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Update January, 2020


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
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Agencies organize activities for Children’s Day

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will give children an opportunity to visit the office of the Bangkok Governor, Pol. Gen. AswinKwanmuang, on Children’s Day this Saturday, while the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation is organizing a science fair for children who are interested in science.

Some 500 school students in Bangkok will have a chance to sit in the Bangkok Governor’s chair and participate in environmental friendly activities, games and lucky draws. They will also learn how to create a Quick Response (QR) code and watch magic shows. The Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation will also perform proper fire extinguisher and snake catching demonstrations.

The BMA will organize activities on the theme "Litter-Free Children’s Day in four areas, including Bangkok Children’s Discovery Museum, Wachirabenchathat Park, the Thai Japanese Bangkok Youth Center and the 72nd Anniversary Stadium. On this occasion, scholarships will be granted to students with outstanding academic achievements. Young people can take part in activities to promote environmental conservation and explore a playground with a Ferris wheel, a wind house and carousels along with free food and beverages throughout the day.

For children interested in science, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation is organizing the Science Avenue for three days. Children can take part in a variety of scientific experiments as well as activities and games to promote environmental conservation and win countless prizes. The fair is expected to attract some 30,000 visitors. Its theme is "Young Scientists for Green Earth". The event features exhibitions on the Bio-Economy, Circular Economy and Green Economy (BCG) model, environmental innovations and advances in the food, energy and medical industries. The fair also features products inspired by local wisdom and activities to promote the use of reusable bags instead of single-use plastic bags.

This year, the Science Avenue focuses on encouraging the younger generation to apply the BCG model and help reduce global warming. Visitors who bring their own food containers or reusable glasses to the event will receive prizes. The Science Avenue is taking place at the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation until Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Artificial Rain Making Operations to Start Sooner This Year

 

BANGKOK, Jan 10 (TNA) – The Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation will start artificial rain-making operations sooner this year as drought tends to intensify in the dry season, said Deputy Agriculture Minister, CaptThammanatPrompao.

The department is now doing maintenance work for aircraft and training personnel to be ready to carry out the tasks effectively and safely.

The artificial rain making missions will start on February 17, sooner than the normal schedule on March 1.  The operations will cover 25 river basins across the country or about 92 million acres of land.

SuraseeKittimonthon, the department’s director-general said the annual aircraft maintenance, involving 26 airplanes is due to finish on Jan 31.

In the meantime, five aircraft are operational for the missions to create artificial rain in the areas, affected by drought and ultra-fine dust air pollution.

Flight trainings are being undertaken before the beginning of the mission to fight drought this year, the deputy minister said. (TNA)


10 French Nationals Arrested for Running Call Center Scam

BANGKOK (TNA) - Thai police have arrested 10 French nationals for allegedly operating a call center scam in Bangkok.

All of the 10 suspects were found inside a rental house in Bangkok’s Thong Lor area, equipped with IT and network devices.

Pol Lt General SompongChingduang, head of police immigration bureau, said nine of the suspects travelled to Thailand as tourists; only one had work permit.

The suspects used the office as call center luring people in France and Belgium to use their accounting and tax services, he said.

They are charged with working without permits, he added.(TNA) 


Two Arrested for Selling Banned Electric Cigarettes

SONGKHLA (TNA) - Police have arrested two sellers of banned electric cigarettes and seized more than 8,000 vaping devices worth 5-6 million baht in a raid in southern Songkhla province.

The two sellers allegedly advertise and distribute e-cigarettes that have been banned in Thailand since 2014 via their Facebook page.

After buyers placed their orders and made payments, they would mail the items to addresses across Thailand, police said.

During the raid, customer protection police and Hat Yai police seized 8,475 sets of vaping devices, parts and vaping liquid that have been smuggled from Malaysia.

Thai police have launched a crackdown on e-cigarettes since last year while there is still widely debated about the call for legalization of e-cigarettes.(TNA)


Outdoor activities discouraged as air quality worsens

BANGKOK (NNT) - The level of PM 2.5 airborne dust measured today was higher than yesterday, with three provinces in the northern region including Lampang severely affected. In Bangkok, 40 areas were flagged with cautious levels of PM 2.5 dust today.

The Pollution Control Department (PCD) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) air quality readings at 49 stations today recorded between 39 to 71 micrograms per cubic meter of air with PM 2.5 airborne particulate matter, showing a rising trend in all areas compared to yesterday.

40 locations were marked as Orange health affecting levels today.

The highest PM 2.5 level in Bangkok was recorded at SoiLadphrao 95 by Ladphrao road in Bueng Kum district of Bangkok with 71 micrograms per cubic meter of air due to heavy morning traffic. Still air in many areas of Bangkok during this period provides favorable conditions for dust accumulation. Members of the public in affected areas should limit their outdoor activities and closely monitor the situation.

