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Update November 2017


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Thailand News
 

Update November 23, 2017

Prayer ceremony to be held to commemorate past monarchs

NNT

Bangkok - Citizens have been invited to a ceremony of prayer in memory of Their Majesties King Vajiravudh and King Bhumibol Adulyadej, taking place this Saturday at Dusit Palace in Bangkok.

The Supreme Patriarch, Somdej Phra Ariyawong Somdej Phra Sangkharaj, will preside over the ceremony, along with 241 other Buddhist monks.

The ceremony will also honor His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the queen consort of HM the Late King Bhumibol.

His Majesty the King has assigned Privy Councilor Gen Surayud Chulanont to represent him at the ceremony and ACM Kasem Yusook, who is the chief of the Office of Secretary of His Majesty the King, to transfer a portrait of Phra Chai Nawarat to the ceremonial venue.

Buddhist prayer books, courtesy of His Majesty the King, will be given to those attending the ceremony. Prayers can also be downloaded from www.prd.go.th.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on Radio Thailand, NBT, Thai TV Global Network and NBT World.


Campaign launched to prevent sexual harassment on public transport

NNT

Bangkok - Action Aid Thailand has launched a campaign to prevent sexual harassment on public transportation, after a recent survey revealed that over a third of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

Investigation of 1,634 respondents revealed that up to 45 percent of the women surveyed felt they had experienced some form of sexual harassment, although the most common complaints were eye contact, physical proximity and whistling.

The highest rate of reported harassment came on buses, motorcycles, and taxis. The campaign is aimed at raising awareness and spurring discussion on how to prevent such occurrences.

Action Aid Thailand proposes that related agencies install security cameras in vehicles and at transport hubs, provide an accessible means of reporting incidents and conduct training for officials to enable them to identify and intervene in cases of harassment.


108 million baht to be seized from former deputy minister

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand's National Anti-Counter Corruption Commission (NACC) has found information supporting an unusual wealth claim against Sombat Uthaisang during his time as Deputy Minister of Interior and Adviser to the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.  The NACC has forwarded the case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) so that it may seek to seize 108 million baht from the politician.

Deputy Secretary-General Worawit Sukboon explained that, while Sombat submitted 9 accounts of his and his spouse’s assets and wealth to the NACC for review during his tenure in public office and as President of TOT Public Co Ltd, he failed to submit those of his progeny and their spouses and it is believed by the NACC that he deliberately did so to conceal his true wealth.

Of 106.291 million baht found in a Government Housing Bank account belonging to his three children, Sombat was only able to explain the origin of 15 million baht.  All in all, 108.574 million baht of unexplained funds have been tied to the former deputy minister.

The Office of the Attorney General will take the matter to the Supreme Court in order that the unexplained assets can be seized by the state.


Thai university uses ultrasonic waves to kill mosquito larvae

NNT

Nakhon Ratchasima - Suranaree University of Technology has introduced an invention that uses ultrasonic waves to kill mosquito larvae.

The waves are released from a specially designed remote-controlled boat and have been proven to be 90% effective at killing mosquito larvae and pupae within a 3 meter-radius. The university spent six months developing the invention.

According to the university, the boat can be used in ponds and canals to control mosquito infestations.  The ultrasonic waves don't harm fish or crustaceans in the water.

The boat, which is 100 centimeters long and weighs about 50 kilograms, is made of fiberglass. It can be controlled remotely via a GPS system and travels at the speed of 7 kilometers per hour.

The university has already obtained a patent for this clever invention.


Update November 22, 2017

Thai police search for 20 suspected Uighurs on the run

Kaweewit Kaewjinda

Bangkok (AP) — Police said Tuesday they were stepping up security along the country's borders as they searched for around 20 suspected ethnic Uighurs who escaped an immigration detention center.

Local media published surveillance camera footage of the Monday escape in which the group climbed out of the detention center using two holes they seemingly made in a wall. They apparently used blankets to lower themselves down before running toward the detention center's exit.

Cherngron Rimpadee, an immigration police deputy spokesman, said police were patrolling the border between Thailand and Malaysia. Security in Malaysia was also tightened as the detention center was close to the border.

Cherngron said that the group had been detained since 2014 for illegally entering Thailand, but that police have not been able to identify their nationality.

"Our officials found them, so we have held them in custody to prepare to send them back," Cherngron said. "But there are still problems about proving their nationality."

