วันอาทิตย์ที่ 31 มีนาคม พ.ศ. 2556

Significant Increase in Thai-Russian Bilateral Trade

(31/03/2013)

Trade between Thailand and Russia rose to five billion US dollars in 2012, tripling the amount recorded three years ago. Both countries agreed to increase bilateral trade to 10 billion dollars in 2016.

The agreement was reached at the 5th Session of the Thailand-Russia Joint Commission on Bilateral Relations, held in Moscow on 29 March 2013.

Representing Thailand at the session was Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, who called on both countries to look ahead with a vision to include new areas of cooperation in order to bring the long-lasting Thailand-Russia relations to a new era of strategic partnership.

According to a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand invited Russia to participate in infrastructure projects planned to enhance regional connectivity and support ASEAN integration into an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. AEC will be a large market for Russian products in the future. Thailand can serve as a production base and a gateway to Southeast Asia for Russia, while Russia can serve as a bridge linking Thailand to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries.

Both sides viewed food security as an important issue and agreed to step up cooperation in the field of agriculture, increase bilateral trade in agricultural products, and promote investment in the related industries. They also agreed to develop technical cooperation in science and technology, communications, and culture, which will not only support the exchange of knowledge but also enhance people-to-people contact.

Thailand and Russia agreed to explore the possibility of setting up a working group on tourism to promote tourism and to protect the safety of Thai and Russian tourists, taking into account that in 2012 over 1.3 million Russian tourists came to Thailand, while some 50,000 Thai tourists went to Russia.

Thailand urged Russia to import more Thai agricultural products, such as rice, rubber, canned fruits, frozen seafood, and frozen and processed chicken. Russia is now Thailand’s largest trading partner in Eastern Europe.

Mr. Surapong called for more frequent and regular exchanges between Thai and Russian academic institutions. He asked Russia to consider giving Thai students more flexibility to choose universities in Russia, as well as their fields of study. He also wished to see more Thai students going to study at leading universities in Russia.

On cooperation in science and technology, he urged relevant agencies to exchange their experts in research and conduct joint scientific projects, especially in the fields of nanotechnology and medical science.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to pay an official visit to Russia in the middle of 2013. She has invited Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, to pay an official visit to Thailand before or after the APEC Summit in Bali, Indonesia, at the end of 2013.

Vice Minister of Labour on High Flyer Talk Show

(27/03/2013)


Mr. Anusorn Kraiwatnussorn, Vice Minister of Labour, was a guest at the High Fly Talk Show at the Golden Tulip Hotel.  As a role model for success, he was interviewed by the show host, Khun Kawinta Danutra, about secret keys to work and business successes. The 30-minutes programe was pre-recorded and would probably be broadcast on Modern Nine TV on April 18, 2013 12 am – 12.30 am.

502 Thai workers in Brunei take part in health checks

(26/03/2013)


Mr. Poonsak Sethanandha, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Labour, says a total of 502 Thai workers in Brunei received health checks provided by Ministry of Labour. He says the number is more than expected and that the service receives well responses from workers. Meanwhile, Rajavithi Hospital doctors say the service should be launched in all countries that Thai workers go to work. Most Thai workers are found to have high pressures and suffer body ache, likely to have been caused by hard work.

Mr. Poonsak announced the results of the health check service for Thai workers in Brunei, saying that his ministry organized a health promotion project for Thai workers overseas under which a medical team from Rajavithi Hospital and Songkhlar Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital travel overseas to provide health check and give medical advices for those workers. During March 19-24, his ministry launched the project in Brunei.

Mr. Poonsak said a total of 502 Thai workers in Brunei received the health checks and that most of them had high pressure and suffered body ache, likely to have been caused by hard work. The medical team told them to have their health checked more regularly because high pressure could lead to other diseases.
He said workers who received the service were satisfied. They had an opportunity to access medical service, which they rarely got and proposed the ministry to organize such the service more often, from once to twice a year.

Meanwhile, Dr. Winai Srisaart, doctor from Rajavithi Hospital, said Thai workers should pay extra attention to their health, especially those with congenital disease such as high pressure and diabetes and continue to take their medication.

He said he found that works in building and industrial sectors are more likely to have high pressure than those in agricultural sector. This is not unusual because the works there involve hard physical.

He said in overall he is satisfied with because many workers had access to medical service, which they rarely got due to language problems. He also wants Ministry of Labour to publish handbook for basic medical vocabulary in both English and local language and distribute to workers in order to help them communicate with local doctors. The service should also be expanded to other countires that Thai workers go to work.

วันเสาร์ที่ 30 มีนาคม พ.ศ. 2556

Explanation to the House of Representatives on the Government’s Planned Two-Trillion-Baht Loan

(29/03/2013)

The Government has opted to issue a bill on its planned two-trillion-baht loan for infrastructure mega-projects, instead of seeking funds to finance them through the annual national budget process, because it wants the projects to continue without disruption caused by political changes.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra gave an explanation on the bill to the House of Representatives, which began to debate it in the first reading on 28 March 2013.

She said that many mega-projects in the past had been suspended or scrapped because of political turmoil. The annual national budget process is not favorable to investment in large projects that require continuous and long-term implementation. The Prime Minister pointed out that Thailand needs to create confidence among investors about the continuation of the projects and its future development plan.

She explained that the planned investment in infrastructure development was meant to build a better future for the next generation. So the projects should not be changed following political uncertainties. The mega-projects would also attract more investment and strengthen the country’s economy on a sustainable basis.

The Prime Minister said that the two-trillion-baht investment would also be supplemented by the annual budget and investment funds of relevant state enterprises. The private sector would be invited to invest in certain projects, as well. The Government came up with these projects based on four concepts. The first concept involves ASEAN connectivity, linking Thailand with neighboring countries through the double-track system and the high-speed train service.

The second concept emphasizes the distribution of wealth and the improvement of the Thai people’s quality of life. This means that congestion in Bangkok will ease, while new economic centers will be built in the regional areas of the country.

The third concept involves efforts to strengthen Thailand’s economy by linking the production chains of agriculture, industry, and exports. The fourth concept seeks to connect tourism cities in the country. Thailand boasts many natural and cultural tourism destinations. With sufficient transportation and logistics facilities, those destinations will become more attractive to tourists.

The Prime Minister said that the Thai economy over the next seven years of the investment projects would see an increase in GDP by one percent annually. The projects would generate jobs for 500,000 people and help stabilize the overall economy.

Prime Minister Yingluck gave her assurance that the projects would be implemented with transparency, in accordance with the regulations of the Prime Minister’s Office and other related rules and regulations. She urged the House of Representatives and the people to join the Government in building the foundations for the future of Thailand and the next generation.

Thailand Welcomes Investments by Papua New Guinea

(29/03/2013)

Thailand welcomes investments planned by Papua New Guinea in Thailand, which is becoming the logistics hub of the ASEAN Community.

In her speech at the Thailand – Papua New Guinea Business Event, held in Papua New Guinea on 25 March 2013, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra stated that Thailand would continue its technical cooperation with Papua New Guinea to develop local capacities and human resources in order to support the growing economy of Papua New Guinea.

