15 Feb 2018
6:26 pm

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Thursday (Feb 15) set up two tri-partite scrutiny committees to review the election bill for Members of the Parliament and the bill for the Senate.

Each scrutiny committee is made up of 11 members – five each from the NLA and the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) and one from the Election Commission (EC).  One will scrutinize the election bill for MPs and the other the bill for the selection of senators.

The two committees will meet for the first time on Feb 19.  They were given 15 days to complete the work within March 1 after which the two bills will be returned to the NLA for final reading deliberation.

The CDC has made reservations on the MP election bill on four issues:  the holding of entertainment activities during electioneering; extension of voting time from  7am to 5 pm; disabled voters can be represented in voting; and voters who do not exercise their voting right are to be banned from holding political posts.

In the meantime, the EC has made reservations on the same bill on five aspects, among them are:  the holding of entertainment activities during electioneering; equal amount of electioneering expenses for all contesting parties; the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to issue yellow cards is beyond the limits set by the Constitution and the power of the Supreme Court to revoke the right to contest an election of candidates.

Regarding the Senate bill, the CDC had made three reservations on the change of the number of the groups of candidates to contest the selection from 20 to 10; elimination of the cross-selection of candidates; and the separation of independent candidates and candidates from professional groups.

The EC has reservation about the Supreme Court’s power to withdraw the right to contest an election of candidates.

NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said the election would be held in February 2019 the latest because of the 90-day waiting period before the enforcement of the election laws.

He assured that it will be very difficult for the two bills to be voted down by the NLA. 

NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai

15 Feb 2018
5:23 pm

A 74-year old British tourist who was reported by his friend to have gone missing for two days after he went out to sea off Chumphon coast in a canoe has been found safe and sound on an uninhabited island in the Gulf.

Watcharin Suwapit, an official of Saphli tambon administration organization in Pathiu district, said Wednesday (Feb 14) that he received a request for help from Pol Lt-Col Sathien Chaisawat, an inspector of Chumphon marine police station, to locate a British tourist, 74-year old Mikel Smith.

Mr Smith’s friend, 63-year old Colin, lodged a complaint with the police, to look former who rented a canoe to explore the islands in the Gulf off Thung Wua Laen Bay two days ago and has not been seen ever since.

Mr Watcharin, who is the chief of maritime rescue unit, then organized a team of divers and volunteers to get on board of a speed boat to make a search in the sea off Pathiu district.

About an hour later, the search team found a man camping out on Chorakae island, a small uninhabited island about 7 miles from the coast.

The man turned out to be Mr Smith, the missing tourist, and the rescue team asked him to return to the mainland because his friend was worried with him.  However, the Briton asked to spend another night on the island and promised to return the next morning.

The rescue team promised to return the next morning to accompany him to return to the coast.

Mr Watcharin said later that he had asked fishermen fishing near Chorakae island to help look after the Briton. 

15 Feb 2018
3:01 pm

Thai citizens of Chinese descent in the kingdom celebrated the coming Chinese New Year today by worshipping their ancestors and praying for blessings for their families at their homes, Chinese temples and shrines.

The custom of worshiping ancestors started since Wednesday night, or New Year’s Eve, and followed by a reunion dinner at homes today.

On New Year’s Day, some families worship in memorial temples, where they place tributes to ancestors and set off firecrackers.

Highlight of this year celebration will be in Phuket and Bangkok.

In Bangkok, the entire length of Yaowaraj street cutting into the heart of Bangkok Chinatown will come to life with crowds of worshippers, exploding firecrackers, dragon dancers in a 2-day celebration beginning Friday.

Her royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside over the opening of the celebration at Bangkok Chinatown tomorrow.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has cooperated with the Chinese Embassy to bring one of the most exhilarating celebrations to Yaowaraj, which is officially the Chinatown of Bangkok

It includes a special Thailand-China culinary exchange between Chinese and Thai chefs to promote tourism and strengthen the good bilateral relations of the two countries.

The event is jointly organised by the TAT and the World Federation of the Chinese Catering Industry to mark the Chinese New Year and to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of Thai Chinese diplomatic ties.

China has sent 18 top chefs from the World Federation of the Chinese Catering Industry to cook Chinese food for Thais to taste during the Chinese New Year celebration in Thailand.

The celebrations were celebrated elsewhere across the country where Chinese ancestors had arrived and settled down and led their new lives at several towns over a century ago.