In 2015, Thailand deported 109 ethnic Uighur refugees back to China, where they fled from, sparking criticism from the U.N. refugee agency, the United States and others.

Cherngron said he did not know whether Chinese officials had asked for this group of suspected Uighurs to be sent back to China. "It is an international relations concern that I don't know about," he said.

The Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority in far western China's Xinjiang region. The group has complained of harsh cultural and religious suppression as well as economic marginalization under Chinese rule.

China's position is that the Uighurs who were sent back by Thailand had left the country illegally. Beijing has accused Uighur separatists of terrorism in Xinjiang, where ethnic violence has left hundreds of people dead over the past two years.

In 2015, a bomb blast near a popular Hindu shrine in Bangkok killed about 20 people and Thai police blamed the attack on Chinese Uighurs.


Meteorological Office warns of more rain in many parts of the country

NNT

Bangkok - Four provinces in the central and northeastern regions of Thailand have continued to battle against flooding with areas of the south, central and east told to be wary of flash floods and landslides due to a low pressure system currently prevailing over the Gulf of Thailand.

The Meteorological Department issued a statement Tuesday indicating the low pressure system will result in continued rains across the south, lower central and eastern regions.  Citizens in these areas have been asked to stay on the alert as they are at risk of flash floods and runoff.  Provinces likely to be the most severely affected include Ratchaburi, Samut Songkram, Samut Sakhon, Bangkok, Petchburi, Prachuapkirikan, Chumporn, Surat Thani, Ranong, Phangnga and Phuket.

A high pressure front that has moved from south China to Thailand’s north will also result in thundershowers and strong winds, which are expected to give way to lower temperatures over the next few days.

The Ministry of Interior has tasked its Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, along with other relevant agencies, to monitor and prepare against crisis situations and to prepare mobile units that can rapidly respond if floods hit.

The provinces of Phichit, Ayuthaya, Khon Kaen and Mahasarakam remain inundated with floodwater, but the Office of the Secretary-General of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has tapped relevant offices to aid in drainage and rehabilitation.


Culture Ministry calls for return of ancient Thai artifacts

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Culture is speeding up the process for the return of ancient Thai artifacts from overseas.

The ministry's ad hoc committee has called for the repatriation of artifacts that originated from Thailand and recently acknowledged the verification of 14 ancient items currently in the possession of the Honolulu Museum of Art in the United States.  These items include a pre-historic bell made of bronze, and a Buddha statue from Ayutthaya era.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has called for cooperation with Thailand to verify 69 further artifacts, all from pre-historic age and believed to originate from Thailand that are currently stored in museums in the United States.  They include bronze bracelets and painted pottery items.


Tourists generate 2.1 trillion baht during first 10 months

 

Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Sports, Pongpanu Svetarundra.

NNT

Bangkok - The Permanent Secretary for Tourism and Sports, Pongpanu Svetarundra, said arrivals to Thailand generated tourism revenue of more than 2.1 trillion baht during the first 10 months of 2017.

Pongpanu said international tourist arrivals stood at over two million in October, up 20.92 percent from a year ago.

Last month, most foreign arrivals were from East Asia, followed by visitors from Europe, South Asia, and North and South Americas respectively.

The Chinese remained the largest group, followed by the Malaysians and the Laotians, while the largest spenders were the Chinese, Russians and Malaysians, respectively.

From January to September this year, local tourists generated revenue of 695.2 billion baht, up 7.34 percent from the same period of 2016.


Update November 21, 2017

PM presides over 2017 International Fleet Review

NNT

Pattaya - Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the 2017 International Fleet Review commemorating the 50th anniversary of ASEAN in Pattaya on Monday.

Gen Prayut boarded HTMS Thalang and received a 19-gun salute by HTMS Pinklao. Afterwards, the premier led the ceremony to inspect the international fleet while aboard HTMS Thalang.  In the evening, Gen Prayut hosted a reception and dinner at the Dusit Thani Hotel, Pattaya.

The 2017 International Fleet Review included a total of 40 warships from Thailand, Australia, the United States, Russia, South Korea, China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and ASEAN member nations. It was the first-ever international fleet review ceremony to be held in Thailand.


300 billion baht for EEC development projects

NNT

Chonburi – The Ministry of Transport has said it will push ahead with its 300 billion baht infrastructure development investment projects in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) in 2018.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said his ministry has allocated a total investment budget of 309.6 billion baht for projects to improve the region’s infrastructure, including roads, rail, water, and air transport links.

