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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Parties wrangle for Senate control; Yingluck to face NACC; Relief for Isarn drought

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Parties wrangle for Senate control; Yingluck to face NACC; Relief for Isarn drought | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

PM yet to confirm appearance before NACC
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday she has not decided whether she will defend herself in person today before the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) over the rice-pledging scheme corruption case, or send her lawyer on her behalf.

The NACC is investigating the case before resolving whether to indict Yingluck on charges of alleged malfeasance and dereliction of duty for her failure to stop the rice-pledging scheme, which was allegedly rampant with corruption and led to a huge loss to the state.

NACC secretary general Sansern Poljiak yesterday said the NACC would not decide whether to indict the premier today.

However, he urged Yingluck to at least send her lawyer to submit her explanation in document form today and she could ask to give an explanation in person later.

Sansern said that after the explanation was submitted, the NACC would consider any request from Yingluck for it to make further investigations and would decide on that in a meeting the following day.

Yingluck said she had asked the NACC for an additional 15 days to submit her defence statement, after having already been granted an initial 15-day extension, but she was refused this time.

She said she had managed to get information about the charges from the NACC’s 280-page case document on Thursday, so she ended up having only three days to study the document to defend herself against the charges.

Yingluck has questioned whether the NACC has treated her fairly, or in the same manner as other political office holders.

“We see that there was no progress in many other cases [involving NACC investigations],” she said.

“Some cases have almost reached the statue of limitations and some have lost it.

“Some cases see no progress because of a lack of documents but I have just been accused after a 21-day investigation and I was denied additional time to be prepared for the interrogation.’

Noppadon Pattama, on the committee for Pheu Thai Party’s affairs, raised the following questions with the NACC in connection with the agency’s accusations against Yingluck.

1. Why did the agency take more than five years to probe the case against Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva over the corruption allegation involving rice distribution and make no progress, while pressing charges against Yingluck after only 21 days?

2. Does the NACC want to bring about a swift prosecution against Yingluck by having a full NACC panel investigating the case instead of appointing a sub panel to do the job, as it normally does with other cases?

3. The NACC pressing charges of malfeasance and dereliction of duty against Yingluck shows that Yingluck had nothing to do with the corruption, so why is the agency pressing charges in the broad spectrum against her?

4. The NACC produced a 280-page document covering the charges against Yingluck and only three days before she is forced to make her defence statement. Is the time given to her too short?

5. Does the NACC carry out its duties fairly?

6. Why doesn’t the NACC give Yingluck additional time to submit her defence statement, even though the NACC’s decision in this case could result in her being suspended from duty?

Noppadon urged the NACC to give Yingluck ample opportunity to defend herself and rule in accordance with the truth, saying he could not predict how the agency’s verdict would impact on the country.

Democrat Party deputy leader Ongart Klampaiboon said Yingluck was not entitled to send her lawyer to defend charges of malfeasance.

“She must defend herself in person, since she used her judgement in signing papers related to the rice-pledging scheme,” he said.

“No one knows her mind or thoughts about the issues.”

Ongart expects the political mercury could reach “boiling point” this month because independent agencies are finalising many cases against the government.

New Senate could decide PM’s fate
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Polls opened yesterday for 77 Senate seats that could hold the key to the fate of caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who, after five months of street protests, may face impeachment for negligence of duty.

While the Senate is officially non-partisan, in reality the two main political camps – the ruling Pheu Thai Party and opposition Democrat Party – are trying to control the 150-seat Upper House in the absence of a functioning Lower House after the election last month was annulled.

From unofficial results last night, it was obvious that winning candidates are likely to come from the two rival parties, or the red-shirt and anti-government camps. Most top contenders are former ministers or party members, MPs, or politicians’ relatives. Some of them are close to anti-government protesters.

Former Auditor General Khunying Jaruwan Maintaka appeared to win the Senate poll in Bangkok with more than 500,000 votes while about one million people voted. Jaruwan, who is known as a tireless opponent of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, vowed not to disappoint the people who voted for her. “I will be determined in protecting the national assets,” Jaruwan said after she learned the unofficial results.

