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3 magnitude quake reported in Chiang Mai

CHIANG MAI, 25 May 2011 (NNT)-A 3 magnitude earth quake has been reported this morning in Chiang Mai with the epicenter situated between Galyani Vadhana and Samoeng districts. Residents of Ban Pang Toeng said they could feel the tremor at 5.00 hours while the authority had reported the incident at 11.00 hours.

The Emergency service in Chiang Mai has carried out an investigation into the report where the epicenter is located. Both sheriffs from both district claimed to have not felt any movements. No damages have been reported so far due to the geographical area of quake which consists of mostly bushes.

Chiang Mai is situated on the 3 fault lines including Mae Chan, Mae On and Mae Tha. The province already has the emergency plan in place and has carried out the drill many times in the past. Residents have been informed how to deal with earthquakes and to spot signs that lead to such an occurrence.

Newin: Thaksin unlikely to give PM seat to Yingluck

BANGKOK, 25 May 2011 (NNT) – Bhumjaithai Party de facto leader Newin Chidchob has forecast that the Pheu Thai Party will win the election; however, its top party-list candidate Yingluck Shinawatra will not be named the next premier.

In his analysis of the upcoming general election, Mr Newin voiced belief that neither Ms Yingluck, Pheu Thai candidate and sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, nor Mr Abhisit Vejjajiva, Democrat candidate and incumbent Prime Minister, would take the helm of the next government. He projected that the Pheu Thai Party would emerge victorious, winning no more than 250 seats or less than half a quorum. Nonetheless, he noted that Mr Thaksin might not allow his sister to assume the prime minister post.

Mr Newin explained that the ex-premier would possibly opt to give the prime minister seat to someone else on fears that Ms Yingluck would be faced with social opposition and conflicts, similar to what happened during the administration of Mr Somchai Wongsawat, his brother-in-law, in 2008.

In addition, Mr Newin estimated that the Democrat Party would come in second with no more than 160 seats while his Bhumjaithai Party would rank third with about 111 seats. Upon the Democrat’s defeat, he believed that Mr Abhisit would decide to step down as the party leader, citing that he is a man of spirit and integrity.

DDPM warns 30 provinces of heavy rains during 26-30 May

BANGKOK, 25 May 2011 (NNT) – The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) has issued a warning of torrential rains for 30 provinces in the North, Northeast, East and South during 26-30 May.

DDPM Director-General Wiboon Sanguanpong cautioned residents of 30 provinces in the northern, northeastern, eastern and southern regions of Thailand to brace for heavy downpours from 26 to 30 May. Due to high chances of flashfloods and mudslides, he encouraged local dwellers in risk-prone areas, especially on hill slopes and near waterways, to take note of unusual signs of nature in order to be able to evacuate in time.

Occurrences to watch out for include muddiness of the color of water in natural sources, anxiety among animals, loud noises from upstream, incessant rain for more than six hours and rapid rises of water levels in rivers.

Waves in the Andaman Sea during this period are expected to be 1-2 meters high. Fishermen have been urged to exercise extreme caution when at sea while small boats are recommended to stay ashore for the time being.

Mr Wiboon stated that the DDPM had instructed its officials to be on high alert and keep a close watch on the amount of rainfall in affected areas. People will be evacuated to safe places immediately if the rainwater is found to be excessive.

100 cancer herbal remedies to get inspection

BANGKOK, 25 May 2011 (NNT) – The Department of Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTAM) will inspect 100 out of 2,000 formulas of Thai herbal medicines claimed to have potential to cure first-stage cancer.

Speaking about cancer herbal remedies, DTAM Director-General Medial Doctor Wilawan Juengprasert admitted that details of the medicinal formulas cannot be disclosed at present since people might panic and hastily buy them to cure cancer, and it is dangerous if herbal medicines are used incorrectly.

The director-general explained that use of herbal medicines to cure cancer must be made according to the formula specified by traditional medicine practitioners while inappropriate dose of herbal drugs might lead to some side effects.

Medical Doctor Wilawan said there are 100 herbal formulas with potential to cure cancer, and the department will take greater study to see if they are efficient for cancer treatment as claimed by traditional doctors. She expected that some of the research results would be disclosed this September.

