BANGKOK, 17 March 2015 - The president of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) says an outsider prime minister will be necessary when the country reaches the point where it cannot move forward due to political unrest.

In reference to the overview of the draft charter, NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said the lawmakers have already received a report on the progress of the draft from the charter rewrite committee, adding that one of the issues that will have to be thoroughly studied is the Germany’s electoral system, which Thailand plans to adopt. According to him, all suggestions and thoughts regarding the matter will be gathered, and concerns will be raised as to how the system will work in Thailand.

Speaking about one of the provisions in the new charter which allows an outsider to administer the country, the president said the move will be crucial in circumstances where political unrest poses serious threats to national security and hinders growth. However, there must be an organization that can make such a call, deciding when the country reaches a dead end, which calls for an outsider premier to step in.

Lastly, he said he has been in close contact with chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) Borwornsak Uwanno to ensure that ancillary laws are being written in accordance with the permanent charter.

BANGKOK, 17 March 2015 - The Office of The Attorney General (OAG) will indict 21 individuals over the corruption in the rice deals or ‘G2G’.

The OAG has decided to pursue a legal action against former Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapriom and 21 other individuals involved in the deal today. The decision came in light of the National Anti-Corruption Commission's investigation.

OAG Deputy Spokesperson Kosolwat Intuchanyong brought 200 boxes containing dossier earlier this morning to the Supreme Court. More details will be revealed later during the day.

BANGKOK, 17 March 2015 - The Department of Skill Development (DSD) has urged related parties to develop skill development networks across the country following higher demands for skilled workers.

DSD Director General M.L. Boondarik Smithti said it is important for Thai workers to be skillful as Thailand is becoming part of the ASEAN Economic Community.

According to the DSD, skill development programs must be implemented regionally and assessed frequently. The skill development plan should also be developed for 2016-2018.

The DSD will first focus on increasing the capacity of workers in 3 industries which are in need of skilled workers. They include auto, tourism and logistics industries.

M.L. Boondarik added later that every province must lift its human development on par with the AQRF standards for the tourism industry.

BANGKOK, 17 March 2015 -- The cabinet is expected to be briefed on the haze situation and consider adopting a new law that would prohibit terrorist financing.

The cabinet will consider several important draft laws today. They include legislations against terrorist financing and money laundering and other laws regarding advance buying of farm products, the improvement of organizational structure of various ministries and waste management of discarded electronic appliances.

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports will ask the cabinet for permission to host the Deaf Futsal World Cup 2015. The cabinet will also determine funding policies for public service obligations and a cost of living reduction program.

The cabinet will be reported on the haze crisis in the North of Thailand particularly in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampang and Phayao. It will later look into drought crisis prevention measures which consist of delivering water to affected areas and identifying new water sources.

PHITSANULOK, 17 March 2015 - The 3rd Army Region is launching a campaign to encourage people in the North to stop slash-and-burn practice to clear lands.

According to Spokesperson for the 3rd Army Region Major General Thana Jaruwat, the haze problem in northern Thailand is still persistent. Monday is the worst day of the week as people are found to have slashed and burned most on the weekend.

Statistics also reveal that haze from fires occurs most during March 20-21 of each year. Northern provinces have been told to raise awareness and advise the residents against burning to clear lands.

Major General Thana said a recent survey showed that nearly 70% of wild fires occurred in forest areas and 30% on farmland. Almost one million rai of forests are being encroached yearly.

BANGKOK, 16 March 2015 - Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, General Dapong Rattanasuwan has assigned the Forest Industry Organization (FIO) and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) to speed up a survey of wild elephant population nationwide in order to bring the data for use in the zoning of elephant habitats, said Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Suphot Tovichakchaikul.

“In some areas of the forest, wild elephant population exceeds foods and water supply, especially in the dry season when they need to come out of the forest to forage for more food in community zones,” Mr. Supot revealed, adding that the survey will help authorities evaluate whether each of the existing habitats has enough foods and water for all elephants.

He insisted that a transfer of wild elephants from highly populated areas to new habitats will be the last measure for reducing concentration of elephant population as it is difficult to do and needs information in great detail.

The elephant population zoning is part of the National Master Plan on Solutions to elephant-related problems. It is scheduled to be completed by March before being reported to CITES, hoping to save Thailand from an economic sanction by CITES.

Although the elephant population in Thailand has increased, the mammals are still facing a high risk of extinction due to the continuous forest invasion for foods and lands and elephant hunting for ivories.

BANGKOK, 16 March 2015 - Poll respondents gave the government led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha a rating of 7.91out of 10 for its first six-month performance, conducted by Rajabhat Suan Dusit University.

According to the poll, the distribution of the 1,000-baht financial subsidy to each rice farmer who sold their rice to the government under the rice pledging scheme received highest satisfaction from the public among all other projects.

In terms of individual performance of each ministry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives was ranked second with 72.18% in public support, following the Defence Ministry coming in the first place with 74.51% of support.

The Poll was conducted among 1,632 respondents across Thailand from Feb 20-28.

BANGKOK, 17 March 2015  International Trade Promotion offices abroad have been tasked with implementing the Ministry of Commerce's export-driving strategy that calls for pro-active approaches in four aspects. 

CHIANG MAI, 17 March 2015 - Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dapong Ratanasuwan has called for more stringent enforcement of the law to deter slash-and-burn practices, which contribute to the haze pollution in the North. 

BANGKOK, 17 March 2015 - The Ministry of Public Health is distributing 250,000 face masks to members of the public in the nine Northern provinces afflicted by the haze. Ministry officials are also urging people to avoid heat strokes during bouts of hot weather.

Deputy Minister of Public Health Somsak Chunharas disclosed on Monday that public hospitals in the nine haze-afflicted northern provinces have readied medical supplies for patients around the clock. 250,000 face masks are being given out, and 150,000 more have been ordered.

Department of Disease Control Director-General Opart Karnkawinpong, meanwhile, said that diarrhea, food poisoning and heat stroke are the ailments that could be expected during the present period, when summer is just starting. Dr. Opart suggested that people who work in hot environments take hourly rests and drink plenty of water. If fatigue sets in, the person should take cover in shaded or cooler areas and drink electrolyte beverage.

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