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Update August 2018


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

Update August 29, 2018

Police to look into British tourist's rape allegation

Minister of Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kowsurat.

Bangkok (AP) — Thai police said Monday that they have formed a committee to investigate a rape allegation made by a British tourist who claims that police officers refused to file charges on her behalf when she initially reported the crime.

Police Col. Krissana Pattanacharoen, deputy police spokesman, said an independent committee was established on Sunday to investigate the claims. Krissana said the committee would take seven days to come to a conclusion.

According to a report in the local online newspaper Samui Times, an unidentified 19-year-old British national claimed that she was drugged, robbed and raped on the island of Koh Tao on June 26. The report claimed that police "were happy to make a report of the robbery but refused to take any details of the rape" when the teenager told police on a nearby island what had happened.

Officials claim that she never included allegations of rape in her initial report.

"They (police) have already said before that the person filing the charges did not include this (rape) charge," Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said Monday. "They only reported that they lost their belongings, so what can we do? Police have already talked about it. She didn't file charges saying she was assaulted or raped or anything."

Prawit also denied speculation that there were influential people behind the alleged police cover-up. He said "influential people have all been arrested already."

Meanwhile the Minister of Tourism and Sports Weerasak Kowsurat has announced that several agencies are looking into the facts behind the allegations. The minister noted however that the investigation may be prlonged as the alleged incident took place some time ago.

As for the tourism image of Koh Tao, Weerasak pointed out there's been no clear indication of a drop in bookings for the island but assured travelers that security in tourism spots would be re-evaluated, with surveillance cameras to be added to at-risk areas and better data collection.

A number of unexplained tourist deaths have taken place in recent years on Koh Tao. The most notorious case of late was of the murders of British nationals Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, who were beaten to death in 2014. That case has been plagued with speculation that the arrested suspects were made scapegoats.


Anti-dengue fever Line account launched to help people stay safe

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Disease Control (DDC) has launched a Line application account ‘Asa Prab Yoong’ to give people access to information on how to keep the dengue virus at bay.

DDC Director-General Dr. Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said that the new communication channel was developed to teach people how to protect themselves against dengue which can be transmitted to humans via mosquito bites.

Since January, more than 40,000 people have been infected and 58 people died, with the elderly being the majority of those who succumbed to the disease. The Asa Prab Yoong Line account provides an update on the virus outbreak in Thailand as well as information on the symptoms and how to stay safe.

Mobile users can add this account to their list of friends by scanning the QR code or typing the Thai name of the DDC’s Line account into the search box. For more information call 1422.


Relocation of judges’ housing project to take time

NNT

Bangkok - The government is pushing forward the relocation of a disputed housing project for judges in Chiang Mai, which would be a time-consuming process, said Government Spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

He quoted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as saying that the dispute raised by environmentalists who called for the removal of the housing project at Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai has already been clearly resolved with the use of another plot of land owned by the Department Of Agriculture as the site of the relocated project.

He said the government will allocate a budget appropriate for such relocation, while judicial officials who have already moved in to the existing housing project may be allowed to stay there until the construction of the new one has been finished, given the considerable period of time forecast.


Heightened Mekong River flooding communities throughout the northeast

NNT

Mukdaharn - The rising Mekong River has resulted in flooding in Mukdaharn province and brought flood warnings to all riverside communities.

A rise of 10 centimeters in the Mekong River in Mukdaharn province has allowed it to overflow its 12.5 meter high banks for a second time this rainy season, mildly flooding the area around Wat Sri Mongkol Nua. All citizens of the province living along the river and its tributaries have been told to move their possessions to higher ground.

In Nong Khai province, municipal authorities have had to close off seven drainage openings as the high Mekong River has pushed local waterways above the sewage system. Excess water is now being drained out to protect the province’s urban center from flooding.

Governor of Nakhon Panom Somchai Witdamrong has ordered Huay Bang Kor sluicegates be fully opened due to the Mekong River now being 15 centimeters lower than the water kept behind the gates. Sixteen water pumps have been readied to speed up drainage and resolve flooding in the province’s urban center.

The rising Mekong River has resulted in calls for caution in Nakhon Phanom, Mukdaharn, Ubon Ratchathani, Nong Khai and Bueng Kan.


Update August 28, 2018

Police extend probe into bilking of bitcoins from Finn

In this Aug. 10, 2018, photo, actor Jiratpisit Jaravijit, center, is escorted by police officers as he leaves the Crimes Suppression Division office in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Khanathit Srihirundaj)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Bangkok (AP) — Thai authorities this week are expected to step up their investigation of a financial scam involving the alleged theft of about US$25 million worth of bitcoins from a Finnish investor who police say was bilked with promises of high returns from investments in a casino in Macau and in another cryptocurrency.

The case, which surfaced with the arrest in a shopping mall parking lot of a young soap opera actor suspected of colluding with his sister and brother, has prompted Thailand's central bank to warn investors against risks of bitcoin-related scams, underscoring the challenge for regulators trying to keep up with the fast-growing cryptocurrency markets.

Police have issued arrest warrants for several other people, including actor Jiratpisit Jaravijit's elder brother, Parinya Jaravijit, who has left the country. Police have indicated they will question more suspects this week.

Court documents say the siblings and others are suspected of conspiring to commit fraud and engage in money laundering with 5,564.4 bitcoins — worth roughly $25 million at the time — obtained from 22-year-old Finnish investor Aarni Otava Saarimaa.

The police arrest warrant says Saarimaa and a Thai business partner, Chonnikarn Kaewsalee, filed a complaint in January over having not received any return on the promised investment.

Saarimaa did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

According to court documents cited by Thai newspapers, Parinya Jaravijit and an associate convinced Saarimaa and his partner to transfer their bitcoins to an e-wallet of one of the suspects on several occasions, promising the funds would be invested in a company called Expay Software Co. and in a new cryptocurrency called Dragon Coin. The documents say that the three, along with a prominent local stock investor, were supposed to have formed a partnership.

