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Update August, 2019


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Thailand News
 

PM makes merit on the occasion of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother’s birthday

Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha together with his wife, Naraporn offer alms to Buddhist monks.

Bangkok, 12 August 2019 (NNT) - The Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, has led members of the public and civil servants to offer alms to Buddhist monks on the occasion of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother’s 87th birthday on August 12, 2019.

At 7:15 a.m. today (Aug 12) at Sanam Luang, Bangkok, the Prime Minister, together with his wife, Naraporn Chan-o-cha, presided over a merit-making ceremony. The religious ceremony was attended by senior monks, privy councilors, the President of the Independent Organizations Under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, members of the Royal Office, cabinet ministers and their spouses, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, judicial officials, the Governor of Bangkok, commanders of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, the Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, government heads, civil servants, representatives of the private sector, and members of the general public.

A total of 488 monks from temples in Bangkok received alms, such as dried food and necessities, from the public during the ceremony. The alms will be given to foster homes and temples. The Prime Minister and his wife lit candles and incense sticks to pay homage to the Triple Gems. They presented candles, incense sticks and flowers covered with cone-shaped leaves before the image of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother. A group of 10 senior monks then chanted prayers.

The acting President of the Privy Council, privy councilors, and the Prime Minister, together with their spouses, presented robes to 10 monks. The ceremony was attended by privy councilors, the House Speaker, the President of the Supreme Court and members of the Royal Office. The Prime Minister sprinkled holy water and paid his respects to the Triple Gems and the image of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother.

At 8 a.m., Gen. Prayut and Mrs. Naraporn proceeded to the Red Room of the Royal Household Bureau inside the Grand Palace to sign their names and write their best wishes for Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother on the occasion of Her Majesty’s 87th birthday. They presented funds to His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Scholarship Foundation and a gold royal emblem at Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall of the Dusit Palace.

At 5 p.m., His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua and Her Majesty Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalaksha granted an audience to the Prime Minister and his wife on this auspicious occasion at Amarin Winitchai Throne Hall in the Grand Palace.

Meanwhile, a candle-lighting ceremony celebrating Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother’s birthday was held at Sanam Luang.


Volunteering spirit activities held throughout the nation

Volunteers help a farmer plant rice seedlings in Nan province.

Bangkok, 12th August 2019 (NNT) - Many provinces have conducted volunteer activities in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother, on the occasion of Her Majesty’s birthday on August 12.

At a farmers school in Pua district of Nan province, 120 members of Volunteering Spirit 904 Vor Por Ror, Mobile Development Unit 31 and local villagers helped a farmer by planting rice seedlings in his five rai of land under the We Do Good Deeds With the Heart project, in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother on the occasion of Her Majesty’s birthday anniversary today.

In Phichit province, Provincial Governor Woraphan Suwannussa visited elderly villagers and gave them consumer goods in Vajira Baramee district under the Elderly Care Chalerm Phra Kiat project on the occasion of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother’s birthday.

In Chumphorn province, Provincial Governor Vibul Ratanaphornwong alongside provincial Red Cross officials hosted a lunch and provided counsel for 264 woman inmates at Chumphorn Provincial Prison under the National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand’s Chalerm Phra Kiat in 76 Provinces project, in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother and on the occasion of Her Majesty’s birthday on August 12.

Meanwhile, Government Spokesperson Naruemon Pinyosinwat said Prime Minister/Defense Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has called on volunteers, government personnel and the private sector in all provinces to conduct volunteering spirit activity by excavating waterways and getting rid of obstacles in waterways during the rainy season. Those who may have a workforce, machinery and food may join the activity, as a budget for the procurement of new machinery for excavation of waterways might not be provided in time.

The government has encouraged the people to join in the volunteering spirit activity as a tribute to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother and His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua.


Stranded fishing crew return home from Somalia

The stranded fishing crew arrive back to Thailand.

Bangkok, 12 August 2019 (NNT) - Eighteen out of 42 Thai fishing crew members have returned to Thailand after their employer abandoned them on a vessel in the sea off Somalia. They will be taken for interrogation by Thai authorities before returning to their homes.

The 18 fishermen arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Samut Prakan province at 6:30 a.m. Aug 12. The crew boarded Thai International Airways (THAI) flight TG 518 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were welcomed by officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labor, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, the Royal Thai Police, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and the Royal Thai Navy. The officials had provided them with assistance when they were stranded in Somalia.

13 out of the 42 fishermen are members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Fund of the Department of Employment. Five of the 18 crew members who returned this morning are members of this fund. They will receive compensation for their expenses related to traveling abroad, accommodation, meals, medical check-ups and other necessities. The compensations shall not exceed 30,000 baht.

The 18 workers will be taken to the Department of Employment for questioning about their working conditions. They will meet the Labor Minister, MR Chatumongol Sonakul, to express their gratitude for helping them return home safely.

The Department of Employment and the Department of Social Development and Welfare, under the administration of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, have cooperated to transport the 18 workers to their home provinces. Eight of them are from Buri Ram, six are from Surin, two are from Phetchabun, one is from Samut Sakon and another is from Chaiyaphum. 


PM calls for cooperation from the public to remove waterway obstructions

Volunteers help cleanup the waterways.

Bangkok, 11 August 2019 (NNT) - People in areas waiting for rain have to be prepared for flash floods following any rainfall. Those who live in communities where there are shallow ditches and canals or waterway obstructions are being asked to dredge the ditches and canals in the community themselves if they can, because in some areas, there are not enough government officers to be dispatched to the problem areas. The Prime Minister is therefore asking everyone and every community to join forces as volunteers as a tribute to the Queen Mother and His Majesty the King.

Government Spokesman Narumon Pinyosinwat disclosed today that Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha had called on volunteers, government officials and the private sector in every province to conduct volunteer missions by using machinery to help clear the waterways, dredge ditches and canals and remove waterway obstructions to accommodate rainfall when it comes. They are being asked to use their own machines and bring food for the volunteers because the procurement of new machines has to go through a lengthy budgetary process.

The government is therefore inviting everyone to join forces as volunteers to solve the problems as a tribute to the Queen Mother and His Majesty the King.


HRH Princess Chulabhorn signed a cooperation agreement, on research and development of biological products

HRH Princess Chulabhorn signs a cooperation agreement between the Chulabhorn Research Institute, PTT Plc. and the Government Pharmaceutical Organization 10 August 2019.

Bangkok, 10 August 2019 (NNT) - Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Krom Phra Srisavangavadhana yesterday signed a cooperation agreement, on research and development of biological products, between the Chulabhorn Research Institute, PTT Plc. and the Government Pharmaceutical Organization at Chakri Bongkot Mansion in the capital district of Pathum Thani province.

The agreement is designed to meet Her Royal Highness’s wishes to apply science and technology in improving the people’s quality of life and to provide access to Thai medicine which meets international quality and safety standards at affordable prices. Besides, it will help reduce the volume of and dependence on imported biological products and promote Thailand’s biological product industry and innovation.

The Chulabhorn Research Institute is Thailand’s first and only agency to succeed in developing the biological product called Trastuzumab for treatment of breast cancer. It was the first innovation produced by a Thai researcher without purchases or technology transfers from abroad. The biological product has been registered for clinical use in humans. It can be manufactured at the industrial level, given integrated cooperation under the agreement and financial support from the government.


HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha presides over Mahidol-Mother Day 2019

 

HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha cuts the ribbon to open the Mahidol-Mother Day 2019.

Bangkok, 10 August 2019 (NNT) - Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati presided over the opening ceremony for Mahidol-Mother Day 2019.

Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati conducted the activities on behalf of Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha by visiting Mahidol University in Phutthamonthon district of Nakhon Pathom province.

Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati opened Mahidol-Mother Day 2019, organized by Mahidol University in honor of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother and on occasion of National Mothers’ Day on August 12, 2019. Outstanding mothers have been selected in varied categories. Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati conferred certificates of honor on a total of 14 mothers, including the winners and runners-up in singing contests for four regions. Royal awards were also conferred on eight winners as Four Regions’ Fighting Mother, six winners as 100-Year Mother, four winners as Environment Conserving Mother and six winners as Good, Outstanding Mother.

