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(15-05-2013)


Buddhist Leaders Urged to Promote Education

(23/05/2013)

The Bangkok Declaration of the Tenth Anniversary Celebrations of the United Nations Day of Vesak calls on Buddhist leaders to strengthen their ongoing noble mission to promote education, as well as social and humanitarian development for sustainable world peace.

The Bangkok Declaration was issued at the conclusion of the celebrations and meetings of Buddhist leaders and representatives from 87 countries in Thailand on 21-22 May 2013.

The celebrations took place at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok and Buddhamonthon in Nakhon Pathom province to commemorate the Day of Vesak, or Visakha Puja, coinciding with 24 May this year.

In the Bangkok Declaration, the Buddhist leaders and representatives resolved to work tirelessly for universal education in the 21st century, emphasizing the integration of wisdom and compassion in caring for the environment, cultivating synergy between school subjects and disciplines, and incorporating ethics and a sense of community to the existing approach for acquiring skills for economic and social development.

They will reinforce the Buddhist path of non-violence, by facing the many challenges to peaceful co-existence, with a conviction that is stronger than ever before, reaffirming their determination to maintain cultural and religious harmony and tolerance through upholding human dignity.

They resolved to take the opportunity of the Day of Vesak gathering to encourage Buddhists to be more proactive in promoting peace, which is so central to the teachings of the Buddha, and in particular, spreading the Buddha’s wisdom on the inter-connectedness of all humans as a global family and the shared consequences of their actions.

All governmental and non-governmental organizations were urged to strive toward sustainable economic and social development, stressing the need to balance such development with the preservation of the environment.

The Buddhist leaders and representatives will strengthen efforts to promote the message of the inter-being of humankind, through encouraging individuals and organizations to develop the perspective of being global citizens as they address important issues in their work together. They will also promote the ethical use of mindfulness in a universally applicable manner, in such fields as healthcare, education, management, and community development.

Moreover, the Buddhist leaders and representatives resolved to do the utmost to contribute towards achieving the goal of the ASEAN Community in 2015, calling upon the strength of the unity within the diversity of the Buddhist community that has been fostered by the International Council for the Day of Vesak.

Also in the Bangkok Declaration, His Holiness Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, on the auspicious occasion of his 100th birth anniversary, has been commended for the work he has accomplished to uplift humanity, particularly in the areas of education, spirituality, and healthcare.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra Visits Japan

(22/05/2013)

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is on a working visit to Japan from 22 to 25 May 2013 for the 19th International Conference on “The Future of Asia” in Tokyo.

The visit is at the invitation of Nikkei Inc, the host of this event. The conference is a forum that each year brings together political leaders and top business executives to discuss the future of Asia-Pacific nations and how development in the region stands to impact the global economy. It is held annually by Nikkei and the Japan Center for Economic Research.

On this occasion, Prime Minister Yingluck is scheduled to have an audience with Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan and meet Prime Minister Shinso Abe on 23 May, when she also delivers a keynote speech on “Investing in the Future of Asia” at the conference.

The Prime Minister will share her vision on the future direction of Asia as a continuously growing and strengthening region. She will raise possible issues of challenge that may slow down Asian growth as well as possible solutions that Asian countries can join forces in solving and tackling such challenges, so that the future of Asia will not be harmed.

Prime Minister Yingluck intends to boost confidence of Japanese business people and encourage them to maintain and expand their production base in Thailand. She will reiterate strategic partnership between Thailand and Japan and ensure that the Thai government would facilitate Japanese investments in Thailand.

Thai-Japanese cooperation in the development of the Dawei Special Economic Zone and deep sea port in Myanmar will also be raised for discussion.

Accompanying Prime Minister Yingluck on this trip are OTOP and SME operators from Thailand who will observe product development and marketing channels in Japan. The Prime Minister will also meet the President of the Long Stay Business Association of Japan and discuss with Japanese representatives a project on older persons.

She will return to Bangkok at 10:30 p.m. on 25 May.

Thailand Rice Convention 2013

(22/05/2013)

The Department of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Commerce, is scheduled to organize Thailand Rice Convention 2013 between 26 and 28 May 2013 in the northern province of Chiang Mai.

The three-day event will take place at the International Convention and Exhibition Center Commemorating His Majesty’s 7th Cycle Birthday Anniversary in Mueang district.

Participating in the convention will be about 500 delegates from 40 countries worldwide. They comprise representatives from rice-producing and exporting countries, rice importers and traders, academics, and rice experts, as well as members of the Thai and international media.

The convention is intended to serve as a forum for players in rice trade to meet and exchange views, which will contribute to the development of the global rice industry. It will provide an opportunity for rice importers and exporters to hold trade negotiations, as well.

Moreover, the Thailand Rice Convention is also meant to bring a positive signal to the global rice trade and spotlight Thailand’s readiness to become a rice hub in ASEAN and the world. It will showcase the quality and efficiency of technological advances in production, trade, and development of the Thai rice industry.

The theme for Thailand Rice Convention 2013 is “Pushing ASEAN toward the World’s Rice Hub,” which reflects Thailand’s intention to cooperate with other rice countries in the region to make ASEAN the world’s rice center.

The convention features a seminar, with panel discussions and lectures by experts and high-ranking officials from Thailand and other ASEAN countries. It also includes an exhibition of Thai rice, especially organic and pigmented rice (riceberry), which contains high nutritional value.

The seminar to be held on 27 May, after the opening ceremony, consists of five sessions: Thailand’s Rice Marketing Strategy, Trade Aspect of Asian Rice Market, ASEAN Rice Production and Export Potential, Overview of Organic Rice Market and How to Access the European Market, and World Rice Trade Outlook.

On 28 May, a field trip will also be arranged, giving international delegates the opportunity to observe rice cultivation and production at Maejo University in Chiang Mai.
Thailand is among the world’s largest rice producers and exporters. Thai jasmine rice, known in full as “Khao Hom Mali Thung Kula Ronghai,” has become the first product in Southeast Asia to be registered under the European Union's Protected Geographical Indication scheme.

The Department of Foreign Trade has set a target of 8.5 million tons for Thai rice exports in 2013. The Ministry of Commerce is also conducting a study on the creation of a rice trade zone in order to stabilize rice prices in the world market, promote regional food security on a sustainable basis, and prevent rice smuggling from the countries sharing borders with Thailand.

Chiang Mai Declaration Seeks to Include Disaster Risk Reduction in the UN Development Agenda beyond 2015

(21/05/2013)

The second Asia-Pacific Water Summit has ended, with the issuance of the Chiang Mai Declaration, calling for the inclusion of disaster risk reduction in the United Nations' development agenda beyond 2015.

The Heads of State and Government and the high-level representatives from 40 countries attending the summit in Chiang Mai on 20 May 2013 reiterated the importance of water as an essential part of human life, human security, environment, and economy.

In the Chiang Mai Declaration, they recalled that 2005-2015 is the United Nations International Decades for Action “Water for Life,” and that 2013 is the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. They also emphasized that water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners, and policy-makers at all levels and that women have the pivotal role in the provision, management, and safeguarding of water.

