17 Feb 2018
5:40 pm

(Above) A relative of overseas worker Adelina Sau, a domestic helper who died in Malaysia, helps airport officials unload her coffin during its arrival at Kupang airport in East Nusa Tenggara on Feb 17. Two people were arrested in Indonesia on human trafficking charges in connection with the death of the maid allegedly abused by her employer in Malaysia.

Indonesia is mulling to impose a moratorium on sending domestic workers to Malaysia following the recent death of an Indonesian maid from alleged abuses by her employer in Penang, The Jakarta Post Online reported on Saturday (Feb 17).

The death of 21-year old Adelina Lisao in Penang last week renewed a national debate on the need to strengthen protection of migrant workers and raised question about the need to send Indonesians to Malaysia whose porous borders are part of a region-wide human trafficking route.

Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia Rusdi Kirana said recently he had proposed halting to send of domestic workers to Malaysia and restructuring of the employment administration process with an aim to mend diplomatic ties between the two countries which has been strained by repeated cases of abuses of Indonesia migrant workers in Malaysia.

He stressed the importance of a moratorium in order to allow the restructuring of employment process to prevent a repetition of such cases as Ms Adelina’s.

Rusdi disclosed that he had talked with President Jokowi about a possible moratorium last year, adding that the president had also conveyed this to Malaysian prime minister in the November meeting.

17 Feb 2018
1:27 pm

Professor Rapee Sagarik, Thailand’s leading horticulturalist and Thai orchids expert, passes away at his home in Bangkok on Saturday morning (Feb 17). He was 95.

The well-respect scholar, who has been recognized as the father of Thai orchids, died  at 6.30am after suffering from blood infection for over six months.

Professor Rapee was born in Bangkok on December 4, 1922.

He was a former rector of Kasetsart University, former deputy minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, and also president of the Arsom Silp Institute of Arts.

Prof Rapee also worked in the development of rice cultivation and agricultural research.

He was a pioneer in the breeding and conservation of Thai orchids, making the Thai plant to be known worldwide.

Prof Rapee wrote several books and articles, mostly about agriculture and orchids.

The professor, who was the founder of the famous KU Band, also played various musical instruments with violin was one of his favorite instruments.

In his latest interview with ThaiPBS last October, Prof Rapee encouraged the people to do good even if no one sees it.

“His Majesty the late King Bhumibol graciously advised me that ones should do their best in whatever they do and love to do and it will turn out to be good,” he said.

His funeral schedule will be announced by the family later today.

16 Feb 2018
9:54 pm

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will not be able to wrap up its probe into Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon’s “borrowed” wristwatches case within this month as earlier anticipated.

NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon said Friday (Feb 16) that the NACC had ordered the deputy prime minister to submit the third clarification about the origin of more than 20 pricey wristwatches by Feb 8.

However, Gen Prawit recently asked the NACC for the postponement of the submission of written clarifications about his “borrowed” wristwatches to March 2, claiming he was engaged in other business and that there were several related documents to be submitted.

Mr Worawit, however, said that Gen Prawit could not ask for another postponement after March 2.

Commenting on the 80,000 signatures collected by former National Reform Council member Mrs Thicha Nanakorn in her signature collection campaign to call for the resignation of Gen Prawit, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said her move would not affect the government and the government would accept the list of signatures only for acknowledgement.

However, he said Mrs Thicha must hand over the list of signatures to the National Legislative Assembly if she and her supporters really wanted Gen Prawit to be impeached.

16 Feb 2018
7:50 pm

Activists of the People Go Network arrived in their destination in Khon Kaen today (Feb 16) ending their 28-day marathon march which began on Jan 20 at Rangsit campus of Thammasat University in Pathum Thani province.

The long marchers were joined by Khon Kaen residents on their last day of 450-kilometre walkathon, numbering altogether over 200.  The marchers split up in four groups as they marched from four different directions toward the final destination at the Democracy Monument in the Khon Kaen township.

They arrived at the Democracy Monument shortly before noon and planted their flags to declare the success of the network’s We Walk for Friendship activity.

Ms Sangsiri Trimakka, a coordinator of a group working on health security issue which is affiliated with the People Go Network, said that the long march was intended to convey a message to the people so that they feel the urge to participate in solving four national problems.

The four issues include environment and natural resources, agriculture, health security, and freedom and liberties.

She clarified that the People Go Network group chose the northeastern route to send its message to the people because the Northeast is the largest region with most of the people making their living being farmers and have been affected by the four aforementioned problems.

The People GO Network will hold the final forum at Khon Kaen University tomorrow (Feb 17) to wrap-up their 28-day activity.

Meanwhile, Surachai Trongngam, the lawyer representing the network, has sent the Supreme Administrative Court’s order granting an injunction for the network’s Walk for Friendship activity to police and relevant authorities.

