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Thailand Live Friday 15 Oct 2010

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Thailand Live Friday 15 October 2010

News, Bits and Tweets

with webfact

Keep up to date with live updates from the news, hour by hour.

For breaking news,national, regional and international news updates on

a daily basis only, this thread is closed to commentary so that those

who wish to follow the news can find it here...

Commentary is still open for Thailand news in the relevant thread posted in News Clippings.

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Related topic: Thailand Live Thursday 14 October 2010

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PM looks into the high cost of natural gas

BANGKOK (NNT) -- After meeting with foreign investors, The Prime minister has said the costs of the natural gas used in heavy industries is what make Thailand less attractive to foreign companies than its neighboring countries.

According to President of Thai Trade Representatives Kiat Sittiamorn, foreign investors have commented that natural gas prices in Thailand are way higher than those in its neighboring countries. Many transnational companies have, therefore, decided to invest in other countries instead of Thailand, severely affecting the nation's ability to compete.

The Prime Minister has thus assigned Kiat to look into the issue and to discuss with the giant conglomerate, PTT, pertaining to the cost structure of the gas for industrial use. The conclusion of the discussion is to be presented to the Premier himself.

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-- NNT 2010-10-15 footer_n.gif

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Ministry of Commerce ready to help affected SME

BANGKOK (NNT) -- The Ministry of Commerce is ready to draft measures to help SME’s entrepreneurs affected by the baht appreciation. It is also prepared to discuss other measures aimed at softening the impact with the Ministry of Finance.

According to Commerce Minister Mrs Porntiva Nakasai, the Ministry will request up to 300 million baht in budget from the cabinet to help all SME entrepreneurs affected by the baht appreciation. The Ministry will also ask the entrepreneurs to bring their goods to be sold under the project called “12 months, 12 projects, Eating Thai food, Using Thai goods”. The Minister said it was a strategy to stimulate domestic consumption.

As for the entrepreneurs' complaints that producers are not buying rice at the prices set by the Ministry, reasoning that they have been affected by the baht appreciation, the Minister has already ordered officials to look into the matter. She will discuss with the Finance Minister to draft new measures to help those people.

Krung Thai Bank reveals that they have also already prepared measures to help SME customers affected by the same problem.

The measures include urging exporters to avail themselves of forward contract to insure against the baht appreciation, offering low-interest loans to increase liquidity for working capital, and offering of loans for new machinery purchase.

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-- NNT 2010-10-15 footer_n.gif

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U.S. embassy Bangkok held a seminar on import of US products

BANGKOK (NNT) -- The U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai has held a seminar entitled “Connect USA: Opportunities for Sourcing American Products and Services” to enhance the capacity of Thai importers of U.S products in the Northern Thailand.

Participants from the Federation of Thai Industries, the Chamber Commerce, the tourism industry, and foreign entrepreneurs who own businesses in the northern region attended the seminar held at the Le Meridian Hotel.

During the seminar, an expert from the U.S Department of Commerce and Agriculture gave a speech on how to increase business opportunity and improve customer services . Moreover, the Chiang Mai Chamber of Commerce said while the Baht was still strong, business owners should take the opportunity to purchase U.S. technologies and products at competitive prices.

The Chamber added that the seminar would also help bolster the production capacity of local businesses.Thailand is the world's 23rd largest trading partner of the US, and its 8th largest trading partner in Asia.

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-- NNT 2010-10-15 footer_n.gif

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PM Dismisses Further Talks on Militant Training

The prime minister says there is no need for him to further explain comments made by Thai authorities about red shirt radicals using Cambodian soil as training ground to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

He says he has already raised the matter with his Cambodian counterpart.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said there is no further need to create better understanding with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as he has already explained the matter.

Abhisit said his government has never alleged that Cambodia knew about the training camp, but has instructed the Department of Special Investigation to exercise caution when commenting on the matter as such allegations could strain bilateral relations.

The prime minister also said he has received no confirmation on the arrest of Kasi Ditthanawat, who is suspected of transferring money to Samai Wongsuwan, the red shirt supporter believed to be killed while assembling explosive packages in his apartment room in Nonthaburi.

Abhisit went on to say authorities are investigating and tracking down a money trail related to the arms training as disclosed by the commander of the Region 2 Army, which oversees security in the Northeast.

The northeastern region of Thailand is the largest red-shirt stronghold.

During today's House meeting, the prime minister answered questions raised by a Pheu Thai MP over alleged corruption in the Interior Ministry and other state agencies.

Abhisit said he will crack down on corruption without any concern about the stability of his government coalition.

Abhisit said his decision on the fraud allegations against the Interior Ministry, which is governed by the Bhum Jai Thai Party, will rest with findings from the investigation.

Meanwhile, Opposition whip chief Witthaya Burnasiri said the Pheu Thai Party will file charges against anyone who accuses the party of being involved in the recent deadly blast in Nonthaburi.

