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Chalerm to meet former Malaysian PM on insurgency

BANGKOK, Jan 30 -- Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung will travel to Malaysia's Langkawi early next month to meet former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad to seek his advice on dealing with Thailand’s nine year insurgency in the far South.

Mr Chalerm said that he will visit Langkawi on Monday and Tuesday next week to meet Dr Mahathir and discuss cooperation between the two neighbouring countries to restore peace in Thailand's southern border provinces.

The deputy premier, who has been assigned by the government to bring an end to the southern violence, said Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein will visit Thailand Feb 21 to discuss a plan to foster cooperation following his recent visit.

Mr Chalerm visited Malaysia January 8-10 and met with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Mr Hishammuddin.

The deputy prime minister reiterated that the Thai government would not talk directly with the insurgent groups but the talks would be done through representatives until a mutual conclusion is initially agreed, then further talks could continue. (MCOT online news)

OIC envoys to visit deep South, observe Rohingya migrants problems

BANGKOK, Jan 30 - Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said Wednesday that he will lead 15 envoys from Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries to the southern region to see for themselves the Thai government's handling of Rohingya migrants and the situation in the insurgency-torn far South.

The minister, concurrent deputy premier, announced the move following the recent detentions of hundreds of Rohingya migrants by Thai authorities in the southern province of Ranong.

Mr Surapong said the Thai government initially agreed to take care of the detained Rohingya migrants for six months, with budget to be allocated at 75 baht per day for the living expenses of each person.

There are now 1,300 Rohingyas under the supervision of the Thai authorities, the minister said. Men are detained at immigration bureau compounds in the localities, while women and children are staying at shelters for woman and children operated by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

The minister said he will take the 15 ambassadors and representatives of the OIC member countries to the areas to observe the problems tomorrow.

Mr Surapong said he assigned Thailand’s permanent-secretary for foreign affairs to coordinate with international human rights bodies seeking help for the Rohingya migrant problems as well as sending them on to third countries.

In addition, the foreign minister said he also sought cooperation from his Myanmar counterpart to consider returning the migrants to Myanmar, but their safety must be guaranteed.

Mr Surapong said he will travel to the southern border provinces with the OIC envoys to follow up the Thai government's attempt to solve the violence in the region and seek their advice for the operations. (MCOT online news)

Teachers seek transfer from Yala active insurgent zone

YALA, Jan 30 – Eight schoolteachers have requested transfers from Yala’s Bunnang Sata district following continuing deadly attacks on educators there.

The move follows half of Ban Tanyong School’s 14 teachers submitting official transfer requests after one of their colleagues was killed last week.

Pitsanu Direkkul, acting director of the Office of Yala Primary Education Area Zone2, said that security measures implemented to protect teachers is satisfactory, but continuing attacks on teachers dampen teachers’ morale, particularly in insurgent active zones.

He said eight teachers requested transfers from Yala’s Bunnang Sata district as they are not confident of their personal safety. Their requests have been approved.

The latest attack on a teacher occurred last week when a gunman who falsely presented himself as a student's father entered the school premises in Narathiwat and killed a Muslim teacher there, bringing the death toll of teachers from insurgency-related incidents to 158 since the renewed separatist violence erupted in early 2004. (MCOT online news)

Petty officer killed, two seamen, one soldier wounded in Narathiwat bombings

NARATHIWAT, Jan 30 – One Thai Navy non-commissioned officer was killed, two seamen and one soldier were wounded in two separate bombings in this violence plagued province.

The first incident occurred in the provincial seat when the naval personnel were on routine patrol duty for teacher protection in a pickup truck in the provincial seat escorting teachers as they traveled to school.

Driver Suthep Mokklaimun, a chief petty officer, was killed and two seamen were severely wounded. The bomb, buried underground and remotely triggered, wrecked the vehicle.

In Cho AI Rong district, an army ranger volunteer was wounded in a school bombing at a school believed to be the work of insurgents. The victim was taken hospital for treatment.

A third bombing, in Chanae district, involved six Army Rangers on routine patrol providing security for teachers going to school, but the men were unscathed as the remotely triggered bomb exploded in the opposite direction into a wooded area. (MCOT online news)

Poll: Rohingya refugee camp should be set up in Songkhla

SONGKHLA, 30 January 2013 (NNT) - A recent poll suggested that the majority of Songkhla residents agreed with the establishment of a Rohingya refugee camp in the province.

Results from Hat Yai Poll, conducted on 1,002 respondents in Songkhla, found that 63.5 percent of residents believed a refugee camp for the displaced Rohingyas should be set up while 36.5 percent disagreed.

80.3 percent of those surveyed voiced their concerns that problems with migrant labor would undermine the country’s security.