The court on Thursday (Feb 15) upheld the Central Administrative Court’s decision to grant an injunction for the network’s long march campaign, ordering the police to refrain from doing anything that will obstruct the group’s rights to peaceful assembly.

Police must also provide safety for the long march participants until the end of the activity set for Feb 17.

16 Feb 2018
3:27 pm

Air quality in Bangkok dropped further on Friday morning (Feb 16) with PM2.5 fine particulate matter measured at between 52-62 microgrames per cubic metre, exceeding the limit of 50 microgrammes/ cu m.

Burning of joss paper and incense sticks during the Chinese New Year today partly caused the PM2.5 level in the capital to rise, according to the Pullution Control Department (PCD).

PCD director-general Sunee Piyapanpong said PM2.5 level measured at 8 am at six air quality monitoring stations on Rama IV road, Intharapithak road, Lat Phrao road, Phaya Thai road, Bang Na and Wang Thong Lang districts exceeded the standard 50 microgramme per cu m.

Ms Sunee said the level of the health-threatening fine particulate matter in the capital was expected to drop today due to rising temperature, but it turned out that the level rose possible due to the burning of joss paper and incense stick during the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration deputy permanent-secretary Suwanna Jungrungrueng also warned that burning of joss paper could also emit toxic substances from gold and silver colours coated on the paper.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s permanent secretary Wijarn Simachaya asked worshipers in Bangkok and surrounding provinces to burn joss paper only in small amount to help reduce air pollution.

The burning should also conduct in confined space to prevent the dust from spreading further.

 

16 Feb 2018
12:51 pm

A bus carrying Chinese tourists from Krabi to Phang-nga province crashed into a roadside power pole and fell into a ditch in Takua Thung district, killing the Thai bus driver and injuring at least 19 tourists.

Police said the tour bus of CNR Travel Co with 35 Chinese tourists on board was travelling from a hotel in Krabi province to a pier in Takau Thung district.

The bus left Krabi early in the morning and on the Phetkasem highway.

However as it was arriving near Takua Thung police station at 8 am,  the bus lost balance and rammed into a power pole and fell into the ditch.

Police said rescue teams rushed to the scene and pulled out all passengers. All of them were sent to nearby hospital. The bus driver, later identified as Arkhom Daengnam, died at the wheel.

Of the 19 injured tourists, four sustained serious injuries, according to initial reports.

It was not immediately known the cause of the incident but police suspected the diver might be in drowsy driving.

15 Feb 2018
10:36 pm

The black panther allegedly killed by Premchai Karnasuta’s hunting party early this month might be the same big cat captured by camera traps on Dec 29, 2016 in the Thung Yai Naresuan world heritage site, said Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn, head of the Phya Sua task force of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation, on Thursday (Feb 15).

The camera traps were placed about 100 metres from the site where the black panther was butchered and skinned, he added.

Citing the information of the Khao Nang Ram wildlife research station, Mr Chaiwat said that a male black panther’s hunting ground covers about 40 square kilometres and normally lives with 2-3 female panthers with the area off-limits to other black panthers.

Wildlife authorities have been trying to determine the gender of the killed black panther found near Mr Premchai’s campsite.

Mr Chaiwat also said that the Italian-Thai Development Plc boss’s group pitched their camp in the ill-fated black panther’s hunting ground because they allegedly intended to kill the beast which appeared to be quite tame and was familiar with human beings that it did not run away from men.

The re-examinations of the crime scene over the past two days led the authorities to an assumption that the black panther was sitting about 14 metres from its shooter when it was shot dead.

Mr Chaiwat said the black panther was estimated to weigh between 45-50 kilogrammes, calculating from the weight of animal innards, which were recovered from the stream near the camp and believed to belong to the slaughtered black panther.

The innards weighed about 17 kgs, he said, adding that it would take at least two men to bring this panther’s carcass from the spot it was killed to the site where it was butchered and skinned.

The skin was salted and the meat was taken back to the camp with the innards thrown into the stream, he added.

15 Feb 2018
8:24 pm

The Kuala Lumpur-facilitated peace talk between the Thai government and MARA Patani has resulted in an agreement to designate a district in the Deep South as a pilot “safety zone”.

Gen Aksara Kerdphol, chief of the government’s negotiating team and an advisor to the prime minister, on Thursday (Feb 15) briefed the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) the progress of the peace talk in Kuala Lumpur facilitated by Malaysia.

While declining to disclose the name of the district designated as the pilot “safety zone”, Gen Aksara said the next step is to set up a coordinating centre where all stakeholders concerned with realizing the safety zone to come together to work on various aspects besides safety such as development of quality of life and drug abuse problem.

The general went on saying that the peace talk negotiation teams would take about six months to implement the “safety zone” and to make assessment whether safety can actually be attained – and that is possible – whether the “safety zone” should be expanded to more districts.

MARA Patani is an umbrella organization represented by southern rebel groups and factions.

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.