She called on the two countries to work together to increase the 400 million US dollars in trade and investment between them, since the value was in fact minimal.

The Prime Minister said that Thailand supports overseas direct investment and exports by Thai companies, while promoting foreign direct investment in the Thai economy, giving special importance to the role of the private sector. Thai investors in agro-business and fishery industries are also looking for local partners to expand the market in Papua New Guinea and in the wider Pacific Islands market.

As for tourism, she said, Thai companies are ready to bring their knowhow and work with local firms to brand and market the tourism industry of Papua New Guinea, whether in eco-tourism or other areas. And with Thailand attaching great importance to energy security, it supports successful cooperation and investment in the energy sector there.

In the joint press statement between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of Papua New Guinea and Prime Minister Yingluck on the same day, Papua New Guinea welcomed Thai business people wishing to explore business opportunities in Papua New Guinea, particularly in the areas of energy, agricultural products, fisheries, tourism, and infrastructure.

In the area of technical cooperation, Prime Minister Yingluck expressed the Thai government’s preparedness to provide its expertise and experience in key development areas of priority to Papua New Guinea, such as public health, sufficiency economy, agriculture, fishery, SME development, and tourism.

The two leaders underscored the positive outcomes of their bilateral discussions, which have resulted in a number of joint commitments and cooperative endeavors. In this regard, they attached importance to the establishment of the Papua New Guinea – Thailand Bilateral Consultations as a mechanism to discuss areas of mutual interest, ranging from political issues to economic and technical cooperation, as well as global challenges.

Both leaders agreed that the consultations between the two countries would be at senior level and that the first meeting would be hosted by Thailand, in which the first framework of the discussion will include Thailand’s Technical Cooperation to advance business partnerships between Thailand and Papua New Guinea for the benefit of the two countries.

Festival of Science and Profession towards ASEAN in Central Thailand

(29/03/2013)


The Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, chaired the opening ceremony of the “Festival of Science and Professions towards ASEAN in Central Thailand”. Organized by the Office of Non Formal and Informal Education (ONFIE), this event was held at the Sra Morakot Learning Park at ONFIE's local office in Samut Sakorn.

The Minister of Education said that he had learned that this event was crowd-pleasing and useful for non-formal education management. ONFIE showcased distinctive features of all regions in Thailand for both the unemployed and those who already in employment so that they could use the information to develop their professional skills.

Taking place on 25 to 27 March 2013 in Samut Sakorn, this event aimed to provide professional training to the unemployed and develop the professional skills of those who have jobs. It served as an activity to develop the population in preparation for ASEAN Community in terms of giving people moral support and positive attitudes to their present careers and promoting mutual living in society, especially in the community of Thai, Burmese and Raman people.

Activities included scientific studies from 16 provincial learning centers, displays by 10 professional training and development centers for Thai people along the Thai borders, activities by the 40 local offices of ONFIE in Samut Sakorn and other Networks of Learning Promotion for living together in the community of Thai, Burmese and Raman people. All the activities were prepared with the cooperation of the Network for Continuous Learning in Thai-Burmese borders towards the ASEAN Community and the Network on Informal Learning to create a learning society in Samut Sakorn.

Educational Success

(29/03/2013)


On 26 March 2013 at Suphan Buri Technical College, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of Education, Mrs. Siriporn Kitkuakul, chaired a ceremony to award degree diplomas to graduates in the academic year 2012   Mrs. Siriporn said that education was a valuable and useful acquisition because it enabled people to solve problems and improve society.

Graduation is only one step towards completing a mission, because real education never ends and people have to continue learning at all times in order to have a prosperous future. So, we need to learn continuously for advancing our professional skills and for living happily with others. Education makes people realize the importance of leadership, unity, discipline, honesty and social contribution.

In the academic year 2012, 203 students from Suphan Buri Technical College completed their studies, 131 of whom finished lower vocational education and 72 finished at the higher level.

After the graduation ceremony, Mrs. Siriporn attended a ceremony to open a pavilion of commemoration for His Majesty the King's 84th birthday anniversary at Suphan Buri Technical College. The pavilion houses Phra Buddha Wimok, a Buddha image of the College. Then, she paid homage to Phra Vishnukrom, the God of Craftsmanship highly respected by Thai craftsmen.

Suphan Buri Technical College is now offering courses at lower and higher education levels on electronics, power electricity, construction, industrial mechanics, engine, technical industry and basic technicians. With Mr. Phisit Pattana-anusorn as the director, the College creates students who serve the needs of the labor market and enables them to use their knowledge effectively in their professions.

Educational Cooperation between Thailand and Bhutan


(29/03/2013)


The Secretary General of the Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC), Dr. Chaipruek Serirak, gave a warm welcome to the Permanent Secretary of Labor and Human Resources, Mr. Pema Wangda, and H.E. Mr. Kesang Wangdi, the Ambassador of Bhutan in Thailand, and other delegates from Bhutan who visited OVEC to follow up the work done by 19 English teaching volunteers from Bhutan. The volunteers came to Thailand on 1 November 2012 and are now teaching students at 16 vocational colleges.

The Bhutan delegates also discussed cooperation between the two countries on vocational education management with Dr. Chaipruek.

วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 28 มีนาคม พ.ศ. 2556

Government Emphasizes Its Efforts to Tackle Problems in the Deep South

(28/03/2013)

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has stressed the Government’s efforts to tackle problems in the southern border provinces.

The Prime Minister stated that Muslim Thais have played significant roles in developing the country in all areas. The statement was part of her speech delivered at the closing ceremony of the Central Mawlid Festival.

The festival took place at the National Administration Center for Islamic Affairs on 23-26 March 2013 in Nong Chok district, Bangkok. It is an annual event to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

Prime Minister Yingluck cited the Central Mawlid Celebration as an important festival for Muslim Thais, when they show their faith in God and their upholding of religious principles. Islam is the world's largest religion today. Out of the population of 600 million persons in the ASEAN region, more than half, over 300 million, are Muslims.

The Prime Minister said that the Government is determined to develop the quality of life of Muslim Thais in all aspects, such as education, religious practice, health promotion, employment generation, and the protection of their lives and property.

In Thailand, Muslims of Malay descent are concentrated in the southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Satun, and some districts of Songkhla. Ninety-nine percent are Sunni and one percent Shi’ite.

Prime Minister Yingluck said that the Government has facilitated the travel of Muslim Thais to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage. It has provided pilgrims with various services to ensure their welfare during the Hajj observance in Saudi Arabia. For instance, the Government has sent a medical team to Saudi Arabia to provide health services for the Hajj pilgrims free of charge.

As the number of Hajj pilgrims is on the rise each year, she said, the authorities would seek ways in their coordination to provide them with better care and more convenience. More flights have been arranged for Hajj pilgrims in Narathiwat this year.

The Prime Minister said that the Government has a policy to promote Thai halal food production and exports. Emphasis is placed on developing the standards of Thai halal food, so that it would gain greater recognition in the international community. She found that during her visits to Muslim countries, Thai halal food was well-accepted. The Government is ready to work with Muslim Thais to develop halal food in order to increase its share in the world market.