A total of 103 development projects to support the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) with a total investment cost of 745.71 billion baht are also in place for the period from 2017-2021. These include the renovation of U-Tapao airport to better serve as an international airport and the establishment of an aircraft maintenance center, which will help enhance Thailand as a regional aviation hub.

With regards to the proposed common ticket system which will allow passengers to pay for different modes of transportation using one single card, the state authorities are in the process of negotiations with related agencies and business partners. It is expected that the common ticket system will be online and take effect in mid-2018.


Thailand to host ASEAN Conference on Reducing Marine Debris

 

NNT

Bangkok - Marine experts from 10 ASEAN member countries will be attending the ASEAN Conference on Reducing Marine Debris in ASEAN Region, which will be hosted by Thailand from November 22nd and 23rd at the JW Marriot Resort and Spa in Mai Khao beach, Phuket province.

Participants will include representatives from ASEAN countries' environmental ministries, an official representative from China, academic experts in marine studies and international conservation groups.

According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Thailand's 23 coastal provinces produce 10.7 million tons of waste every year, up to 10 percent of which is expected to be released into the sea.

Thailand needs to develop and improve the onshore management systems to reduce the amount of debris flowing into the rivers and the sea, UNEP said.


Thai economy to grow by 4% in Q3 :DPM Somkid

NNT

Bangkok - Deputy PM Somkid Jatusriphitak said at the 35th Chamber of Commerce seminar that the private sector has been playing an important role in driving forward Thailand's economy and has expressed his confidence that the economy can grow by four percent in the third quarter due to the government’s support for various infrastructure development mega-projects, which will help boost confidence among both Thai and foreign investors.

Somkid said investors in foreign countries are now showing an increasing interest in ASEAN markets and Thailand is ready to accommodate the inflow of foreign investment.

It is expected that the Thai economy next year will continue to expand and is likely to grow by over four percent due to increasing public and private investment projects.


Update November 20, 2017

Thai Navy holds rehearsal for this Monday’s international parade

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Thai Navy has preparing for the international military parade on Monday.

Adm Naris Pratoomsuwan, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy, traveled on Saturday to Pattaya to observe the final rehearsal for Monday’s parade which will feature 25 ships from 18 foreign navies and 13 ships from the Royal Thai Navy.

The parade is part of the historic International Fleet Review 2017 which is taking place to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN's establishment.

On Monday, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha will preside over the opening ceremony and review of the International Fleet. The ceremony will be witnessed by Adm Naris as well as navy chiefs and high-ranking officers from 40 countries around the world.

The fleet review is considered a significant event for the navy, usually conducted to showcase solidity of maritime forces. An idea that originated in England, a fleet review is generally divided into two types – Naval Vessel Parade and Naval Review or Fleet Review.


Central and southern regions can expect thundershowers

NNT

Bangkok - Thundershowers can be expected in all parts of Thailand until Tuesday except for the north and the northeast according to the Meteorological Department.

The Met office has reported that a tropical depression in the South China Sea has strengthened into a storm which is expected to move across central Vietnam and Cambodia between November 19 and 21, bringing with it heavy rainfall to Thailand’s eastern, southern, and central regions.

The department also warned people in affected regions of possible flashfloods and forest runoffs.

As for the northern and northeastern regions, the department said temperatures in many areas will drop 2-4 degrees Celsius as a result of a high air pressure in China.

Meanwhile in the southern Pattani province, local officers convened a meeting to review plans and measures to tackle natural disasters such as flooding, fire, and mudslides. Related agencies and rescue units have been asked to regularly check their vehicles and equipment.


Vice NLA President backs NCPO’s plan to ease ban on political movements

NLA vice president Peerasak Porjit.

NNT

Bangkok - A vice president of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has voiced his support for the National Council for Peace and Order's (NCPO) plan to relax restrictions on political activities in order to pave the way for municipal elections.

Second NLA vice president Peerasak Porjit said Saturday that he supported the NCPO's and the government’s plan to lift the ban on political activities related to local elections, adding that he personally agrees with the idea of holding municipal elections before a general election while urging the NCPO to wrap up investigations into the activities of local politicians so as to ensure a smooth and transparent process.

Peerasak is of the opinion that the plan to hold local elections prior to a national election is not to test the popularity of the NCPO or the government, but is meant to encourage the new generation to represent their communities.

