Make Chiangmai Mail | Bookmark

Chiangmai 's First English Language Newspaper

Pattaya Blatt | Pattaya Mail | Pattaya Mail TV


Update June, 2019

Thailand News
World News
World Sports
Book Review
Health & Wellbeing
Odds & Ends
Science & Technology
Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Thailand News

Court lets pro-army lawmakers keep seats during probe

In this Wednesday, June 5, 2019 photo, members of the parliament raise their hands approving the nomination of Prayuth Chan-ocha as Thailand's Prime Minister. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Associated Press

Bangkok (AP) — A court said Wednesday it would let 32 pro-military lawmakers keep their seats while it decides whether they violated election rules, in a decision criticized as unfair because the court earlier suspended an opposition leader over a similar allegation.

The Constitutional Court agreed to rule on a complaint that the 32 members of a coalition that elected Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister earlier this month had violated a prohibition on lawmakers holding shares in media companies. But it dismissed allegations against nine others, citing lack of evidence.

The court earlier suspended the leader of the anti-military Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, from Parliament until it rules in his case. It said it did not suspend the pro-military lawmakers because the complaints against them had not been filed and processed by an investigative committee.

The complaints against the 41 lawmakers were brought by the Future Forward Party and sent to the court by the speaker of the House of Representatives. The complaint against Thanathorn was processed by the Election Commission, a group chosen by a junta-appointed legislative body.

If the 41 politicians had been suspended from their duties as Thanathorn was, it would have reduced the pro-military coalition to a minority in the elected 500-member House of Representatives.

Thanathorn has said he is not guilty of breaching the rule because the shares he held were transferred before he contested the election. However, the court said it suspended him because he could be guilty as charged, which would be an "obstruction to the important work in the meetings in the House of Representatives."

If found guilty, he could be disqualified from office and barred from politics.

"I think it doesn't make much sense at all," said Nutchapakorn Nammueng, an officer of the legal monitoring group iLaw. "When the Constitutional Court accepts a case, it means the court has already deemed that the case is suspicious and worth looking into."

Thailand prepares for heavy rain nationwide


Thailand is bracing itself for more rain this week, with heavy falls expected in northern, northeastern, central, eastern and southern areas.

People in flood-prone areas are advised to beware of flash floods and the government has instructed all irrigation projects to closely monitor the water situation, inspect irrigation systems, eliminate weeds to prevent them from obstructing waterways, manage water in reservoirs to meet the appropriate criteria and dispatch officials to flood risk areas throughout the country.

Drugs evidence to be destroyed, marijuana spared


Bangkok - The Food and Drugs Administration has decided not to destroy confiscated marijuana which was found to be uncontaminated and will keep it for research. However, other illicit drugs are to be destroyed starting this month.

Food and Drugs Administration Secretary General, Dr. Thanet Karasanairawiwong said that over 16 tons of drugs seized as material evidence during court proceedings in over 6,900 cases, are to be destroyed by incineration. Most of the drugs are methamphetamine, followed by crystal meth, heroin, opium and cocaine, plus over 16 kilograms of cannabis seeds.

The incineration of seven tons of the drugs is scheduled for Thursday this week, and the other nine tons on July 5. The drugs will be incinerated at a temperature of more than 850 degrees in the premises of the Center for Infrastructure and Environment Administration in Ayutthaya province.

However, the Food and Drugs Administration secretary general confirmed that 22 tons of uncontaminated marijuana won’t be destroyed but will be delivered to the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, universities and the Office of Narcotics Control Board for research purposes.

Deputy premier confirms granting of more land title deeds

Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan.


Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan has confirmed that more land title deeds are being handed back to those indebted to informal money lenders.

Gen. Prawit dismissed allegations made by Atchariya Ruangrattanaphong, president of the Criminal Victims Assistance Club, that the villagers who may have been indebted by loans were outnumbered by the land title deeds handed out to them. The deputy premier said complaints could be filed and legal action could be taken against anyone who might have performed a misdemeanor with land title deeds. He said he would definitely be presiding over the handing out of the deeds in Lopburi province on Thursday.