According to the Chiang Mai Declaration, the participating Heads of State and Government and the high-level representatives declared to promote efficient use of water resources while taking into account basic human needs, including domestic, industrial, and agriculture water users, and balancing preservation of ecosystems.

As part of the plans to promote the efficiency of water use, they also call for the improvement of irrigation systems in the agricultural sector, which consumes a huge volume of water resources. They recognized that sustainability of food production increasingly depends on sound and efficient water management and that the need to increase sustainable agricultural production is closely linked to the development and management of water resources on an integrated basis.

This 1st Asia-Pacific Water Summit, was held in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, Japan in 2007, and the second on took place on 19 – 20 May 2013 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Asia and the Pacific region is recognized as the most disaster-prone region in the world, and that water-related disasters, including floods and droughts, in the region continue to increase in intensity and frequency.

In 2011, Thailand suffered its worst floods in more than half a century.

Thailand’s Economic Growth for the First Quarter of 2013

(21/05/2013)

The Thai economy in the first quarter of 2013 expanded by 5.3 percent, a drop from 19.1 percent registered in the fourth quarter of 2012.

As a result of the lower-than-expected growth in the first quarter, the Office of National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) has revised the economic growth forecast for the whole of 2013 to 4.2-5.2 percent from 4.5-5.5 percent.

NESDB Secretary-General Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said that the sluggish expansion in the Thai economy was a result of a slowdown in both domestic and external demands. Household consumption rose by 4.2 percent, compared with 12.4 percent in the previous quarter. Consumption of such durable goods as automobiles grew steadily, while that of non-durable goods and services was on the decline.

Public sector consumption grew by 2.2 percent, against 12.5 percent in the previous quarter. Investment expanded by 6 percent, a decline from 22.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Private investment increased by 3.1 percent, while public sector investment increased by 18.8 percent.

Imports in the first quarter came to 56,402 million dollars, an increase of 7 percent, compared with 14.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. The price of imports continued to decline by 1.8 percent, compared with a contraction of 0.4 percent in the previous quarter. This was due to the decline in the prices of global crude oil, gold and gems. In terms of Thai baht, the value of imports grew by 3.1 percent.

The NESDB Secretary-General pointed out that economic management in the remaining quarters of 2013 should take into consideration the weakening economic momentum and ensure that the stability of the baht would be in line with the country’s economic fundamentals. Prices of major goods, especially energy, construction materials, and agricultural raw materials, should be well-managed in line with the movement of exchange rates. This would help soften inflationary pressure and support economic recovery, as well as warding off fluctuations in major markets that are sensitive to capital inflow.

Emphasis should also be placed on accelerating relief measures for small and medium-sized enterprises to ease impacts from the appreciation of the baht, rising labor costs, and prolonged economic contraction in eurozone.

Moreover, the public sector management should be enhanced, as well, in order to improve the efficiency of the overall economic system.

Exports between January and March 2013 were valued at 56,181 million US dollars, an increase of 4.5 percent, against 18.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. The decline in exports was resulted from a slowdown in global demand and the stronger baht. Export items that saw an increase included automobiles, electrical appliances, metal products, and rice, and tapioca. Major export markets are the United States, the European Union, Japan, ASEAN countries, China, Hong Kong, and Australia.

Thailand and the United Kingdom Agree to Further Promote Investment-Friendly Conditions

(21/05/2013)

Thailand and the United Kingdom have agreed to further promote investment-friendly conditions, as well as to eliminate trade impediments and ease necessary regulations.

The agreement was reached at the first session of the Thailand-United Kingdom Strategic Dialogue, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok on 20 May 2013. The session was co-chaired by the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Mr. Jullapong Nonsrichai, and the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in the United Kingdom, the Right Honourable Hugo Swire.

In the joint press release for the session, the two co-chairs exchanged views on a number of bilateral issues of common interest, including the promotion of two-way trade and investment, tourism promotion and tourist safety, defense and security cooperation, education and training, and the exchange of knowledge and best practices in areas such as creative economy, as well as science and technology.

On the economic front, the two sides reviewed the growing two-way trade and investment, where the United Kingdom continues to be one of Thailand’s largest trading partners in the European Union. Both sides shared the view that the current bilateral trade volume could be increased substantially. The meeting suggested that both Governments look into doubling the current bilateral trade volume by 2018.

The two co-chairs recognized the important role that the United Kingdom could play in enhancing English language training and teaching in Thailand, in light of Thailand’s efforts to strengthen national competitiveness and readiness for the formation of the ASEAN Community in 2015.

Thailand expressed its profound appreciation for the United Kingdom’s support, through the British Council, on several ongoing projects in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of Thailand. The British side also reaffirmed the British Council’s commitment to provide assistance in this regard.

Another key deliverable of the meeting is the agreement for further discussion with relevant partners in the UK on the introduction of the “Premier Skills” Project, which was previously proposed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to her British counterpart during her official visit to the United Kingdom in November 2012. The project is designed to develop necessary skills, such as leadership and the English language, through football training for Thai youths, particularly in the southern border provinces of Thailand.

The two co-chairs also expressed appreciation for the dynamic flow of people-to-people contacts and pledged to promote the safety and security of tourists and residents alike. Visas were seen as one of the key factors in facilitating or impeding the flow of people, and so both sides agreed that immigration regulations should aim to be straightforward and transparent to help genuine tourists, business visitors, students and residents.

The two delegations also welcomed the signing of the MOU on SME Cooperation between the Office of SME Promotion and United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI), which is aimed at promoting collaboration between Thai and British SMEs, as well as the MOU between the Royal Mint and the Royal Thai Mint to enhance Thailand’s capacity in becoming a regional hub for production and distribution of coins.

The two co-chairs also welcomed positive developments in the realm of defense, particularly the re-opening of a fully functional Office of the British Defense Attaché and the re-establishment of a resident British Defense Attaché post in Bangkok. Thailand also welcomed the announcement by the British Royal Navy that HMS Daring, one of the most advanced destroyers in the Royal Navy, is scheduled to visit Thailand in January 2014.

The two delegations encouraged the Royal Thai Navy and the British Royal Navy to explore possible joint activities to commemorate the occasion and step up their partnerships.

Educational and Employment Development Emphasized in Handling the Southern Situation

(20/05/2013)

Educational and employment development in the deep South have been emphasized by the Government in handling the southern situation.

The issue was raised for discussion during a meeting of security officials and representatives of related agencies at Government House, chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on 17 May 2013.

The Ministry of Education told the meeting that various education projects had been implemented in the deep South, based on the concept that they must equip local residents with knowledge and experience that enable them to be engaged in occupations.

Another important point is that educational development must create better understanding that Buddhist and Muslim Thais can study together without any discrimination. The Government has facilitated the use of the local Malay language at local educational institutions. The Ministry of Education has encouraged schools in the deep South to apply bilingual education methods in a bid to improve academic performance and create a more positive attitude among parents toward schooling. As Thailand is moving toward the ASEAN Community 2015, English communication is also emphasized in various schools.

Regarding security for local teachers, security officials have stepped up measures to increase protection for teachers and ensure that local students would be able to have access to education on a continual basis, without fear of any dangers. They have received good cooperation from the Confederation of Teachers of Southern Border Provinces in implementing security measures. Following the eruption of southern unrest nine years ago, a number of teachers were killed and local schools were also set on fire by a network of perpetrators.

