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BANGKOK, 17 October 2014 - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has affirmed that the security level in the southernmost region of Thailand has been raised following recent incidents while urging all units to work collaboratively to tackle the insurgency problem.

In his weekly address to the Thai people on television, Gen Prayut cited the southern unrest as a persistent problem that had caused substantial damage on the national economy, especially in the tourism, investment and industrial sectors. Despite much improvement, he insisted that the government had ordered officials to apply more stringency in all areas, ranging from security operations to development work and the creation of understanding.

The Ministry of Interior and all security agencies have been instructed by the premier to work together in an integrated manner in line with the government’s strategy. Meanwhile, the Army Commander-in-Chief and the Internal Security Operations Command have earlier introduced the “Thung Yang Daeng Model” which is expected to be an effective tool in providing better protection for schools in the Deep South.

Moreover, the Prime Minister noted that a special committee had been established to serve as the coordinator for the security personnel on duty in the restive region. He then asked the media to present news in a way that would help promote confidence in the government’s ability to solve this problem.

SUKHOTHAI, 18 October 2014 - Locals and officials in some northern and northeastern provinces are already bracing for the upcoming drought period that is expected to be more severe than usual.

In Sukhothai's Si Samrong district, rice plants have been seen withering from the dry weather and lack of rainfall. Some of the rice growers have tried digging water wells, which offered little help as water in the wells dried up quickly.

In Chainat, the greatly reduced water level in irrigation canals acted as confirmation to farmers that the Irrigation Department has, in fact, stopped discharging water into the irrigation system; in line with the government's earlier announcements. Some rice growers opt to cease off-season rice growing activities; others are trying to pump water into their paddies, although each paddy's size has been reduced.

In Yasothon, officials at the rainmaking center for the Northeastern Region are conducting aerial surveys in preparation for the upcoming drought. Meanwhile, authorities are asking farmers to reduce the size of their plantations in anticipation of water shortage in the irrigation system.

BANGKOK, 18 October 2014 - Provincial governors have been told to look closer into the plights of people in their provinces, especially into the problem of debts incurred from non-formal loans, after a woman set herself on fire this week upon learning that officials at a government-run help center for the public were unable to help her clear debts worth 1.5 million baht.

According to Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda, about 400 complaints have been submitted to the government's Damrong Tham help centers in the provinces, and 257 of the cases have been solved, leaving 98 outstanding cases. He said non-formal loans are illegal, and the provincial governors and the local police need to come up with measures to address them.

According to M.L. Panadda Diskul, the minister to the Prime Minister's Office, 4,224 complaints about non-formal loans have been lodged with the service center for the public at Government House.

Police General Woraphong Chiewpricha, the deputy commissioner of the Royal Thai Police, said the police force possessed a list of the individuals known to be non-formal lenders. The police are monitoring their behavior, and will make arrests on anyone of the individuals if he/she clearly breaks the law.

BANGKOK, 18 October 2014 The private sector has voiced readiness to heed the government's drive to promote increased use of rubber in industries.

General Chatchai Sarikulya, the minister of commerce, met with rubber producers on Friday to discuss ways to promote more rubber export and an increased use of rubber domestically, in order to mend the problem of low rubber prices. The minister is slated to hold talks with individual industry groups that include car tyre manufacturers, rubber gloves makers and rubberwood processors next week; each of the industry groups uses para rubber in different ways. The minister revealed he has received affirmation from the private sector about the latter having the capacity to increase rubber usage. For exportation, however, regulations must be adjusted and incentives provided for the industries so the latter would increase export output.

Chen Namchaisiri, Federation of Thai Industries vice chairman, affirmed on Friday the rubber-related businesses are ready to cooperate in raising output. He also expressed the belief that rubber usage within the industry sector can be raised by 100,000 tons if there is a serious drive to make it happen.

Meanwhile, Nanthawan Sakuntanak, director-general of the Department of International Trade Promotion, expressed her belief on Friday that the rubber price in the world market will not lower than what it is at present. She explained that the price had abnormally soared over the previous years because of stockpiling that was triggered by worries of an increased demand for rubber. The price has since become lower and more stable. However, she said demand for rubber will definitely increase in the future.

BANGKOK, 18 October 2014 - Even though no Ebola infections have been found in Thailand, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has encouraged all to carry on with preemptive measures, insisting that the situation is not to be underestimated.