Thailand's Wild Boars mark year since going missing in cave

Members of the Wild Boars soccer team who were rescued from a flooded cave, pose for the media after a marathon and biking event in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, Thailand, Sunday, June 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Pitcha Dangprasith

Mae Sai, Thailand (AP) — When the 12 young boys and their soccer coach walked into a cave complex in northern Thailand a year ago Sunday, they didn't know their lives were going to forever change.

Rising floodwater quickly trapped the youngsters inside the Tham Luang cave complex, setting off a more than two-week ordeal that the world watched with rapt attention and that left the members of the Wild Boars soccer club with a survival tale that propelled them into celebrities.

Nine of the boys and their coach were on hand Sunday in the northern town of Mae Sai to mark the anniversary along with some 4,000 others by taking part in a marathon and bike event to raise money to improve conditions at the cave.

Members of the Wild Boars soccer team who were rescued from a flooded cave, Nattawut Takamrong, left, and Peerapat Sompiangjai volunteer at the Pratart Doiwao Temple in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

"I want to thank everybody who has put so much effort and sacrifices to save all of us," said Ekapol Chantawong, the former coach of the Wild Boars who led the boys on the ill-fated visit to the cave.

Ekapol stood in front of a bronze statue of Lieutenant Commander Saman Gunan that has been erected to honor the former Thai navy SEAL who died while working on the search and rescue.

The boys spent nine nights lost in the cave, living on very little food and water, before they were found spotted deep in the twisting cave complex huddled on a patch of dirt above the rising water line. It was a moment captured on video and soon broadcast to the world.

It would be another eight days — until July 10 — before they were all safe.

Adul Sam-on, a member of the Wild Boars soccer team who were rescued from a flooded cave last year, pray during The Dharma Life Improvement Camp in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Also on hand Sunday were a number of the local and foreign divers who took part in the search and rescue operation, which due to its danger and difficulty has been hailed by many as a miracle.

The operation required placing oxygen canisters along the path where the divers maneuvered dark, tight and twisting passageways filled with muddy waters and strong currents.

"Not many children could have survived the way they did, so we have to respect them for that," said Vernon Unsworth, a British diver whose advice and experience played a key part in the search for the boys and their eventual rescue.

"What we should do right now is to just let them get on with their lives. Just let them grow up like normal kids," he said.

Abbot Prayutjetiyanukarn, of the Pratart Doiwao Temple talks to Peerapat Sompiangjai, center, and Nattawut Takamrong, right, members of the Wild Boars soccer team who were rescued from a flooded cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

A year later the boys are notably older and taller. Wearing orange T-shirts from the event, they smiled and posed for photos. They have grown familiar with the attention they receive, though are not altogether comfortable with it.

Abbot Prayutjetiyanukarn, a monk in the local neighborhood who interacts with the team every week, told The Associated Press that some of the boys are wary of the media and try to avoid the press whenever they can.

"But they are fine, both physically and spiritually," he said. "There's nothing to worry about."

Three of the players as well as Ekapol were stateless and were granted Thai citizenship last August.

A boy watches a painting depicting the recuse mission to save 12 soccer boys and their coach near the Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

The team traveled last year to Argentina and the U.S. The boys and their coach are represented by the 13 Tham Luang Co. Ltd ., which Thailand's government helped establish to manage business opportunities stemming from the ordeal. Netflix has acquired the rights to their story.

It wasn't only the boys who were changed by the events of last summer. This town in mountainous Chiang Rai province near the border with Myanmar is now firmly on the tourist map, with curious travelers from all over the world flocking to see where the story of the Wild Boars unfolded.

The cave's surrounding amenities, which just last year primarily featured dirt roads and thick mud, has seen significant renovations with facilities being built, roads paved and shops settling in.

Local souvenir shopkeepers said that the attention has improved their fortunes.

The entrance to Tham Luang Nang Non cave in the Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

"Since the kids have been rescued, the economy around here keeps getting better," said Lek Yodnum, a shop owner who sells T-shirts and memorabilia of the cave rescue.

"Before the kids became trapped, there wasn't a single shop around here. It was all just farm and field," he said. "Now, Tham Luang has officially become the financial hub of Mae Sai district."

The 12 boys and their coach were scheduled to attend a Buddhist merit-making ceremony at Tham Luang on Monday.