She called on Muslim Thais to cooperate in boosting Thai products among Muslims in ASEAN and beyond. All Muslim Thais were also urged to help create better understanding about Islamic principles among the people. The Government is also ready to promote relations between Muslim Thais and those in the rest of the Muslim world.

Lampang Historical Train and Horse Carriage Festival

(28/03/2013)

Lying about 600 kilometers north of Bangkok, Lampang is an old province that is well worth a visit. It is the only province in Thailand where horse-drawn carriages are still used as a means of public transport.

The province welcomes all visitors to its “Lampang Historical Train and Horse Carriage Festival,” to be held from 1 to 5 April 2013.

The festival, the 14th of its kind, will take place in front of the Nakhon Lampang Railway Station in Mueang district. It will commemorate the history of Lampang’s train service and horse carriages.

Among the activities during the five-day festival are cultural performances, a light and sound show, a bazaar of local products, a food festival, and an exhibition on the history of train service and horse carriages in Lampang. Visitors will experience an old-style market where participants dress in traditional costumes, and they may go on a city tour in horse-drawn carriages to visit the various attractions.

Lampang is located in the middle of the valley of the Wang River, and the province covers a vast area of forest. One of the natural resources found in this province is white clay, which is used to make high-quality ceramics. The ceramics industry has become an important industry in Lampang, which is noted for its excellent ceramics – souvenirs and other products crafted from ceramics have made a name for this province.

The town of Lampang has a long history dating bck to the Hariphunchai Kingdom, which is believed to have been founded in the seventh or early eighth century. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), the first horse carriage was brought from Bangkok for use in Lampang. Horse carriages were also introduced for use as public transport in other northern provinces, such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phrae, Nan, and Mae Hong Son, but they have not been used in those provinces for a number of years.

In 1952, an association, called the Horse Carriage in Lampang Province, was established to operate the horse-drawn cart business there. For most Thais, the symbol of Lampang is the horse-drawn carriage.

During the reign of King Chulalongkorn, who ruled the Kingdom from 1868 to 1910, railway transport was introduced into Thailand. The first royal train arrived at the Nakhon Lampang Railway Station in Lampang on 1 April 1916 in the reign of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI). Passengers could ride in comfort from Nakhon Lampang Station to town in one of the many horse carriages available.

For nearly a century, trains and horse carriages have played a vital role as means of transportation in Lampang, for both business and pleasure.

In the past, Lampang was regarded simply as a picturesque town where tourists could make a brief stop on their way to Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand. The province is now a focal point for elephant conservation in Thailand. It is the location of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, which has become a major tourist attraction in the North and has helped promote eco-tourism in Thailand.

Myanmar Prepares for ASEAN Chairmanship in 2014

(28/03/2013)


As Myanmar continues preparations to assume the role of chair of ASEAN for the first time in 2014, a U.S.-supported event brought Government officials together with senior officials from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia and Indonesia, and officials from the ASEAN Secretariat, to present Myanmar with an opportunity to learn from past ASEAN chairs.

During his opening remarks, H.E. U Thant Kyaw, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs said that, “The Government greatly appreciates receiving the benefits of the experiences of previous chairs from our esteemed colleagues from Cambodia and Indonesia, as well as the ASEAN Secretariat. We look forward to building on the momentum they have created in the last few years as we take on the leadership of ASEAN next year.”

The purpose of the workshop was to assist the Government in its preparations by examining remaining agenda items in implementing the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community, the lessons learned and the best practices in ASEAN Chairmanship, and managing the preparations of Chairmanship. Discussions during the workshop included a focus on carrying out ASEAN’s initiatives in the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration, and the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity.

“Apart from implementing the Roadmap, the Chair has a key role to play in promoting ASEAN centrality, and leads ASEAN as the primary driving force in its relations and cooperation with external partners in the evolving regional architecture,” said H.E. U Nyan Lynn, Deputy Secretary-General for the ASEAN Political-Security Community. ASEAN’s dialogue and cooperation frameworks include the ASEAN Plus One, the ASEAN Plus Three, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus, and the East Asia Summit.

The event concluded with discussion on ways to assist the Government build its capacity as it prepares to take on the role of ASEAN Chair, and a review of the assistance so far provided by ASEAN Member States, ASEAN's Dialogue Partners, and other entities.

“Assumption of the ASEAN Chair in 2014 marks a great opportunity for Myanmar and the region," said U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN David L. Carden during the opening of the workshop.  "As Myanmar continues to make strides in its internal reform processes and increases its linkages to the world beyond its borders, it will look first to its ASEAN neighbours who have consistently offered support and encouragement.  In the coming years I have every confidence Myanmar will be a leading contributor to ASEAN integration."

The Workshop on the Leadership of ASEAN in 2014 was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and the ASEAN Secretariat in collaboration with the U.S. Government-funded ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility.

ASEAN Engages Citizen through Social Media

(28/03/2013)


With the rapidly expanding rate of the use of new media in the region, the role of social media becomes increasingly important alongside traditional media in promoting ASEAN community building. On Facebook alone, more than 130 million of ASEAN population are active users with Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia are among the 20 largest Facebook communities in the world. There is a need to strengthen the effort in maximising the use of different platforms strategically aimed at different target audiences.

Social Media experts from ASEAN Member States, EU Commission, Australia and Germany gathered in Bangkok and had an intensive discussion during the 2nd Social Media Exchange last week on 22-24 March 2013. The three-day workshop was supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Participants shared their knowledge and experiences with the ASEAN Secretariat to define possible strategies for ASEAN to engage citizen more effectively through the various Social Media platforms. Subjects discussed, among others, are: Social Trends and Insight 2013, Brand Strategy, ASEAN Message and Priority, Benchmark campaigning and social programme planning strategies, and Campaigning concepts and implementation.

Success stories were also shared during the Exchange including an organic creation of an ASEAN Community page that is currently managed by a group of 30 youths from all 10 ASEAN countries working together voluntarily to help promote ASEAN and its 10 Member States. From the past two years since its formation in 2011, this non-official ASEAN Community page has already reached 146,245 likes with over 59,000 people talking about the page. Kobchart J. Boon, a 19-year-old university student and one of the administrators of the page shared his views that “the topics people seem to be most interested in are places, cultures and food”. The collaboration of 30 administrators from 10 countries is mostly focusing on these aspects to populate the page with non-political matters.   

For the past two years, the ASEAN Secretariat has also been utilising the use of various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube in promoting ASEAN, but there is a need to strengthen and maximise this effort. The ASEAN Secretariat aims to work on a Social Media Campaign in 2013 to further improve the awareness and reach out to a wider target audience in ASEAN Member States and beyond.

Commencement of JENESYS 2.0 for ASEAN

(28/03/2013)


About 80 university students from ASEAN will visit Japan from 31 March to 7 April 2013 as the first participants of JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youth) 2.0.

JENESYS 2.0 is a new youth exchange programme which Prime Minister Abe announced during his visit to Indonesia last January. Approximately 30,000 youths from Asia/Oceania region including 10,000 youths from ASEAN countries, will have an opportunity to visit Japan this year.