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-- Tan Network 2010-10-15

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HONEST TAXI DRIVER

Driver receives reward from grateful passenger

By The Nation

A Bangkok taxi driver has returned Bt190,000 in cash to an owner who left it in his vehicle. The passenger gave the driver Bt50,000 as a reward for his honesty.

Si Sa Ket native Sawai Inthana said it was the first time in his life he had laid his hands on such a huge amount of money when he pulled the banknotes from a brown envelope belonging to grocery-shop owner Prasit Mongkholrattanawong, who had left it in the taxi on Wednesday.

Speaking on an FM91 Sor Wor Phor radio programme, which honoured the taxi driver when it reported the story, Sawai said he felt uncomfortable thinking about how the owner of the money would feel about losing it, then he contacted the radio station and reported his find.

"I am happy with my life despite meagre incomes from driving taxi for six years, during which I can earn Bt1,500 or Bt2,000 in remittance for my mother and siblings," said Sawai, 48, who regularly drives a taxi with Bangkok licence-plate number Thor Ror 9138.

Prasit, 66, said he had been on his way to deposit the money in a bank in the Jakkrawad area of Samphanthawong district after hailing Sawai's taxi from Phayolyothin Road in Saphan Khwai area, Phaya Thai.

"I was in too much of a hurry and left the money in the taxi, despite my habit of writing down taxi licence-plate numbers and appearance details," he said.

"I am lucky in this case that he is a good person. The Bt50,000 is a small gift from me to him, and to his mother and his siblings."

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-- The Nation 2010-10-15

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NONTHABURI BLAST

Wasa, businessman in police detention

By The Nation

Wasa Theprian is secretary to House panel and 'close' to Phayao Pheu Thai MP Wisut Chai-narun

Police have detained a young woman with possible know-ledge about the bomb blast in Nonthaburi last week.

Wasa Theprian, 25, was arrested yesterday for her alleged involvement in the explosion last Tuesday that claimed four lives and injured nine other people, two of them seriously.

Wasa is the secretary to the House committee on anti-money laundering and counter-narcotics. She is said to have close personal relations with a northern MP.

Police were seeking Wasa after she was found to have transferred money to a bank account belonging to Kasi Ditthanarat, a businessman who took Samai Wongsuwan to the apartment building in Nonthaburi's Bang Bua Thong district.

Samai stayed in Room 202 at Samarn Metta Mansion, where the bomb went off - accidentally, according to police. Samai, a red-shirt guard, died at the scene.

Kasi and his wife Amporn or Ladda Jaikorn were captured on security cameras moving suspicious boxes to Room 202 prior to the blast. Arrest warrants have been issued for the couple, who are both still on the run.

Wasa was accused of transferring Bt40,000 to Kasi on October 3, and Bt50,000 to him on October 6 - the day after the blast - via a bank inside Parliament House.

Kasi withdrew the cash in Suphan Buri.

Wasa did not report to work last Thursday and was seen in Nakhon Ratchasima.

Police said yesterday that Wasa was being detained at a safe house for further questioning.

Another man, whom Phayao Pheu Thai MP Wisut Chai-narun reportedly said was a businessman who asked Wasa to make the cash transfers, was also in police custody as of press time.

Wisut, who chairs the House committee on anti-money laundering and counter-narcotics, sought to defend Wasa yesterday. He described her as a close friend of his daughter and a good person.

"She was asked to make the [cash] transfers by a businessman," Wisut said. "The money was for a business matter."

He said he had talked to Wasa, who was so shaken by what happened that she decided to stay away for a while.

"Had she known about the bomb plot, she would have not been very open about the money transfers," Wisut argued, in her defence.

He said he was confident Wasa had nothing to do with terrorist acts because she did not know Kasi personally.

The Pheu Thai MP said he had known the businessman who asked Wasa to make the transfers, but not his line of work.

"I've talked to him several times before but I did not know what type of business he was doing. I am not intrusive," Wisut said.

He said he nominated Wasa to be secretary of the House committee that he chaired. "I recommended her because she's a good girl and a friend of my daughter," he said.

Wisut expected Wasa and the businessman to speak up on Friday.

"After that, I will let all committee members decide whether I should retain the chairmanship," he said.

Wisut also offered an apology to all Pheu Thai members for damaging the party's reputation. "But indeed, I am not involved in terrorism," he said.

Wisit was among dozens of people blacklisted earlier this year. Their bank accounts were "frozen" because they were suspected of being involved in anti-government activities.

The three other people killed in the blast were Jaturong Khamrod and Tassanee Lapjaroen - who were staying in an adjacent room (204) when the bomb destroyed the apartment block - plus Apirak Sajjabangjongjit, a worker in the building next door.

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-- The Nation 2010-10-15

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PM to speak on televised debate over Map Ta Phut

By The Nation

A televised debate on Map Ta Phut problems will be held with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti and Industry Minister Chaiwuti Bannawat representing the government side, a Government House source said.

