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Update December, 2019


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Mekong River's new aquamarine color may be sign of trouble

Fishing boats are moored in Mekong River, which has turned blue instead of its usual muddy color, in Nakhon Phanom province, northeastern Thailand Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Chessadaporn Buasai)

Sightseers play on a sandbar in the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom province, northeastern Thailand Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Chessadaporn Buasai)

By BUSABA SIVASOMBOON

BANGKOK (AP) — The Mekong River has recently acquired an aquamarine color that may beguile tourists but also indicates a problem caused by upstream dams, experts in Thailand say.

The river usually has a yellowish-brown shade due to the sediment it normally carries downstream. But lately it has been running clear, taking on a blue-green hue that is a reflection of the sky. The water levels have also become unusually low, exposing sandbanks that allow the curious to stand in the middle of the river.

Low water levels pose an obvious problem for fishermen and farmers, but experts say the decline in sediment exposes a different danger that can result in greater erosion of the river's banks and bed.

The experts and people living along the river blame a large hydroelectric dam upstream in Laos that began operating in October for contributing to both problems, though rainfall has also been sparse.

Around 70 million people depend on the Mekong River for water, food, commerce, irrigation and transportation. Critics charge that large-scale development projects such as the Xayaburi dam dangerously disrupt the region's ecology.

The dam blocks much sediment from moving further downstream, which accounts for the water becoming clear, said Pravit Kanthaduang, chief of the fishery office at Bueng Khong Long, a district in Thailand's Bueng Kan province. Less sediment means less nutrition for plants and fish in the river, threatening the ecological balance, he said.

With less sediment, the water also has more stream power, a phenomenon known as "hungry water," said Chainarong Setthachau of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science at Mahasarakham University in Thailand's northeast who has studied changes in the Mekong's ecology for the past two decades.

"The current has less sediment, which unleashes energy onto the river banks downstream. This so-called 'hungry water' will cause much more erosion to the banks, uprooting trees and damaging engineering structures in the river," Chainarong said.

The dam's developers have denied that they were responsible for low water levels that some critics tied to trial runs of the generators that began in March. In October, the Xayaburi Power Co. Ltd. said the project has spent more than 19.4 billion baht ($640 million) to mitigate negative impacts on the environment, including the building of outlets for sediment passage and flow and facilities to allow the passage of fish. The plant's total cost was $4.47 billion.

Daeng Pongpim, from a farming family that used to fish in Ta Mui village in Ubon Ratchathani province, lives 800 kilometers (500 miles) downstream from the Xayaburi dam, but said she still believes it is responsible for the river's recent unusual condition.

"I am 67 years old and have never seen anything like it before. What makes me concerned the most is the low level of the water. Now, we are in early winter, the water level should not be this low. I can't imagine how hard it could be for us at the height of the dry season, in March and April."

Chaiwat Parakun, who lives 200 kilometers (125 miles) downstream from the dam, said he abandoned his fishing gear several years ago because of the declining amount of fish available to catch. He now has a tourism business.

"The Mekong has gradually lost its abundance. People who depend on the river like us could sense it many years ago. But that was nothing like the effects from Xayaburi. We cannot figure out how we can live with this degraded environment," he said.


PM Prayut leads volunteer activity to mark World Soil Day

BANGKOK (NNT) - Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, together with his wife, Naraporn Chan-o-cha, presided over a volunteer activity supported by people from different sectors to celebrate Father’s Day and World Soil Day on December 5 in Sanam Luang, Bangkok.

At the event, the Prime Minister noted that today was the birthday of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, as well as Father’s Day and World Soil Day. People from different sectors attended the activity to pay homage to the late King, who did a great deal for the nation, including eradicating poverty, improving the well-being of the people, supporting the agricultural sector and initiating the philosophy of a Sufficiency Economy for everyone to follow. The Prime Minister encouraged the people always to observe such virtues and express their loyalty to His Majesty King Bhumibol.

The Prime Minister then visited the World Soil Day exhibition and called in at different booths. One of the highlights is the production of fertilizer from water hyacinth.

After the volunteers prepared a mixture of soil and fertilizer for 778 tamarind trees around Sanam Luang, the Prime Minister said he would like the volunteers to continue to do such good deeds and uphold the country’s three main pillars, which are the nation, religion and the monarchy. When issues arise, they have to work together. Gen. Prayut insisted that he had no issues with anyone. Inspections can be conducted, but they must not affect the country’s civil service system he noted.