In the northern region, air quality levels today were measured from very good to starting to have health effects. The PM 2.5 level in the region today ranged from 16 to 71 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The PM 2.5 levels were recorded beyond healthy levels in Ban Tom subdistrict in Phayao, Phra Bat subdistrict in Lampang, Sob Pad subdistrict in Lampang, Ban Dong subdistrict in Lampang, Mae Mo subdistrict in Lampang, Ban Klangsubdistrict in Lampoon, and Na Chaksubdistrict in Phrae.


Bangkok’s Air Pollution Remains High

BANGKOK, Jan 9 (TNA) – Bangkok was ranked the world’s eight worst air quality on Thursday morning on AirVisual, a popular application, monitoring the world's air quality.

The real-time ranking showed the level of PM2.5 in Bangkok at 10.28 am rose to 99.7 microgrammes per cubic metre (g/m), exceeding Thailand’s safety threshold at 50 (g/m). 

The Air Quality Index reading on Air Visual app was 174 in the Thai capital. The AQI is considered “unhealthy” when the level is above 150 and hazardous above 200. 

As poor air quality is predicted to continue until Jan 11, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration stepped up measures to alleviate impacts on Bangkok residents. 

Heath department has dispatched health mobile units to conduct an awareness campaign among people, particularly in vulnerable groups such as patients with respiratory or heart diseases, the elderly, children and pregnant women.

The BMA’s Environment Department has implemented the action plan, responding to the ultra-fine dust pollution by strictly controlling sources of dust emissions from vehicles and enforcing the ban on open-air burning. (TNA)


Authorities Battle against Seawater Intrusion

BANGKOK, Jan 8 (TNA) – The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority (MWA) and the Royal Irrigation Department (RID) will conduct the second “water hammer” operation to push out salty sea water from inland rivers during the peak high tide next week.

Drought has caused low water level in the Chao Phraya River and it cannot keep out sea water during the high tide. The high salinity level in raw water has affected tap water production.

RaksakSuriyahan, the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority deputy governor said in his capacity as the chairman the operation center, responsible for solve the water crisis that the two agencies conducted the test on the water hammer operation to increase the water flow in the Chao Phraya River in an attempt to drive out seawater.

During the operation, the MWA halted pumping raw water from the river when the RID increased the water discharge from the Phraram6 Dam from 5 to 15 cubic metres per second and opened KhlongLat Pho sluice gate during the low tide.

The operation successfully pushed the sea water from the area near the Samlae tap water production facility in PathumThani, the MWA deputy governor said.

The RID and the MWA will start the water hammer operation again from the night of January 9 until January 13 before the peak high tide on Jan 13-14, forecast by the Royal Thai Navy’s Hydrographic Department. 

The high tide will peak again on Jan 26-27, according to the department.

The related agencies will monitor the salinity level in the river and will find the most effective way for water management, he said. (TNA)


Foreign Affairs Ministry calls meeting to assess Middle East situation

 

BANGKOK (NNT) - Rising tensions in the Middle East have prompted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to instruct Thai embassies in related countries to closely monitor and assess the situation. Thai diplomatic officials are reported to have prepared plans to ensure the safety of Thai nationals in Iraq and Iran.

The Director-General of the Department of Information, and Spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, BusadeeSantipitaks, said today the United States did not notify Thailand about the recent US strike in Iraq, as previously reported.

The Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, called a meeting with high-ranking officials of the ministry to acknowledge reports from Thai embassies in related countries. Thai diplomatic officials have prepared plans to ensure the safety of 89 Thai nationals in Iraq and 359 Thais in Iran, most of whom are students or workers.

Ms. Busadee said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is closely following the situation in the Middle East. If necessary, the ministry will call a meeting of the Rapid Response Center (RRC) with relevant agencies, to evaluate the situation and come up with measures to assist Thai people in the region.

The Labor Minister, MR JatumongkolSonakul, said he had instructed the minister-counselors for labor affairs in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to visit Thai workers in Iraq and Iran and coordinate with their employers to gather information about their needs and working conditions. The agencies have created channels for workers to call for assistance and have prepared accommodation should they have to be evacuated.


Early Water Shortages Are Expanding

BANGKOK, Jan 8 (TNA) - People started to suffer early and severe water shortages in many provinces and the Chao Phraya dam raised its discharges to protect Bangkok and nearby provinces in the lower Chao Phraya river basin from seawater intrusion.

The Regional Irrigation Office 12 in Chai Nat province increased the discharge rate of the Chao Phraya dam from 85 cubic meters per second to 100 cubic meters per second to protect Bangkok from salinity during the high tide from Jan 8 to 10. The office asked people living downstream from the dam along the Chao Praya River from Chai Nat to PathumThani province to stop pumping water from the river. The increasing discharge rate would not have any adverse impacts on consumers living near irrigation canals.

In the Chao Phraya river basin, corn is dying in Ang Thong province although it naturally consumes relatively less water than other crops. Irrigation canals have been generally dry in InthaPramul sub-district of Pho Thong district for over a month. Growers dug canal beds to desperately find water remaining after consumption by rice farmers.