The director-general added that most of the suggested formulas contain ingredients which are capable of curing breast cancer while some may cure many types of cancer; however, she noted that there is no specific dose for each herbal medicine since the amount to be taken must be decided by traditional medicinal doctors who will analyse their patients on a case-by-case basis.

Internet usage in Thailand up

BANGKOK, 25 May 2011 (NNT) – The number of internet users in Thailand last year rose by over 20 million people, according to a recent survey by the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and the Internet Innovation Research Centre.

Entertainment websites and online games were the most popular internet usage, accounting for over 60% of the total usage. Health and government agency websites got the least visitors of only 2% of the total internet usage.

As for search engine, Google still ruled the chart as the sole champion with a landslide popularity of 99%. got the most popular website award from truehits web award 2009 with over 800,000 visitors daily. got the popular television website award.

NSTDA Director Thaweesak Koanantakool stated that the Internet has become more important for the Thai society as information can be disseminated very fast while people can access and search for information from any parts of the world.

Mr Thaweesak added that data collected from the NSTDA survey will help entrepreneurs improve and meet demand of people while also helping in the mapping out of appropriate internet usage policy for Thais.

10,000 more doctors needed to give all Thais access to medical services

BANGKOK, 25 May 2011 (NNT)-Public Health Ministry Spokesperson Supan Srithamma has revealed that almost 10,000 doctors are needed to respond to medical needs across Thailand.

According to Dr. Supan, there are currently 13,083 doctors providing medical attention to Thai people in the country; however, 9,722 are needed to fill the vacancies. He further explained the addition is essential to make sure all Thais have access to medical services. The ratio of the doctor per patient is 1: 7,000.

Each doctor will be assigned to work in a location based on the GIS system which the population will be taken into account. New graduates on scholarship are able to choose where they prefer to practice, but they are expected to serve as interns in a hospital during the first year after their graduation before continuing to work in a community healthcare center for another 3 years.

Public Health Ministry Spokesperson added later that in each community hospital there must be at least 4 doctors while in places where shortages are sustained, such as those in the 3 southernmost provinces, unlimited number of doctors will be supplied to the hospitals until they are no longer needed.

Bangkok Poll: Yingluck, Pheu Thai at the head start

BANGKOK, 24 May 2011 (NNT) – A recent survey by the Bangkok University Research Institute (Bangkok Poll) shows that Bangkok city dwellers have supported Ms Yingluck Shinawatra to be the next prime minister of Thailand rather than Mr Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The survey was conducted with 1,178 respondents in Bangkok from 20 to 22 May 2011. 31.7% of the respondents said they would consider past achievements to decide which party they would go for while 31.2% and 16.6% would mainly consider campaign policies and names of political parties respectively.

The Pheu Thai Party gained the highest popularity in the party-listed system, receiving support from 25.8% of the respondents, followed by the Democrat Party at 14.7% and Love Thailand (Rak Prathet Thai) Party at 2.0%; however, more than half of them or 52% had not decided.

As for the constituency system, 26.3% of the respondents still trusted and would cast votes for the Pheu Thai Party while 15.2% and 1.7% supported the candidates from the Democrat and Love Thailand Parties respectively. Meanwhile, 51.9% of the respondents remained undecided.

Asked who should be the next prime minister of the country, 26.9% of the respondents supported Ms Yingluck, followed by Mr Abhisit at 17.4% and Mr Chuwit Kamolvisit, the Love Thailand Party leader at 3.6% while 49.2% were not sure who they would go for.

Additionally, the majority of the respondents or 66.1% were not so confident in the potentials of the Election Commission to take care of the upcoming general election while 33.9% expressed their strong confidence.

Appeals Court upholds 20-year jail term for ex-banker

BANGKOK, May 24 – Thailand’s Appeals Court on Tuesday upheld a verdict against Krirkkiat Jalichandra, former president of the defunct Bangkok Bank of Commerce, jailing him for 20 years on embezzlement charges.

The court ruled that the pair violated the Securities and Exchange Act, and upheld a jail term of 20 years for Mr Krirkkiat and a jail term of 13 years and four months for the second defendant, Pornchan Chankajorn.