As for the schools that were burned down, the Secretary-General of the National Security Council of Thailand, Lieutenant General Paradorn Pattanatabut, said that the Government plans to rebuild them. Both the affected state and private hospitals are seeking budget allocations for the project, which also includes the construction of dormitories, multi-purpose buildings, and classrooms.

The Government has a policy to promote general education together with religious studies and vocational education in the southern border provinces. After local students finished their studies, wider job opportunities should be opened for them. With greater opportunities for employment, the Government believes that southern young people will not be misled into instigating instability.

The education management in the deep South has now become more flexible in accordance with the lifestyle of predominantly Muslim communities.

Government’s Future Water Management Plan

(20/05/2013)

Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi has stressed that Thailand will be able to change the flood crisis in 2011 into an opportunity for improving water management.

Speaking in the weekly program “Yingluck Government Meets the People” on 18 May 2013, Mr. Plodprasop touched on the issue of the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Chiang Mai province, scheduled for 14-20 May 2013. He also referred to the prolonged and widespread flooding in Thailand in 2011.

He pointed out that damage from the flooding was estimated at 1.4 trillion baht and that Thailand had never had an integrated water management system to cope with the situation. The Government has therefore come up with an integrated approach to water management and flood prevention, which would also deal with drought.

Mr. Plodprasop explained that the plan is part of Thailand’s management as well, so that the best water management system would be put in place. The plan involves an investment of 350 billion baht, or 11.5 billion US dollars, in a well-integrated water management infrastructure and flood prevention system.

He said that relevant agencies would have to adjust their regular budget allocations to be in line with the 350-billion-baht investment plan. Earlier, he said, these agencies had their own ways to deal with water problems. From now on, they will need to work closely together and cooperate with the Ministry of Transport in ensuring that road construction would not block water channels.

According to the Rapid Assessment and Resilient Recovery and Reconstruction Planning report, prepared by the World Bank, the total damage and losses from the 2011 floods in Thailand amounted to 1.43 trillion baht, or 46.5 billion US dollars. The manufacturing sector bore roughly 70 percent of the total damage and losses. Overall, about 90 percent of the damage and losses from the 2011 floods were borne by the private sector.

As part of its water management plan, the Government has established a single command center for unified operations in water management. The single command authority is responsible for coordinating water management work, and 17 agencies dealing with water management in the country are now working in the center.

The water management plan is divided into four phases: protection, preparation, response, and recovery.

Regarding long-term solutions, the Government had issued a royal decree empowering the Ministry of Finance to seek a loan of 350 billion baht for water management on a sustainable basis. It had worked out Thailand’s water management strategies and invited interested local and foreign consulting firms to propose plans for Thailand’s overall water management.

The Government has also adopted His Majesty the King’s advice on effective water management as guidelines for the country’s water management in the future.

Media Representatives from ASEAN to Have First-Hand Information about Southern Situation

(19/05/2013)

A group of 15 Muslim media representatives from ASEAN is on a visit to Thailand from 19 to 25 May, as part of the “Media Familiarization Trip to Thailand” program for 2013. They will visit the deep South, as well, to get first-hand information about the southern situation.

Organized by the Government Public Relations Department, the program is aimed at promoting better understanding about Thailand among Muslim journalists and widening opportunities for greater cooperation in all areas between Thailand and the Muslim world. The 15 media representatives are from four countries, namely Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

While in Bangkok, the group will call on Mr. Aziz Pitakkumphol the Sheikhul Islam of Thailand, and have a study tour of Bangkok Hospital to observe the operations of the hospital in response to the Thai government’s policy of developing Thailand into a regional medical hub and expanding the medical market in Muslim countries in ASEAN, ahead of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

They will spend three days in the southern provinces of Songkhla and Satun on May 20-22 to observe development work and learn about the local way of living at Ban Muang Ngam community in Songklha and Ban Hua Thang community in Satun. Ban Muang Ngam is a good example of multicultural and empowered communities, with healthy interaction between Buddhist and Muslim residents, while Ban Hua Thang is a pilot village under the “community policing” project, which is an innovative approach and a model for resolving the violent situation in the three southern border provinces of Thailand.

Thailand places the resolving of the southern situation as one of the country’s national priorities. Apart from adopting the “politics leads the military” approach in peace-building operations in the South, It has also focused on a development-led approach in eradicating poverty and providing greater opportunities for local people.

The Government has always maintained a policy of expanding cooperation in all fields with Muslim nations in all parts of the world – Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and even those in Southern Europe. It supports the development of a stronger Thai Muslim community in many aspects, including education and religious affairs.

More than half of ASEAN’s 580 million people are Muslim. Thailand is home to eight million Muslims across the country. Muslims of Malay descent are concentrated in the southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Satun, and four districts of Songkhla.

Thailand Recognized for Its Role in Promoting the Rights of the Disable

(19/05/2013)

Thailand has been recognized for its commitment to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. The Thai government hosted a regional consultation of Asia-Pacific countries on 15-16 May 2013, when Thailand presented its report under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in the Thai Braille version.

This publication would enhance accessibility and engage the visually impaired in Thailand’s UPR process.

The regional consultation was carried out under the theme “The Way Forward: Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on a Disability-Inclusive Development Agenda towards 2015 and Beyond.” It was organized as part of the preparation for the High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally-agreed development goals for persons with disabilities, to be held in New York in September 2013.

Over 100 representatives of ESCAP member governments, civil society, and the private sector, many of whom are persons with disabilities themselves, participated in the meeting. A notable aspect of the meeting was its accessibility to persons with various forms of disabilities, such as visual and hearing impairment. Mr. Santi Promphat, Minister of Social Development and Human Security, Mr. Shun-ichi, Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary and Officer in charge of the ESCAP Secretariat; H.E. Mr. James Wise, the Australian Ambassador to Thailand, and Ms. Julia Fraser the regional representative of the World Bank, delivered their statements at the opening ceremony.

The meeting also benefited from the views expressed by the participating international and Thai experts on the issues of disabilities, including Mr. Monthian Buntan, Thai Senator and member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Mr. Hyun-shik Kim, member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from the Republic of Korea; and, H.E. Mr. Libran Cabactulan, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York, who will be a co-facilitator of the upcoming High-level Meeting in New York.

The participants, who represented stakeholders from all sectors, exchanged views on ways to advance the rights of persons with disabilities at both the regional and international levels.

In particular, the meeting recognized the significant contribution of the Incheon Strategy to the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, the participants recognized the importance of disability-inclusive development, especially when disability was absent from the discussion on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

They strongly urged Member States of the United Nations to include the issue of disability in the post-2015 development agenda. The meeting was also a good opportunity to discuss challenges on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to reiterate the importance of participation from civil society.

Thailand Set to Become the World's Buddhist Center

(17/05/2013)

Thailand has set itself the goal of becoming the world’s center of Buddhist activities and studies. The Cabinet has resolved to support the establishment of Thailand as the recognized center for Buddhism.

It assigned the Office of National Buddhism to serve as the core agency in coordinating with the Sangha, as well as related organizations and individuals in working out details of the project.