Nearly 65 percent of the respondents were not confident in the Yingluck administration’s ability to solve ongoing issues with foreign workers. The majority of residents also thought that the government’s 300-baht minimum wage policy was affecting the flow of foreign labor into the kingdom.

Recently, Rohingya detainees have been transferred to immigration facilities in the South and the Central Plains, awaiting the government’s next move.

Ayutthaya hit by more riverbank collapses

AYUTTHAYA, 30 January 2013 (NNT) - Over 200-meter long section of Lop Buri riverbank in the central province of Ayutthaya has collapsed, damaging houses in the area.

Two houses situated on the riverbank in Bang Pahan district have already collapsed into the Lop Buri River, with four more on the verge of caving in.

Ayutthaya Governor Witthaya Pewpong made known that since the province received reports of soil subsidence in a number of districts, related agencies have been instructed to carry out inspection and provide assistance to those affected.

On Monday, another collapse occurred on a 300-meter long section of the Pasak riverbank in Nakhon Luang district of Ayutthaya province, prompting mass evacuation by nearby residents.

Several instances of riverbank erosion were reported late last year, with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment looking into building more dykes to solve the erosion problem.

Agriculture Minister assures enough water this drought

BANGKOK, 30 January 2013 (NNT) - Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Yokol Limlaenthong has assured that there will be enough water for consumption throughout the dry season this year.

The minister said after a meeting with the ministry’s executives on Wednesday that at present there were around 55 billion cubic meters of water stored at all reservoirs nationwide. 31 billion cubic meters of the total amount were usable, decreasing from the volume in December last year. The ministry has a plan to use 23.5 billion cubic meters of water during the dry season with more than 10 billion cubic meters already used, Mr Yokol said.

The minister confirmed there would be sufficient water for consumption until the beginning of the rainy season and for the annual rice cultivation after drought.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director-General of the Royal Irrigation Department Sanchai Ketworachai said the department had asked farmers in the Northeast whose fields were using irrigated water from eight reservoirs, to stop planting crops during the dry season. The request is in line with department’s water distribution plan aimed at maintaining enough water for local consumption until the rainy season.

DSI Chief affirms fair treatment for Abhisit and Suthep

BANGKOK, 30 January 2013 (NNT) - Director-General of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) Tharit Pengdit has insisted he has no intention to victimize former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thuagsuban in the 2010 political rally case.

Mr Tharit shrugged off the criminal lawsuit filed by Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep against him, adding that a countersuit for false accusation would be unlikely. The two people alleged that the DSI chief investigated the case with an intention to force criminal punishment on them. As a response, Mr Tharit said the attempted murder charge that the DSI had filed against the ex-PM and his deputy was a result of the Criminal Court’s ruling on the case.

The Criminal Court previously ruled that Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep, as the highest authorities at the moment, had ordered 50,000 military officers to use weapons against the protesters.

Mr Tharit further confirmed that the DSI had investigated the case with fairness as it also filed lawsuits against a number of protesters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

Foreign Minister to lead OIC delegation on Rohingya update trip in Thailand’s South

BANGKOK, 31 January 2013 (NNT) – The Foreign Minister is set to lead a special delegation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to Thailand’s South for first-hand information on how the country has been handling the Rohingya migrants.

The Lower House Committee on laws, justice and human rights, on Wednesday, discussed the issue of illegal Rohingya migrants with representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the Royal Thai Police Bureau, the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and the National Security Council.

The committee was updated on how the Thai authorities have been assisting the migrants, if there is any plan to push them to a third country and whether such a country has been contacted.

The Foreign Ministry representative has assured that essential assistance has been extended to them, in accordance with the principles of humanitarianism while reporting that initial talks with the detained Rohingyas found that most do not want to return to Myanmar but travel to a third country.

At the same time, the Ministry informed the meeting about the Myanmar government’s readiness for the repatriation of the Rohingyas when the situation in the country is calmer. It added that no third country has been contacted just yet.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul added that the government plans to allow some 1,300 Rohingya migrants, currently under state detention, to remain in Thailand for no longer than 6 months.

The Foreign Minister also informed the Lower House Committee that he will lead a delegation of OIC and diplomats to visit those Rohingya migrants detained in the South.

He will also bring them to the southern border region to receive an update and ask for their suggestions on Thailand’s efforts to quell the years-long insurgent unrest.

Residents in upper Thailand warned against thunderstorms-gusty winds till end of Jan

BANGKOK, 30 January 2013 (NNT) – The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) has issued the latest warnings for residents in the upper part of Thailand against harsh weather conditions, expected until the end of January.

DDPM Director-General Chatchai Promlert said on Tuesday that the west wind from Myanmar is forecast to move into Thailand’s northern region and the western part of the central plain during January 29-31.

