at wildlife breeding centres nationwide, some of whose facilities are nearly overwhelmed with the burden.

Three years ago, a tiger cub was rescued from a smuggler’s suitcase at Suvarnabhumi Airport. It was put to sleep by anesthesia. Now, the cub has grown to become a joyful and healthy adolescent tiger named Phum under good care of officials at the Khao Prathapchang wildlife breeding centre in the central province of Ratchaburi.

Three other tigers were seized at an apartment in Navanakhon, Pathum Thani and were sent to the centre. Moving the tiger cubs to bigger cages with abundant food, they become strong and lively.

Centre head Sathit Pinkul said the rising number of animals seized every year can lead to overburdened facilities and it will not be able to take proper care of them.

“Now, the centre houses 50 tigers, 10 leopards about 13 Asian golden cats. With 73 cats in total, it is at full capacity. The National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department will allocate more budget to build another 20 cages to house more seized animals in the future,” said Mr Sathit.

A few adolescent tigers are ready to be separated to live in their own cages. This means there will be no vacant cells left for more newcomers.

Attempts to release tigers in captivity back into the wild have not been successful.

Researchers worldwide cannot find the way to help the creature adapt themselves to survive in the natural habitats. They need care for the rest of their lives.

Besides tigers, Khao Phrathap wildlife breeding centre also houses 11 orangutans, pheasants and hornbills and another 300 seized animals. Proper care comes with the cost of several million baht each year.

Twenty six wildlife breeding centres under the responsibility of the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department currently house at least 30,000 seized animals.

“More cages and food will be provided. We try to give these animals the best care and we’ll seek additional budget from the government if it is needed,” said Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, deputy director general.

Building more facilities may not be the only solution to the overburdened facility problem.Tougher implementation of wildlife protection laws and punishment of offenders--smugglers, traders and hunters--is a key to prevent wildlife smuggling and to save the animals from extinction. (MCOT online news)

Haze situation in North troubling

LAMPANG, 11 February 2013 (NNT) – The air pollution problem in Northern provinces of Phrae and Lampang is still troubling, as the level of dust particles is about the go over the safety standard.

The Lampang provincial meteorological office has reported that the amount of small particles has been increasing. Many northern provinces are covered with white fog, which reduces visibility.

Phrae and Lampang are the two most troubled provinces, with the levels of dust particles standing at 112 and 106 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively. The dust amount considered dangerous is at 120 micrograms. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai now have around 70 and 50 micrograms of dust particles per cubic meter.

Haze is an annual problem, severely affecting local businesses in the North from February to March.

Education Minister’s advisor backs pay raise for university lecturers

BANGKOK, 11 February 2013 (NNT) - Adviser to the Minister of Education Dr.Phawit Thongrote has voiced his support for a salary increase for university lecturers, saying that they are the workforce who should be well taken care of. Dr.Phawit will propose this idea to Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana this week.

The adviser said the salary rate of university lecturers should not be lower than that of primary school teachers, and he had already assigned the Office of the Higher Education Commission to draft a law to allow university lecturers to increase their salary autonomously.

University lecturers are education personnel in the same way as primary school teachers are; therefore, they should be able to raise their pay in the same fashion, Dr.Phawit said.

Presently, there are around 30,000 civil servants working in university institutions. Some of them have more than 20 years before retiring and deserve to see an adjustment to their salary scale. The adviser said he would request the education minister to look at the proposed salary increase rules this week.

Patients with dengue fever increased five times this year

BANGKOK, 11 February 2013 (NNT)-Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahamethapat revealed that the number of people with dengue fever exceeded 5,700 people during January 1st to February 5th.

According to Dr. Narong, the number of patients with dengue fever has increased 5 times compared to that reported during the same period last year. He said the number could rise to around 100,000 – 120,000 people.

According to the Permanent Secretary, people who are at risk of contracting the fever include adults, overweight people, and teens. He cautioned that 90% of the patients have mild fever while red rashes on their bodies are not visible which, to the doctor’s first diagnosis, might not appear to be the symptoms of dengue fever.

However, if the symptoms have gone undetected, the lives of those who have it could be at great risks. 4 patients have reportedly succumbed to the disease so far this year. To prevent more deaths, public health provincial offices have been instructed to kill mosquito larvae before the rainy season arrives.

Thai people are also encouraged to keep all containers closed to prevent mosquitoes from using them as their breeding grounds. A war room has been set up to devise a strategy to reduce the number of deaths and contain the outbreak.

Special Report: Purple Line set to improve traffic in BKK and its vicinities

In a bid to alleviate critical traffic congestion in Bangkok and neighboring provinces, the government is speeding up construction work on the much-anticipated Purple Line in Bangkok, which is expected to be open for service in 2015.