In Uttaradit province, seven districts covering 198 villages have been declared drought-stricken areas as local water sources dried out and more than 10,000 families lacked water.

In the southern province of Songkhla, rice was withering as it was producing grains in about 1,000 rai in KhlongRee sub-district of SathingPhra district. Local farmers depended only on rainwater because the nearest canal, KhlongArthit, is more than two kilometers away. If it does not rain within this month, their paddy fields will be damaged. (TNA)


19 Illegal Rohingya Migrants Escaped in Songkhla

SONGKHLA, Jan 8 (TNA) – Nineteen illegal Rohingya migrants escaped from a detention facility of the immigration police in the southern province.

The detention center stands in Moo 2 village of Samnak Kham sub-district in Sadao district. All the escapees are male.

Evidence showed that they broke iron bars of a window on the third floor of the center, climbed down cloth and jumped to the ground at about 4am.

Police, soldiers and administrative officials were hunting for them and arrested one escapee who had a broken leg and hid near a villager’s house.

Authorities were looking for other escapees in rubber plantations near the Thai-Malaysian border. Two years ago, illegal Rohingya migrants escaped from the same detention facility. (TNA)


Govt Orders Close Surveillance for Mysterious Pneumonia

BANGKOK, Jan 8 (TNA) – The Public Health Ministry implements a close surveillance program for a mysterious pneumonia from China at four main airports as the cabinet has ordered it to seriously watch out for a possible outbreak.

Deputy government spokesperson TrisuleeTrisoranakul said the movement responded to the outbreak of a mysterious pneumonia in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The Public Health Ministry and the Department of Disease Control told the cabinet that they intensified their surveillance operations that covered all channels of international transport. Air passengers from Wuhan were checked for fever and other symptoms of respiratory diseases, Miss Trisulee said.

“Flights from Wuhan land at Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Chiang Mai and Phuket airports. So far officials have not found anyone infected with the viral pneumonia,” the deputy government spokesperson said.

Miss Trisulee advised people avoid crowded places, refrain from sharing personal tools with others, keep themselves warm and see a doctor immediately if they have a fever, sore throat or runny nose or cough. People can inquire about the disease at the hotline number 1422 of the Department of Disease Control. (TNA)


Water Crisis Worsens in North and Northeast

NAKHON RATCHASIMA (TNA) – Local residents and farmers in drought-hit areas in northeastern and northern Thailand are facing worsening water shortage.

Due to lower-than-normal rainfall last year, drought is expected to be more severe and last longer in this dry season.

Water in natural sources has dried up across Nakhon Ratchasima, forcing hundreds of households in the northeastern province to spend around THB2,000 monthly to buy water from merchants since November.  

Four districts of BuengKan province have been declared drought disaster zones.

The water level in the Doi Tao Lake in Chiang Mai has dropped, turning the large water reservoir into cattle field.  Several recreational rafts and fishing boats are aground in the almost dried lake.  Some rafts have to be moved 50 kilometers downstream. 

In Uttaradit province, water works service in Mueang district has faced water shortage affecting thousands of people.   They now need to rely on a reservoir, the last water source which is also running low.

Local officials throughout Thailand’s north and northeast have sought long-term solutions to the drought problems while calling on farmers to suspend their crop cultivation. (TNA) 

 


Phang Nga offers 100,000 baht reward for information on stolen leatherback turtle eggs

PHANG NGA (NNT) - Phang Nga has offered a reward of 100,000 baht to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest of the person or people who stole eggs of a leatherback turtle.

National park officials found traces of a leatherback turtle which had laid eggs on Thai Muang beach, Lam Kaen subdistrict, Thai Muang district, Phang Nga province, on the night of January 3, 2020. A thief stole most of the eggs from the nest of the rare turtle and the officials discovered the nest containing only two unviable eggs.

Phang Nga Governor ChamroenThipphayaphongthada disclosed that he had ordered the Thai Muang Chief District Officer, police officers and related agencies to expedite the search for the culprits for prosecution. The Sea Turtle Conservation Fund, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and local leaders have offered a reward of 100,000 baht to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest of those reponsible.

The Governor of Phang Nga has called on people to preserve all types of sea turtles and stop collecting, selling and buying all kinds of turtle eggs.

Mr. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, Deputy Dean for Special Affairs and Public Relations at Kasetsart University, who is an environmental activist, posted on Facebook saying that the leatherback turtle is a protected species in Thailand and that the Wildlife Protection Act imposes a 3-15 year prison sentence and a fine of between 300,000-1.5 million baht for the theft and/or illegal possession of its eggs. He has called on anyone who has any information on the theft to notify the Turtle Conservation Fund’s officials immediately.

He also said that leatherback turtles are among the rarest animals in Thai seas. None have been found alive during the last 5-6 years. Only their bodies with marine waste inside were found. Last year, more than 130 leatherback turtles were hatched. This year, leatherback turtles came ashore to nest twice and it is expected that about a hundred leatherback turtles resulted.


