วันจันทร์ที่ 3 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2556

Prime Minister Calls for Balance between Press Freedom and Press Responsibility

(04/06/2013)

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has stressed the need for a balance between freedom of the press and media responsibility, saying that freedom without responsibility can sometimes lead to confusion, misunderstanding, and even turmoil.

In her keynote address at the 65th World Newspaper Congress, the 20th World Editors Forum, and the 23rd World Advertising Forum on 4 June 2013 in Bangkok, the Prime Minister said that freedom of the press is not unlimited, even in the advanced democracies. The three events take place at the Bangkok Convention Center, Centara Grand Hotel, from 2 to 5 June 2013.

Prime Minister Yingluck pointed out that a free and responsible press helps keep the public informed and the well-informed citizen is at the heart of understanding each other views. She believed that deep down, humans are good at heart. So by being more understanding, it will not only help solve conflicts but will also bring people closer together.

The Prime Minister stated that there are always considerations given to public interest and order, rights to privacy, and even national security. Moreover, there are third parties willing to distort news and information for their own benefits. So it is also important to have responsibility on the part of the press and media, based on high standards of professionalism and common sense.

She said that the issue concerning the balance between freedom of the press and media responsibility has become more complicated with advances in technology and the opening of new frontiers for media in cyberspace. Print media has made greater use of cyberspace. But this is a channel where there is great potential for both good and misuse. Incorrect information and misleading news can reach a larger number of people much more quickly. And when damage is done, it is almost impossible to reverse the effects. So the close cooperation of the editors is needed to ensure that the news and information in the internet reflects this balance between press freedom and press responsibility for the good of the public.

Prime Minister Yingluck also referred to ASEAN, saying that ASEAN is going to be one of the main engines of growth. With a combined population of 600 million with rising income and purchasing power, the potential for business growth in ASEAN is tremendous. The ten member countries are working hard toward reducing barriers to trade and investment. She is confident that a single ASEAN Community will be achieved as planned in 2015.

The Prime Minister explained that ASEAN is also working to make connectivity a reality. There are many aspects that this region can become connected. First is the physical connectivity. Free flow of goods and services cannot happen without sufficient infrastructure. Since Asia is a land and sea-based continent, connectivity means that people must be able travel and transport efficiently to all logistic hubs and new growth centers.

She said that Thailand is planning to invest 66 billion dollars in infrastructure projects in rail and road links, with a comprehensive network of high speed trains and feeder dual track rails that would connect North-South and East-West neighboring countries. Once completed, there will be high speed trains running through Thailand, Laos, and into China. In time, it will also link South and Central Asia into Russia and Europe.

Sea ports and airports are being improved and new ones planned. The Dawei special economic zone and deep sea port which Thailand is working closely with Myanmar, will open a new gateway to connect India and Sri Lanka and toward the Middle East and Africa.

The second connectivity is people to people. Asia is vast in cultural, political, and economic thinking and ways of life. Diversity can mean strength but it also can lead to conflict and confrontation. She emphasized efforts to create a better understanding between the people, organizations, communities, and societies. So education to enhance common grounds and cultural cooperation to build closer ties is important,

She believed that the news and publishing industries stand at an exciting time. There is growing recognition of the vital role of the media in promoting democracies, economic and social development, as well as understanding between the peoples of all nations.

Thailand Moves to Enhance Strategic Partnership with Africa

(04/06/2013)

As part of the Thai government’s “Look West” policy to engage beyond the Asian region, Thailand intends to enhance strategic partnership with Africa.

Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Jullapong Nonsrichai stated that Thailand continues to attach great importance to Africa, as a continent, as well as relations with individual African countries.

In his statement at the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama, Japan, on 2 June 2013, Mr. Jullapong said that Thailand stands ready to share its best practices in development through the TICAD framework as well as with other development partners.

In the past decades, he said, Thailand provided Africa with scholarships for higher education. Over 700 fellowships are offered annually for International Training Courses on such key areas as sufficiency economy, climate change, food security, and public health. Comprehensive programs on technical cooperation are involved mainly in food and fishery, public health, services, and rural development.

Thailand’s best practice on Sufficiency Economy has contributed to the nation’s sustainable development and the grassroots self-reliance towards a resilient community, a pilot model of the Sustainable Agricultural Learning Centre set up in Lesotho proven to be successful and applicable.

Under the Trilateral Cooperation, Thailand prompts to share its know-how on rice production with Africa through the Coalition for African Rice Development Initiatives.

In support of the Millennium Development Goal 8, Thailand is looking forward to cooperating with Japan and other development partners through TICAD process and beyond, as well as forging a post-2015 development agenda that reflects Africa’s priorities. The Thai government will encourage the Thai private sector to play more active roles in Africa. The time is ripe for Thailand and Africa to elevate our long-term partnership to a higher stratum.

Thailand recently launched the Thai-African Initiative to enhance our long-term engagement with Africa through south-south economic, development, and strategic partnerships.

To invigorate this process, Thailand will convene a Thai-African High-Level Dialogue in November 2013. The Thai-African Initiative presents an opportunity to reflect on the broader vision for an enhanced linkage between Africa and Asia.

Mobile Cabinet Meeting in Kamphaeng Phet Province

(03/06/2013)

Kamphaeng Phet province in the lower North will be the venue for the upcoming mobile Cabinet meeting, the 10th of its kind under the Yingluck Shinawatra administration.

The mobile Cabinet meeting will take place at Kamphaeng Phet Rajabhat University on 9-10 June 2013. Four provinces, namely Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Phichit, and Uthai Thani, will be on the agenda of the meeting.

Four development strategies of the cluster of the four provinces will be discussed, together with preparations for the Government’s 2.2-trillion-baht infrastructure mega-projects, which will help develop this cluster.

In the first strategy, production efficiency of such major crops as rice, sugar cane, and tapioca will be enhanced. The second strategy seeks to add value to agricultural goods and develop agro-processed products. The third one seeks to develop the transport system, production distribution, and logistics services. The fourth strategy calls for the development of eco-tourism, as well as historical and cultural tourism.

The four provinces were told to consider adopting guidelines for agricultural zoning in crop cultivation. The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board has coordinated with governors of the four provinces to apply the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy and the concept of royally initiated projects to the solving of local problems.

The economic base of this cluster depends largely on agricultural production, especially rice and field crops, such as sugarcane and tapioca. The strength of this cluster is tourism, with Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Uthai Thani as a magnet for visitors. Huai Kha Kaeng was granted the status of a world heritage site by UNESCO. The Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park in Kamphaeng Phet province is also listed as a world heritage site.

The cluster of the four provinces plans to seek a budget of 100 million baht from the mobile Cabinet meeting to carry out several projects. These projects involve the setting up of a center for eco-tourism and cultural tourism, the improvement of the Water Bird Park in Nakhon Sawan, the development of various routes leading to tourism attractions in Uthai Thani, and the establishment of an ASEAN learning center at Kamphaeng Phet Rajabhat University. They also include the improvement of water distribution channels for agriculture.

Kamphaeng Phet province, in particular, will propose 100 million baht to develop the old city of “Nakhon Chum,” introduce a new service for tourists visiting the Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park, establish a center for tapioca development and promotion, and improve the water distribution system to help farmers.

Lying 358 kilometers north of Bangkok, Kamphaeng Phet, is an important archeological site and famous for ancient ruins, such as walls, forts, and temples, reflecting the glory of this old city in the past.

Government Confident about Its Projected Net Income for 2014

(02/06/2013)

The Government is confident about achieving its projected net income of 2.275 trillion baht in the 2014 fiscal year, which will begin in October 2013.

Speaking in the weekly program “Yingluck Government Meets the People,” on 1 June 2013, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong referred to the Government’s 2.525-trillion-baht budget bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in its first reading on 31 May 2013.

Mr. Kittiratt said that the Thai economy has continued to grow and that the Government would be able to expand its tax base for more income collection. Moreover, the Government’s earnings would also come from other sources, as well, such as various state enterprises.

Regarding the fiscal policy, he said, a budget deficit is still necessary in preparing the 2014 national budget. Even so, he believed that the Government would be able to reduce the amount of deficit in moving toward the target of balancing the fiscal budget in the next few years.

He explained that the budget deficit had been set at 400 billion baht when the Government assumed office. The amount has dropped to 300 billion baht now and would be cut further to 250 billion baht in the 2014 fiscal year.

