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Update October 2017


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Update October 27 - 31 , 2017

Thailand grieves in elaborate final goodbye to revered HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej

His MajestyKing Maha Vajiralongkorn takes part in the funeral of his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, Thursday, Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Kittinun Rodsupan)

Tassanee Vejpongsa and Stephen Wright

Bangkok (AP) — With solemn faces and outright tears, Thais said farewell to their king and father figure with elaborate funeral ceremonies that cap a year of mourning and are steeped in centuries of tradition.

Smoke rises from the royal crematorium of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok, early Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Smoke rose just before midnight Thursday from the spectacularly ornate crematorium built in the year since HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej died. On Friday morning, his son, current King Maha Vajiralongkorn, participated in a religious ceremony to move his father's ashes to special locations for further Buddhist rites.

The five-day funeral rites began Wednesday with HM King Vajiralongkorn performing Buddhist merit-making rites and on Thursday, a ceremonial urn representing King Bhumibol's remains were transferred from the Dusit Maha Prasad Throne Hall to the crematorium in somber processions involving thousands of troops, a golden palanquin, a gilded chariot and a royal gun carriage.

The urn, placed under a nine-tiered white umbrella and accompanied by a palace official, was hoisted into the main chamber of the golden-spired crematorium as monks chanted, traditional instruments wailed and artillery fired in the distance. The King then climbed the red-carpeted steps to light candles and incense in honor of his father.

On a day designated a public holiday in the kingdom, tens of thousands of mourners dressed all in black watched the processions from streets in Bangkok's royal quarter and millions more watched broadcasts aired live on most TV stations and shown at designated viewing areas across the country.

Before dawn, 63-year-old Somnuk Yonsam-Ar sat on a paper mat in a crowd opposite the Grand Palace. Her granddaughter slept in her lap and her husband rested his head against a metal barrier. The family came from the coastal province of Rayong, where they run a food stall.

Somnak waved a fan to cool herself but said she was not tired.

"I feel blessed to be able to sit here, and be part of this," she said. "It's an important day for us."

The ceremonial urn was at the center of Thursday's processions, including one led by His Majesty the current king when the golden container was placed upon the Great Victory Chariot. Built in 1795 and made of gilded and lacquered carved wood, the chariot has been used to carry the urns of royal family members dating to the start of the Chakri dynasty.

As the chariot, pulled by hundreds of men in traditional red uniforms, passed the mourners lining the parade route, they prostrated themselves, pressing their folded hands and head on the ground in a show of reverence.

In the evening, a symbolic cremation was witnessed by royalty and high-ranking officials from 42 countries. Orange-robed monks chanted Buddhist prayers to bless King Bhumibol's spirit as the official guests waited to walk into the crematorium to make offerings of flowers made from sandalwood.

TV stations broadcast classical masked dances and traditional puppet shows as the country awaited word that the cremation had taken place inside the edifice built to represent mystical Mount Meru, where Buddhist and Hindu gods are believed to dwell.

Further rites then began Friday morning and involved transferring King Bhumibol's ashes and relics to the Grand Palace and the Temple of The Emerald Buddha for further Buddhist rites. They are set to be enshrined in spiritually significant locations on the last day of the funeral.

The funeral is by design an intensely somber event, but also rich in history and cultural and spiritual tradition.

Boonjerd Buasawat, a 61-year-old fruit vendor from the resort island of Phuket, waited near the cremation site since midday Wednesday and slept there overnight.

"I want to be here together with a group of people who dearly love their king," he said. "Our love won't die until we too pass and follow him."

Thais braved tropical heat and torrential monsoon rains to secure street-side vantage points to witness the funeral.

Thousands of police and volunteers were on hand to ensure order and entry into the historic royal quarter was tightly controlled.

 

The symbolic urn of HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is transported to the spectacular golden crematorium during the funeral procession in Bangkok, Thursday, Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Kittinun Rodsupan)

Soldiers pay their respects at the funeral procession and royal cremation ceremony of His Majesty late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in Bangkok, Thursday, Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Kittinun Rodsupan)

 The ceremonial urn on HM the late King arrives at the crematorium during the funeral procession on Thursday. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

A mourner prays in a sea of black umbrellas at the funeral procession and royal cremation ceremony in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Thai mourners, carrying a portrait of HM late King Bhumibol Adulyadej gather in front of a replica of the royal crematorium in Bangkok, Thursday, Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Thai officials hug as smoke rises from the royal crematorium in Bangkok, early Friday, Oct. 27. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)


Thais abroad bid farewell to late King at embassies

NNT

Bangkok - Thai nationals in foreign countries participated in the royal cremation ceremony for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Thai embassies or Thai temples where the sandalwood flower offering ceremony was organized.

The ceremony was broadcast live from Bangkok on Thursday, allowing the Thais expats to bid farewell and pay homage to the late monarch.

The ceremony in foreign countries was presided over by respective Thai ambassadors or military attaches, with volunteers providing assistance to attendees.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier collected special sandalwood flower bouquets from Thai communities abroad as tokens of their loyalty to the late King. The bouquets were places in one of the pavilions in the royal crematorium.


Mhong villagers walk over 30 kilometers to pay homage to HM the late King

NNT

Chiang Mai - Over 400 Mhong hill tribe people residing on Doi Pui mountain in Chiang Mai province, traveled on foot Thursday to take part in a sandalwood flower laying ceremony for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej as a sign of remembrance of His Majesty’s care.