The programme is designed for youth in ASEAN to learn about the many opportunities to be involved and contribute to ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). They will participate in the visiting programmes that will provide opportunities to deliberate on various aspects, after having a first-hand experience from Japan. The participants will be divided into three groups to visit Chubu area, Kansai area or Kyusyu area; and observe Japan’s cutting-edge high technologies and its support for local industries and creative industries, experience Japan’s traditional culture, and communicate with local people.

This programme is expected to develop exchange and mutual understanding among youths in Japan and ASEAN.

National Assembly of Vocational Scouts

(28/03/2013)


The Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, chaired the opening ceremony of the 17th National Assembly of Vocational Boy Scouts and Girl Guides on 25 March 2013 at Wajirawuth Scout Camp in Sri Racha. A total of 5,000 scouts, girl guides and commanders took part in the event along with 50 other scouts and girl guides from other ASEAN countries.

The Education Minister said that the scout movement was a crucial element in human resources development for both students and ministerial executives. Even the curricula for executive development included the scout movement. Nowadays boy scouts and girl guides are having better opportunities because there is a national assembly every two years. This is a good chance for them to share knowledge, improve themselves and befriend other people.

Working in the modern world will be smooth and successful if we know many people and have many friends. So, besides honing one’s skills, one should have as many friends as possible. The Minister hopes that all the participants will strengthen their scout networks at this assembly. Moreover, the founder of the boy scouts, Lord Baden-Powell, once said, "Be prepared". Therefore, all boy scouts and girl guides should be well-prepared for any situation in the future.

Organized by the Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC) from 23 to 29 March 2013, the 17th National Assembly of Vocational Boy Scouts and Girl Guides aims to create networks of ASEAN scouts and guides, broaden the horizons of students and prepare the country for the ASEAN Community. It also serves as a forum in which all participants can exchange knowledge, share their experiences and demonstrate their useful skills to others.

The major activities at the assembly include scout camp activities, life skills development, recreational games and pastimes which allow vocational students to learn how to live and work with others so that they are good people for society when they graduate.

OVEC & CPSC Organize Capacity Building Training

(28/03/2013)


Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC) and the CPSC organized a training course on core competency and evaluation between 25 and 29 March 2013 at Indrachai Commercial College. The opening ceremony, which took place on 25 March 2013 at Town in Town Hotel in Bangkok, was chaired by the OVEC Secretary, General Dr. Chaipruek Serirak.

According to Dr. Chaipruek, this training was launched by OVEC and CPSP, which is an internationally famous organization on vocational education management. It aims to enable participating teachers, educators and educational personnel to gain knowledge and understanding as well as to apply the knowledge and experience from the training to manage vocational education in order to serve the needs of the labor market and entrepreneurs. At present, OVEC is developing a new curricula focusing on the educational management required by core competency. Every vocational student who completes his studies has to be able to assess his core competency. Apart from attending lectures from CPSP's speakers and exchanging knowledge with other participants, all participants will have the opportunity to undertake field studies at a company so that they can use the actual work of the company as a framework for vocational education management in the future.

National Public Speaking Competition 2013

(28/03/2013)


The Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, presented awards to a student who had won the National Public Speaking Competition 2013 on 22 March 2013. Organized by the Ministry of Education and the English Speaking Union (ESU) (Thailand), this competition selected only one student for entry in an international public speaking competition which will take place in England from 13 to 17 May 2013. This year's award winning student is Mr. Intouch Pitichareon from Ekamai International School.

The topic for English public speaking selected by the ESU for the international competition is “Ideas are our Greatest Weapons”. It will take place from 13 to 14 May 2013 in England. The selection of students for the final competition was made in the semi final round on 4 March 2013 at Ho Wang School when ten students were chosen to enter the final round on 22 March 2013 at the Imperial Queen's Park Hotel in Bangkok.

วันพุธที่ 27 มีนาคม พ.ศ. 2556

Private Sector to Reduce Electricity Use during the Gas-Suspension Period

(27/03/2013)

The Ministry of Energy has asked for cooperation from the private sector to reduce electricity use from 5 to 14 April 2013, when Myanmar temporarily suspends its natural gas supply to Thailand for maintenance work.

The Cabinet, during its meeting on 26 March 2013, acknowledged a report on preparations for minimizing impacts from a possible electricity shortage during the gas-suspension period.

According to the report, the Ministry of Energy has received good cooperation from the Federation of Thai Industries and the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand in reducing power consumption. Members of the Federation of Thai Industries agreed to reduce electricity use by 408 megawatts during the period. The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand reported that its members would cut power consumption by 83 megawatts.

When combined with an electricity cut of 56 megawatts from four large industrial plants, namely Thai Asahi Glass Factory, PTO Cement Mixer, and two Siam City Cement plants, power consumption by the private sector will drop by 547 megawatts.

Regarding the campaign for energy saving, the Ministry of Energy told the Cabinet that it had worked out a plan to raise awareness about energy conservation for three periods: before, during, and after the emergency situation. A media plan has also been mapped out in cooperation with relevant agencies, so that the general public would be provided with useful information about energy saving. The Ministry of Energy will launch activities as part of the campaign at Government House on 4 April 2013, with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra presiding over the launching ceremony.

As for the reduction of electricity use in the public sector, the Cabinet has instructed relevant agencies to monitor the reduction in electricity consumption in various government offices. The measure will set a good example for the general public.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy has prepared bunker oil and diesel to replace natural gas for electricity generation during the temporary disruption of the natural gas supply from Myanmar. Both bunker oil and diesel have been sent to power plants under the supervision of the Electricity Authority of Thailand and large private power plants. Small power producers have been asked to increase their electricity generation by 110 megawatts, as well.

The report indicated that preparations for the gas-suspension period would lead to an increase in Thailand’s electricity reserves to 1,424 megawatts.

At the same meeting, the Cabinet also approved the development of power transmission systems in the northeastern provinces of Ubon Ratchathani, Yasothon, and Amnat Charoen, in preparation for the purchase of hydropower from Lao PDR, with a combined investment fund of 7.3 billion baht.

The project will help diversify Thailand’s energy sources and reduce its heavy dependence on natural gas for electricity generation in the future.

Do not Underestimate Students from their O-Net: Chinnapat

(27/03/2013)


On 25 March 2013, the Secretary General of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), Dr. Chinnapat Bhumirat, talked about the results of the Ordinary National Education Test or O-Net of the Grade 12 students in the academic year 2012. He reported that some students had scored an average lower than 50% in each subject. Then, he suggested that the score did not measure how able a student was but we should consider how far educational quality has progressed. Dr. Chinnapat said that the scores in O-Net's eight core subjects had increased, especially in five of them: Thai, Social Sciences, English, Art, General Sciences and Health Studies. From now on,  OBEC will analyze the reason why students had very low scores and improve their learning.

"I don't want anyone to interpret that the lower the marks the students score, the lower their learning ability will become. We'd be better to consider their development more than their scores because I'd like the learning achievement to be a part of educational quality mobilization. This will reflect different things for the better and won't affect Thai education in a negative way," concluded Dr. Chinnapat.