Mr. Kittiratt stated that the Government had adjusted the country’s economic balance by reducing its dependence on exports and placing greater emphasis on domestic consumption. The adjustment was meant to sustain economic growth, since Thailand’s major export markets have faced economic problems.

Meanwhile, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Varathep Ratanakorn said that the 2014 national budget had been worked out by taking into consideration the framework of the “Country Strategy,” Thailand’s preparations for the ASEAN Community, and the Government’s urgent policies.

He stressed that the Government intended to spend the national budget with great efficiency and transparency in accordance with related laws. Apart from the 2.525-trillion-baht national budget, the Government would also have another two trillion baht in loan for infrastructure development.

The House of Representatives has already passed the bill on the 2.2-trillion-baht loan for infrastructure development in the first reading. The second and third readings are expected in August 2013 before the bill is forwarded to the Senate for consideration.

The Secretary-General of the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, Mr. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, said that in handling macro-economy, fiscal and monetary policies would be focused upon. But at the micro-economy level, sources of income must be considered. For Thailand, major sources of revenue come from agriculture and tourism sectors, which would help distribute wealth to rural areas.

He pointed out that Thailand’s economic fundamentals remain strong. The question is how Thailand will use its potential fully to ensure stability and sustain ability.

Sri Lanka Urged to Join Thailand’s Effort to Connect Asia and Beyond

(02/06/2013)

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has urged Sri Lanka to join Thailand in its long-term effort to connect Asia and beyond, saying that this will help promote peace and prosperity in the Asian region.

In her statement at the Sri Lankan Parliament in Colombo on 31 May 2013, the Prime Minister said that she was in Sri Lanka with the intention to build an even closer partnership between the two nations and to seek Sri Lanka’s support in building bridges of multi-dimensional cooperation throughout Asia.

She cited Asia as home to almost 60 percent of the world’s population with emerging new centers driving the global economic growth. Today, around three billion people from Asia and Africa live around the Indian Ocean. Enhanced regional connectivity will strengthen links in the Indian Ocean rim. This is a strategy being pursued by Thailand and ASEAN.

She said that Thailand is investing 66 billion US dollars in infrastructure development that will link up with the region. Better connectivity leads to more trade, investment, tourism, and better links between the peoples.

One of the key projects is the Dawei deep-sea port which Thailand works with Myanmar on the Andaman Sea. This will link with the Laem Chabang deep-sea port in the Gulf of Thailand, while along the way, a new economic corridor linking the Pacific to the Indian Ocean could become a reality.

Prime Minister Yingluck said that Sri Lanka’s development of deep-sea ports will allow the country to benefit from trade with Dawei and other ports in Southeast Asia. Ultimately, enhanced connectivity extends to Africa. Thailand has started the Thai-African Initiative in which Thailand will host a high-level dialogue with Africa in November 2013.

As climate change threatens human security, the Prime Minister said that Thailand and Sri Lanka need to work to protect their people by reducing risks from natural disasters. She called for closer collaboration with an action plan of coordinated warning systems and disaster relief operations.

She said that, in these days of rapid changes in the world, with cut throat economic capitalism, political turmoil, and social disruptions, Thailand and Sri Lanka must work together to strengthen Buddhism as a religion and way of life. This makes their Buddhist links unique, and this is the reason why the two peoples are so firmly connected.

In the political dimension, she said, both countries care deeply about democracy. Despite challenges that try to destroy beliefs in democracy, democracy survived since it is the people’s will. Democracies around the world must join to preserve and protect the people. Thailand and Sri Lanka, with their experiences and lessons, can contribute greatly to the advancement of democratic forces.

Thailand Hosts World Newspaper Congress, World Editors Forum and Newspaper Advertising Forum

(31/05/2013)

More than 1,000 newspaper publishers, chief editors, advertising directors, and other senior newspaper executives from 100 countries worldwide are gathering in Bangkok on 2-5 June 2013 for the 65th World Newspaper Congress, the 20th World Editors Forum, and the 23rd Newspaper Advertising Forum.

The three events, to be held concurrently, take place at the Bangkok Convention Center, Centara Grand Hotel, in Bangkok. They are designed to provide participants with strategic knowledge and ideas for answering the challenges of the media industry's fast-paced transformation.

The Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr. Tongthong Chandransu, said that the Thai government is proud that Bangkok had been chosen as the host city for these important media and advertising events. This is the first time Thailand and the ASEAN region host the World Newspaper Congress and its related conferences. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is scheduled to give a keynote address at the Congress Opening at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, 3 June 2013.

The three themes of the events are “Innovation, Inspiration, and Interaction.” Many public and private organizations in Thailand have provided support for these global meetings. Among them are the Prime Minister’s Office, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Airways International, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, the Government Public Relations Department, the Thai Journalists Association, the Press Council of Thailand, and the Online News Providers Association.

The World Newspaper Congress addresses management and business issues facing news media and examines emerging new business models and revenue streams.

The World Editors Forum provides newsroom personnel with an annual meeting place to examine innovations in journalism and newsroom organization. Attendees will acquire new skills in data journalism, storytelling tools and techniques, plus much more.

The World Advertising Forum is the annual venue for publishers and advertising executives to share successful strategies for increasing advertising revenues from both digital and print – and how to show advertisers the full value of your audience.

Thailand upholds the right to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed by the Constitution. According to the Constitution, a person may enjoy the liberty to express his or her opinion, make speeches, write, print, publicize, and express himself and herself by other means. The mass media have the liberty to express their opinion and to present the news, but with strict concern for professional ethics.

Thailand gives importance to press freedom. Thai journalists enjoy their freedom. They have struggled for a long time to gain, maintain, and strengthen their freedom in order to present news to the greater society. Today, the Government also places priority on freedom of media in its administrative policies.

Prime Minister Visits Sri Lanka and the Maldives

(31/05/2013)

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is on an official visit to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives between 31 May and 2 June 2013 at the invitation of the Presidents of both countries.

The visit is meant to enhance and deepen relations and cooperation between Thailand and South Asian countries. Prime Minister Yingluck will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and President Mohemmed Waheed of the Maldives. Members of the private sector accompanying the Prime Minister will explore investment possibilities and boost commercial links with the two countries.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to discuss with the two Presidents trade and investment cooperation, particularly in tourism, construction, and agro-industry, as well as ways to promote cultural and technical cooperation, connectivity, and people-to-people contact.

In Colombo on 31 May, Prime Minister Yingluck will address the Sri Lankan Parliament. Later, she will depart for Kandy to pay homage to the chief Buddhist monks of Asgiriya Chapter and Malwatta Chapter of Siam Nikaya. In the evening, the Prime Minister will attend an Upasampada ceremony at the Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple, or Sacred Tooth Temple, where an “Esala Perahera” parade will be held in honor of Thailand and the Thai Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Yingluck will also attend various functions to celebrate the 260th anniversary of the establishment of Siam Nikaya in Sri Lanka.

The year 2013 marks the 260th anniversary of Siam Wong, or Siam Nikaya, in Sri Lanka. In the middle of the 18th century, Venerable Phra Upali Maha Thera, abbot of Wat Dhammaram in Ayutthaya, headed a group of Siamese monks to the Kingdom of Kandy in Sri Lanka. His mission was to ordain monks, which led to the revival of Buddhism there. At that time, Singhalese Buddhism in Sri Lanka had gone into a serious decline under successive Portuguese and Dutch colonial rules. The ruler of the Kingdom of Kandy, Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe, then asked King Borommakot of the Ayutthaya Kingdom to help restore Theravada Buddhism in that country to its original state.

As a result of this endeavor to reintroduce Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, a Siamese order of monks, known as Siam Wong, or Siam Nikaya, was established. The revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka reflects the unique Thai-Sri Lankan religious relationship. To celebrate this auspicious occasion the 260th anniversary of Siam Nikaya, Thailand and Sri Lanka have agreed to organize various activities and exchange visits and meetings, including the official visit of the Prime Minister of Thailand to Sri Lanka on 31 May-1 June 2013.

From Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Yingluck on 1 June will depart for the Maldives. This will be the first ever official visit of a Thai Prime Minister to the Maldives since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries 34 years ago.

In addition to promoting bilateral ties, Thailand and the Maldives will discuss regional and global issues of common interest, including disaster management, climate change, social diversity, and cooperation between ASEAN and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Celebrating 180 Years of Thai-US Friendship

(31/05/2013)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said that the multidimensional partnership between Thailand and the United has not only benefitted both countries, but has also contributed to the promotion of stability and prosperity in the region.