The hill tribe people from Doi Pui Village and Baan Kun Chang Kian traveled on foot over 30 kilometers to the royal crematorium replica at Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Village headman for Doi Pui, Metaphan Fuangfukijakarn, remarked that the walk was organized as a way to bid farewell to His Majesty the late King and is symbolic of his travels to enrich the hill tribe people of Thailand.

The villagers sang songs exalting His Majesty the late King during their walk and stopped in front of Bhubing Palace to honor an image of the late King before arriving at the sandalwood flower laying venue.


Sweden honors HM the late King Bhumibol in traditional royal ceremony

 

NNT

Stockholm - Sweden honored HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand in a traditional ceremony at the Royal Palace on Thursday.

Sweden’s Guards of Honor brought HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Coat of Arms as the Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim — the Swedish foremost order from the Royal Palace in Stockholm - to a Transfer Ceremony parade in which a bell was rung in honor for one hour.

The Guards of Honor then placed HM the late King’s Coat of Arms at Riddarholm Church in the Swedish capital city — the burial church of the Swedish monarchs.

HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was presented with Sweden’s Royal Seraphim Coat-of-Arms on April 5, 1950.


Update October 25 - 26 , 2017

Rehearsals for royal cremation ceremony of HM the late King held nationwide

NNT

Bangkok - Rehearsals for the upcoming royal cremation ceremony of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej have beentaking place nationwide ahead of the actual ceremony this Thursday.

In Bangkok, the Royal Thai Army carried out a rehearsal Tuesday for the sandalwood flower laying ceremony at the main funeral site, Sanam Luang.

In Phichit, local government officials and volunteers attended the flower ceremony rehearsal and observed Likay performances at the funeral site to ensure the province's readiness.

In Chiang Rai, provincial governor Narongsak Osottanakorn led a group of government officials in a rehearsal at Airport Squadron 416. Around 100,000 people are expected to turn up for the funeral ceremony here on Thursday.

Mourners attending the royal funeral ceremonies must wear modest, black clothing. Women are not allowed to wear short skirts, short-sleeve shirts or singlets. Men should not roll up their sleeves or wear jeans to the ceremony.


Chao Phraya River communities receive warning as flooding continues

NNT

Loei - Thailand's Royal Irrigation Department (RID) has advised citizens living along the Chao Phraya River to prepare for more flooding due to increased discharges from the Chao Phraya Dam, while Loei province has reported inundation from forest run off following heavy rains.

Run off from the Phu Luang Animal Preserve has put villages in Wang Sapung district of Loei province under 3-4 meters of water, submerging many vehicles in the area. The waters are now flowing into other communities and have prompted calls for residents to move their belongings to higher ground.

Highway authorities in Khon Kaen province, meanwhile, have lined the sides of roads with sandbags to prevent water flowing onto highways in the area of Baan Nong Hin. Previously, water flowing across roads was obstructing traffic. The situation remains worrisome for residents in the area, who say a rise of another 20-30 centimeters will result in their homes being flooded.

Around Ubol Ratana reservoir, a steady influx of water has resulted in overflow into Non Sang and Sri Boon Ruang districts. A 2 kilometer stretch of road between the 2 areas has been made impassable by up to 80 centimeters of water.

In Uthai Thani, the Chao Phraya River has begun to rise, resulting in an increased water level in the Sakrakrang River, which is 62 centimeters over its critical height. The province has issued a warning to communities along the banks of both rivers.


Officer who transported ex-PM to border suspended from duty

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand's Acting Commander of the Metropolitan Police has signed an order removing Pol Col Chairit Anurit from duty, due to the alleged assistance he provided in the sudden departure from Thailand of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Pol Lt Gen Chanthep Sesavej, said he has signed the order after a fact finding committee found Anurit guilty of violating subsection 1 of the police code section 78, which stipulates that an officer must “act with honesty, truth and morality in accordance with the police code, Cabinet resolutions and the ethical policies of the police force and government”.

Anurit was also found to be in violation of section 79 (6), “bringing harm to the civil service institution”, after allegedly assisting ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra to leave the country via Sa Kaeo province ahead of the reading of the verdict in a case relating to her government’s rice pledging scheme. A body to decide on his punishment has now been formed and it will report to the Royal Thai Police office.

Meanwhile, a test of DNA samples found in the Toyota Camry, alleged to have transported Yingluck to the border, has yet to confirm that she was in the vehicle.


Cabinet approves bill in aid of people involved in anti-corruption work

Government spokesperson Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkumnerd.

NNT

Bangkok - The Cabinet has endorsed a draft law on the support and protection of people who are engaged in the fight against corruption.

After the weekly Cabinet meeting, government spokesperson Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkumnerd disclosed that the Cabinet gave the green light to the draft law which was proposed by the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission to ensure support and safety for those contributing to anti-corruption efforts in the country.

The bill will in the near future be forwarded to the National Legislative Assembly for final consideration. Once approved and enacted, it would lay down directions, methods and mechanisms in support of public members in raising awareness against corruption and reporting irregularities or corrupt practices to responsible organizations.

A committee would be established to specifically provide protection for any informants. Should such individuals be harassed or threatened by influential figures or state officials, the latter would be subjected to severe punishment.