The event featured an academic exhibition, medical checkups for pregnant women, information on the dangers of unnecessary operations, a dental service, a physical therapy service, an applied Thai massage service, physical exercise and nutrition tips.


Police interrogate Bangkok bombing suspects in South

Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda interrogates a suspect in the Bangkok bombings last week.

Yala, 11 August 2019 (NNT) - After the latest update from national police claiming connections between recent bombing incidents in Bangkok and incidents in southern border provinces, the national police chief visited Yala province to further question suspects and the accused, stressing fairness to all sides based on evidence.

The Royal Thai Police Commissioner General Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, accompanied by Assistant Commissioner General Pol Lt Gen Suwat Chaengyodsuk, visited the Royal Thai Police Forward Command Operation Center in Yala province to continue the interrogation of detained suspects.

The police chief spent an hour with related investigators discussing investigation progress, before questioning suspect Mr. Wildun Maha, who was captured in Chumphon, to find a connection between the two bombing locations in Bangkok.

The police chief said they are working carefully and with fairness to all sides, and will pursue all those involved based on available evidence.

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan asked the general public to give police some time to investigate. He said it is still unknown if the incident is politically motivated, but no possibilities have been ruled out yet.


Thanachart Bank - Thai Military Bank merger without layoffs

A press conference was held to announce the merger of Thanachart and Thai Military Banks.

Bangkok, 11th August 2019 (NNT) - The merger of Thanachart Bank and Thai Military Bank will make it the country’s sixth largest without layoffs of bank employees.

In a joint press conference, executives of Thanachart and Thai Military Banks announced that ING Group will hold a 21% share in the merged bank, followed by TCAP’s 20%, Scotiabank’s 5% and the Ministry of Finance’s 18% share. The balance of 34% will be for individual investors. The merger is expected to be completede in 2021.

Deputy Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary Chumphol Rimsakhon said the merger will bring over 10 million customers of the new bank while the Ministry of Finance plans to invest no less than 11 billion baht in it.

The banks’ personnel from, executive to lower levels, will not be laid off but will have their duties adjusted. However, if any official feels uncomfortable, they may resign and receive the standard compensation.

Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana confirmed the merged bank will be the country’s sixth largest with some two trillion baht in assets and the Ministry of Finance as a shareholder. The merged bank will still be named the Thai Military Bank.


Thai prime minister not quitting for botching oath

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gestures after a group photo with his Cabinet members at the government house in Bangkok July 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

Bangkok (AP) — Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Friday he is not quitting despite facing mounting criticism for failing to properly take his oath of office.

Prayuth led the inauguration of his Cabinet in a ceremony presided over by HM the king on July 16.

However, he omitted a phrase in the oath of office in which he was supposed to pledge to uphold every aspect of the constitution. The omission has raised questions over whether the inauguration was legally valid.

Prayuth told reporters Friday that he was continuing to conduct his duties "to the best of my abilities because I am the prime minister."

The oath of office is required under Article 161 of Thailand's Constitution, which includes the complete oath and states it must be said to the king before Cabinet ministers take office.

Prayuth's failure to recite the oath in full, which also led to other ministers making the same error because they repeated what he said, was pointed out by opposition politician Piyabutr Saengkanokkul during a Parliament session on July 25.

Legal activist Srisuwan Janya filed a complaint over the issue to the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday which has been accepted for consideration.

Prayuth led a military junta that seized power in 2014 and was dissolved with the inauguration of the new Cabinet. The junta had ruled with a heavy fist and regularly cracked down on its critics. It also introduced new election laws to favor Prayuth's return as prime minister.

Mongkolkit Suksintaranont, a leader of a political party that was part of Prayuth's coalition, said on Thursday that he and four other parties which hold single seats in the House of Representatives were leaving the coalition.

"I did not think that being part of the government coalition would mean that we would have such little freedom," Mongkolkit said, adding that he had been told to refrain from criticizing the government in Parliament sessions.

When asked how he would handle the issue of the Cabinet's incomplete oath of office, Mongkolkit said, "If I was prime minister, I would have resigned already."


Thailand mum on Serbia making fugitive ex-PM a citizen

In this Aug. 1, 2017, file photo, Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrives at the Supreme Court to make her final statements in a trial on a charge of criminal negligence in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

By Pitcha Dangprasith Associated Press

Bangkok (AP) — Thailand's foreign ministry had no immediate reaction Friday to reports that the country's former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has been granted Serbian citizenship, joining her brother as a fugitive globe-trotting Thai with foreign nationality.

Serbia's state news agency Tanjug reported Thursday that she was granted citizenship "because it could be in the interest of Serbia." A government decree confirming she was granted citizenship was published in June in Serbia's official gazette. Serbian officials did not comment on the reason behind the decision.

Thai foreign ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks said Friday she was unable to comment on the report from Serbia, and that the Serbian foreign ministry had not contacted its Thai counterpart. She also declined to comment on any efforts to extradite Yingluck.

Yingluck fled Thailand in 2017 just days before she was convicted of negligence for implementing a revenue-draining rice subsidy scheme while she was prime minister. She was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for in the case, which she and her supporters say was politically motivated.

Yingluck had been forced from office by a controversial 2014 court decision, and the government she had formed was toppled by a military coup shortly afterward.

Yingluck's conviction was a chapter in a long-running power struggle between Thailand's traditional ruling class and the powerful political machine founded by her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecommunications tycoon.

Thaksin was prime minister in 2001-2006. He was ousted in a military coup amid accusations of corruption and likewise was sentenced to prison by a Thai court, on a conflict of interest charge he insists was politically motivated.

He fled abroad, maintaining residences in England and Dubai, and carries a passport from Montenegro, another Balkan nation, obtained in exchange for investing there. He is also reported to hold a passport from Nicaragua.

About a month after Yingluck fled, Thailand canceled her personal and official passports. She was believed to have fled through Cambodia, and since then has apparently been traveling freely.

There were reports in January this year that she holds a Cambodian passport, but Cambodian officials denied them. Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen enjoys good relations with her brother Thaksin, whom he at one point appointed as an economic adviser.

Thai police once said they were seeking an Interpol arrest warrant for Yingluck, but none is known to have been issued by the international police organization. Issuing such a warrant would be controversial because of the perception that the case against Yingluck is political in nature, which would not be allowed under Interpol's rules.

Thai officials have from time to time announced efforts to extradite Yingluck and her brother from various countries, but it is not clear if they ever proceeded formally.


Cambodia and Thailand discus potential seaport cooperation

AKP Phnom Penh, August 08, 2019 - Cambodia and Thailand have discussed potentials and cooperation in investment and connection between Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) and Laem Chabang Seaport in Chonburi province, said a news release of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

The discussion meeting between H.E. Tauch Chan Kosal, Secretary of State for Public Works and Transport, and Ms. Nongnuth Phetchratana, Special Advisor for Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office took place yesterday in Phnom Penh.

The discussion primarily aims to facilitate maritime transport, and increase bilateral investment and trade volume of the two neighbours.

H.E. Tauch Chan Kosal requested the Thai side to further discuss with all stakeholders for detailed legal procedures for the cooperation.

The secretary of state also underlined the important cooperation to improve infrastructure access connecting the two countries, such as National Roads 5 and 48.


Palm oil price guaranteed at four baht per kilogram

Bangkok, 8th August 2019 (NNT) - One of the government’s urgent policies is to help farmers by adopting a minimum income guarantee. The Commerce Minister, Jurin Laksanawisit, on Wednesday (Aug 7) delivered his work policy to his ministry’s executives. The policy focuses on improving the prices of five main crops, including rice, cassava, para rubber, palm oil and maize, starting with guaranteeing the palm oil price at four baht per kilogram.