Instead, the bitcoins were cashed into Thai baht and deposited into 51 bank accounts belonging to seven people, with some of the money used by the Jaravijits to buy land in and near Bangkok.

Police and financial documents showed that in some cases Saarimaa did gain ownership of shares in those companies. But he complained to police that he did not obtain the investments or returns promised to him. The status of the promised investments in Dragon Coin — cryptocurrency to be used at the casino in Macau — remains unclear.

The government has stepped up efforts this year to control the largely unregulated field of digital currency.

In March, it enacted a decree aimed at imposing controls and stipulating rules on taxation of bitcoin transactions. But experts say there are loopholes and it's been loosely enforced.

Anti-money laundering officials say bitcoin are attractive for scams because encrypted transactions can be hard to trace, although officials have emphasized that this case did not involve that kind of cybercrime.

"In every investment, it's very important to understand what type of asset you are investing in and what types of risks are associated with that asset," Veerathai Santiprahhob, Thailand's central bank governor, told reporters after the case became public. "It's crucial that anyone who wants to invest in high-risk assets such as digital currencies and bitcoin educate themselves and fully understand it."


Ancient cannon found in Sanam Luang

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Fine Arts has dispatched officials to inspect a newly discovered ancient cannon and verify its authenticity.

Minister of Culture Weera Rojpojanarat, has revealed that the cannon was discovered on August 25 by contract workers working on the pipelines and landscaping of Sanam Luang ceremonial ground. The cannon was found in the ground under the lawn next to Thammasat University.

The ancient artillery piece is in good condition. It is medium sized with a length of 305 centimeters and its barrel has a diameter of 40 centimeters.

According to the Department of Fine Arts, the cannon is the same model as that used in various battles such as the war of the nine armies.

Cannons have previously been found in and around the ceremonial ground, as the site was once part of Bavorn Sathan Mongkon Palace. Earlier artifacts are kept in the Bangkok National Museum in Phra Nakhon district of the capital and at the Ancient Artillery Museum of the Defense Ministry.


Department of Disease Control warns of pinkeye disease

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Disease Control is warning the public of pinkeye disease which is common during the rainy season, as about 60, 000 patients have suffered from the disease so far this year.

According to Director-General of the Department, Dr. Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, infections, allergies, and chemical reactions can cause pinkeye or conjunctivitis. The disease is not airborne, so cannot be contracted from just looking at the eyes of the infected.

According to data from the Bureau of Epidemiology of the Disease Control Department, 59,751 Thais have suffered pinkeye since the beginning of the year to August 19. The bureau said most of the patients were aged from 45 to 54. It added that there is no specific remedy for pinkeye but the office indicated that eye drops can be used to reduce irritation. Although pinkeye is not a deadly disease, patients are advised to seek medical attention at the early stage of the condition.

Pinkeye can be avoided by making sure that hands are clean before they come into contact with the eyes. One should also refrain from being in close proximity to a person who has the disease or sharing the patients' belongings. The Bureau of Epidemiology also suggests that people shouldn't let insects come into contact with their eyes.

People who have contracted pinkeye should take at least three days to recover in isolation, in order to prevent the condition spreading. For more information about the disease and how to prevent it please call the Disease Control Department hotline 1422.


Several dams at maximum capacity

 

NNT

Petchaburi - Heavy rain over the weekend added a large volume of water to three of the nation’s largest dams and prompted urgent drainage from others.

Five of the nation’s dams have exceeded critical levels after the rain. They are Kaeng Krachan Dam, Nam Oun Dam, Vajiralongkorn Dam, Khun Dan Prakan Chon Dam and Pranburi Dam.

However, Kaeng Krachan Dam has now declined in level which has helped Petchaburi River fall to 92 centimeters below its banks. While flooding in previously affected areas has now receded, many locations in Municipal Petchaburi are being kept on alert.

Discharge from Nam Oun Dam in Sakon Nakhon province has sent river water in several districts over embankments and prompted urgent drainage into tributaries. Work to install 25 siphons at the dam is to be completed this week and will result in an increase in its water releases to 1 million cubic meters per day, possibly having an impact on Sakon Nakhon, Bueng Kan and Nakhon Panom.

Releases from Vajiralongkorn Dam in Kanchanaburi province have caused the flooding of some resorts along the Kwae Noi and Mae Klong rivers. Authorities have responded quickly to the situation and are publicizing management plans.

In Nakhon Nayok, Khun Dan Prakan Chon Dam is draining off water into lower waterways in anticipation of more rain. Pranburi Dam in Prachuapkirikan, despite not taking on more water, is maintaining drainage while being mindful of flood-risk areas.

Meanwhile, Rachaprapha Dam in Surat Thani has increased its discharge to 25 million cubic meters per day and urged nearby residents to be on alert for flooding despite efforts to avoid such a situation.

Khiri Tharn Reservoir in Chantaburi has reached 100 percent of its capacity at 76 million cubic meters of water and authorities are now looking into how it can be appropriately discharged.

At the same time, Srinakarin Dam in Kanchanaburi has reached 90 percent of its capacity at 15.9 billion cubic meters of water. Its spillways have been opened so that some of the water can be released into empty fields.


Update August 27, 2018

BoT to issue digital currency

BoT Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob.

NNT

Bangkok - The Bank of Thailand (BoT) is to issue its own digital currency for use in domestic wholesale funds transfers.

The currency is expected to be built on an open source blockchain, said BoT Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob, who cited demand for faster transactions across banking networks.

He said, like other central banks, the BoT’s goal is not to immediately bring its digital currency into use but rather to explore its potential and implications for back office operations, hoping that these efforts would pave the way for faster and cheaper transactions and validations due to a process of less intermediation, compared to the current system.

The digital currency will be named Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDD) and is being created on the open source digital ledger platform called Corda which was developed by a banking partner R3.

R3’s Corda platform is designed to increase efficiency for financial firms by removing intermediaries.