At the Thai-American Friendship Reception, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok on 29 May 2013, Mr. Surapong stated that since the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833, the friendship and cooperation between Thailand and the United States has evolved and diversified over the years into a vibrant and meaningful partnership.

This cooperation has stood the test of time, encompassing defense, trade, investment, education, scientific and technical cooperation, as well as social and cultural networks.

He said that, in November 2013, President Barack Obama’s visit to Thailand, his first overseas visit after his re-election, served as a curtain raiser to the Thai-US celebrations today. The President and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra highlighted the 180th anniversary of bilateral ties as an opportunity to further deepen the Thai – U.S. partnership.

In this spirit, the two countries are engaging more actively with a series of high-level contacts. Mr. Surapong visited the United States on 4-8 May 2013. While in Washington DC, he said that he had a fruitful discussion with Secretary of State John Kerry. In June 2013, Thailand looks forward to welcoming the U.S. Secretary of Health. Within 2013, Prime Minister Yingluck will visit the United States. This continued exchange of high-level visits is vital as both countries build upon their partnership.

Apart from their official collaboration, educational and people-to-people connections are also of great significance in the Thai-US relationship.

Mr. Surapong added that the celebration of Thai – U.S. friendship could not be fulfilled without the engagement of their people, particularly the youth and future generations who play an instrumental part in shaping and strengthening the future of the two nations.

2014 National Budget Set for Driving Thailand’s National Strategies

(30/05/2013)

The national budget for the 2014 fiscal year aims to drive Thailand’s national strategies and prepare the country for the realization of the ASEAN Community, apart from solving economic and social problems on a continual basis.

In her statement at the parliamentary debate on the 2014 national budget on 29 May 2013, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that the Government proposed the 2.525-trillion-baht budget bill, with an emphasis on enhancing Thailand’s competitiveness and responding to the needs of people in all areas.

Out of the amount, 2.511 trillion baht will be set aside for the expenditure of various government agencies and state enterprises, while 13.423 billion baht will be allocated as payments for the national reserves. The Prime Minister explained that regular spending accounts for 79.9 percent of the total budget, payments for the national reserves represent 0.5 percent, investment accounts for 17.5 percent, and debt repayment 2.1 percent.

She stated that the Government is expected to earn 2.275 trillion baht in revenue in 2014, accounting for 17.2 percent of GDP. The 2014 national budget will be a deficit budget, as the Government has set a deficit of 250 billion baht. Thailand’s economic growth in 2014 is projected at 4-5 percent, with inflation of 2.7-3.7 percent. As of 20 May 2013, the national reserves stood at 250.9 billion baht. At the end of April 2013, Thailand’s international reserves came to 178.37 billion US dollars.

Since the global economy remains uncertain, the Government would emphasize measures for economic stability in the short term. The measures would help create sustainable and balanced growth in the future.

The Government has set four national strategies to move the country forward. The four strategies include Growth and Competitiveness, Inclusive Growth, Green Growth, and Good Governance. In preparation for the ASEAN Community, which will be in place in 2015, the Government is striving to upgrade the quality of education and develop foreign language and labor skills to cope with changes in and outside the country.

The Prime Minister added that the spending of the Government’s loans for water resources management and infrastructure mega-projects would help expand Thailand’s economy in the long run.

The national budget also takes into account the issuance of an executive decree to allow the Ministry of Finance to secure 350-billion-baht loans for water resources management and future development and a royal decree empowering the Ministry of Finance to secure 2.2-trillion baht loans for investment in infrastructure development.

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said that he was not in favor of the Government’s preparation for the national budget, as it did not reflect clear development directions. He did not see that the budget preparation would be able to cope with changes and the new situation.

Mr. Abhist also expressed his concern about the high amount of the Government’s loans and called on the Prime Minister to ensure that national budget spending would be transparent and bring the maximum benefit to the people.

Monetary Policy Committee Reduces the Policy Rate to 2.5 Percent

(30/05/2013)

The Bank of Thailand's Monetary Policy Committee on 29 May 2013 decided to reduce the policy rate by 0.25 percent, from 2.75 to 2.50 percent per annum.

Secretary of the Monetary Policy Committee Paiboon Kittisrikangwan said that the committee voted unanimously to reduce the policy rate and that the decision took effect immediately.

Mr. Paiboon stated that the global economic recovery was slower than expected. The US economy continued to recover gradually. The euro zone economy remained weak, but tail risks have declined. The Chinese and Asian economies expanded less than expected, which may cause a delay in Thai exports’ recovery.

Meanwhile, he said, the Japanese economy began to benefit from economic stimulus policies, as reflected by improvement in exports and private consumption. Global financial market remained volatile, leading to persistent capital flows into the region and exchange rate volatility.

The Thai economy in the first quarter of 2013 grew less than expected from tepid domestic demand, which could weigh on overall economic momentum particularly if there was delay in Government’s infrastructure investment expected to start later this year.

Exports are subject to downside risks from growth moderation in regional economies, especially China. Inflationary pressure eased further owing to lower production costs, while growth of private credit and household debts remained elevated.

The committee judges that the Thai economy should continue to expand on the back of sound economic fundamentals, although downside risks have increased from lower-than-expected growth in the first quarter of 2013. As inflation remains well within the target, monetary policy has room to further cushion against downside risks to domestic demand.

Against the backdrop of continued financial stability concerns, the Monetary Policy Committee thus voted unanimously to reduce the policy rate by 0.25 percent. It will closely monitor developments of the Thai economy, financial stability risks, as well as capital flow situation, and stand ready to take appropriate action as warranted.

Framework for Thailand’s Economic Stability in 2013

(29/05/2013)

The Cabinet, during its meeting on 28 May 2013, approved a framework for maintaining Thailand’s economic stability in 2013 to deal effectively with financial risks, as a result of the appreciation of the baht.

The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board and the Ministry of Finance reported to the Cabinet that the Thai economy was facing risks from slow recovery in the global economy and quantitative easing measures implemented by several major countries, such as the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

These measures, as well as currency wars, have resulted in capital inflow to the Asian region, and the value of the baht has become stronger than that of other currencies in this region. The appreciation of the baht has affected Thai exports and services. This situation is likely to delay the Government’s disbursements for investment in mega-projects. Another negative factor is a risk of a new round of the global economic crisis.

In order to stabilize the Thai economy and sustain growth, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board and the Ministry of Finance came up with the framework for Thailand’s economic stability in 2013.

Concerning immediate measures, the framework seeks to ensure that the baht will not be too strong to affect the potential of the Thai economy. At the same time, it seeks to create sustained economic growth of 5 percent. Income generation will be promoted through exports, tourism, and overseas investment. Economic and tax structures will be adjusted to enhance Thailand’s competitiveness and promote sustainable growth.

Regarding monetary measures, the Bank of Thailand will be encouraged to ensure that the policy rate is in line with the economic situation and macro prudential measures will be implemented. Assistance will be provided for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in order to ease impacts from the appreciation of the baht.

As for fiscal measures, relevant agencies were told to ensure that investments of state enterprises would be in line with the set target. The private sector will be urged to invest more in foreign countries. The tax structure will be reformed and SMEs will be provided with guarantees to protect them from the volatility of the baht.

The framework for Thailand’s economic stability also consists of specific measures to support production and services, exports, investment, and people’s income. For instance, farmers’ income will be upgraded. The proportion of SMEs will be increased to 40 percent of GDP. Large industries will be urged to expand investment and develop technology.

Concerning tourism, efforts will be made to increase international tourist arrivals to 24.7 million in 2013 and the country’s tourism revenue will be doubled by 2015. In addition to achieving the 2013 export growth target at 9 percent, other measures also call for energy security with reasonable prices and cost reduction for low-income earners.

OTOP Midyear 2013 Fair

(29/05/2013)

The Community Development Department is organizing the OTOP Midyear 2013 Fair from 28 May to 2 June 2013, when community products from all over Thailand are put on show and on sale.

According to the Director-General of the Community Development Department, Mr. Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, the six-day fair takes place at the Exhibition Halls 1-8, IMPACT Trade and Exhibition Center, Muang Thong Thani, Nonthaburi province.

OTOP, which stands for the “One Tambon, One Product” program, is a major policy of the Government to build up small enterprises in communities by encouraging the people to manufacture local products using their homegrown skills and expertise.