As a result, thunderstorms and gusty winds are likely in the upper parts of the North, the Northeast and the central region, with heavy rain and hail also expected in the northern region.

Mr. Chatchai has urged residents in affected areas to be cautious of harsh weather conditions and the threat of hail, while collaborating with provincial officials and related DDPM centers to monitor the situation closely.

In addition, fully-equipped mobility emergency units will be on stand-by to assist those in need and to warn those at risk without delay, said the DDPM chief.

Red Shirt group demands amnesty for political prisoners

BANGKOK, Jan 29 – A group of Red Shirt activists rallied at Government House today, demanding the government’s promulgation of a law to grant amnesty to political prisoners held since the 2006 against the then government of Thaksin Shinawatra.

Led by Suda Rangkupan, a lecturer in Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Arts, the group said the detainees had fought to protect democracy and deserved freedom.

Calling on the government to urgently issue legislation to provide an amnesty for the detainees, the group was met by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung who promised to give their proposal to the Council of State for further consideration.

The protestors said they disagreed with Mr Chalerm, considering his action a brush off, saying they would carry on their rally at the nearby Royal Plaza and return to Government House this evening expecting to hear a more concrete reply.

They threatened to upgrade their activity to what they termed as a “permanent rally” if they failed to get a satisfactory response rom the government.

Mr Chalerm said Parliament is authorised to endorse an amnesty bill and that a reconciliation bill should be more realistic than a royal decree on amnesty as demanded by the Red Shirt activists.

When a royal decree is issued, some individuals petition the Constitution Court which predictably ends with the court nullifying the decree, he said. (MCOT online news)

PM: Red Shirt demand won't cause conflict with government

BANGKOK, Jan 29 - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said today she could not appease the demand of the Red Shirt group seeking the release of political prisoners, but said she had assigned her deputy to seek help from the Council of State on the matter.

The premier made her remark as a group of Red Shirt activists led by Chulalongkorn University lecturer Suda Rangkupan rallied at Government House demanding the promulgation of a law to grant amnesty to political prisoners held since the 2006 coup.

Ms Yingluck said she assigned Deputy Premier Chalerm Yubamrung to bring the protesters' demand to consult with the Council of State and concerned agencies to find a conclusion.

She said however that she had not set a timeframe for the process as she wanted the issue to be carefully considered.

As the protesters demanded the release of political prisoners on Tuesday by 6pm, Ms Yingluck said time should be given to related agencies to work on it and she could not give any answer at the moment.

The premier said she believed the Red Shirt's latest move will neither pressure her government nor lead the country to a new round of conflict. Her decision, she said, would not pit the Red Shirts against her government.

"This issue should not lead to violence or conflict in society,” she said. “I want all parties to allow the Council of State and concerned agencies to work on it first." (MCOT online news)

Q&A handbook on Thai-Cambodian dispute to be issued

BANGKOK, Jan 29 – Thailand's Foreign Ministry will issue a question-and-answer handbook to create public understanding of the Phra Viharn (Prear Vihear) temple dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, a ministry spokesman said.

Nattawut Pothisaro, spokesman of the Thai legal team defending the dispute, said the handbook, titled “50 Years, 50 Points, Q&A on Phra Viharn Temple,” will be distributed to government agencies and schools and universities next week while the general public can view or download the handbook on the Foreign Ministry’s website: from today.

According to a recent survey by ABAC Poll, 82.5 per cent of people said the government has failed to give clear information on the Phra Viharn legal conflict which is pending a ruling by the International Court of Justice.

Mr Nattawut said the poll results prompted the Foreign Ministry to provide more information on the complicated issue which has engaged Thailand and Cambodia for years.

The handbook consists of 50 Q&A subjects to remove public doubts regarding the Phra Viharn dispute, he said, adding that more publicity in the form of cartoons and documentaries will also be produced.

Mr Nattawut said an official team will meet soon with community leaders and government officials in some provinces along the Thai-Cambodian border to disseminate the information on the temple dispute.

He said that the Thai people have started to understand that the dispute is an old court case and that Cambodia has sought an International Court of Justice (ICJ) interpretation of the 1962 ruling.

He added that Thailand has protested about 40 times against Cambodia’s construction in the disputed zone, with the latest protest lodged in November.

“I can assure that the Foreign Ministry has done in every manner to protect Thailand’s rights under international law. I ask the public to feel comfortable [about the ministry’s activity]. However, we have to be careful about bilateral relationship,” he said.

