PATTANI, 9 April 2014  - Mr. Srisompob Jitpiromsri, an academic from Pattani Campus of the Prince of Songkla University, has indicated 3 major factors contributing to the recently intensified southern violence.

Mr. Srisompob, who is also the Director of the Deep South Watch Center, elaborated that April is one of months that fall into the separatists’ seasonal attacks. According the center’s data, assailants tend to carry out more assaults during the month of April to June each year.

The second reason, Mr. Srisompob speculated, is the 10th anniversary of the beginning of violence in the region. He said the separatists might have intensified their attacks in order to symbolize the anniversary. He also pointed out the pattern of the attacks, which are focused on vulnerable targets such as innocent citizens, teachers, and monks. The latest incident saw attacks launched at a business center in the central district of Yala Province.

The academic said the final factor is the fact that the peace talks between the government and the separatists are being put on hold due to the political turmoil. He said the absence of the talks has led to the assailants’ negligence to honor the agreement to subside attacks.

BANGKOK, 9 April 2014, - The Center for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) is currently collecting evidence against the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)’s core members for supporting their leader’s plan to claim sovereign power.

According to Chalerm Yubamrung, the Director of the CAPO, the plan to reclaim sovereign power announced by Suthep Thuagsuban, the Secretary General of the PDRC, is unconstitutional. He is convinced that the public would not accept the government assembled through a non-democratic method.

Mr. Suthep has declared that the PDRC would gain sovereign power and that he would personally seek endorsement from His Majesty the King for a new prime minister.

The CAPO’s team of spokespersons concurred that the speech made by Suthep on April 5th implied a clear sign of his attempt to abolish democracy under constitutional monarchy, adding that the move is in violation of Section 113 of the constitution. The center thus appointed the Department of Special Investigation to seek legal action against Suthep and 58 other PDRC core members for treason.

BANGKOK, 9 April 2014  – Closed-circuit camera footage clearly captured the face of one of the perpetrators of Sunday's (April 6) chain bombing in Yala City, according to police investigators.

Officials determined from the CCTV footage that no less than 4 insurgents had been on a Mazda BT50 pickup truck that was used as a car bomb in front of a furniture store on Sunday. The car bomb blast killed 1 person and injured 41 others. During the same time period, two men had parked a motorcycle with a sidecar in front of another furniture store and detonated the bomb. CCTV footage clearly captured the face of one of the two men involved in the motorcycle bombing.

In nearby Pattani, security officials erected checkpoints all over the downtown area after intelligence indicated that insurgents were preparing to strike in Pattani City in a fashion similar to the Yala blasts. Authorities were especially on the lookout for 8 stolen vehicles that may have been rigged into car bombs, although the number of lost cars in the Deep South, counting from 2009, stood at 30.

SAMUT PRAKAN, 9 April 2014 – Officials have the fire at Phraekkasa landfill in Samut Prakan under control and are maintaining vigilance as the hot weather continues to favor a new round of ignition.

Pollution Control Department officials used chemical fire extinguishers to put out the flames at Phraekkasa landfill in Mueang district, Samutprakan on Tuesday. Just last month, blazes at the landfill filled the air in the vicinity with smoke and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of households.

On Tuesday, officials determined from air quality tests that harmful sulfur dioxide was not present in the air. However, they said another fire may erupt from underneath the trash pile because there was still heat and methane present. The Phraekkasa sub-district administrative organization has been asked to ready its fire engines for putting out any new blazes that might break out at the landfill.

The public can make inquiries about pollution or report pollution problems at hotline number 1650.

BANGKOK, 9 April 2014  – The United States has handed a letter to the Thai government expressing grave concern over the political situation and the possibility of a power grab.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel and US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney attended a meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at the Ministry of Defense on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said after attending the meeting that the US delegation handed a letter from US Secretary of State John Kerry, which expressed concern over the political situation in Thailand, to Ms. Yingluck.

Mr. Surapong added that the US was especially against a military coup or seizure of power. The US was also worried over the effects the problems in Thailand would have on ASEAN as a whole, as Thailand was unable to initiate any new policies in the multilateral arena due to the caretaker status of the government.