A meeting between the government, the private sector and farmers was held to seek solutions to the palm oil price issue. The meeting resolved to guarantee the price of palm oil with 18% of oil content at four baht a kilogram. Small farmers who are eligible for the farm price guarantee have to register with the government, under a quota of 1025 rai per household. They will receive their payments every three months, or four times a year, via the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC). A subcommittee will calculate the difference between the guarantee price and the market value every 15 days. This resolution will be proposed to the National Oil Palm Policy Committee, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak. The committee will then forward the proposal to the cabinet meeting for consideration.

Commerce Minister Jurin said the price guarantee measure is one of the measures to deal with low palm oil prices. Other measures, such as using biodiesel B10 to produce electricity and tackling palm oil smuggling, have to be implemented to ensure its effectiveness.


Fugitive ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra gets Serbian citizenship

 

Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra waves to supporters as she arrives at the Supreme Court in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, file)

Belgrade, Serbia (AP) — Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was sentenced in Thailand to five years in prison on graft-related charges, has received Serbian citizenship.

State news agency Tanjug reported Thursday that the Serbian government granted her the citizenship "because it could be in the interest of Serbia." Serbian officials did not comment on the reason behind the decision.

A government decree confirming she was granted citizenship was published in June in Serbia's official gazette.

With the Serbian passport, Shinawatra can travel without a visa to over 100 countries, including most of members of the European Union.

She fled Thailand in 2017 days before she was convicted of running a rice subsidy scheme that cost Thailand billions of dollars. She and her supporters say the case was politically motivated.

She skipped bail and reportedly went to London via Dubai, where her billionaire brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, resides in self-imposed exile after fleeing Thailand also facing corruption charges.

Her current whereabouts are unknown.

They were both elected premier, but were toppled in military coups — Thaksin in 2006 and Yingluck in 2014. Although they live in exile, the two retain significant support in rural and poorer parts of Thailand.

Thaksin has citizenship of another Balkan country, Montenegro, which he received in 2009.


52 barges and vessels join Royal Barge Procession rehearsal

Bangkok, 8th August 2019 (NNT) - The Royal Thai Navy has performed a rehearsal of the Royal Barge Procession, as part of nationwide celebrations of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua’s coronation earlier this year. All 52 royal barges and vessels along with 2,200 personnel, including 41 trumpeters, have taken part in the rehearsal, with the audio system setting up at 17 locations.

The Deputy Chief of Staff of the Royal Thai Navy, VADM Jongkol Meesawad, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Preparation Committee for the Royal Barge Procession, inspected the rehearsal and gave a lecture to the 2,200 personnel near the Rama VIII Bridge on the Thonburi side, Bangkok.

The rehearsal consisted of five procession lines and three rows. All 52 royal barges and vessels together with their naval officers and oarsmen were involved in this session. The rehearsals allowed the personnel to have a better control of the barges. The audition system was set up at 17 locations and 41 trumpeters also participated in the session, which is now 80% complete.

Of the 52 royal barges, there are barges with decorated mastheads, such as Pali Rang Thawip, Sukrip Khrong Mueang and Krabi Ran Ron Rap. Four royal barges did not take part in the rehearsal, and the Royal Thai Navy replaced them with other vessels on this occasion. The rehearsal was conducted between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The procession started from the Bangkok of Thailand to the Grand Palace, before arriving at the mouth of Bangkok Noi Canal. The travel time was about 40 minutes.

After the rehearsal, the barges with animal figureheads and other royal barges returned to their dock near Ratchathiwat Ratchaworawihan temple. There will be 12 rehearsals, including full dress rehearsals, starting August 22. The Royal Barge Procession will take place on October 24 as part of nationwide celebrations of His Majesty the King’s coronation.


Bank of Thailand slashes interest rate to 1.5%

Bangkok, 8th August 2019 (NNT) - The Bank of Thailand has made a surprise announcement of an interest rate decrease to 1.5%, the first in 4 years.

The Bank of Thailand’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) announced on Wednesday it is decreasing its benchmark interest rate from 1.75% to 1.50% amid concerns about the Thai baht’s strength.

The announcement is a surprise as it is the first rate cut since 2015 due to the less-than-expected economic expansion, exports and tourism slowing down.

For domestic demand, according to the Committee, private consumption is likely to drop according to household income and lower the employment rate, especially in export industries. However, production bases shifting to Thailand and public private investment in infrastructure will likely bolster the next phase of investment, however, the Committee will monitor an external risk from the escalating trade war.


Dep. PM Prawit Wongsuwan links Bangkok bombings to troubled south

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan

Bangkok (AP) — An official in Thailand has linked groups from the country's troubled south to small bombings last week in Bangkok as it hosted a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers.

Only a handful of people suffered minor injuries, and there was little damage.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the suspects were groups from the south and police had made arrests. He said it was still being investigated whether politics were involved.

Prawit did not elaborate, but the government has for more than a decade been fighting Muslim separatist insurgents in the deep south. More than 7,000 people have died in the violence.

Police say 10 small devices exploded at various points in Bangkok last Friday as the foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations were meeting. Also attending the meeting were U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterpart from China. The proceedings were not affected by the bombs.

Asked how long the investigation would take, Prawit told reporters: "It involves many people. We have to check for details such as how did they travel here? Where did they get the bombs from? That type of thing. Please wait. But there is progress."

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha also said little other than the investigation was progressing.

"Today, we've been able to interrogate more suspects, up to nine people now," he told reporters. "That's all you need to know for now. It will continue to be investigated so that they can be punished in accordance with the law by the justice system. The government needs to carefully process physical evidence and witnesses."

Soon after the blasts, army commander Gen. Apirat Kongsompong blamed "the same old groups" for causing the unrest, a reference to supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup in 2006 but whose supporters have continued to fight for power, sometimes using violent means. Thaksin's supporters, known as the Red Shirts, disrupted a major meeting in Thailand of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2009.

Southern separatists have employed car bombs and roadside explosive devices in their struggle, but generally confined their activities to Thailand's three southernmost provinces, the only ones with Muslim majorities in predominantly Buddhist Thailand. However, they are suspected of carrying out a series of bombings in 2016 at several popular resort areas outside their home turf, killing four people.

Bombings in Thailand are sometimes met with speculation that they have been carried out by a faction in the security services to embarrass opponents in a power struggle.


Her Majesty the Queen Mother’s birthday celebrations planned

Bangkok, (NNT) The Ministry of Culture will hold celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen Mother during Mother’s Week and encourage the people to wear blue attire to express their allegiance.

A fashion show of royal Thai dresses, local Thai dresses and contemporary Thai dresses created by famous designers will be held along with a news conference on the celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen Mother on the occasion of Her Majesty’s 87th birthday anniversary on August 12.

Culture Minister Itthiphol Khunpluem will preside over the ceremony organized by the Ministry of Culture and the private sector on the theme of Siam Property from August 8 to August 12 at Icon Siam shopping center. An exhibition will be held in honor of Her Majesty the Queen Mother, along with a fashion show of famous designers’ Thai dresses, a demonstration of traditional storage of Thai silk cloth and innovations in Thai rice production. The people are asked to wear blue clothing to express their appreciation.

The Ministry of Culture along with relevant agencies is organizing activities such as Khon Chalerm Prakiat performances, music and singing performances and volunteer activities at canals and waterways throughout August. Those interested in supporting the activities can call Hotline Culture 1765.

The National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand under Royal Patronage will organize Mother’s Day 2019 and host a royal luncheon for over 500 needy and underprivileged persons, and children with disabilities. Khunying Assanee Saovaphak, chairperson of the National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand’s advisory board, said this week that the Royal Kindness project run by the National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand in all 76 provinces will host the royal activities until August 31.


Two more Bangkok bombing suspects arrested

 

Bangkok, 7th August 2019 (NNT) - Police have arrested two more bombing suspects and believe a group of 15 suspects were involved in last Friday’s bombing incidents in Bangkok.