In addition to Father’s Day, December 5 is internationally recognized as World Soil Day in appreciation of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol’s work to conserve soil resources essential for food security and sustainable development. In recognition of His Majesty’s tireless efforts, the International Union of Soil Science honored His Majesty with the first ever Humanitarian Soil Scientist Award in 2012. In 2013, the 68th United Nations (UN) General Assembly designated December 5 World Soil Day, to raise awareness of the importance of soil.


General public make merit for King Rama IX

THAILAND (NNT) - Many people throughout Thailand make merit and pay their respects to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (IX) on December 5, which is Father’s Day and the birthday of the late King. This morning in Sanam Luang, Bangkok, Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, led cabinet ministers, heads of government agencies and members of the public in offering alms to monks in remembrance of the late King.

The Prime Minister together with his wife, Naraporn Chan-o-cha, presided over the merit-making ceremony to mark Father’s Day. Among prominent figures were the Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan; the Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul; the Interior Minister, Gen. Anupong Paojinda; the Speaker of the House of Represenatives, Chuan Leekpai, the President of the Senate, Prof. Pornpetch Wichitcholchai and Bangkok Governor, Pol. Gen. Aswin Kwanmuang. The event was also attended by court officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil servants and members of the public. The group offered alms to 489 Buddhist monks and made merit for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol.

Following the religious ceremony, the Prime Minister opened an exhibition to celebrate Father’s Day and visited booths selling products supported by the Friends in Need (of PA) Volunteers Foundation at the BBG Club.

The Prime Minister then led the officials in placing trays of flowers and paying their respects in front of His Majesty the late King’s image. They expressed their gratitude and pledged to perform their duties in the best interests of the nation.


Father’s Day events held across country

THAILAND (NNT) - Government agencies and members of the general public across the country, today held activities to commemorate His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and celebrate Father’s Day and National Day.

At King Rama V monument in front of Nong Khai Provincial Hall, members of the public this morning gave alms to 89 buddhist monks in tribute to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on his birthday 5th December.

Similarly, in Nonthanburi province, government officials, military and police officers, students, and the general public today attended an alms giving ceremony, paying their respects to the late monarch in front of the provincial hall.

In Ranong, members of the public today wore yellow shirts and participated in a Father’s Day event showing their loyalty and appreciation to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The event started with a ceremony of alms giving to 89 buddhist monks at Ranong City Municipality plaza.

Some 200 people in Yala, all wearing yellow shirts, today organized a walk-run activity expressing their loyalty on King Bhumibol’s birthday 5th December, starting from the City Pillar Shrine and following a 9.99-kilometer route. The run took approximately an hour.

In Songkhla, Tuk Tuk, taxi, and mortorcycle taxi drivers provided free services for the general public and tourists within Hat Yai City Municipality from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, using the same stops. Vehicles providing a free service had stickers with the words "Free rides, doing good for father."

In Bueng Kan, the Abbot of Wat Pa Ban Pan La temple, Phra Sombat Sampattithakaro and volunteers, set up a free vegetarian canteen in front of Bueng Kan Subdistrict Municipality Fresh Market, providing a free lunch to the general public as a tribute to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The kitchen was run by nuns, cooks, and volunteers serving food to villagers.


Memorial activities held in honour of HM King Rama IX

THAILAND (NNT) - As generations of Thais know, 5th December was the birthday of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. This year, many agencies are holding activities commemorating the life and reign of the beloved monarch in Bangkok and other provinces.

Starting with the Royal Thai Army, the army Commander in Chief, Gen Apirat Kongsompong, presided over a tribute commemorating the royal grace of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He observed a blood donation activity and an exhibition showing the deep respect and loyalty the people feel for the late monarch.

At the Royal Thai Air Force, Deputy Commander in Chief ACM Weerapong Nilchinda has presided over a religious service and alms giving ceremony commemorating the birthday of His Majesty the late King. The air force has held a blood donation ceremony and provided free medical services at Bhumibol Adulyadej Hospital and an exhibition on the nine remarkable aptitudes of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, remembering with gratitude his royal contributions towards the Thai people.

