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BANGKOK, 29 October 2014  The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is banning the sale and lighting of flying lanterns near tall buildings, historic sites, palaces, major temples and airports during the Loi Krathong Festival.

Wanlop Suwannadi, chief adviser to the Bangkok governor, explained that in addition to flying lanterns, fireworks will also be banned from sites where Loi Krathong festivities will be hosted by City Hall. These sites include many public parks in the capital city, and the vicinity of Rama VIII Bridge.

According to the BMA, only six fireworks sellers in Bangkok have been authorized to sell their products. BMA officials will be monitoring against unauthorized sellers during the Loi Krathong period.

City Hall law enforcement officials will also be stationed at all piers along the Chao Phraya River on the night of Loi Krathong to maintain safety. Medical personnel will also be deployed at various sites, Mr. Wanlop added.

SA KAEO, 29 October 2014  - Firefighters have quickly contained a fire that broke out late last night at the Rong Kluea Border Market in Sa Kaeo province.

After having tried to put out the fire for more than two hours, authorities deployed backhoes to smash some stalls that were razed by the fire. More than 30 people worked painstakingly to prevent the fire from spreading, as there were strong winds and a lot of shops clustered together.

The fire has destroyed a total of 20 stalls in the area and damages are estimated to be at least 10 million baht. Most of the shops that were destroyed are the ones that primarily sold clothing and second-hand jackets, which the vendors had ordered for the cold season sale. However, the actual cause of the fire is still unknown at this point.

BANGKOK, 29 October 2014  The prime minister has ordered every ministry to come up with measures to help farmers from water shortages during the upcoming drought season.

The instruction came during the weekly Cabinet meeting when Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha told heads of all government units to expedite help for farmers including the dredging of canals and other bodies of water. According to the premier, the drought would have an impact on domestic supplies and exports of agricultural products.

He has also expressed his concerns for rice farmers and rubber farmers as well as small-business operators or SMEs who are currently struggling to make ends meet amidst a sluggish global economy. However, the premier said that the government has prepared certain measures to help these groups of people.

Meanwhile, deputy spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office Major General Sansern Kaewkamnerd declared that the Cabinet has approved a central budget to help farmers across 26 provinces. The budget would be used to assist them against natural disasters, unusual weather phenomena, and agricultural problems.

A total of 12,860 farmers are expected to benefit from this program at a budget of around 154.82 million baht.

PATTANI, 29 October 2014 - The Region 4 Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) said drug abuse and the unrest in the Deep South are two related events.

Deputy Director of ISOC Region 4 Major General Noppawong Suravichai said substance abuse is a threat to national security and it has been one of the government’s top concerns.

The Major General, who leads a national campaign against illegal drugs, said southern attacks have also been associated with narcotics. The authorities have organized several programs including the one to stop teenagers from using drugs and bringing them to treatment.

They run these programs in local communities to prevent the influence of drug that could lead to undesirable consequences. Many related agencies have also been involved in an effort to restore peace in the 3 southernmost provinces.

PHRAE, 29 October 2014  A severe drought has hit parts of Thailand though the rainy season has just ended, and the situation has caused troubles for farming areas in many provinces, especially in the northern region.

Phrae has been experiencing a decreasing rainfall causing low level of water in the Yom River. The director of the Yom Supply and Maintenance Project Chairit Thaisomboon has warned the amount of water in two key reservoirs have been lower than in 2013; therefore, the province will face a more severe water shortage.

According to Chairit, two medium-sized reservoirs in Phrae have adequate water only for cultivation of less water-consuming plants while the other now has only 30% of water in its tank and is insufficient to irrigate dry-season planting areas. The water users in the area have just agreed together to skip their off season planting.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered ministries involved to find measures in helping farmers from water shortages during the upcoming drought season. Earlier, the cabinet also gave a nod to a 40 billion baht fund to help farmers in dealing with rising costs of rice production and improving their techniques for higher quality of their produce.

BANGKOK, 29 October 2014 - Before chairing a meeting with heads of ministries today, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stressed the importance of English proficiency for Thais, ahead of Thailand’s entry into the ASEAN Economic Community next year.

