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BANGKOK, 26 October 2014 - The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) will arrange Loy Krathong celebrations at 28 public parks on the Loy Krathong Day this 6 November. Firecrackers will be strongly prohibited.

Deputy Director of the BMA’s environment department Suwanna Chungrungroeng said the BMA invited Loy Krathong revelers to bring their families and loved ones to celebrate the Thai tradition in 28 public parks in Bangkok, including Lumpini, Chatuchak, Santi Chaiprakan and Benjakitti, from 3 PM – 12 AM. The deputy director also encouraged people to use floating baskets, or “Krathong,” made from natural materials to avoid harming the environment. Those who would come in groups should use only one Krathong, said Ms Suwanna.

The BMA calls on vendors not to sell Styrofoam floating baskets and bans firecrackers at the public parks since they might cause danger.

BANGKOK, 27 October 2014   A civic group called “Thailand Reform Institute” has been launched by a group of National Reform Council (NRC) members with an aim to act as a coordinating center for movements related to national reform.

After the introduction of the newly-established Thailand Reform Institute, a group of NRC members and academics, led by Sangsidh Piriyarangsan, said the institute’s main responsibility would be to spread information about politics and national administration as well as heed public opinions on national reform.

President of the newly-formed body Mr. Sangsidh, who also acts as a dean of the College of Social Innovation at Rangsit University where the institution was launched, said the civic group would work as a coordinating center for all movements in the areas of reform and national development, adding that it would work to help build a strong democratic society as well as to monitor the use of power by the government.

Meanwhile, speaking as the director of the institute, a lecturer at the College of Social Innovation and the Green Group leader Suriyasai Katasila said the newly-formed body would call on the NRC and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to draw up a long-term plan for national reform and to make sure that public opinions are not taken for granted.

He also explained the reason why some of the NRC members were included in the Thailand Reform Institute committee, saying that talks to establish such institute had well taken place before the appointment of the NRC, while assuring that this matter would not be a problem in terms of work of the institute.

PHUKET, 27 October 2014 - An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale occurred in northern Sumatra of Indonesia, sending shockwaves that could be felt in Phuket province.

BANGKOK, 27 October 2014 - According to the Bank of Thailand (BOT), the Finance Ministry’s concept of extending ‘nano-finance’ loans to help the grassroots people would not increase the number of NPLs in the commercial banking system.

BOT spokesman Jirathep Seniwong na Ayutthaya revealed that under this concept, commercial banks would be issuing loans to non-bank lenders who will then pass these loans to their customers. Each non-bank lender is allowed a maximum credit of only 100,000 baht and must provide collateral as proof of their ability to repay the loans to prevent them from defaulting on their payments.

Nano-finance loans carry an interest rate of 36 percent, which is higher than the 28 percent rate of the ‘micro-finance’ loan concept offered by financial institutions. Nonetheless, the BOT believes that the nano-finance loans would allow low-income earners to have easier access to obtain credit and provide a level of added protection to consumers.

However, the nano-finance concept is not related to the reduction of debt but it would ensure fairness and transparency in the loan-lending process.

YALA, 27 October 2014  Police are going after 100 suspects in the Deep South, who allegedly are said to have coordinated the attacks in the region.

Security remains tight in Yala province to keep the situation under control. According to the report, the courts in the restive South have issued arrest warrants for 100 suspects who have been accused by authorities of instigating violence in the region.

Police also believe the suspects have led their teams in carrying out attacks in various locations.

Among them are Mr. Roh Ki Dollah, who has allegedly been involved in an explosion and a gun attack in Yala, Mr. Sa-u-dee Sta Poh for planting a bomb in Yaha district, and Mr. Hu-Bai-Dee-Lah Roh-Mue-Lee for the gun attack on a bus serving the route between Betong and Hat Yai.

BANGKOK, 26 October 2014  Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Thailand has shown interest in studying electricity generation from waste in Hod district in Chiang Mai as part of its effort to strengthening cooperation with developing countries through technological exchange.

PR Manager of GIZ in Thailand Siriphon Triphonrat said GIZ participated in the project on integrated resource management and planning for cities called “the Urban NEXUS” which was collaboration between the German government and Asian countries. The project would lead representatives of the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia to a landfill factory and a waste-to-energy power plant in Chiang Mai on 28 October 2014. They would later attend a meeting with the deputy mayor of Chiang Mai Municipality on the next day to learn about the province’s management of 300 tons of garbage a day and the factory’s handling of them, said Ms Siriphon.

The power plant can generate 2 kilowatts/hour of electricity each day for sale. 60% of heat from the electricity generation can be used to dry produce such as longan and konjac.

Minister of Transport Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong today discussed new measures to promote tourism with Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanawarangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports.

Speaking after the meeting, the Transport Minister said three issues were discussed : publicizing the good image of Thai tourism among local and foreign tourists, tightening security measures for tourists on land, water and air transports, and promoting more tourism campaigns such as revival of tourism by train and biking tours.

According to the minister, the bicycle tour would be piloted in Bangkok before being expanded to areas along the Bangkok-Nakhon Nayok and Bangkok-Nakhon Pathom routes. Moreover, bicycle sub-lanes should be provided to connect main roads to inner communities.

The two ministers also discussed prevention of bodily assaults and all forms of intimidation on tourists, as well as money extortion at tourist spots. The two ministries are set to look into the insurance issue to ensure fair protection for tourists and at the same time promote effective communication tools and patrols by authorities in risky areas.

Touching on the problem of illegal cars and motorcycles rented to tourists by unscrupulous shops, Air Chief Marshal Prajin confirmed that strict inspection must be done on those shops. And by the end of this year, the government would announce an action plan in line with its tourism master plan.

BANGKOK, 23 October 2014  - According to the latest survey, the majority of Thais are most concerned over the growing pollution and other threats to the environment.

Major think-tank Pew Research Center has conducted a survey in 44 countries on which of the five dangers is considered the greatest threat to the world. After surveying more than 48,000 people, the group found that the answers vary depending on where they live.

Many in the Middle East said religious and ethnic hatred was the greatest threat, while Europeans tended to choose inequality. Africans are more concerned with AIDS and other infectious diseases and other countries chose the spread of nuclear weapons or pollution and environmental problems as the top danger.

In Thailand, 36 percent of respondents view pollution as the greatest threat and 29 percent identified the gap between rich and poor. The third biggest threat is AIDS and other infectious diseases.

The geographical clustering shows that countries’choices often reflect regional concerns as well as internal problems.

CHIANG MAI, 23 October 2014  - Chiang Mai municipality is set to organize the annual the Festival of Lights or Yi Peng during November 1-7.

The festival, held under the alcohol-free theme, will feature a krathong-making contest and beauty pageants. Locals are encouraged to don traditional costumes to welcome visitors.

Residents and tourists are urged to refrain from using firecrackers in crowded areas and also to exercise extra caution when launching sky lanterns after 9PM due to aviation safety concerns. Local authorities expect a revenue of 200 million baht to be generated from the events.

In Chiang Mai, the Loy Krathong celebration is known as Yi Peng, as the twelfth month in the Thai Lunar Calendar corresponds to the second month in the traditional calendar of the old northern Lanna kingdom.

BANGKOK, 24 October 2014  – The Thailand International Sports Expo 2014 began yesterday with plans to strengthen the sports industry in Thailand and ASEAN. 

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