12 Aug 2017
12:58 pm

The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) invited Thai people to watch the sky tonight  (Aug 12) as “Perseid” meteor shower will be visible to naked eyes at 100 meteors an hour at maximum.

People around the world will be able to see pieces of a comet streaking across the sky, as the annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak tonight.

It said the Perseid meteor shower will peak on the night of Aug 12 and early morning hours of Aug 13.

The Perseid meteor shower is one of the brighter meteor showers of the year and it occurs every year between July 17 and Aug 24.

According to NARIT’s academic service centre chief Suparerk Karuehanon the meteor shower is visible to naked eyes in the northeast sky at a maximum of  100 meteors an hour in darkest areas.

But as the moon will be close to the Perseids tonight, the bright moon light may hinder a good view of the meteor shower.

Besides, he said as Thailand is now in the rainy season, the weather condition might obstruct the good viewing.

However he said the people in the South will be able to view the phenomenon better than other parts of the country  because of light rain there.

The Perseids are bits and pieces of cosmic dust and debris left in the orbital path of Comet Swift-Tuttle.

Earth passes through this trail every year with the debris slamming into the upper atmosphere at speeds of up to 130,000 miles an hour (210,000km).

Swift-Tuttle itself is a periodic comet with an orbital period of 133 years. It is next expected to fly past Earth on Aug 5, 2126.

It has an impressive 16 mile (26km) wide nucleus and is the largest object in the solar system to repeatedly pass close to Earth.

NARIT will hold sky gazing activities today at its observatory in Songkhla from 5pm- midnight.

12 Aug 2017
12:41 pm

The nation today (Aug 12) celebrates Her Majesty the Queen’s 85th birthday anniversary with religious activities, charities and prays for her.

Today is  also the National Mother’s Day.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha this morning presided over a religious ceremony to offer alms to 851 monks at the royal plaza in front of the Dusit Palace.

In the provinces, provincial governors also held alms-offering ceremonies in the morning to mark Her Majesty’s birthday anniversary.

In the evening, candle-lighting ceremonies to bless Her Majesty the Queen at public parks, temples will also be held at 19.29pm.

The prime minister will participate in the candle-lighting ceremony to bless Her Majesty the Queen, deliver a message of blessing on behalf of all Thai people at the royal plaza in front of Dusit Palace.

The Government has earlier encouraged members of the public and private agencies to decorate their houses and offices with royal flags and Her Majesty the Queen’s images during 7-14 August 2017.

12 Aug 2017
10:44 am

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said on Friday (Aug 11) a military officer attached to the Royal Thai Armed Force Headquarters (RTARF) accused of involving in the abduction of a Singaporean businessman for a ransom will not be protected and must face legal action according to the law.

Gen Prawit, who is also Defence Minister, was referring to Maj Gen Jaroon Ampha of the RTARF.

The alleged abduction occurred on July 14.  Shortly after noon on that day, nine men–four of them in camouflage military uniforms and others in civilian clothes–went in four cars to the office of Surachai Sae Yang, the owner of New Gen Airways and Kanta Group Thailand, in Soi Nuanchan 34.

Mr Surachai’s office

Claiming to be plain-clothes officers of the 191 Patrol and Special Operation Division and Crime Suppression Division (CSD), they conducted a security search on the office without showing a warrant.  After the search, they showed the domicile registration and identification card of Mr Surachai and said they were fake.

The nine then took Mr Surachai to see their “leader” at another place.  There, one of them said to Mr Surachai in Chinese, saying that their boss wanted 20 million baht protection money from him.

Mr Surachai bargained to reduce the ransom to 2 million baht and made an appointment for his relative to bring 1 million baht.  The money was handed over to Opas Sriya, a gang member, at a petrol station on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.

The group then told Mr Surachai to transfer another 1 million baht to Mr Opas’ bank account on July 17 at 1pm.  The money transfer enabled police to get evidence in the extortion and warrants for the arrests of 10 suspects for trespassing and extortion.

The 10 suspects are: Maj Gen Jaroon Ampha, Pol Lt Col Nathakrit Yuttha, an officer of the Economic Crime Suppression Division (ECSD), Saowadet Sakkittinan, Apiwat Srinaprom, Theppitak Radthani, Songwut Thiangtham, Opas Sriya, Uthis Korkaew, Thitikorn Chuen-ura and Ko Teck Chuan, a Singaporean.