Customs Seizes THB3 Million Worth of Goods Smuggled from Malaysia

SONGKHLA, Jan 7 (TNA) - Thai customs officers have seized THB3 million worth of smuggled goods at the border crossing in Sadao district of the southern province of Songkhla during the New Year holiday.

Head of the customs office at Sadao border crossing YutthanaPulpipat has announced the confiscation of smuggled goods including liquors, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, appliances and farm products.

All were smuggled from the Malaysian border town of Padang Besar for local border markets, Bangkok and other cities in Thailand’s south, he said.

Yuthana said after the New Year anti-smuggling operation the customs officers would continue stringent measures to eradicate illegal goods smuggling. (TNA)


Gunshots Fired into Former Immigration Police Chief’s Car

BANGKOK, Jan 7 (TNA) - Gunmen opened fires at a car of Special Advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office of Thailand SurachetHakparn in Bangkok Monday night, but the motive is still unknown.

Pol Lt Gen Surachet was a high-profile police officer who was sacked last year from the post of immigration police chief.  He was actively implemented the government’s immigration policy as well as crime suppressions before being abruptly stripped of the rank and position.  

His car parked at a restaurant in Bang Rak district was shot seven times into the side but he was not in the vehicle.

Bang Rak police said CCTV images and witnesses’ accounts suggested that two men on a motorcycle fired the shots before fleeing.

While Pol Lt Gen Surachet has said he is certain the gunmen intended to kill him, police investigators believed it was rather an intimidation.

Deputy national police chief Pol Gen WirachaiSongmetta said forensic experts and investigators were examining the bullets to determine the type of firearm and CCTV images.

Police would ask Pol Lt Gen Surachet to provide further information for the investigation, Pol Gen Wirachai said.

Pol Lt Gen Surachet has also maintained that he has not conflicts with anyone. 

The former police officer who has close ties with Deputy Prime Minister PrawitWongsuwan had led a massive operation to eradicate loan sharks and supervised high-profile criminal cases while serving in the police force in the past five years.(TNA) 


Air Pollution Soars in Bangkok

BANGKOK, Jan 7 (TNA) – The authorities reported the volume of the fine dust particles reached a level considered as having a negative impact on health in 17 districts as of Tuesday morning, increased from eight districts yesterday.

The levels of PM2.5 pollutants in the capital were measured between 39-62 microgrammes per cubic metre (g/m) and 53 (g/m) on average, exceeding the safety standard at 50 (g/m). 

Meanwhile, Tuesday morning's Air Quality Index (AQI) in Bangkok was 156, according to the popular website airvisual.com. The AQI is considered “unhealthy” when the level is above 150.

The Pollution Control Department yesterday convened a meeting to follow up the action plans to curb dust particles as the Meteorological Department forecast worsening situation from Jan 6-11.  

High pressure system, covering the upper part of the country has weakened, leading to calm wind in the morning. This condition will make pollution more concentrated near the surface, said Deputy Director General of the PCD, ThalearngsakPetchsuwan, who chaired the meeting.

He said traffic congestion in the capital after the New Year holiday is another factor that makes the level of fine particulate matter rising over the safety standard. The poor air quality is expected to last throughout this week.

The meeting was attended by officials from concerned agencies such as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the Department of Disease Control, the Highway Department, the Land Transport Department and the Department of Industrial Works.

The Department of Pollution Control and agencies concerned reviewed existing anti-dust measures and reinforce measures to handle the dust situation and alleviate impacts on people.

Besides controlling pollution emissions from vehicles by transport agencies, the Agriculture Ministry will find innovation for farmers to avoid burning crop residue and public health agencies will issue warning for local residents to protect themselves particularly vulnerable groups with respiratory diseases and the elderly. (TNA)


PM gives embassy authority to evacuate Thais in Iran

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Prime Minister has given authority to the Thai embassy in Iran to evacuate Thai citizens in the country if it is considered necessary, as the tension in the Middle East rises following the US airstrike that killed a revered military commander Qassem Soleimani.

Prime Minister and Defense Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, announced today that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also has a related protocol in place to deal with similar situations, but urged officials and Thai laborers to be prepared for an evacuation at a minute’s notice.

He authorized the embassy to arrange a chartered flight or to use one of Thailand’s military aircraft in the event of an emergency. General Prayut also ordered concerned officers to closely follow the latest developments in the situation, citing possible ripple effects such as a surge in fuel or power costs.

Similarly, Labor Minister MomratchawongChatumongolSonakul, today instructed the labor attaches in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to provide assistance -- including possible evacuation -- to Thai workers while monitoring the situation in Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

He noted that the Department of Employment has a fund for such a predicament in accordance with Thai labor law.

Currently, there are 257 Thai workers in Iran and 25 in Iraq working as technicians, chefs, masseuse, welders, and fishermen.


