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ABAC Poll: Yingluck outshines Abhisit

Society urged to pay more attention to Thai youth

Abhisit: Previous policy will be continued

Defense Min: GBC Meeting to take place within May

Chuwit declared the failure of Airport Link

Police ready to ensure peace before/during election

Two Czechs arrested for 2mln Euro heist

Thailand prepared to talk with Cambodia over land issue in Paris

Sea turtle conservation at Kram Island

Khon Kaen hospital uses piano therapy for psychotic patients

Two Nigerians arrested with ‘ice’ worth Bt1 million in Bangkok

NDWC: Heavy rain to hit north, northeast

Yingluck to start election campaign this weekend

Suan Dusit Poll reveals opinions of teens on election

MOPH further clarifies deaths of tourists in Chiang Mai

2 ancient junks discovered in Gulf of Thailand

TAT believes domestic tourism will flourish during election

Special Report: Democrat Party policies for upcoming election

Royal rainmaking operation reached out across Thailand

Veera, Ratree seeking royal pardon, not appeal


ABAC Poll: Yingluck outshines Abhisit

BANGKOK, 22 May 2011 (NNT) – A survey conducted by the ABAC poll suggests that there are strong similarities between Abhisit Vejjajiva and Yingluck Shinawatra in terms leadership image. However, despite the growing interest of politics among adolescences, The Democrat leader is trailing behind the Phue Thai number 1 candidate in terms of popularity.

According to the poll, Ms. Yingluck had advanced in factors such as tolerance, emotional control, acceptance by the public. Moral stature also rose from 9.8% to 15.9 % as well as leadership, from 12.9 % to 20.4%. Ability and performance in the role also increased from 10.9% to 16.7 % and visionary attributes rose from 15.2 % to a 21.7 % preference.

In addition, 59.4% of those surveyed preferred a debate by the two politicians in order to seek greater assurance for their vote in the upcoming public election. Moreover, a dual debate of intellect and capabilities should guarantee their potential to fulfill the role as Prime Minister.

Society urged to pay more attention to Thai youth

BANGKOK, 21 May 2011 (NNT)-An academic from Chulalongkorn University says Thai politics could be in the right direction if needs and demands of the younger generation are heard while a first time politician expressed his wish for the Thai public to accept the election result.

Mr. Pitch Pongsawad, Chulalongkorn University academic, said in a seminar concerning politics and the young generation that the topic has been widely discussed in the society. Younger people have been encouraged to express their opinions; he said, however, their voices have not often been heard, adding that this is the problem that has hampered the efficiency of the Thai political system.

He urged that the society should pay more attention to what the younger generation has to say as an alternative to solving social divides. Meanwhile, a member of the young generation, Mr. Setthawut Yuttawarakul, said the Thai society has high hope that the upcoming election will help solve the political crisis. He urges that everyone in the society should accept its outcome.

Abhisit: Previous policy will be continued

BANGKOK, 21 May 2011 (NNT)-Democrat Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has said during his campaign in Thonburi that if his party is elected, he will continue with the same policy he has laid down in his previous government.

Mr. Abhisit visited Wat Arunrachawararam Rachaworawiharn (Temple of the Dawn) earlier today where he introduced 5 Democrat candidates for the five constituencies in Thonburi area. He reiterated the reason for his dissolving the House was to pave the way for national reconciliation which has been hindered by conflicts for the past 5 years.

He added later that the Thai people will be given an opportunity to choose and deliberate on whom they want to become the next Prime Minister. He claimed that if the Democrat Party is chosen, his team will be able to fit right in and start where they have left off without a hassle that a new party will have to go through. Mr. Abhisit stated that Pheu Thai’s main focus was to grant amnesty to former politicians suspected of wrongdoings.

Defense Min: GBC Meeting to take place within May

BANGKOK, 21 May 2011 (NNT) – Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to organize the General Border Committee (GBC) Meeting within this month although the venue has not been finalized, according to the Thai Ministry of Defense.