BANGKOK, 8 April 2014 – Residents living in the surrounding areas of the Praekkasa landfill have requested the governor of Samut Prakan to permanently close down the dump site following repeated fire incidents.

About 100 locals previously affected by garbage fires at the Praekkasa ground today gathered in front of the Samut Prakan City Hall to call on Governor Kanit Iamrahong to clarify the province’s measures to prevent recurrences of the fires. The governor then invited the group to a meeting to listen to their suggestions.

The troubled residents reportedly expressed their wish for a permanent shutdown of the Praekkasa landfill. They also claimed that a number of people in affected communities had not been given their compensation by the province.

In response, Governor Kanit explained that the Praekkasa Tambon Administrative Organization was the agency empowered to make a decision whether or not to close down the dump site as demanded. A committee will be set up to study ways to deal with this matter while the locals will be allowed to become part of the panel so as to make their voices heard.

As for the rehabilitation process, representatives from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security noted that only the affected residents who had to reside at the evacuation center during the fires were entitled to financial compensation; the rest had been given assistance in the form of relief packages. So far, around 70 evacuees have been compensated at the rate of 2,000 baht each.

BANGKOK, 8 April 2014  -A Pheu Thai Spokesman Prompong Nopparit has requested the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) prosecute Suthep Thaugsuaban, the leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) on charges of insurrection. 

BANGKOK, 8 April 2014 - Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has ordered Deputy Minister of Defense Gen.Yuthasak Sasiprapha to be in charge of solutions to the southern unrest after recent explosions in Yala. The Ministry of Interior has been tasked with providing compensation for the victims. 

BANGKOK, 7 April 2014  —The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has conducted a poll to survey Thais on a range of issues including questions about where people are travelling for the Songkran Festival as well as how people plan to watch the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.

The poll asked 1,800 respondents, comprised of 600 accommodation owners, along with 1,200 other people in six major tourist attractions of Thailand: Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Cholburi, Khon Kaen, Chiangmai, and Songkla.

The survey, conducted during 1-8 March 2014, found that people mostly plan to travel during April (86.5%), and the top-three favorite places are Chiangmai (10.7%), Phuket (6.4%), and Cholburi (6.4%).

The top three popular places to go for the Thai New Year celebration are Pattaya (28.3%), Bangkok’s Khao San Road (22.9%), and Chiang Mai’s moat (15.5%). Most people who are travelling in May plan to go during the National Labor Day (1 May) and Coronation Day (5 May).

Moreover, 79.2% of accommodation providers expect the tourism atmosphere to be robust during the Songkran Festival, and 53.7% said that they expect the atmosphere to be bustling during the long holidays in May. However, 46.3% believe that the atmosphere will continue to be dull due to the low season among foreign tourists, Thailand’s sluggish economy and the prolonged political unrest.

The poll also asked about the upcoming World Cup that will be held in Brazil from June 12 to July 13. Almost 60% of respondents said they will watch the matches live, 39.5% said they planned to watch at their friend’s house, 35% at restaurants, and 23.5% at outdoor activity squares. 65.7% of operators answered that they still do not have any plan for the World Cup, but 18.7% will extend closing time for restaurants or hotels’ pubs, and 13.3% will hold activity centers in hotels.

The TAT firmly believes that prominent cultural events, including the Songkran Festival, serve as a significant magnet that attracts tourists and that Thai tourists will travel to the beaches during the long holidays in May.

BANGKOK, 7 April 2014,  - The national reserves at the end of March stood at 167 billion USD, or 5.453 trillion baht, thanks to the baht exhibiting signs of stability, the slowdown in capital outflow, and the increase in cash circulation in the local economy.

According to the Bank of Thailand (BoT), the currency forward trading in March was worth 2.33 billion USD, a drop of 100 million USD from the previous week’s 2.34 billion USD, adding that the nation's international reserves stood at 191 billion USD when taking the forward trading value into account.

The fact that the central bank did not interfere with the baht value has contributed to the reserves’ stability; on that note, the steady value of the baht suggests that the effect on capital outflow caused by the adjusted benchmark rate of the Federal Reserve had dissipated.

The baht is expected to trade between 32.50 - 32.52 baht per one Us dollar today.

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