Worshipping on ancestors were held in Kampaengphet, Krabi, Phang Nga, Hat Yai, Phuket, Nakhon Ratchasima, Trang, Suphanburi, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, Phitsanuloke, Nakhon Sawan, Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, Ayutthaya, and Chonburi.

Meanwhile survey of markets in various provinces with large Chinese communities showed vegetable and fruit prices going up 5-10 baht

15 Feb 2018
1:58 pm

The Department of Pollution Control says air quality measurements at all five stations in Bangkok today showed the air quality was dropping while advising risk groups for sickness to stay indoors and wear hygiene mask while staying outdoors.

Warning of unhealthy level of air by the department came after latest measurements at 8.00am today at five stations, Rama IV, Intharapitak, Lard Prao, Phyathai, Bang Na and Wang Thong Larng showed average concentrations of PM2.5 at 51-84 micron per cubic metre, or over the safety levels at 50 micron per cubic metre.

The measurement also indicated rising unhealthy levels throughout the day, said Mrs Sunee Piyapanpong, director-general of the department.

She then advised people in sensitive groups, particularly those who have respiratory problems, heart problem, skin and eye diseases, to avoid staying outdoor or wear masks if going outdoor.

Commenting on a recent post by Greenpeace Thailand director Tara Buakamsri on Facebook criticising the Thai air quality index was unreliable as compared with the US standards, particularly the average concentration of PM2.5 at Bang Na at 61.87 micron.

He said if such concentration level was measured under the US air quality index standard, this would be in danger or in critical level and unsafe to health.

He then suggested that if the state agency was inefficient in air quality measurement, the private sector would do the job.

However the Thai pollution head said each country which used colours in telling how bad it’s air quality in air quality index would fix its own standard value to correspond with its basic information on economical and social conditions.

She said standard value of both Thailand and the United States was different as Thailand fix average safety level of PM2.5 concentration throughout 24 hours at not over 50 microns, while the US fixed at 35 micron.

Therefore this could not be used to compare and judge the unhealthy level of air, she said.

Earlier a Greenpeace Thailand researcher has called on the Pollution Control to measure and assess fine particulates which can enter the respiratory system, causing – or making worse – stroke, lung and heart disease.

In 2015, such pollution killed 37,500 people in Thailand, according to Greenpeace.

The department currently only measures larger particulates. Its measurements resulted in a Wednesday afternoon statement that air quality was not in the danger zone that would “affect people’s health.”

15 Feb 2018
12:24 pm

Southern militants detonated a home made bomb while a group of village defence volunteers were on a routine motorcycle patrol, injuring six persons, including three school students.

The violent attack happened on Thursday morning near Ban Bannang Sareng in Muang district of Yala province.

As the defence volunteers in four motorcycles were passing the village on a routine patrol to provide safety to teachers, a homemade bomb placed at a roadside tree was detonated.

The explosion injured three volunteers, two seriously, and three students who were passing by.

The explosion alerted police who arrived with a EOD team. The road was later sealed off to all traffic as the EOD combed the area for more possible hidden bombs.

All the injured were admitted to Yala hospital centre.

15 Feb 2018
12:14 pm

PTT and Bangchak will cut their retail petrol and diesel prices starting at 5am on Friday.

The reduction of all oil prices from 30-50 satang is the second reduction in a week.

All Gasohol and diesel oil prices will be cut by 50 satang per litre, while E85 petrol by 30 satang.

Following the reduction, premium 95 benzene will be at 34.16 baht, Gasohol 95 at 27.10 baht, Gasohol 91 at 26.83 baht, E20 at 24.59 baht and E85 at 20.19 baht.

Diesel oil price will be 26.24 baht per litre.

15 Feb 2018
11:53 am

Chiang Mai citizens yesterday called for the suspension of the Highway 11 expansion project after accusing contractor of felling century old trees, and unprofessional removal of the trees.

The call was made during a meeting among the local people’s network and academics in Chiang Mai after Peepal trees were cut and removed unprofessionally by contractor to pave the way for the 800-metre expansion of the current Highway 11 from Chiang Mai to Lampang.

At the meeting, they agreed to call on the Transport Minister to suspend the expansion and hold new public hearing of the expansion, via the so-called Citizen Council of Chiang Mai.

The expansion work starts from Yaek Rinkham to Jed Yod covering a stretch of 800 metres in Muang district of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Highway 2 Office director Rangsan Sukchairangsan admitted that contractor had fallen a number of trees and used wrong method to encircle the trees before removal.