Veerathai added the BoT’s efforts are part of a wider program of private and public sector applications currently underway in the country. Fourteen of the country’s banks operating in conjunction with seven leading businesses and state-owned enterprises are expected to introduce a production-ready project to offer blockchain-based letters of guarantee in the second half of the year.


Thailand continues to experience downpours

NNT

Bangkok - Regions across Thailand are warned of flashfloods and forest runoff as heavy rains persist.

Inclement weather over the weekend affected the north, northeast, the central plains, the east, and the west coast of the nation while waves in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand were up to 2 meters high.

Officials in charge of dams and reservoirs are keeping a close watch on changes in water levels, especially the dams that have already exceeded 80% of their total capacity including Kaeng Krachan Dam, Nam Un Dam, Vajiralongkorn Dam, Khun Dan Prakan Chon Dam, and Pranburi Dam.

In addition there are other large reservoirs and water retention areas that have seen a swift rise in the amount of water stored, such as Ratchaprapa Dam, Khiri Than Reservoir, and Srinagarind Dam. The quantity of water last measured at these reservoirs was 4.92 million, 77 million, and 15.8 billion cubic meters respectively, accounting for 87%, 77%, and 89% of the full capacity of each.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has reported that Tropical Storm Bebinca will continue to bring heavy rain and thunderstorms to all parts of the country during the early part of this week.


Chinese investors show interest in EEC

NNT

Bangkok - The 6th meeting of the Thailand-China Joint Committee on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation, has seen 10 memoranda of understand (MoUs) signed between Thailand and China.

Leading 500 Chinese investors to the joint meeting, Chinese State Councilor Wang Yong and Thai ministers including Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, and Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj witnessed the signing of 10 agreements to boost cooperation in many fields.

Wang said during the conference that the two meetings held between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last year, set the direction of China-Thailand relations, which both sides need to follow to implement the important consensus reached by the two leaders.

Somkid said Thailand attaches great importance to deepening the bilateral economic and trade cooperation with China, and is willing to learn from China in terms of development experience.

Chinese investors also took part in a special session where they studied the development of the Eastern Economic Corridor, one of Thailand’s strategic zones for the mobilization of large investments.


Migrant workers urged to renew work permits

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Labor is allowing 11,000 migrant workers in the fisheries sector to renew their work permits, so that they will be able to work in Thailand for another two years.

The work permits of these migrant workers are due to expire between 20th August and 30th September 2018. Extending their work permits will allow them to work in the kingdom for an additional year each time, until 30 September 2020.

The ministry believes this measure will ease the labor shortage in the fisheries sector in the short run.

To process applications to renew the work permits, the ministry has opened one-stop service centers in 22 coastal provinces including Chumphon, Ranong, Songkhla, and Phuket.

The Thai government recognizes the important role of migrant workers in supporting the Thai fishing and seafood processing industries. It has reorganized the management of migrant workers' issues to tackle many problems and to benefit the workers themselves..


Update August 25-26, 2018

It's now illegal to abandon animals at temples

 

NNT

Bangkok - People are being urged not to abandon their pets at temples or face legal charges under the Cruelty Prevention and Welfare of Animal Act and the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act.

The Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand received a letter from the Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA) asking it to prevent people from abandoning their animals at the monasteries.

The growing number of forsaken animals at temples has also prompted the TSPCA to promote better animal treatment and raise awareness of the legal consequences the pet owners could face for abandoning their animals.

To solve this problem, the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand has instructed all temples to ban animal abandonment and trade on their premises. Anyone caught trying to do so will receive a maximum fine of 40,000 baht and a jail term of up to four years.


BoT says there remain imminent risks to Thai economy

BoT Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob.

NNT

Bangkok - The Bank of Thailand (BoT) says that even though the Thai economy is recovering, the ongoing US-China trade war and currency fluctuations could hamper its growth.

BoT Governor, Veerathai Santiprabhob, said the impact of the trade war between the two giant economies is likely to have some impact at the end of this year.

Other risks to the Thai economic growth, besides currency fluctuations, are the fatal boat accident in Phuket in July, which has already affected the tourism sector, and the quantity of non-performing loans.

He claimed commercial banks are offering loans to home buyers in amounts much greater than home prices without taking into consideration their financial capability.

The Monetary Policy Committee is now paying close attention to these factors to prevent any future threats to the economy.


Stormy conditions wreak havoc in the South

NNT

Phang Nga - A new storm warning has been issued after the depression system Bebinca triggered runoff and landslides in the South of Thailand.

Heavy rain in Phang Nga province resulted in runoff and landslides in several areas, significantly impacting Bang Sai-Pak Weep road in the province’s Takua Pa district. Similarly, mountain runoff severed access to a bridge in the area of Khlong Bang Muang.

The rains also resulted in flooding in villages of Takua Pa with landslides impeding travel on some roads. Authorities are now providing initial assistance to the communities.

Ranong Governor, Jatupoj Piyamputra, has inspected a landslide on the province’s Petchkasem 4 road at a viewpoint leading to Punyabal Waterfall. Eroded soil has been blocking the road for seven days now. Heavy machinery is now removing the mud and cement pipes are being placed along the slope to prevent further erosion and safe passage.

In Phuket, heavy rains resulted in the flooding of Surin and Thep Krasat roads, Soi Paniang intersection and in front of Buddhamongkolnimit School. Some areas under deep water have been closed to traffic to enable drainage operations. Flooding was also reported in Katu and Talang districts with traffic now heavy in those areas. Phuket Governor Noraphat Plodthong has ordered authorities facilitate travel for citizens while asking all to keep a close eye on the situation, especially in areas near mountains.


New industrial estate in Rayong open to Chinese-speaking investors

 

NNT

Rayong - The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) has opened a new industrial estate in Rayong province for Chinese-speaking investors, in a bid to streamline the development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

IEAT Deputy Governor, Suwatana Kmolwatananisa, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with CG Corporation Co, Ltd, a subsidiary of Charoen Pokphand Group, to build the new industrial estate covering 480 hectares in Nikom Pattana and Ban Kai districts.