However, the court changed the lower court’s ruling on damage fees and ordered Mr Krirkkiat to pay Bt128 million (US$4.2 million) and the two defendants to pay Bt120 million ($4 million).

The Criminal Court sentenced Mr Krirkkiat to 20 years jail and fined him Bt211 million ($7 million) and handed Ms Pornchan 13 years and 4 months jail and fined her Bt1.3 million (some $45,000).

In 1995, then BBC treasury adviser Rakesh Saxena allegedly colluded with Krirkkiat Jalichandra, then bank president and was involved in setting up dummy loans and fabricated accounts to siphon millions from the bank, causing its collapse under US$3 billion in debts, along with 50 other financial institutions, leading directly to the 1997 financial crisis. (MCOT online news)

PM: Indonesian 'surveyors' to inspect Thai-Cambodian border

BANGKOK, May 23 - Indonesia as the current chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will initially send a team of surveyors, not observers, to inspect the Thai-Cambodian border area but will not enter the 4.6 sq km contested area, according to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Mr Abhisit said the earlier meeting of Defence Ministers of Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia had concluded that the surveyors from Indonesia would be despatched and working for two days at the border areas.

In Thailand's border, the premier said, they will inspect six or seven locations in Si Sa Ket province and will strictly not enter the contested area.

When the surveyors return to Indonesia, the Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) will meet in Cambodia and if the results conclude with an agreement to withdraw Cambodian troops from the 4.6 sq km area, then observers from Indonesia could come to inspect the areas.

"The Cabinet meeting today discussed the common stance of Thailand on Thai-Cambodian border issue. I am confident that the government's action will not cause Thailand to lose territory. The surveyors from Indonesia must not wear uniforms and the scope of their work must be clearly defined. They will not be called observers as the observers can come after troop withdrawal," he said.

Mr Abhsiit on Monday chaired a meeting at Government House of Cabinet ministers tasked with reviewing Thai-Cambodian problems to discuss and prepare for a meeting of the United Nations UNESCO the World Heritage Committee in Paris in June 2011 and the case Cambodia raised to the International Court of Justice.

Last month Cambodia asked the World Court to clarify a 1962 ruling about the ancient temple on its disputed border with Thailand following the latest armed clashes between the two neighbouring countries.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled 49 years ago that the 11th-century Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia, although its primary entrance lies in Thailand. However both countries claim ownership of the 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8-square-mile) surrounding area.

Mr Abhsiit said that Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti who heads Thai delegation to the World Heritage Committee meeting leaves Bangkok for Paris Monday night for the meeting and to meet his Cambodian counterpart.

He said Thailand will assert its stance that the committee should postpone or otherwise not consider the management plan for the surrounding area of Preah Vihear Temple as proposed by Cambodia to avoid further conflict.

If it was agreed upon, the issue would be withdrawn from the agenda, he said.

The prime minister said he had been reported from the agencies concerned on the preparation for fighting the case in the International Court of Justice but could not disclose the details.

Regarding the possibility that the change of government after the July 3 general elections might impact the World Heritage Committee decision, Mr Abhisit said he believed the panel will make its decision before the Thai poll result.

Thailand stands firm on its decision to bid to host the heritage committee meeting next year, he said.

Mr Abhisit also said he hoped that there would be no more border clashes as the push for the observers was intended to resolve the border problem. (MCOT online news)

PM downplays Yingluck's rising popularity

BANGKOK, May 23 - Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday brushed aside recent opinion polls showing popularity of rival Puea Thai Party and its PM candidate Yingluck Shinawatra was on the rise, pointing out that there were clearly not statistically significant.

There was no need to adjust the Democrat's election campaign strategies, he said.

The premier made his remarks in his capacity as the Democrat Party leader following recent opinion polls showing increasing popularity of his main challenger for the top job, Ms Yingluck, the youngest sister of fugitive, ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Though not holding any executive position in the Puea Thai Party, Ms Yingluck topped the list of party-list candidates as the party's choice for the premiership.

As the Election Commission said it could not stop the Red Shirt supporters from harassing the Democrats during the election campaign, Mr Abhisit said that all candidates should play by the rules and that he would campaign for his party in the Northeast, a political stronghold of the main opposition party.