Update October 24 , 2017

HM the King advises opening of more public viewing spaces for royal funeral

NNT

Bangkok - His Majesty the King has instructed the government to allocate more areas for people to observe the royal cremation ceremony at Sanam Luang while the government is satisfied with the recent full-dress rehearsals of royal funeral processions.

Government spokesperson Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkumnerd confirmed the government’s full readiness to organize the royal cremation ceremony for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej this October 26. He pointed out that the grand rehearsals of all six royal funeral processions were conducted smoothly over the weekend, with only some minute details still to be improved on the actual day. He gave assurances that the ceremony will be free of glitches, given all officials involved are strongly committed to serving the late King for one last time.

According to the government spokesman, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn has offered royal advice to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, saying additional viewing areas should be designated for spectators during the royal funeral. His Majesty urged the government not to be overly stringent with rules and regulations so as to allow mourners to visit the ceremonial ground with ease.

Nonetheless, Lt Gen Sansern insisted that more public relations work and guidelines need to be put in place for certain codes of conduct, such as the dress code and photography code. In addition, since people mostly entered the Sanam Luang area through the checkpoint near Royal Rattanakosin Hotel during the rehearsals, they will now be made aware of all other available entrances in a bid to reduce congestion.


Thailand marks King Chulalongkorn Day

NNT

Bangkok - People across the country paid respects and demonstrated their gratitude on Monday to His Majesty King Rama V on the occasion of King Chulalongkorn Day.

In Bangkok, the Prime Minister accompanied members of his Cabinet in laying a garland at Dusit Palace to mark the 107th anniversary of the passing of the illustrious King.  They were joined by civil servants, private organizations and students and teachers from various schools.

King Chulalongkorn Day, or Piyamaharaj Day, is celebrated on October 23 each year to commemorate the demise of King Rama V, who was revered both by Thais and foreigners for his great works, which included ending slavery in the country, reforming the education system and bringing the Kingdom up to date with the modern world of his time.


Flooding still severe in many parts of the country

NNT

Khon Kaen - Citizens in the lower north, central and northeastern regions continue to suffer from flood conditions with water levels not showing any sign of receding.

Royal Irrigation Department staff have been joined by soldiers and local administrative officials in Khon Kaen province’s Baan Lad Na Piang community to setup a Big Bag barrier to hold off the Lam Huay Yai waterway, which is taking on 1.5 million cubic meters of water per day and storing the excess in the area’s rice farms. Authorities believe it will take up to 1,000 Big Bags to adequately safeguard communities.

High water has remained in the province’s Nam Pong, Muang and Ubol Ratana districts and still shows signs of expansion. Earthen barriers have been increased by 50 centimeters in height and are now stretching 10 kilometers to keep water out of rice fields. Ubol Ratana Dam has nonetheless begun to drop in level and it is expected that if rains continue to hold off, officials will be able to decrease its discharge rate and allow flooding to subside.

In Ayuthaya province, heavy rains have again raised water levels with Bang Ban, Bang Sai, Pak Hai, Sena, Bang Ba Han, Maharaj, Bang Pa In and Phra Nakorn Si Ayuthaya districts all flooded, impacting some 30,000 households. Deputy Governor Rewat Prasong has ordered relief efforts to focus on providing dry roadways so that transportation and travel can resume.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha has ordered governors under the Ministry of the Interior and soldiers under the Ministry of Defense to establish temporary shelters and evacuation centers as well as close assistance. He has urged citizens to heed official instructions and not to remove sandbags from barriers.


Live royal cremation ceremony screening at Suvarnabhumi airport

 

NNT

Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi Airport will display the live broadcast of the royal cremation ceremony on screens in both its departure and arrivals halls, to allow passengers to follow the momentous occasion, seeing it also as an opportunity to promote traditional Thai customs to international visitors.

Screens running the broadcast will be located in the departures hall at entrance 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8 as well as in every gate holding area. The jumbo screen behind Row D of the check-in counters will also be displaying the ceremony.

Additionally, screens will be placed in the arrival hall at Exit A, and the passenger waiting hall at entrance 10.

A shuttle bus transporting passengers from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the ceremony grounds will be provided, departing from entrance 8 on the ground floor, where the live broadcast will also be run.


Update October 23 , 2017

Government produces special Royal Cremation pins

NNT

Bangkok - As the royal cremation of HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej approaches, the government has prepared special commemorative pins for the public to keep, in addition to banknotes, coins and photos with images or photographs of the dearly-beloved monarch and the royal family.

The pins are intended as memorabilia that anyone can wear to remember the passing of the beloved king that has continued to sadden millions of people.

The design of the special pins is a hexagon, with one side displaying the initial of HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the other side showing an engraved Thai phrase that can be literally translated as the royal cremation ceremony along with the Thai numerals “2560” which is the Buddhist year equivalent to this year.

Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office Sompas Nilapund said the first batch of 40,000 special pins was released Sunday at a unit price of 300 baht and with the condition that one person is allowed to buy up to two pieces only.


Three more zones to be set up to accommodate mourners on Oct 26

NNT

Bangkok - A committee responsible for facilitating the cremation ceremony of HM the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej has decided to designate three additional accommodation areas for spectators and mourners who will be observing the royal funeral procession this coming Thursday, October 26.

Surrounding the Grand Palace, the three areas are located on Maha Rat Road, Thai Wang Road, and Sanam Chai Road.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Transport has been giving out 300,000 pamphlets containing travel instructions for commuters, motorists, and those planning to attend the cremation ceremony. Information related to the funeral can also be obtained from Hotline 1441 or by visiting www.kingrama9.net.