Of the 10, four are navy soldiers, one police officer of the ECSD, and one RTARF officer.

The police have arrested eight suspects. Two others — Uthis Korkaew and Thitikorn Chuen-ura — have fled to the South.

Five suspects who are military officers applied for bail, using cash and other assets as collateral. They were granted bail because they have permanent addresses and are not flight risks.

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan

Gen Prawit said Maj Gen Jaroon will not be protected, adding that soldiers are not allowed to commit a crime.

Maj Gen Kongcheep Tantrawanich, the defence spokesman, said if the military officers had actually committed the crime they would not be protected and must face both legal and disciplinary action.

Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, the police chief, said there is sufficient evidence against the suspects.  He believed the case is not complicated, adding that the suspects — be they soldiers, police or civilians — must be under the law.

11 Aug 2017
7:53 pm

After five years of a court battle, the producer and director of the Thai-language film “Shakespeare Must Die” are disappointed when the Central Administrative Court on Friday (Aug 11) issued a ruling to uphold the ban on the film imposed by a censorship committee.

The petition was filed on Aug 9, 2012 by two petitioners — producer Manit Sriwanichpoom and director Samanrat Kanjanavanit– against the National Film and Video Censorship Board, the 3rd film and video censorship committee and the Cultural Promotion Department of the Culture Ministry, asking the Central Administrative Court to order the lifting of the ban imposed by the 3rd film and video censorship committee.

The 3rd film and video censorship committee issued an order on April 3, 2012 to ban the film from being shown in the country.

The Central Administrative Court ruled that the censorship committee imposed the ban because some parts of the film’s content may cause disunity among the people in the country, after deliberation.

Although the petitioners claimed that the country in the film is fictional, several scenes in the film reflected the Thai social condition and an event which happened in Thailand.

Samanrat Kanjanavanit

The censorship committee found one scene to have resembled the violent incident which took place on October 6, 1976.  In the scene, a group of men wore black shirts and wrapped a piece of red cloth around their heads, each holding a piece of wood, ran into a theatre where a play was being performed and hurt members of the audience, actors and actresses.  They hanged the director.  A man, wearing a pair of black glasses, beat the hanged director with an iron folding chair, amid cheering from the men with red cloth around their heads.

The committee found that this could cause resentment and dissatisfaction among the relatives or participants of that event and lead to hatred and disunity among the people in the country.

On April 3, 2012, when the 3rd film and video censorship committee and the two petitioners held a joint meeting, the committee told them make some changes to that controversial scene, Mr Manit and Ms Samanrat insisted that they could not do so because it could affect the main content of the film as well as the producer’ attempt to show the audience the bright and dark sides of human-beings, sins, the fight between the good and evil in men’s minds.

The Central Administrative Court stated that although film production is an occupation protected by the constitution, such right and freedom is still restricted by Section 29 of the Film and Video Act of 2008 which stipulates that a film must not go against law and order, national security and the country’s prestige.

The ban imposed by the 3rd film and video censorship committee on the film was not a restriction of rights and freedom of expression under Section 45 of the constitution, it said.

The court ruled that the censorship committee’s ban on the film is lawful and dismissed the petition.

The making of Shakespeare Must Die is party funded by the government and won several awards in international film festivals.  The film is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, written about 400 years ago.  It is a story on a warrior who was imbued with power and led the country to catastrophe.

Mr Manit, the producer, and Ms Samanrat, the director, fought for five years to get the ban lifted, but are not successful. They plan to appeal against the court’s ruling.

11 Aug 2017
1:36 pm

Thai communities in Fresno county and Los Angeles are mounting pressure on the US local authorities to retrieve the bodies of two Thai postgraduate students died in a car crash two weeks ago in California.

They planned a protest in Fresno county, the scene of the car crash, on Monday (Aug 14) if the US authorities still do not expedite the retrieval of the bodies believed to stuck inside the car that plunged into the ravine.

They complained of the slow progress of the retrieval operation after families of the two students met Fresno county chief to escalate the operation.