The Purple Line is a 23-kilometer long mass rapid heavy rail system that will connect Bang Yai district in nearby Nonthaburi province with the Tao Poon area in Bangkok’s Bang Sue district. The line will serve the northwestern suburbs and the southern area of the capital, passing through the center of the old city on an elevated line. Running past historical places in Dusit and Phra Nakhon districts, such as the National Library, Thewet Market, Bang Lamphu, the Democracy Monument and Wongwian Yai roundabout, the line is also set to serve the new Thai parliament construction site at Kiak Kai Intersection.

The Purple Line starts from Khlong Bang Phai depot and runs along Kanchana Phisek Road to reach Bang Yai Station. It will then turn left at Rattana Thibet Road and cross the Rama III Bridge over the Chao Phraya River before passing Wong Sawang Intersection flyover and terminating at Tao Poon Terminal. The route will be completely elevated and will have 16 stations.

Park and ride facilities will be available at Sam Yaek Bang Yai, Tha It, Yaek Nonthaburi and at the starting terminal. Many stations along the line will offer a variety of transport links, ranging from ferry services and buses to taxis. Khlong Bang Phai depot itself will serve as a maintenance, fleet parking and administrative facility and will house and control the train operating system of the Purple Line.

The Mass Rapid Transit Authority also plans to extend the Purple Line from Tao Poon Terminal to Rat Burana. The proposed 17-kilometer long extension will have 14 stations. Tao Poon Terminal Station is poised to be a major interchange station, connecting the Purple Line to an MRT line and an electric Blue Line running between Bang Sue and Tha Phra.

Once fully completed, the Bang Yai-Bang Sue rapid transit line will be Bangkok’s first rapid transit system encroaching into the adjacent province of Nonthaburi.

The Purple Line will have an initial usage of 200,000 passengers a day, which is expected to increase to 290,000 passengers a day by 2022.

Five soldiers killed in Yala presumed insurgent attack

YALA, Feb 10 – Five soldiers were killed and another one wounded in a bombing and shooting attack in the violence plagued province of Yala.

A group of soldiers were driving a personnel carrier on Sai Thathong-Wangphraya road when a 50-kilogramme bomb hidden in a pick-up truck exploded. After the bombing, at least ten assailants disguised as officials opened fire at the soldiers, killing one officer, four privates. One surviving soldier was wounded.

The police presumed that the attack was carried out by a group of insurgents--led by Abdulrorhing Dahisor and Abdulrormae Jeteh--active in Yala’s Raman district and Pattani’s Mayo district.

The pick-up truck used in the car bomb belonged to Somsak Kwanma, a teacher in Baan Bangoy. The teacher’s pickup truck was reported stolen in mid December last year. (MCOT online news)

Many Bangkokians to avoid polls as they are sick of politics: Poll

BANGKOK, Feb 9 - "Fed up with politics" is a major reason claimed by Bangkokians who said they would not cast their ballots in the upcoming gubernatorial election, a university poll revealed on Saturday.

The Suan Dusit Rajabhat University Poll, or Suan Dusit Poll, on "Why Bangkokians won't go to cast their ballots on gubernatorial election" surveyed 414 residents who said they will not vote or are still hesitant whether to vote on March 3 to select the new Bangkok governor.

Some 35.29 per cent said they will not vote because they are sick of politics, while 29.41 per cent claimed they will be busy on the voting day.

Another 17.65 per cent said they do not know who to vote for, while 11.77 percent believed that no matter who wins the election, he or she will not be able to solve the city's problems.

One-third, or 34.78 per cent, suggested that concerned agencies should do more publicity or campaign to encourage Bangkokians to cast their ballots.

Roughly one quarter, or 26.08 pe rcent, said the campaign should focus on the benefits citizens will get from exercising their voting rights. (MCOT online news)

PM: 2013 will be the Year of Thailand

BANGKOK, Feb 9 - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Saturday said she wants 2013 to be the Year of Thailand, where the country's economy is growing and confidence will be restored.

The premier expressed this wish in her weekly televised programme “PM Yingluck Government Meets the People” on the occasion of Chinese New Year. Ms Yingluck said she wishes the Thai people health and wealth.

She said after the 2011 nationwide flooding, the country has improved in several aspects including the economy, and that confidence has been restored among the world community.

The economy is growing well due to increased purchasing power of the Thais and the inflow of foreign investment which can be seen from their requests for investment promotion from the Board of Investment (BoI), rising from Bt700 billion to Bt1.4 trllion, said Ms Yingluck.

The premier said, to make the economy grow sustainably, the government will invest in infrastructure development of Bt2.2 trillion. The projects will stimulate domestic purchasing power and prepare the country for the ASEAN Economic Community which will take effect in 2015.