Airports & hospitals prepared for floods

 

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Airports (DOA) has beefed up its flood prevention and response measures as the protracted monsoon season continues to put several provinces under water.

DOA Director-General Darun Sangchai, said that all 28 airports under the care of the DOA remain unaffected by floods. Still, they have been instructed to install high-powered water pumps and Big Bag flood barriers around their facilities as a precaution. Special attention is being given to airports in the southern and eastern provinces where aspects of the monsoon season will continue into November.

Meanwhile, MOPH Permanent-Secretary Dr. Jessada Chokdamrongsuk, has disclosed that the ongoing floods have affected 75 hospitals in 17 provinces in the Northeast, East and central region. However, all of them can attend to patients as usual. Eleven health promoting hospitals in Ayutthaya and Singburi are providing patient services elsewhere as their facilities are undergoing repairs.


Dignitaries from 30 countries to attend royal cremation ceremony

NNT 

Bangkok - Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai says at least 30 countries have notified the ministry that they will be taking part in the cremation ritual of HM the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Thursday, October 26, adding that the number of high-profile participants could change as the ministry is still awaiting other confirmations.

When asked if every country is invited, Don said the ministry does not send out invitations but these countries have informed the Thai government on their own that they would be attending the funeral. He noted that Thailand welcomes every guest and visitor from overseas.

In terms of readiness, Don said Thai embassies and consulates around the world have been preparing and are now ready for the upcoming funeral flower ceremony, but the exact time and date is yet to be confirmed.


Update October 21-22 , 2017

Police caution sellers of merchandise with HM the late King’s image

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Thai Police says printing images of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej or the Royal Crematorium on articles of clothing for sale is considered extremely inappropriate and should not be done.

Police have already discovered instances of such activity and reminded sellers that use of the royal image requires permission.

Royal Thai Police Spokesman, Pol Gen Wirchai Songmettha says that while there are no specific laws against such activity, the unpermitted use of any organization’s imagery can be considered illegal, and urged society to join in shunning sellers and producers of the inappropriate merchandise.

The announcement came as Metropolitan Police dispatched a contingent of over 300 volunteers who will be offering assistance to people taking part in the royal funeral proceedings. Deputy Commander of the Metropolitan Police Pol Maj Gen Sompong Chingduang chaired the event to dispatch the volunteers, who will join 267 police, 24 soldiers and 17 municipal workers operating 15 cars and 58 motorcycles during the event to aid citizens.

Pol Maj Gen Sompong indicated that Metropolitan Police 1 and 6 would take the lead in the operations, which will include managing traffic to and from the ceremonial proceedings.


Thailand launches world's first reference book in Thai herbs

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Medical Sciences has launched the world’s first reference book on Thai medicinal herbs, in an attempt to lower imports of foreign medicines.

Public Health Minister Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn revealed that the book is intended to provide information on alternatives to modern overseas drugs. The book was also published by in honor of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The reference volume describes the medicinal properties of 70 types of Thai herbs. The department spent two years studying and compiling information on these plants.

The most popular herbs used by Thais are turmeric, green chiretta, and centella. Manufacturers can also use this book as a reference to produce herbal products.

The use of herbal medicines has become so popular that the herb industry generates 14 billion baht per year. To promote the use of Thai herbs, the government has developed the first national herb development plan for 2017-2021.


Vegetarian food festival begins nationwide

NNT

Bangkok - Chinese shrines and food operators in different provinces started distributing and selling vegan meals on Friday as the annual Vegan Festival got underway.

In the southernmost province of Yala, the local shrine of Yala City Municipality is offering free meals three times a day. Members of the public are welcome to donate money and food staples for the charity food project.

In Songkhla, Viva Hotel has put up a street kitchen offering zero-meat dishes for 40-60 baht per item. The campaign has been warmly received by residents and visitors.

In the central province of Nakhon Sawan, Governor Thanakhom Jongjira presided over the opening ceremony of the Vegan Festival at the local Chinese shrine of Nakhon Sawan Municipality. Participants were treated to a 20-course buffet.

Those observing the vegan festival said they planned to strictly forgo meat for 10 days as a tribute to HM the late King and for their own health’s sake. The festival continues until 28th October.


NBTC agrees with lowering fees for digital tv operators

NBTC Commissioner, Takorn Tantasith.

NNT

Bangkok – The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has decided to lower digital television fees to aid business operators.

NBTC Commissioner, Takorn Tantasith, announced that a recent meeting of the panel gave its approval to a reconsideration of the licensing fee for digital television to help operators of TV services.

The adjustments will mandate that TV companies with revenue less than 100 million baht will continue to pay a fee of 0.125 percent of their income, those earning 100-500 million baht will pay 0.25 percent, 500 million to 1 billion baht will result in a charge of 0.5 percent, revenue between 1 and 5 billion baht will be subject to 0.75 percent and those generating over 5 billion baht in annual revenue will pay a fee of 1.5 percent.

Current fees are based on intervals starting from 5 million baht, 5 to 50 million baht, 50 to 500 million baht, 500 million to 1 billion baht and above 1 billion with rates going from 0.5 percent to 2 percent.

The adjustment is to be included in the third announcement on frequency licenses, which is expected to be issued for public discussion before taking effect late this year or early next.