MOPH opens first medical cannabis clinic for traditional and modern medicine

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Ministry of Public Health has advanced medical cannabis development in Thailand even further, with the opening of a medical cannabis clinic specializing in traditional Thai and folk medicine applications, as well as offering the services of modern and traditional medicine doctors to more people.

The new clinic is located in the basement of the Public Health and Traditional Thai Medicine Museum, the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine. The Minister of Public Health AnutinCharnvirakul, presided over the opening ceremony.

The clinic will initially provide treatments using four medical cannabis recipes, namely Suk Saiyas, TamlaiPhraSumeru, Dr Decha’s cannabis oil, and cannabis products to reduce gas and fatigue.

Services at this clinic are the first ever in Thailand where traditional Thai medicine, folk medicine, and modern medicine are offered at the same place to allow more people to have access to this treatment.

The clinic opens every day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., except on official holidays. Patients can make appointments on the Dr.Ganja TTM application in advance. The clinic will accept 300 patients daily from now to 17th January, after which only 200 patients per day will be accepted.


Deputy PM Somkid says six EEC infrastructure projects must start this year

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) continues to attract more investors. Last year, the EEC generated over 100 billion baht from outside investment.

To keep the momentum going, the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. SomkidJatusripitak, has instructed the Eastern Economic Corridor Policy Committee (EECPC) to ensure that six key infrastructure projects in the region begin this year.

The six projects encompass the high-speed train route linking Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and U-Tapao airports; U-tapao airport; a center to handle the maintenance, repair and overhaul of planes; the third phase of Map Ta Phut port; the third phase of Laem Chabang port and the development of Digital Park Thailand (EECd). These projects will be implemented in line with the Smart City project in Chachoengsao province to attract new investment.

Once the projects are underway, they will benefit the grassroots economy in the three provinces of Chachoengsao, Chonburi and Rayong. The Board of Investment (BOI) has been assigned to create an incentive package to promote investment and encourage the private sector to support grassroots economic development through agriculture and tourism. The Ministry of Finance and the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) will work together to develop 300,000 to 400,000 Smart Farmers nationwide. Currently, Thailand has 100,000 Smart Farmers.

The government has set a target of 10 million tourists arriving at U-Tapao airport; the establishment of partnerships between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and major businesses, and reducing the number of low-income earners in the EEC from 350,000 people to zero within three years.

Speaking of the tensions between the United States and Iran, Dr. Somkid said the issue is an external factor. Even if the tensions don’t escalate, they may still affect oil prices. However, Thailand had been in similar situations before, and the government is ready to handle developments.

The Secretary-General of the EECPC, KanitSangsubhan, said today the government has expedited EEC development through legal measures and infrastructure projects. They will generate 300 billion baht for the economy annually and contribute to gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 1.5 to 2% each year.


Thailand to send human trafficking report to US this month

BANGKOK (NNT) - The government is completing a report on last year’s efforts to combat human trafficking in Thailand. The government is expected to send it to the United States by the end of this month.

A meeting of the Committee on Human Trafficking Prevention and Suppression, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. PrawitWongsuwan, considered and approved, in principle, a draft Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report in both Thai and English.

The draft report covers prosecution and law enforcement activities to protect and assist human trafficking victims, who received more than 11 million baht in compensation, the application of the Quick Response (QR) code technology and a regulation requiring work contracts to be written in three languages, namely Thai, English and the mother language of the migrant workers, to protect the workers’ rights and privileges.

Gen. Prawit instructed all units to provide facts and information that are clear and concise, as well as their actual achievements, as indicated in the US recommended guidelines, such as their proactive measures against human trafficking and measures to protect human trafficking victims and migrant workers’ rights.

The draft report will be forwarded to the Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, on January 15. The final version will be submitted to the US before the end of this month. The US will use the information for its annual TIP report.


Rare Sea Turtle Eggs Stolen

BANGKOK, Jan 4 (TNA) - Rare sea turtle eggs, expected to belong to the leatherback turtle, were stolen from a beach in the southern province of Phangnga.

The chief of KhaoLampi - Hat Thai Mueang National Park said park officials found traces of a large sea turtle, believed to lay eggs on a beach at midnight during the high tide.

Experts later inspected the site and found only two unfertilized eggs of the leatherback turtle. About 50 eggs are believed to be stolen from the hole.

Concerned authorities are now collecting evidence left in the area to take legal action against the theft.  

Marine expert Asst Prof Thorn Thamrongnawasawat posted a message on his facebook that the leatherback turtle is a reserved animal. 

Those, who sell or illegally possess the eggs face 3- 15 years in jail and a fine between 300,000 to 1.5 million baht. 

Anyone, who gives a tip-off that leads to the arrest of the culprit will receive a 20,000- baht reward from the fund, set up by a conservationist group, said Mr. Thorn.

He believed that about 50 leatherback turtle eggs disappeared and this number could be one-third of the leatherback turtle eggs in this egg-laying season, therefore, concerned provincial officials should take action immediately. (TNA)


Drinking Tap Water Distributed from Monday

BANGKOK, Jan 4 (TNA) - The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority (MWA) will distribute drinking tap water after Bangkok tap water in some areas has brackish taste. 