Appointed Senator Khamnoon Sitthisamarn posted a note on Facebook saying Jaruwan is qualified to contest the post of Senate speaker if she wants.

The anti-Thaksin regime group, or representatives of the Democrat Party, are also likely to sweep seats in several southern provinces and some eastern provinces such as ex-Democrat MP Boonsong Khaiket in Trat.

In Prachuap Khiri Khan, former provincial administrative organisation president Suebyos Baiyaem is the likely winner. He is backed by former Democrat secretary |general Chalermchai Sri-on. In Chumphon, Pol Colonel Narin Butsayawit, son of former Chumphon MP Narrong Butsayawit, got a big boost from a key leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee and is likely to win

Senate candidates likely to win who are government supporters include former Chart Thai Pattana MP Jongchai Thiangtham in Suphan Buri and Monthien Songpracha in Chai Nat. Monthien is believed to be a Pheu Thai supporter as his wife has become a party member.

In Chiang Mai, Adisorn Kamnerdsiri, former Chiang Mai deputy governor, who has close ties with Pheu Thai, is tipped to win.

In Khon Kaen, red-shirt lawyer Wan Suwanpong has left his competition far behind. In Udon Thani, red-shirt hardliner Kwanchai Praipana’s wife Arporn Sarakham won up to 300,000 votes to take the seat.

Anti-government protesters are pushing for the removal of Yingluck as PM. The earliest this could happen would be through an impeachment, which would require votes from three-fifths of the Senate if she is found guilty by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on charges of dereliction of duty for her role in overseeing the rice-pledging scheme. Yingluck is due to appear before the NACC today.

Observers said the elected portion could install many pro-government members to help bolster the administration in the face of looming legal challenges. However, a Senate dominated by anti-government politicians could hasten her exit.
— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Road deaths

Thailand road toll: 554 dead this month, 11,462 this year

The Thaiger

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Thailand road toll: 554 dead this month, 11,462 this year | The Thaiger

PHOTO: U-Turn crash in Bangkok – Daily News

Daily news reports fatalities at the scene of accidents yesterday claimed the lives of 21 people. Yesterday was a busy day on Thailand’s roads at the end of a long weekend.

They say the numbers reported are only those that die at the scene. In reality, when hospital deaths and all regions report their stats, the figures end up much higher.

So far this October 554 have died at the scene of accidents resulting in a yearly total nationwide of 11,462. Thailand is recognised by the World Health Organisation as the fifth highest road toll in the world, per capita.

Figures are reported daily by Daily News who highlight the need to be vigilant at U-turns in their story about this air-conditioned bus (above)on Route 29 that collided with the back of a container truck.

Seven passengers on the bus were injured in the accident on Pahonyothin Road near the Kesri 5 housing estate in Klong 1, Klong Luang district north of Bangkok. The truck driver was trying to execute a U-turn at the time.

SOURCE: Daily News | ThaiVisa

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Environment

Thailand’s swift response to the ‘fall armyworm’ pest

The Thaiger

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Thailand’s swift response to the ‘fall armyworm’ pest | The Thaiger

OPINION: Somsak Samanwong – Regional Technical Educator for APAC, Corteva Agriscience. PHOTO: East-East Seed

In Thailand, corn is an indispensable staple crop, used as an important source of feed for a thriving poultry and livestock industry. About 1.04 million hectares of our land is used to produce corn, with this year’s yields estimated at a record high of 5.3 million tonnes.

As Thailand becomes increasingly recognised as a major world food exporter, our reliance on corn is growing to meet consumer demand for meat, both locally and globally – we are currently the third largest chicken exporter in the world. For many of us, it comes as a surprise that this ordinary but versatile crop is intrinsic in fuelling our status as the “kitchen of the world”.

A small but powerful threat

However, this established position and the very growth of our food economy is currently under siege from the rise of fall armyworm, a pest so damaging that it can destroy corn crops overnight. The fall armyworm is an insect native to the Americas, where it has caused significant damage for decades. With a zealous appetite for corn, the pest quickly began to ravage crops in the Africa region following its arrival in 2016, causing losses of $13.3 billion.