Update October 20 , 2017

HM the King grants flames for use in royal cremation in Thailand, overseas

NNT

Bangkok - His Majesty the King has presented the Prime Minister with royal flames, which will be distributed to officials in all provinces of Thailand and in foreign countries to use in the upcoming royal cremation ceremony.

On Wednesday, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun granted an audience to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as well as the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and all provincial governors at Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall, Dusit Palace.

His Majesty conferred on the Prime Minister royal flames, which are to be lit at the 85 royal crematorium replicas in all 77 provinces and at ceremonial sites in 94 other countries worldwide during the royal cremation of His Majesty the late King Rama IX this October 26.

Following the royal audience, Gen Prayut proceeded to Santi Maitree Building, Government House, where he hosted a ceremony to pass on the royal flames to the responsible officials. All provincial governors received the flames from the royal lantern while the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs was given a fire chest, which will be used to deliver the flames to foreign countries.


Facebook knocks back PM's Zuckerberg meeting

Associated Press

Bangkok — Facebook says its top executives aren't coming to Thailand, two days after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced CEO Mark Zuckerberg would meet him this month.

Facebook said in a one-sentence statement Thursday, "There are no plans currently for any of our senior leaders to visit Thailand."

Thailand and the social media giant have had a strained relationship this year. Facebook has irked the government by being a platform for critics and in May a regulator threatened to block the popular site.

The PM told reporters Tuesday he was scheduled to meet with Zuckerberg on Oct. 30.

"Please don't link our meeting to any other issues," Prayuth said. "To talk and exchange opinions would be better than for us to not meet at all."

A deputy government spokesman, Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak, said Thursday that the Prime Minister announced the meeting with Zuckerberg to reporters after he was briefed by Thailand's Board of Investment.

Last December, authorities declared it illegal to exchange information on the internet with three prominent government critics.  An official statement advised all citizens not to follow, contact, share or engage in any other activity that would result in sharing information from the three, who all live outside Thailand.

Facebook, which is blocked in a number of authoritarian countries including China, has said it relies on local governments to notify it of information they deem illegal.

"If, after careful legal review, we find that the content is illegal under local law we restrict it as appropriate and report the restriction in our Government Request Report," Facebook has said in past statements outlining its policy.


MOPH warns residents of flood related diseases

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand's Ministry of Public Health has urged people in flooded areas to take protective measures against flood related diseases, particularly leptospirosis and conjunctivitis.

Permanent Secretary of the Public Health Ministry, Dr. Jessada Chokdamrongsuk, has instructed officials at health centers in flooded areas to prepare measures to counter the possibility of infectious outbreaks.

Leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans through cuts and abrasions of the skin, or through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Quoting the latest figures, Dr. Jessada said leptospirosis has infected a total of 2,425 people and killed 47 so far this year, whereas about 89 thousand flood affected residents have contracted conjunctivitis.

As a result, he strongly advises those in flood zones to keep themselves clean and seek medical attention immediately should they develop high fever, eye redness or muscle pains.

Dr. Jessada stressed that these diseases are not life-threatening if treated promptly.


Cabinet approves laws to allow stock conversion

Prime Minister’s Office Advisor, Nutthaporn Jatusripitak,

NNT

Bangkok - The Cabinet has given its approval to four draft laws to open up stock conversion to entice investment and business development.

Prime Minister’s Office Advisor Nutthaporn Jatusripitak made it known that this week’s Cabinet meeting gave its approval to a set of four draft laws that together allow limited companies to convert stocks, and stagger shares, to create an Employee Stock Ownership Plan and to create preferred stocks.

Among changes in the law is an allowance for share buyers to use debt as payment in cases where shareholders make special provisions or when a company converts shares into capital.

The proposed new laws also allow preferred stocks to be converted into common stock and for companies to buy back and hold their own shares if they meet certain criteria. Companies will also be able to offer shares to employees or lenders without having to first propose the shares to existing holders.

Obstacles to issuing debentures have also been relaxed, mostly to assist Start Ups. At the same time, punitive action against companies, associations and foundations in terms of shareholdings have also been modified.

The draft laws are now being forwarded to the Council of State, which must ask the Stock Exchange of Thailand and Securities and Exchange Commission for their views before the National Legislative Assembly can deliberate on the laws.


Update October 19 , 2017

HM the King installs Nine-Tiered Great White Umbrella of State at the top of Royal Crematorium

NNT

Bangkok - His Majesty King Rama X officiated at the installation of the Nine-Tiered Great White Umbrella of State atop the royal crematorium at Sanam Luang cremonial ground on Wednesday.

Upon his arrival at the royal crematorium, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun was greeted by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, along with his spouse and Cabinet members. During the ceremony to install the Nine-Tiered Great White Umbrella of State, His Majesty was accompanied by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana.

To initiate the ceremony, the Prime Minister presented His Majesty with a verbal report on the construction of the royal crematorium and introduced him to members of the responsible committee. His Majesty then sprinkled lustral water on the Nine-Tiered Great White Umbrella of State and anointed it before proceeding to raise the sacred object to the top of the principal pavilion of the royal crematorium.

The Nine-Tiered Great White Umbrella of State is regarded as the most sacred and ancient of the royal regalia of Thailand. It weighs 80 kilograms and measures 1.2 meters in diameter and 5.1 meters in height. The raising of the Nine-Tiered Great White Umbrella of State is a tradition dating back to as far as the Ayutthaya period.