In his statement on television, Gen Prayut spoke of the Ebola outbreak that had claimed many lives around the world, saying all concerned units in Thailand had been well prepared to prevent and contain the spread of the deadly disease in the Kingdom should an infection be detected. He confirmed that no infected persons had been reported so far in the country and the authorities would continue to be watchful for travelers with suspicious symptoms at airports.

As a preparation, the Prime Minister revealed that about 5,000 sets of protective gear and apparatus had been acquired and distributed to health professionals in various parts of the country while over 29,000 more sets were in the procurement process. He said it was vital to have all equipment as well as personnel, strategy and knowledge base ready in case an outbreak occurred.

In terms of humanitarian aid for Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, Gen Prayut admitted Thailand was not yet ready to send its medical staff to the region. Nonetheless, he called on the Thai people to contribute to the relief effort by donating money or necessities.

BANGKOK, 16 October 2014  The Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation hopes to carry out more rainmaking operations in the North of Thailand as the water levels at most dams remain low.

Mr Warawut Khantiyanan, Director-General of the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation, today paid a visit to northern provinces including Phetchabun, Phitsanulok, Tak and Chiang Mai in an effort to observe the local drought condition and to be briefed on the outcomes of previous rainmaking operations. After the trip, he said the situation in the lower northern region was not worrisome due to recent rainfalls but some provinces in the upper part could be in trouble.

The Director-General explained that the amount of water flowing into northern dams, such as Bhumibol Dam and Sirikit Dam, was found to be relatively low compared to the same period of last year. As a consequence, he feared the water reserves would not be sufficient for local farming during the approaching dry season.

To alleviate drought, Mr Warawut affirmed that authorities would push on with rainmaking activities in the North until the end of this month, after which the level of humidity in the air would plunge, making it difficult for the cloud seeding procedure. He said the officials were awaiting a weather forecast for the next few days to determine whether the humidity level in the region would be suitable for rainmaking.

BANGKOK, 16 October 2014  The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has declared measures to control floating sky lanterns and rockets, to keep the airspace safe during the Loy Krathong festival. 

BANGKOK, 16 October 2014  While the government is trying to stimulate domestic business productivity, Bang Phlat district has come up with a project to stimulate job promotion. Tang Hua Seng Department store in Bang Phlat District, Bangkok, from today until the 26th October 2014, is organizing the 21st Annual Handicraft fair, offering free handicraft workshops to any one interested to join in. 

BANGKOK, 17 October 2014  The Thammasat Economics Association is preparing to host a seminar on the current economic trend on Tuesday, November 11, while expressing its belief that the economic expansion in the 4th quarter of the year will be greater than that of the same quarter in the previous year.

Mr. Sakon Varanyuwatana, the dean of the Faculty of Economics, Thammasat University, said the seminar on the direction of the Thai economy in 2015 will include topics that are appropriate to the current situation, under which the country is undergoing a structural reform. He said the topics will match the interest of both Thai and foreign businesspersons who want to be informed of the direction the Thai economy is heading. There will also the topic of the drive to overcome disparities. Suggestions for the country's reform process will be made by academics, businesspersons, experts and policy makers from the state sector.

Finance Minister Sommai Phasee, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Pitipong Puengboon na Ayutthaya, Energy Minister Narongchai Akrasanee, as well as the assistant secretary to the minister of education, Mr. Amornwit Nakonthap, will be at the seminar to discuss policy-making in the various affairs of the country. Deputy Prime Minister M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula will be giving a special lecture as well.

The seminar will be held on Tuesday, November 11 at Plaza Athenee Bangkok. Ticket, which costs 3,000 baht, may be purchased at the Thammasat Economics Association. Alternatively, call 095-801-3535.

CHIANG MAI, 17 October 2014  The cold weather in the North has prompted an influx of tourists to Doi Inthanon National Park, where the temperature reached as low as 6 degrees Celsius this week.

Since last weekend, more than 5,000 tourists have visited Doi Inthanon National Park to make their way up to Thailand's tallest peak to experience the cold. The visitors typically experienced morning temperatures of 8 or 9 degrees Celsius at the highest points of the national park. Of the 5,000, 4,600 were Thais.

National park officials are planning to limit the amount of tourists by only allowing a limited number to visit each site at a time. The parking spaces at each of the national park's attractions will be considered; full parking lots means no more visitors will be allowed into the area until the next time period. The measure to curb visitor numbers is expected to be put to use during December and January, the peak season for tourism.

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