He said authorities have already advised the contractor to change the method.

But he insisted that the expansion design which is a parallel road followed earlier agreement reached during public hearing.

They greed that all trees within the construction areas must be removed, he said, and added now they wanted change of the route.

The expansion project starts from October 7 last year to March 5 this year at the cost of 29 million baht.

The stretch is part of the the expansion of 545-kilometre long Highway 11 which is a major highway linking the central provinces with the northern province from Nakhon Sawan to Chiang Mai.





15 Feb 2018
10:39 am

Myanmar migrant workers yesterday (Wednesday) blocked traffic in front of a jewellery factory to protest their employer for what they claimed was unfair deduction of their daily meal allowance.

They demanded that they be paid 310 baht minimum wage from the current 305 baht they received daily.

About 300 migrant workers in Mae Sot district of Tak province blocked traffic on the road in front of their jewellery factory to press for their demands, promoting labour authorities and police to intervene and negotiate.

The migrant workers said they were paid 305 baht a day but were deducted 75 baht a day by their employer for daily meal allowance provided.

They said the deduction put them in financial troubles as they could not make end meet after the daily deduction for meals.

They demanded that they be paid 310 baht same as their Thai colleagues.

However labour authorities explained that the new minimum wage of 310 baht will become effective in April therefore they could not push for early enforcement.

But for their meal allowance deduction, labour authorities pledged to negotiate with their Thai employer.

The migrant workers agreed with the promise and later called off their road blockade and returned to work.

14 Feb 2018
11:16 pm

Loei provincial governor has set up a committee to investigate the illegal occupation of over 6,000 rai of forested land in Phu Rua and Dan Sai districts allegedly by a Karnasuta family-owned company, CPK International.

The probe team was given 15 days to come up with a report.
In the meantime, the Forest Department is mulling a K 620 million baht civil lawsuit against CPK International for the illegal occupation of the land in Phu Rua and Dan Sai districts.

According to Mr Atthapol Charoenchansa, deputy director-general of the Forest Department, a total of 147 land plots covering over 6,000 rai of land are located in national forest reserves namely Phu Mee, Phu Khee Nark and Phu Puei which were occupied by CPK International.

With the help of some corrupt land officials in Loei, CPK International were issued with Nor Sor 3 Kor land rights certificates for the 147 land plots – many of which were bought from local villagers who had encroached on the land. However, all the land rights certificates for the land were revoked in 2003 after it was discovered that the Sor Kor 1 land certificates which were used as basis for the issuance of Nor Sor 3 Kor certificates were for other land plots.

In 2009, CPK International applied for a concession to use the 6,000 plus rai of land for agriculture. But the company withdrew the application after it was learned that land officials would survey the land in order to issue land right certificates.

Two years afterward in 2011, the company applied for land title deeds for the same 147 plots of land with the Loei land office. Land title deeds were granted for 38 land plots covering 679 rai of land.

Mr Atthapol said that the 6,000 rai of land – some of which illegally occupied by CPK International despite the fact that all its land rights certificates were revoked in 2003 – are watershed areas which are ecological sensitive and need to be protected.

14 Feb 2018
11:01 pm

Starting March 1, applicants for a driving license will be required to produce a new form of medical certificate from qualified doctor certifying that he/she is free from five diseases namely elephantiasis, tuberculosis, alcoholism, leprosy and drugs addiction.

On top of that, Land Transport Department director-general Sanit Promwong said applicants for a driving license must fill in his/her medical record, record of accidents and surgeries and treatment in hospitals.

Also, he said the doctors who issued the certificates to the applicants must certify that the applicants are not disabled to the extent that they cannot perform their duties; do not suffer from mental illness or being mentally disabled or showing symptoms of drug abuse or chronic alcoholism and do not have symptoms of leprosy which are communicable and symptoms of tuberculosis in dangerous stage.

Mr Sanit added that any motorists who have already had driving licenses but who might suffer from seizure disorder or symptoms from high blood pressure which might cause accidents, might have their licenses revoked the registrars for public safety.

Meanwhile, Medical Council deputy secretary-general Dr Itthiporn Khanacharoen said that the Medical Council had endorsed the new form of medical certificates which has two parts.

One of the two parts is to be filled in by the applicants specifying his diseases that are not detected by doctors. The second part is to be filled in by doctors certifying the diseases examined.