The OTOP Midyear 2013 Fair comprises more than 1,600 booths, with a food bazaar from the four regions of the country. Apart from an exhibition and demonstrations of OTOP making, the fair also features “OTOP Unseen,” with a display of OTOP products that have never been shown elsewhere before. OTOP products from those who have been affected from unrest in the deep South are also on sale.

Meanwhile, a survey shows that OTOP operators want the Government to help them seek more markets inside and outside the country. The survey was conducted by the National Statistical Office in order to prepare OTOP operators for the soon-to-be ASEAN Community.

Apart from marketing channels, OTOP operators also want the Government to provide them with greater access to funding sources. They also call for more counseling services in terms of modern technology, investment, and product development to international standards, as well as knowledge and information about the ASEAN Community.

Moreover, they also want to be equipped with language skills to help in business communication with foreign countries. Most of the surveyed OTOP operators are confident that they will be able to expand their products into other ASEAN markets. They also want more public relations campaigns to be carried out for the OTOP program. At the same time, the public should be urged to use more OTOP products.

The ASEAN Community, which will become a market of 600 million people, will be in place in 2015. OTOP operators will have greater opportunities, and they will face greater challenges, as well.

SMEs and OTOP have been cited as major factors in the country’s economic drive, and their combined value is 3.9 trillion baht, accounting for 37 percent of GDP. They employ almost 11 million people and their exports come to 2.2 trillion baht, representing about 30 percent of Thailand’s total export value.

Official Visit to Thailand of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

(28/05/2013)

Prime Minister of the Republic of India Dr. Manmohan Singh will pay an official visit to Thailand on 30-31 May 2013, as guest of the Royal Thai Government.

This is the first official visit to Thailand of Prime Minister Singh, who visited Thailand twice before, to attend the 1st BIMSTEC Summit in 2004 and the 15th ASEAN Summit in 2011.

Upon his arrival, a welcoming ceremony will be held at Government House on 30 May, followed by a meeting between Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the Indian Prime Minister. The meeting reflects the desire of the two countries to elevate bilateral relations to strategic partnerships, as announced in January 2012.

The two Prime Ministers will review the development of existing cooperation and explore new areas of cooperation where both countries have mutual interests. Prime Minister Yingluck will host a dinner in honor of Prime Minister Singh and his delegation on the same day. The Prime Minister of India and his delegation will depart Thailand in the morning of 31 May.

Prime Minister Yingluck paid an official visit to India and attended India’s Republic Day celebrations as Chief Guest in January 2012. She visited India again in December 2012 to attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit.

The exchange of high-level visits also reflects India’s “Look East” policy and ASEAN’s “Look West” policy. Over the past two decades, significant strides have been made in the ASEAN-India relationship. Geographical and cultural closeness makes ASEAN and India natural trading partners.

Team Thailand Mumbai in India, comprising the Consul-General of Thailand, the Executive Director of the Thai Trade Center, and the Director of the Thailand Board of Investment, took part in a seminar on the Thai economy, organized by the Federation of Indian Exporters Organizations in Mumbai on 14 May 2013. It gave an overview about Thai-Indian bilateral relations and investment opportunities in Thailand.

The Thai team emphasized that Thailand could be a hub for doing business with the whole ASEAN countries, which represent a combined population of about 600 million people. 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 integration of ASEAN as a single community in 2015, will bring Thailand and India closer together.

In 2012, Thailand and India decided to work closely in building up their infrastructural linkages, especially the trilateral highway connecting India, Myanmar, and Thailand, scheduled for completion in 2016. Thailand and India are aiming for 14 billion US dollars in trade by 2014. Bilateral trade between the two countries expanded from 4.7 billion dollars in 2007 to 8.34 billion dollars in 2012.

The past few years have seen a rapid growth, with the value of exports from Thailand and imports from India almost doubling from 2007 to 2012.

Policy of Developing Thailand into a Medical Hub in the Region

(27/05/2013)

The Thai government is taking steps to develop Thailand into a medical hub in the region, with an emphasis on wellness and high-quality services at international standards. It believes that the policy on the medical hub will help promote medical tourism and turn Thailand into a wellness destination in this part of the world.

Toward this aim, the Government has worked out a strategy, to be implemented from 2012 to 2016, for the development of Thailand into a medical focal point. The strategy involves four major areas: medical treatment, health promotion, traditional Thai medicine and alternative medicine, and health products, especially Thai herbs.

In fact, the policy was established in 2004 but has been given greater importance recently, under the condition that the international healthcare program should not affect the availability of good, affordable health care for Thai patients. The Ministry of Public Health was assigned to work in an integrated manner with various relevant agencies in translating this policy into action.

The main objective is to encourage health establishments in Thailand to raise the standards of their services at all levels. Another objective is to enhance the competitiveness of Thailand, as the country has several strengths in terms of experienced health personnel, modern facilities and equipment, hospitality, excellent services, and reasonable prices.

For instance, hospitals throughout the country are ready to provide emergency services 24 hours a day. To date, many hospitals have been recognized and approved as meeting the standards set for the Hospital Accreditation of Thailand and international standards, such as ISO. Thailand was the first country in Asia to achieve the Joint Commission International (JCI) Accreditation.

Thai physicians are capable of providing care and services in every medical field. The majority received their medical education in Thailand and underwent further, clinical training at renowned international medical schools and institutes overseas. In many private-sector hospitals, foreign patients can be assisted by interpreters and coordinators whenever there is need for any such services. To ensure consumer protection, medical services are also regulated to mandate the highest ethical standards and quality of care.

Thailand has earned a reputation as an excellent location for spa services in Asia. Bangkok is known as the “Spa Capital of Asia,” generating income through traditional Thai massage, beauty treatment services, and alternative medicine, thereby creating a sales channel for herbal products used in spa treatments. Apart from Bangkok, such major tourism destinations as Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Samui offer inclusive medical spa resorts and wellness retreats, as well. To ensure hygiene and safety, these health spas require certification by the Ministry of Public Health.

Statistics compiled by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health show that, in 2012, foreign visitors sought medical services here on more than two million trips. Popular health services include medical check-ups, cosmetic surgery, transsexual surgery, dental care, orthopedic surgery, and heart surgery.

Medical tourism generated 52 billion baht in revenue for Thailand in 2008, 58 billion baht in 2009, and 65 billion baht in 2010. The earnings rose to 97.8 billion baht in 2011 and 121.6 billion baht in 2012.

The number of foreign clients seeking medical tourism services in Thailand is on the rise. They come mainly from Japan, the United States, China, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Germany, and countries in South Asia and the Middle East.

In promoting the policy on the medical hub, the Thai government introduced a new regulation on 4 January 2013 for the granting of visa extensions from 30 days to 90 days to nationals of six Middle Eastern countries in the initial stage. The six countries include the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This privilege under the medical hub project would be extended to other ASEAN countries, as well, when the ASEAN Community is in place in 2015.

In preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community, the Ministry of Public Health is preparing to rearrange its medical service zones across the country in order to pool their resources to ensure optimum efficiency and reduce duplication of investment. It is also creating more personnel to meet the expected growing demand for medical care.

The Bangkok Hospital Group, which is Thailand’s largest hospital operator with 13 network locations throughout the country, is expanding its medical tourism markets in ASEAN, especially Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Educational Development in the Southern Border Provinces

(27/05/2013)

Education has been advocated as one of the best ways to improve the situation in the southern border provinces, according to several reports in which various groups of people had come up with the conclusion that problems in the southern border provinces could ease with better education.

Mr. Aziz Pitakkumphol, the Sheikhul Islam of Thailand (Chularajamontri, or the State Counselor for All Islamic Affairs, in Thailand), has also suggested that the Government improve education in the deep South, as it is a sustainable solution to the southern conflict. Mr. Aziz pointed out that many young people have been misled because of the lack of educational opportunities. So he called on the Government to upgrade education in the southern border provinces.

The education system in the deep South differs from that of other parts of the country, since many local residents have opted to send their children to receive Islamic education at tadika and pondok schools. A recent survey, conducted in the three southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat, shows that 253,532 schoolchildren attend primary schools and 209,017 are in secondary and vocational schools. Only 36,541 students have opportunities to continue their studies at the bachelor’s degree or higher vocational level. Around 9,000-11,000 students have pursued their studies abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Yemen, and Kuwait. There are currently about 2,000 Thai Muslim students in Egypt, and the majority of them are women. Statistics show that the number of schoolchildren dropping out of their basic education in the five southern border provinces, namely Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat, Satun, and Songkhla, is about 3,000.