However, if local elections are allowed, politicians and candidates will be asked to refrain from criticizing the NCPO and the administration.


Korat airport operates first chartered flights

NNT

Korat - Nakhon Ratchasima airport has operated its first chartered flights to accommodate a meeting of chambers of commerce and plans to operate new regular flights to Chiang Mai and Phuket next month.

Department of Airports Director-General Darun Saengchai revealed the agency had approved the operation of a chartered flight No. E3 7511 by New Gen Airways to fly from Nakhon Ratchasima to Surat Thani on 17 November 2017 in order to transport attendees of the 35th National Chambers of Commerce conference in the southern province.

The flight, operated by a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, is considered the inaugural service of a charter flight from Nakhon Ratchasima airport.

New Gen Airways will open regular daily flights between Nakhon Ratchasima - Chiang Mai, and Nakhon Ratchasima - Phuket starting on 3 December 2017.

Nakhon Ratchasima airport can process 300 passengers at its terminal and can accommodate three Boeing 737 aircraft at a time.


Update November 18-19, 2017

Public continues to visit Royal Crematorium

NNT

Bangkok - More than 900,000 people have visited the royal crematorium of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Sanam Luang since the beginning of the month.

Large crowds could be seen waiting to enter the royal funeral venue at Sanam Luang on Thursday. Many people revealed that they have visited the crematorium several times, while for some it was their first visit. All said they felt pride and gratitude towards His Majesty the late King for his commitment to the Thai people.

Police, soldiers and volunteers were stationed at the venue throughout the day to provide visitors with information about the royal crematorium, accommodate their needs, and ensure their safety. Many people expressed interest in the rice demonstration field located next to the royal crematorium. Volunteers have been working tirelessly to keep insects and birds away from the blooming rice plants.

Visitors are urged to enter the royal funeral venue at the entrance near Lukhun Pavilion. They will get to learn more about the ceremony and His Majesty the late King’s achievements during his lifetime at an exhibition held inside the Phra Thinang Songtham Pavilion.


120-ton stockpile of fireworks to be removed from Bangkok

NNT

Bangkok – Officials in Bangkok have ordered that a 120-ton stockpile of fireworks and firecrackers discovered in the Pom Prap Satru Pai district be removed within 3 days.

Bangkok Governor Pol Gen Assawin Kwanmuang led relevant authorities and Explosives Ordnance Division police to the warehouse where the contraband was found. The entire stockpile of firecrackers and fireworks was found to not have proper allowances and is thus in violation of the Public Health Act.

The up to 120,000 kilograms of fireworks are stored across three buildings of the warehouse, which is in a residential area and poses a danger to life and property.

The storage facility has been ordered cordoned off and its contents are to be moved out within 3 days. Transport of the goods is to take place at night to better ensure public safety. The haul is to go to a facility in Saraburi province.

The owner of the warehouse is being called in for questioning and to be charged.


Defense Minister wants nationwide CCTV cameras connected

NNT

Bangkok - Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan wants a strategic plan on developing a network of nationwide surveillance cameras devised, in an effort to promote safety in the country.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense, Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich disclosed Friday that a committee overseeing development of a public CCTV camera system has been instructed to collect information on the efficiency of surveillance cameras nationwide from public and state enterprise agencies.

This information will be used to develop the strategic plan to link all existing CCTV camera networks and create an effective surveillance camera management plan. The Defense Minister also told the Royal Thai Police Bureau and the Ministry of the Interior to install more CCTV cameras in crime-prone areas of the country for public safety.

The private sector will also be asked to cooperate with the government to allow their surveillance cameras to be connected to the public system.


Thunderstorms forecast for upper parts of Thailand this weekend

NNT

Bangkok - The Meteorological Department has forecast that the temperatures in upper parts of the country will drop, as a high pressure trough from China is moving further south towards the country.

Northern and Northeastern regions of Thailand will experience thunderstorms until Tuesday. Temperatures are also expected to decrease by 2 degrees Celsius.

Local residents are urged to keep warm and remain cautious when leaving their homes given strong winds during this time. The northeasterly wind in the Gulf of Thailand will become more powerful and bring heavy rains to certain parts of the South of Thailand.

Weather conditions in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand will not be suited to swimming and fishing activities. Waves could reach a maximum height of 2 meters. Residents of towns and cities in the south have been warned of possible flash floods.