The objective of the new site is to attract investors from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to invest in medical production, smart electronics, home appliances and automobiles.

As much as 60 billion baht is expected to be invested within the next 6 years. Up to 20,000 jobs will also be created.


Update August 24, 2018

Traffic police: THB10,000-50,000 fines maximum penalty

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Thai Police have clarified the controversy about driver’s license-related fines, saying fines ranging from 10,000 - 50,000 baht are the maximum penalty.

Commander of the Police Special Branch, Pol. Maj. Gen. Ekkarak Limsangkat said this week that 50,000-baht fine for not having a driver’s license and a 10,000-baht fine for failing to display a driver’s license are maximum penalties. The fine for a first offense is at the discretion of the courts and the second offense down to the investigators. The law on the matter is being considered by the National Legislative Assembly, he said.

The police are considering cancelling the present program which gives a share of fines to traffic police officers, so as to avoid public disapproval. If the program is cancelled, the police will consider other types of incentives for officers, said the commander.


Government providing full assistance to Petchaburi flood victims

NNT

Petchaburi - The Royal Thai Army has joined efforts to provide assistance to those impacted by flooding in Petchaburi province while the government has prepared rehabilitation measures for affected citizens and resorts.

Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives, Lak Wajananawat, has inspected the situation, visiting Petchaburi Dam and the D9 canal and noted that the water level in Kaeng Krachan reservoir is falling and that efforts are being made to minimize flooding in economically important areas. He believes the situation will return to normal in three to four days if there is no more rain.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, stated all relevant agencies, including the Royal Thai Army, are now providing assistance to flood victims in Petchaburi. The help extends to resort operators and their businesses.

Emergency services personnel will remain in place to watch over the province following reports of another storm set to hit Thailand later this week. Citizens have been warned of the situation and equipment has been provided to authorities so that they may provide relief.


Phuket to launch anti-smoking campaign next month

 

Phuket City Municipality Mayor Somjai Suwannasuphobna.

NNT

Phuket - Phuket City Municipality and related agencies are set to launch an anti-smoking campaign next month in the hope of making Phuket town a smoke-free city.

Phuket City Municipality Mayor Somjai Suwannasuphobna said the campaign was developed out of concerns for the health of non-smokers.

Various organizations including the Action On Smoking And Health Foundation as well as other public and private agencies are to join the campaign to make the municipality smoke-free.

The campaign aims to create a clean environment for local residents and tourists while at the same time raising public awareness about the new Tobacco Control Act.

The mayor of Phuket urged parents to set a good example for their children by not smoking. The campaign will be launched on September 23.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) will be signed by public agencies and the Action On Smoking And Health Foundation, to strengthen the anti-smoking effort.


Illegal resort at Phu Hin Rong Kla knocked down

NNT

Phitsanulok - National park's officers have completed the demolition of a resort belonging to an executive of the Tambon Noen Pherm administrative organization after the Supreme Administrative Court gave the go-ahead.

More than 300 officers from the Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park and relevant units demolished the Hong Ka Hill Homestay resort and a restaurant located inside the national park in Phitsanulok province on Wednesday. The demolition is in line with the government's policy against illegal constructions at national parks nationwide.

After the resort's case had been processed for a year, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered the enforcement of an administrative measure of Section 22 of the National Park Act to demolish the constructions without waiting for the case to conclude.


Update August 23, 2018

Thailand holds ceremony in honor of 47 Chinese boat victims

Thai Buddhist monks pray for Chinese boat accident victims in Phuket province, Wednesday, Aug. 22. (AP Photo/Tiwa Suvarnadhanu)

Phuket (AP) — Officials and local groups held a religious ceremony on Wednesday in honor of 47 Chinese tourists who died last month when their boat sank in rough weather off the resort island of Phuket.

The ceremony included Chinese and Buddhist rituals, as well as prayers by Christian, Hindu and Sikh priests.

Two boats carrying tourists sank off Phuket in stormy weather on July 5. Everyone on one small boat was rescued, while 47 Chinese died on the double-decker tour boat Phoenix.

The accident was one of Thailand's worst tourism-related disasters in recent years.

Officials say both boats went to sea despite official warnings about the rough weather, and they have been pursuing legal action against those involved.

Phuket officials said five people have been charged so far, including the owner and two operators of the Phoenix. They have been accused of negligence causing death, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Officials said other people are also under investigation, including some at the company that built the boat.

More than 9.8 million Chinese visited Thailand in 2017, accounting for the biggest share of the 35.38 million total foreign tourists.


Heavy rain forecast to continue until the weekend

NNT

Bangkok - Heavy rain is forecast to continue to hit most parts of the country until this weekend due to a low pressure trough and a south westerly wind in the Gulf of Thailand.

According to the National Crisis Center, the low pressure trough and the south westerly wind will bring heavy rain to most parts of the country before the weekend.

Those living in Nong Khai, Bueng Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, Chantaburi, Trat, Chumpon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Pang Nga, Krabi, Trang and Satun have been warned of possible flooding.

Local authorities are also monitoring Kaeng Krachan, Nam Aun, Vajiralongkorn, Khun Dan Prakarnchol and Pranburi dams since the water level in each dam already exceeds 80% of capacity. Water is already being discharged daily to ensure the safety of the dams.

Several rivers in the North, West and North East have begun to overflow the embankments following days of continuous rainfall. People are urged to keep themselves updated on the flood situation daily for their safety.


BOT to consider higher interest rates

BOT Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob.

NNT

Bangkok - The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has hinted at the possibility of higher interest rates due to the current economic environment.

BOT Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said that, according to the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Thai economy in the second quarter of 2018 expanded by 4.6%, bringing overall growth for the first half of the year to 4.8%. The figures align with forecasts issued by the central bank.