In Bueng Kan province, a blood donation campaign has been taking place with mobile units collecting blood from donors in various locations. Military and police officers, members of the general public, university students, military students, and volunteers have donated their blood in this campaign.

Moving south to Yala province, a forest planting campaign has been held. 500 Payom trees were planted at Wat Chomphu Sathit temple in Yupo subdistrict as an expression of the people’s loyalty. The campaign helps increase the nation’s forest area and restore the ecological balance. The newly planted forest will serve as a plant genetics learning space for children and youths, encouraging them to cherish the forests in their community.


U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport opens new terminal

Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha arrives at U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport to officially open the new terminal.

RAYONG (NNT) - Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, presided over the opening of the second passenger terminal at U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport. The new terminal can handle 3 to 5 million passengers a year.

The Prime Minister said the opening of the terminal is another step for U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport towards becoming a fully functional commercial airport. It will help stimulate the domestic economy and serve as a gateway to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and other regions. With the new terminal, the airport will be capable of accommodating more travelers, creating more jobs for the locals and boosting investor confidence.

The Prime Minister then visited an exhibition and facilities inside the new passenger terminal. He was accompanied by the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy, Adm. Luechai Ruddit.

U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport began commercial operations in 1989. The airport currently handles more than two million passengers annually, with about 15,000 flights per year. The second terminal was built due to the increasing number of travelers and commercial flights. The airport will help support the EEC, as it connects with Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

The new passenger terminal will help U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport become the eastern aviation hub of Thailand. Following its testing and pre-opening stages, the terminal is now fully ready to serve travelers. U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport is the country’s third fully functional commercial airport. It can handle up to 1,500 passengers per hour.


People support No Plastic campaign

Say ‘NO’ to plastic bags.

BANGKOK (NNT) - A recent survey shows that most people support the government’s No Plastic campaign, which will start on January 1st, and changing consumer behavior to promote a clean environment

The Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, said today his ministry has arranged an event to mark Thai Environment Day as well as the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Volunteer Day, which falls on December 4 every year. This year, the event encourages people to take care of the world for future generations. The event is held to show gratitude to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, as he was called "Thailand’s Father of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation" and to promote His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua’s royal policy of doing good deeds for the public and preserving the natural resources and environment. The event encourages people to cut down on the single use of plastic materials.

A Suan Dusit Poll conducted a survey on the ban on single-use plastic bags in 2020. The survey was conducted between October 30 and November 15 this year, and involved 2,032 respondents nationwide. According to the survey, 90% of the respondents agreed with the ban, 91.28% said they have changed their consumer behavior, 88.78% were aware of the government’s No Plastic campaign, 86.71% supported the idea of using reusable bags, 77.46% wanted the government to enforce a law to control uses of plastic materials and 61.42% approved the idea of having consumers pay for plastic bags.

The Permanent Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, Jatuporn Buruspat, said today that members of the public will have to be prepared for the ban on single-use plastic bags, starting January 1 2020. Seventy-six companies overseeing department stores, supermarkets and convenience stores have joined the No Plastic campaign and will no longer provide plastic bags that are less than 36 microns thick to their customers.


Elon Musk in court dances around meaning of 'pedo guy' tweet

In this frame grab from video, Tesla CEO Elon Musk leaves court, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. Musk denied that he meant to call a British cave diver a pedophile when he dubbed him "pedo guy" on social media. (AP Photo/Krysta Fauria)

By BRIAN MELLEY

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Elon Musk has owned up to insulting a British spelunker in a rash tweet, but wouldn't concede on the witness stand that he called the man a pedophile.

The Tesla CEO returns to the witness stand Wednesday after spending several hours at his defamation trial trying to dance around the meaning of the "pedo guy" tweet he aimed at Vernon Unsworth, a cave diver who helped rescue a dozen boys and their soccer coach from a flooded Thailand cave last year.

Musk said the insult meant only "creepy old man" and did not literally mean he was calling Unsworth a pedophile.

The spat began when Unsworth ridiculed Musk's effort in the rescue by having engineers at his companies, including Space X and The Boring Co., develop a mini-submarine that could transport the boys to safety. Despite working around the clock to build the sub in short order, Musk arrived in Thailand late in the rescue effort and the craft was never used.

Unsworth called it nothing more than a "PR stunt" and said Musk could stick the sub "where it hurts." Musk watched the CNN clip of Unsworth several times before lashing out in a series of tweets July 15, 2018.

