KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 - A Japanese commander who had helped with the search-and-rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, Flight MH370, will be in charge of two patrol aircraft from the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) calling at Butterworth later this week.

Cdr Hideki Jufuku and 37 crew will be on board the two P-3C aircraft that will be at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base there on Feb 20 and 21 for airport call and replenishment of supplies, the Embassy of Japan in Malaysia said in a statement in Kuala Lumpur, Thursday.

"The P-3Cs have been actively taking part in anti-piracy operations (search operations) off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden since October 2014. The crew have carried out their mission under challenging temperatures of over 50 degrees Centigrade," the embassy said.

The statement said this would be the first time that the Japan Self-Defence Force (JSDF) was calling at an RMAF base except for the search-and-rescue (SAR) operation for the missing MH370 last year.

"It is our honour to inform that Cdr Jufuku was the commander for the SAR operation for MH370 in March and April 2014. He and the crew transited at the Subang airbase, and proceeded to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Pearce to continue the operation," the embassy said.

Jufuku's return to Malaysia this time was to mark a symbolic event for future relations between the JSDF and RMAF as well as between Japan and Malaysia, the statement added.

Jakarta, Feb 20 - Indonesia must be firm and strong in facing the threats of the Australian government and people regarding the planned execution of two Australian drug convicts in death row, a law expert of Padjadjaran State University (Unpad) said.

SHANGHAI, Feb. 20 - The amount of polished diamonds imported into China declined for a fourth consecutive month in January, according to the Shanghai Diamond Exchange.

Last month, the country imported polished diamonds worth 157 million U.S. dollars, down 24 percent compared with the previous January.

The declining trend has resulted from sluggish global economic recovery and a weak domestic market, according the exchange.

In 2014, China's diamond consumption hit a record high thanks to robust growth in the first three quarters. In the year, polished diamonds worth about 2.24 billion U.S. dollars, up 31 percent year on year, were exported to the country through the exchange.

The exchange, founded in October 2000 in Shanghai's Pudong District, is the only venue in China authorized by the State Council to handle diamond imports and exports and to conduct trade.

As a member of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, the exchange's membership stood at 370 at the end of January.

China is now the world's second-largest diamond consumer and fourth-largest rough diamond trader. (Xinhua)

BANGKOK Feb 20 - A public hearing on Thailand's controversial oil and gas exploration concession bidding, hosted by the government, began at Government House early Friday attended by state and civil society representatives, and those involved in the intended bidding process.

BANGKOK, Feb 19 -- PTT, Thailand's state-owned SET-listed oil and gas company, backs the government’s plan to hold a public forum on the 21st round of bidding contests for petroleum exploration and production  President Pailin Chuchottaworn.

BANGKOK, Feb 19 - Airports of Thailand (AoT) projected air traffic to increase at its six airports during this Chinese New Year and that more than 4.3 million air passengers are traveling.

BANGKOK,  Feb 19 - Thailand's Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) reported that the permanent border crossing operations at Ban Pu Nam Ron village and Three Pagodas border pass in Kanchanaburi province created trade in farm products worth nearly Bt500 million.

Tawatchai Prayoonsin, director of the 10th OAE branch based in Ratchaburi province, said that after the opening of the Ban Pu Nam Ron border crossing on June 12, 2013, to promote business and tourism in addition to the Three Pagodas border crossing, the export of Thai farm products through both channels was estimated at Bt450 million.

Key exports there include dietary supplements, milk, alcoholic drinks, seasonings, palm oil, teak seedlings, farm machines, live pigs and fertilizers. Most exports are consumer products because Myanmar’s manufacturing of such products is still insufficient for local consumption.

Thai products are popular among Myanmar consumers for their quality.

The import of agricultural products through the border crossings is estimated at Bt57 million.

Key imports include live cattle, bamboo, seafood, sawdust, ornamental fish and black sesame.

The value of live cattle imported has grown 18 per cent annually there in the past five years from Bt25 million in 2010 to Bt45 million last year as Myanmar cattle are cheaper than local cattle.

Seafood importing has risen since the opening of the Ban Pu Nam Ron border crossing as Myanmar is an abundant source of seafood and Thailand can import it to make processed products for export.

Thursday, 19 February 2015 14:48

PM: No pressure on Yingluck to leave country

BANGKOK, Feb 19 - Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha does not think that the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s (NACC) request for the government to demand compensation for the loss-ridden and corruption-plagued rice-pledging scheme would pressure former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who implemented the scheme, to flee the country.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 15:02

13 bidders to contest for energy exploration

Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula said 13 bidders, including a French firm, will contest in the 21st round of bidding on concessions for oil and gas exploration in Thailand.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 14:59

Consumer goods prices stable

Commerce Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya has ordered ministry officials to constantly check consumer goods prices at markets with the approach of Chinese New Year, while a senior officer said that so far goods prices remained stable.

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