Cambodia has sought the world court’s ruling on its claimed ownership of a 4.6 sq km parcel of land surrounding Phra Viharn. The ICJ ruled in 1962 that the structure belonged to Cambodia but no decision was made on the adjacent land. (MCOT online news)

Thailand proposes Kaeng Krachan Forest as UNESCO World Heritage Site

BANGKOK, Jan 29 -- Thailand has proposed Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex for listing as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, with documents to be submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre next month.

Deputy Government Spokesman Chalitrat Chandrubeksa said that the cabinet endorsed the proposal of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to have the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex listed by UNESCO.

He said the World Heritage Committee’s 35th session in Paris in June 2011 acknowledged a Thai request to include Kaeng Krachan Forest on a tentative list of Natural World Heritage Sites for further consideration.

The spokesman said the Kaeng Krachan complex should qualify for the privilege status as it is one of the most important biodiversity centres in Asia, rich in flora and fauna. More than 720 kinds of animals and plants are found in the area.

Kaeng Krachan is located on the eastern slopes of the Tenasserim mountain range on the boundary between Thailand and Myanmar and covers a vast forest area of three western Thai provinces: Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, and Prachuap Khiri Khan.

It consists of five areas, namely Kaeng Krachan National Park, Mae Nam Phachi Wildlife Sanctuary, Kui Buri National Park, the site linking Kaeng Krachan National Park to Kui Buri National Park, and Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park.

Mr Chalitrat said the documents will be submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre on Friday. (MCOT online news)

Nong Khai plans ‘ASEAN lanes’ to facilitate travelers

NONG KHAI, Jan 29 - Thailand's northeastern province of Nong Khai, across the Mekong River from the Lao PDR, plans special traffic lanes at the first Thai-Lao Friendship bridge to facilitate the single visa system to be adopted when the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is formed in 2015.

Pol Lt-Gen Santi Pensutr, Immigration Police assistant commissioner general visited Nong Khai, chairing a meeting with immigration police in the province bordering Lao.

As a large number of tourists pass this border check point at the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, he stated, new technology must be fully used to prevent crime. Immigration police should prepare for the looming AEC establishment as the number of foreigners crossing the border is likely to double.

Gen Santi cited 2012 statistics noting that about 13,300 people and 2,200 vehicles crossed the border at the first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge daily on average.

In 2013, the Nong Khai immigration bureau plans to improve facilities with more CCTV camera installation, ASEAN traffic lanes in preparation for the ASEAN single visa system in line with the policy of the Royal Thai Police bureau. (MCOT online news)

Court asked to challenge government’s water management delays

BANGKOK, Jan 29 – The opposition Democrat Party has sought the Constitution Court’s intervention in response to the government’s failure to deliver a realistic plan for water management and applying the Bt350 billion in loans approved under a royal decree.

Korn Chatikavanij, deputy Democrat leader, said the royal decree allocating the Bt350 billion loans for water management was approved by the Constitution Court last year but the government lacks a clear projection on budget spending and management of water system.

Only Bt4.639 billion has been earmarked, representing only 1 per cent of the Bt350 billion loans, and it was found that the amount of money was not used for water management, he claimed, adding the government has until June 30 to acquire the loans, otherwise the right is invalidated.

In an open letter to the Constitution Court, the former finance minister said the government did not abide by its explanation to the Constitution Court on the urgency of the royal decree and the government’s performance has clearly displayed its inefficiency in water management.

In fact, the government could have included the loans in the 2012 national budget or sought loans in accord with the Public Debt Management Act (2005) without the necessity to issue a royal decree but the government avoided doing that, Mr Korn said.

The deputy Democrat leader said only five months are left, as given by the royal decree, but the government still does not have any tangible plan, leading to the suspicion that the government intends to spend the huge amount of money without going through any inspection – an activity that will severely damage the country and become a criteria for future governments.

Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong gave assurances that the government will meet the June 30 deadline in obtaining the Bt350 billion loans from various financial sources.

The Water Management and Disasters Committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, will probably call bids for projects related to water management between February and April after which the loans will be fully acquired within June 30, he said. (MCOT online news)

Army Chief asks all sides to help solve southern violence

NARATHIWAT, 29 January 2013 (NNT) - Army Commander-in-Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has visited Narathiwat Province to give moral support to the locals after over 300 shools reopened on Monday amidst tight security.

During his visit, General Prayuth gave moral support to the teachers and students. In the meantime, he urged all security units to tighten up security measures.

Last week, a teacher was shot dead in front of students, causing the Narathiwat teachers' federation to close over 300 schools across the province in fear of teachers' safety. The schools re-opened on Monday.

According to General Prayuth, history is just a story to learn from; not something to bring up to cause chaos. He told all sides to look at the future and how to bring about peace. He also urged the people to monitor and report to authorities any suspected movements to help tackle the violence in the Deep South.

