Friday, 30 January 2015 14:23

PM vows intensified martial law

BANGKOK, Jan 29 -- Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the government would strictly enforce martial law measures, ban overseas trips and check the financial transactions of inciters unless they stopped their movement.

HARBIN, Jan 29 - A large Russian culture theme park is expected to be built in Harbin, capital of China's border province of Heilongjiang.

Construction of the Sino-Russia Friendship Park will start this year, said Wei Minfang, general manager with the Harbin Volga Manor Cultural Tourism Co., Ltd.

The 5-square-kilometer park will take six years to complete with the first stage expected to be completed and open to the public by 2017, Wei said.

"The park, based on the history of Harbin City with the theme of Russia culture, will become a new landmark for Sino-Russia cultural tourism," she said.

Total investment is estimated at 5 billion yuan (800 million U.S. dollars).

The company now runs a 600,000-square-meter park called Volga Manor, which has become a major resort for the ice and snow festivals in Harbin. Famous sites include a church, a Russian-style castle and a Russian restaurant. The new theme park will surround the current one with the current park at its center, according to Wei.

Dubbed "Oriental Moscow", Harbin originated in 1898 from the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway financed by then Russia Empire. Apart from its unique combination of oriental and European architecture styles, the city is also known for its ice and snow festivals in winter. (Xinhua)

Thursday, 29 January 2015 14:12

Ministries to promote school football

BEIJING, Jan 28 - China's Ministry of Education (MOE), together with five other government departments, established a "school football leading group" to ensure football thrives in the country's schools, according to an MOE circular released late Tuesday.

The leading group is tasked with implementing laws and policies on campus football development, outlining annual plans as well as reviewing rules and budgets for promoting the sport among the nation's students and youth.

The other five departments participating in the leading groups are the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Finance, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the General Administration of Sports (GAS) and the Communist Youth League Central Committee.

The MOE on Jan. 16 announced that it plans to select 20,000 primary or middle schools in which to promote football by 2017. It will also choose 30 counties to serve as trial areas for the development of school football in order to increase the popularity of the sport in Chinese schools and lay a foundation for more talented players.

The move came in response to the poor performance by China's national football team in recent years. The Chinese team has failed to qualify for the World Cup for the past 12 years. (Xinhua)

SEJONG, Jan 29 - South Korea will review some 300 rules governing maritime safety from scratch this year to make it safer for people to travel on ships, the government said Thursday.

The policy goal set by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries comes after 295 people, mostly high school students, died in the Sewol ferry sinking in April last year. Nine are still missing. The sinking of the 6,825-ton ferry is one of the deadliest maritime disasters in the country's history, and it triggered widespread calls for an overhaul of the country's maritime safety regulations.

Those implicated in the tragedy have been arrested and are on trial, with state prosecutors claiming a combination of ship cargo overloading, poor steering and remodeling of the vessel as the cause of the disaster.

Criticism of the government's poor initial response and confusion led to the dismantlement of the Coast Guard.

The ministry said that 800 million won (US$742,000) will be used next month to conduct detailed evaluations on the main sea routes around the country, with another 4 billion won to be spent on establishing new safe operational guidelines around the major ports of Ulsan, Gwangyang and Incheon that are used frequently by oil tankers and other large ships.

The Sewol ferry had left from Incheon on its ill-fated voyage, with port authorities being blamed for failing to check whether the ship was overloaded.

In addition, the maritime ministry said it will follow through on reform measures announced in September that call for the government to directly regulate safety, increase the amount of fines for rule violations from 30 million won to 1 billion won, and reduce the age of vessels that can be used as car ferries from 30 to 25 years.

All crew members will be obliged to wear uniforms, and barriers restricting companies from entering the shipping line business will be lifted in June.

To ensure that companies make a profit, which is critical for upgrading safety rules and crew training, the government will allow fuel surcharges and flexible fare rates for weekend operations.

In addition, the ministry said it will take steps to reduce the number of accidents involving fishing boats, which made up 76.7 percent of all maritime accidents in the past five years.

