BANGKOK, 23 September 2014 – The secretary-general of the Election Commission has expressed satisfaction over the selection of the National Reform Council members.

EC secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said that the decision to disclose the identities of the candidates of the 250-member National Reform Council lies in the discretion of the National Council for Peace and Order.

Mr. Puchong said that the EC merely performs the administrative part of the NRC selection and has no decision-making power.

What he could say is that, so far, the EC has been satisfied with how the selection process has progressed after as many as 7,370 qualified candidates from various professions have applied to be selected. The number was much higher than the EC had anticipated.

The EC secretary-general went on to say that, once the NRC is officially set up, the commission is to work on its own restructuring and get ready for the drafting of the new constitution and all subordinate laws.

BANGKOK, 24 September 2014 The Royal Thai Army has dispatched troops to dredge canals in 20 provinces as part of the National Council for Peace and Order’s sustainable water management policy.

Army spokesperson Col. Sirichan Ngathong said that the Engineer Department and similar units from all army areas have been assigned to carry out 28 water management projects in 20 provinces across Thailand.

Col. Sirichan stated that the implementation of the projects has been scheduled for three months, starting in July, in accordance with the NCPO’s flood prevention and drought management policies.

She added that, under the projects, the troops will expand the sewerage system while building more water retention systems as well as fixing all water gates.

So far, 98% of the works have been completed and everything is expected to be concluded by its deadline at the end of this month, according to the army spokesperson.

Col. Sirichan went on to say that, for fiscal year 2015, the army has prepared to propose a set of follow-up plans to the government’s water resources management committee in order to help ensure the continuation of all projects and the country’s systematic and sustainable water management.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014 11:51

TCT proposes extension of New Year holidays

BANGKOK, 23 September 2014 The Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT) is requesting the Cabinet to consider extending the New Year holidays to raise revenue from tourism and has also come up with a strategy to take Thai tourism to the next level in four years.

TCT President Piyaman Tejapaibul revealed that a proposal has been submitted to the Cabinet via Minister of Tourism and Sports Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, with a view to increasing the duration of the upcoming New Year holidays to five days, from December 31 to January 4.

The objective is to allow more time for Thai holidaymakers to travel in the Kingdom, generating more income for businesses.

Based on an opinion survey, the percentage of people inclined to go on a vacation this New Year’s could increase from 37 percent to 61 percent if the holiday period is prolonged. Another 36 percent of those who will be traveling could also increase their duration of stay.

At the same time, Ms Piyaman said Cabinet approval is being sought for an extension of the visa fee waiver for Chinese tourists, delaying its expiration from the end of November to April 2015.

The TCT has also presented an eight-point tourism promotion road map to the Tourism and Sports Minister for consideration. The road map is aimed to propel the country’s tourism revenue to 4 trillion baht a year in 2018, with 50 million foreign visitors and 237 million trips made domestically.

BANGKOK, 23 September 2014 The Transport Ministry is planning to discuss with the operator of Bangkok’s underground train service regarding a plan to temporarily freeze its fares.

Transport Minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong said on Monday that he will hold a meeting with executives of Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand about a plan to cap underground train fares until the end of this year as part of the “Returning Happiness to the People” campaign.

The MRTA has agreed not to raise its fares for three months, since July 3. The company originally planned to up fares by 1-2 baht to a new range of 16 baht to 42 baht.

Also on Monday, ACM Prajin met with officials from Transport Ministry and related agencies to discuss his work policies which are in line with the National Council for Peace and Order’s transportation system development strategies while instructing all to prepare an action plan depicting the improvement plan for land, air and water transportation and submit it to him by September 27

BANGKOK, 23 September 2014 Thai athletes have won two bronze medals in weightlifting and judo in South Korea, Incheon Asian Games 2014.

Thai weightlifter Rattikarn Kulnoi has won the country's first medal at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, claiming a bronze in the women's 58 kg division.

The Thai lifted a total of 222 kg, while Ri Jonghwa of North Korea won the gold and China’s Shuai Wang took the silver. Another bronze came from Tonthan Satjadetthe in the 78 kg division of women's judo competitions, which is the first judo medal in 12 years.

BANGKOK, 23 September 2014 The Royal Thai Police are planning to increase street lighting and install 50,000 more CCTV cameras across 283 ‘danger areas’ throughout Bangkok in a bid to beef up security and reduce the rate of crime.