"It was wrong and insulting, so I insulted him back," the billionaire told a Los Angeles federal court jury. "It was an unprovoked attack on what was a good-natured attempt to help the kids."

Unsworth is seeking unspecified damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress from the tech entrepreneur whose net worth exceeds $20 billion.

Musk's lawyer, Alex Spiro, said during opening statements that Unsworth deserves nothing for what he called "joking, taunting tweets in a fight between men."

The shame and mortification Unsworth said he experienced is undercut by the attention he received after the rescue, Spiro said, including honors from the Thai king and British prime minister and offers from agents and film crews.

Musk, who was dressed in a charcoal gray suit and white shirt, remained composed on the witness stand during questioning from Unsworth's lawyer, who called him as his first witness.

His answers were at times humorous and sometimes seemed like those of an executive under court order to be careful about what he says.

Musk is required to have his tweets about Tesla screened as part of court settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations he posted misleading information about the company that caused wild stock swings.

His tweet about Unsworth caused Tesla's stock to drop about 3% the following day, though it recovered a day later.

After company officials tried to get Musk to apologize for the tweet, he responded in an email that he didn't want look "foolish and craven" by doing so right after the stock dropped.

Musk projected an air of humility as he was asked about his influence in the world. He said he didn't think his efforts to address climate change were taken seriously, that few people were aware of his goal to colonize Mars and he didn't really pay attention to how his fortune stacks up against other billionaires.

With his arms crossed, Musk at times squinted and stared off in the distance as he searched for answers to events that occurred more than a year ago.

He clashed at one point with attorney L. Lin Wood, telling him he interpreted the lawyer's letter threatening to sue as a shakedown and extortion attempt.

"I get these shakedown letters a lot," Musk said. "I think you're looking for a significant payday."

Spiro attempted to humanize Musk, having him discuss his family — sets of 15-year-old twins and 13-year-old triplets, all boys. Musk choked up talking about a son who died as a baby and when asked about his childhood in South Africa.

"It wasn't good," he said after a long pause.

Musk said he was asked to help with the cave rescue and decided to get involved when he heard a Thai Navy diver died in the cave system and that a monsoon was forecast that could drown the soccer team.

Musk received no compensation for his efforts, though he acknowledged his work could have been interpreted as a "narcissistic" publicity effort.

Musk deleted the July 15, 2018, tweets and apologized on Twitter, though subsequent statements he made have called into question what he meant.

Musk responded to a question on Twitter about whether he had accused Unsworth of being a pedophile by saying, "Bet ya a signed dollar it's true."

He told a Buzzfeed reporter seeking comment on the threat of a lawsuit by Unsworth to "stop defending child rapists," followed by expletives.

Musk was asked about an almost comical attempt to dig up dirt on Unsworth when it became clear he could be sued.

One of his executives created a fake email account to communicate with a man who said he was an investigator, but then signed his own name on a nondisclosure agreement.

The investigator turned out to be a con man who was paid $52,000 and produced nothing damning about Unsworth.

Musk said he didn't know Unsworth had helped with the rescue when he first tweeted about him and said "pedo guy" wasn't asserted as a fact.

"Just as I didn't literally mean he was a pedophile, I'm sure he didn't literally mean shoving a sub up my ass," Musk testified, provoking snickers.

When asked about the final line of his email to the Buzzfeed reporter that said he hoped Unsworth would sue him, Musk quipped: "I guess be careful what you wish for."


Senate backs Wat Phra Mahathat temple world heritage nomination

BANGKOK (NNT) - The senate’s ad-hoc committee on arts and culture has pledged support for the nomination of Wat Phra Mahathat temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat as a world heritage site, while related agencies have already submitted supporting documents to the Fine Arts Department for consideration.

A member of the senate and the president of the senate’s ad-hoc committee on arts and culture, Naowarat Pongpaiboon, visited Nakhon Si Thammarat province to follow up on progress made in the nomination process of Wat Phra Mahathat temple as a world heritage site. He was welcomed by the governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Siripat Patkul.

The committee’s academic chief Chatchai Sukrakan said the temple was added to UNESCO’s tentative list for world heritage sites in 2013.

The temple is believed to comply with selection criteria 2, to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design; criteria 4, to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history and criteria 6, to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions.