The arrest of the latest suspects followed the earlier arrest of two men, who allegedly placed a dud bomb in front of the Royal Thai Police Headquarters.

The latest suspects were arrested in Su-ngai Kolok district of Narathiwat province and were identified as Muhammad Ilham and Muhammad Sai. Both were trying to escape across the border into Malaysia. They allegedly provided the bomb to the first suspects arrested, identified as Lusai Sae-ngae and Wildon Maha. So far, four out of the 15 suspects have been arrested. The suspects arrested most recently were questioned at the Royal Thai Police Headquarters’ Operations Center.

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon said the police were conducting investigations into various pieces of evidence and initially believe the bombing suspects to have been connected with southern perpetrators and were well prepared.

Prime Minister/Defense Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said the police investigation has made much progress, given the evidence and witnesses, so that suspected perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Bangkok Governor Pol Gen Assawin Khwanmuang visited the injured road sweepers of Suan Luang district at Sirinthorn Hospital. The road sweepers injured in one of last Friday’s bombing incidents were identified as Sunthorn Rodsianglam and Ms. Disana Phongsisai and have been treated at Sirinthorn and Vibharam Phatthanakarn Hospitals. They are recovering well. The Bangkok governor granted each of the injured a sum of money in moral support.


Royal benevolence improves livelihood of southern seaside eco-tourism village

Bangkok, 29 July 2019 (NNT) - In Phang Nga province, Bang Phat village community, Bang Toey subdistrict, villagers of the seaside eco-tourism village say the quality of life of people in the community has improved markedly because of the benevolence of His Majesty the King, and the Queen Mother who visited the village in 2001.

It is an impressive image that remains in the memory of the villagers of Bang Phat village, Moo 8, Bang Toei subdistrict, Mueang Phang Nga district. His Majesty the King while holding the royal title of Crown Prince and Her Majesty the Queen visited the village on April 12, 2001. This brought joy to the local villagers. At that time, it was very difficult to visit Bang Phat village. There was no electricity and the villagers were plagued by poverty as they live on an island near Phang Nga Bay.

Mr. Sutthiphong Langlang, the current village headman, and Mr. Sawasdee Waharak, the former village headman, said today the royal visit had brought prosperity to the village, as it has now become a seaside eco-tourism village. Each day, tourists come to eat fresh seafood, stay overnight and buy local products. This has created jobs and prosperity for the people of the village.


Marine Dept to supervise vessels during rehearsals of Royal Barge Procession

Bangkok, 5th August 2019 (NNT) - The Marine Department has announced that vessel traffic along the Chao Phraya River is being supervised from Monday (Aug 5) to Friday (Aug 9) to facilitate rehearsals of the Royal Barge Procession, as part of nationwide celebrations of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua’s coronation earlier this year.

The Marine Department has reported that the river traffic control area will run from Thon Buri Bridge in Bang Phlat district to Mon Canal in Bangkok Yai district, as the Committee for the Royal Barge Procession Royal Thai Navy, under the administration of the Royal Thai Navy, will conduct rehearsals until Friday, between 6:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The rehearsal time could be extended, if necessary.

The Marine Department has called on all vessels in this area to be vigilant and move slowly during this period, as waves could affect the rehearsals. All vessels are to make way for the procession and are prohibited from interfering with the Royal Barges. As for passenger ferries, they are to halt their services until the barges have passed or wait for a signal from officials of the Marine Department to resume operations.


PM quashes rumors about Bangkok bombings

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.

NNT

Bangkok - A number of unofficial reports have claimed that the recent Bangkok bombings are thought to have been perpetrated by the government, prompting Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to categorically deny such allegations. The premier admitted the motives have not been discovered as yet, but said that the incidents might have been connected with previous incidents in the provinces.

The PM said the police were rapidly investigating the incidents, which possibly involved several people, and called on the public to give the police more time to work. No specific groups have been identified as suspects yet.

The premier commented that it was understandable for the mother of a male suspect, who has been arrested, to be very concerned while the police are checking the evidence, especially from CCTV cameras and the suspect might have been connected with others. Members of the public were advised to watch out for suspicious-looking objects or persons and tell the authorities.

Police Immigration Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang said a CCTV camera at an immigration unit in Narathiwat province had caught the faces of two suspects, identified as Lu-ai Sae-ngae and Wildon Maha, natives of Narathiwat. Their entry or departure via the southern immigration unit has already been reported to Police Commissioner General Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda.


Elephant farm operators defend accusations from foreign media

NNT

Bangkok - Elephant farm operators across the country have held a conference to defend themselves against recent accusations made by foreign media. They are set to file legal charges to protect themselves and the elephants.

An article, recently published by the New Zealand Herald, alleged cruel treatment of elephants in the Thai elephant tourism sector, showing pictures of scars from physical abuse on an elephant’s forehead.

The operators said the published article has resulted in widespread criticism and at the press it was stressed that the business should not be distorted by foreign media who lack understanding of elephant farms and mahout practices in Thailand.


Nakhon Si Thammarat forest fires reduced to three spots

NNT

Nakhon si Thammarat - Forest fires in Pa Pru Kruan Kreng Forest in Nakhon Si Thammarat are under control and limited to three spots. Authorities have been providing assistance to affected villagers.

Firefighting operations continue to control the fires which are now limited to areas in Kreng, Mae Chao Yu Hua and Khao Phra Bat sub-districts.

The province has requested 10 water pumps from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation to assist with supplying firefighting water to the forest, while district chiefs have been instructed to implement strict measures to prevent forest fires and forest trespass, as the cause of this forest fire is suspected to be man-made.

The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Warawut Silpa-archa said related agencies are now providing assistance to affected villagers, while telecom operators have already fixed the outage of mobile and internet networks caused by the fire.


Road lanes expanded under Orange Line project

 

NNT

Bangkok - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has ordered the expansion of road lanes and the arrangement of a detour to alleviate traffic congestion due to the construction of the MRT Orange Line project.

BMA executive officials inspected a subway station beneath Lam Sali intersection in Hua Mark area of Bang Kapi district this week. The project is currently under construction, prompting many people to file complaints with the BMA.

Beneath the two-lane road, outside Bang Kapi market, another subway station is currently under construction. Four kilometers of road is temporarily closed due to the construction of several subway stations, causing heavy congestion.

The construction of this stretch of the Orange Line project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. Road traffic at Lam Sali intersection will return to normal in April 2020 and other parts of the road will return to normal by the end of 2021. In the meantime, a detour will be found shortly to alleviate traffic congestion. The contractor will remove some road barriers, where the construction is complete, and expand the road lanes. So far, the Orange Line project is 39% complete.

Additionally, the BMA plans to provide a boat service as an alternative for commuters. The boat ride will be provided free of charge for the first three years. Up to 800 commuters are expected to use it daily.


Their Majesties the King and Queen express concern for Bangkok bomb victims

His Majesty the King’s representative, Air Marshal Pakdee Saeng-xuto, presents flowers to one of the victims of the Bangkok bomb attack, Monday, August 5.

NNT

Bangkok - Their Majesties the King and Queen have expressed their concern for the citizens who sustained injuries in the bomb attacks in the Thai capital last week. Air Marshal Pakdee, on behalf of Their Majesties, presented vases of flowers and gift baskets to the five injured people at various hospitals. The casualties are as follows:

Ekkarin Yongsantia, injured in a blast under a bridge near the Chong Nonsi BTS station. He is being treated at Saint Louis Hospital.

Chanajai Lohmud, a King Power employee, sustained a right foot injury in the blast near the Chong Nonsi BTS station.

Sasinipha Phethonglang, injured in an explosion that went off on Rama IX Road. She is now being treated for ear injuries at Vibharam Hospital.

Disna Phongsaidee, a Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) employee, suffered burns as well as eye and ear injuries following the blast on Rama IX Road. She is being treated at Sirindhorn Hospital.

Sunthorn Rodsianglam, a BMA employee, also suffered eye and ear injuries in the explosion.