TU Plans for ASEAN Studies Network

(27/03/2013)


The director of the ASEAN Studies Center of Thammasat University, Mr. Praphas Thepchatree, said at an academic conference to initiate ASEAN studies networks that one of the main challenges for the ASEAN Community lay in the vague understanding which might later result in overreaction and unnecessary fear. Therefore, Thai universities should build an ASEAN Studies network with other universities in the ASEAN region.

Serving as a mechanism for cooperation between universities in ASEAN to strengthen educational foundations, the ASEAN Studies network aims to develop human resources and create accurate knowledge of the ASEAN countries and their people.       

The TU's ASEAN Studies Center will serve as a resource hub for ASEAN Studies because it coordinated with many database centers and worked as an in-depth knowledge warehouse of ASEAN Studies materials.

"To successfully build the ASEAN Studies network, we should begin with creating local networks which link information together before expanding them regionally and inter-regionally," said Mr. Praphas.

Ms. Chadarat Singhadechakul, the director of the Foreign Higher Education Strategy Bureau to the Office of the Higher Education Commission (OHEC), said that, at the end of this month, a meeting of ASEAN Network Universities would be organized to discuss credit transfer between ASEAN universities. In actual fact, credit transfer is already used in student exchange programs.

Currently, 26 universities from 10 countries have become members of the AUN. Thailand has four AUN members: Chulalongkorn University, Thammasat University, Mahidol University and Burapha University.

Creating Good Scientists should Start at Primary Level: Phongthep

(27/03/2013)


The Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, recently stated that the creation of innovative scientists should start in primary schools. In other words, students should gain the skills and knowledge at a very young age.

Mr. Phongthep chaired the opening of the 8th Conference on Science and Technology for Thai Youths organized by Silpakorn University's Faculty of Sciences and the National Institute of the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology. This event showcased scientific innovations by many gifted creators in Thailand and aimed to encourage Thai children to study the sciences according to the government policy of creating more Thai scientists. Although the National Institute has produced over 2,000 scientists, the country still needs more to improve, create and develop innovations useful for national development. Realizing that other countries are more advanced scientifically, Mr. Phongthep suggested that teachers should teach scientific knowledge to their students at as early an age as possible.

The Conference featured a lot of educational activities for the participants, namely poster and oral presentations of research projects, exhibits of research and over 400 scientific projects by Thai students.

วันอังคารที่ 26 มีนาคม พ.ศ. 2556

Flood Risk Mitigation Plan for the Ayutthaya World Heritage Site

(26/03/2013)

A major project is being carried out to develop a flood risk mitigation plan for the Ayutthaya World Heritage Site in Ayutthaya province, which was badly affected by the prolonged and widespread flooding in Thailand in 2011.

The project was launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 22 March 2013. It is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under its water financing program.

Director of UNESCO Bangkok Gwang-Jo Kim said that disaster risk mitigation is one of the top priorities for World Heritage protection identified by the World Heritage Committee.

Since October 2011, the Thai authorities have undertaken extensive repair work at the World Heritage site and have invested in water management systems for the Chao Phraya River basin. However, up to now, there has not been any long-term effort to protect Ayutthaya’s heritage assets from future flooding.

This two-year project will assess the flood risks at the Ayutthaya World Heritage site and then develop a flood risk mitigation plan. Experts will undertake hydraulic modeling using computer simulations for flood risks at the site. Then, based on the results, project partners will develop a flood risk mitigation plan together with local stakeholders. International expertise in risk preparedness for cultural heritage conservation will be mobilized by UNESCO Bangkok in order to guide the development of the flood risk mitigation plan in line with international conservation standards.

Mr. Kim said that upon successful completion of this project, Ayutthaya will be the first World Heritage site in Southeast Asia with a management plan for flood risk mitigation, setting an example for other World Heritage sites around the region.

The project will be undertaken by the UNESCO Institute for Water Education based in the Netherlands, in close collaboration with UNESCO Bangkok. The project partners include the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute, the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Fine Arts Department of Thailand.

An international expert seminar to commence the consultation sessions for the development of the flood risk mitigation plan is planned for October 2013.

A former capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya, whose name is Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, is famous for monumental remnants of old palaces and temples spread across a tranquil landscape. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 13 December 1991. 

Japan Remembers ASEAN’s Help Two Years After Tsunami

(26/03/2013)


The anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan is the focus of the March 2013 edition of “ASEAN Today.”  

Interviews with residents rebuilding their lives, and what ASEAN did to help is in a special report from the area hit two years ago.             

Dalton Tanonaka of Indonesia’s Metro TV reports on the people and places of the dynamic Southeast Asia region.  Also included in this month’s program are stories on the booming business in coconut water in the Philippines, serving up snake in Vietnam, and the “Super Idol Taiwan” success of Indonesian singer Nana Lee.  Durudee Sirichanya, Head of Public Outreach and Civil Society Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, has the regular feedback segment.

This is the 17th episode in the informative and entertaining series, and can be viewed on YouTube (http://youtu.be/BLuW3WaS7KY) as well as through ASEAN broadcasters including Singapore’s Channel NewsAsia and Indonesia’s Metro TV.

“ASEAN Today” is a joint production of the ASEAN Secretariat and Metro TV. Some material is provided by broadcasters in member countries. Check local listings for broadcast times. For more information, contact Tanonaka at dalton@metrotvnews.com .

Bridging Science and Practice in Disaster Risk Management to Build Community Resilience

(26/03/2013)


The ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), with the support of ASEAN Secretariat, convened the four-day ASEAN Capacity-Building Forum on Risk Assessment with the theme “of Bridging Science and Practice in Disaster Risk Management towards Building Community Resilience” last week in Bangkok.

The four-day regional event was officially opened on Tuesday, 19 March and was participated by disaster risk management professionals from ASEAN Member States, civil society groups, the academics, and the science and research community from the region as well as partners from Europe, Australia, and the United States. Three ASEAN sectoral bodies were represented in the forum, i.e. ACDM, ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST) and ASEAN University Network (AUN).

Mr. Suporn Ratananakin, the Advisor to the Director General of Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) of Thailand representing the ACDM Chair, described the event as a unique opportunity for ASEAN as “...[the] disaster risk management community in the region, led by the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management will closely interface [in] the next [four] days with many esteemed colleagues, experts, professors, researches and tool developers from the science community with the objective of enhancing the synergy between these two communities and foster greater interaction and systematic collaboration in support of disaster risk reduction.”

Dr. Jane Rovins of the Integrated Research for Disaster Risks, in her message to the group, emphasised the relevance of bridging the gap between science and practice on disaster risk management as well as underlined the importance of understanding how people interpret risks and choosing actions based on these interpretations.

The first day of the forum also featured thematic session discussions on “developing a framework for dialogue between disaster risk management and science community in ASEAN,” “science-based risk communication,” and “accountability in disaster risk management.”