The committee has prepared an in-dept report for the Fine Arts Department for consideration prior to submission to the Cabinet for final approval. The paper will then be submitted to UNESCO.

Mr. Naowarat Pongpaiboon said Wat Phra Mahathat temple is an important religious site for Buddhism, and the committee will be pushing for the temple to be officially given world heritage site status before the expiry of the processing time in the next 4 years.


Museum of talisman cloths opened in Phayao

PHAYAO, Dec 3 (TNA) - Thailand’s first museum dedicated to magic amulet cloths has been opened inside a temple in the northern province of Phayao.

Over 200 amulet or talisman cloths aged between 50-100 years are on display at Khunkhuan City Museum, Wat Thamikaram temple, in Pong district.

The main objective of the Museum is to conserve of the amulet clothes of the Lanna, the ancient civilization of Thailand’s north.

Some people consider amulet cloths, some in the forms of shirts and pants, hold magical powers that bring good luck to and ward off dangers from persons who possess them. (TNA)   


Chanthaburi Gems and Jewelry Festival this week

The International Chanthaburi Gems and Jewelry Festival 2019 will be held for the first time in Chanthaburi, well-known for the gemstone industry. 

Deputy Minister of Commerce, Weerasak Wangsupakitkosol said the festival will be organized between December 4-8 by the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (Public Organization) in cooperation with allies in the state and private sectors.

The venue is located in downtown area, covering the Chanthaburi Gems & Jewelry Center, the KP Jewelry Center and OTOP Lifestyle at the gems market on Srichan Road.

About 500 operators in gems and jewelry businesses will showcase and sell their products. Other highlights are gemstone auctions, a jewelry design contest, a gem-cutting competition and a gems and jewelry research contest.

A Memorandum of Cooperation will be signed with between local authorities and University of Siena, Italy at the opening of the event on Dec 4 to help Thai operators develop their skills in gem production techniques and jewelry designs.  

Tour packages and local products will be available at the festival. 

The commerce minister hopes the event will increase sales of Chanthaburi’s gems and promote this eastern province as the center of high-quality colored gemstones. (TNA)


Agriculture Ministry has measures to cope with farm chemicals

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Mananya Thaiset, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has prepared plans to tackle the effects caused by three farm chemicals after the National Hazardous Substances Committee resolved to delay a ban on the substances.

The Senate meeting on Monday asked the Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, about the declaration of the three agricultural chemicals as category 4 toxic substances and asked the Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister about the ban on the three chemicals as well as the government’s plans to address the matter.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives answered the questions on behalf of the Prime Minister that the government was still unable able to explain or comment on the ban since it had not yet been signed by the Industry Minister. She confirmed that the Ministry has prepared for the ban and promised to pay special attention to the matter.

The Deputy Minister added that she would take the information from the Ministry of Public Health about illnesses caused by the three chemicals into consideration in order to develop protective guidelines.

Ms. Mananya thanked the senators for their concerns over the health of Thai people and the chemicals’ effects on them. Thailand has prohibited the use of 89 toxic farm chemicals, except these three chemicals which are already banned elsewhere in the world.


Large crowds visit Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai

CHIANG RAI, Nov 30 - A large crowd of people are now visiting the Tham Luang cave daily after the movie about the dramatic rescue last year of 12 boys and their football coach has been screened at theatres in Thailand.

The movie called ‘The Cave’ is being shown at several theatres nationwide and approximately 3,000 people are visiting the cave in the northernmost province of Chiang Rai daily.

Concerned authorities at the Thamluang Khunnam Nangnon national park provide trolley service to the cave entrance.

Also, as many as 50 visitors are allowed to enter the first chamber for each round of the cave tour and they can take pictures there for five minutes.

Officially, the Tham Luang cave was officially opened for tourists in early November.  

Two nearby caves will be opened for nature study in the future.

A total of 12 young soccer players, members of the Wild Boars (Mu Pa)  football team, and their coach were trapped inside the flooded cave in July last year. Their subsequent rescue, after 17 days, made headlines around the world. (TNA)


Eight ethnic groups celebrate cultural festival in Ratchaburi

RATCHABURI, Dec 2 (TNA) - Eight ethnic groups in Thailand celebrate a cultural festival in the western central province of Ratchaburi to promote and preserve their unique traditions.