Defense Ministry Spokesperson Colonel Thanathip Sawangsaeng disclosed that Thai Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan had a chance to meet with his Cambodian counterpart General Tea Banh during the recent ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia. The discussion was mainly focused on the two countries’ agreement to hold the annual GBC Meeting with no conditions in order to restore normalcy along the border and ensure peaceful coexistence of their peoples.

The Ministers reportedly came to a conclusion that the meeting would be arranged within this month, brought closer from the initial schedule in June. However, no decision was made as to which country would be hosting the event.

Chuwit declared the failure of Airport Link

BANGKOK, 22 May 2011 (NNT)- Rak Prathet Thai party leader, Chuwit Kamolvisit made a statement at a press conference held at Airport Link Terminal at Makkasan station about the failure of airport link construction campaign which required 2.6 billion baht of budget, and that the period of payback would take over 634 years to break even.

Moreover airport link is isolated with less numbers of passenger using Airport link services. According to Mr Chuwit, the management system is inefficient with no security administrator, which does not meet International standards.

The Rak Prathet Thai Leader supported his statement with pictures from different zones in Airport Link, in addition with analysis from Siemens Company, which stated that the possibility in expanding the airport link could only be 25-30 kilometers, therefore, politicians who included the airport link plan to their campaigns in expanding to pattaya, were unlikely to be successful. For the solution to the matter, the private business company’s management is essential rather than management system of State Railway of Thailand. Additionally, they will also have to provide ticket with promotions, between the hotel airlines or selling tickets in advance at special prices.

Police ready to ensure peace before/during election

BANGKOK, 21 May 2011 (NNT) – The National Police Office is taking proactive measures in the mission to ensure safety for all election candidates as well as peace and order of the society both before and during the general election.

National Police Advisor for Security Affairs Police General Pongsapat Pongjaroen elaborated that the police has set up the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) for this election to serve as the centre to receive notification from the public on any unrest regarding the election.

Police General Pongsapat stated that police officers will be deployed to ensure peace at polling stations on both the advance and actual election dates while traffic will be facilitated for voters and transportation of ballot boxes.

The national police advisor noted that security measures of election campaigns of political parties will be provided while key elected political figures will be safeguarded after the election. He added that police officers will work on intelligence operation to find news on electoral fraud.

Police General Pongsapat said the police will be ready to send in security forces if any election candidates are facing with dangerous situation. He added that they can also seek help from any police stations across the country.

Two Czechs arrested for 2mln Euro heist

BANGKOK, May 20 -- Thailand's Immigration Police Bureau arrested two Czechs with outstanding arrest warrants from the Czech Republic and Interpol for a 2 million Euro bank cash delivery robbery in 2008.
Josef Blazek, 32, and Rudolf Tesarek, 35, were arrested at a Robinson Department Store in the eastern province of Chon Buri's Sriracha district.

The two men are being held under arrest warrants from the Hradec Kralove Court and Interpol.

They robbed a cash-delivery vehicle of the Czech central bank on Jan 17, 2008 taking 3 million euros (Bt126 million) before they were arrested and sentenced to 12 years in jail. However, they jumped bail while appealing the court's verdict.

The Thai Immigration Police Bureau coordinated with Interpol and found that the two men had entered Thailand from Laos in August 2010 and successfully tracked down them through clues from contact between Mr Tesarek and his Czech wife who is three months pregnant.

His wife arrived in Thailand last Friday and made an appointment to meet him at a department store to show him an ultrasound film image of their baby.

Police initially charged the two men with overstaying in the kingdom and would extradite them to stand trial on robbery charges in the Czech Republic. (MCOT online news)

Thailand prepared to talk with Cambodia over land issue in Paris

BANGKOK, 20 May 2011 (NNT)-Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti expressed his readiness in attending a bilateral talk with Cambodia in Paris, adding that the problem began when the Preah Vihear was listed as one of the world’s heritage site.

According to Mr. Suwit, the talk will be held from 25-26 May, 2011 with Thailand standing firm on addressing the issue by determining the boundary on the Thai-Cambodian border first before a management plan around the temple is proposed.