Fall armyworm started moving closer to home, spreading across Yemen, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, before reaching Thailand in December 2018. Since then, around 50 corn-growing provinces have been infested, particularly in the west of Thailand.

Fall armyworm infestations can result in yield losses for corn of up to 50%, which can have devastating implications – for those whose livelihoods rely on their crops, but also for the poultry and other meat production industries whose success and expansion heavily depend on their produce.

What makes fall armyworm so challenging to control is its high reproductive capacity and long migration distances. The pest has been known to migrate up to 1500 km3, slightly more than the distance from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, covering up to 100 km per night. Couple this ability to travel with rapid reproduction – four generations of fall armyworm can be observed in a single corn crop – and you have a devastating mix.

Recognising the tremendous impact of fall armyworm on the nation’s farmers and our food security, the Thai authorities and key stakeholders across the agriculture industry have come together, uniting efforts to equip our farmers with the tools they need to help manage the spread of fall armyworm. By applying our learnings with fall armyworm in response to future threats, we can help to ensure our farmers are empowered and our nation’s food supplies – for Thailand and for the rest of the world – are protected.

Taking swift and decisive action

Thailand’s Department of Agriculture responded to the first FAO warning of fall armyworm in India by setting up a surveillance program to monitor corn growing states along the shared border with Myanmar. During this time, informative materials about fall armyworm and the ongoing surveillance program were shared with relevant agencies, universities, and most importantly, corn farmers.

Establishing communication between the authorities and those on the ground was and remains an important focus, and a telephone hotline and Line account were set up so that farmers are able to report potential infestations. As a previously unseen pest in Thailand, setting up infrastructure to monitor crops in the recognition of fall armyworm was pivotal to aiding a quick response.

Thailand’s swift response to the 'fall armyworm' pest | News by The Thaiger

Imparting knowledge through educational efforts

Knowledge-sharing between the authorities, academic experts, farmers and industry is crucial in the fight against threats like fall armyworm. In November 2018, an educational programme for Thailand’s authorities developed with the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) by CropLife Asia helped to provide senior agricultural and food industry leaders with in-depth information about fall armyworm and its habits.

By sharing knowledge of the pest between the government and affected industries, accurate and up-to-date information could spread across the country almost as quickly as fall armyworm itself.

Farmers remain at the heart of agriculture, and thus, in-field education is of paramount importance to safeguard crops.

Through a series of training programmes and the provision of educational materials, farmers were educated on and empowered to adopt an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, as recommended by the World Trade Organisation on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, to control and prevent the spread of fall armyworm. IPM combines pre-emptive treatments, scouting, monitoring and targeted treatments to protect the health of corn crops from seed to plant, and, in turn, to protect Thailand’s food security.

Equipping farmers with the necessary tools

In adopting an IPM approach against fall armyworm, it is our role as agriscience experts to ensure farmers have access to safe, effective and greener solutions to control its physical spread. And, through the development of innovative technologies, solutions are available to provide farmers with long-lasting control of fall armyworm, whilst being environmentally safe to use.

Amparar®, Corteva Agriscience’s foliar spray, contains the active ingredient Spinetoram and has been recommended for use in corn in Thailand to help protect corn crops against fall armyworm. It controls the insects in two ways – through ingestion and contact by the pest, providing a quick knock-down for lasting control. Amparar® has been awarded the prestigious Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for its positive environmental profile and margin of safety towards beneficial insects. It is recommended by the Thai authorities as the top crop protection product for managing fall armyworm.

Our fight against fall armyworm has brought to light the invaluable role of corn in the development of Thailand as global provider of food. Perhaps even more importantly, it has helped to demonstrate how much can be achieved when public and private sectors work together in response to those that threaten our food security. We must continue to activate and engage all stakeholders – from farmers, governments, industry and academia – to ensure that, whatever the next threat to our “kitchen of the world”, we remain poised for action to protect it.

Thailand’s swift response to the 'fall armyworm' pest | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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