A tourist stands at the gate the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand. Some of the 12 young Thai soccer players and their coach have marked the anniversary of their ordeal that saw them trapped in a flooded cave for two weeks with a commemorative marathon in northern Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

British cave expert Vernon Unsworth  participates in a marathon and biking event in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, Thailand, Sunday, June 23, 2019. Around 4,000 took part in the event Sunday morning, organized by local authorities to raise funds to improve conditions at the now famous Tham Luang cave complex. The youngsters went in to explore before rain-fed floodwaters pushed them deep inside the dark complex. Their rescue was hailed as nothing short of a miracle. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Runners warn up before the start of a marathon and biking event in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, Thailand, Sunday, June 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Participants start during a marathon and biking event in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, Thailand, Sunday, June 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

A T-shirt vendor waits for customers near the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, northern Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

PM Prayut expects new cabinet to be ready this month


Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha has said he will try to finalize the allocation of cabinet portfolios by the end of this month.

Gen. Prayut said he has received the list of all candidates and their qualifications are now under review. If no issues arise, the list will be submitted for royal endorsement at the end of this month. He urged all sides of the political debate not to create confusion over the cabinet seat allocation and said there would be a reshuffle if the new ministers prove unsuitable for the roles. He said the idea of him concurrently serving as the Defense Minister is still under consideration.

As for some criticism that the Prime Minister may lack experience in politics, he said such comments were inaccurate since he has been administering the country and working in the political arena for five years. He called on politicians to stop arguing and refrain from using the phrase ’power succession’ since a general election was held in accordance with the democratic system. He said politicians should respect the law and stop stirring conflict.

Gen. Prayut added that he has not made a decision about leading the Palang Pracharath Party and will consult with his legal team first.

Special seminar discusses state welfare projects after election


Bangkok - State welfare projects, designed to upgrade people’s quality of life and strengthen economic foundations, are continuing even though a new government has not taken office as yet.

In a special seminar, entitled "Take the pulse of Thailand after the election’’, the Office of Insurance Commission’s Deputy Secretary General Chuchat Pramulphol said the agency continues to encourage people to have anti-risk packages such as rice, maize, livestock and accident insurance. In addition, micro-insurance coverage is available at low premiums. Insurance packages will also be provided for elderly persons.

Meanwhile, the Government Housing Bank’s acting assistant managing director Chatravi Chirakulmethaphat said members of the public can have a house of their own under the One Million Houses project, which has drawn the attention of up to 127,000 people. Loan requests from over 7,730 people, worth over eight billion baht, have been approved. A second round of bookings for houses under the project is scheduled to open in September. No less than 20,000 units will be available for sale to the public with a maximum of 50 years of repayment.

Higher Mekong tide helps Thai-Laos river transport


Bangkok - In Bueng Kan district in the north, heavy rains have increased the water level in Mekong River, which helps facilitate river ferries and cargo boats connecting Thailand and Laos.

The water level in the Mekong was recorded at 4.7 meters at Ban Pan Lam tide gauge on Tuesday. The 9 reservoirs under the supervision of Bueng Kan Irrigation Project are now holding water at an average of 79.10 percent of total capacity.

The upper regions of Thailand are expected to continue facing heavy rain and villagers in affected areas are advised to be cautious of potential danger, including flash floods, over the next few days.

Meanwhile, big waves at 2-3 meters high and thunderstorms are expected in the Andaman Sea, while the Gulf of Thailand is expected to have 2-meter tall waves. Sailors are advised to exercise cautions while operating, while small boats should remain ashore until the end of the week.

Private hospitals briefed on notification of drug prices, medical fees


Bangkok - The Department of Internal Trade invited representatives of 353 private hospitals nationwide to a briefing this week on the public notification of the prices of drugs, medical supplies and medical services provided to patients.

Internal Trade Department Director General Wichai Phochanakit said private hospitals need to notify the public of the prices of drugs, which should not include the hospital room, air-conditioning or pharmacist fees. Some hospitals were reported to charge the prices of drugs 8,000-16,000% higher than average prices. Private hospitals are currently required to submit the buying and selling prices of drugs to the Department of Internal Trade by July 12. The prices will be displayed on the department’s website while a QR Code will be provided for people to check the prices at the private hospitals.