Update November 17, 2017

Thailand kicks off Amazing Tourism Year 2018

NNT

Bangkok – The government held its “Amazing Thailand Tourism Year 2018” event this week to kick-off next year’s tourism campaign, aiming to disperse tourist spending across the provinces.

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Thanasak Patimaprakorn chaired the opening of the event, alongside Minister for Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, heads of other relevant agencies and consulates. The launch took place at Siam Discovery department store and was organized to announce the government’s intention to develop Thai tourism which, next year, will focus on economic stability, integration, promotion of quality tourism and support for Thai ways of life towards sustainability.

The event saw the dispatch of 6 Thai Tourism parades featuring the year’s emblem, a display of traditions from 5 different regions, Thai flavors, the colors of local festivals, sports tourism and a parade encouraging Thais to be good hosts. All 6 will travel to Suan Lumphini and remain open for viewing in the area of the King Rama V monument.

Gen Thanasak urged all Thais to serve as good hosts to convince visitors to return to Thailand, noting that 60-70 percent of tourists eventually come back to the country and that Thai tourism has grown significantly over the past 3 years. He said authorities are confident tourism expansion will meet a target of 7 percent this year and that the Kingdom will maintain its position as third in the world for tourism revenue.


Ranong seizes illegally-acquired farming plots

NNT

Ranong - A task force has reclaimed 480 acres of illegally-acquired land in Ranong province.

Officials, led by Governor Jatuphol Piyamputra, discovered that an area consisting of 19 plots of public grazing land in La-un district had been converted into oil palm and rubber plantations by capitalists from other provinces. The land plots are in fact reserved for local landless farmers.

Authorities are preparing to conduct a probe to identify the wrongdoers, against whom the assistant district officer in charge of security will file a police lawsuit. The confiscated land will later be distributed among impoverished villagers.


Uthai Thani ancient forest now open to tourists

NNT

Uthai Thani - Thailand's Uthai Thani province has kicked off the post-monsoon high season, inviting nature lovers to visit Tham Prathun Wildlife Non Hunting Area in Lan San district.

The winter months are an ideal time for visitors to explore the Hup Pa Tard ancient forest, which is also the breeding ground of the shocking pink dragon millipede. The spiny and toxic creature was placed third in the world’s top 10 new species unveiled in 2008 by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. The shocking pink dragon millipede can be seen between May and November.

Other must-sees include a 50-meter-long cave occupied by bats, rare Jurassic-period plants, stalagmites and stalactites. Officials and local children are on hand to offer information to sightseers.


Phayathai communities rail against high rises

NNT

Bangkok - Residents of eight communities in Bangkok’s Phayathai area have called on their district office to address the issue of high rise buildings being constructed without consultations in a public forum.

Representative of the Phayathai Conservation Association, Norarit Komarachun, accompanied by 10 other individuals made a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman. They are asking that the body inspect the work of Phayathai District Office for negligence, after several high rise buildings were erected in the area, impacting the quality of life of residents and likely violating the law.

Norarit remarked that Bangkok’s permission for commercial buildings in Phayathai area was made without consideration to the actual conditions and that the high rises have resulted in a slew of problems impacting residents. He accused local authorities of not seeking public opinion before moving forward with some projects.

One resident explained that her home had to be completely rebuilt after the construction of a nearby condominium resulted in structural damage to her house estimated at 30 million baht.

The community members are asking that all commercial building projects at present underway in the district be halted.


Update November 16, 2017

HM the King confers royal gifts on ‘Toon Bodyslam’

NNT

Bangkok - Rocker “Toon Bodyslam”, who is leading a fundraising campaign for 11 hospitals, has been granted special gifts from His Majesty the King.

At Bunjongburi Hotel in the capital district of Surat Thani province, Air Marshal Pakdee Saeng-xuto, His Majesty’s Deputy Principal Private Secretary, chaired the presentation of royal gifts to Athiwara Khongmalai, aka Toon Bodyslam, and his companions involved in their charity marathon campaign “Step by Step for 11 Hospitals across the Country”.

Before a royal portrait of His Majesty the King, Athiwara accepted the royally-granted items, which included a bouquet of flowers, food supplements and Thai desserts prepared by the royal kitchen. His Majesty’s representative relayed a royal message to the singer and his group, saying the King would like to offer them moral support and wished for their physical and mental strength to accomplish their goal.