The forum was followed by a three-day introductory training workshop on selected risk assessment tools such as CAPRA (Comprehensive Approach for Probabilistic Risk Assessment), InaSAFE (Indonesia Scenario Assessment for Earthquakes) and OpenQuake (Open Source Software for Seismic Hazards and Risk Assessment). The workshop was participated by representatives from national disaster management and early warning agencies of the ASEAN Member States.

The four-day forum was culminated with an informal session of the ACDM Working Group on Risk Assessment, Early Warning and Monitoring. Next steps on identifying “bridge builders”, enhancing existing links to promote greater accountability, and establishing linkages among the three ASEAN sectoral bodies (i.e. ACDM, AUN and COST) were also identified in the meeting.

The ASEAN Capacity Building Forum on Risk Assessment was conducted in partnership with the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre), AusAID and the Global Earthquake Modelling (GEM). Another major partner in the event is the Humanitarian Futures Programme (HFP), King’s College London which supports humanitarian responsibilities to develop organisational structures and leadership. A video of their work on building a dialogue between the science and the humanitarian community can be accessed here. The event was supported by the ASEAN-UNISDR Technical Cooperation, UK Natural Environment and Research Council (NERC) and ASEAN-Australia Cooperation Arrangement.

Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol,presided over the ceremony to inaugurate the exhibition entitled “Thailand’s Approach to Alternative Development”

(26/03/2013)

On 12 March 2013, Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations Office at Vienna, and Mr. Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), presided over the ceremony to inaugurate the exhibition entitled “Thailand’s Approach to Alternative Development”, which was held during the 56th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) at the United Nations Office at Vienna from 11 to 15 March 2013.  The exhibition, in collaboration with the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Ministry of Justice, Thailand Institute of Justice, Royal Project Foundation and Mae Fah Luang Foundation, highlights the Thai Alternative Development (AD) Model and explores its mainstreaming into the larger development context. The exhibition also highlights the promotion of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development, a joint effort by the Governments of Thailand and Peru which has been endorsed by the 56th session of the CND.

Advisor to Minister of Laboru boosts morale of SME operators in Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon provinces

(22/03/2013)


On March 22, 2013, Mrs. Narumol Thandamrong, Advisor to the Minister of Labour, launched Ministry of Labour’s mobile projects to provide knowledge about wage laws and help business operators access the government’s measures designed to assist firms that might be affected by the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy and enhance their capability  in Nakhon Phanom and Sakon Nakhon provinces. During the visit, she also met with local SME operators and gave them morale support. No major impact of the policy was found to have affected local firms.
 
Mrs. Narumol said the project is part of the policies of Mr. Phadermchai Sasomsub, Minister of Labour, to enhance SME operators’ knowledge about the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy and minimum wage to ensure their compliance of the policy, and to help firms enhance their competitiveness and find access to the government’s measures designed to assist firms that might be affected by the policy and enhance SMEs’ capability.
The project also covers public hearing on impact of the policy. It provides a platform for business operators to exchange views with government officials and jointly work out solutions to prevent layoff and shutdown of business.
 
Mrs. Narumol said the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy has been implemented since January 1 and it has helped firms to stay alert and prepare for the formation of the ASEAN Community in the next two years. The government is determined to find out and address problems caused by the policy and continue assist SMEs find loan sources, increase their products and solve other problems.
 
On her first stop in Nakhon Phanom province, Mrs. Narumol chaired a workshop to hear problems, exchange views and experience and discuss solutions to impacts of the policy from local SME operators. The workshop was part of the Ministry of Labour’s mobile project. The advisor to the Minister of Labour also visited Nakae Pongjareon Rice Mill.
 
In Nakhon Phanom, there are a total of 1,205 firms, which employ 13,956 workers. Of them, 1,197 are SMEs. No firms have been forced to shut down following the implementation of the minimum wage policy.
 
On her second stop in Sakon Nakhon province, Mrs. Narumol chaired a similar workshop, which was also attended by local SME operators. In Sakon Nakhon, there are a total of 1,806 firms, which employ 13,956 workers. Of them, 1,739 are medium sized enterprise and 67 are small sized enterprises.
 
According to data from Ministry of Commerce’s Sakon Nakhon Provincial Business Development Office, a total of 98 new firms were registered while 26 firms closed their business during October 2012 and February 2013 period. Most of those firms, who went out of businesses, had stopped operating long before they made the registration due to their uncompetitiveness. During the January-February 2013, some firms also went out of businesses but the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy was not the cause of their shut down.
 
In both provinces, firms that are able to comply with policy have reduced their operational costs. They try to reduce the company’s activities, adjust employment condition, be strict on quality of work and increase discipline at workplace. Workers are also encouraged to work on voluntary basis. Firms, meanwhile, ask the government to reduce their burden through tax measures, cut loan interest, control prices of capital such as fuel and electricity and help them access to local sources.
 
Provincial labour offices and Ministry of Labour’s local agencies have worked together in carrying out the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy and collecting data about workers and employers who are affected by the policy. So far, no workers have been laid off while there have been no business shutdown due to the policy.
 
Provincial social security offices have distributed instructions about the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy to 2,600 firms which has more than one employee, held meetings to clarify employers, employees about the policy, held meetings with Ministry of Labour’s agencies, Sakon Nakhon Chamber of Commerce and Sakon Nakhon Federation of Industries and implemented emergency measures including extending officials hours to 6 pm from Monday-Friday and between 9am-4pm on Saturday and  coordinating with chamber of commerce, federation of industries, banks and relevant agencies in getting data about labour situation.

Ministry of Labour explores labour market in Brunei

(22/03/2013)


Deputy Permanent Secretary visits Brunei to explore market for Thai workers, saying labour market in the southeast Asian country has bright prospect as local employers are confident in skills of Thai workers, who they say – despite their weakness in English --, have responsibility, work hard and are more skilled than workers from other countries.
 
Mr. Poonsak Sethanandha, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Labour, led medical staff and nurses to provide medical checkup for Thai workers in Brunei.  During the visit to the country, he met with local employers including owner of Megalift Company, a logistics and oil delivery firm, to explore market for Thai workers.
 
Mr. Poonsak said he received positive response about Thai workers from local employers, who wanted to hire more workers from Thailand, particularly semi-skilled workers. According to the deputy permanent secretary, local employers say Thai workers have responsibility, work hard and are more skilled than workers from other countries.
 
For this reasons, Mr. Poonsak said Thai workers could earn more income than workers from other countries. Although, they have weakness in speaking foreign language, especially English, it is not too hard to learn. Ministry of Labour also provides Thai workers language training courses before they travel to work in other countries.
 
Mr. Singhadej Chu-amnart, Inspector-General of Department of Employment, said most Thai workers in Brunei have been working in the country for a long time and their employers trust in them. Salary in Brunei is not high compared to other countries but the cost of living in the country is similar to Thailand.  Thai workers there, therefore, can save a lot of money and send them home to their family.
 
He said Thai workers might not be attracted to come to work in Brunei now as the minimum wage in Thailand has increased to 300 baht per day while skilled workers could earn more than that level.
 