After receiving the royally bestowed gifts, the injured expressed their gratitude to Their Majesties the King and Queen for giving them moral support at this difficult time.


Thai consulate issues travel advisory for visitors to Hong Kong

NNT

Hong Kong - The Royal Thai Consulate General in Hong Kong has posted updated information about the recent protests on its Facebook page, advising Thai people visiting the island to consider avoiding travelling to or through likely protest sites as well as allowing extra travel time for all modes of transportation, including travel to the airport, due to widespread road blockages and public transit disruptions.

Hong Kong International Airport has declared special operational circumstances as airline staff staged strikes on Monday, resulting in flight cancellations. Passengers who are scheduled to travel to and from Hong Kong International Airport should verify their flight status with the airline before travelling to the airport.


Authorities providing help for marooned Thai workers

NNT

Bangkok – Government agencies are now coordinating assistance through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 17 Thai workers who have been cast adrift at sea off Somalia since March, and are still unauthorized to reach the land. The workers are suspected of having traveled there for work without any supervision by the Department of Employment.

Officials have made video calls to the stranded workers, who claimed they have been scammed by an employer referred to as Chang to work onboard a ship bound for Iran, which departed in March. The employer made a single 10,000 baht payment to each worker, but has since been out of contact. The workers are unable to dock at piers due to their lack of permits, which should have been facilitated by the employer.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Consular Affairs is focusing on bringing the workers back to Thailand and trying to contact the said employer to collect the wages promised. However, these workers will not be eligible for compensation from the fund for persons working abroad as their employment is not considered legal.


PM Prayut clarifies oath-taking issue

Prime Minister Gen. Prayut.

NNT

Bangkok - Following the opposition’s move to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the legitimacy of the cabinet following the alleged incomplete oath-taking, Prime Minister Gen. Prayut clarified the issue, saying his oath-taking statement before His Majesty the King was constitutional. He said the statement covered all points, especially the intention to work for the Thai people. He asked different sides to refrain from commenting on the matter and using politics to disrupt the country.

“It’s in line with the constitution. The charter already explains the process. On the issue of working for the people, I think all issues have been stated. Everything is covered under the constitution, including the issue of working for all Thais. I think that this issue should be settled. It should not escalate. As brothers, I ask you not to use politics to create instability in the country. Good or bad, they can wait for the next general election,” commented the PM.


Police investigating Bangkok bombings

NNT

Bangkok - Police Commissioner General Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda says the bombings in Bankgok on Friday were connected with individuals in seven southern provinces and assured the public that the police will keep the situation under control.

Starting early in the morning, the bombings took place at five spots in the Thai capital. A bomb went off in Soi Rama IX 57/1 in Suan Luang district. Two blasts occurred in a small garden in front of Building B in the compound of the Government Center in the Chaeng Wattana area. Two bombs exploded in front of the entry to the Thai Armed Forces headquarters and another blast occurred at the Airport Rail Link’s Hua Mark station. Five or six bombs were found elsewhere and fires separately broke out at shops in the Pratunam area.

Pol Gen Chakthip said the Bangkok bombings were believed to be correlated, except for the one in the Rama IX area. Motives for the bombings are yet to be found but the police suspect the incidents were perpetrated by the same group of persons as those active in the seven upper southern provinces in 2016. The perpetrators could also be new activists without criminal records.

The suspects are believed to have laid out plans and checked out the areas before they planted the bombs. The police chief said he was not unduly worried as more violent incidents had occurred previously and the suspects had soon been arrested. He gave assurances to the public that the police could keep the situation under control, though ill-intentioned persons might say the authorities had failed to do so.

Erawan Emergency Medical Service Center reported that two persons were injured in the bombing in Soi Rama IX 57/1 and are being treated at Sirindhorn Hospital. They are Suan Luang district road cleaners, identified as Ms Kritsana Phongsaisee, 46, and Mrs Sunthorn Rodsianglam, 55, who was injured in the eye and eardrum. A man was injured by the blast at BTS Chong Nonsi station and is being treated at Vibharam Hospital.


BMA doubles fine for motorbikes on pavements

NNT

Bangkok - Motorcyclists riding and parking on footpaths in Bangkok can now be fined 2,000 baht on-the-spot; the new regulation applies from August 1, 2019. Those who report information as to a motorcyclist riding on the footpath will be rewarded with 1,000 baht.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) doubled the fine and offered the reward after the previous 1,000 baht fine appeared not to act as a deterrent and there were still injuries caused by violators’ carelessness.

Bangkok Deputy Governor Sakolthee Phatthiyakul oversaw the imposition of the new higher fine on Lat Phrao Road in Wang Thong Lang district at the start of this month. For the effective enforcement of the new fine, the BMA has used the database on registered motorcycle owners so immediate legal action can be taken against motorcyclists who ride or park their motorcycles on pavements, Sakolthee said.


MOPH to allow folk doctors to prescribe cannabis products

Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul.

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Public Health continues to support medical cannabis usage, and is now set to allow some 3,000 folk doctors to prescribe cannabis products beginning this month, and authorize production of 1 million more bottles of cannabis extract for the treatment of patients.

Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul said the government is supporting medical cannabis and traditional Thai medical practices to help improve the living quality of patients. The first batch of cannabis extract, produced by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization and totalling 4,500 bottles, will be administered to patients starting from August 7, with 5,500 more bottles to be produced. The two lots of production will cover some 4,000-5,000 patients.

In the coming week, the Minister of Public Health will be signing a ministerial announcement endorsing some 3,000 folk doctors to use the new cannabis products.


Navy trains royal barge oarsmen

NNT

Bangkok - After the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) transported the royal barges to the Thonburi Naval Dockyard last month, there has since been a rehearsal of the oarsmen in preparation for the coming royal barge procession on October 24.

The rehearsal was held on the Chao Phraya River at the Thonburi Naval Dockyard while rehearsals for other barge crews in the procession are held at Rajathiwas Viharn Temple every day. The RTN has selected 2,200 naval officers from its agencies to participate in the procession.

There will be 10 limited rehearsals on the river from August 22 to October 10 and two dress rehearsals on October 17, and 21.


Prime Minister orders hunt for bomb scare perpetrators

An Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit rushed to the scene to inspect the suspicious-looking object. 

Bangkok, 2nd August 2019 (NNT) - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered a hunt for the individual who placed a suspicious-looking object in front of the Royal Thai Police headquarters.

The location is not only in the heart of Bangkok, but in the vicinity of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting at Centara Grand hotel. The premier called on members of the public not to panic and have confidence in the authorities who will bring the situation under control.

The suspicious-looking object was placed just outside the Royal Thai Police headquarters and found to be a pack of fruit juice with twinkling green lights. Special Branch police sealed off the area, blocked cellphone signals and temporarily closed the road to traffic. An Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit came to deal with the object.

The premier was briefed about the situation, ordered the hunt for the perpetrators and called on people to not panic. He called on the police, military and people to remain vigilant and watch out for any ill-intentioned persons.

The suspicious-looking object was found in the bushes next to the signboard of the Royal Thai Police headquarters in Pathumwan district of Bangkok. According to footage from a CCTV camera and passers-by, a thin man wearing a yellow shirt, black pants, black sneakers, a hat and a face mask and carrying a backpack loitered there for a short while and dropped the object. Then, the man walked toward Chalerm Phao intersection.

Deputy Police Spokesman Pol Gen KrissanaPattanacharoen said the police confirmed it was not a bomb but a couple of packets containing ball bearings and an object which looks like an integrated circuit which could not explode.

The situation was perpetrated only to scare members of the public. The police are yet to bring the perpetrator to justice, but the suspect is shown in the CCTV footage.

Police Commissioner General Pol Gen ChakthipChaijinda has ordered strict security measures around the Royal Thai Police headquarters, which is close to the venue of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting. Gen Prayut is also scheduled today to chair a meeting at the Royal Thai Police headquarters.