Athiwara was on a one-day break after already running 572 kilometers from the southernmost province of Yala to Surat Thani while over 230 million baht has been raised in the campaign so far. With the destination set for Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai province, there remains another 1,619 kilometers to be completed.


Bangkok firefighters on front line of city's snake scourge

Fireman Phinyo Pukphinyo holds a python on garage roof in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Bangkok (AP) — When the latest distress call came into Phinyo Pukphinyo's fire station in Bangkok, it was not about a burning home or office building. Instead, the caller needed urgent help with a far more common problem facing Thailand's capital: snakes.

A 2-meter (10-foot) -long python was dangling from the caller's garage roof, and after rushing to the scene, it took Phinyo less than a minute to remove the slithering reptile.

The number of snakes ending up in urban homes is on the rise in Bangkok, apparently in part because of development pains in thisvast metropolis of about 10 million people. Thailand's has 300 species of snakes and 10 percent are venomous — including king cobras, kraits and pit vipers — making many city dwellers fearful of dealing with the creatures themselves.

Tara Buakamsri, Thailand country director for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the city is seeing more snakes because it sits on a "flood plain with a wetland ecosystem, which is a habitat for amphibians, including snakes," and housing expansions in recent years have curtailed their land.

Firemen Uten Kana left, and Phinyo Pukphinyo put a golden tree snake into a water bottle after catching it at a house in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Bangkok's low-lying landscape makes it prone to floods during the rainy season, which also invites snakes and other reptiles such as monitor lizards.

The huge python Phinyo's team caught was not the first of the day, or the last. Hours later, the station was called to remove a green snake found in the bathroom of another Bangkok resident, who apologized to the firefighters for calling them for the third time this year.

"I've been living in this house for 20 years and we would very rarely see any snakes," said the caller and homeowner, Chanun Chisa. "But this year, it seems like we see one every few months."

Phinyo said his fire station gets more calls to catch snakes than to put out fires.

"In a day, we can get several calls to catch snakes," he said. "I think people have just started to become aware that they can call officials up to deal with it. Beforehand, people used to handle the snakes themselves, using sticks to hit them and that kind of thing."

He said he can now identify most types of snakes and has become an in-house instructor who teaches other firefighters how to safely capture the wriggly reptiles.

"We have no choice but to learn how to handle them," Phinyo said.

Piya Saereerak, a veterinarian who works for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, said Bangkok's snake invasion is sustained by the city's growing piles of trash, which subsequently leads to more rats and birds — favored prey for serpents.

The Thai capital is producing more trash every year, and struggles to get rid of it. It has produced around 10,454 tons of trash per day this year, up from 8,943 tons daily in 2011, according to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

"In the wild, you'd have eagles and big birds that eat snakes, and their eggs are food for other reptiles," Piya said. "But in a big city like Bangkok, there is nothing hunting them."

Piya heads a wildlife clinic that takes in around 300 to 400 snakes a month from rescuers such as firefighters in Bangkok. Every week, the staff from his clinic releases truckloads of snakes caught in the city into the jungle.

City authorities say the number of snakes caught in Bangkok homes has risen exponentially in recent years, from 16,000 reported cases in 2013 to about 29,000 in 2016. Figures for the first half of 2017 are over 30 percent higher than last year.

Penchom Saetang, director of the environmental foundation Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand, said Bangkok is producing more trash each year because the city is quickly expanding under an insufficient waste management system.

A July 2017 Greenpeace report notes there are 2,490 waste management centers around the country, but only 466 of them working properly.

Piya's advice to Bangkok's residents is to keep the city clean in order to keep the snakes away. He said most snakes found in Bangkok homes and apartments are harmless, "but if you spot a venomous one, firemen will be there to help."


Rayong to construct breakwaters to reduce economic losses

(Photo/TAT-Rayong)

NNT

Rayong - Relevant agencies in Rayong province plan to construct breakwater structures to protect the shoreline against erosion, which has resulted in economic losses and environmental damage.

The Deputy Governor of Rayong, Theerawat Sudsuk, said the Joint Public and Private Sector Consultative Committee (JPPSCC) and the Governor of Rayong, Surasak Charoensirichote, previously held a meeting in September 2017 to talk about the long-term effects of coastal erosion, which has become more severe. After the meeting, the provincial governor decided to set up a committee to determine the feasibility of building breakwaters that will span 105 kilometers along the shoreline in Muang, Klaeng and Ban Chang districts.