Mr. Suwit said he would refer to how Cambodia had gone and listed the temple the heritage site without settling the demarcation issue with Thailand first. He said this had entailed a series of gunfights in the past couple of years over the frontier. In addition, he is expected to give a summary on the preparation on 23 May, 2011 after seeing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The Natural Resources and Environment Minister further explained that the Cambodian move to list Preah Vihear was unlawful and it failed to recognize the United Nations protocol on world heritage site since the country did not include the management plan around the temple as part of it was still located on the Thai soil.

Sea turtle conservation at Kram Island

There is an island in the eastern province of Chonburi's Sattahip distict where sea turtles feel safe to lay their eggs. In order to keep the ecosystem in balance, the Royal Thai Navy's Sattahip Naval Base set up Sea Turtle Conservation Center and has arranged its personnel to care for the animals.

Kram Island, free of tourists and local residents, is some four kilometres off shore, covers over 8,000 rai of farmland and is under the responsibility of the Royal Thai Navy.

Marine turtles lay several thousand eggs annually at Kram Island. The considerable number of eggs is regarded the most abundant of all the islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

As natural security is also national security, the deployment of naval officers around Kram Island is strictly to protect the safety and well-being of the turtles.

"Marine natural resources are important to all Thais, for they are sources of food. If something bad happens to the sea turtles, it will affect the whole food chain," said Rear Adm Tharathorn Khajitsuwan, commanding officer of Thailand's Air and Coastal Defense Command.

Green sea turtles and Hawksbill sea turtles usually lay eggs along the six beaches of this island in Sattahip district.

Although some of the eggs hatch naturally, about one-third of them are collected so as to be kept and buried in a protected environment hatchery areas to allow a greater survival rate than would otherwise occur. Here dozens of eggs are collected and reburied to protect them from other animals -- and human predators as well -- and that the baby turtles will not escape after hatching.

Forty-five days after the day the turtles laid their eggs, officials from Sea Turtle Conservation Center will visit the protected hatchery areas to see if any eggs have hatched from their shells. As they emerge, the baby turtles are moved to a pond for nursing care for three months. They will be set free to the ocean once they become strong enough.

Despite the care fully provided by the centre to the turtles, a related official said that the number of the reptiles has remained about the same over the years.

"In fact the number of sea turtles hasn't increased greatly. The old ones die while the young ones take their places. There are around 20-30 new sea turtles annually, according to the microchips implanted in the animals' bodies," said Lt Somchai Timlamom, commanding officer of the Sea Turtle Conservation Center.

There are currently about 500 marine turtles in the Gulf of Thailand, which sadly already includes the number of sea turtles in Kram Island. The figure is relatively small and has dropped significantly due to human beings' lack of concern for the environment.

Despite the number, marine turtles by all means have amazing instincts. Although they are set free to the ocean when they are only three months old, they will go back to their home in Sattahip district to lay their eggs even after four or five years of their long journey, which could be as far as to the Philippines. The egg laying season is between May to July. (MCOT online news)

Khon Kaen hospital uses piano therapy for psychotic patients

Khon Kean Rajanakarindra Psychiatric Hospital in Thailand's northeastern province of Khon Kean offers psychotic patients piano lessons along with the usual range of treatments in order to help them build relationships with others for other types of treatment in the future.

Patients at the hospital usually gather and practice the instrument carefully. Despite the absence of musical backgrounds for most, they can play music by applying the “One-to-Five” technique, which converts the musical notes into the numbers 1 to 5. The technique, which is applicable for use on inexpensive keyboards, helps patients play the piano more easily in a short time and without pressure.

According to the hospital's expert nurse, Mallita Poonswad, playing the instrument gives positive results to patients suffering from various kinds of mental illness.

"The nature of these patients is that they're inert, don't really care about themselves and are usually lost in isolation," Mallita said. "But piano helps them concentrate better, as the sound of music helps their minds stay fixed on the notes or the numbers assigned to them."

Psychotic patients receiving musical treatment must volunteer to join this practice in groups of 6-12 persons. They must be able to communicate with others and their minds must be calm enough even though their general symptoms are chronic.