Since a number of schoolchildren completing compulsory education have not continued their studies, the unemployment rate in the deep South is relatively high when compared with the rate in other areas. Reports from security agencies indicate that the unemployed youths have been misled to join the movement of perpetrators and illegal businesses, such as drug trafficking and the smuggling of oil and other goods.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana stated that educational development in the South must emphasize efforts to provide greater employment opportunities for local people to help develop society. He pointed out that people in the southern border provinces have several strengths. For example, they can communicate in the Malay language and Arabic, and many of them speak English. With this advantage, they have good opportunities to work in various countries, such as those in the Middle East, which is now in need of foreign workers. He called for the use of education to promote the role of women in the South, so that they would be able to move forward together with their male counterparts. It is through education that the potential of women will be fully tapped.

A special education curriculum has been introduced to state schools in the deep South to integrate Islamic studies into the general curriculum. By so doing, young people will be equipped with both vocational training and religious study, thus enabling them to find jobs after completing their studies.

Private schools teaching Islamic religion in the deep South called on the Government to provide subsidies for teachers in Islamic studies, upgrade the quality of education to reduce disparity, and offer assistance in terms of educational media. In response to the strategy for developing the quality of education in the five southern border provinces, the Ministry of Education has received a budget of 286.4 million baht in the 2013 fiscal year. As for the 2014 fiscal year, it has set a budget of 628.8 billion baht for the purpose.

The Ministry of Education has also offered annual scholarships, from kindergarten to graduate level, for those whose lives have been disrupted by the unrest.

Ban Hua Thang Community: Satun Model to Tackle Southern Violence

(27/05/2013)

Ban Hua Thang community, located in Phiman subdistrict, Mueang district of Satun province, is a flat area of 0.56 square kilometers, surrounded by mangroves. It consists of 100 families, with about 1,000 people, who are mostly Muslims and are engaged mainly in fishing and trade.

Unlike the three southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat, Satun does not face violent extremism, but this semi-urban community has to deal with other social issues, as well, such as drug trade and abuse, theft, and teenager problems.

In order to deal with the problems effectively, the local police in early 2011 launched a project called “community policing,” the first of its kind in southern Thailand. The project aims to reduce suspicion between officials and local residents and between local people themselves. With the participation of local people, it has been carried out successfully and regarded as a model that can be used to bring about mutual trust and harmonization and help tackle southern violence.

Modeled after an American community policing program, the Satun model started with four plainclothes police officers from the Crime Suppression Division living with villagers at the Ban Hua Thang community in order to learn their problems and needs. Initially they did not identify themselves as police but were there to help ease local problems and offer a helping hand in local development.

After three months, when local people and the group of policemen got to know one another better, the officers made it known that they were law enforcement authorities. The feeling of mistrust by then did not exist and they urged the village head to hold a public forum where local villagers could speak about their problems. The police realized that several local problems came from disunity and that local residents did not trust the police. Information gained from the forum was analyzed and the police came up with ways to solve local problems.

Since then, this group of police officers has continued to win the trust of local villagers by joining almost all activities in the community and working with religious leaders. Today, the drug problem at Ban Hua Thang has declined. The police and local residents have joined hands in forming a group of security volunteers to protect the village. The local public pavilion has been used as the venue to settle disputes, and many problems have been settled without causing any troubles in the community as a whole.

As for young people, the community policing project has provided them with training in martial arts, computer science, knowledge about law, and sports activities. The objective is to encourage them to spend time fruitfully. The project also seeks to develop local facilities, such as roads, pavilions, and electricity for better services.

Police Colonel Thinnakorn Rangmart, a superintendent of the Crime Suppression Division, said that the project had been implemented for three years now and it has proved very satisfactory, based on the concept “Police are people and people are police.” Promoting relations with local people has improved the police image and helped prevent crime, as well.

The police have prepared to expand this project to other southern communities in the deep South, such as those in Saba Yoi district of Songkhla. He believed that southern violence would ease when suspicion between officials and local villagers was reduced. Perpetrators in the deep South have attempted to create mistrust between officials and local residents, making it difficult for the authorities to cope with the unrest.

Ban Hua Thang is a good example of an empowered community, where residents live in harmony and unity. They have also cooperated closely with officials in keeping social order. In this community, policemen play a key role in winning trust from local people who can look to them for help.

The community policing project is an innovative approach that can be adapted as a model to ease the violent situation in the southern border provinces of Thailand.

Ban Muang Ngam: An Empowered Community with Healthy Interaction between Buddhist and Muslim Residents

(27/05/2013)

A community in Singhanakhon district, Songkhla province, Ban Muang Ngam is under the Muang Ngam Subdistrict (Tambon) Administrative Organization. This village consists of 813 families, with a population of 3,391 (as of February 2013). Out of the population, 1,713 are male and 1,678 are female.

Ban Muang Ngam comprises two major groups, Buddhist and Muslim Thais, who have lived together in peace and harmony for centuries. Despite their different faiths, they have close-knit relationships, which have been passed on from generation to generation. For instance, when their neighbors of different faiths host events, like merit-making ceremonies, they will join and offer a helping hand. It is not surprising to see Muslims here attend a Buddhist ordination and other Buddhist-style functions. At the same time, Buddhists have also joined various events held by their Muslim neighbors without prejudice.

Intermarriages between Buddhists and Muslims are also common in this multicultural community. The couples of different faiths regard relatives of each side as members of their own families, with respect for each other’s religion.

Local residents are engaged in fishing, rice farming, and planting of various crops, such as watermelons, beans, and vegetables. The Buddhist group is involved mainly in rice farming, orchard growing, and sugar-palm production, while the Muslim group is involved mainly in fishing. Both groups sometimes exchange rice, fish, vegetable, fruit, and other items.

They have donated in cash and in kind for the construction of both temples and mosques as public places and for the development of other facilities for social services. Differences in faiths are not an obstacle at all to their interaction.

Satun Province to Be Developed as a Leading Eco-Tourism City in ASEAN

(27/05/2013)


The southernmost province of Thailand on the Andaman Sea, Satun is located 973 kilometers from Bangkok bordering Perlis and Kedah in Malaysia. With its unique location, this southern province is an attractive destination for tourists, adventurers, and businesspeople, as well as nature lovers.

It is famous for pristine nature spreading over jungles, mountains, and beaches, and is suitable for development into an eco-tourism center, with great potential for an increase in cross-border trade with Malaysia, as well.

The province has set its vision as “a leading eco-tourism city in ASEAN, an agricultural standard city, and a happy city.” The name “Satun” comes from the Malay word satoye, meaning “santol,” a kind of fruit known in Thai as kraton, grown everywhere in Satun. Santol is round and green, and when ripe, and it turns yellow. The skin of the fruit is covered with soft velvet-like fuzz, and the meat is white, thick, soft, and sweet, with a slightly astringent taste. The town of Satun was later named “Negeri Setoi Mumbang Segara,” also in the Malay language, meaning the “Ocean God,” which has become the symbol of this province.

According to statistics compiled in 2012, Satun has a population of 305,879; 74 percent of the local residents are Muslim and 25.8 Buddhist, living happily in harmony. There are 224 mosques, 37 Buddhist temples, and three Christian churches. Most local people are engaged in rubber, oil palm, rice, and fruit farming, followed by retail and wholesale trade of agricultural products.

The per capita income in 2011 was 114,657 baht, ranking ninth of all 14 southern provinces and 27th of all provinces in Thailand. Border trade between Satun and Malaysia in 2012 came to 245.16 million baht, 69.99 million baht of which involved exports and 175.17 million baht involved imports.

In terms of tourism, Satun welcomed 694,697 Thai and foreign tourists, and it earned 2.6 billion baht from tourism in 2011. There are currently 67 hotels and resorts in this province to accommodate visitors.

One of Satun’s major tourist attractions is the Satun National Museum, which was developed from an old mansion built by a former governor in the 19th century. It is in the European architectural form with a Thai-style roof. This old mansion was originally built as a temporary residence of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), during his visit to the South.

However, the King did not stay there and the mansion was later turned into the residence of the Satun governor. During the Second World War, the mansion was used as a Japanese military camp, and before being developed into the national museum, this mansion served as a town hall, a municipal school, and an internal security operations command office.