Meanwhile, Mr. Watcharapong Nanta, a Thai volunteer worker in Brunei, said Thai workers should earn at least BND$22 per day or some 550 baht in Brunei while skilled workers could earn some BND$35 per day or 875 baht, which is higher than workers from Bangladesh and Indonesia workers, who earn BND$15 and BND$17$ per day on average respectively. Local employers pay Thai workers a higher rate because they admire Thai workers for their hardworking and discipline.

ASEAN Scout Camp

(26/03/2013)


The Secretary General of the Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC), Dr. Chaipruek Serirak, recently met and talked to 32 Indonesian boy scouts and girl guides who attended the ASEAN Scout Camp. He also met Thai scouts and extraordinary girl guides from Su-ngai Kolok Professional College and some from Bang Sai Agricultural and Technology College. The former were coordinators of the camp while the latter were buddies for foreign scouts at the camp.

Organized by OVEC, the ASEAN Scout Camp is a part of the 17th National Scout and Girl Guide Assembly held from 23 to 29 March 2013 at Wajirawuth Scout Camp in Sri Racha District, Cholburi. Boy scouts and girl guides from Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia are attending the event. It aims to broaden the horizons of the participants, to allow them to exchange knowledge and experience and to serve as a forum to develop knowledge, ability and capacity of good boy scouts and girl guides. Of all 4,000 boy scouts and extraordinary girl guides taking part in the activity, 50 are students from ASEAN countries.

The major activities which promote happy living with others and the skills needed by boy scouts and girl guides are categorized into 7 types: camper type, principal type, academic type, life-skill type, skill contest, recreation and pastimes. All the activities encourage vocational students from Thailand to practice their skills, learn how to work with others and endure any difficulty so that they become good people after graduation.

Sermsak Receives Videos on Their Majesties

(26/03/2013)


The Deputy Minister of Education Mr. Sermsak Pongpanit received special videos, "For the Sake of Thailand" and "For the Queen with Power of Love" on 20 March 2013 at the Ministry of Education. Those videos will be used as teaching materials for schools under the MOE's supervision in southern Thailand.

The Secretary General of the Special Committee of the Royal Initiative Projects, Mr. Siwat Thep-arak provided the two videos, 3,000 of each title. The content is about their Majesties' work on national development to make Thai people happy. All the stories are told by Privy Councilors and those who have worked closely with their Majesties. The videos have already been broadcast via public television in Thailand.

Mr. Sermsak said that the special videos would create good understanding among students in southern Thailand regarding projects on education developed by their Majesties. After they watch the videos, the students will be grateful for their Majesties' kindness to all Thai people no matter what religions or nationalities they belong to. Mr. Sermsak also referred to His Majesty's statement on education for Thai youths. His Majesty once said, "Education is a crucial factor to create and develop the knowledge, thought, behavior and morality of each individual. If any country provides children with complete and good education, the country will prosper with good quality citizens and maintain its national stability in the future."

Education Minister Presents Report on SEAMEC Meeting

(26/03/2013)



On 21 March 2013 in Hanoi, Vietnam, the Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, along with the Minister of Education and Training from Vietnam, H.E. Prof. Dr. Pham Vu Luan, and the Director of the SEAMEO Secretariat, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vitthaya Jeeradechakul, presented a report on the 47th SEAMEC Meeting.

The Education Minister of Thailand said that the participants of this meeting considered and came up with resolutions on several issues. However, an issue that many participants emphasized was that of life-long education management. The participants proposed that this should be given to a specific group of people but not everyone. Yet, educational procedures should stimulate all people to realize the importance of education. For instance, Lao people prefer working to studying. However the higher the education they have, the more income they will earn. Moreover, IT is playing a crucial role in facilitating education access despite low technology in some countries.

Thailand has proposed that all member countries should cooperate with one another to develop software and applications on education which consume a lot of the budgets in each country. These products could be sold at reasonable prices. By so doing, education for all will become more possible. Moreover, seniors should learn how to develop themselves so that they will be able to earn an income when they are retired and can therefore remain independent.

In the next two years, education should be ready for the ASEAN Community. ASEAN people should have solidarity and unity with education as a mobilizing mechanism. The Ministry of Education of Thailand then proposed that ASEAN students should be allowed to study in ASEAN countries because they will develop skills in English and the native language of the country where they are taking courses. In addition, the students will learn about the traditional culture of the country where they are living.

As the chairperson of the SEAMEO Regional Center for Lifelong Learning (CELLL), the Vietnamese Education and Training Minister will act swiftly to promote the work of the Center and coordinate with other SEAMEO regional centers to support their work practically and effectively.

In terms of preparation for the ASEAN Community, the Vietnamese Education and Training Minister said that he would encourage educators to be active while maintaining the unity of ASEAN people and the identities of individual nations in this region.

วันจันทร์ที่ 25 มีนาคม พ.ศ. 2556

People Urged to Help Monitor the 2.2-Trillion-Baht Infrastructure Mega-Projects

(25/03/2013)

People have been urged to help monitor the Government’s 2.2-trillion-baht transportation and logistics mega-projects to ensure that they would be carried out with transparency.

Speaking in the weekly program “Yingluck Government Meets the People” on 23 March 2013, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong revealed that a new median bid price acceptable by all parties would be set for each project, and it would be considered together with the government procurement in the database of relevant agencies and budget allocation by the Ministry of Finance.

The Cabinet on 19 March 2013 approved a draft bill empowering the Ministry of Finance to borrow 2.2 trillion baht to finance the infrastructure mega-projects. The draft bill will be debated in the first reading by the House of Representatives on 28-29 March 2013. Mr. Kittiratt said that during the closure of the parliamentary session in the middle of April, a House committee to be formed to scrutinize the bill is expected to look into this legislation before it is submitted to the House of Representatives for the second and third readings.

He stated that the Government would seek an extraordinary House session in May to debate the 2014 national budget bill. During this period, he expects that the draft bill on the 2.2-trillion-baht loan would be considered in its second and third readings. The next step is that the draft bill would be forwarded to the Senate for consideration.

He said that the Permanent Secretary for Finance and the Director of the Public Debt Management Office had told the Cabinet that they would ensure that public debt, which would increase as a result of this huge investment, would not exceed 50 percent of GDP, although Thailand has set its public debt ceiling at not over 60 percent of GDP.

He explained that, since the 2.2-trillion-baht loan would be separated from the annual national expenditure, the Government would be able to set a balanced national budget in the next few years. This huge investment in the mega-projects is meant to enhance the country’s potential and competitiveness in the long run. He pointed out that the assets resulting from this investment would benefit the country for a long period, even after debt repayment is completed.

According to Mr. Kittiratt, debt repayment for the projects will be made gradually, so that it will not cause a burden to the annual national expenditure. It is expected that the Government will be able to repay the loan within the next 50 years, or before. The Government has proposed that the loan be secured by 31 December 2020. He said that Thailand’s financial liquidity now was sufficient for securing the two-trillion-baht loan gradually over the next seven years.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt said that construction of several transportation and logistics mega-projects would begin next year. The Government has planned 10 routes for the high-speed train system and three more routes for the electric train system. It has also spent regular funds on studies of these projects. 

