MUKDAHAN, 30 July 2015 - The Governor of Mukdahan province has issued a warning to residents along the Mekong River to beware of bank erosion as a result of the rising water.

Run-off caused by continued cloudbursts has brought muddy water from local streams and wood scraps into the Mekong River. Passengers traveling between Thailand and Laos by boat are advised to exercise caution and wear life jackets at all times.

Meanwhile, residents and fishermen along the Mekong River were warned to be on the alert for soil collapse. The provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation office is prepared to deal with any emergency situation.

The Meteorological Department says the Northeastern region will continue to experience isolated thundershowers until next week.

BANGKOK, 30 July 2015 - Police are preparing to apply Article 44 to the campaign aimed at suppressing motorcycle gang activities and social vices.

Royal Thai Police Spokesperson, Pol Lt Gen Prawut Thavornsiri has disclosed that the ban on alcohol sales within a 300-meter radius of schools will come into effect within six months. Meanwhile, authorities will also keep a close watch on motorcycle outlets to curtail sales of certain bike accessories.

Pol Lt Gen Prawut explained the move was to prevent teenagers from consuming alcohol, which often leads to a drunken brawl and to stop motorcycle gangs from causing a public nuisance. The campaign came about after a recent meeting during which the Ministry of Justice asked related agencies to apply Article 44 to their efforts to curb trouble makers.

Article 44 empowers the National Council for Peace and Order's (NCPO) leader, to issue any order to deal with any act deemed harmful to social order or security.

The Royal Thai Police Spokesperson, however, told concerned business operators not to overly panic. He explained that the zoning of liquor shops has yet to begin. Meanwhile, the use of Article 44 will cover only bike shops that sell accessories intended for illegal street racing.

BANGKOK, 30 July 2015 - The Thai government has expressed its gratitude toward store owners for keeping prices of every item at an affordable level until November this year.

Deputy Spokesperson to the Prime Minister’s Office, Major General Sansern Keawkamnerd has revealed that the Ministry of Commerce has received cooperation from 205 retail stores across Thailand in not raising the prices of household goods and fresh food before November.

Many food vendors have also been asked to sell at least one ready to eat meal at a maximum price of 25 baht until September this year.

The Deputy Spokesperson said this is to help shoulder the cost of living for Thai people. He also added that stable fuel prices at present would continue to help keep commodity prices at a reasonable level.

PATHUM THANI, 30 July 2015 - Pathum Thani and Yasothon are both holding their activities welcoming the Buddhist Lent and at the same time promoting the anti-drinking and gambling campaigns during the 3-month Lent period.

A parade promoting the anti-drinking campaign was held in Pathum Thani yesterday at the provincial hospital. Later in the day residents gathered to pledge an oath of not drinking alcohol and strictly maintaining the five precepts of Buddhism during the Buddhist Lent period.

The event also offered a free counseling service for those who wish to quit drinking, and many other entertainment activities.

Meanwhile, residents, government officials and private sector units in Yasothon yesterday held a mock ceremony incinerating a giant cigarette and a deck of playing cards, symbolically showing their determination to stop drinking and gambling during the period.

The event was a part of the province's anti-alcohol and gambling drive this year which also promotes the religious teaching and the sufficiency economy philosophy of His Majesty the King.

Thursday, 30 July 2015 16:18

ASEAN, UK bolster cooperative relations

UK Prime Minister David Cameron visited the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 27, becoming the first acting British PM to visit the bloc’s headquarters to cement the economic relationship between the UK and the dynamic region.

Secretary General Le Luong Minh praised the visit as reflecting the UK’s commitment and political will to deepening its relationship with ASEAN.

He said the European country’s interest in strengthening economic relations with ASEAN is in line with the bloc’s growth trend of stronger economic integration.

He also highlighted achievements in forming the ASEAN Community in late 2015 while pointing to arising challenges.

Minh added with combined gross domestic product (GDP) reaching nearly 2.6 trillion USD in 2014, ASEAN is now the world’s seventh biggest economy and aims to become the fourth largest in 2050.

For his part, the British PM said the UK will intensify its collaboration with ASEAN in infrastructure development and electronic commerce. He will also appoint a special commerce envoy to boost trade relations and investment between ASEAN and the UK.

The two sides exchanged regional and international issues affecting world peace and stability such as nuclear weapons and the East Sea dispute.

On the occasion, the ASEAN Secretariat held an ASEAN-UK business forum to increase investment in ASEAN

Thursday, 30 July 2015 16:17

US Ambassador hails Party leader US visit

The recent visit of Vietnam’s Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong to the United States marks a significant milestone in the growing relationship between the two nations, said US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius.

At a press briefing on July 28 in Hanoi, the US Ambassador said during talks in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama and the Vietnamese Party chief reached agreement on a number of crucial matters.

He highlighted the Vietnam – US comprehensive partnership reached in the 2013 joint statement between the US President and Vietnamese State President Truong Tan Sang as a sign of the two sides’ respect for one another’s political systems.