Veerathai revealed that the upcoming meeting of the BOT’s Monetary Policy Committee in September will consider revising the 2018 GDP estimate, which was previously forecast in June at 4.4%.

The meeting may also discuss raising interest rates. The BOT Governor explained that current signs of economic recovery mean that an expansionary monetary policy of maintaining low interest rates will be less important, and Thailand will not be able to go against the current global trend of raising interest rates. However, the decision to raise rates must take into consideration numerous factors, including timing.


Cabinet agrees to legal changes tightening regulations on big bikes

NNT

Chumphon - The Cabinet has given its approval to a draft law mandating training and testing of big bike riders, intended to reduce the number of accidents among motorcyclists and improve road safety.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Gen Prawit Wongsuwan remarked ahead of the Cabinet retreat in Chumphon province that the government is planning to propose that the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) amend land traffic laws to increase penalties for offenses such as driving without a valid license. He noted however that the meeting would discuss many matters, such as connectivity between road, rail and boat transport, which the Prime Minister has mentioned should see progress within three months. The DPM stated however that Article 44 would not be required to overhaul traffic laws.

Prime Minister’s Office Spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd announced after the meeting that the Cabinet agreed with amendments to ministry regulations on the process and conditions for receiving or extending a driver’s license with the intent to improve road safety. The Cabinet is expected to impose more control over motorcycle and car drivers. New regulations that may be implemented include the need for medical validation when applying for a license to ensure that the driver does not suffer from mental or physical illnesses that would impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle.

Those who intend to ride a high powered motorcycle or a big bike will have to pass thorough training and testing first. Licenses to ride such bikes will be separate from licenses for general motorcycles.

Other changes include a ban on foreign laborers working in Thailand on a temporary basis, from driving personal vehicles.


Update August 22, 2018

Provinces along Yom River put on alert as flooding in Nan begins to resolve

NNT

Nan - Flooding triggered by rains in Thailand's Nan province have begun to subside as provinces along the Yom River have been warned to watch out for intermittent overflows.

Flooding in Nan has begun to reduce with vehicles now able to use major roads once again and many households beginning the cleanup of their homes. Water pumping trucks, dispatched from Chiang Rai, have been instructed to move on to other areas in need.

Authorities and volunteers have used fire trucks to cleanup Nan municipality, removing mud and debris from official buildings and collecting waste.

Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) Director Anon Sanitwong Na Ayuthaya reported that 4,800 hectares of land in Nan province were hit by flooding, mostly in low lying areas and farmland. He noted that, while current flooding is reducing, a large volume of water from the north may still hit the province over the coming two to three days.

Meanwhile, Royal Irrigation Department (RID) Director-General, Thongplew Kongchan, disclosed that a plan to manage the Yom River is being implemented after heavy rains in Phrae province swelled the waterway. Sukhothai province has already seen a volume of water measured at 850 million cubic meters per second pass through its Srisachanalai district. Steps have been taken to clear a path for the mass of water and it is to be drained into canals and streams.

Governors of provinces along the Yom River have been told to prepare water pumps and other equipment and to keep residents informed of the situation.


Cryptocurrency traders urged to do research before investing

BoT Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob.

NNT

Bangkok - The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has advised those planning to invest in Bitcoin to study how it works before making any investments.

BoT Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob, was speaking after a report on cryptocurrency fraud, and pointed out that the victims were tricked into investing their money in Bitcoin. Alleged scammers then used that digital currency to trade for profit.

The BoT Governor cited the need for anyone interested in cryptocurrency trading to study it thoroughly given its fluctuations and risks. Veerathai also advised new Bitcoin traders against using their own savings to invest in digital currency.


Govt to host banquet to thank rescuers of Wild Boar football team

NNT

Bangkok - The government is to host a banquet to thank both Thai and foreign individuals who helped extract members of the Wild Boar football team who were trapped in the flooded Tham Laung cave.

The Minister Attached to the Prime Minister's Office, SuwapanTanyuwattana, says Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha supports the plan. A meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 29 to finalize the details of the banquet.

More than 6,000 Thais and 300 foreign nationals, who were involved in the rescue effort, will be invited to attend the banquet. The government has also been given permission by His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn to use the forecourt of Dusit Palace to host the event. His Majesty the King will also make a speech to the participants.

The function will adopt a simple format that also reflects the unity of people joining the rescue mission. Some of them have already been invited by the Ministry of the Interior while more invitations are on their way to other members of the rescue operation.

The 12 boys and their coach who were trapped in the cave, as well as those allowing their farmlands nearby to be flooded by water pumped out of Tham Luang cave will also attend the banquet.


Cabinet nods to Southern Economic Corridor project

NNT

Bangkok - Following a mobile Cabinet meeting in Chumphon this week, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Somkid Jatusripitak announced that a green light has been given to a Southern Economic Corridor development project. He said, in the initial stage, the new project is set to kick off in Chumphon, Ranong, Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat before being expanded to other southern provinces in the future.

According to the deputy premier, urgent projects in the Southern Economic Corridor include the development of Ranong Port as an important marine gateway to Myanmar, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, the construction of double-track railway from the Eastern Economic Corridor to Chumphon, and the promotion of agricultural production and processing in Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Besides the Southern Economic Corridor, another key initiative being implemented by the government is the development of the Thailand Riviera, stretching from Phetchaburi down to Chumphon. Once completed, the project is expected to transform the southern region and boost local income.


Update August 21, 2018

HM Queen Sirikit admitted to hospital with flu

In this photo released on Sunday, Aug. 12 by The Royal Household Bureau, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, center, is visited by her children, HM King Maha Vjiralongkorn and Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at the Chitralada Palace on the Queen's 86th birthday in Bangkok. (The Royal Household Bureau via AP)

Bangkok (AP) — Her Majesty Queen Sirikit is being treated in a hospital for the flu, the royal palace announced Monday.