The concept is that, as the world Buddhist center, Thailand will serve as the international coordinating center for Buddhist countries in the overall picture and in terms of information and contact between specific groups.

In its role as the center for Buddhism, Thailand would hold conferences, seminars, meetings, and training in various Buddhist buildings and temples, which would be equipped with sufficient facilities to accommodate visitors. It will also serve as the center for Buddhist research and studies and an ideal location for spiritual exercise and renewal.

The world Buddhist center should attract people inside and outside the country interested in conducting various joint activities. In this regard, existing buildings, such as auditoriums, museums, libraries, and hostels should be developed in accordance with the management of the world Buddhist center.

Meanwhile, the Thai government and various Buddhist organizations are holding a Buddhism promotion week between 18 and 24 May 2013 to mark the “World Day of Vesak,” or Visakha Puja, the holiest day of the year for Buddhists everywhere. The Day of Vesak falls on the full day of the sixth lunar month, coinciding with 24 May this year.

Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Niwattunrong Boonsongpaisan said that the celebration of Visakha Puja 2013 is meant to pay tribute to Their Majesties the King and Queen and Members of the Royal Family. It is also to commemorate the 100th birthday anniversary of His Holiness Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, on 3 October 2013.

Activities planned during the Buddhism promotion week will take place at Buddhamonthon in Nakhon Pathom, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University in Ayutthaya, Sanam Luang in Bangkok and various temples. An international Buddhist conference will be held on 21-22 May at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok.

In his message on the occasion of Visakha Puja 2013, His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand urged Buddhists to practice Dhamma for peace and happiness for themselves and the country. He said that the Buddhist principles could be condensed into three major guidelines: to do good, to abstain from bad, and to purify the mind.

For the Buddhism promotion week at Sanam Luang ceremonial site, His Majesty the King has presented his personal Buddha relics for the people to pay homage to. Moreover, various Dhamma activities for the new generation have also been organized during the period.

Chiang Mai Declaration to Be Presented at the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit

(16/05/2013)

Chiang Mai province in the North is the venue for the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit, hosted by the Thai government in collaboration with the Asia-Pacific Water Forum, from 14-20 May 2013. At the end of the summit, the Chiang Mai Declaration will be issued jointly by participating Asia-Pacific leaders.

The Cabinet has approved the draft Chiang Mai Declaration, proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, who chairs the Water and Flood Management Commission.

The Chiang Mai Declaration is not an agreement and has no legal commitments. Yet it shows the intention of the Asia-Pacific leaders, who are aware of the importance of water resources and will cooperate in water management for the maximum benefit and help one another in times of water-related disasters.

The draft declaration will be submitted to the Leaders’ Forum, which is to be held on 20 May. The forum follows the Focus Area Sessions, scheduled for 19 May, when representatives and experts from relevant organizations and other stakeholders discuss issues of water security and water-related disaster challenges in the Asia-Pacific region. Technical workshops are being held between 14 and 18 May and exhibitions from 14 to 20 May.

The 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit takes place at the International Convention and Exhibition Center Commemorating His Majesty’s 7th Cycle Birthday Anniversary. More than 2,000 political leaders, high-ranking officials, and water experts from 37 countries in the Asia-Pacific are joining the summit.

Chiang Mai Governor Tanin Subhasaen said that discussions at the summit focus on seven major topics, namely Economic, Food, and Water Security, Urban Water Security, Environmental Water Security, Water-related Disaster Challenges, Household Water Security, Water Risks and Resilience, and Integrated Water Resources Management Process for a Water Secure World. He said that Chiang Mai had prepared to address problems concerning floods and droughts faced by the province and strategies for dealing with the issues.

The President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Mr. Emomali Rahmon, will give a keynote address on 19 May. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will host a welcome dinner on 19 May. On 20 May, she will deliver the opening remarks and a keynote address on “Disaster and Response: Thailand’s Action and Commitment to Water and Flood Management for the Future.” The keynote address will be followed by statements of heads of state and heads of government.

At the closing ceremony, there will be the presentation of the Chiang Mai Declaration and concluding remarks by Mr. Plodprasop Suraswadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of Water and Flood Management Commission of Thailand.

The general public is welcome to the exhibitions, held at the Royal Initiatives Pavilion, and to water-related technology and trade show exhibition booths.

Public and Private Sectors Joining Hands to Stabilize the Baht

(15/05/2013)

The public and private sectors share similar views on the appreciation of the baht and they are working together to curb the stronger baht.

The Cabinet, during its meeting on 14 May 2013, acknowledged the results of the meeting held on 13 May to discuss impacts of the stronger baht on the Thai economy.

The meeting to address the baht issue was called by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong. Participating in the meeting were representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce, the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Thailand, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Thai Bankers Association, the Federation of Thai Industries, the Board of Trade of Thailand, and the Tourism Council of Thailand.

The meeting agreed that the currency’s appreciation would adversely affect exports, tourism, and the overall economy and that joint operations by relevant agencies would help stabilize the baht and maintain Thailand’s competitiveness.

In order to deal with the situation, the private sector urged the public sector to ease the slowdown in exports and provide assistance to manufacturers and exporters. It proposed that the Government consider pushing for the baht as a major regional trading currency.

In tackling labor shortages, especially skilled labor, the public sector was urged to reduce obstacles to labor movement in the region and to expand vocational education. The private sector also called for various infrastructure projects, particularly those concerning energy, in order to meet the demand in the production sector.

As the baht has become stronger, more production industries have turned to seek raw materials overseas. This has an effect on relevant industries, especially auto part manufacturing. In this regard, the private sector asked the Government to promote the use of more domestic raw materials for local industries.

The Government was also urged to consider exempting value added tax (VAT) for industries that sell products to exporters. It was asked to allow exporters who receive foreign currencies from their businesses to pay in foreign currencies, without having to change them into baht.

The private sector called on the Government to offer loan sources with low interest rates in order to support product development. It also urged the Government to reduce tariffs for gem and jewelry imports for exhibitions in Thailand.

Moreover, the Bank of Thailand was asked to disseminate information about comparisons between the baht and other currencies, especially the Japanese yen.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra instructed Mr. Kittiratt to call meetings to address the baht issue on a continual basis in an effort to deal effectively with the appreciation of the baht.

Official Visit of President of Tajikistan to Thailand

(15/05/2013)

The President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Mr. Emomali Rahmon, will pay an official visit to the Kingdom of Thailand on 17 – 19 May 2013 as guest of the Royal Thai Government.

This is the second official visit of President Rahmon to Thailand. His first visit was in 2005. Accompanied by a high-level delegation, President Rahmon will arrive in Bangkok on 17 May, when the official welcoming ceremony is scheduled at Government House.

He will hold bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on the same day. After the discussions, the Prime Minister Yingluck and the President of Tajikistan will witness the signing of the Convention between Thailand and Tajikistan for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect of Tax Income.

Prime Minister Yingluck will then host a dinner in honor of President Rahmon and his delegation.

The President of Tajikistan is also scheduled to attend the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit at the Chiang Mai International Convention and Exhibition Center on 19 May in Chiang Mai province.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the upcoming visit of President Rahmon takes place against the backdrop of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Tajikistan.