In related news, more than 10 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in Mayo, Panare, and Palas Districts of Pattani have been torched by insurgents. Investigation is now underway.

Earlier, on January 14th, nearly 80 CCTVs in Yala were also burned. Officials have been unable to determine the motives of the incidents.

Thai govt to push Rohingya migrants back to Myanmar within 6 months

BANGKOK, 29 January 2013 (NNT) – The Thai government is adamant to repatriate thousands of Rohingya migrants to Myanmar within 6 months.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Paisit Sangkahapong, Director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Center of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) revealed that, late last week, Defense Minister - Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol Suwanatat and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul held a meeting with national security agencies and state offices with responsibilities related to the illegal entry of more than 800 Muslim Rohingyas.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Paisit stated that the meeting saw all parties agree with the result of the probe, which affirmed no human-trafficking ring could have been involved in the arrival of the illegal migrants from Myanmar.

He added that the Rohingyas, who remain under detention in Thailand’s south, do not seem to be heading or sent to any specific destination. Therefore, they are only going to be charged for illegal entry.

The DSI’s Anti-Human Trafficking Center Director said that all of them will need to be pushed back within 6 months.

In addition, he said that Thai authorities have been providing basic assistance, in accordance with the humanitarian principles, while coordinating with the Myanmar government to bring all of these migrants back.

Moreover, Thailand has also been in touch with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help find a third country for the Rohingyas.

Public Health revamps medical service pricing

BANGKOK, 29 January 2013 (NNT) - The Ministry of Public Health has decided to adjust the pricing of medical services in public hospitals. The ministry, however, confirmed that the fee adjustments would not be a burden to patients in the universal health care scheme.

Minister of Public Health MD Prasert Sinthawarong said the true costs of medical services covered the costs of medicines, equipment, durable articles, etc. The subcommittees responsible for the pricing adjustments found that there were 758 new services, most of which were in pathology clinical and restorative medical services. The costs of some services were found to have changed due to changing medical technologies and other factors.

The minister confirmed that the pricing adjustments would not affect medical service providers as most people had access to the government’s universal health care scheme. He added that public hospitals would earn more from foreign patients after the new pricing was in effect.


Police mobilize forces for Bangkok governor race

BANGKOK, 29 January 2013 (NNT) - The Metropolitan Police Bureau has prepared more than 10,000 police officers to provide security on the 2013 gubernatorial election day while the officers have been instructed to be impartial.

National Police Spokesman Pol. Maj. Gen. Piya Uthayo said the police forces would be dispatched to more than 6,000 polling stations across Bangkok, or two officers for each station, on the election day, March 3. Apart from the forces from the Metropolitan Police Bureau, police investigators, rapid response units and traffic police will also be deployed to help maintain order.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau has also requested the police headquarters for a reinforcement of 4,000 officers, who will be trained for their tasks to provide security and prevent infringements of election laws.

Meanwhile, the police commissioner-general has issued a written order to all police officers to be impartial and avoid doing anything, in a direct or indirect way, that could benefit or cause trouble to the election candidates. Any officer who is reported to show bias will face disciplinary action.

Public Health: Rising medical charges to pose no effect on most Thais

BANGKOK, 30 January 2013 (NNT) – The Public Health Ministry has come out to assure that the recent raise in medical charges at all state hospitals and healthcare centers will not impact most Thais.

Public Health Minister Pradit Sintavanarong said on Tuesday that the Ministry has decided to approve the increase in medical charges at all state healthcare facilities because there has not been any fee adjustment for a long time.

Mr. Pradit affirmed that the increase has been well thought out and never been intended to make the public carry more financial burden.

He stated that those, who will have to dig deeper into their pockets, are foreigners and locals whose names are not listed in the state-sponsored health insurance program.

The Public Health Minister said that more will have to be done about the charges to be collected from foreign patients, the issue that may also be raised for discussion with other ASEAN nations, whose residents may need medical treatment in Thailand.

He went on to say that all private hospitals and clinics will have no legitimate reason to increase their charges at the moment, after constant upward adjustment has regularly been made.

Mr. Pradit also stated that the Public Health Ministry has set up a new committee to watch over the issue of medical treatment charges and to launch an inspection, if needed.

Bangkok police’s “TRAFFIC POLICE EYE" to tackle traffic woes

BANGKOK, 30 January 2013 (NNT) – The Metropolitan Police Bureau has launched a new initiative, aimed at tackling traffic woes in the capital.

Deputy Chief of Metropolitan Police Bureau – Police Major General Worasak Noppasitthiporn, on Tuesday, launched the “Traffic Police Eye” project, an initiative implemented under the collaboration with internet operator, 3BB Wifi.