It was also reiterated in the US – Vietnam Joint Vision Statement issued during the Party chief’s US visit, he said.

Ambassador Osius noted that US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh and attend a number of activities in Vietnam in August on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of establishing bilateral diplomatic ties between the two nations.

He also mentioned the upcoming first visit of a Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court to the country.

Osius hailed the importance of people-to-people diplomacy, adding that the overseas Vietnamese community in the US holds great potential to contribute to the relationship between Vietnam and the US. He said the two sides share a wish to promote people-to-people connections between the two countries.

The ambassador described the agreements signed by the US Trade and Development Agency and the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam as an important move.

Direct flight routes between the two nations are important to facilitate trade, investment and travel exchange, he underscored

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh chaired a ceremony to celebrate the 20 th anniversary of Vietnam’s entry into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on July 28, 1995, and the bloc’s formation 48 years ago on August 8, 1967.

The Deputy PM said the formation of the ASEAN Community at the end of 2015 will have a significant impact on all member states and the region.

He said that based on the pillars of politics, security, economy and culture, the ASEAN Community would improve the solidarity of the people, help reduce tension and disputes and build peace, cooperation and development in the region.

He continued to say that ASEAN, with a population of more than 600 million and the seventh largest GDP in the world, would continue to play an important part in maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the Asian-Pacific region.

To achieve that goal, every ASEAN member state must strive to overcome obstacles, seize opportunities and unite.

In addition, ASEAN must take a proactive approach in safeguarding the region’s peace and security by leading efforts to build trust, share common standards and code of conduct to prevent conflicts and settle disputes through peaceful means and in accordance with international law, he suggested.

The Deputy PM emphasised that over the past two decades, ASEAN has always been a priority in Vietnam’s foreign policy and international integration.

As an active member, Vietnam has contributed to building an ASEAN of close connections, solidarity and unity, and making the group play a central role in the forming regional structure, he added.

He affirmed that the Vietnamese Government and people will continue their important contributions to the development of the association, for practical interests of ASEAN people at present and in the future.

Minh stated that he was grateful for the support and friendship of ASEAN member states and partners in the last 20 years.

At the event, Indonesian Ambassador Mayerfas congratulated Vietnam on its 20-year ASEAN membership.

Speaking of Vietnam’s friendship and cooperation spirit in ASEAN, the diplomat confirmed that Indonesia, together with other member states, will continually collaborate closely and stand side by side with Vietnam in the time to come.

On this occasion, a set of stamps welcoming the ASEAN Community was exhibited. This is the first time ASEAN countries issue joint stamps and postmark. The stamps will be issued on August 8 in Indonesia.

CHIANG MAI, 30 July 2015 - Chiang Mai Zoo is letting children write congratulatory messages for famous giant panda ‘Lin Ping’ for giving birth to twin baby pandas in China.

Lin Ping is the first panda in Thailand that was born in captivity. Zoo visitors, including children and tourists, are joining the celebration held at Chiang Mai Zoo to congratulate Lin Ping on her newborn cubs. Baskets of food and fruits have been brought for another giant panda ‘Lin Hui’, who is ‘Lin Ping’s mother.

Lin Ping has given birth to twin baby pandas at Ya’an Panda Conservation Center in China on July 27th. People are able to sign a well-wishing book, which will be later given to Lin Ping through the Chinese Consulate in Chiang Mai.

BANGKOK, 30 July 2015 - Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has reaffirmed that the program to hire drought affected farmers to temporarily work with the government will soon kick off. He said low-interest loans will also be offered to agriculturalists who are interested in farming perennial vegetables or other less-water-consuming crops.

He said that the hiring program would financially help farmers who are forced to become indebted as their rice farms were hit by the drought. He added the employment campaign was being accelerated and expected to start next week.

General Prayut also stressed that several government's relief programs need inputs from all sides, while asking the public to believe in the administration's intention to build a strong future for Thailand.

BANGKOK, 30 July 2015 - The major rehearsal for the Bike for Mom 2015 event in Bangkok on August 2 will start at 6 AM instead of midday as earlier scheduled. The rehearsal will familiarize participants with the route before the actual event scheduled for August 16.

The rehearsal is expected to be 6-hour long and will finish at noon. At 7 O'clock, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha will conduct an inspection of the preparations at the Royal Plaza, before leading an approximately 1,000 cyclists from the Dusit Palace to the First Infantry Regiment of the Royal Guards on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. The Prime Minister will then switch from the bicycle to an automobile before continuing his journey on the rest of the route.

Traffic closure around the Royal Plaza will last from 6 AM to 9 AM, while the Si Ayutthaya Road and the outbound lanes of Vibhavadi Rangsit Road will be closed from 8 AM to 12 noon. Tollway fee will be waived during the periods.

Meanwhile, those who plan to collect the royally bestowed commemorative pins for the Bike for Mom event in Bangkok can register their names at the 50 district offices in the capital from 8 AM to 4 PM from Monday to Friday or 9 AM to 12 noon during weekends and official holidays. The registration can also be done at the event's website, bikeformom2015.com from now until August 5th.

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