The announcement from the Royal Household Bureau said Her Majesty was admitted to Bangkok's Chulalongkorn Hospital on Sunday with a fever and a cough and received medication. She is recovering but remains hospitalized on the recommendation of her doctors.

The Queen, who turned 86 on Aug. 12, has had health issues for several years and is rarely seen in public, though photos were issued by the palace of family members visiting her on her birthday earlier this month.


Escort says oligarch now has tapes on Russia interference

Anastasia Vashukevich arrives at the Pattaya Provincial Court, Monday, Aug. 20. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Pattaya (AP) — A model and escort from Belarus who caused a sensation by claiming to have information linking Russian interference to the election of President Donald Trump said Monday that she no longer has the evidence and will not talk about it.

Anastasia Vashukevich, who also uses the name Nastya Rybka, pleaded not guilty to charges of soliciting and conspiracy to solicit in a court appearance in Pattaya to prepare for her trial along with seven co-defendants. Lawyers will submit legal submissions at another hearing next week at which the court is expected to set a date for testimony to begin.

Vashukevich, Russian self-styled sex guru Alexander Kirillov and six other people were arrested at a sex training seminar in Pattaya in February and have been in custody ever since. All the defendants, who could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, pleaded not guilty.

Vashukevich told The Associated Press that she had turned over audio recordings to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whose conversations about election interference she claimed to have taped.

She has said she provided "escort" services to Deripaska, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and who has links to Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager now being tried in the United States on money laundering and other charges.

Speaking to an AP reporter in the courtroom in Pattaya, Vashukevich said she had promised Deripaska she would no longer speak on the matter, and that he had already promised her something in return for not making that evidence public.

"He promised me a little something already," Vashukevich said. "If he does that then there will be no problem, but if he doesn't ..." she said with a shrug and a smile.

She also shrugged and smiled when asked if she had kept her own copies of the information she recorded, which she said comprised "some audio, some video."

Asked what the material showed, she said, "You'd have to ask Deripaska."

Vashukevich created world headlines when she was first detained because she claimed to have audio recordings of Deripaska that provided evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

She appealed to America for help and for asylum, through a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, but provided no proof of her claims. At a hearing in April, she seemed to switch allegiances, making a public apology to Deripaska and saying it was the Americans, not the Russians, who were persecuting her.

A judge at the Pattaya Provincial Court declared Monday that if the seminar included people having sexual intercourse or arranged for people to have sex, it would be considered illegal by Thai law even if there was mutual consent.

Kirillov, who led the seminar in a meeting room at a Pattaya hotel, told the judge that the seminar taught the art of seduction and did not include sex or make any arrangements for sexual partners.

He said the course taught its students "how to impress girls" and "how to get girls' numbers," and did not involve sexual arrangements.

"We are not sure about Thai law, but in Russia this is not a criminal case," he told the judge.

The prosecutor showed the defendants a photo that he said showed some of the students having sex as part of the course.

Kirillov's response was that the photos were "private" and taken after the seminar, when a group of students went to a bar in Pattaya to put their lessons to the test.


TAT encourages travellers to check weather updates during monsoon season

TAT

Bangkok - The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is encouraging travellers to remain extra vigilant by following all safety rules and guidelines during the country’s current monsoon season.

Visitors are also advised to keep up-to-date with daily Thailand weather forecasts by the Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) on impending storms, heavy rains, rough weather, etc. The TMD also issues regular flood, flash flood, or mud slide alerts while regular surf forecasts help predict high waves and other coastal threats that are common to the Andaman Sea.

If it is a particular torrential monsoon shower, many tourist activities are curtailed or delayed if tour operators are responsible and think that there are undue health and safety risks, or threats.

Activities likely to be affected include mountain trekking, white-water rafting, zip lining, bungy jumping, snorkeling, sailing, diving, and ferry transfers.

While some activities will not run at all during the rainy season – for instance, liveaboard dive trips to the Similan Islands – many will run as usual, especially those in the high traffic tourist areas.

May to October sees the Thailand monsoon season sweep into the Southwest, with September bearing the brunt of the rains. It does get pretty rainy around Phuket, thanks to the region’s proximity to the Andaman Sea, and many of the smaller islands are shut down during the monsoon.

Be aware that island crossings by ferry are going to be choppier than usual in the monsoon and must be scrutinised on an hourly basis even if a ticket is already purchased. The monsoon rains tend to be short, intense bursts of rainfall. They could last for a few hours in the middle of the day and waiting that long till the sky clears, and then go when the next boat is ready can be a wise investment.

Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao in the Gulf of Thailand are some more of the country’s most appealing islands. Unlike the rest of the country, the Thailand monsoon season does not hit Ko Samui until later in the year, with the rains coming in during October to December, peaking in November and tailing off in January.


Commissioners voice readiness for general election

Election Commission Chairman Ittiporn Boonprakong.

NNT

Bangkok - The new members of the Election Commission (EC) have spoken of their readiness to organize a general election, which they say will most likely happen early next year.

EC Chairman Ittiporn Boonprakong says a general election should be held on 24rd February 2019 in accordance with the government’s roadmap. The EC has entered the second stage of discussions regarding the election of members of parliament and senators. The main issues include the process of examining the qualifications of political party members.

EC deputy secretary-general Dudsadee Pornsuksawat says the lack of fact-finding personnel caused by an insufficient budget has forced the EC to rely on other agencies for help, such as the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and police.

The EC deputy secretary-general disclosed that the EC’s provincial investigative bodies have been keeping track of the activities of political groups and are collecting information for use in complaint investigations.


Update August 20, 2018

EEC dubbed new driver of Thai economy

NNT

Bangkok - The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) that straddles three eastern provinces of Thailand is emerging as the new driving engine of the Thai economy.

Tasanee Kiatpatraporn, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office of Thailand, recently commented that the EEC project is an appropriate mechanism to connect Thailand to neighboring nations, targeting a broad revitalization of manufacturing activities within the 13,300-sq-km area, which embraces the provinces of Chonburi, Rayong and Chachoengsao.