These steps include automatic location tracking systems, compelling crew members to wear life jackets and implementing mandatory safety instruction for people on fishing boats.

On the peaceful use of waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula, systematic measures will be taken to better manage the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and its continental shelf regions, the ministry said.

KOTA KINABALU, Jan 28 - ASEAN will continue to consider a common time zone for ASEAN capitals, says Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

Speaking to reporters after chairing the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat here Wednesday, he said the matter was discussed during today's meeting as "there were many strong reasons to have a common time zone".

"This is not a new idea. This was brought up by our leaders, as early as 1995, and they discussed it again around 2004.

"With ASEAN forming an intergrated and cohesive community by the end of this year, we believe a common time zone for ASEAN capitals is an idea worth considering," he said.

Among the benefits of a common time zone for the region involve strengthening business links and inter-governmental cooperation among ASEAN and Asian countries.

Besides that, a common time zone will allow more time for communication purposes, tally the stock market activities, enhance airlines operational system and upgrade the business and banking linkages around the Asian region.

Malaysia has taken over the ASEAN chairmanship for 2015, from Myamnar.

The two-day retreat which ended today, is the curtain-raiser for a series of ministerial and related meetings under Malaysia's ASEAN chairmanship this year.

Malaysia has mentioned the idea of a common time zone for ASEAN during a panel session at the World Economic Forum Summit in Davos on Jan 24.

In that session, Malaysia said a common time zone was important towards realising the ASEAN Economic Community.

BANGKOK, Jan 28 - The Ministry of Commerce is sponsoring a Made in Thailand in Focus Fair to bring international buyers to seal business deals with Thai manufacturers. 

Thursday, 29 January 2015 14:02

PM adheres to peaceful solutions for far South

BANGKOK, Jan 28 - Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said he has adhered to peaceful solutions for the far South and has not set any timeframe limitation for its peace restoration process.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 15:43

Car ownership tops 154 million in China in 2014

BEIJING, Jan. 27 - China added a record 17 million new cars on the road in 2014 as car ownership reaches 154 million, said the Ministry of Public Security on Tuesday.

Strong demand for cars has helped the automobile replace the motorcycle as the main method of transportation. Cars made up 58.6 percent of total motor vehicles, a sharp rise from 43.9 percent five years ago.

The number of people obtaining driving licenses also ballooned from 219 million in 2013 to 247 million as of the end of 2014, said the ministry, adding 29.7 million drivers have fewer than one year's driving experience.

Of the 35 cities which have more than one million cars each, ten have more than two million cars, including Beijing, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing.

The ministry said the number of passenger cars has reached 117 million, 90 percent of which are private cars. Beijing has the highest private car penetration, with 63 private cars for every 100 households, while the average is 25 private cars for every 100 households.

Carmakers have enjoyed strong sales over the years, with more middle-class customers placing orders for their first cars. But with frequent traffic jams, it is yet to be seen whether cars can still ride the booming tide in the years to come. More local governments have begun to limit car use, among them eight cities have quotas for new car plates. (Xinhua)

BANGKOK, Jan 27 --    The commander of the Institute of Forensic Medicine (IFM) said its autopsy found no narcotic substance in the body of the British tourist found dead on Surat Thani's Ko Tao island.

She might have died because of her chronic disease and a medicine she took.

IFM commander Pol Maj Gen Pornchai Suteerakune said officials who conducted the autopsy did not find any narcotics in the body of Christina Annesley and her cause of death might have been chronic disease and her medication.

The 23-year-old tourist was found dead in her hotel room on Ko Tao on Jan 20.

Officials will take some time to check medicines in her body. The examination would be complicated and time-consuming, Maj Gen Pornchai said.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 15:38

Facebook, Instagram down one hour worldwide

BANGKOK, Jan 27 - Facebook and the Instagram social networks broke down in many countries for about one hour from 1.10pm to 2.10pm Thai time.

The hacker group Lizard Sqad announced via Twitter @LizardMafia, implying it was responsible for the incident.

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