Over 1,000 members of ethnic groups in 10 districts of Ratchaburi on Sunday joined a parade enriched with cultural displays. 

They represented eight of some 70 ethnic groups in Thailand, showing the prides of Yuan, Chinese, Karen, Lao, Tai Dam, Mon, Tai and Khmer.

The colourful parade featuring old-styled wagons was headed for a gymnasium, the venue of the festival organized annually by the provincial culture office since 2011.

Varied forms of the ethnic groups’ cultural heritage such as cuisine, traditional dance and folk wisdom were arranged for visitors to enjoy and learn about the ethnic diversity of the Kingdom. (TNA)


Water in Mekong River falls to critical level, sand dunes

NAKHON PHANOM, Dec 2 (TNA) - The water levels of the Mekong River have fallen to a critical level, posing threats to people’s livelihoods, farming activities and tour boat operations.

The Mekong water level in the northeastern province of Nakhon Phanom dropped to one of the lowest on record and fell at the fastest pace in 50 years. 

Low rainfall in the past rainy season and water retention of Chinese dams are blamed for the worrying situation.  Farmers have faced problems and higher burden to find sufficient water.

Sand bars have emerged in the river and interrupted boat services.

A 62-year-old tour boat operator Narong Taosri said the water levels had fluctuated until it dropped unprecedentedly this time of the year. 

Water color turned to ocean-like turquoise; “although it looked nice it could mean disaster will follow,” he said.

Cargo boats that Thai and Lao merchant rely for their border trade now have to make long detour.

Large ship like Mekong Paradise Cruise was forced to suspend its operation.  The ship was anchored and served only as a floating restaurant.  

According to experts, the Mekong water levels during the rainy season from June to July are among the lowest on record due partly to below-average rainfall.  

The average lower-than-normal rain volume in the lower Mekong basin during June-July could also cause the deficient groundwater in the region. This means there is insufficient groundwater contributing to the Mekong mainstream. (TNA)


Industry Minister, car manufacturers discuss ways to boost exports

BANGKOK (NNT) - The ongoing trade war between the United States and China has continued to dampen world economic growth, as well as exports of Thailand’s automotive products. Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, has recently expressed his concern over the situation, after the Philippines announced its plan to impose tariffs on Thai automotive

The Industry Minister, Suriya Juangroongruangkit, met with representatives of the Thai automotive industry to discuss the Philippines retaliatory measures against Thailand’s automotive exports, following a trade dispute between the two countries. Thailand was found to have failed to comply with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ruling against its regulations on cigarette imports, which has affected Philippine cigarette exports.

The Industry Minister said information presented at the meeting will be revised and submitted to the cabinet meeting, so that relevant agencies can come up with proper solutions. Initially, negotiations between the sides must take place because the Philippines is the top importer of Thai automotive products, with about 120,000 vehicles being imported annually.

Suriya said, "Right now, there are reports from Philippine media about the cigarette situation. Our Customs Department say prices of cigarette products from the Philippines are lower than they actually are. This means less taxes are paid. This is why they raise the auto issue. If we don’t fix the cigarette issue, they will implement retaliatory measures. I think that there should be talks because we’re exporting a large number of cars to the Philippines. All these issues must enter the negotiation process."

In addition, the Thai automotive industry has to deal with Vietnam’s non-tariff barriers. The country takes 14 days to a month to inspect each batch of imported vehicles. This has affected the manufacturers’ operating costs and created problems. The government and the Office of Industrial Economics have been asked to assist the Thai automotive industry and help Thailand maintain its position as the leading regional automotive manufacturer.


HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn confers diplomas on graduates of Suranaree University of Technology

 

Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn delivers her speech to the graduates.

Assoc. Prof. Charnchai Thongsopha, makes his presentation of the ionic air purifier to HRH Princess Sirindhorn.

NAKHON RATCHASIMA (NNT) - Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, on behalf of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua, conferred diplomas on graduates of Suranaree University of Technology for academic year 2018.

At 9:12 a.m. on Friday Nov 29, Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn proceeded to Suranaree University of Technology in Muang Nakhon Ratchasima district, Nakhon Ratchasima province, to present honorary certificates to three recipients and honorary pins to two beneficiaries of Suranaree University of Technology. The Princess then conferred diplomas on 3,628 graduates in doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degree programs. The Princess also presented an honorary plaque to a graduate acknowledged for outstanding achievements.

Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindorn delivered a speech to the graduates, saying "Suranaree University of Technology is a learning institution and a reliable pillar of society. This is admirable because the university is aware of its role and is socially responsible. The university has also tried to perform to the best of its ability, setting an example to all the graduates. Everyone is part of society, and we all have social responsibilities, especially university graduates. They are thoughtful and highly capable. They must carry out more duties than others to drive the country forward. I ask the graduates of Suranaree University of Technology to know their duties and responsibilities and use their knowledge, ideas and potential to bring prosperity to themselves and their country because this is a social commitment and an important responsibility."

At 11:58 a.m., Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn proceeded to Surasammanakhan Building in Suranaree University of Technology to receive Assoc. Prof. Charnchai Thongsopha, an electronics engineering professor at the Faculty of Engineering at Suranaree University of Technology who made a presentation of an ionic air purifier to remove PM2.5 particles. The purifier has the air-purifying power of 500 trees. The cost of electricity to operate the purifier is only 1.50 baht per hour. It can be used to help people with respiratory diseases and to protect the environment.


Culture Minister promotes the excellence of Thai food

Culture Minister Itthiphol Khunpluem opens the Sam Rap Thai Institute.

BANGKOK (NNT) - The Government has cooperated with Chulalongkorn University (CU) and Thai Fight to create Thai food through the Sam Rap Thai Institute to promote the excellence of Thai food.

Culture Minister Itthiphol Khunpluem, today presided over the opening ceremony of the the Sam Rap Thai Institute to promote Thai food and local food nationwide.

The institute has been founded by the government, Thai Fight, CU and network partners to promote Thai food through various activities.

The Sam Rap Thai Institute is to offer a Thai food cooking course to present the uniqueness of Thailand through the taste of authentic Thai food.

The Sam Rap Thai Institute has also won the Siam Charas Award for being a medium for disseminating Thai food standards worldwide.


Ancient city discovered in Nakhon Si Thammarat

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT (NNT) - An ancient city has been discovered on a mountain range in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat.

The stone construction on the mountain range in Nakhon Si Thammarat is believed to be over 1,000 years old. The architecture resembles an ancient deity, while the stones are laid out to form an image of the universe.

Phum Jiradejwong, a historian in Nakhon Si Thammarat, led an exploration team to the ancient city, which was noticed and recorded by an early Chinese explorer more than 1,000 years ago. The expedition led by Mr. Phum started three years ago. The group called themselves "Explorers of the Mountain City". This discovery could be one of the country’s most important archaeological finds.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great once had a conversation about this ancient city with the then Education Minister, Samphan Thongsamak. Furthermore, Khun Phantharak Rajjadej once asked a forest ranger to help find an ancient city wall in Nakhon Si Thammarat. No discoveries were made until recently, when Mr. Phum’s team explored the area. The Governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Siripat Patkul, was notified about the discovery.

He coordinated with the Protected Areas Regional Office 5 and Khao Nan National Park to deploy teams of explorers to thoroughly inspect the site and ultimately make this archaeological site official.


Khao Kheow Open Zoo holding vote to name new pygmy hippo

CHONBURI (NNT) - Khao Kheow Open Zoo has introduced its latest member, a baby pygmy hippopotamus to visitors; it is the sixth of the species born in the zoo.

The Director of Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Attaporn Srihayrun, called the birth of the new pygmy hippo a very welcome occurrence. The male baby was born to 20-year-old female Jonah and 21-year-old male Tony on October 27 this year. The zoo is now holding a vote to decide between the names Moo-tun and Kagi, with a 3,000 baht prize and 10 one-year free passes to the zoo, up for grabs. Votes can be cast via the zoo’s official Facebook page between now and December 20, with winners to be announced on the page on December 28.

Veterinarians at the zoo have evaluated both the newborn and its mother as being in good health, and visitors have noted that the mother and child are inseparable. They have become a major attraction with visitors snapping their photos.

A pygmy hippopotamus resembles others of their genus, but are only one tenth the average size of other hippos. They are usually a solitary animal and are normally averse to human contact. They have poor eyesight but a strong sense of smell and are herbivores.


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Ancient city discovered in Nakhon Si Thammarat

Khao Kheow Open Zoo holding vote to name new pygmy hippo