The official visit will herald a new phase of close relations between the two countries, marked by enhanced cooperation in areas of mutual interest such as socio-economic development, direct air connections, and promotion of trade, investment and tourism.

It is also a reflection of Thailand’s continuing efforts to foster closer ties with Central Asia and to strengthen the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) – an initiative for Asia-wide cooperation launched by Thailand in 2002. ACD is currently chaired by Tajikistan.

Government’s Medical Hub Plan Focuses on Private Hospitals

(14/05/2013)

The Government, in its medical hub plan, will serve as a facilitator for private hospitals, helping them to improve their medical services to foreign visitors seeking health care in Thailand.

Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong stressed that the Government would ensure that the plan would not affect the availability of affordable health care for Thai people.

Speaking in the weekly program “Yingluck Government Meets the People,” Minister Pradit said that the medical hub plan involves mainly the operations of private hospitals, while state hospitals still focus on medical services for Thai nationals. So the plan should not adversely affect Thai patients, and the Government would not spend national funds on private hospitals.

Apart from serving as the facilitator, he said, the public sector would help boost the image of the country in terms of medical advances. The medical hub policy would encourage health establishments in Thailand to improve their health services to higher standards. This will enhance the competitiveness of Thailand, as well.

According to Minister Pradit, in 2012 almost one million foreign visitors entered Thailand for health care, bringing in 140 billion baht. The number of medical tourists visiting Thailand is on the rise. In facilitating their trips to Thailand, the Government has granted visa extensions from 30 days to 90 days for nationals of six countries in the Middle East in the initial stage, so that they can stay in Thailand for a longer period for medical services. Visa extensions will later be granted to medical tourists from other countries.

He said that the Government had recently organized the first workshop for hospitals under the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Education to work together in an integrated manner, so that they would optimize the use of existing resources. In the workshop, they discussed the road map to proceed with Thailand’s medical hub plan, which also includes the creation of more qualified physicians. More workshops will be held for further discussions on the issue.

Minister Pradit said that the Government had set a target for medical tourism to grow by 10 percent a year, depending on the ability of private hospitals. The Government would facilitate the operations of private hospitals to achieve this target. To date, many private hospitals have been recognized and approved as meeting the standards set for the Hospital Accreditation of Thailand and international standards, such as ISO.

In developing Thailand into a regional medical hub, the Government will emphasize four areas. In the first area, Thailand will be promoted as a wellness hub with full-cycle services. The second area is that the medical service hub will link with spa services and health tourism. The third area seeks to turn Thailand into an academic hub for health care. The fourth area seeks to develop Thailand into a pharmaceutical and health products center.

Explanation on the Policy of Merging Small Schools with Larger Ones

(13/05/2013)

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana has given an explanation for the policy of merging small schools with larger ones, saying that the policy was intended to improve the quality of education.

In the weekly program “Yingluck Government Meets the People,” broadcast on the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT) and Radio Thailand on 11 May 2013, Mr. Phongthep spoke about the issue of closing schools with less than 60 students and merging them with larger ones nearby.

He quoted statistics showing that there are currently 700 schools in Thailand with less than 20 students. About 2,000 schools have 21-40 students each, and 3,000 schools have 41-60 students. He stated that small schools would receive minimal budget allocations and that they would not be able to handle effective management, or buy good equipment to help in teaching and learning.

Small schools also face a shortage of teachers, because they have just a handful of students. Each teacher has to be in charge of several grades of students at the same time. Small schools are often plagued by quality problems concerning teaching staff and educational equipment.

This is not the first time that the Government has had a policy of merging schools. Mr. Phongthep said that during the past 20 years, more than 3,000 small schools have been merged with larger ones nearby. Each teacher in those schools is now able to fully look after the students of each class. As a result, the quality of education has improved and parents have been satisfied.

Mr. Phongthep emphasized the policy of upgrading the quality of education, saying that budgets are not the problem causing the school mergers. Responsible officials must hold discussions with parents, students, and local villagers before deciding whether small schools should be merged with larger ones or not. The schools that are no longer used might be turned into non-formal education centers or One Tambon, One Product, (OTOP), centers, or be used for other purposes, depending on each relevant community.

Mr. Phongthep said that the Ministry of Education is in the process of reforming school curriculums at all levels: kindergarten, primary, and secondary education. In this regard, he said, teachers need to adjust their roles and teach students about analytical thinking. They should encourage students to think instead of focusing on memorizing. Another emphasis is teaching about the democratic way of living, under which members of society respect other people’s rights. Children must be allowed to practice living together in a democratic society. After the curriculum reform, teachers will be provided with an education program concerning a democratic way of living, so that they can pass this knowledge to their students.

Mr. Phongthep also thanked many local administrative organizations and private companies for their donations to support and develop education in Thailand.

Thai Ambassador to the UAE met with Director General of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry

(23-05-2013)


On 21 May 2013, H.E. Warawudh Chuwiruch, Thai Ambassador to the UAE, met with H.E. Mohamed Helal Al Muhairi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ADCCI), to discuss matters on collaboration between the Royal Thai Embassy in Abu Dhabi and ADCCI, which will help promote trade and investment between Thailand and Abu Dhabi as well as with the UAE as a whole.
After the meeting, the Director General who enthusiastically expressed his fondness of Thailand, led the Ambassador on a walk through ADCCI’s public premises which served as a one-stop service to business persons and normal people. Such services include document attestation, work permit and residence permit renewal and banking.

Thai Ambassador to Hungary led Team Thailand in Hungary to visit Bekescsaba

(22-05-2013)


On 7 March 2013, H.E. Mr. Sompong Saguanbun, Ambassador of Thailand to Hungary, led a Team Thailand delegation to visit the city of Bekescsaba, capital of Bekes County, to meet with Mr. Norbert Erdos, Government Commissioner of Bekes County, to discuss ways and means to promote relations between Thailand and Bekescsaba at the City’s Government House.

Apart from the bilateral meeting, Mr. Erdos, in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Bekescsaba, organized a business meeting between the Thai delegation and representatives of the local private sector. During the meeting, members of Team Thailand delivered power-point presentation about strengths of the Thai economy and exchanged ideas about opportunities for trade and investment between Thailand and Hungary with all the participants, totaling over 30 people. Furthermore, the Thai Ambassador was invited to co-host the Opening Ceremony of an art exhibition of selected paintings from students of Bekescsaba Lutheran Secondary School and students of Amnatcharoen School of Thailand. The two schools participate in a student exchange program every year. In this connection, the Thai Ambassador handed out certificates of merit, on behalf of Amnatcharoen School, to the Hungarian students whose paintings received distinction awards. Later on the same day, The Thai Ambassador was invited to co-host the Opening Ceremony of Lilavadi Thai Massage Studio, the first traditional Thai massage center in Bekescsaba.

Bekescsaba is a city with the size of about 194 square kilometers and population of 64,000 residents, making it the 14th most populated city in Hungary. The city is well known for its agriculture and horticulture activities. It is also home of the famous “Csaba” sausage of Hungary.