During the past two months, she said Thailand has held six overseas roadshows in Japan, China, England, France, South Korea, and Hong Kong to inform foreign investors of the successful initiative. All the roadshows were well-received, according to Tasanee.

The EEC project is centered on 10 targeted industries: next-generation automotive and smart electronic manufacturing, high-income tourism, medical tourism, bio and agricultural technology, food innovation, automation and robotics, aerospace, bioenergy, biochemicals, digital technology, and advanced medical and health care activities.

Tasanee anticipates that the three EEC provinces will grow at the rate of 5% a year, bringing in no less than 100 billion baht a year in tax collection and generating more than 450 billion baht a year for local residents.


Gen Prayut remains undecided about a future in politics

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

NNT

Bangkok - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha is still uncertain about his political career and told reporters over the weekend that he is going to decide whether or not he will stay on a political path this September, when there is more clarity about the country’s political future.

He added that his decision will be based on the law, the constitution, the necessity of his presence in politics, and several other factors.

He implored the media not to focus on his future, saying the most important task at the moment is to fix the country’s problems.

He went on to say that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) hasn’t yet discussed the withdrawal of its order to outlaw political activities, adding that the ban will be lifted when the time is right.


Department of Tourism urges travel companies to renew licenses before expiry date

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Tourism is urging travel companies to file for a renewal of their licenses at least a month before the expiry date.

Director-General of the Department of Tourism, Anan Wongbenjarat says that the department has informed all travel business operators with a two-year license to check their documents and file for a renewal at least 30 days before the licenses are due to expire.

Anan said that licensed travel companies that allow their papers to expire will have to start the license application process all over again.

According to Anan, tour operators established in the form of a limited company or a limited partnership each need to pledge 200,000 baht in collateral for general travel business, 100,000 baht for inbound tour operations, 50,000 baht for domestic tour operations and 10,000 baht for specific tour operations. There is also a 2,000-baht fee for the license application.

The Tourism Department reported that there are currently 12,514 licensed travel business operators and 78,261 licensed tour guides.

 


NLA denies drafting of rice bill politically motivated

Peerasak Porjit.

NNT

Bangkok - A deputy speaker of the Thai assembly has played down an accusation of political motives being behind the drafting of a rice bill.

Peerasak Porjit, the Second Vice President of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), has advised that the new rice bill will be handed to the NLA president this Monday and will soon be presented to the main assembly for review.

Once the bill is passed, all buyers of rice for business purposes must have a license and sellers will be legally obligated to provide a receipt for every sale of rice.

Peerasak said the drafting committee has been working on the bill for the past two years, confirming that the move to seek the main assembly’s approval is not to help the current administration gain support from rice farmers ahead of the forthcoming election in early 2019, but merely for the sake of Thai farmers.

The NLA vice president noted that visiting local communities is a common practice for legislators to learn and understand social problems and adversities, enabling them to adopt legal measures to prevent, ease, and address those issues more effectively.


Update August 18-19, 2018

Cambodia to extradite Thai murder suspect

NNT

Bangkok - Thai authorities said a man suspected of murdering a couple in Chonburi province last month will be extradited from Cambodia.

Panya "Sia Ouan" Yingdung, aged 39, was arrested in Cambodia, after he was on the run for allegedly shooting dead Paweena Namuangrak, 20, and Anantachai Jaritram, 21, on July 29 in a parking lot near Khao Chee Chan (Buddha Mountain) in Sattahip district, Chonburi.

Panya, who ran a nightclub in Phuket province, has been in Cambodian custody for entering the country illegally since Wednesday (Aug 15). The Cambodian police have already agreed to extradite him to Thailand.

Investigators said they believe that the suspect was seeking revenge on Paweena, who was his former girlfriend and former employee at his nightclub.


Smoke from Indonesian forest fires affecting southern Thailand

NNT

Songkhla - Smoke from forest fires in Indonesia has begun to affect areas of Thailand’s southern region, including Hat Yai district of Songkla, where particulate levels are now detrimental to health.

Smoke from the fires has shrouded much of Songkla province extending out to sea, impacting on visibility for boat operators. Songkla Fisheries Association Head, Suradech Nilubon has issued a warning to all commercial boats to proceed with caution at this time, emphasizing that boats returning to dock at night should use their spotlights to avoid accidents, while those at sea at night must keep warning lights on.

The sky over Yala province has been similarly affected by the smoke but particulate matter in the air has yet to reach dangerous levels. Children, pregnant women, senior citizens and those with respiratory and heart conditions have however been advised to wear face masks and to avoid outdoor activity for the time being. Commuters have been warned over reduced visibility when driving.


Fears of flooding in Ang Thong after sluice gate collapses

NNT

Ang Thong - A sluicegate of the Yang Manee Water Distribution and Maintenance Project in Poh Thong district of Ang Thong province has collapsed, causing a concern of uncontrolled flooding along the Noi River.

The six meter gate is one of four and was holding back water up to three meters deep. Authorities have installed stop logs to take the place of the gate and begun repair work, assuring members of the public that they will not be affected.

At the same time, the influence of tropical storm Bebinca over the northeast has spurred similar concerns of flooding in Nong Khai province, where water levels in the Mekong River remain high. A rise of 56 centimeters in waters in Loei province has stoked fears that the Mekong is soon to swell and authorities are now closely monitoring the situation.

The raised levels in the Mekong River have already slowed drainage of its tributaries. Some farming areas along tributaries without sluice gates or water pumps are now preparing to deal with a new bout of overflows.