Theerawat said different sectors in the province had a meeting November 14 to discuss integrating project management and budget allocation concerning the breakwater construction plan. The findings will then be forwarded to the provincial governor and the JPPSCC for further consideration.


Ministry of Labour: Zero illegal migrant workers by March 2018

Permanent Secretary for Labor, Jarin Chakkaphark, left, greets Peter Haymond, Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Wednesday, Nov. 15.

NNT

Bangkok - The Thai government plans to achieve the target of zero illegal migrant workers by March 31, 2018.

The Permanent Secretary for Labor, Jarin Chakkaphark, said he had a meeting with the Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Peter Haymond, and his entourage at the Ministry of Labor to exchange ideas on tackling child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking.

Jarin said the US Council will send its staff to Thailand next week to monitor the country's efforts to combat forced labor and oversee migrant workers in different sectors, including the fisheries sector.

The Permanent Secretary said the Thai government is determined to address all labor issues and has set a target of zero illegal migrant workers in the country after March 31 next year. Once all migrant workers have registered with the state, they will be protected by both Thai and international laws.

Jarin said the Ministry of Labor has also been working with many relevant agencies including the Department of Fisheries, the Marine Department, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a bid to remove restrictions on Thai seafood exports.


Update November 15, 2017

Thailand observes Father of Royal Rainmaking Day

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand commemorated "Father of Royal Rainmaking Day" on Tuesday, taking the opportunity to honor His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Up and down the country, government officials chaired ceremonies and laid flowers in front of images of His Majesty King Rama IX.

His Majesty initiated the royal rainmaking program on November 14, 1955 and subsequently committed his efforts to supporting research on and the development of rainmaking technology, which has provided vital relief for farmers during times of drought.

The project serves as a model for many Asian countries, which have asked for assistance from Thailand in rainmaking. Officials from such countries as Indonesia, Bangladesh, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Sri Lanka have traveled to Thailand to train in the science of rainmaking.

His Majesty’s technique was registered with the World Meteorological Organization in 1982. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of His Majesty’s accession to the throne, WMO presented an award to His Majesty in recognition of his strong support for meteorological and operational hydrology. The award presentation took place in 1997 and came in the form of a certificate and a barometer.

Later, the cabinet in August 2002 endorsed the proposal by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives for the title of the Father of Royal Rainmaking to honor His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It also agreed to designate 14 November each year Father of Royal Rainmaking Day.


Authorities issue warnings of potent new sleeping pill

NNT

Bangkok - Authorities are warning citizens of a new sedative they have tracked spreading throughout the southern region, reporting that the drug “Etizolam” is 10 times more potent than average sleeping pills and can be deadly.

Director of the Department of Medical Sciences, Dr Sukum Kanjanapimai indicated that many citizens in the three border provinces have been using Etizolam without proper medical guidance. The pill is orange and circular in shape and often has a number 5 printed on it. It comes in blue aluminum packs of 10 and is purported to be from Japan. Tests however have shown that most Etizolam being sold and used is fake and contains Nimetazepam, a type 2 narcotic.

The drug is 10 times more potent than other commercial brands and is prescribed in other countries to treat cases of psychosis, depression and insomnia but comes with side effects such as muscle fatigue, slurred speech, inability to walk and drowsiness. Use over a one month period can result in damage to the respiratory system and lead to death.

Thailand has not registered Etizolam for public use and the Department of Medical Sciences has asked all relevant agencies to ensure that citizens do not use the drug.


Tourists complying with smoking ban on Phuket beaches

NNT

Phuket - Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources Director-General Jatuporn Buruspat says that no tourists have been found smoking on Patong Beach following the issuance of the new smoking ban.

Jatuporn visited Patong Beach, one of the 24 beaches in Phuket where the ban has been enforced, and found that tourists are complying with the new rule and are smoking only in designated areas.

26 locations have been designated for smoking to keep the beach clean. It has also been found that the number of smokers in the vicinity of the beach has declined.

Jatuporn added that the Ministry of Public Health is currently drafting a law to prohibit smoking in public places.


Road safety measures to be rolled out ahead of New Year holidays

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand's Ministry of Transport has sought road safety advice from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) of Japan to help prevent road accidents during the New Year holidays.

Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith met with MLIT representatives to discuss road safety measures under a memorandum of understanding on road safety between the two countries.