Treatment takes place three times a week, lasting an hour for each session. Sufferers are taught to use both hands to play the music, while applause and compliments are given to the patients to boost their morale, even if they are not expert performers. Each practice is recorded during the treatment in order to be evaluated musically for the patients' progress.

According to social worker Nuanlak Laohapan at Khon Kean Rajanakarindra Psychiatric Hospital, psychotic patients suffer from a disorder of their brain chemicals and of neurotransmitters.

"What we do helps the patients' brain with exercise together with medication. After four months of practicing the musical skills, patients will be stimulated more easily and their symptoms will improve when they're asked later to join other hospital activities," Nuanlak said.

She added that music positively affects brain relaxation and the playing therapy technique helps entertain the patients, make them happy and acquire their better self-esteem.

One patient in the hospital programme said, "If we play well and let our brains exercise, then we keep on playing and playing, and that makes us happy."

The “One-to-Five” technique is not difficult. Persons at any age can begin the practice. Music therapy can also be used to help cure other types of patient behaviours such as children with autism and ADHC (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), and with the elderly as well as persons with depressive disorders. (MCOT online news)

Two Nigerians arrested with ‘ice’ worth Bt1 million in Bangkok

BANGKOK, May 19 – Two Nigerian men, suspected of being part of a drug smuggling ring, were arrested Thursday with 500 grammes of crystal methamphetamine, also known as 'ice,' valued at an estimated Bt1 million (US$33,300) in eastern Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng area, according to narcotics suppression police.

Identified as Ahamefule Cosmos and Iriegbe Chinonso, the two Nigerian nationals were detained at a convenience store near Ramkhamhaeng Soi 24. Police took them to their apartment for further investigation and found 28 packages of crystal meth, weighing in total 500 grammes valued at $33,300.

The arrest followed the arrest of Thai national Polsingha Putthasri, who held 100 grammes of ‘ice,’ saying he bought the illegal drug from a Nigerian drug syndicate.

According to the initial investigation, the detainees claimed that their friend smuggled the drug for them to sell it to partygoers and tourists in Bangkok's Ratchada and Nana areas.

Initially, the two Nigerians were charged with possessing illicit drugs for sale. (MCOT online news)

NDWC: Heavy rain to hit north, northeast

BANGKOK, 20 May 2011 (NNT) – The National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) under the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has issued a warning against possible heavy rainfall in the northern and northeastern parts of the kingdom within the next few days.

According the recent announcement of the NDWC, the northern region, especially Nan, Lampang, Phayao, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces, and the northeastern provinces of Mukdahan and Sakon Nakhon are likely to experience torrential rain from 20 to 22 May 2011.

Related units in those risky areas should brace themselves for possible flash flood while villagers should follow the officials’ advice as well as monitor the news closely.

Yingluck to start election campaign this weekend

BANGKOK, 19 May 2011 (NNT) – Pheu Thai Party’s prime minister candidate Yingluck Shinawatra will start the election campaign for her party very soon after she has registered herself with the Election Commission as a party-listed MP candidate.

The leading candidate stated that she will start her political campaigns by visiting local people after the official registration with the EC this morning. She announced that she will visit the northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai first this weekend.

Regarding the challenge from the Democrat Party for a debate between her and Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, Ms Yingluck responded that she will consider the issue later on after elaborating policies of the party with people.

Many Pheu Thai core members recently have turned down the proposed debate, reasoning that verbal combats will do no benefits as political parties should instead compete by doing rather than saying.

Upon a criticism by the Democrat Party against her personal issues and characteristics, the Pheu Thai key leader responded that she will endure with the verbal attack as people will make the decision. She said political parties should compete in terms of policies as people want to see creative politics.

Suan Dusit Poll reveals opinions of teens on election

BANGKOK, 19 May 2011 (NNT) – A number of teenagers have voiced their belief that the situation in the country after the upcoming election will remain the same, according to Suan Dusit Poll of Suan Dusit Rajabhat University.

The survey was conducted with 1,219 teenagers and youth across the nation from 14 to 17 May 2011. The young respondents were questioned about the upcoming election.