Police Major General Worasak said that the project entails the use of Internet Protocol (IP) and IP Cameras in providing real-time broadcast of traffic conditions on Bangkok streets to the Traffic Control and Command Center and traffic police officers’ smartphones.

He stated that the use of technology is expected to help responsible officers better tackle road congestion in a more timely manner, while all footage will be stored for further analyses.

In addition, all closed-circuit cameras can be utilized for crime suppression, according to the Deputy Chief of Metropolitan Police Bureau.

Police Major General Worasak added that the first 20 IP Cameras have been installed at major intersections throughout the city and are now operational, as planned.

Dead man in Bangkok hotel fire apparent arsonist

BANGKOK, Jan 28 - Police said a preliminary investigation indicated that the Sunday fire at the capital's Grand Tower Inn Hotel was likely set by a hotel employee, the only fatality, and that the incident was due to personal conflicts.

The fire broke out almost simultaneously in eight different locations in the hotel premises, leaving one person dead, and 11 persons injured.

Pongsakorn Boonaram was found dead in the bathroom of a guest room on the third flood.

Bangkok Metropolitan Police chief Kamronwit Thoopkrachang said Mr Pongsakorn had been in all of the areas which had burned, according to an investigation both from closed-circuit security monitors and eyewitnesses, while a cigarette lighter was discovered in the room where the victim died.

Meanwhile, Mr Pongsakorn left a message at his home, describing his strong attachment to the hotel and that he was ready to die with it.

He was having conflicts with the hotel, police said, without specifying whether it was with management or fellow employees.

The hotel will be searched again for more evidence, while the cause of the fire is still to be confirmed by Forensic Science Police. (MCOT online news)

Public Health Ministry on top of haze crisis in Thailand’s North

BANGKOK, 27 January 2013 (NNT) – The Minister of Public Health has instructed public health officials in the 9 Northern provinces, hit by the latest wave of air pollution, to help affected locals while urging those with chronic illnesses to avoid areas covered with thick haze.

Public Health Minister Dr. Pradit Sintavanarong has assigned health personnel from the Office of Disease Control in all haze-hit Northern provinces to be on alert and to prepare necessary medical equipment, medical supplies and medicines to help people who have suffered the haze hazard.

Nine provinces affected by the latest round of haze are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phrae, Phayao and Tak.

The Public Health Minister also urged locals not to burn weeds, grasses, trees or wastes in order to avoid escalating the impact of the haze.

Children and senior citizens, especially those suffering from chronic respiratory or vascular diseases, are advised to stay out of areas covered with thick haze.

If that cannot be avoided, they are asked to cover their mouths and noses with handkerchiefs or masks, and quickly seek medical attention if they suffer such symptoms as chest discomfort, breathing difficulty and eyes burning.

Human rights body briefed on Rohingya migrants in Thailand

BANGKOK, Jan 28 – The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sought clarification from a variety of agencies on the plight and options for Thailand's well over a thousand Rohingya migrants, a senior commissioner said today.

Commission member Niran Pitakvachara said the Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand, led by Vinai Salem, recently petitioned the agency to help prevent the repatriation of Rohingya migrants to Myanmar, their country of origin.

A total of 1,486 Rohingya ethnic people have been detained at various shelters in southern Thailand. Among them, 264 are women and children.

Mr Niran said the NHRC has invited agencies concerned to explain the situation, including the Foreign Ministry, National Security Council, Social Development and Human Security Ministry, Public Health Ministry, Sheikhul Islam Office, Immigration Police Bureau and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Commission heard that medical officials have provided health checkups and assistance to the Rohingya migrants, particularly those who are sick and injured, on humanitarian grounds and they will be allowed to stay in Thailand until a decision is reached on whether to send them to their country of origin or to third countries.

Some have relatives in neighbouring countries and want to reunite with family members, the NHRC was told.

The head of UNHCR in Thailand has expressed appreciation to the Thai government and southern communities for taking care of the Rohingya migrants and hoped the migrant problem will be solved in a sustainable manner. (MCOT online news)

Bangkok election candidates keep walking to woo votes

BANGKOK, Jan 28 – Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan said today that his party’s Bangkok campaign for the capital governorship will be intensified despite a recent poll which put party candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen at the forefront, far ahead of his strongest rival.

The interior minister said his party will revise and adjust some of the strategies with an emphasis on a house-to-house door-knocking campaign which he described as the beauty of democracy.

Meanwhile, Democrat candidate Sukhumbhand Paribatra said he will carry on his own door-to-door campaign in Bangkok no matter what the poll results show.