Team Thailand Mumbai gives an overview about Thai Economy

(20-05-2013)


On 14 May 2013, Team Thailand Mumbai, comprised of Mr. Nat Pinyowattanacheep, Consul-General of Thailand, Mr. Adul Chotinisakorn, Executive Director of the Thai Trade Center, and Ms. Kanokporn Chotipal, Director of the Thailand Board of Investment, actively participated in a seminar on Thai Economy organized by the Federation of Indian Exporters Organisations (FIEO) (Western Region) in Mumbai to its members of more than 40 persons who are highly interested in doing business with Thailand.

The Team Thailand Mumbai gave an overview about Thai-Indian bilateral relations, bilateral economic relations, Thai macroeconomic current situation and various investment opportunities in Thailand as well as more insightful information about steps to be taken to invest in Thailand along with related regulations, and information about retail business sector in Thailand and Thai consumers’ behavior. Apart from these useful information about Thai economy, the Thai team also emphasized that Thailand can be a hub for doing business with the whole ASEAN countries, which represent a combined population of more than 600 million people, with help of the connectivity by road, by air, and by sea from Thailand to other ASEAN countries as well as the Thai-Indian and ASEAN-Indian Free Trade Agreements and the fact that ASEAN will become ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

It was also the first time that the Director of the Thailand Board of Investment in Mumbai could present her newly opened office in Mumbai to the interested Indian businessmen who eventually gained more information and confidence to do business and to invest in Thailand.

President of the Senate of Thailand Pays Official Visit to Poland

(20-05-2013)

On 7 – 10 May 2013, H.E. Mr. Nikom Wairatpanij, the President of the Senate of Thailand, accompanied by his wife and a group of senators paid an official visit to Poland as the guests of the Government of Poland. On this occasion, Mr. Bansarn Bunnag, Ambassador of Thailand, cordially invited H.E. Mr. Nikom Wairatpanij and H.E. Bogdan Borusewicz as well as delegation from both side for a dinner at his residence on 9 May in order to strengthen a closer tie between Thailand – Poland parliamentary members which would help promote bilateral relations of both countries in the future.

“The rights of persons with disabilities must be part of the post-2015 development agenda”

(17-05-2013)

Representatives from Asia-Pacific countries met in Bangkok on 15 – 16 May 2013 at a meeting hosted by the Royal Thai Government in cooperation with the Australian Government, ESCAP, the World Bank and the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD) to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. This regional consultation under the theme “The Way Forward: Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation on a Disability-Inclusive Development Agenda towards 2015 and Beyond.” was organized as part of the preparation for the High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally-agreed development goals for persons with disabilities to be held in New York, September 2013.

Over one hundred representatives of ESCAP member governments, civil society and the private sector, many of whom are persons with disabilities themselves, were present at the meeting.  A notable aspect of the meeting was its accessibility to persons with various forms of disabilities, such as visual and hearing impairment. H.E. Mr. Santi Promphat, Minister of Social Development and Human Security; Mr. Shun-ichi, Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary and Officer in charge a.i. of the ESCAP Secretariat; H.E. Mr. James Wise, the Australian Ambassador to Thailand; and Ms. Julia Fraser the regional representative of the World Bank, delivered their statements at the opening ceremony.

The meeting also benefited from the views expressed by the participating international and Thai experts on the issues of disabilities, including Mr. Monthian Buntan, Thai Senator and member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Mr. Hyun-shik Kim, member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from the Republic of Korea; and, H.E. Mr. Libran Cabactulan, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in New York, who will be a co-facilitator of the upcoming High-level Meeting in New York.

Participants thanked the Royal Thai Government for its commitment to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities.  Moreover, the participants, who represent stakeholders from all sectors, exchanged views on ways to advance the rights of persons with disabilities at both the regional and international levels.  In particular, the meeting recognized the significant contribution of the Incheon Strategy to the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.  Moreover, the participants recognized the importance of disability-inclusive development, especially when disability was absent from the discussion on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  The participants thus strongly urged Member States of the United Nations to include the issue of disability in the post-2015 development agenda.  The meeting was also a good opportunity to discuss challenges on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to reiterate the importance of participation from civil society.

During the reception in honor of the meeting’s participants, Director-General of the Department of International Organizations presented Thailand’s report under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process in the Thai Braille version.  This publication would enhance accessibility and engage the visually impaired in Thailand’s UPR process.

The Ministerial Meeting of the Signatory Countries to the 1993 Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar

(16-05-2013)


On 9th May 2013, H.E. Pol.Gen.PrachaPromnog,  Minister of Justice of Thailand,led the Thai Delegation to attend the Ministerial Meeting of the Signatory Countries to the 1993 Memorandum of Understanding on Drug Control in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, together with the Ministers and delegations from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar,Vietnam and Representatives from UNODC. H.E. Mr. PisanuSuvanajata, Ambassador of Thailand to Myanmar, also participated in the meeting.  On 8th May 2013, the Minister of Justice of Thailand together with Ministers and Heads of other Delegations paid a courtesy call on H.E. UThienSein, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, at President House in Nay Pyi Taw

During the meeting, the Minister of Justice of Thailand and other heads of delegations signed the Nay PyiTaw Declaration,which declares the extension of the Sub-regional Action Plan on Drug control.

Royal Thai Embassy in Moscow supports networking between the court of justice of Thailand and Russia

(15-05-2013)

Representatives from Office of Judiciary, led by the President of the Court of Appeal Region 6, visited Russia during 5 - 12 May 2013 for a study of the court of justice in Moscow and St. Petersburg. On 7 May 2013, the delegation visited the Supreme Court of Arbitration for a briefing and called on Chargé d' Affairs to discuss the way forward to continue the network. In this connection, the delegation has been supplied  with background information, including the judiciary system of Russia. At present, the Russian Government has recently launched a mega plan to reform the court of justice system during 2013 - 2020, with a budget of 900 billion rubles (around $30 million).

Royal Thai Consulate-General in Dubai conducted Roving Consular Programme 2013

(15-05-2013)


Between 3 - 8 May 2013, Mr. Thosaporn Moonlasartsathron, Consul-General of Thailand to Dubai and the Northern Emirates, together with officers and staff from the Consulate-General, visited Thai employees at Banyan Tree Hotel in Ras Al Khaima, Lima Heavy Industries in Fujairah, as well as Crowne Emirates, Diamond Lines and Kudos Jewellery in Dubai, as a part of the annual Roving Consular Programme.
Consul-General and officers informed the employees of the general consular issues, as well as provided consultation on general labour law and benefits that the employees are entitled to receive from the employers. As well, the Consulate also gave Thai dried food products and ingredients, general medicine, essential items and sports equipments to the visited sites.

The ASEAN Committee in Washington Ambassadors on the USABC tour in Houston, TX

(14-05-2013)


From 29-30 April 2013, Dr. Chaiyong Satjipanon, Ambassador of Thailand to the United States of America, together with some of the ASEAN Committee in Washington (ACW) ambassadors, traveled to Houston, Texas, on an ambassador tour organized by the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council (USABC).  The trip is one of the annual activities organized by USABC, which is aimed at enhancing networking and promotion of ASEAN in various states in the U.S.  During their visit to Houston, the ambassadors had meetings with various sectors, including a meeting with Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker, during which both sides exchanged views on business environment in Houston, particularly on oil and gas sector, as well as opportunities for business cooperation between the Southeast Asian region and Houston.