Ms Yingluck however added that the government will have to clarify its investments in megaprojects to the public and concerned agencies to create better understanding, as the projects will decentralise growth to upcountry, reducing logistic costs and facilitating communication.

She said many countries have shown interest in joint ventures and 2013 will the Year of Thailand, as many world leaders will also visit the kingdom. (MCOT online news)

World Islamic body nods to Thailand’s tackling of southern violence

BANGKOK, Feb 8 – The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has responded positively to Thailand’s successive solutions to the long-standing violence in three southernmost provinces and offered to support the kingdom in solving the problem constructively, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said today.

Foreign Ministry Information Department Director-General Manasvi Srisodapol said the OIC’s latest reaction was made during the 12th OIC meeting in Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday and Thursday.

Thailand's ambassador to Cairo, Chalit Manityakul, represented the kingdom in attending the meeting as an observer.

Mr Manasvi said feedback on Thailand regarding the chronic problem in Thailand’s Muslim-predominant provinces in the far South was positive while the OIC secretary general was asked to assist Thailand in tackling the issue.

The spokesman said the Thai Foreign Ministry was satisfied with the constructive cooperation on the part of the OIC which described Thailand’s performance as beneficial to cooperation in solving the problem in the future and to Thai Muslims in the South.

The positive attitude was partly due to visits by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to some OIC member countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, Mr Manasvee said, adding that a field trip by Bangkok-based diplomats of the OIC countries to the far South last week was useful in creating a better understanding among them.

On the government’s plan to impose a curfew in some southern provinces, the ministry spokesman said the curfew will not affect the OIC viewpoint on Thailand as they understand the situation.

“People worldwide condemn the use of violence against innocent people. However, the government must clearly explain to the people and the outside world if [the curfew] enforced,” he said. (MCOT online news)

Sand drilling ships spotted in Myanmar near Thailand's border

RANONG, Feb 10 - About ten sand drilling ships were spotted in Myanmar's Andaman Sea near Thailand's border in this southern province.

Atikom Tanabat, from a committee to develop triangle economic area in Thailand's upper south, said he and his team went to inspect Takrut Island, which is located in Thai territory connected to Myanmar's Kaw Thaung.

He said local residents informed Thai authorities of the ships.

An initial inspection found that the large ships were from Indonesia, drilling sand in the Andaman Sea to send to Singapore for further silica distillation.

Workers on the ships speaking the Yawi language said about 1 kg of silica was distilled from 2,000 cubic metres of sand.

Silica is currently priced at Bt32,000/kg, used in electrical equipment and sanitary ware manufacturing. Singapore will use the rest of the sand leftover from the distillation for land reclamation, they said.

Mr Atikom said many local residents are worried that the sand drilling process will be the cause of future problems in the coastal area, as well as affect the ecological system. (MCOT online news)

Security tightened in Yala following Sunday car bomb

YALA, 10 FEBRUARY 2013 (NNT) – Security has been tightened further in Thailand’s restive southern border region after the latest car bomb killed more soldiers, ahead of the widely-watched curfew imposition.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra revealed that national security-related agencies have already been instructed to investigate the fatal attack in Yala Province, which killed 5 military officers and critically injured one soldier on Sunday morning.

When asked of the latest insurgent attack will lead to the imposition of a curfew in the violence-torn Deep South, the Premier said that an assessment of the situation is needed and other factors, including personnel and equipment, must be readied before a decision can be made.

Ms. Yingluck added that security officers have been working to determine risk level in various areas of the southern border region while more discussions on the curfew issue with the National Security Council will be held soon.

Meanwhile, the police and the army have stepped up security measures in the Yala Municipality and made more thorough inspection of cars, motorcycles, suspicious individuals and objects entering populated shopping areas and communities of the province.

More checkpoints have also been set along all roads leading to Yala in order to boost public confidence and assure the safety of the public during the Chinese New Year festival.

Haze, smog worsen in northern provinces

LAMPANG, Feb 10 – Dust particle levels in Thailand’s northern provinces have increased, while Chiang Mai's airport has to turn on spotlights along the whole runway area due to poor visibility.

Regarding the haze and smog situation, the average dust particles recorded in northern provinces has risen, with Phrae at 112 microgrammes/cubic metre and Lampang at 106 microgrammes/cubic metre.

In Chiang Mai, the visibility is poor at about one kilometre, forcing Chiang Mai Airport to turn on spotlights at its runway. Chiang Mai reported dust particles level at 71 microgrammes/cubic metre.

The Chiang Mai deputy governor said 14 hot spots have been found burning, mostly in Chom Thong, Mae Chaem and Omkoi districts. Local authorities have asked for cooperation from the public to stop all types of burning.