Mr Sukhumbhand and Pol Gen Pongsapat continued their election campaigns in different areas of the capital today. Mr Sukhumbhand was accompanied by Democrat MPs and city councillors directly meeting the people in Thonburi, in western Bangkok, while candidate Pongsapat talked to residents in Din Daeng flats and nearby areas.

The Bangkok gubernatorial election is set for March 3. (MCOT online news)

Thai authorities intercept illegal migrant worker trafficking ring

RANONG, Jan 28 -- A Thai army military task force has intercepted an illegal migrant worker trafficking ring in Ranong and detained 27 Myanmar nationals who were being smuggled into Thailand.

Col Uthit Anantananond, Deputy Commander of a special 25th Infantry Regiment task force said a patrol unit was sent to inspect the shoreline at Koh Chak in Ngao subdistrict of the Ranong provincial seat after receiving a tip that illegal immigrants would be smuggled into the kingdom.

The authorities found a longtail boat that was being piloted suspiciously, as it attempted to escape into a mangrove forest near Khlong Ton Son in Ngao subdistrict. The patrol unit intercepted the boat, stopping it, finding 27 Myanmar men and women. Two Ranong natives, identified as Suracha Klasuek and Adul Chualchart, were arrested.

They said they were hired to smuggle the migrants into Thailand and the group had entered Thailand on Saturday and were waiting to transfer them to Songkhla by car.

Col Uthit said legal action would be taken against the pair for helping the migrants to illegally enter Thailand while the 27 Myanmar nationals would face illegal entry charges. (MCOT online news)

Pasak riverbank collapses in Ayutthaya

AYUTTHAYA, 28 January 2013 (NNT) - A 300-meter long section of the Pasak riverbank in Ayutthaya province has collapsed, prompting mass evacuation by nearby residents.

Head of the Ayutthaya Provincial Administrative Organization Somsong Pancharoenworakul said after an inspection that the collapse of the Pasak riverbank could have been caused by a rapid drop in water level and the heavy use of the river by commercial barges. Residents living along the riverbank in Nakhon Luang district have been fleeing their homes, in fear of further erosion.

Several instances of riverbank erosion occurred late last year, with a number of houses collapsing into the river. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has been looking into building more dykes in Ayutthaya province to solve the erosion problem.

Forensic expert: Some Rohinyas have connection with RKK

BANGKOK, 28 January 2013 (NNT) - After running blood tests on detained Rohingyas in the South, a forensic expert has found that some of them use drugs, and a few of them have been trained by the RKK Muslim insurgents.

Central Institute of Forensic Science Director Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand has revealed that the DNA tests on over 800 Rohingyas indicated that some of them use drugs, but she could not find any evidence that they are connected with drug dealers.

The point of concern, she expressed, is their connection with the RKK Muslim insurgents. Reports said in 2009 some Rohingyas with Malaysian residency entered Thailand to stage an attack in the Deep South. During a recent inspection, authorities found that some of them carried with them explosive substances from India.

The officials suspected that there might be people behind their move to enter Thailand. Despite authorities' attempts to return them to their countries of origin, most Rohingyas were in fact dropped off Satun, Ranong, and other southern provinces of Thailand and some were sent to Malaysia.

Two of the Rohingyas confessed that they had been trained by the RKK to stage insurgency in the South. Given the government's lack of clear strategy to deal with the Rohingyas, Dr Pornthip expressed her worries that the issue could pose a threat to national security.

BMA aims to boost voter turnout to 70 percent

BANGKOK, 28 January 2013 (NNT) - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is preparing measures to increase voter turnout for the upcoming gubernatorial election to 70 percent.

BMA Permanent Secretary Chumpol Sampaopol spoke after a meeting with representatives from all 50 district offices that the agency is set to boost voter turnout in this year’s Bangkok governor election to 70 percent, as only 51 percent of Bangkok residents cast ballots in the previous election.

As part of the BMA’s PR strategy, 13 teams of officials will hold a door-to-door campaign and hand out flyers to encourage voting as well as urge all students within the capital to motivate their parents to use their rights on March 3. Campaign buses will be deployed in constituencies with low voter turnout to help raise people’s awareness. Each district office has been instructed to draw up a map to inform residents of the locations of polling booths within their respective area.

Since most of the over 6,000 polling stations in Bangkok will be located outdoors, additional tents have been prepared for the voters in case of unfavorable weather conditions.

Thailand signs Ramsar Convention

BANGKOK, 28 January 2013 (NNT) - Thailand has signed the Ramsar Convention or the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, to express the country’s determination to preserve wetlands.

Deputy Permanent Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Surapol Pattani said Thailand was the 110th signatory of the Ramsar Convention. By signing the convention, Thailand pledged to protect wetlands by supporting wise utilization of the areas that had been playing an important role in preventing floods and drought.