The premier chaired a meeting with ministry chiefs today at the Ministry of Education. Ahead of the meeting, General Prayut visited an educational exhibition held by the ministry on the development of education in the Deep South and the country’s preparations for the AEC integration.

The premier noted that the Education Ministry is tasked with studying the languages of neighboring countries in a bid to further enhance the skills of Thai workforce. Teachers are also required to integrate Asean issues into their classes.

He also expressed concerns over the impact the southern unrest has on local educational development. Over the years, hundreds of teachers and students have been targeted in attacks carried out by insurgents. Schools have been damaged and a dramatic decrease in the number of teachers in the area has been reported.

BANGKOK, 29 October 2014 - The Immigration Bureau has announced that it will intercept all foreign nationals who are involved in criminal activities from entering Thailand’s Deep South by stationing police at various immigration checkpoints.

Police Major General Warawut Tawechaikarn, the Commander of the Immigration Bureau, declared that the bureau will take precautionary measures to prevent Indian fugitive terrorist Jaktar Singh Tara from sneaking into Thailand after he has escaped from prison.

Immigration police are now keeping a close watch for all foreign nationals entering the country and would immediately arrest anybody who matches Mr. Tara’s physical description.

Meanwhile, the Immigration Bureau has also announced it has arrested four other foreign nationals who have been involved in criminal activities and have been taking refuge in Thailand.

Among those four include two German nationals who are Mr. Ferdinand Mittendorfer and Mr. Dietrich Steindorff, both of whom are convicted of fraud. The latter is also responsible for patent infringement for more than 7,741 cases and caused losses up to 12 million baht to his victims.

The third person is Mr. Constantine Saresky, a Russian national who has been involved with extortion and is also a doctor. Lastly, the fourth person is Mr. Marc Glossen, a Belgian national who has been charged with drug trafficking. All these four suspects will be deported back to their home countries to face trial for their crimes.

YALA, 29 October 2014 - The Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) has said local residents have been more mindful of the safety in their communities.

According to the SBPAC, residents in the Deep South have been paying more attention to their safety since the new school term began. Authorities have also deployed security teams to protect teachers, students and neighborhoods.

With the help of local residents, the situation has markedly improved in the past 5 months. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has stressed the importance of effective safety approach.

Meanwhile, more security personnel, weapons and warning systems should be obtained to keep the local administration offices protected.

As for the recent arson attack on two local offices, the SPBAC said the insurgents had initially targeted two schools but turned their attention to the local administration offices instead as security seemed lax.

BANGKOK, 30 Oct 2014  The NLA Whip has announced that the NLA will reopen discussions on impeachment motions against the former Senate President and the former House Speaker.

National Legislative Assembly (NLA) member Dr. Jate Sirataranont, in his capacity as the NLA Whip, disclosed that the NLA had made a decision to allow the Assembly to deliberate the National Anti-corruption Commission (NACC)’s motion to impeach former Senate President Nikom Wairatpanij and former House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont to decide whether the NLA should accept the case.

A vote would be taken on November 6th to determine whether the NLA would take up the motions, according to the NLA whip.

The NLA had spent 15 days discussing whether the NLA had the authority of impeachment.

The impeachment motion against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is being considered and a final decision will be announced by the NLA President, Dr. Jate added.

BANGKOK, 27 October 2014 - The Minister of Tourism and Sports today revealed the progress of the new tourism strategic planning, expected to be finished in February 2015.

Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, the Minister of Tourism and Sports today talked about the progress of drafting the new tourism strategic plan to focus on three subjects, namely to raise the national income from tourism, to raise the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio, and to improve tourist security.

The tourism strategic plan is now being adjusted to comply with the 11th National Economic and Social Development Plan from the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).

This adjustment will update related laws in the current environment and will also call for stricter law enforcement in cases of violations.

For marine safety, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MOTS) has worked with the Ministry of Transport to design a new and more secure life vest. These new life vests are expected to be deployed in pilot tourism areas such as Pattaya and Phuket in November.

The MOTS will hold talks with related agencies about a solution to the illegal taxi and rental vehicle services that are fraudulent and overpriced, said the MOTS Minister.

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