The source said yesterday that the debate would be broadcast from 8pm to 9.30pm next Wednesday, either on Channel 11 or NBT Channel.

"The debate is the result of discussions between the prime minister and PM's secretary-general Korbsak Sabhavasu," the source added.

Coordinator for the Network of Eastern People, Sutthi Atchasai; Senator Rosana Tositrakul; and Thongchai Phansawas will be speaking on behalf of the public, the source said.

Thongchai was chosen for the debate because he chairs a subcommittee on gathering people's opinions on projects that might affect the environment, natural resources and health. The subcommittee is part of the four-partite committee tasked with solving the Map Ta Phut crisis.

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-- The Nation 2010-10-15

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BTS buys 35 new cars for Bt2 bn

By The Nation

Published on October 15, 2010

The operator of the Skytrain system has signed a contract to purchase 35 new cars for its fleet at the cost of �50 million (about Bt2 billion).

The additional cars will be added to the existing 35 three-car trains of the Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company (BTS).

BTS, which operates the Skytrain system, said yesterday the purchase was made in preparation for the Onnut-Bearing extension, which should start operating by August next year.

Currently, BTS has 12 four-car trains but they are only used on the Silom line.

The four-car trains, launched earlier this year, have helped ease the crowding issue, because they are able to carry about 1,490 passengers compared to 1,106 in the three-car train.

The Silom line has seen a significant increase in commuters since the Saphan Taksin-Wongwian Yai extension route has started its service.

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-- The Nation 2010-10-15

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Ranong citizenship applicants seek financial help for DNA tests

By The Nation

Residents born without Thai citizenship in Ranong province have requested that the government or private companies subsidise the cost of DNA tests required to earn citizenship rights.

A group of 50 people gathered yesterday outside Muang Ranong district office to submit a request for financial help, in addition to making themselves heard by a Senate special panel on Thai citizenship that will visits the province today.

There are currently 12 people awaiting the DNA test, which costs a minimum of Bt4,000 for each person. The cost triples if a child applies for citizenship for additional tests on his or parents, said local activist Thom Sinsuwan.

Another gathering of about 100 people is scheduled today at the Ranong Provincial Administrative Organisation, where the Senate panel will visit.

Thom said the tests can be done only in neighbouring Songkhla province, which means a further travel cost of at least Bt2,000 per person.

Travel restrictions make the trips to Songkhla even harder, with mandatory inspection and possible subsequent detention if they cannot clarify the purpose of travel to the satisfaction of immigrant police, she added.

Thom said: "Bt4,000 may not be big money for many people, but it is a hard-earned amount for people without Thai citizenship, as they can only do hard labour for meagre wages because of the lack of birth certificates and identity cards."

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-- The Nation 2010-10-15

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NHSO denies mismanaging state hospital

By Pongphon Sarnsamak

The Nation

Special allowances to medical workers behind cash-flow problems: sec-gen

The National Health Security Office (NHSO) insisted yesterday that mismanagement was not behind the cash-flow problems at state hospitals.

Prominent economist Ammar Siamwala, who chairs NHSO's subcommittee for developing a financial and budgetary system, said the budgets of state hospitals had increased every year since 2002 when the NHSO was established. He added that the cash-flow problem was usually faced by hospitals in remote areas.

"We have been trying to solve this problem every year," he said.

This year, NHSO allocated Bt2.8 billion to 428 hospitals in remote areas nationwide.

Meanwhile, NHSO's secretary-general Dr Winai Sawasdivorn said an extra Bt7.7 billion would be divided among hospitals across the country, while another Bt2.3 billion would be given to 289 hospitals suffering cash-flow problems.

Winai said there were several factors behind the cash-flow problems, and one of them was the special allowances being given to medical workers.

The Central Budget Bureau has never allocated any money for special allowances for medical workers in any state hospitals other than those in rural areas. This year it earmarked Bt2.8 billion for special allowances in rural hospitals.

Other hospitals, meanwhile, use their own budgets to cover the special allowances, Winai said.

In the 2011 annual budget, the Central Budget Bureau has allocated more than Bt94 billion for the NHSO to cover its healthcare scheme. Of this amount, NHSO has given state hospitals Bt45 billion to spend on administration, and another Bt48 billion to cover in-patient services.

"Paying medical workers large allowances is a burden for the government," Winai said.

He added that at least Bt9 billion was needed to cover these allowances.

The NHSO initially asked the Central Budget Bureau for Bt5 billion to cover special allowances, but was told that it did not have the authority to make the request, which was later put forward by the Public Health Ministry.

"The Public Health Ministry must defend this budget in front of the panel chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankhiri and the Central Bureau Budget," Ammar said.

Meanwhile, NHSO's deputy secretary-general Peeraphon Suttivisetsak said the agency had been pleading for money to cover special allowances over the past few years, but the Public Health Ministry had done nothing.

In a related report, Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said the ministry had extended NHSO's healthcare coverage by allowing subscribers to use medication outside the national drug list.

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-- The Nation 2010-10-15

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