Thailand will arrange a meeting on wetlands to make the public realize the importance of the areas and utilize them in a sustainable manner. The meeting participants will learn about water resource management and their suggestions will be used in creating guidelines for wetland and water preservation. The meeting is scheduled on 4 February 2013 in Bangkok.

Police investigating gun attack on ASTV vehicles

BANGKOK, 28 January 2013 (NNT) – Police are launching an investigation into the gun attack on 4 ASTV news cars, while the motive behind the shooting is still unclear.

Around 3am on Saturday, a man in a long-sleeve black shirt fired on 4 ASTV cars, causing minor damage to all the 4 vehicles. He also fired 3 more shots at the ASTV headquarters; fortunately, no one was injured. The police have spoken to 5 witnesses and are now in pursuit of the shooter.

According to Metropolitan Police Bureau Chief Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit Thoopkrachang, the motive of the attack is still unclear, claiming it could have been a third party who wanted to create a situation.

Meanwhile, Spokesman of the People's Alliance for Democracy Parnthep Phuaphongphan said the shooting might have been caused by the ASTV's news content, adding that he believed the shooter only wanted to threaten the company, not to hurt its people.

Defective car license plates can be replaced for free

BANGKOK, 28 January 2013 (NNT) - The Department of Land Transport (DLT) has announced that owners of defective car registration plates can ask for a new set of plates for free from now until September 30th.

After receiving several complaints of license plates with slough surface , the department said it would be responsible for the replacement of new ones. Owners of the defective plates can ask for new sets of plates at no charge at the Transport Offices the car is registered under.

The owners will get their new plates 15 days after they file a request. They have to turn in the old plates when they pick up the new ones. The free service will be provided until September 30th, after which the car owners will have to pay 100 baht for each plate replaced.

For more information, please contact call center 1584.

Army says Preah Vihear dispute must be solved through talks

BANGKOK, 28 January 2013 (NNT)-Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha denied the military had any role in the shooting of ASTV reporter cars, while also saying any disputes over the Thai-Cambodian border must be resolved through negotiations.

The Army Chief said both sides of the territorial dispute must abide by the rules and regulations. No trespassing will be permitted. He said the military would step up its defense or hold talks if any one found intruding on the overlapping area around the Preah Vihear temple.

The General added that if the situation over the border escalated, the issue would have to be mediated through bilateral or UN talks. As for speculation of army involvement in the shooting of the ASTV reporter cars on Saturday, General Prayuth said the army had nothing to do with the incident.

The C-in-C said the dispute two weeks ago between the army and Manager Media Group, who runs ASTV cable, had ended in peace. General Prayuth reiterated that both sides must respect each other and that he did not support any types of violence. The police are now trying to identify who the culprits are.




Back to Main Page

Chalerm to meet former Malaysian PM on insurgency

OIC envoys to visit deep South, observe Rohingya migrants problems

Teachers seek transfer from Yala active insurgent zone

Petty officer killed, two seamen, one soldier wounded in Narathiwat bombings

Poll: Rohingya refugee camp should be set up in Songkhla

Ayutthaya hit by more riverbank collapses

Agriculture Minister assures enough water this drought

DSI Chief affirms fair treatment for Abhisit and Suthep

Foreign Minister to lead OIC delegation on Rohingya update trip in Thailand’s South

Residents in upper Thailand warned against thunderstorms-gusty winds till end of Jan

Red Shirt group demands amnesty for political prisoners

PM: Red Shirt demand won't cause conflict with government

Q&A handbook on Thai-Cambodian dispute to be issued

Thailand proposes Kaeng Krachan Forest as UNESCO World Heritage Site

Nong Khai plans ‘ASEAN lanes’ to facilitate travelers

Court asked to challenge government’s water management delays

Army Chief asks all sides to help solve southern violence

Thai govt to push Rohingya migrants back to Myanmar within 6 months

Public Health revamps medical service pricing

Police mobilize forces for Bangkok governor race

Public Health: Rising medical charges to pose no effect on most Thais

Bangkok police’s “TRAFFIC POLICE EYE" to tackle traffic woes

Dead man in Bangkok hotel fire apparent arsonist

Public Health Ministry on top of haze crisis in Thailand’s North

Human rights body briefed on Rohingya migrants in Thailand

Bangkok election candidates keep walking to woo votes

Thai authorities intercept illegal migrant worker trafficking ring

Pasak riverbank collapses in Ayutthaya

Forensic expert: Some Rohinyas have connection with RKK

BMA aims to boost voter turnout to 70 percent

Thailand signs Ramsar Convention

Police investigating gun attack on ASTV vehicles

Defective car license plates can be replaced for free

Army says Preah Vihear dispute must be solved through talks




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