The two postgraduate students  Ms Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, 24, and Mr Bhakapon Chairattanasongporn, 28, were driving on a highway on July 26 to Kings Canyon National Park when their rental car plunged off a 150-metre cliff and came to rest partially submerged in a river.

Bhakapon and Thiwadee

Meanwhile the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Los Angeles yesterday updated the retrieval operation on Facebook saying that on Aug 9, the consul-general and the students’ families met Michelle Steel, Supervisory Board of Orange County to request her to help coordinate with Fresno County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office urging to retrieve the missing students as it has been two weeks since the accident.

“Michelle Steel, being close to the Thai Community of Los Angeles and Thailand, has coordinated with Fresno County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office who is drafting a plan to rescue the missing students safely as its first priority and the car for later if the opportunity provided,” according to the Thai consulate.

“In this situation, Sheriff Coroner Margaret Mims has responded that the Fresno County Sheriff’s search and rescue team is well trained and professionals and the two Thai Students are their top priority. Even though the situation is difficult due to the terrain and the water current is in very fast pace, the team will try their best to rescue the missing students as safely and respectfully as possible.”

The Consulate has coordinated with Office of Mayor of Los Angeles and other local authorities for support from Thai Community of Los Angeles to urge the search and rescue team to act as soon as possible.

Also the students’ relatives gave an interview to the AP News that they were thinking of hiring a private rescuer if necessary to recover the bodies as it has been 15 days, the Thai consulate reported, adding that the Consulate has been informed that the Thai community in Los Angeles, Southern California, and San Francisco will organize a demonstration in Los Angeles and Fresno on Aug 14 if the rescue/recovery has not taken place by that time.

สถานะล่าสุดการกู้ภัย/เก็บกู้สองนักศึกษาไทยประสบอุบัติเหตุที่อุทยานแห่งชาติ Kings Canyonวันนี้ (๙ ส.ค. ๒๕๖๐) กงสุลใหญ่ฯ…

Posted by Royal Thai Consulate-General Los Angeles on Wednesday, 9 August 2017

11 Aug 2017
12:58 pm

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan celebrated his 72nd birthday anniversary Friday morning (Aug 11) at his official residence inside the First Infantry Regiment of the First Royal Guards.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha was among well-wishers who came to wish Gen Prawit on his birthday.

Gen Prayut, who came to wish Gen Prawit on his birthday every year since 1976, said Gen Prawit remained healthy although he has just recovered from sickness.

“He (Gen Prawit) will stay with me for life,” Gen Prayut told reporters.

He said he discussed nothing about the military reshuffles.

Meanwhile Gen Prawit said the prime minister came to wish him happy birthday and gave him morale boost.

Asked about his birthday wishes, the Deputy Prime Minister said he wished he could walk well and that the conflict eases and peace returns to the country.

He said the military junta and the government have been working closely for over three years now and that conflict has been reduced to some extent.

Commenting on the annual military reshuffle, he said it has completed with no problem.

11 Aug 2017
11:52 am

The long-awaited 1.2 kilometre missing rail service between the Blue Line and the Purple Line was officially opened today by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Taopoon station.

The rail link will enable convenience for commuters to travel all the way on the original Blue Line from Hua Lamphong station to Bang Yai station in Bangkok’s neighbouring Nonthaburi province covering a total distance of 44 kilometres.

Currently the original Blue Line from Hua Lamphong to Bang Sue is 21 kilometres, while the distance from Bang Sue to Bang Yai is 23 kilometres.

The Purple Line which is an elevated line was opened to service last August but it attracted just 20,000 commuters a day from its target of 60,000-70,000 due to the missing 1.2 kilometre link.

Shuttle bus service was provided for commuters on the missing link instead.

The Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) said the connection would see commuters rising to 100,000 a day on the Purple Line.

The connection of the the Blue Line and the Purple Line will enable people from the outskirt of Bangkok to travel right into the heart of the capital in just an hour.

The connection was made possible after Prime Minister Gen Prayut invoked Section 44 of the interim Constitution to resolve all legal and technical issues and accelerate the work process.

The use of Section 44 empowers relevant government agencies to bypass the  state/private sector joint venture law and enabled  contractor to start working on the missing link and complete in five months.