If there is no rain, the dust particle levels is likely to continue to rise. The Lampang Meteorological Station reported an active high pressure system from China remaining over the Northeast of Thailand and the South China Sea. It forecasts cool weather with fog in the morning and isolated thundershowers with wind gusts. (MCOT online news)

DPM Plodprasop: Govt to build more large-scale dams to manage water supply

BANGKOK, 10 FEBRUARY 2013 (NNT) – Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi has revealed that a number of large dams and reservoirs will be constructed in various parts of the country, in an effort to help the government efficiently manage water supply and prevent future flood problems.

During the weekly "the Yingluck Government Meets the People" TV program, Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop, in his capacity as Chairman of the Water and Flood Management Commission, said that the government will be building 16 new reservoirs and 3 new dams, as parts of the commission’s conceptual plan for a sustainable water resource and flood management system.

Mr. Plodprasop stated that the planned construction will include Mae Kuong, Mae Wong and Kaeng Sua Ten dams.

The Deputy PM elaborated that six out of eight group companies have been selected for the project, based on the proposed construction cost and project timeframe.

He added that the signing of the contracts is expected in April, while parts of the planned construction are scheduled to be dome within a year before the complete finish in five years.

While nothing that the construction plan represents a large investment that comes with hurdles, Mr. Plodprasop stated that only cooperation and sacrifice from all parties will help make everything possible.

Concerning some opposition from NGOs, the Deputy Prime Minister stressed that the government will always listen to all opinions and suggestions and affirmed that all the dam and reservoir construction is initiated to help manage water and never intended for tourism, agricultural or power generation purposes.

Ministry of Water” begins to take shape

BANGKOK, 10 February 2013 (NNT) - The government has commenced its work on the establishment of the “Ministry of Water”, as proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that as relevant government units are still conducting the studies related to the setting up of the Ministry of Water, no conclusion has been reached yet.

Ms. Yingluck stated that more remain to be done, especially the analyses of the pros and cons of the initiative, while stressing the importance of a completely integrated water management for the country, from upstream to midstream and downstream areas.

Regarding the drought situation in the Northeast, the Premier said that the Royal Irrigation Department has been asked to help look into the problem.

The PM conceded that there has been less rainfall since the drought season started while artificial rainmaking has already been implemented in areas hit by the dry spell, when possible.

In addition, Ms. Yingluck said that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has been supervising the use of underground water and the supply of water from various sources to those in need.

The Prime Minister also confirmed there would be sufficient water for consumption but more would be needed for agricultural use.




Back to Main Page

Gov't forces in South wary of insurgents’ retaliation

Defence Minister praises Marines for defence against southern insurgents

Moving toward obesity: Too bad Thai people are too fat

24-hour curfew imposed in parts of Narathiwat, Pattani

Public Health & Defense join in alcohol-free campaign at nationwide military camps

Thai Navy chief commends latest military operation in Wed clash as success

Malay-Language Television and Radio Programming in the Deep South

Deputy House Speaker brokers agreement on amnesty bill, while 40 senators oppose

Activist Ratree thanks PM Yingluck for securing her release from Cambodia

Terrorism report prompts alert at US consulate in Chiang Mai

Thailand endorses first Palestinian ambassador to Thailand

Nearly 3,000 volunteers posted in South for defence reinforcement

Chiang Mai monitors burning to prevent worsening smog

Protesting farmers accept housing bank’s action on their loans

Thailand won't withdraw candidacy to host World Expo 2020: PM

Talks on police stations construction contract set for Friday

Thailand confident in defense of land around Phra Viharn

Police found to have requested 'Ang Pow' from people will be prosecuted

PM: Conclusion on curfew in deep South should be reached Friday

Ratree asks gov't to seek transfer of Veera to Thai jail

Multinational military exercise Cobra Gold 2013 kicks off in Thailand

Pongsapat, Sukhumbhand attract fans in different age groups

Salesman killed, 4 rangers wounded in two far South incidents

30,000 Seized Wildlife: Burden of Care

Haze situation in North troubling

Education Minister’s advisor backs pay raise for university lecturers

Patients with dengue fever increased five times this year

Special Report: Purple Line set to improve traffic in BKK and its vicinities

Five soldiers killed in Yala presumed insurgent attack

Many Bangkokians to avoid polls as they are sick of politics: Poll

PM: 2013 will be the Year of Thailand

World Islamic body nods to Thailand’s tackling of southern violences

Sand drilling ships spotted in Myanmar near Thailand's border

Security tightened in Yala following Sunday car bomb

Haze, smog worsen in northern provinces

DPM Plodprasop: Govt to build more large-scale dams to manage water supply

Ministry of Water” begins to take shape




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