People can receive water from its 18 branches without paying extra expenses. The water that will be provided free of charge is produced from the Mahasawat Water Treatment plant. 

The plant receives raw water from the Mae Klong dam, which is not affected by saltwater intrusion.

MWA governor, ParinyaYamasamit said the drought caused low water level in the Chao Phraya River. The MWA has tried to avoid pumping raw water from the Chao Phya River during high tides.

It has cooperated with two other state agencies -- the Office of the National Water Resources and the Royal Irrigation Department for water management but the high tide situation is the worst in 50 years. 

The MWA said tap water with brackish taste is safe for drinking while advising consumers, using tap water for cooking to reduce seasoning powder in their food. However, vulnerable groups such as patients with kidney diseases, heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes, brain diseases should avoid tap water consumption.

The situation is expected to return to normal when the country enters the rainy season in May. 

People can get information about tap water quality on the website http://twqonline.mwa.co.th or MWA on Mobile application as well as MWA Facebook and Line @MWAThailand. (TNA) 


Govt plans biomass power plants using Napier grass from communities this year

UBON RATCHATHANI (NNT) - The government plans to build biomass power plants with the use of Napier grass supplied by local communities this year, in an effort to create jobs and incomes, stimulate the local economy and strengthen national energy security.

Energy Minister SontiratSontijrawong visited the plant of Ubon Bio Ethanol Co Ltd in Baan NongPaen village in Nayia district of UbonRatchathani province recently. The firm purchases and processes tapioca, produces biomass gas from waste water and produces biomass gas from tapioca and Napier grass for a 5.6 megawatt power plant. The government is looking to encourage farmers to build community-based power plants producing biomass gas from Napier grass to create jobs and incomes, stimulate the local economy and strengthen the national energy security.

The energy minister said the biomass power plant in UbonRatchathani province will become a model biomass plant for communities elsewhere, able to access Napier grass which can be processed into biomass gas. However, it would depend on the preparedness of respective communities, ready to build one, beginning this year.


Thailand on watch for pneumonia outbreak; screens travelers from Wuhan, China

BANGKOK (NNT) - While China is currently controlling an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan, Thailand is closely looking out for it and screening travelers arriving from that Chinese city.

Wuhan’s public health office announced on its website that the pneumonia outbreak is being contained after 44 patients were identified. Of that total, 11 were reportedly in a coma with high fevers, and exhibiting breathing difficulties associated with lung infections. It remains to be seen what type of virus may have caused the disease.

In Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, authorities have been monitoring any possible outbreak of pneumonia, and strictly screening travelers from Wuhan at airports and other arrival points.

In Thailand, Disease Control Department Director General DrSuwannachaiWattanayingcharoenchai, said today that international quarantine checkpoints throughout the country have initially been instructed to be on watch for a pneumonia outbreak and strictly screen travelers from Wuhan at Suvarnabhumi airport, Don Mueang airport, Chiang Mai airport and Phuket airport.

Though the World Health Organization has not as yet issued a warning to those who may be traveling to Wuhan, they are strongly urging passengers to follow advice by avoiding crowded or polluted places or sharing personal utensils with others and always keeping themselves warm. Those who may have returned from such risky areas, especially children and elderly persons, and who have developed fevers, sore throats and runny noses, are recommended to see doctors or public health officials immediately, otherwise those signs of illness might possibly be complicated with pneumonia.


Cabinet to consider implementing Article 83 to solve fisheries labor shortage

BANGKOK (NNT) - Let’s take a look at the attempt to solve the labor shortage in fisheries; it’s one of the requests from fishermen in 22 provinces which the government has promised to address. The government is considering the implementation of Article 83 of the Royal Ordinance on Fisheries B.E.2558 which will authorize the Department of Fisheries to issue permits for immigrant workers wanting to work in the fisheries sector.

This topic was considered by the immigrant employment management policy committee in its latest meeting on 25th December. It is proposing to open two registration periods for migrant workers, the first from January to March, and the other from July to September. Those who wish to apply must hold valid passports or official travel documents.

The immigrant employment management policy committee is to submit this proposal for Cabinet’s approval.

Thailand has one of the largest fishing industries in the world, with seafood products generating massive revenue each year. A shortage of labor in the fishing industry is however a pressing issue, as local Thais don’t favor the occupation, creating a situation migrant workers can help solve.


Anti-plastic campaign gets positive response from public

BANGKOK (NNT) - Starting yesterday (Jan 1), more than 75 shopping malls and convenience stores nationwide stopped handing out single-use plastic bags to customers, following the government’s six-month anti-plastic campaign.