The Celebration of the Nowruz Festival at the ASEAN Secretariat

(25/03/2013)


Seven Embassies of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) member countries in Jakarta, namely Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan jointly held a “Nowruz Festival” last week at the ASEAN Secretariat. The festival, which has been celebrated for over 3000 years by many groups of people in the Middle East, Central and South Asian regions, is to mark the first day of spring and the official beginning of the New Year. The event at the ASEAN Secretariat entailed a photo and handicraft exhibition, musical performances and variety of national cuisines from ECO countries.

H.E. Mr. Tamerlan Karayev, the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to ASEAN delivered opening remarks on behalf of ECO Ambassadors accredited in Jakarta. In his speech, he briefly explained the meaning of Nowruz and the Persian traditions regarding this celebration, which upholds the feeling of togetherness in one big family. He also expressed his appreciation to the guests for joining the people from ECO countries in the event and hoped that this tradition of celebrating the Nowruz will continue.

H.E. Mr. Nyan Lynn, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Political-Security Community, on behalf of the Secretary-General of ASEAN, gave his remarks at the festival. DSG Lynn highlighted the important meaning of the Nowruz as it is aimed to strengthen the ties among people based on mutual respect and the culture of peace and good neighbourliness—just as said by the thirteenth century’s Persian poet Saadi, “The children of Adams are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence.” DSG Lynn also expressed the honour for the ASEAN Secretariat to be the venue of the event, which would enable the Secretariat to contribute to further strengthening the awareness, mutual understanding and cooperation among the peoples of ASEAN Member States and ECO.

DSG Lynn further expressed his appreciation to the ECO Ambassadors Contact-Group (ECO-ACG) in Jakarta for taking the initiative to further enhance the close relationship between ASEAN and ECO, and hoped that it would grow stronger in the future.

Unemployment down in Feb 2013

(19/03/2013)


Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Labour cites data from Labour Economic Bureau as saying that the unemployment rate in February showed no alarming sign. He promises to continue providing assistances to SMEs through the ministry’s support centres.
 
Mr. Somkiat Chayasrinwong, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Labour, revealed he has been informed by the Labour Economic Bureau about labour situation in February, saying that a total of 411,454 firms registered for Article 33 of the Social Security Act last montn while employment continued expanding following the initial phase of the government’s 300 baht daily minimum wage policy in seven provinces in 2012, reflecting that the policy did not affect local business operators.
 
Mr. Somkiat said a total of 35,306 people were registered as unemployed in February, down from the January level of 10,075. Off them, 4,081 were laid off, accounting for 11.6 per cent.  This demonstrated that firms gained economic recovery after they had to adjust employment in January, which caused high rate of unemployment. Top five provinces with the highest employment rate in February were Tak, Phchit, Samut Songkhram, Sa Kaeo and Nong Bua Lam Phu.
 
Mr. Somkiat said the government sector and Ministy of Labour are closing monitoring the situation and will continue provide assistance to SMEs that are affected by the government’s minimum wage policy through it support centres.
 
Ministry of Labour operates support centres tasked with helping firms comply with the policy in every province and ad hoc support centres tasked with providing assistance for SMEs that might be affected by the government’s minimum wage, which is chaired by permanent secretary of Ministry of Labour.
 
Mr. Somkiat said a total of 253 SMEs registered for assistances from the centres last month. Most of them asked for assistance on skill development, hiring migrant workers, tax and loans. The centres informed their demands to relevant agencies, which then would urgently provide them with assistance and follow up and report the results.
 
He said an operator in Phitsanulok province previously requested for an assistance from the centre. After Phitsanulok chief labour officer and his officials visited the firm and found that it needed financial assistance to enable it to comply with the policy, they notified the TMB Bank, which then provided a loan to the firm to ensure it has sufficient liquidity to sustain its business.

Ministry of Labour joins anti-dengue campaign

(19/03/2013)


Ministry of Labour has joined an anti-dengue campaign, which is widely spreading in Thailand, asking for cooperation from firms to destroy mosquito larva in their factories and workers’ accommodation weekly. It also teaches workers and operators how to make lemongrass oil, which has an ability to prevent mosquito bite and sell it to workers at cheap price.
 
According to Department of Disease Control, there were 8,398 cases of dengue fever in Thailand form January 1- February 19 this year, or some 13.1 cases for every 100,000 people, which is four time higher than a normal level and the highest level in a decade. The death toll stood at 10, or 0.12 percent.
 
It expects that Thailand will record up to 120,000-150,000 cases of dengue fever this year. 80 percent of the patients will need to receive treatment in the hospital while two percent could go into shock. The death toll could reach 140-200; most of them would be studying age children and working age people.
 
Ministry of Labour is aware of the importance of working age people and the impact of dengue fever could have on people’s properties and the country’s economy. It is, therefore, supporting to make firms and factories larva free.  It has asked for cooperation from firms to instruct their personnel to eliminate larva in their factories and workers’ accommodation weekly, starting from March 15 until May 15.
 
It has asked firms to closely monitor dengue situation, particularly on June 15, which is the ASEAN Dengue Day and take their workers who are infected to hospitals. It has also asked firms to set up mosquito traps in their factories and workers’ accommodation.
 
Firms are also urged to use Thai indigenous knowledge to eliminate larva and prevent mosquito bites on people, covering the use of guppies, red lime, galangal, used engine oil, vinegar, sulphur, leech lime and salt. Furthermore, it has teached workers and operators how to make lemongrass oil, which has an ability to prevent mosquito bite and sell it to workers at cheap price.

Ministry of Labour, Ladies Association to organize Red Cross Fair to honor HM King

(18/03/2013)


Mrs. Jantanee Chayasriwong, President of Ladies Association, said the Red Cross Fair will be held under the theme of “United for Peace and People” for nine days from March 29-May 6, 2013 to mark the 120th anniversary of Thailand’s Red Cross Society. It is also to honor HM the King’s 85th birthday anniversary, HM the Queen’s 80th birthday anniversary and HRH Princess Sirindhon, who is the director of the Red Cross Society, the humanitarian origination which was found in 1893.

Many private and government organisations will also participate in this year’s Red Cross Fair. Ministry of Labour’s booth will be situated in Suapa Field near PTT petrol station and the exit of Ananta Samakhon Throne Hall.

Mrs. Jantanee said Ministry of Labour and the Ladies Association will hold various activities in this year’s Red Cross Fair to raise fund to the Red Cross Society, which include the sales of Red Cross lottery “Labour Lotto”. The association has printed 4,000 books of tickets, 10 for each book and they are already on sales at the price of 100 baht per ticket.

At the event, there will also be exhibitions to honor HM the King, HM the Queen and HRH Princess Sirindhon, presentation about Ministry of Labour’s missions and assistance measures for firms affected by the government’s 300 baht daily minimum wage policy and Bingo game.

Department of Employment and Department of Skill Development will also hold job demonstrations every day from 2 pm – 5pm, except for the first and final day. All the activities and prizes are sponsored by Ministry of Labour.



Ministry of Labour and its’ Ladies Association will jointly organise the 2013 Red Cross Fair to honor His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit and Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn. This year will mark the 120 anniversary of the establishment of Thailand’s Red Cross Society.