Dept of Disease Control moves to prevent bird flu outbreak

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of Disease Control (DDC) is implementing measures to prevent the spread of avian flu during the end of the rainy season, following outbreaks in many other countries.

DDC Deputy Director-General Dr Panumard Yarnwaidsaku chaired a meeting earlier this week on health care readiness for avian flu. The meeting covered policies such as monitoring and preventing the disease in humans and animals, medical aid measures, laboratory tests, action plans, risk assessments, and operational management.

As of September 20 this year, the total number of H7N9 cases worldwide has reached 1,589. Of this number, 616 were fatal, and all deaths occurred in China. Other strains of the H5 and H7 influenza viruses have been reported across the world.

Although Thailand has not reported a single confirmed case of avian flu in humans since 2006 or in birds since 2008, a number of bird deaths have been discovered.


NLA unveils "Doing Good" exhibition

NNT

Bangkok - The Secretary-General’s office of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has organized an exhibition titled “Doing Good” to further promote the teachings and guidance of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Chai Pattana Foundation Secretary-General Sumet Tantivejjakul chaired the opening of the “Doing Good” exhibition, which was organized on the second floor Eden Zone of Central World department store by the Secretary-General’s office of the NLA.

The event is a rotating display of His Majesty the late King’s teachings and sayings depicted in the form of short films. The displays were created by a variety of agencies in tribute to the late King and as an affirmation of his guidance.

The aim of the exhibition is to encourage youths to remain loyal to His Majesty the late King and to follow in his footsteps by seeking to do good and to uphold the institutions of family and society. It will run until October 31.


80,000 police to be deployed at main funeral site

NNT

Bangkok - Around 80,000 police officers will be deployed at the cremation site in Bangkok and surrounding areas in the build-up to the royal funeral next week.

Deputy Metro Police Chief Pol Maj Gen Montri Yimyam revealed that 18 roads around Sanam Luang and Rattanakosin Island as well as the Somdet Phra Pinklao Bridge will be closed on October 23 at 10 pm to pave the way for the royal cremation ceremony.

Nine more roads, including Arunamarin Intersection, Ratchadamnoen Klang and those within the vicinity, will be closed on October 25 from 5 am onward. On October 26, a total of 42 roads will be cordoned off.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and other agencies are improving the landscape around the funeral site before handing everything over to security units.


Update October 18 , 2017

Bangkok residents told to prepare for more rain as flood threat persists

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) has warned of more heavy rain in Bangkok with the Chao Phraya River overflowing in several areas.

A community of Nonthaburi province along the Chao Phraya River has reported various impacts from its rising waters with members of the Tha It Mosque community erecting a sand bag barrier to fend off flood waters.

Fellow villagers in a nearby neighborhood have indicated they have been contending with an inundation for over a week now and despite assistance from state authorities have continued to experience difficulties in their day to day life.

Meanwhile, Royal Irrigation Department Office 11 has installed water pumps to help alleviate the situation affecting over 600 household in Mahasarakam with local authorities telling more villages to move their property to higher ground due to the rising Chi River.

RID Office 6 Water Watch and Monitoring System Center, has reported that Ubol Ratana Dam has increased its discharge to 50 million cubic meters per second and is to further increase the rate to 54 million, where it will be maintained for the time being.

In Ang Thong, mobile development soldiers have assisted in setting up a sand bag barrier 30 meters back from an existing flood wall in Posa subdistrict, to aid local residents.

RID Deputy Director-General Thongplew Kongchan meantime, has revealed that a recent meeting to assess the water situation saw Meteorological Department academics stating a monsoon system will be passing over the lower central region, causing heavy rain in Bangkok that could match the intensity seen last weekend, when severe flooding resulted across the capital after a 6 hour storm.

Areas affected during the sudden deluge have been told to be on alert once again but authorities noted that the city’s waterways and systems have been drained in anticipation of further heavy rain.


Officer faulted for involvement in Yingluck's escape

NNT

Bangkok – A fact finding committee has found fault with the deputy commander of Metropolitan Police Region 5 for assisting former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to leave the Kingdom and the Metropolitan Police chief will now decide his punishment.

Pol Maj Gen Panurat Lakbun revealed after attending a fact finding meeting on the escape of the ex-premier that Pol Col Chairit Anurit, had been found at fault for having assisted the secret departure of Yingluck and her ultimate evasion of arrest. He has been charged with violation of the Police Act.

The matter has been forwarded to Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Pol Lt Gen Chanthep Sesavej, so that he may decide on the appropriate action to be taken. Pol Col Chairit is to be punished for failing to perform his duties with honesty and for causing severe damage to the civil service sector. He will be able to appeal against the decision within 30 days, after it is sent to the Royal Thai Police Office.


Foreign Affairs and Interior Ministries ensure readiness for royal funeral

NNT

Bangkok - Thailand's Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs have confirmed their readiness for the upcoming royal cremation ceremony of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Interior Minister, General Anupong Paojinda, has announced that the royal crematorium replicas and 878 sandalwood flower pavilions across 76 provinces have been completed. All that remains is to landscape the surrounding areas, which is expected to be completed in a couple of days.

Foreign Minister, Don Pramudwinai, said his ministry is ready to welcome foreign dignitaries arriving to attend the royal cremation ceremony. At least 30 countries have confirmed their participation.