Acting Police chief Police General Watcharapol Prasarnrachakit met with representatives from 88 police stations, 50 district offices, and the Metropolitan Electricity Authority to come up with measures to increase security throughout the capital.

The meeting agreed to install more street lights and CCTV cameras in areas that are ridden with crime, mostly in crowded communities. The installation is expected to take at least 60 days.

Meanwhile, the police will also deploy more personnel to patrol dangerous areas in a bid to reduce criminal activities relating to bodily assaults and robbery.

RAYONG, 23 September 2014 Local businesses and residents around Mae Ramphueng Beach in Rayong came together on Monday to clean up oil slicks along the beach.

Staff from hotels, eateries, fishing vessels as well as local residents have been seen collecting oil slicks in front of beach resorts in Mueang district. According to locals, the oil slicks, which covered about a one kilometer stretch of the beach, looked like spent asphalt or fuel oil. The slicks were discovered yesterday, and have been collected by authorities for the purpose of determining the source of the pollution.

Sumet Saithong, chief of Khao Laem Ya-Koh Samet Islands national park, has filed a report with police and asked the latter to investigate the case and take legal action against those who dumped the oil into the sea.

NARATHIWAT, 23 September 2014 Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is paying a 3-day visit to the southern region of Thailand from September 22 to 24. The royal itinerary is taking the Princess to Narathiwat, Pattani and Songkhla provinces.

On her first stop in Narathiwat, the Princess Maha Chakri visited the Longkong Fair 2014, at the Chalerm Phra Kiat public park in Muang District.

Her Royal Highness on this occasion awarded 70 agriculturists who have won the Narathiwat annual competition of agricultural produce. Also receiving their awards from the Princess were villagers who won a competition of handicraft products using native plants such as palm leaves, Lipao and Krajute grass as raw materials.

The Princess also awarded 40 winners of this year’s zebra dove cooing competition.

The Longkong Fair is the 39th of its kind organized as part of the “Good Products of Nara City” Festival which has triple objectives, namely to show gratitude to Their Majesties the King and Queen and other members of the Royal Family who have provided assistance in all aspects to the people of Narathiwat, to honor HRH the Princess Maha Chakri on the occasion of her 60th birthday in 2015, and to celebrate 99th founding anniversary of the province.

Her Royal Highness later toured an exhibition in the fair’s ground featuring development projects by various government units such as the promotion of cow and goat rearing. Other interesting activities are cooking demonstrations of southern-style food and competitions of long-tail and native boats such as Ko-lae and Yo-kong.

The fair will continue until September 27, this year

BANGKOK, 23 September 2014 The Department of Internal Trade Director-General Chittana Khaiyawannakan revealed after a visit to a fresh market in Nonthaburi that items' prices have not yet risen substantially, ahead of the vegetarian festival that will kick off this week.

She attributed the unchanging prices of vegetables to the large quantity of crops that had been grown by farmers in anticipation of the heightened demand during the vegetarian food period. The recent round of flooding also did not damage agriculture areas used for growing vegetables.

Ms. Chittana said that compared to the same period of last year, vegetable prices are currently 2-5 baht lower per kilogram. The current prices are also not expected rise substantially during the vegetarian period.

Ms. Chittana added that Ministry of Commerce officials will meet with representatives from the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Thai Industries today (Tuesday) and tomorrow to discuss the projection of items' prices. If, at the meetings, raw materials' prices are deemed stable, the ministry may ask manufacturers to refrain from raising their product prices for a period.

BANGKOK, 22 September 2014 A vice president of the National Legislative Assembly has assured that the selection of the reform council members has not been pre-determined while the disclosure of the names of the candidates is up to the National Council for Peace and Order.

According to NLA first vice president Surachai Liangboonlertchai, the names of 50 National Reform Council candidates, who represent the political section, have already been submitted to the National Council for Peace and Order who will make another round of selection.

Mr. Surachai added that it will depend on the NCPO to decide if they will disclose to the public who they decide to select.

He added that while the disclosure will show the transparency of the selection process, it may lead those who have passed the first round of selection to try to lobby for a seat on the council. So, personally, he does not want the NCPO to reveal their decision until the entire process is completed.

Mr. Surachai has assured that the 250-member NRC selection is not pre-determined as the process utilises the secret ballots to choose candidates from various professions, who are experienced and respected in their respective fields.

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