ASEAN economic ministers to discuss cooperation on June 21-22


Bangkok - Thailand will host the 34th ASEAN Summit from June 20 to 23 in Bangkok. Delegates will discuss regional economic partnership and issues that need to be implemented within this year.

The Director-General of the Department of Trade Negotiations, Auramon Supthaweethum, said the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM) will be held June 21 and 22 to discuss the bloc’s efforts to push forward the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as its objectives are scheduled to be accomplished before the end of this year.

In the afternoon of June 22, leaders of the ASEAN member states and representatives of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) will discuss various tasks that have to be carried in 2019. The issues will cover workers’ skill development, the readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the enhancement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and mechanisms to facilitate trade in the region.

The theme of Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship of 2019 is "Advancing Partnership for Sustainability". The theme focuses on 13 economic issues, such as plans to support digital technology, innovation and human resources. The theme also focuses on regional connectivity by implementing the ASEAN Single Window in all 10 member states and food tourism.

The trade value between Thailand and other ASEAN member states exceeded 100 billion US dollars last year, or 10.4% higher year-on-year. Thai exports to the ASEAN member countries amounted to 59 billion US dollars, while the value of Thai imports from other countries in the bloc was 41 billion US dollars.

Volunteers dedicate themselves to protecting endangered wildlife dugongs

Officials of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources feed milk to Marium, a baby dugong separated from her mother, on Libong island, Trang province, southern Thailand. (Sirachai Arunrugstichai via AP)


Trang - Various authorities and volunteers have dedicated themselves to preserving Thailand’s endangered wildlife dugongs.

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has issued images of Libong Islands Non-Hunting Area officers collecting seagrass in the midst of heavy waves to feed Mariam, the orphaned dugong. The authorities also said the collected grass must be inspected to make sure that there are no fragments of nets in it, before it is fed to Mariam.

Chaiyaphruek Weerawong, head of the Libong Islands Non-Hunting Area, reported on the nurturing of Mariam saying that the veterinarian team and the Dugong Protection group feed Mariam with 2,020 milliliters of milk and 100 grams of seagrass daily.

The staff team has also collaborated with local community leaders in Koh Libong subdistrict to determine the placement of buoy lines to prevent vessels from passing through and docking in the dugong nursery area, for the safety of Mariam.

BMA dredges ditches, cleans garbage to address flood problems


Bangkok – The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has been working to prevent flood problems in the city by dredging ditches to enhance the efficiency of the drainage system.

City workers have dug over 200 ditches along Chaengwattana Road covering a distance of five kilometers in preparation for rainwater inundations during the rainy season. The water will be discharged into Prem Prachakorn canal, Lak Si district, and Bang Talat canal.


Officials and members of the public have been out collecting large pieces of garbage from canals for proper disposal every Sunday. The activity helps clear the way for better water flow, increases drainage efficiency and prevents the clogging of canals, which is a major cause of flooding.

Thailand scores 1st World Cup goal in 5-1 loss to Sweden

Thailand’s players celebrate in front of their supporters after the Women's World Cup Group F soccer match between Sweden and Thailand at the Stade de Nice in Nice, France, Sunday, June 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Rob Harris

Nice, France (AP) — A couple of seconds elapsed before a disbelieving Kanjana Sungngoen raised her arms in celebration.

It really happened.

Thailand had finally scored at this Women's World Cup.

By the time Sungngoen found the net against Sweden in the first minute of stoppage time, Thailand was already trailing 4-0 Sunday.

But simply scoring was a triumph after Thailand's humiliating 13-0 opening loss to the United States. Coaches embraced on the bench and Thai flags were raised in the stands on the French Riviera.

They were still beaming after the final whistle, even after Elin Rubensson scored with the final kick of the game from the penalty spot to seal a 5-1 victory for Sweden, which advanced to the round of 16 with a game to spare.

"Everyone was very happy that we at least scored one," Kanjana said through a translator. "The whole team is very glad."

Even if it was only a consolation goal and the team remains bottom of Group F.

"It was a difficult goal and playing a great team like Sweden, it meant so much," Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian said through a translator. "It meant that all of our preparation paid off. We had a lot of chances today. This one goal made us laugh, made us smile and makes us happy."

Forget that Thailand's 18 goals conceded equals the tournament record set by Argentina in 2007. And, Thailand still must face Chile in the group finale.