Tropical storm Vibha brings heavy rain and high winds

NNT

Bangkok - Tropical storm Vibha is expected to make landfall soon in northern Vietnam and although the storm itself won’t prevail directly over Thailand, it has brought heavy rains to some parts, especially in northeastern and northern regions.

Nan City Municipality has installed more water pumps at Satri Si Nan School to cope with rain which is expected to continue over the next two days. The authorities earlier excavated canals to ensure drainage capacity, and examined the condition of drainage gates in the municipality area for their operational preparedness.

Water allocation officials for hydroelectric dams in the upper Nan River Basin area have raised five water gates at Thong Noi dam, maximizing drainage capacity into Sirikit Dam and preventing the overflow of rivers into surrounding communities.

In Bueng Kan, rain has fallen continuously in all eight districts of the province, raising water levels in the Mekong river which is now measured at 3.5 meters at Ban Pan Lam village, Muang Bueng Kan district. The higher water level benefits operators of cargo ships and passenger ferries between Thailand and Laos, enabling accurate and safer navigation.

In Chanthaburi, strong winds have been reported following the passage of tropical storm Vibha. Some trees and billboards have been brought down, and have caused damage to houses, blocked some roads, and caused power outages in several areas. The wind has also caused many durian trees in local farms to topple.

In Trat, personnel from local authorities have cleaned up debris and fallen trees at Wat Khiri Wihan Temple in Muang Trat district. Among the fallen trees are some large ones up to 100 years old. The heavy weather also caused damage to buildings inside the temple compound. Some utility poles were also felled, requiring the electricity supply to be cut off temporarily for the safety of recovery operations. Many houses nearby and in other districts were damaged, and are now to be formally examined by related agencies.


Celebrations planned for Her Majesty Queen Mother

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Culture will hold celebrations for Her Majesty the Queen Mother during Mother’s Week and encourage people to wear blue attire to express their allegiance.

A fashion show of royal and contemporary Thai dresses created by famous designers will be held along with a news conference on the occasion of Her Majesty’s 87th birthday anniversary on August 12.

Culture Minister Itthiphol Khunpluem will preside over the opening ceremony of the celebrations at the Icon Siam shopping center on August 8. An exhibition of Khon Chalerm Prakiat performances, music and singing will be held as well as the fashion show,

Meanwhile, the National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand under Royal Patronage will organize Mother’s Day 2019 and host a royal luncheon for over 500 needy and underprivileged persons, and children with disabilities. Activities to celebrate the royal occasion will take place in all 76 provinces of Thailand until August 31.


Thailand and Australia hold military Exercise Chapel Gold 2019

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Thai Army and the Australian Army have joined forces to hold this year’s Exercise Chapel Gold, an annual bilateral military exercise aimed at enhancing the two countries relationship and military capabilities. The exercise this year is taking place at Vibhavadi Rangsit Military Camp in Surat Thani.

About 100 military personnel from the Australian Army have joined troops from the 25th Thai Infantry Regiment for the exercise which takes place from 31st July until 6th August 2019.

The exercise consists of cross training exercises at four training stations inside Vibhavadi Rangsit camp, with armed weapons training, and field training exercises. The training scenario includes anti and counter-insurgency operations which will be taking place in Nakhon Si Thammarat, where troops from both countries will have the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience, enhancing the armies’ capabilities.


Thai PM orders investigation of Bangkok blasts; 4 hurt

Thai investigators walk in an area that an explosion injured people in Bangkok, Thailand. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha on Friday ordered an investigation into several small bombings in Bangkok that took place as Thailand was hosting a high-level meeting attended by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterparts from China and several Asia-Pacific countries.(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha on Friday ordered an investigation into several small bombings in Bangkok that took place as Thailand was hosting a high-level meeting attended by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterparts from China and several Asia-Pacific countries.

One explosion took place near a Skytrain station of the Thai capital's elevated rail system. Two other blasts were reported at a government complex on the outskirts of the city, and near the offices of a company associated with supporters of Prayuth's new government.

A police spokesman said that one of the two injured persons was being treated at a hospital and the other was sent home.

"A group of ill-intended people have recently incited violence while the government is propelling the country forward," Prayuth's office said in a statement, urging the public not to panic and cooperate with authorities in investigating the blasts.

"We must demonstrate our collective effort to fight against those who intend to harm the country," it said.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters that police arrested two suspects connected to the explosions at five different locations in Bangkok.

Prawit said the perpetrators were trying to create a "situation." When asked whether it was connected to the junta's recent relinquishing of power, he said "I don't know either, let authorities investigate first." Thailand recently ended five years of military rule following a 2014 coup.

Police on Thursday said they had found two fake bombs outside their headquarters in central Bangkok, near the venue of the meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The meeting was not disrupted, and Thai media cited police as saying that two men had been arrested in connection with the incident. In was not clear if it was the same two that Prawit mentioned.


China offers to help manage Mekong River to alleviate drought

NNT

Bangkok - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China is ready to help Thailand overcome its current drought problems and has already released more water into the upper Mekong River to alleviate the dry conditions.

Yi said a problem for Thailand was also a problem of the Chinese people and authorities in Beijing have authorized the release of more water into the Lan Chang River, which becomes the Mekong River further downstream. Chinese farmers and communities along the river have also been affected by the lack of rainfall this year.


Australia launches $55M anti-trafficking effort for ASEAN

Thailand's Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, left, stands next to Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne during a group photo for ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia in Bangkok, Thursday, Aug. 1. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Eileen Ng

Bangkok (AP) — Australia on Thursday launched a new 80 million Australian dollars program to help Southeast Asian nations combat human trafficking.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the 10-year program was an extension of Canberra's assistance to the region to tackle the menace in the last 15 years. She said Australia has helped train more than 13,000 judicial officials who bolstered their legal systems to fight human trafficking and ensure better protection for victims in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Payne said at the launch of the program with her ASEAN counterparts in Bangkok that the bloc has made progress with the 2015 launch of its own action plan to combat trafficking, especially in women and children, but deeper cooperation was required as the scale of the challenge remained "immense."

"There are many deep-rooted factors that enable transnational crime from corruption through to the unequal status of women and children and other vulnerable groups," she said. "Our partnership with ASEAN on human trafficking continues to grow, promoting a fairer and more just region."

Millions of Filipinos and Indonesians work abroad, while the crackdown on minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has led to hundreds of thousands fleeing to Bangladesh and other neighboring countries, making them prey to traffickers.

The International Organization for Migration said that out of some 7,000 victims of trafficking that it assisted globally in 2015, a quarter came from ASEAN countries.

The U.S. State Department annual report on human trafficking showed that the problem is massive, with Myanmar in the worst tier for failing to protect Rohingya from violence in Rakhine state. The U.S. report said Rohingya were subject to exploitation, with some children abducted in transit and girls sold into forced marriages in India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The U.N. has described the violence that drove Myanmar security forces to commit mass rapes, killings and arson as "ethnic cleasning." Myanmar's government says it has been routing out Rohingya insurgent groups.

Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled violence into neighboring Bangladesh.

Payne, in a speech at her annual meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers, expressed Australia's concern over the situation in Rakhine state. She said Australia is committed to work with Myanmar, Bangladesh and the region to seek a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis.

ASEAN ministers, in a joint communique Wednesday, voiced hope that an investigative body set up by Myanmar's government will seek accountability through an impartial investigation into the alleged human rights violations. They also stressed the need to address the root causes of the conflict and for the proper factors to be in place for the Rohingya to return home. Myamnmar has launched new efforts to persuade Rohingya refugees to return but efforts have failed so far as Yangon refuses to grant them citizenship.


Mitsubishi plans to manufacture electric cars in Thailand

NNT

Bangkok – Japanese car giant Mitsubishi has plans to manufacture electric automobiles in Thailand with a targeted 13 billion yen (US$120 million) in total sales by 2021 and with venture capital of an additional 12 billion yen ($110 million) by 2024.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak welcomed Mitsubishi Motor Corp Chief Executive Officer Osamu Masuko to Bangkok this week, the latter giving a briefing on the firm’s expanded investment plans in Thailand.