Rehearsals for the cremation are also scheduled to take place across the country, ahead of the actual event. Authorities in Bangkok are preparing to accommodate large crowds of mourners, which are expected to arrive at Sanam Luang in time for the ceremony.


DPM voices confidence in National Office of Buddhism

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Thanasak Patimaprakorn.

NNT

Bangkok - The Deputy Prime Minister has voiced his confidence in the National Office of Buddhism and its operations, stating transfers within the office were not due to the temple fund corruption case.

DPM Gen Thanasak Patimaprakorn, who has been tasked with overseeing the National Office of Buddhism, said in an interview that all relevant authorities are working to their utmost on the temple fund corruption case and he believes the office itself is strictly adhering to regulations. The office’s main duty in the matter is to provide information to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) and the Counter Corruption Division (CCD) Police, with the two latter agencies to take action where graft is found.

On the transfer of some Buddhism office civil servants, Gen Thanasak said they were routine and undertaken to improve the efficiency of the agency. He assured the public that those moved around were not involved in the corruption case.

The DPM stated that the director of the National Office of Buddhism must work in a transparent and upstanding manner to strengthen the organization and should remedy any aspects of the office impeding its efficiency. He said he had passed on his views to the director and urged him to report any interference.


Update October 17 , 2017

Tourism visitors and revenue notably up year-on-year

Tourism and sports minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.

NNT

Bangkok - The Ministry of Tourism and Sports has reported the latest tourism earnings at over 1.3 trillion baht, 7.6 percent up on the same period last year, attributing the growth to the focus on traditional Thai life as a tourist attraction.

Tourism and sports minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul says the overall picture has been positive with revenue and visitor numbers both up. From 1st January of this year to 11th October, 26.9 million travelers entered Thailand, generating a combined 1.37 trillion baht in revenue, hikes of 5.6 and 7.6 percent respectively year-on-year.

Chinese visitors remained in the top position with 7.63 million traveling to the Kingdom, especially during the China National Day holiday, when 227,648 chose Thailand as their destination, 69.04 percent more than last year. They spent 12.528 billion baht, 75.66 percent more than in the year prior.

Kobkarn assured the public that preparations have been made for the high season, during which the ministry will continue to promote traditional Thai lifestyles as well as sports tourism to disperse travelers across all the regions.


PM praises Bodyslam singer for charity run

NNT

Bangkok –Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has congratulated Athiwara Khongmalai, or Toon, the lead singer of the "Bodyslam" band, for his campaign to raise funds to help 11 hospitals nationwide through his charity run during November - December 2017. He wished him success in achieving his goal and thanked him for his good intentions towards the country.

Athiwara will start his 55-day route on November 1 in Yala province and plans to finish in Mae Sai district of the northernmost Chiang Rai province on December 25.  The route will be total some 2,191km.

The PM said the activity is constructive, pointing out that people can do good voluntarily, and expressed his belief that most Thai people support the cause, inviting them to step up and do good for society.

The Prime Minister addressed criticism on social media, which claims faulty budget management by the government is forcing a civilian to raise money, by saying that this is a personal opinion, but the government's duty is to govern and manage the country in every way, be it security, the economy or society as a whole, making it impossible for the government to allocate budget only to a specific area.


Authorities to designate protected areas for dugongs in Thailand

NNT

Bangkok - The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) is to conduct a seagrass and sea-cow survey to designate protected areas, following a rapid decline in the number of the marine animals.

DNP Director-General Thanya Netithammakul has reported to relevant agencies that while not yet critical, sea-cows in Thailand continue to be threatened by human activity. The mammal is hunted by groups who believe its bones can be brewed as elixirs and its teeth can be used as amulets.

The DNP is to conduct a three-month survey on the remaining population of sea-cows between Dec 2017 and Feb 2018 and has instructed authorities of Hat Chao Mai National Park to suppress sea-cow hunting.

Sea-cows are at the top of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list, which prohibits the trading of wild sea-cows except for authorized research due to their endangered status. It is currently estimated that there are only 200 sea-cows still in Thai waters.


Irrigation Dept. managing dam releases as volumes remain high

NNT

Nakhon Sawan - The water level in the Chao Phraya River flowing into Nakhon Sawan has risen slightly but both Bhumibol and Sirikit dams have kept their release gates shut.

Royal Irrigation Department (RID) Director-General Somkiat Prajumwong explained that the flow of water through C.2 station of Nakhon Sawan province is currently at 2,804 cubic meters per second and the water level of the waterway is now 1.48 meters, up 8 centimeters from the last checks. The situation is being helped by Bhumibol Dam and Sirikit Dam no longer releasing any water as they begin drought season retention.

The Chao Phraya Dam is releasing water at a rate of 2,616 cubic meters a second which has lifted water levels in Singburi and Ang Thong provinces by 3 centimeters. In Ayuthaya province, water at Baan Pom has risen by 4 centimeters and by 6 centimeters at Baan Bang Luang Dod. The province is dealing with the situation by slowing water north of the Chao Phraya Dam and expediting drainage to its south. Lowlands in the province are also being used to retain water with 12 fields now holding a combined 1.156 billion cubic meters of water and ready to take on 340 million cubic meters more.

RID Deputy Director-General Thongplew Kongchan meanwhile, addressed flooding in Chai Nat province by saying that the affected area was outside the flood barrier and that local people were given prior warning so as to adequately prepare.