Even Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, through the disappointment of not keeping a clean sheet, could see what scoring meant to the Thais.

"We are all human," Lindahl said, "and having had that defeat they had against the US, and now scoring their goal, you can feel some empathy for them."

It helped that her teammates had already scored four times by the time Sungngoen got on the end of a high ball on the right flank and cut in before beating Lindahl at her near post.

The first of the five Swedish scorers netted in the 6th minute in Nice, with Linda Sembrant heading past Waraporn Boonsing.

The Thai goalkeeper did manage to palm away Anna Anvegard's shot in the 19th minute but she couldn't recover the ball to prevent Kosovare Asllani scoring.  Boonsing couldn't stop the 41st-minute strike from Fridolina Rolfö curling into the top corner.

Just like in the game against the United States, it was 3-0 at halftime. Unlike in Paris, Thailand didn't concede another four times in the opening 11 minutes of the second half.

In fact, it took Sweden until the 81st minute to find the net again through Lina Hurtig's header before being beaten by Thailand on the counterattack.

So when the final whistle blew, the Thai squad was able to bow to its fans. Some pride had been restored.

"Our defeat in the last game was massive," Srathongvian said. "We were disappointed, but scoring one today we made some success. We still need to develop and we need to improve and make it better. We need to get as close to other super teams. We need to play better so we can enjoy it more."

Some 200 dugongs spotted in Andaman Sea


Bangkok - Ko Libong Animal Sanctuary Chief, Chaiyapruek Weerawong, says the population of dugongs offshore in Trang province can mostly be found at Ko Libong Animal Sanctuary, specifically at Laem Ju Hoei and Ao Thung Chin, with about 180 dugongs taking to living around the sanctuary. Dugong communities are also found at seagrass sources in Hat Chao Mai National Park.

The latest marine observation by air this year confirmed there are no fewer than 200 dugongs living in the Andaman Sea from Satun up to Krabi. Many mother and baby dugongs have been spotted, and the birth rate of the dugongs has increased every year. Dugongs are still in need of protection and conservation to raise their population, and spare them being faced with extinction.

The dugong is a protected species according to the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act BE 2562. They are also protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) prohibiting all kinds of trade except for research and reproduction.

DMS dismisses claim that microwaves more dangerous than atomic bombs


Bangkok - The Department of Medical Sciences (DMS) says information indicating that microwave ovens are more dangerous than atomic bombs is not true as the mechanism of operation to channel heat energy directly to molecules inside food does not cause harmful radiation.

A rumor spread online suggested that the Japanese government had decided to dispose of all microwave ovens in the country before the end of this year because a research finding suggested they are more dangerous than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It further went on to allege that all Japanese citizens not fulfilling the requirement to dispose of their ovens would face a fine or imprisonment.

DMS Director General Ophas Karnkawinphong said the Bureau of Radiation and Medical Devices has confirmed that microwave ovens do not release any residual radiation and the rumor online is not true.

Those still interested in checking their microwave ovens for safety can have them examined at the Bureau of Radiation and Medical Devices at the Medical Science Centers throughout the country during office hours.

Public health official in Nan inspects cannabis oil’s side effects


Bangkok - A public health official in Nan province yesterday inspected cannabis oil, which reportedly caused muscular spasms and numbing in a user. Authorities have warned villagers about the oil which might cause such side effects.

Thawat Sitthiyot, Phuphiang district’s public health official, visited Baan Nong Rang village in Phuphiang district of Nan province where a villager had used cannabis oil only to be sent to hospital. He called on the village headman and villagers to beware of peddlers who might offer illegal cannabis oil for sale. The oil is reported to sell for as much as 2,500 baht a bottle.

The public health official said marijuana or cannabis is currently considered an illegal drug which should not be used to cure diseases. Villagers might be lured into buying cannabis oil only to lose money and fall ill due to dangerous side effects.

According to the villagers, the illegal cannabis oil had been offered by roving vendors on regular basis.

King Power wins Duty Free auction for three regional airports


Bangkok - King Power has won the bidding to run duty-free shops in three regional airports, marking another victory for the firm which previously won two licenses to operate duty-free shops and the commercial zone at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) unsealed bid envelopes this week for the duty-free operation at airports in Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai. The three bidders were King Power Duty Free Co that won the auction, followed by a Royal Orchid Hotel (Thailand) Plc joint venture, and a consortium led by Bangkok Airways Plc.