If the Japanese firm follows through on its investment plans for electric vehicle manufacturing in Thailand, the kingdom would become the leader of this kind of vehicle production within the ASEAN region.


Border trade grows 1.16% in 2019’s first half

NNT

Bangkok - Despite an overall reduction in exports, the value of trade at and through border areas has continued to grow, especially shipments through neighboring countries into China.

The Department of Foreign Trade Director General Adul Chotinisakorn revealed the overall figure from border and through border trade in the first 6 months of 2019 is recorded at 686.437 billion baht, which represents 1.16 percent growth and a 76.973 billion baht trade surplus.

Malaysia remains the number one trade partner with 270 billion baht trade value, followed by Myanmar at 100 billion baht, Laos at 99 billion baht and Cambodia at 8 billion baht, while southern China continues to be the top partner for through-border trade with 59.54 billion baht trade value, a 39.45 percent increase, followed by Vietnam at 38.565 billion baht, and Singapore at 34.908 billion baht.

The most popular products for export to neighboring countries include steel, industrial goods, processed oil, automobile and construction materials.

Factors affecting border and through border trade include a strong Thai baht currency, unstable regional currencies and trade war affecting consumers and global investors.

Border and through border trade in the latter half of this year is expected to continue growing and reach a 1.6 trillion baht goal set by the Ministry of Commerce.


Thailand seeks deeper cooperation as ASEAN ministers meet

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) shake hands during the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' meeting in Bangkok, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Eileen Ng

Bangkok (AP) — Southeast Asian foreign ministers opened their annual meeting Wednesday with a call from host Thailand for deeper integration to expand trade and bolster prosperity in the region amid rising global challenges.

Thailand Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai told colleagues in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations they must be "more agile" amid increasing nationalism globally.

"We must recognize that looking inward and being myopic is not our option and never will be," he said in his opening speech. "Amidst a great turmoil, we must be more outward and forward looking than ever before." He warned the road ahead "could be treacherous" but said greater cooperation among ASEAN members and outside partners could help sustain long-term growth.

"It is a difficult balancing act, but overcoming fear and distrust among ourselves, and between us and other powers will make ASEAN an integral part of sustainable global peace and prosperity that could lift all boats," he said.

"Maritime cooperation" is one of the areas on which this year's meeting agreed to focus, but where that involves China, it is marking progress by touting completion of an early draft maritime Code of Conduct including all the group's concerns, but subject to revisions that are likely to drag on. Analysts suggest that even if the document is finally accepted by China, it will have no effective enforcement mechanism, and Beijing will act without any real restraints. Beijing can also count on its allies in ASEAN, such as Cambodia and Laos, blocking any consensus to confront China more boldly.

Defusing tension on the Korean Peninsula was expected to be a big concern at the 27-member regional security forum ASEAN is also hosting this week. South Korea said the North fired fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast early Wednesday in its second weapons test in less than a week, seemingly raising the stakes for the security discussions.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, due to arrive late Wednesday, will be Washington's point man at the ASEAN meetings. But he will have no significant North Korean interlocutor to deal with on the issue of denuclearization. Thai officials say Pyongyang's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho is not coming, and North Korea will instead be represented by its ambassador to Thailand.

Pompeo remained optimistic. He said Wednesday he's very hopeful for a quick resumption in nuclear talks with North Korea despite the North's recent weapons tests that have clouded already uncertain prospects for a return to the table.

Pompeo told reporters accompanying him to Thailand that some preliminary work on a new round of talks has been done but no dates have been set. The State Department says the lead U.S. negotiator, Stephen Biegun, will be in Bangkok for North Korea-related discussions but has not released his schedule.

"We think they'll be started before too long," Pompeo said. "I'm very hopeful."


Meteorological Dept warns of heavy rain until August 6

NNT

Bangkok – Heavy rain is expected in many areas of Thailand from now until the end of next week due to the influence of a tropical storm in the South China Sea. The Meteorological Department has advised people to be on alert for flash floods and landslides near steep mountainous slopes.

The tropical storm will increase the volume of rainfall in Bangkok, the South and the Gulf of Thailand and will also help replenish the water in reservoirs in some areas, especially in the northern and northeastern regions, which have suffered from a lack of rainfall for a long time.

Phuwiang Prakhamin, Director-General of the Meteorological Department, said Thailand will be most affected from August 2-3, before the storm begins to dissipate on August 4.

There will be strong waves in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand and seafarers are asked to proceed with caution and to avoid the areas where there are thunderstorms. Small boats should remain ashore until August 6, while people in risky areas, especially the areas which are adjacent to the mountains, are asked to be on alert for possible landslides.


Leonardo DiCaprio thanks Thai authorities for rise in tiger numbers

NNT

Bangkok - Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio Leonardo has posted a message on Instagram applauding Thai authorities for overseeing an increase in the number of tigers at the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary.

In his Instagram post, on Global Tiger Day (July 29), DiCaprio thanked officials at the sanctuary for the more than 60-percent increase in the number of tigers in its care.

"In Thailand’s Huai Kha Khaeng (HKK) Wildlife Sanctuary, tigers are roaring back thanks to a major long-term effort by the government of Thailand ... As a result, tiger numbers in the sanctuary have risen dramatically, from 41 in 2010 -11 to 66 today - a more than 60 per cent increase. In addition, tigers moving beyond the boundaries of the sanctuary are providing a foundation for a recovering population across the entire Western Forest Complex of Thailand, with the benefits even spilling across the border into the Taninthayi region of Myanmar. #GlobalTigerDay," DiCaprio wrote.

National Resources and Environment Minister Warawut Silpa-archa, said he is happy and proud that all parties have been placing importance on the nation’s tigers. Warawut said "In the past 8-9 years, the tiger population has grown. I believe that if everyone shares the same spirit, the number of rare animals and green areas will grow and Thailand will be a country with abundant natural resources."


Education Ministry eyes e-books to replace textbooks in class

NNT

Bangkok - Deputy Minister of Education Kalaya Sophonpanich says her ministry is considering replacing traditional textbooks students have to carry to school with e-books.

The move comes on the back of reports about a student in Khon Kaen who allegedly has spinal deformities as a result of carrying a heavy bag to school every day.

The Deputy Minister said the initiative will have to be discussed with all related agencies, while admitting that the causes of spinal deformities suffered by the Khon Kaen student remain unproven at this stage.

Sophonpanich also admitted that the use of e-books comes with its own concerns, as sitting in front of a screen for 7-10 hours a day may affect students’ eyesight and even their necks from looking down at the screen for extended periods.


Top diplomats gather in Bangkok for key Asia-Pacific talks

 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left shakes hand with Thailand Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai at the Foreign Ministry in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Grant Peck

Bangkok (AP) — Top diplomats from the Asia-Pacific region started gathering in Bangkok on Tuesday to discuss issues of concern to the area, including security on the Korean peninsula and China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The meetings in the Thai capital are hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, chaired this year by Thailand. Thai officials say there will be 27 meetings in all through Saturday, and 31 countries and alliances will participate.

The core ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting brings together the group's top diplomats, but they are likely to be overshadowed by the big power players attending the adjunct meetings, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asia Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

The heavy-hitters in Bangkok this week include U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Other ASEAN dialogue partners include Australia, India, the European Union, Japan and South Korea.

Most attention will be on these side meetings, in which ASEAN will play a supporting role, if any.

A representative of North Korea will be present in Bangkok, a Thai foreign ministry spokesman said last week, though it is not clear if Pyongyang is sending its foreign minister. Washington has downplayed Pyongyang's recent launch of medium-range missiles and expressed interest in reviving talks on North Korean denuclearization, so sideline talks are a possibility.

Reports say that the United States is also willing to hold a sidelines meeting with Japan and South Korea to discuss the bitter trade dispute between the two East Asian nations that threatens to disrupt Seoul's electronics industry by hindering its purchase of semiconductor components.