The province boasts three national parks: Tarutao National Park, Phetra National Park, and Thale Ban National Park. Tarutao National Park is one of the most picturesque tourist attractions in the province and it is located only a few kilometers from the Malaysian isle of Langkawi. It is recognized as one of the ASEAN Heritage Parks and Reserves. During World War II, Tarutao used to serve as a place of detention for long-term detainees and political prisoners and as an occupational training center for convicts. It was declared Thailand’s eighth national park in 1974. This marine national park also includes a settlement of “sea gypsies,” island inhabitants from long ago who still lead their traditional way of life.

Another interesting attraction in Satun is Tham Lot Pu Yu, a cave bordering Perlis State of Malaysia. This cave is surrounded by beautiful scenery, comparable to the natural beauty of Switzerland. On the two sides of Tham Lot Pu Yu are high mountains, which are very scenic, like those in Guilin, China. The cave is accessible by boat, passing between the mountains, and small boats can enter the cave and come out on the other side of the mountain, where visitors will appreciate the landscape of the so-called “Giant Chameleon Mountain” and lush mangrove forests. Standing there is the “Blue Kayang Cave,” a splendor that has few rivals in the world. Numerous fish species have developed naturally in the area, maintaining the ecological system.

There is also a fishing village where visitors can buy seafood at low prices and observe the traditional way of life of the sea gypsies.

Satun Governor Nuachai Jiraapirak on 25 April 2013 joined hands with tourism business operators and members of the Satun Chamber of Commerce in introducing a scenic sandbar emerging from the waters as a new tourism site in this province. The amazing emerging sandbar, locally referred to as thale waek, literally meaning divided sea, is located in the Andaman Sea, off Tanyong Po community in Mueang district.

Major construction projects that have attracted investments in this province include the Pak Bara deep-sea port, a road linking Satun with Perlis in Malaysia, the Satun commercial airport, Satun city development, and eco-tourism development.

However, the province still needs further logistics development and the processing of more agricultural products to contribute to its local economy.

Songkhla Province in Southern Thailand

(27/05/2013)

Lying some 950 kilometers south of Bangkok, Songkhla, with a population of about 1.36 million, is a major seaside city, connecting with Kedah State of Malaysia. It has emerged as the economic center of the lower southern region and it is worth a visit in all seasons.

Hat Yai district of Songkhla is the best-known business center in the southern region of Thailand. It plays an important role in the southern economy and serves as the junction of communication and a gateway welcoming Malaysian and Singaporean tourists. Recognized as a popular shopping venue, Hat Yai offers numerous kinds of local and imported products at low prices. Tourists visiting Hat Yai are found to spend most on shopping, followed by entertainment, accommodation, and food and beverage.

Songkhla is set to become a rubber city, serving as a rubber-processing industrial estate for the development of Thai-Malaysian border. The issue was raised for discussion at the ASEAN Rubber Seminar, hosted by Thailand in Phuket province on 10-11 April 2013. The rubber city will be established at the border area adjacent to the Prakop border checkpoint in Na Thawi district, which is seen as the most suitable site by both countries.

Songkhla was chosen because the province has many large rubber planting areas, and the largest rubber trading center in the South is located in Hat Yai. Another reason is that rubber research in Hat Yai meets international standards, so the development of this product can be handled on a full-cycle basis there. The province has very good potential for development as a production and marketing base to supply Thai rubber to the world market, as well.

Songkhla Lake, known in Thai as Thale Sap Songkhla, is a major food source for local people and the largest inland body of water in Thailand. It covers about 260,000 acres, with shores on three provinces, namely Songkhla, Phatthalung, and Nakhon Si Thammarat. Around 168 villages, with at least 10,000 fishermen, are located in this area, which produces 1,400 tons of fishery resources a year as part of the country’s food supply. Among numerous routes in southern Thailand, none is comparable to the route around Songkhla Lake, where the scenery of both the Gulf of Thailand and this inland body of water can be seen at the same time.

Because of its beautiful scenery, Songkhla Lake has become a tourist attraction and is recognized as the largest lake in Southeast Asia. Although the lake has several islands, Ko Yo is the most famous one and most attractive to visitors. It is an old fishing community rich in fruit crops. Ko Yo fabric has made a name for Songkhla because of its unique designs, and although Ko Yo is surrounded by water, it is accessible by crossing Tinsulanonda Bridge. Attractions on the island include orchards, the weaving of the Ko Yo fabric, and old monasteries.

A document recorded by a French engineer who came to Thailand to make a map in 1687, during the Ayutthaya period, indicated that pepper was grown in abundance in Ko Yo. During the early Rattanakosin or Bangkok period, this island was known as a major source of pottery; clay from Songkhla Lake was used to make fine pottery here.

Hat Samila, Laem Samila, and Laem Son On are among major tourist attractions in this province. Many visitors enjoy taking photographs with the bronze mermaid on the rock at Hat Samila as a souvenir. Two famous islands here are Ko Nu and Ko Maeo, which are suitable for fishing. Songkhla Zoo is the first zoo in southern Thailand and the hornbill and the tapir are among the rare species in this zoo, which has adopted artificial breeding techniques to help increase the number of both hornbills and tapirs. It is set to become a complete recreational center, providing both education and fun to all family members. The exhibit that attracts visitors to Songkhla Zoo most is the show of the tigers’ talent and ability.

In the town of Songkhla, visitors may stop to have delicious dishes and buy some food to take along with them. Among famous indigenous food here are Hat Yai fried chicken with sticky rice and spicy seaweed salad.

Thai Government’s Policy and Strategies for Dealing with the Southern Situation

(27/05/2013)

Over nine years ago, violent incidents erupted in the deep South of Thailand on 4 January 2004, when a group of armed perpetrators launched raids on a military camp in Cho-airong district, Narathiwat province, attempting to attack authorities, seize government firearms, and instigate instability. Following the arms theft, the three southern border provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat, and some districts of Songkhla became the scenes of violence, and the conflicts have dragged on to this day.

In fact, even before 2004, different views had existed and violent incidents had occurred in the southern border provinces for quite some time, but the situation had rarely got out of hand. Each government has tried numerous ways to cope with the situation, implementing various strategies and projects, some in the short term and some on a continual basis.

Although a separatist movement does exist in the deep South – and it has made efforts to upgrade the movement to a fighting force – the unrest has not involved sectarian or religious conflicts. Most local people do not agree with those who have destructive intentions and who are trying to create turmoil.

The Thai government has explained that violence in the southern border provinces is perpetrated by a small number of extremist elements with the intention of creating divisions and hatred in a uniquely and historically harmonious, multicultural, and multiethnic society. The attacks on innocent civilians, whether they are Muslim, Buddhist, or of any other faith, are equally abhorrent and affect the lives of everyone in the region. Security personnel have been deployed to protect the lives and livelihoods of local people. All violent incidents are investigated and prosecuted in the courts in accordance with criminal law.

According to the Deep South Watch Center, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus, the unrest in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and four districts of Songkhla from 4 January 2004 to 31 December 2012 experienced 12,597 violent incidents, killing 5,501 people and injuring 9,725 persons. Both Muslims and Buddhists were all victims of the violent incidents.

Security is not the only problem, as statistics on incidents involving other issues, such as dark influences, illegal trade, drugs, and local crime, have been found to be higher than incidents related to separatism.

The Thai government has placed the issue of the southern situation as a top national priority. 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 drug problems, improving education, and providing greater opportunities for local people.

The Government has also stressed the adoption of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s royal advice to “understand, reach out, and develop” as the central strategy to tackle unrest in the southern border provinces, together with the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy, advocated by His Majesty as a path to well-balanced and sustainable development. The word “understanding” means to seek to understand history, the causes of violence, and the successes and failures in tackling the problems. In other words, people must understand the past, present, and future of the situation.

“Reaching out” involves efforts to win the hearts of local people and learn their feelings and thoughts. Without reaching out or accessibility, it will be impossible to resolve the problems.

The word “development” means the proper way of developing in order to cope with the problems with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Without understanding and reaching out, people will not be able to carry out development properly. As a result, the problems will not be solved, while violence might escalate.

As for the Sufficiency Economy concept, it means having enough to live on and to live for and to lead a reasonably comfortable life without extravagance or destruction of the environment. A survey shows that most people in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, Songkhla, and Satun agree that the adoption of the Sufficiency Economy philosophy is suitable in their areas. They believe that the philosophy will lead to a more economical way of living without fighting to take advantage of others.