Update October 16 , 2017

US Embassy releases video footage of HM the late King

 

In this June 28, 1960, file photo, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, center, is seated between His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, left, and Queen Sirikit for a motorcade drive in Washington D.C. (AP Photo)

NNT

Bangkok – The US Embassy in Bangkok has released a video in honor of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulayadej of Thailand.

To mark the 1-year anniversary of the late King’s passing, the US Embassy released a video tribute entitled, “We Will Always Remember His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Our Hearts.”

In the 3-minutes of footage, US Ambassador to Thailand Glyn Davies reviews HM the late King’s relationship and close connection with the United States. Davies said that Americans are very proud that HM King Bhumibol was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where his father was studying medicine at Harvard, making His Majesty the only US-born monarch in history.

The video ends with Davies saying, “We, at the United States Embassy in Thailand, remember and will always remember the great King Bhumibol Adulyadej. We will remember him in our hearts, and how fortunate we all were to have learned from this remarkable King.”


Irrigation Dept denies causing widespread floods in capital

RID Director General, Somkiat Prajamwong.

NNT

Bangkok - The Royal Irrigation Department (RID) has denied a rumor that it discharged water from the Bhumibol Dam and caused widespread flooding in Bangkok on Saturday.

A rumor circulating in social media claims that the department is releasing 100 million cubic meters of water a day from Bhumibol Dam into the Chao Phraya River, causing massive flooding in the capital city.

In response, RID Director General, Somkiat Prajamwong said Sunday that the rumor was groundless while asking the public to stop sharing false and distorted information.

At present, he said the dam has 9.185 million cubic meters of water, which is equivalent to 66% of its total capacity, thus there is no need to discharge any water. He added that the dam hasn’t released any water since October 5 because the monsoon season is about to end.

On Saturday, 55 major roads in Bangkok were rendered inaccessible by widespread floods that were triggered by heavy downpours in the early hours of the morning.


Yala beefs up security measures ahead of royal cremation ceremony

NNT

Yala - Thailand's Yala province has stepped up security measures to maintain public peace and order ahead of the royal cremation ceremony.

The province's security units have joined forces to set up checkpoints in the Yala City municipal area to detect people who might be carrying weapons, to prevent any disturbances and to build confidence among the public.

Security officials have detected signs on social media of plans to provoke public disturbances during the week of His Majesty the late King’s cremation ceremony and have issued warnings against the suspected perpetrators.

Security officials will be on full alert and local villagers were asked to help them monitor the situation to assist in preventing possible disturbances.


People donate blood in honor of HM King Rama IX

NNT

Bangkok - People in Bangkok are donating blood at the Thai Red Cross National Blood Centre in dedication to His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The center on Henri Dunant Road saw people lining up at 5:00am on Friday, one year since the King’s death, to donate blood in honor of His Late Majesty. All donors will receive a commemorative coin marking the 50th anniversary of the reign of King Rama IX.

The blood drive will take place until October 26. Those who are interested in donating blood can do so from 7:30am to 7:30pm on weekdays and from 8:30am to 3:30pm on weekends and holidays.
 


DAILY UPDATE

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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Thailand grieves in elaborate final goodbye to revered HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Thais abroad bid farewell to late King at embassies

Mhong villagers walk over 30 kilometers to pay homage to HM the late King

Sweden honors HM the late King Bhumibol in traditional royal ceremony


Rehearsals for royal cremation ceremony of HM the late King held nationwide

Chao Phraya River communities receive warning as flooding continues

Officer who transported ex-PM to border suspended from duty

Cabinet approves bill in aid of people involved in anti-corruption work


HM the King advises opening of more public viewing spaces for royal funeral

Thailand marks King Chulalongkorn Day

Flooding still severe in many parts of the country

Live royal cremation ceremony screening at Suvarnabhumi airport


Government produces special Royal Cremation pins

Three more zones to be set up to accommodate mourners on Oct 26

Airports & hospitals prepared for floods

Dignitaries from 30 countries to attend royal cremation ceremony


Police caution sellers of merchandise with HM the late King’s image

Thailand launches world's first reference book in Thai herbs

Vegetarian food festival begins nationwide

NBTC agrees with lowering fees for digital tv operators


HM the King grants flames for use in royal cremation in Thailand, overseas

Facebook knocks back PM's Zuckerberg meeting

MOPH warns residents of flood related diseases

Cabinet approves laws to allow stock conversion


HM the King installs Nine-Tiered Great White Umbrella of State at the top of Royal Crematorium

Dept of Disease Control moves to prevent bird flu outbreak

NLA unveils "Doing Good" exhibition

80,000 police to be deployed at main funeral site


Bangkok residents told to prepare for more rain as flood threat persists

Officer faulted for involvement in Yingluck's escape

Foreign Affairs and Interior Ministries ensure readiness for royal funeral

DPM voices confidence in National Office of Buddhism


Tourism visitors and revenue notably up year-on-year

PM praises Bodyslam singer for charity run

Authorities to designate protected areas for dugongs in Thailand

Irrigation Dept. managing dam releases as volumes remain high


US Embassy releases video footage of HM the late King

Irrigation Dept denies causing widespread floods in capital

Yala beefs up security measures ahead of royal cremation ceremony

People donate blood in honor of HM King Rama IX

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