In addition, the ACW discussed with executives of Witt O’Brien’s on disaster management and preparedness, as well as met executives from other local businesses, including ConocoPhillips, the world’s largest independent exploration and production company based on reserves and oil production, and discussed the company's overview and global investment including in ASEAN particularly on shale gas.

Furthermore, the ambassadors also attended a briefing at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Johnson Space Center, as well as visited the International Space Station Flight Control Viewing Room, and the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility.  The ambassadors also met with executives of the MD Anderson Cancer Research Center of University of Texas, one of the world’s centers devoted to cancer patient care, research, education and prevention.  Both sides also shared views on how to strengthening cooperation.

The delegation joined a lunch talk session organized by Asia Society, which was participated by various local sectors, including Thai Texas Association, a group of Thai community in Houston.  The ambassadors briefed and answered questions of the audiences on various issues including business opportunities in ASEAN, ASEAN Economic Community, and Trans Pacific Partnership. 

After Houston, the ACW ambassadors will continue their trip to Atlanta, Georgia on 1 May 2013.

3rd Meeting of International Dherawhadha Buddhism University

(22-05-2013)



On 16 May 2013 the Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, chaired the opening of the 3rd Meeting of International Dherawhadha Buddhism University, "Buddhist Study Is Life Study" at Maha Makut Rajawitthayalai University in Nakhon Pathom.

This event is the third meeting of the executives and academics of Dherawhadha Buddhism University. Actually, it should have taken place in 2011, but due to the great flooding in Bangkok, the Maha Makut Rajawitthayalai University was so damaged that it could not serve as a meeting venue.

The Association of Dherawhadha Buddhism University was established to strengthen academic and social service cooperation as well as to disseminate Buddhism worldwide. Its members come from 24 universities that offer courses on Dherawhadha Buddhism. Now, more universities are interested in becoming members.

Taking place from 16 to 18 May 2013, this event saw participants from over 40 academic institutions. Besides the board meeting, there were academic conferences on Dherawhadha Buddhism where students, teachers and academics gave presentations on various aspects of Dharawhadha Buddhism useful for teaching and learning in class.

4th Asia-Europe Minister of Education Meeting

(22-05-2013)


The Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, along with the Deputy Secretary General of Office of the Higher Education Commission (OHEC), Assoc. Prof. M.D. Kamchon Tatiyakawee, and Thai delegates, attended the 4th Europe and Asia Minister of Education Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 13 and 14 May 2013. The meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Higher Education in Malaysia, had 149 participants from 29 countries and ministers and deputy ministers from 16 countries. There were members from 16 European countries and 13 Asian countries while the meeting welcomed new members from Bangladesh, Norway and Switzerland.

Aiming to be a forum that enables its participants to discuss and recommend educational policies to practice in Asia and Europe, the main topic of this year's meeting was 'Strategizing ASEM Education Collaboration' in terms of quality assessment on education and qualification certification. It also talked about the participation of industrial and business sectors in educational management, student mobility and life-long learning. The participants also agreed with new programs that will mobilize the Policy to Practice education reforms, namely the ASEM Work Placement Program, ASEM Joint Curriculum Development and ASEM Innovative Competences. Thailand volunteered to carry out the Compendium on Credits and Learning Outcomes in ASEM Countries program. The Thai Minister of Education then invited all participants to send university rectors to the 4th ASEM Rectors Conference and the 2nd Asia-Europe Student Forum hosted by Thailand in June, 2014.

The Meeting of Asia-Europe Ministers of Education consists of 49 member countries. It is organized every two years. In 2015, Latvia will host the event and in 2017, South Korea will organize it. Indonesia volunteered to establish the ASEM Education Secretariat between 2013 and 2017 after Germany.

On this occasion, the Thai delegates met with Japanese, Hungarian and Belgian representatives and discussed educational cooperation with them, as well as taking a field trip to the University of Malaya. They also visited the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur to meet its staff and Thai students who are studying there.

Updated Period for Student Loan 2013

(22-05-2013)


The public relations staff member for Surin, Ms. Kanyarat Kiatsupha recently reported that the Student Loan of Thailand is opening the e-Student loan system for Thai students who would like to apply for loans in the upcoming first semester of 2013 via the website www.studentloan.or.th. Applications start from now until 30 June 2013. While those who have not yet changed their level of education or academic institution can confirm their registration using the same username and password, new applicants can sign up for a username and password without mentioning the name of the academic institution. When they are accepted to study, the new applicants can submit an application form for loan together with the ones who have already changed their educational level or school. Submission of the form will be from 1 April to 31 July 2013.

The Student Loan Department kindly asks all applicants to finish all processes themselves and monitor the news continuously so that they can apply for loan successfully. Interested students can get more information from www.studentloan.or.th or tel. 02 610 4888.

OVEC Holds National Competition forSkilled Welders

(22-05-2013)


The Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC), with the cooperation of the Department of Labor Skill Development, the Association of Teachers and Welders, U.B.M. Asia (Thailand) Co. Ltd., R.P.S. Supply Co. Ltd. and S.E.A. Engineering Co. Ltd., recently organized a national competition for skilled welders to select and screen those with professional skills of an international standard.

The Deputy Minister of Education, Mr. Sermsak Pongpanit, said that Thailand was stepping forward to become a complete industrial country with continuous investment expansion locally and internationally. So, every business sector has to focus on human resources development. The Thai Ministries of Labor and Education are responsible for creating good skilled labor to respond to the need s of the industrial sectors and of ASEAN free trade in 2015. Both public and private networks need to support the management of vocational education to create good, professional students who can be competitive with those from the other ASEAN countries.

The Deputy Secretary General of OVEC, Dr. Akanith Khlangsaeng, added that OVEC had a policy of strengthening the vocational network by establishing associations of teachers and students from various professions. This network will coordinate with many companies and organize competitions that will boost the skills of vocational students. Held in conjunction with Intermach 2013, the national competition of skilled welders introduces welding simulator technology for the first time in Asia. Its aim is to select skilled welders of international standard, to promote human resources development and to solve the problem of insufficient skilled welders in Thailand. Competitors include the general public and vocational students of lower and higher levels. Taking place from 16 to 19 May 2013 at BiTech Bang Na in Bangkok, prizes worth 10,000 Baht, 5,000 Baht and 2,000 Baht were awarded to the winners as well as an Inverter 200 A.

Good Advice for 4th ODOS Students

(22-05-2013)


On 17 May 2013, at 5.30 p.m., the Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, gave advice to students who had won scholarships in the 4th One District One Scholarship (ODOS) program before they went to study at universities in and outside Thailand.

Congratulating 98 scholarship holders, the Minister said that ODOS was a rare and very worthwhile project that allowed students themselves to choose their areas of study and where to go. Moreover, once they have completed their degrees, the students will not have to do anything in return for the funding even though some students will spend from 400,000 Baht to 1.5 million Baht a year for some courses.