The results of the three bids to run the duty-free concessions will be submitted to the committee in charge of revenue assessment on June 12 before being forwarded to the AoT board for consideration on June 19.

Court sentences ex-PM Thaksin to prison over lottery program

Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is shown in this Friday, March 22, 2019 file photo. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda and Pitcha Dangprasith

Bangkok (AP) — A court on Thursday sentenced former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in absentia to two years in prison over his handling of the state lottery program he initiated while in office more than a decade ago.

His conviction by the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions was for malfeasance, for carrying out a policy judged to be in violation of the law or official regulations.

He was earlier sentenced in April to three years' imprisonment for ordering Thailand's Export-Import Bank to make a loan to Myanmar which was used to pay a satellite communications company then controlled by him and his family.

It is not clear why this year's cases were completed such a long time after the alleged offenses dating back over 10 years.

The lottery case involved the establishment in 2003 of an effort to mimic the illegal underground lottery, a flexible game in which people could pick two- and three-digit numbers and bet small amounts, compared with the official system of lottery tickets with fixed numbers and fewer potential winning opportunities.

The illegal lottery is hugely popular, and Thaksin's scheme was an attempt to steer some of the money that went to it to government coffers instead.

The court found that Thaksin ignored standard administrative practice in starting the new lottery, which was discontinued when he was forced from office.

Thaksin, who maintains a home in Dubai and travels frequently, could not be reached for comment but has consistently denied any wrongdoing while in office and described the cases against him as politically motivated.

Thailand's decades-old official lottery has been dogged time and again by rigging and corruption scandals.

The court's ruling Thursday appeared to claim that the lottery scheme initiated under Thaksin involved unacceptable financial risk to the government.

Thai news reports said dozens of other officials were previously tried and convicted for involvement, with some senior figures given suspended prison terms.

Prime Minister has little to say about staying in power

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha smiles before a meeting at government house in Bangkok, Thursday, June 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Bangkok (AP) —Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha stayed out of the spotlight Thursday, a day after he skipped a Parliament session in which lawmakers voted to keep him in the job he has held since the military coup in 2014.

He delivered little more than a brief thank you through a spokesman and on his Facebook page, also promising to carry out his duties to the best of his ability.

"He is in a kind of a strongman mold, but now he has to be accountable, more scrutinized, so we can expect him to lose some temper. We can expect him to be flustered, frustrated. But the big question is whether the coalition government will hold," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a professor of political science at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.

The junta will be dissolved when Prayuth appoints his new Cabinet, and Article 44, which handed him lawmaking powers without the need for approval from anyone, will expire with it, even though the orders enacted under Article 44 will remain in force.

Thitinan expects Prayuth's will try to stay above the fray and allow military-allied lawmakers to protect him, a strategy other previous unelected military prime ministers employed. He said that may prove a difficult task, given the size and determination of the opposition bloc and the unwieldy nature of his own coalition.

"General Prayuth as head of it all will have a big headache at a minimum, but beyond that, he also will face a kind of scrutiny he hasn't seen in the last five years that may involve some very sensitive issues," such as his personal assets, his relatives and associates, Thitinan said.

Government returns over 300 million baht to fraud victims in China


Bangkok - Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam and AMLC Chairman Chaiya Siri-ampholkul have left for China to return money illegally collected from Chinese fraud victims.

A high-level Chinese security official confirmed receipt of a sum of 356 million baht in a bank savings account, which is to be returned to a total of 33,928 victims in China. The Chinese authorities thanked their Thai counterparts for having returned the money to foreign fraud victims.

Thai and Chinese authorities have discussed close cooperation in efforts to crack down on transnational crimes, prevent and suppress terrorism and raise the confidence in international judicial systems.

Abhisit resigns as MP

Former Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.


Bangkok - Former Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has resigned as an MP because he said he could not condone his party’s resolution to support Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister.

Abhisit said his resignation as an MP was necessary to maintain his stand against efforts to help the current premier keep the top office of government. However, he said he respected the party’s resolution adopted at Tuesday’s party meeting in support of Prayut.