The Temporary Crisis Center reports that Kaeng Krachan Dam in Petchaburi province, Nam Oun Dam in Sakon Nakhon province, Vajiralongkorn Dam in Kanchanaburi province and Khun Dan Prakan Chon Dam in Nakhon Nayok province are also holding over 80 percent of their capacity and must be drained to accommodate incoming rains. Nearby residents have been alerted to the possibility of minor floods during the drainage.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation made known only seven provinces are still contending with flooding spurred by tropical storm Son Tinh. They are Nakhon Panom, Ubon Ratchathani, Bueng Kan, Sakon Nakhon, Kalasin, Yasothon and Petchaburi. Authorities are conducting drainage operations as well as providing relief aid. Victims can still contact the 1784 hotline for further assistance.


Rough sea hinders sunken Phoenix boat recovery

NNT

Phuket - An official of Phuket Provincial Public Relations Office, Bussaya Jaipeam, said the capsized Phoenix tourist boat could not be recovered from the sea bed this week due to bad weather conditions.

Bussaya cited a report from the Director of Phuket Provincial Marine Office, Wiwat Chidcherdwong, that the operation to lift the shipwreck could not be completed because of strong currents and high waves.

The Marine Department commenced the recovery operation on August 2 and has so far successfully installed all necessary equipment to lift up the boat, including a 10,000-liter air balloon, a pulley system, and a big sea crane.

All cables have been attached to the wreckage. However, strong currents and high waves caused the boat to be too unstable to be lifted at this time.

The operating team expects to immediately perform the shipwreck recovery as soon as the weather and the sea would permit.


Update August 17, 2018

Eight people arrested for binary options scams

 

NNT

Bangkok - Tourist police and soldiers have arrested eight people in several provinces in connection with a 20 million-baht binary options scams.

According to the police, victims were tricked into believing that they were putting their money into an online investment when the suspects were in fact using their money to gamble on binary options.

Police raided one home in Bangkok, two in Khon Kaen and six in Phuket, which the scammers used as their hiding places. As many as 1.5 million online accounts with more than 20 million baht in circulation were found during the raid. Police have frozen the scammers’ bank accounts and charged them with illegal gambling and scamming innocent people.


Cloud seeding operation needed to ease drought in certain provinces

NNT

Sa Kaeo - The Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation has launched cloud seeding operations to bring rain to Uthai Thani and Sa Kaeo provinces to ease drought.

In Sa Kaeo, three sub-districts including Thap Lad, Thap Sadej and Ta Phraya have reportedly seen low precipitation this year. The artificial rainmaking operation, which began on August 11, has succeeded in bringing rain to 70% of the area.

In Uthai Thani, rice farmers are advised to seek assistance from village heads should there be a need for cloud seeding. With only 35% of its capacity, Thap Sa Lap Reservoir can now supply water to fewer farmlands.


DOPA launches electronic waste crackdown

NNT

Bangkok - The Director-General of the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA), Arthit Boonyasophat, has instructed all district chiefs to dispatch teams led by sub-district and village headmen to inspect electronic waste recycling plants and search for those in possession of hazardous substances.

Arthit on Wednesday (Aug 15) said the inspection is part of a bid to tackle the issue of e-waste smuggling and the illegal recycling and disposal practices.

The team will report to district-level agencies, such as Damrongtham Centers, which could pursue legal action against violators.

The district chief officers have been assigned to raise public awareness on e-waste issues, so people can help notify authorities about suspicious factories in their areas.


Dept. of Disease Control launches Stop Rabies mobile app

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Disease Control has launched a mobile application ‘Stop Rabies’ to help mobile phone users in Bangkok stay updated on any rabies outbreak.

The application contains information regarding the numbers of cats and dogs that have already been vaccinated and neutered in Bangkok and its vicinity. Smart phone users can also use the application to check for rabies updates provided by public health officials. The app can be downloaded at App Store and Google Play.

Since the beginning of this year, 15 people have succumbed to the rabies virus while more than 1,000 animals including dogs, cats, cows, buffaloes and goats have been found to be infected with the virus.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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Back to Main Page

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Police to look into British tourist's rape allegation

Anti-dengue fever Line account launched to help people stay safe

Relocation of judges’ housing project to take time

Heightened Mekong River flooding communities throughout the northeast


Police extend probe into bilking of bitcoins from Finn

Ancient cannon found in Sanam Luang

Department of Disease Control warns of pinkeye disease

Several dams at maximum capacity


BoT to issue digital currency

Thailand continues to experience downpours

Chinese investors show interest in EEC

Migrant workers urged to renew work permits


It's now illegal to abandon animals at temples

BoT says there remain imminent risks to Thai economy

Stormy conditions wreak havoc in the South

New industrial estate in Rayong open to Chinese-speaking investors


Traffic police: THB10,000-50,000 fines maximum penalty

Government providing full assistance to Petchaburi flood victims

Phuket to launch anti-smoking campaign next month

Illegal resort at Phu Hin Rong Kla knocked down


Thailand holds ceremony in honor of 47 Chinese boat victims

Heavy rain forecast to continue until the weekend

BOT to consider higher interest rates

Cabinet agrees to legal changes tightening regulations on big bikes


Provinces along Yom River put on alert as flooding in Nan begins to resolve

Cryptocurrency traders urged to do research before investing

Govt to host banquet to thank rescuers of Wild Boar football team

Cabinet nods to Southern Economic Corridor project


HM Queen Sirikit admitted to hospital with flu

Escort says oligarch now has tapes on Russia interference

TAT encourages travellers to check weather updates during monsoon season

Commissioners voice readiness for general election


EEC dubbed new driver of Thai economy

Gen Prayut remains undecided about a future in politics

Department of Tourism urges travel companies to renew licenses before expiry date

NLA denies drafting of rice bill politically motivated


Cambodia to extradite Thai murder suspect

Smoke from Indonesian forest fires affecting southern Thailand

Fears of flooding in Ang Thong after sluice gate collapses

Rough sea hinders sunken Phoenix boat recovery


Eight people arrested for binary options scams

Cloud seeding operation needed to ease drought in certain provinces

DOPA launches electronic waste crackdown

Dept. of Disease Control launches Stop Rabies mobile app

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