Long-awaited 1.2km missing rail link from Bang Sue to Tao Poon officially opens. Read more: http://bit.ly/2wNuFpb #ThaiPBSenglishnews

Posted by Thai PBS English News on Thursday, 10 August 2017

10 Aug 2017
11:00 pm

The Isranews Agency has defended one of its reporters who was slapped with trespassing charge by the police when he entered an apartment building purportedly belonging to a former national police chief who is currently being investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Committee for being unusually rich.

The agency director and veteran investigative journalist Prasong Lertratanawisute said that the reporter, Mr Natthaporn Veeranan, was in the compound of the apartment in Soi Senanikhom 26 in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district to perform his duty as a reporter to investigate a case in which Pol Gen Patchawat Wongsuwan, a former national police chief, is being probed by the NACC.

Pol Gen Patcharawat is also a younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.

Even though the apartment is a private property, Mr Prasong said that the hostel is open to the public with its gate flung open and everyone can walk in and out of the premise.

He insisted that the reporter did not encroach on the property in question and openly identified himself as a reporter to the apartment staff. The officials told the reporter to wait until the arrival of police from Phahonyothin police station and the reporter was arrested on trespassing charge.

The reporter maintained that he did not encroach on the apartment. He said he saw the apartment’s gate open and he just walked in, declared himself a reporter and asked for the keeper of the hostel in order to make some inquiries.

Mr Natthaporn denied the charged and asked for a bail. Bail was later granted after Mr Prasong posted 15,000 baht in cash as a surety.

Phahonyothin inquiry officers said they would decide on Sept 1 whether to proceed with the case to the prosecutor or not.

The Thai Journalists Association today (Aug 10) issued a statement, calling on the police to drop charges against the report. The TJA also condemned police’s action, saying that it was an attempt to obstruct journalists’ works.

10 Aug 2017
10:27 pm

A close relative of the two Thai students, who died when their car plunged into a steep ravine in a national park in California, planned to bring Thai rescue workers to the US to help retrieve the bodies of the two victims.

Ekkachai Thaidecha, uncle of Mr Pakapol Chairattanasongporn, one of the two dead victims, said Thursday (Aug 10) that he told US embassy officials that since US officials were unable to retrieve the damaged car and the two bodies inside the vehicle, he offered to do the job by bringing with him two Thai rescue workers to the US at his own expenses.

He said he was told by embassy officials that if there is no permission from the US officials concerned, the two Thai rescue workers that he intended to take with him to the US could not do anything.

However Mr Ekkachai said he asked the embassy officials to inquire the officials concerned in California whether they would agree to allow the Thai rescue workers to retrieve the two victims from the ravine and to give him the answer quickly.

The two students at South Florida University, Mr Pakapol and Ms Thivadee Saengsuriyarith, died when their rented car ploughed through a railing and plunged into the ravine at King Canyon national park on July 26.

So far, both the car and the two bodies have not been plucked out of the ravine.

 

10 Aug 2017
10:04 pm

More business operators say they do not pay state officials in order to win a contract or a project, but the amount of under-the-table payoffs increases, said Assistant Professor Thanawat Pholvichai, director of Economic and Business Forecast Centre of Thai Chamber of Commerce University, on Thursday (Aug 10).

The centre conducted an opinion poll on public perception about corruption situation in Thailand and the findings showed that the situation was perceived to have worsened with the score dropping to 53 out of 100 in June this year from 55 last December and Thailand’s perceived trend of corruption dropped from 57 to 54.

Thanawat Pholvichai

Mr Thanawat explained that the decline in corruption index stemmed from public concern over corruption situation in the future which tends to worsen due to the fact that the government is in the process of implementing several mega infrastructure projects and the eastern economic corridor project.

On the question of under-the-table payoffs, Mr Thanawat said the survey showed 59 percent of the business operators said that they didn’t pay in order to win a contract or a project.

However, while less people paid bribes, the amount of bribes increased to between 5-15 percent of the cost of a project instead of 1-15 percent in the previous survey.

He estimated the loss from corruption at between 65-196 billion baht or 0.4-1.3 percent of GDP.

According to Transparency International, Thailand’s corruption perception index ranking has dropped from 76th to 101th out of 176 countries.

Mr Thanawat said that the issues about democracy and political situation were also taken into consideration.