Abhisit apologized to all supporters who had voted for his party and for his decision to resign as an MP to keep his word and personal honor. He said he has never compromised his ideologies and principles. He declined to say whether he might also resign as a member of the Democrat Party which he used to lead.

Parliament votes for Prayuth to stay on as PM


Members of the parliament raise their hands approving the nomination of Prayuth Chan-ocha as Thailand's Prime Minister during a session to vote for a new of Prime Minister in Bangkok, Wednesday, June 5, 2019.(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda and Pitcha Dangprasith

Bangkok (AP) — Thailand's Parliament elected 2014 coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister in a vote Wednesday that helps ensure the military's sustained dominance of politics.

The Palang Pracharath party that nominated Prayuth won the second-highest number of seats in the House of Representatives in a general election in March. But his selection was virtually assured because the prime minister is chosen in a joint vote of the 500-seat House and the 250-seat Senate, whose members were appointed by the government. Two House seats were vacant due to a suspension and resignation.

Prayuth was elected to serve a second term by a vote of 500 to 244 over his opponent, Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. Prayuth's appointment becomes official when it is endorsed by HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

"The people are still calling for liberties. The people are still calling for justice," Thanathorn said after the vote. "This is not the time to lose hope. Hope is still on our side. Time is still on our side. I want to thank all 244 people who love democracy for voting for me."

Prayuth made no immediate public comment on the vote.

Wednesday's vote indicates that Prayuth's coalition also has control — by a small margin — of the House, necessary to pass laws and approve budgets.

But there are doubts that a government led by Prayuth, used to governing by fiat, can fare well in a parliamentary framework.

"General Prayuth's return to the premiership has gone according to the ... junta's design. But managing a coalition government and a Parliament with a sizable opposition is very different from overseeing a military dictatorship," said Michael Montesano, coordinator of the Thailand Studies Program at Singapore's ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

An open-ended parliamentary debate, with the two sides touting the merits of their candidate and the weaknesses of their opponent, pushed Wednesday's vote late into the night. The official result was announced just before midnight.

During the debate, Palang Pracharath lawmaker Koranis Ngamsukonrattana praised Prayuth for his character and his vision.

"He's patient and sacrificed himself so much for the country," he said. "He's the savior who came in and saved the country when all hope was lost."

Thanathorn's supporters attacked Prayuth as a destroyer of democracy.

"Coups are the ultimate crime against the rule of democracy with the monarch as head of state," said Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary general of Thanathorn's Future Forward party. "It rips apart the entire constitution and takes power to rule over the country by establishing yourself as a 'sovereign' with the highest power."

UN agencies urge stronger efforts to stop illegal fishing

In this May 21, 2019, photo, staff monitor fishing vessels in real time at a state-of-the-art surveillance center in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)

Elaine Kurtenbach

Bangkok (AP) — Major United Nations agencies are urging key fishing nations to join efforts to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and other groups made the call at a conference in Bangkok on Wednesday focused on helping protect fisheries and those working in the industry.

Thailand is the world's biggest importer of tuna. It has one of the seven state-of-the-art centers in the region monitoring fishing vessels in real time to help control access to regional ports and curb illegal fishing.

The centers are helping enforce the Port State Measures Agreement, which aims to help curb illegal, unreported and unregulated — or IUU — fishing. Dozens of governments have joined but U.N. officials are urging more to support the effort.

Illegal fishing costs countries in the Asia-Pacific region some $5 billion a year; globally more than $20 billion. And rogue fishing vessels often engage in other crimes such as piracy and human and drug trafficking, abuses being fought along with the International Labor Organization and International Organization for Migration.

Preventing such vessels from selling illegal catches is the most vital element for stopping illegal fishing, Adisorn Promthep, director-general of Thailand's Department of Fisheries, said during a visit to the center in Bangkok.

"We also make certain that no IUU fish or products come to Thailand and this is going to be a big help to work against IUU," Adisorn said in an interview.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press investigation in 2015-16 that uncovered severe rights abuses affecting migrant workers in Thailand's fishing and seafood industries helped focus attention on the problem. The stories helped free more than 2,000 enslaved men from Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, and led to more than a dozen arrests, amended U.S. laws and lawsuits seeking redress.