The Natural Resources and Environment Minister, VarawutSilpa-archa, and a team of officials visited four major malls in Bangkok, including Tesco Lotus in On Nut, EmQuartier, Central Chidlom and Siam Paragon, to seek public feedback on the "Everyday Say No to Plastic Bags" campaign. More than 90 giant retailers, department stores and supermarkets, earlier reached an agreement with the ministry to stop handing out all types of single-use plastic bags to their customers.

Yesterday, many shops received a positive response from customers, as they were already aware of the anti-plastic campaign. Many shops also offered reusable bags to customers who forgot to bring their own bags with them.

The Natural Resources and Environment Minister said about 30% of plastic waste previously came from shopping malls and convenience stores, while fresh markets accounted for 40% of plastic usage. The campaign aims to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags by 50% this year.

In the long term, Thailand is to stop importing electronic and plastic waste and is to create new values among the population, especially children, about proper waste disposal to reduce the accumulated garbage affecting the country.

"In the beginning of 2020, I’ve asked the Permanent Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment to hold talks with the Permanent Secretary of Education to teach environmental education to students from kindergarten because we must cultivate the habit of waste sorting. It can be sorted into organic waste, hazardous waste, recyclable waste and other types of waste. Some people, still lack this knowledge. Therefore, providing this knowledge to the people is important. As for the government, there are waste sorting and disposal plants. They use plastic bags to produce refuse-derived fuel (RDF), while other waste materials are used in landfills or upcycling. We must provide this knowledge to Thai society."


Local Thai tie-dye now featured on Leicester City’s merchandise

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT (NNT) - Traditional tie-dye fabric, from Ban Khiri Wong village in Nakhon Si Thammarat, has been selected and cut into Leicester City F.C.’s latest jacket collection, showcasing local Thai crafts and designs to the world.

The design of the jackets highlights the unique natural tie-dye patterns and yellow-indigo colors made by the Bai Mai group in Ban Khiri Wong village. This latest collection will be worn by Leicester City F.C. players, showing Thai identity to the world, modern design and sending an environmentally friendly message.

Bai Mai group representative UraiDuangngern expressed her pride at seeing world-class football players wear jackets made of a fabric woven by herself and other group members. She said it is a privilege for villager to bring fame to Ban Khiri Wong village, Nakhon Si Thammarat province, and Thailand by introducing local wisdoms to the world. She said this is a New Year gift from all Ban Khiri Wong villagers to all Thai people.

After the introduction of this collection, the Bai Mai group has seen a spike in sales of many items, such as shirts, trousers, bags and hats in various designs. All products are naturally dyed using extracts from trees, leaves and fruits grown in the village.


Industry Ministry approves loans worth ฿70m to SMEs

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Permanent Secretary for Industry, KobchaiSungsittisawat, said today the government approved 70.8 million baht in soft loans for 28 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) between November 15 and December 20 this year. The government is offering soft loans worth 3 billion baht to SMEs, under its Pracha Rat scheme.

The Permanent Secretary for Industry said about 700 users have applied for loans worth more than 2 billion baht. A committee managing the SME Development Fund is now looking into their applications. The seven provinces with the highest number of SMEs applying for loans are Bangkok, SamutPrakan, Songkhla, SamutSakhon, PathumThani, Nakhon Pathom and Phuket.

The committee also approved five SME promotion and development projects for next year. The projects aim to establish an industrial reform center, apply advanced technologies to increase the capabilities of the food industry, strengthen SMEs in the processed food industry, add value to creative industrial products in line with the Circular Economy concept and encourage businesses to use knowledge generated from research and innovation processes.

The projects are to promote and develop SMEs in all respects, encompassing technology and innovation, while moving toward a more sustainable bio-based economy. They are expected to generate 150 million baht in economic value.


His Majesty the King wishes all Thais a Happy New Year

BANGKOK (NNT) His Majesty the King wished everyone happiness and good health, both physically and mentally in his New Year address.

He urged them to have wisdom, faith and awareness while adhering to virtue, righteousness and appropriateness, and to be determined to contribute to national and public interest.

His Majesty the King said that mistakes and flaws were natural in any kind of work. They should serve as lessons to enhance experiences and wisdom to prevent recurrences and to create development.


House Speaker confirms opposition can file two no-confidence debate motions

 

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Speaker of the House of Representatives, ChuanLeekpai, has confirmed the opposition may file two no-confidence debate motions, remarking that while the government has encouraged participation by members of parliament (MPs), it has not sought to intervene in the House.

The House Speaker said the opposition may move to hold a no-confidence debate in 2020, and it will have two opportunities to do so during the year’s two sessions. While the government maintains a majority of less than 25 seats, it still retains the ability to call for a recount of votes.

Mr. Chuan assured the public that there has been no government intervention in Parliament and that it has never made an inappropriate request. He said it has been the legislature that has issued requests for attendance by the Prime Minister and his cabinet, adding that they should avoid needless absence.


44 transport mega projects in store this year

BANGKOK (NNT) -The Ministry of Transport is proceeding with the 2020 megaprojects investment plan covering 44 projects, with work on 17 already commenced followngapproveal by the Cabinet.