In handling the southern situation, the Government assigned the Internal Security Operations Command to be in charge of security matters and the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center to be responsible for development work. It formed the Committee on the Mobilization of Southern Border Provinces Policy and Strategies, which also set up an operation center, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Police Captain Chalerm Ubumrung, to facilitate the tackling of southern problems in accord with the conditions in local environments.

The principle of ensuring justice has been emphasized as part of the peace-building process in the southern border provinces, as well. In this regard, the Southern Border Police Operations Center was instructed in April 2013 to reconsider arrest warrants issued in accordance with the Executive Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations. The arrest warrants for the persons suspected of creating unrest, charged under the Criminal Code, would be revoked, if evidence was insufficient. The instruction shows the Government’s gesture of leniency, as its immediate objective is to reduce the level of violence and prevent innocent deaths.

As for the Executive Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations, it was announced in 2005 as an instrument that would enable state officials to deal with the southern situation more effectively. The enforcement of the emergency decree lasts three months at a time and may be renewed, if necessary, through Cabinet approval. It covers Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, and four districts of Songkhla. A major development is that the Government will replace the emergency decree with the Internal Security Act in the areas where the situation has improved. Under the Act, militants involved with the southern unrest will be granted an amnesty and freed from criminal charges, if they are categorized as “misled persons” and agree to undergo re-education, which will take no more than six months.

In another significant step to reduce the level of violence in the southern border provinces, the Thai government has held peace dialogues with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (National Revolutionary Front), known in short as BRN. The dialogues came after the Secretary-General of the National Security Council of Thailand, Lieutenant General Paradorn Pattanatabut, and the Chief of the BRN Liaison Office in Malaysia, Ustaz Hassan Taib, signed the General Consensus Document on Peace Dialogue on 28 February 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The signing was witnessed by Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab, Secretary of Malaysia's National Security Council.

The Government explained that the signing signaled the beginning of a dialogue process between the National Security Council and groups holding different views and ideologies to that of the State. It does not confer any recognition upon the groups taking part in the dialogue. In addition, all actions taken with regard to this matter have been entirely in line with the framework of the Constitution of Thailand, which stipulates that separatism is not legally permissible.

Concerning this issue, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said, “We believe that dialogue with all stakeholders and groups is an important step forward. And we must continue on this path in order to achieve long lasting peace and stability.”

Following the signing the General Consensus Document on Peace Dialogue, the Thai government held the first round of dialogues with BRN on 28 March 2013 in Kuala Lumpur. The second round took place on 29 April 2013, also in Kuala Lumpur. The third is scheduled for 13 June 2013.

Potential of Thailand’s Southern Economy and Its Connection with ASEAN

(27/05/2013)

Rich in natural resources, southern Thailand is situated between two oceans – the Indian and the Pacific oceans. Maritime transport plays a very important role in the southern economy, and efforts have been made to link the two oceans together through the southern region of Thailand.

The southern region, comprising 14 provinces, is geographically divided into three major areas. The first area consists of the Andaman group of provinces, namely Krabi, Phang-nga, Phuket, Ranong, and Trang. The second area comprises the group of provinces in the Gulf of Thailand: Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, and Surat Thani. The third area consists of the southern border provinces, namely Narathiwat, Pattani, Satun, Songkhla, and Yala.

Agriculture, tourism, and border trade are important economic sectors in southern Thailand. In 2010, the Andaman group of provinces earned more than 250 billion baht in income, 150 billion baht of which came from tourism, 94 billion baht from agriculture, especially natural rubber, oil palm, and fisheries, and the remaining earnings were from other economic sectors. A strategy has been worked out to develop Phuket Island in the Andaman group into a city of “meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions,” or MICE, and a regional aviation hub. The MICE industry is expected to contribute to the success of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

The group of provinces in the Gulf of Thailand focuses its strategy on developing natural rubber and palm oil, the major cash crops in this area, apart from eco-tourism. Samui Island in this group is well-known for its natural beauty and has become an internationally renowned marine tourism site. Since the Gulf of Thailand stretches out to a long coastal area, this group of provinces is also seeking to develop logistics services in order to cut transportation costs and facilitate business operations within the ASEAN region.

As for the group of southern border provinces, which share borders with Malaysia, emphasis is placed on border trade and exports of natural rubber in the forms of both rubber sheets and latex. This group is attaching greater importance to enhancing Thai-Malaysian cooperation in various areas. Thailand and Malaysia are also joining hands in setting up a “rubber city” in Songkhla province as a rubber-processing industrial estate for the development of the border zone of the two countries.

Cooperation in resolving the situation in the southern border provinces is an important aspect of Thai-Malaysian relations. In addition, the Thai government is developing Pattani as a halal industrial center. Muslims of Malay descent are concentrated in the southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Satun, Yala, and some districts of Songkhla. A land bridge project linking Songkhla and Satun is being planned to help reduce production costs from goods transportation.

The total population in the southern region is about 8.9 million, accounting for 14 percent of the country’s population. Most of the southern residents are Buddhists, while more than two million are Muslims. Around 70-80 percent of the people in Narathiwat, Pattani, Satun, and Yala are Muslims, so they have a distinctive culture different from the culture in other parts of Thailand.

The southern GDP accounts for 9.8 percent of the country’s GDP and the per capita income of the southern region is 104,738 baht, lower than the national per capital income of 150,118 baht, but higher than the per capital income of the northern region, which registers at 79,158 baht, and the per capita income of the northeastern region, which registers at 49,092 baht. Of all the 14 southern provinces, Phuket has the highest per capita income, while that in Pattani is the lowest.

The local economy depends chiefly on the agriculture sector. Rubber production in southern Thailand represents 86 percent of the country’s total output, while oil palm production represents 94 percent. Cross-border trade in the South brings in 500 billion baht annually, accounting for 70 percent of Thailand’s border trade value. More than 90 percent of border trade in the South is conducted through Sadao and Padang Besar border checkpoints in Songkhla.

Major exports in southern border trade include rubber and rubber products and computers and parts, and imports are mainly marine animals and processed wood. In overall, Malaysia is Thailand’s largest cross-border trading partner, followed by Myanmar, Lao PDR, and Cambodia.

The Thai government is pushing for the implementation of mega-projects, involving the construction of infrastructure linking southern Thailand with Malaysia and other international transportation routes. The objective is to export agricultural products to neighboring countries, with lower transportation costs. This would help improve the living conditions of local residents, especially farmers.

The southern region of Thailand is part of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle, known in short as IMT-GT. Among major projects being studied are the establishment of a special Thai-Malaysian economic zone, the construction of the Na Klua port in Trang province, the development of a logistics center in Thung Song district of Nakhon Si Thammarat, the construction of a motorway from Hat Yai to Sadao in Songkhla, and halal standard development.

Since the ASEAN Community will be in place in 2015, Thailand is preparing to link IMT-GT with other ASEAN partners, covering Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam, as well. This will contribute to ASEAN connectivity and help promote more trade, investment, and tourism in the whole region.

Japan Urged to Invest More in Thailand and Invited to Invest in the Dawei Deep-Sea Port

(26/05/2013)

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has urged Japan to invest more in Thailand, especially in the 350-billion-baht water resource management and 2.2-trillion-baht infrastructure mega-projects.

Speaking in the weekly program “Yingluck Government Meets the People,” on 25 May 2013, the Prime Minister said that she also invited the Japanese business sector to invest in the development of the Dawei deep-sea port and other projects in Myanmar.

Prime Minister Yingluck led a delegation to visit Japan on 22-25 May 2013, when she took this opportunity to explain to Japan Thailand’s major investment plans and how they would benefit Japan. She said that Japan is now the largest group of foreign investors in Thailand. Apart from the automotive industry, she also wants Japanese business people to invest more in energy development and agricultural processing in Thailand. The Prime Minister pointed out that Japan invested in the Laem Chabang deep-sea port on Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard 20 years ago and that it should place additional investment in the planned Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar, as well. The Dawei deep-sea port will link with Laem Chabang and will also offer great business opportunities.

Prime Minister Yingluck said that, while in Japan, she delivered a keynote address at the Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia. She stated that Asia is diverse. When there is diversity, sometimes there can be conflicting interests. Asia needs to look beyond national interests and take into account the interests of the region as a whole. She also emphasized connectivity, especially investments to build connectivity, both on land and sea.