The European Union in 2015 gave Thailand a "yellow card" on its fishing exports, warning that it could face a ban on EU sales if it didn't reform the industry. Thailand responded by introducing new regulations and setting up the command center to fight illegal fishing.

During a recent visit, about a dozen staff in the surveillance center were keeping a round-the-clock watch on the positions of fishing and other vessels to see if they were operating in areas they were not authorized to fish in.

The system includes detailed online records and photographs of each vessel, their crews, logs and other information that is verified by officials at ports before the ships are allowed to unload catches, refuel or restock.

The FAO estimates that almost a third of global fish stocks are degraded from overfishing, and a further 60% are "fully exploited." Illegal catches account for much of the overfishing, or up to 26 million tons a year, at times nearly one-fifth of the total harvest from the sea.

And while the systems are improving and expanding, they are not failsafe. In some cases, small-scale fishers are unfamiliar with territorial limits in traditional fishing areas, said Simon J. Nicol, a senior fishery official at the FAO's Bangkok office.

Adisorn agreed that relatively recently established boundaries and controls can be a problem for some fishermen, especially artisanal, small boats. But having fishing vessels comply means a "level playing field," he said.

Ultimately, Nicol said, the aim is not just to combat illegal fishing, but to try to ensure sustainable use of fisheries at a time of declining stocks of some species, such as the bluefin tuna favored by sushi bars.

"We are on the right track," Nichol said.

Oil prices going down 0.3-0.6 baht


Bangkok - PTT Oil and Retail (PTTOR) Company Limited and Bangchak Corporation Public Company Limited have announced their latest oil price adjustment by decreasing sale pricing of all products at 0.6 baht per liter, except for E85 product which will be cheaper by 0.3 baht per liter, effective from June 5.

The new adjustment will result in the lower fuel pricing at petrol stations, with the adjusted pricing at stations in Bangkok and neighboring provinces being at 35.16 baht per liter for Benzin 95, 27.75 baht/liter for Gasohol 95, 27.48 baht/liter for Gasohol 91, 24.74 baht/liter for E20, 20.04 baht/liter for E85, 26.49 baht/liter for Diesel, 30.09 baht/liter for Diesel Premium, 25.49 baht/liter for Diesel B10, and 21.49 baht/liter for Diesel B20. These prices are exclusive of local taxes.

No rent for 1 year for fire-affected vendors at Chatuchak market


Bangkok - Police have continued to investigate Sunday’s fire at Chatuchak market which may have been caused by an electrical short circuit. A sum of 10,000 baht in compensation payments will be provided to each of the affected vendors by Friday and no rent will be collected from them for a year.

Bangkok Governor Asawin Khwanmuang inspected the fire scene this week where tents are being set up for temporary use by the 110 affected vendors. New stalls will be built in four phases and construction won’t take longer than two-months.

Sunday’s fire was the most severe in Chatuchak market in 30 years.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Court lets pro-army lawmakers keep seats during probe

Thailand prepares for heavy rain nationwide

Drugs evidence to be destroyed, marijuana spared

Deputy premier confirms granting of more land title deeds

Thailand's Wild Boars mark year since going missing in cave

PM Prayut expects new cabinet to be ready this month

Special seminar discusses state welfare projects after election

Higher Mekong tide helps Thai-Laos river transport

Private hospitals briefed on notification of drug prices, medical fees

ASEAN economic ministers to discuss cooperation on June 21-22

Volunteers dedicate themselves to protecting endangered wildlife dugongs

BMA dredges ditches, cleans garbage to address flood problems

Thailand scores 1st World Cup goal in 5-1 loss to Sweden

Some 200 dugongs spotted in Andaman Sea

DMS dismisses claim that microwaves more dangerous than atomic bombs

Public health official in Nan inspects cannabis oil’s side effects

King Power wins Duty Free auction for three regional airports

Court sentences ex-PM Thaksin to prison over lottery program

Prime Minister has little to say about staying in power

Government returns over 300 million baht to fraud victims in China

Abhisit resigns as MP

Parliament votes for Prayuth to stay on as PM

UN agencies urge stronger efforts to stop illegal fishing

Oil prices going down 0.3-0.6 baht

No rent for 1 year for fire-affected vendors at Chatuchak market