37.18% of the respondents said they liked the Democrat Party while 32.03% went for the Pheu Thai Party. 24.92% had no preferred political parties while the rest like other parties. The respondents indicated that they received information about the election from television the most at 62.60%, followed by the Internet at 12.32%.

Asked for qualifications of their preferred MPs, 35.47% wanted honest persons while 28.13% wanted diligent people who kept their promises. 18.28% said MPs should think of common benefits and national development. 10.68% indicated that MPs should be the mouthpiece of people, listening to their problems.

Asked for their expectation after the election, 72.58% believed that the nation will remain the same because the political rifts will persist. 22.18% were optimistic as they deem the election a democratic expression while 5.24% were pessimistic saying the situation will become worse with more protests by people who do not accept the election result.

Asked if social media and online society will impact their decision in the election or not, 56.04% admitted the cyber world has some influence on them since it offers a pool of information; however, 43.96% did not think so, saying it depends on individual judgement.

MOPH further clarifies deaths of tourists in Chiang Mai

CHIANG MAI, 18 May 2011 (NNT) – The Ministry of Public Health has issued more clarifications to foreign media in regard to the recent deaths of foreign tourists at a hotel in Chiang Mai province as well as the investigation process of the case.

Deputy Director of the Chiang Mai Provincial Public Health Office Surasing Wisarutrat said the Ministry of Public Health had released its third update to news agencies in foreign countries in order to brief them on progress in the probe into the mysterious fatalities of six tourists, comprising one New Zealander, one Canadian and four Britons, as well as one Thai tour guide, which took place earlier this year in Chiang Mai province.

According to a previous report by New Zealand media, traces of chlorpyrifos, which is a hazardous chemical used in the form of spray to kill bedbugs, were found at a hotel in Chiang Mai where the deceased were lodging before falling ill and eventually dying. The chemical is said to have been banned by many countries and is speculated to have been the cause of the victims’ deaths.

However, MD Surasing claimed that initial findings had suggested otherwise. He stated that samples of certain types of viruses had been sent to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as Osaka University in Japan for examination and the result whether they were responsible for the incident would be known within two months.

In addition, the Deputy Director confirmed that all related examination processes of Thai authorities had been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) in terms of their conformity to the international medical standard. Officials of the WHO are also set to join Thailand’s probing team in a couple of days.

2 ancient junks discovered in Gulf of Thailand

BANGKOK, 18 May 2011 (NNT) – Underwater archaeologists have discovered two sunken ships of around 400 years old in the Gulf of Thailand, one close to Ko Tao in Surat Thani province and the other near the coast of Chanthaburi province.

Mr Erbprem Vatcharangkul, head of the Underwater Archaeological Research Group, Office of Archaeology, Department of Fine Arts, announced that teams of archaeologists had come across two large ancient vessels, believed to be up to 400 years old, at the bottom of the Gulf of Thailand at the depth of 70 meters. One of them was found 6 nautical miles to the north of Ko Tao in the southern province of Surat Thani while the other was found 60 nautical miles off the coast of the eastern province of Chanthaburi.

Both are reportedly loaded with ancient Sangkhalok ceramics, numbering over 10,000 pieces, most of which are still in good condition. Based on the initial hypothesis, the items could have been among the goods sold to Portuguese traders, who regularly accessed Siam through the Gulf of Thailand during the Ayutthaya Era.


TAT believes domestic tourism will flourish during election

BANGKOK, 19 May 2011 (NNT) – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has forecast significant expansion of the domestic tourism during the upcoming election, especially in the Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) industry.

TAT Deputy Governor for Domestic Marketing Thawatchai Aranyik hinted that the overall tourism climate within the country would become upbeat during the time of the general election from late June to early July. He believed the MICE industry would be the liveliest as numerous public and private agencies would be spending huge budgets on seminars and exhibitions during the period.

Throughout this year, Mr Thawatchai assured that the recovery of local tourism would be continuous. Most travel activities are expected to be within short distances while such destinations as Hua Hin, Pattaya and Cha-am will be highly popular among Bangkok residents due to their proximity to the city.