Concerning the Dawei deep-sea port development project, it was cited as an investment in the future of Asia. The issue received great attention from Japanese investors, who showed interest in supporting the sea port, the Dawei industrial estate, and other projects on electricity generation, waterworks, communications, and road construction there.

Meanwhile, Industry Minister Prasert Boonchaisuk said that the Board of Investment (BOI) had organized a road show in Japan, with the participation of more than 200 Japanese investors. He said that many Japanese SME operators had shown interest in investing in Thailand, which will serve as a center in ASEAN. They have seen vast opportunities in doing business here after being informed about Thailand’s planned huge investment in infrastructure mega-projects.

According to Mr. Prasert, Japanese investors are interested in investing in Thailand in the manufacturing of automobiles, automotive parts, machinery, and electronic components, as well as food production. About 50 Thai SME business operators accompanied the Prime Minister on this trip to meet their Japanese counterparts.

The Royal Thai Embassy in Lima has organized a familiarization trip for the “Social Leaders”

(03-06-2013)

The Royal Thai Embassy in Lima has organized a familiarization trip for the “Social Leaders” from Peru and Colombia to visit Thailand from 26 April – 5 May 2013. Mr. Nitirooge Phonperasert, Counsellor of the Royal Thai Embassy, led a group of three participants from Peru - Dr. Carlos Seas, Director of Clinical Medicine, University of Peruana Cayetano Heredia; Mrs. Cecilia Blume, Legal advisor of the Ministry of Energy and Mining; Ms. Patricia Teullet Pipoli, General Director APORTA, and one from Colombia – Mr. Samy Bessudo, General Secretary/Executive Director of AVIATUR, the largest tour operator in Colombia and South America. 

During the visit to Bangkok, Chachoengsa, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, participants had an opportunity to discuss and get a briefing on several issues including

- Policy and plan of action to strengthen Thailand as a gateway for regional connectivity by the Ministry of Transport

- Policy and marketing plan on Thailand’s tourism promotion by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)

- Current situation and outlook of the Thai economy by the Chamber of Commerce of Thailand and

- Sustainability and corporate social responsibility program of the PTT Exploration and Production PCL.  

Dr. Carlos Seas also had an opportunity to visit Department of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, to discuss about an exchange of study visit and research collaboration between Thailand and Peru. Participants also visited Khao Hin Son Royal Development Study Center in Chachoengsao Province, the Masterpiece exhibition from the Sirikit Institute Chitrlada Villa, under the SUPPORT Foundation of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand at the Anata Samakhom Throne Hall as well as the Museum Siam to learn more about the history, politics, tradition and culture of Thailand.การ 


The outcome of this visit will give these social leaders who can be an “opinion multiplier” to better understand Thailand from various perspectives and help project what Thailand has to offer for the government and business community as well as the public of Peru and Colombia, thus fostering mutual bilateral relations at all level.

The Ambassador to Argentina visits Mendoza Province to enhance cooperation.

(03-06-2013)

H.E. Mr. Medha Promthep, Ambassador of Thailand to Argentina visited Mendoza Province during 7-9 May 2013 to enhance cooperation between Thailand and Mendoza which is an important business city in the West of Argentina. 

On this occasion, the Ambassador participated in the seminar “Opportunities of Commercial, Scientific and Technical Cooperation between Argentina and Thailand” organized by the National University of Cuyo (UNCUYO) and gave a presentation on Thailand-Argentina cooperation under the South-South relations aiming to inform the interested audience the potential of Thailand on various fields and how both countries can further promote the cooperation.


Moreover, the Ambassador also had meetings with Mr. Rolando Baldasso, Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Mr. Javier Espina, Minister of Tourism, Ms. Matilde Bordón, Director of Mendoza Invest and representatives of ProMendoza and Ministry of Irrigation to discuss the opportunities to further enhance cooperation in the future such as Argentina’s participation in various trade fairs organized in Thailand and nomination of Argentine candidates to attend different training courses and workshops that Thailand offers under the South-South cooperation.

2nd ASEAN Trade and Investment Forum with COMCE West

(03-06-2013)

On 21-23 May 2013,  Mr. Chirachai Punkrasin, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand led the Team of ASEAN Ambassadors in Mexico, namely,  Mr. Hamdani Djafar,  Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia,  Mr. George Reyes, Ambassador of the Republic of Philippines,  Mr. Tung Le Thanh, Ambassador of Viet Nam, and  Mr. Francisco Rios, Centre Director of the Americas Group, Singapore International Enterprise to participate in  the 2nd ASEAN Trade and Investment Forum, the 3-day economic event organized in cooperation with the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade in the Western region of Mexico (COMCE West) in Guadalajara, Colima and Manzanillo, the western  Mexican cities along the NAFTA corridor.

The Forum aimed to provide the Mexican business community with information on the ASEAN Economic Community and its potential as a market. It was attended by over 250 businessmen from various sectors including automotive, agro and food industries, textiles and jewelry, and transport and logistics.

Consul-General of Thailand to Dubai and the Northern Emirates, and delegation from the Thailand Tourism Authority and Thailand Business Council in Dubai were granted an audience with His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.

(31-05-2013)

On 27 May 2013, Mr. Thosaporn Moonlasartsathorn, Consul-General of Thailand to Dubai and the Northern Emirates, Mr. Chalermsak Suranant, Director, Thailand Tourism Authority-Dubai and Middle East Office, Mr. Akavut Tangsilikusonwong, Chairman, Thailand Business Council-Dubai and the Northern Emirates (TBC), and officers, were granted an audience with His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, on the occasion of the Consul-General's assuming his new position in Dubai.

His Highness Sheikh Saud and Consul-General expressed satisfaction to the positive relations between Thailand and Ras Al Khaimah.  In particular, His Highness praised the development of Thailand Tourism Industry and had informed the delegation that Thailand is among the top tourist destinations for the people of Ras Al Khaimah.


In addition, Consul-General and delegation visited the RAK Tourism, RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA) and RAK Ceramics to discuss the potential for future developments between Thailand and Ras Al Khaimah in the areas of trade, investments and tourism.

The Royal Thai Embassy in Lima organized Seminar on Trade and Investment Opportunities in Thailand in Lima , Peru and Bogota, Colombia

(31-05-2013)

On 16 and 17 May 2013 ,the Royal Thai Embassy in Lima in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Lima and the Bogota Chamber of Commerce, organized a seminar on Trade and Investment Opportunities in Thailand to provide businessmen and government officials on relevant and up-to-date information about Thailand’s economic  situation along with trade and investment regulations which would facilitate foreign investors.

H.E. Mr. RuengdejMahasaranond, Ambassador of Thailand to Peru and Colombia delivered an opening remarks to the audience in Lima. Guest speakers include Mr. PhairushBurapachaisri, Vice President of the Thai Chamber of Commerce , Ms. SupisaraChomparn, Director of Thailand Board of Investment ,New York Office and Mr. PassavudhRimcharoen, Minister Counselor and Director of International  Trade Office in Santiago, Chile.

With the realization of ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, the Royal Thai Embassy hopes that the seminar will encourage more Peruvian and Colombian businessmen to maximize the trade and investment potentials Thailand has on offer.

The Royal Thai Embassy in Amman has been informed by JTB,that JTB will host a tourism promotion seminar in Bangkok

(30-05-2013)

The Royal Thai Embassy in Amman, Jordan, has been informed by Jordan Tourism Board
(JTB), a Jordanian authority equivalent to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), that JTB will host a
tourism promotion seminar named “Visit Jordan in Bangkok” from 09.00-13.00 hrs. on Thusday 6 June
2013 at Plaza Athénée (Royal Meridien) Hotel, Wireless Road, Bangkok. “Visit Jordan in Bangkok”
consists of seminar and business networking sessions between Thai and Jordanian tour operators. The
event aims at providing useful information on Jordan’s tourism products and destinations for interested
Thai outbound tour operators, which would lead to business partnership and introducing Jordan as a
new destination for tourist market in Thailand.
 
In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand wishes to invite interested
outbound tour operators and media to attend the said event. Interested tour operators and media are
kindly requested to fill the reservation form, as attached, and send to JTB’s coordinator at e-mail:

visitjordanseminar@gmail.com or facsimile number 0 2267 9210 by 31 May 2013.