Roads and highways are expected to be crowded across the country during the holiday period. Safety measures, such as erecting speed limit signs and painting the road in red to remind drivers to slow down, will be implemented in 4 provinces including Suphanburi, Khon Kaen, Uttaradit and Phetchabun.

The Ministry of Transport and the MLIT will jointly conduct a study on road safety and use existing technology to reduce road fatalities in Thailand.


Update November 14, 2017

Meteor shower visible over all parts of Thailand Friday night

 

A meteor is shown during the peak of the 2009 Leonid Meteor Shower. (Photo/Wikipedia/Navicore Meteor Photos)

NNT

Bangkok - A Leonid meteor shower will be visible in a clear night sky over all Thailand on Friday, November 17.

National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) Director Saran Poshyachinda said the Leonid meteor shower will be visible over the sky in all parts of the country starting from midnight on Friday until dawn.

The meteor shower will be most visible from 2.00 a.m. until early Saturday morning over the northeastern sky near the Leo constellation which is the center of the shower.

Such natural phenomena are visible on moonless nights with 10-15 meteors per hour. The Leonid meteor shower is considered the brightest as the objects move through the earth's atmosphere at the rate of 71 kilometers per second.

Saran suggested that observers should lay down face up to the sky to observe the meteor shower in a completely dark, open place as the center of the shower will be right overhead.

The NARIT chief added that Leonids were formed when meteoroids from the 55P/Tempel-Tuttle comet were ejected by the comet as its frozen gases evaporated under the heat of the Sun.  They then fell into the path of Earth’s orbit and ignite due to friction with the atmosphere.


Laem Chabang port expansion scheme talked over with investors

Laem Chabang sea port,

NNT

Chonburi - Deputy Transport Minister Pichit Akrathit has discussed co-investment plans for the third phase expansion of Laem Chabang sea port with a selection of private companies.

Akrathit said the private firms, including Nathalin Group, Ngowhock, and Global Inter, have expressed opinions about the investment scheme which may start as late as 2025.

The development will first require the Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) which will take approximately 2 years from 2017, followed by the construction of basic infrastructure, the excavation of navigating canals, and land reclamation which will take approximately 4 years, and the selection of private companies responsible for the operation of port, construction, and the procurement of machinery in a three-year time frame prior to opening.

The entire process of the third-phase development will take about eight years, said the deputy minister, with some overlapping schedules along the way.

The participating companies involved in the talks called for the Ministry of Transport to expedite the process as Thailand is in need of more port capacity due to the increasing amount of containers being shipped in the market, and that private companies are ready to invest in the project.

The Port Authority of Thailand initially expressed the potential to streamline the company selection process, which will allow the development of the project to commence before 2025.


Defense Minister calls for crackdown on transnational criminals

NNT

Bangkok - The Deputy Prime Minister for Security Affairs has ordered security mechanisms to eradicate foreign criminals currently in the nation, especially those operating in important areas such as Bangkok, along the border and in other major cities.

Ministry of Defense Spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantrawanich announced Monday that operations are ongoing to do away with foreign influential elements operating in the country and denting its image with the number of overstay foreigners in the nation now around 100,000.  Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered soldiers, police and administrators to step up work to rid the Kingdom of transnational criminals.

He said foreign criminals are present in the guise of tourists in Bangkok and major cities such as Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Songkla, Phuket and Samui with most engaged in narcotics and weapons dealing, human trafficking, document forgery, jewelry forgery, gambling and telemarketing fraud.

Lt Gen Kongcheep said that the actions of such criminals hurt the nation in terms of both image and economics. Authorities have apprehended over 300 foreign criminals in recent times and seized large amounts of contraband.


Child allowance to increase to 600 baht in 2018

NNT

Bangkok - The Social Security Office (SSO), under the Ministry of Labour, said the monthly allowance for each child of workers joining the government's social security scheme will be increased from 400 baht to 600 baht as a New Year gift for Thai people.

The office’s secretary general, Suradej Waleeitthikul, said the SSO’s advisory committee meeting on Sunday (November 12) approved an increase of the monthly allowance rate for each child not over six years of age.  He said the committee had also directed the SSO to accelerate the amendment process in order that the new regulation can take effect from January 1, 2018.

Suradej said the increase in the child allowance is in line with the higher prices of infant food and products and will lead to the sustainable improvement of the quality of life of the people in the country as a whole.


DAILY UPDATE

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