The Minister of Transport, SaksayamChidchob has provided an update on 2021 fiscal year budget planning, in which he has ordered agencies under his supervision to take the national strategy as a framework and a guide for budgeting, and to set clear priorities to prevent redundancies. Agencies are asked to review their budget requests and submit a revised one by 3rd January 2020.

For 2020, the Ministry of the Interior now has 44 transportation investment projects planned at a cost of 1.94 trillion baht. These projects include those approved by the Cabinet and currently under construction; projects approved by the Cabinet and now in preparation; projects approved by the public–private partnership policy committee pending final approval from the Cabinet, and projects pending a proposal to the Cabinet.

17 projects under construction come with 0.78 trillion baht total budget, including three intercity highways, phase 1 dual track railway construction of seven lines for a total of 993 kilometers, the MRT Orange Line’s eastern sector between the Thailand Cultural Center and Minburi, the MRT Pink Line’s Khae Rai - Minburi section, the MRT Yellow Line project’s Lad Phrao - Samrong section, and the SRT Red Line commuter railway’s Bang Sue - Rangsit and Bang Sue - Taling Chan sections.

The Ministry of Finance is also proceeding with the High Speed Railway Bangkok - Nakhon Ratchasima section where 14 separate contracts have been drafted for the project, with construction already in progress under two contracts. The project is now proceeding with consideration by the Council of State regarding payment for ALRO lands.


Government to focus on bettering daily life in 2020

BANGKOK (NNT) - The government has resolved to focus on improving the daily lives of citizens next year, with a more targeted approach taking particular aim at farmers, low-income earners, senior citizens, employees and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Government Spokeswoman, Prof. Dr. NarumonPinyosinwat, said today that state work in 2020 will be centered around living standards, with plans being tailored to specific groups ranging from farmers to SMEs and startups.

In the agricultural sector, the government will seek to develop full cycle growers and BCG or Bio-Economy, Circular Economy and Green Economy farmers. Production will take cues from market demand both domestically and in the export sector.

For low-income earners, qualifications for the welfare scheme will be adjusted based on the already registered 14.6 million people. Adjustments will be made so that the program genuinely serves those in need.

As for the elderly, of whom there are about 11.35 million people in the country, the government has identified that only 8.4 million are receiving a stipend with the rest mostly living on pensions provided by their state office jobs. Some 5 million senior citizens hold a welfare card with another 4.6 million still working, 3.59 million of whom are informal workers such as farmers. These facts will inform intended support for the group.

Meanwhile, the nation’s 14.6 million employed workers, are still dealing with high living costs, with the government acknowledging that while many earn over 100,000 baht a year they do not qualify for welfare. Relevant ministries have been tapped to work with private firms to better care for workers, and financial institutions have been told to issue measures to lighten their burden of debt.

The final group, SMEs and startups, will be elevated in 2020 through the application of innovations, knowledge and capital. The government will seek to release businesses from their current limitations.


BOT projects 2.8% 2020 economic growth from recovered export sector

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Bank of Thailand has announced a 2.8% growth projection for the Thai economy in 2020 thanks to a better performing export sector, while the country’s economic performance in November 2019 is still in a slowdown due to declining export figures affected by economic slowdowns among trading partners.

The Bank of Thailand’s economic analysis bureau has released updated economic projections where Thailand’s export sector would result in negative 3.3 percent growth, causing goods import, industrial manufacturing, and private investment indicators to be in decline.

The government’s general and investment expenditures have also declined, while government measures have partially maintained the general public’s purchasing power.

The tourism sector has shown continuous growth, contributing as a major driver in national economic recovery, with this year’s overall economic performance expected to show 2.5 percent growth.

The overall national economic growth in 2020 is now projected to be 2.8% from the anticipated recovery of the export and investment figures. The global economy next year is expected to continue seeing fluctuations, however analysts expect global trade to gradually improve following expected clarity from trade negotiations.

Government investments for 2020 are expected to fully commence in February after the approval of the fiscal year 2020 budget bill by the parliament. The approval will enable government investment projects to fully proceed, helping stimulate spending, and benefiting the domestic economy recovery.

The Bank of Thailand also recommends the private sector increase their investments in keeping with the current economic recovery.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

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Rare Sea Turtle Eggs Stolen

Drinking Tap Water Distributed from Monday

Govt plans biomass power plants using Napier grass from communities this year

Thailand on watch for pneumonia outbreak; screens travelers from Wuhan, China


Cabinet to consider implementing Article 83 to solve fisheries labor shortage

Anti-plastic campaign gets positive response from public

Local Thai tie-dye now featured on Leicester City’s merchandise

Industry Ministry approves loans worth ฿70m to SMEs


His Majesty the King wishes all Thais a Happy New Year

House Speaker confirms opposition can file two no-confidence debate motions

44 transport mega projects in store this year

Government to focus on bettering daily life in 2020

BOT projects 2.8% 2020 economic growth from recovered export sector