The Thai government does not require that all scholars should do anything in return for the funding because it believes that they are Thai people who will be aware of the need to help the country in one way or another when they are academically successful.

The following are some words of advice the Education Minister gave to all ODOS scholars:

- At the higher education level, students should be able to realize who they want to be and what they want to do. This is the major goal of university students. Selecting where to study is important because there are many universities around the world, but students should know their capacity and academic skills. If they are not sure, students should discuss it with their advisor as early as possible.

- There are two options when choosing academic institutions to study. The first one includes institutions that teach in non-English languages like those in France, Spain, Germany or Portugal. The second one is those using English as a teaching language. Some courses like literature are difficult for students who do not know native languages other than English well. However, the Netherlands and Hungary offer English courses together with their native language. In this situation, students will learn both English and another foreign language while studying there.

- The criteria for accepting students vary in each country. Those with high ranking s will limit the number of applicants. However, some European or American universities with low rankings may not accept applicants easily while those in other countries will be glad to accept foreign students.

- Studying science is easier than social sciences or humanities because students may not have to know language very well or profoundly. Moreover, in France, courses focus on practicum with tutors. Students can graduate although they may not be particularly fluent in French.

After the Minister gave this advice, student representatives thanked the Thai government and the Ministry of Education for their support of higher education. The students promised to study hard and to help improve the country when they finish their studies.

28 Risky Areas to be Under Control: MOE

(22-05-2013)


The Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, recently chaired the launching of operational cars for the Semarak Center, the Ministry of Education, to check, monitor and control violence and fighting caused by Thai students under the program, "Going to School Safely". According to the Office of the Scout Movement, Red Cross Youth and Student Affairs, such incidents usually take place during semesters and before and after class. So, the MOE is working with the Thai Police Office, Semarak Center and Bangkok Mass Transport Authority to monitor 28 areas in five zones in Bangkok and its outskirts.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary of Education, Mr. Supakorn Wongprat, said that violence caused by some students often happened at the beginning of the first semester before the class started until 8.30 p.m. Bus stops, shopping malls and schools are places prone to violence and fighting among students. The authorities have formulated an operational plan to tackle the problem by dividing the work into 5 zones to be controlled from 16 May to 20 June.

All the zones are in Bangkok and its neighboring areas. They are:

1. in front of the Pata Pinklao Mall,
2. at the Misakawan Park,
3. at the Pathumwan intersection,
4. at the bus stop near Siam Technological College,
5. at the bus stop near Bang Pakok Witthayakhom School,
6. at the Bang Khae market,
7. at the bus stop in front of Wibul Business Management College in Tha Phra,
8. at the Om Noi market,
9. at the Ekkachai-Bang Bon highway,
10. at the Rachaburana intersection near Thonburi Rajamangala University,
11. at the Min Buri market,
12. at the Nong Jok market,
13. at the Fashion Island shopping mall, Ram Imthra,
14. in Soi Misteen, Sukhaphiban 3,
15. at Tha Mall Bangkapi,
16. at the bus stop in front of Wat Don Muang,
17. at the Don Muang train station,
18. at the bus stop in front of Central Raminthra,
19. at the bus terminal in front of Phra Si Mahathat Buddhist Temple,
20. at the Saphan Mai market, Don Muang,
21. in front of Thai Wijit Silpa School,
22. at the Kasetsart intersection,
23. in front of Central Ladprao,
24. at the Bang Na intersection,
25. at the Central Bang Na shopping mall,
26. in front of Pathum Khongkha school,
27. at the Imperial Samrong shopping mall and
28. at the Pak Nam market.

Thai & German Educational MOU

(21-05-2013)


The Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, along with the Ambassador of Germany in Thailand, Mr. Rolf Peter Gottfried Sculze, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on German-Thai Dual Excellence Education between the Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany on 16 May 2013 at the Ministry of Education, Thailand. This activity was also witnessed by senior officers from Thailand and Germany.

According to Mr. Phongthep, this MOU is an official agreement in which Thailand and Germany intend to improve and develop Thai vocational education due to the strong and long-standing bilateral relations between the two nations. The MOU will introduce the German system of bilateral vocational education to Thailand which is one of the best known in the world in order to develop Thai students' expertise, skills, capacity and knowledge. This system will enable learners to equally undergo practical and theoretical studies in both classroom and in real workplaces.

Under this MOU, the Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC), with the cooperation of three companies from Germany: BMW, Bosch and B.Grimm will work together to develop Thai vocational education by employing German vocational education practices  to motivate Thai education and create a curriculum for Thailand which will facilitate working while studying and in which students will get paid. The German Ambassador, the Thai-German Chamber of Commerce and GIZ have already confirmed that, in the next phase of development, more companies in Germany will join in this project.

Camp for Scholarship Graduates on Sciences

(21-05-2013)


On 16 May 2013, the Minister of Education, Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana, chaired the opening of a camp for scholarship graduates in the sciences at the Asia Hotel in Bangkok. On this occasion, he gave a special lecture on the need for good scientists in public offices in Thailand.

Mr. Phongthep said that Thailand was in need of a lot of science personnel as many developed countries had scientists and personnel with scientifically-based knowledge to mobilize the country despite a small population and few resources.

Mr. Phongthep added that students of science have a good foundation of knowledge from basic to higher education. So, the 1,600 science scholars are knowledgeable enough to be able to complete continuous studies from bachelor degree to Ph. D. levels. After graduation, the students are expected to develop the country and contribute to Thai society.

"Thailand has fewer innovations than imitations. Imitations don't create much income for imitators or the country. Scientists should initiate new inventions while looking forward at the same time. Some innovations, such as medical are sufficiently advanced whereas others still need development. New scientists should make them happen and improve Thailand," said the Education Minister.

The project on development of human resources in the sciences (Scholarship for Sciences of Thailand) is supported financially by the Thai government. Its aim is to create Ph. D. graduates in sciences who would like to work in the public sector for national development. Scholars will get financial support to study at the Faculty of Science in 23 public universities in Thailand. From 2008 to 2013, it is expected that 1,600 Ph.D. scholars will graduate.

"Doing Good and Volunteer Spirit for International Recognition" Project

(21-05-2013)


The Permanent Secretary of Education, Mrs. Panita Kamphu Na Ayutthaya, chaired a P.R. activity for "Doing Good and Volunteer Spirit for International Recognition" Project on 16 May 2013 at the National Scout Office. Also, the Secretary General of the World Scouts, scouting executive and personnel attended the activity.

Mrs. Panita, as the project's chair, said that this was a mission concerning the formulation of systems and regulations for registering new scout members. The scout board meeting, having acknowledged the project, distributed 100,000 books to young scouts for recording good things deeds so that they can write about the good thing they do every day. In so doing, the scouts will be aware of good behavior, ethics, morality, dedication and honesty -- a good image for both Thai and international scouts.

The budget for launching this activity does not belong to the Thai government but it is from a circulating fund for general administration. The initial amount was a donation of 1,300,000 baht donation for printing books for recording good things.

The P.R. campaign started at the beginning of this month and the official launching will be on 11 June at 5 p.m. at the statue of King Rama VI, the Ministry of Education. The Minister of Education Mr. Phongthep Thepkanjana will preside over the event.