From January to May this year, the number of domestic travelers has touched 5 million, increasing from the same period last year by 10 percent. The tourism frenzy is attributable to the peaceful political situation without violent incidents, frequent long holidays and travelers’ diversion from disaster-stricken Japan.

Special Report: Democrat Party policies for upcoming election

As the election is coming up, political parties are now gearing up for the election. The ruling Democrat party is of course one of them, let’s have a look at their policies and see whether they will be attractive enough to carry the party back into power.

The Democrat Party, or Phak Prachathipat in Thai, Thailand's oldest political party has been the main coalition government party since December 15, 2008; its current leader is Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The Democrat Party’s campaign platform includes: income guarantee scheme for farmers, increasing the minimum wage by 25 percent; narcotic drugs crackdown; issuing community title deeds for 250,000 households; and granting education loans for a quarter million university students, among other things.

The Democrat Party said they will maintain seven social welfare programs, including free electricity for households with 90 units of usage or less, and subsidies on diesel and cooking gas. The party will also extend the 15-year free education program to the university level. Moreover, the Democrats also intend to achieve seven new projects, including the Chinese-Thai joint development of a high-speed rail route that will link China with Thailand and Malaysia.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Democrat Party leader, has expressed his belief that the competition between his party and the Pheu Thai Party will be intense in this election. In other words, the competition will likely be between two political giants, the Democrat and the Pheu Thai Parties, and the result of the election should be neck and neck, according to Mr Abhisit. He also added that the party’s policies were an important instrument to win the people over.

However, both parties’ policies seem to have been a copycat of each other. The Democrat party and Pheu Thai party have accused each other of copying its policies; ranging from the high-speed train project to government employees’ salary and minimum wage increases.

One major difference in their policy is the amnesty law proposed by the Pheu Thai party for all politicians claimed to have been wrongfully accused of committing offences; one among whom is former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who has been in exile since the 2006’s coup. The Democrats clearly oppose the move, reasoning that the amnesty would only heighten political tensions, which could plunge the country into another quagmire of violence.

Whether the Democrats’ policies will be able to win over the hearts of the Thai voters, giving Abhisit Vejjajiva another chance to take the helm of the country remains to be seen in a few months’ time.

Royal rainmaking operation reached out across Thailand

BANGKOK, 19 May 2011 (NNT)-The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives said His Majesty the King’s artificial rainmaking operation had helped drought stricken areas across the nation cope with the water shortage since last month.

The Permanent Secretary for Agriculture and Cooperatives Chalermporn Piroonsarn said the Bureau of the Royal Rain Making and Agricultural Aviation had provided rain to many areas from the Northern region of Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan provinces across to the West in Kanchanaburi and in the Northeastern part of Thailand including Ubon Ratchathani, Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen. The rainmaking operation has also expanded to Rayong and Chanthaburi provinces which are on the East Coast.

Three provinces consisting of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ratchaburi and Sa Kaeo provinces have been made the chemical refill station for the rainmaking process to provide greater access to other areas that need water.

Veera, Ratree seeking royal pardon, not appeal

BANGKOK, 19 May 2011 (NNT) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that Thai Patriots Network (TPN) coordinator Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon have chosen to seek royal pardon instead of appealing their cases.

Information Department Director-General and Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Thani Thongphakdi stated that the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh has been in contact with the two inmates who have expressed their intention in writing that they do not want to seek appeal for their cases.

The TPN recently demanded that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should follow up the procedure authorising the TPN to process the appeal on behalf of Mr Veera and Ms Ratree. The group also alleged the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh of impeding the appeal process.

The director-general hence dismissed the allegation and stressed that the two Thais do not want to appeal but want to seek royal pardon instead as they had already signed related documents for this purpose. He said the ministry has never opposed their decision and is ready to help their wish fulfilled.

Mr Thani however noted that the ministry is ready to facilitate the TPN to send its representatives to meet Mr Veera and his secretary now detained at Prey Sar prison in order to have a direct discussion and confirm the matter by themselves.