The dispute also draws on long-standing bitterness over Japan's actions toward Korea during World War II and threatens to poison relations at a time when Washington would prefer to see a united front in dealing with North Korea.

ASEAN's own most pressing concern arguably involves Beijing's expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, which pits it against the claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

The dispute is long-running, but flared up again earlier this month when Vietnam accused China of violating its sovereignty by interfering with offshore oil and gas activities in disputed waters.

Vietnam can count on having some allies at this week's meetings but may have to operate outside the conventional ASEAN framework by forming a de facto maritime bloc with Indonesia, which has aggressively dealt with Chinese poachers in its waters, and the Philippines, still smarting over a June incident in which a Chinese fishing vessel hit a Philippine fishing boat and fled the scene as 22 Filipinos escaped their sinking vessel.

It's unlikely ASEAN will agree on any major statement against China since it operates by consensus, which in practice means a single member can exercise veto over the group's decisions and declarations. Beijing can count on the support of allies such as Cambodia and Laos, and reluctance by others to defy Asia's superpower.

Beijing also is disinclined to flout legal norms that might restrain its actions, say critics, citing as an example the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling on the South China Sea case brought by the Philippines.

The struggle for influence between the U.S. and China looms larger than ever over this year's meetings, with their trade disputes fueling the rivalry.

Beijing's attempts to project its influence even further afield through its Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious global development program of major infrastructure projects, has sharpened the sense of unease among some parties.

The U.S. has countered with its own vision strategy for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, which Beijing regards as directed against it.

ASEAN leaders at their summit meeting in June adopted a five-page "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific" statement that sought to find a middle ground. But some analysts suggest it is less an assertion that the regional grouping is a player in its own right than a weak effort to keep on the good side of both Washington and Beijing.

"Its significance is in the monumental opportunity squandered," said Benjamin Zawacki, author of "Thailand: Shifting Ground between the U.S. and a Rising China."

"The increasing tension between Washington and Beijing does afford ASEAN more, rather than less, influence and room to maneuver, but it is influence and room that ASEAN would rather not have and will choose not to use," he said. "ASEAN is most comfortable when it has the least influence and room to maneuver, for such provides a ready justification for its indecisiveness, inertia, and utter obsession with neutrality."


Disease watch begins in drought-hit areas

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Public Health is now on alert for a possible outbreak of communicable diseases in drought-hit areas, where a supply of clean water may be lacking. It has assigned officials and volunteers to promote the practice of eating only cooked food, using serving spoons and washing hands, as well as advising villagers to seek medical assistance should they have diarrhea.

The Department of Disease Control (DDC) has instructed 12 disease prevention and control centers nationwide to be on alert and to cooperate with local public health offices in order to respond quickly to any outbreak of disease connected to the drought. According to the Bureau of Epidemiology’s report, there have been, since early this year, 575,112 cases of diarrhea, 59,360 cases of food poisoning, 432 cases of dysentery, 9 cases of cholera, 560 cases of typhoid fever and 224 cases of hepatitis A.


Drought situation in Chaiyaphum reaches crisis point

NNT

Bangkok - Many provinces nationwide are suffering from water shortages while regions of Chaiyaphum are facing a severe drought disaster. The water volume in the Chulabhorn Dam in the province has decreased to its lowest level in 30 years, only 25 percent of its capacity or about 42 million cubic meters of water. Meanwhile, the Chi River has dried up and rice on hundreds of thousands of rai of land is gradually dying from a lack of water.

In the urban area, which is an important economic quarter of Chaiyaphum, a small volume of water is being released from the Lam Pa Thao Dam. If it doesn’t rain in the next two weeks, it may be necessary to reduce the water pressure and distribute water according to a planned schedule to ensure an adequate supply.

Further north in Udon Thani, farmers in irrigated areas are also suffering from a water shortage after a lack of rainfall in the region. Water is being allocated from Nong Samrong reservoir, which currently contains 1.5 million cubic meters of water, to the rice fields of farmers in order to revive the withered rice.


Medical use of marijuana in Thailand complies with international principles

NNT

Bangkok - Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin has confirmed that the guidelines for the use of medical marijuana in Thailand comply with the international Single Convention on Narcotics, which requires that the medical and scientific uses of the drug must be subject to government regulations.

In Thailand, the International Narcotics Control Board has regulated compliance with the provisions of the Convention. Member countries must report on their operations to prevent and suppress drug availability and access to illegal psychotropic substances.

The Minister of Justice says that permission to grow marijuana is granted to those with the qualifications required under the law, including government agencies that are responsible for researching, teaching or providing medical, pharmaceutical, scientific or agricultural services; government agencies that are responsible for preventing, suppressing and solving drug problems; the Thai Red Cross Society; private universities with programs and research on medicinal or pharmaceutical uses, and farmers who form a community enterprise, social enterprise or agricultural cooperative.

They must apply for permission at the Food and Drug Administration or provincial public health offices. When granted permission, they have to organize a project and determine the farming venue, the quantity of planting that is consistent with the production and security measures to prevent the marijuana from entering the black market.

For patients who wish to use marijuana for treatment, there are currently hospitals throughout the country with sufficient quality marijuana on hand for medical use that meets the safety standard, and a comprehensive and systematic drug distribution plan for the most effective treatment..


DAILY UPDATE


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

PM makes merit on the occasion of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother’s birthday

Volunteering spirit activities held throughout the nation

Stranded fishing crew return home from Somalia

PM calls for cooperation from the public to remove waterway obstructions


HRH Princess Chulabhorn signed a cooperation agreement, on research and development of biological products

HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha presides over Mahidol-Mother Day 2019

Police interrogate Bangkok bombing suspects in South

Thanachart Bank - Thai Military Bank merger without layoffs


Thai prime minister not quitting for botching oath

Thailand mum on Serbia making fugitive ex-PM a citizen

Cambodia and Thailand discus potential seaport cooperation

Palm oil price guaranteed at four baht per kilogram


Fugitive ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra gets Serbian citizenship

52 barges and vessels join Royal Barge Procession rehearsal

Bank of Thailand slashes interest rate to 1.5%

Dep. PM Prawit Wongsuwan links Bangkok bombings to troubled south


Her Majesty the Queen Mother’s birthday celebrations planned

Two more Bangkok bombing suspects arrested

Royal benevolence improves livelihood of southern seaside eco-tourism village

Marine Dept to supervise vessels during rehearsals of Royal Barge Procession


PM quashes rumors about Bangkok bombings

Elephant farm operators defend accusations from foreign media

Nakhon Si Thammarat forest fires reduced to three spots

Road lanes expanded under Orange Line project


Their Majesties the King and Queen express concern for Bangkok bomb victims

Thai consulate issues travel advisory for visitors to Hong Kong

Authorities providing help for marooned Thai workers

PM Prayut clarifies oath-taking issue


Police investigating Bangkok bombings

BMA doubles fine for motorbikes on pavements

MOPH to allow folk doctors to prescribe cannabis products

Navy trains royal barge oarsmen


Prime Minister orders hunt for bomb scare perpetrators

Tropical storm Vibha brings heavy rain and high winds

Celebrations planned for Her Majesty Queen Mother

Thailand and Australia hold military Exercise Chapel Gold 2019


Thai PM orders investigation of Bangkok blasts; 4 hurt

China offers to help manage Mekong River to alleviate drought

Australia launches $55M anti-trafficking effort for ASEAN

Mitsubishi plans to manufacture electric cars in Thailand

Border trade grows 1.16% in 2019’s first half


Thailand seeks deeper cooperation as ASEAN ministers meet

Meteorological Dept warns of heavy rain until August 6

Leonardo DiCaprio thanks Thai authorities for rise in tiger numbers

Education Ministry eyes e-books to replace textbooks in class


Top diplomats gather in Bangkok for key Asia-Pacific talks

Disease watch begins in drought-hit areas

Drought situation in Chaiyaphum reaches crisis point

Medical use of marijuana in Thailand complies with international principles