Meanwhile, Mr Abhisit’s top opponent clarified her brother’s statement that she was his “clone” , asserting that she was only a clone of her brother in terms of thinking style, in particular his vision, his business-management style and his political thoughts.

“I’ve learned from him after I continually followed his work. That’s why I understand his political thought,” Ms Yingluck said.

She said it was not always necessary that the person topping the list of party-list MP candidates will become prime minister, depending on the vote of the eligible voters and other political parties in case of a coalition government.

Normally the party with the highest number of elected MPs should be allowed to form a government first but if the public trust us (the Puea Thai) by giving us a majority of votes to form a single-party government, Puea Thai party will then nominate the prime minister. (MCOT online news)

Registration of candidates for constituencies begins

BANGKOK, May 24 - Thailand's constituency-based MP candidate registration nationwide began Tuesday morning and will continue through Saturday after registration for party-list candidates ended Monday.

Single-seat constituency registrations for the 375 single-seat positions in Bangkok was held at the Keelawes 2 Building in the Thai-Japan Youth Centre's Din Daeng compound, the same venue as for the earlier party-list candidates registration.

Bangkok has 33 constituencies.

Security is being provided by 438 police officers.

The first party arriving at the centre was the Democrat Party, led by party Secretary-General Suthep Thaugsuban, later joined by party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Meanwhile, the Puea Thai Party's number one party-list candidate Yingluck Shinawatra came to show support for her party's candidates in Bangkok.

Other parties gradually led their candidates to register, including Chavarat Charnvirakul, leader of the Bhumjaithai Party; Charnchai Chairungrueng leader of the Chart Pattana Puea Pandin Party who led sport personalities including retired and popular footballer Piyapong Piew-on, Olympic bronze medal-winning taekwondo specialist Yaowapa Boorapolchai to register while former tennis star Paradorn Srichaphan came to support the party's candidates.

In other provinces, candidates are registering at venues designated by the Election Commission (EC), but mainly at each provincial city hall.

Constituency candidates are not required to draw lots for their numbers on the ballots, they are using the numbers each party already drew during party-list registration.

The EC said there were 40 parties with 1,410 registered party-list candidates.

There are 125 party-list MP seats in Parliament. The popular votes a party receives in the general election will be calculated into the number of party-list MP seats it wins in the general election set for July 3. (MCOT online news)

Children, women main focus of anti-tobacco campaign

BANGKOK, 24 May 2011 (NNT) – The Ministry of Public Health will focus on children and women in its anti-tobacco campaign for the World No Tobacco Day this year after they are found to be main targets of cigarette companies.

Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit chaired a press briefing of the event scheduled on 31 May 2011. He stated that the World Health Organisation (WHO) this year has selected ‘The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)’ as the theme of the event this year.

The campaign will emphasise on law enforcement and inform people of their rights to protect their health from tobacco fume. Children and women will be focused more after they are found to be targets of tobacco companies.

Female smokers are at risk of getting lung cancer, coronary heart disease, ageing and delayed pregnancy. According to the Department of Disease Control, the smoking rate among youth aged 15 years old is found to be increasing.

The 2010-2014 tobacco control operation of the Ministry of Public Health has targeted to reduce the number of young smokers to 10% and cut the number of cigarettes by 20% in five years.

The World No Tobacco Day event this year will be arranged on 31 May 2011 at Siam Paragon Shopping Complex. Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali will graciously preside over the opening ceremony of the event and present awards for people and agencies working to control tobacco.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

3 magnitude quake reported in Chiang Mai

Newin: Thaksin unlikely to give PM seat to Yingluck

DDPM warns 30 provinces of heavy rains during 26-30 May

100 cancer herbal remedies to get inspection

Internet usage in Thailand up

10,000 more doctors needed to give all Thais access to medical services

Bangkok Poll: Yingluck, Pheu Thai at the head start

Appeals Court upholds 20-year jail term for ex-banker

PM: Indonesian 'surveyors' to inspect Thai-Cambodian border

PM downplays Yingluck's rising popularity

Registration of candidates for constituencies begins

Children, women main focus of anti-tobacco campaign