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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Protest whistles still blow; Call for Bt140bn urgent rice loan; Thai English ‘among the worst’

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Protest whistles still blow; Call for Bt140bn urgent rice loan; Thai English ‘among the worst’ | The Thaiger

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

Protesters refuse to back down until bill is dropped
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Several groups of protesters said they would not stop rallying against the government’s blanket amnesty bill even if the Senate rejects the draft.

This declaration came despite the fact that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Tuesday that her government would accept the Senate’s decision, provided the bill is thoroughly deliberated on.

Phakin Issayaworachot, a protester from the Student and People Network for Thailand’s Reform, however, said his group will continue protesting even if the bill is rejected by the Senate because the House of Representatives can still pass it 180 days later. He also said he had no faith in Yingluck.

“I will only stop protesting when it is actually rejected in the House,” Phakin said.

Another man at the rally said he would continue protesting because this government was corrupt and he believed it would push the bill through.

Somkiat Homlaor, leader of the Business Club for Democracy (BCD), added that Yingluck was just avoiding her responsibility and passing the buck on to the Senate. However, he said, the very fact that the bill was rushed through at 4am last week was enough reason not to trust her.

Meanwhile Chalisa Thammawong, president of Thammasat University’s student organisation, said she would wait for the Senate’s decision on Monday and might stop protesting unless the draft returns to the House.

Separately, in a move to check the sentiment on social media, Jin Somroutai posted this question on her Facebook timeline: “If the Senate rejects the amnesty bill, will you stop your protest?”

Here are some of the responses:

Angie-ja Pongvutitham said: “I will keep protesting because my goal is for this House to be dissolved.”

Wara Laksana said: “Even if the Senate rejects the bill, the House can still decide to push it through. The Senate is only a rubber stamp, but the people can be the political machinery to stop it.”

Panachit Kittipanya-ngam said: “I will continue rallying.”

Picha Rattanadilok, a member of the National Institute of Development Administration, called on the 310 MPs who voted for the bill to take responsibility and step down. He was speaking on behalf of the People’s Assembly Reforming Thailand group.

The Business Club for Democracy also called on the MPs to apologise to the public.

Thailand ranks near bottom in English proficiency: survey
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Thailand ranks near the bottom in an English proficiency survey, showing the persistence of one of the key competitive weaknesses of the Thai economy.

Out of 60 countries and territories where English is not the mother tongue, Thailand manages only 55th place – outdoing only Panama, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, according to the EF English Proficiency Index.

The survey on adults was conducted by the global leader in international education, EF Education First, which is based in Zurich, Switzerland.

Poor English skills indicate the small base of competent adult English speakers necessary for a globalised workforce.

“Comparison of countries with their neighbours, trading partners and rivals provides a fascinating study in divergent national priorities and educational policies worldwide,” Christopher McCormick, head of EF’s Academic Affairs and Research Network, said yesterday.

“We found that by engaging in a national dialogue about English, stakeholders can help align goals, improve incentives and focus on teaching English for communication. The economic impact of such a coordinated programme is clear.”

All over Asia, Thailand’s ranking is only above Kazakhstan. Leading the regional league is Malaysia with a score of 58.99 score, followed by Singapore. The others – India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and China – are all over 50 points, while Thailand gained only 44.44.

The survey was conducted in the realisation that English is now a communication tool in the globalised era, when work becomes more delocalised and information more decentralised.

Educational institutions, driven by the demands of society, are increasingly embracing English language learning. Many school systems now require English study starting in primary school, much as they do math or science. University professors are delivering lectures in English to prepare their students better for life after graduation.

Corporate language

Companies both large and small, international and domestic, are mandating English as their corporate language. And individuals, whether jobseekers or ambitious parents, are pouring money into private English training.

“Some Asian countries, in particular Indonesia and Vietnam, have transformed their English proficiency over the six-year period. China has also improved, although less dramatically. Japan and South Korea, despite enormous private investment, have declined slightly,” the report said.

In another report on “Doing Business in English”, EF Education First noted that an increasing number of companies have recognised the long-term advantages to productivity and growth that adopting English as a common company language can have. Nokia, SAP, Samsung, Aventis and Renault have already mandated English as the corporate language.

Joining its peers in 2010 was Rakuten, Japan’s first and largest online marketplace. The primary challenges were to make sure the new policy was implemented uniformly, to motivate employees to raise their level of English quickly without undermining their self-confidence and to minimise productivity losses during the period when many employees’ English was still limited.

“It is clear to many business leaders that English is increasingly a key component of their competitiveness. Many companies, both large and small, are taking the logical next step by asking their employees to use and improve their English every day in the workplace.”

This year’s EF EPI Index country rankings are based on tests taken by 750,000 adults from 60 countries last year. The analysis of evolving English proficiency over a six-year period (2007-12 inclusive) uses test data from nearly five million adults.

Other key findings include the fact that seven European countries, excluding France, that show the strongest English are all small European nations, whose size compels them to adopt an international outlook. The Middle East and North Africa are the weakest regions in English.

Rice panel to mull urgent Bt140bn loan for pledging
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Finance Ministry will propose at today’s meeting of the National Rice Policy Committee that the panel consider approving an emergency short-term loan worth Bt140 billion to finance the rice-pledging scheme.

Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) president Luck Wajananawat yesterday said the request would be raised at the meeting, and that the loan would be used to cover rice pledging during the 2013-2014 harvest season.

If the committee approves the short-term loan, it will be forwarded for Cabinet consideration. If then approved by the Cabi

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December

The Thaiger

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Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December | The Thaiger

The point deduction system, for traffic and road infringements, is tentatively scheduled for activation for motorists and motorcyclists in mid-December. It is hoped that the system will help reduce road fatalities and injuries on Thai roads.

The deputy commander of Highways Police Command says that every licensed driver will be given an allocation of 12 points. Each time the driver commits a traffic law violation, points will be deducted. When there are no points left, the driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, after which the driver or motorcyclist will have to undergo training administered by the Land Transport Department to get their licence back, and another 12 points.

Those who don’t attend the training, however, will have their licence returned after 90 days, but with only 8 points.

Points to be deducted differ, depending on the offence. Offences are divided into four categories:

• One point deduction

Using a cell-phone while driving; exceeding the speed limit; not wearing crash helmets for motorcyclists; not wearing seat belts; not giving way to emergency vehicles, riding on the sidewalk and not stopping for pedestrians on zebra crossings.

• Two points deduction

Running a red light; driving on the wrong side of the road; reckless driving; driving while his/her license is suspended and drunk driving.

• Three points deduction

Organising or promoting street racing without permission; hit-and run; driving while under the influence of narcotics; driving while under the influence of alcohol exceeding 150mg per ml.

• Four points deduction

Driving under the influence of alcohol exceeding 200mg per ml, drunk driving in a way which may cause serious injuries or death to the other people; driving in a manner disregarding the safety of the other people or causing trouble to other people.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Economy

Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget

May Taylor

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Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Reuters | The Business Times

The opposition is accusing the government of being more concerned with military arms than the daily struggles of Thai citizens. During a debate in Parliament on the budget bill, the government was accused of caring more about the growth in military spending than citizens’ financial woes.

The opposition levied the attack after PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered the 3.2 trillion baht bill to the House of Representatives. The debate on the 2020 budget is expected to continue for two more days and if approved by Parliament, the bill will come into force early next year.

The PM says the budget aligns with the “20 year strategy” to improve the living standards of the nation’s citizens while growing the economy, but opponents accuse him of making defence spending a priority.

The leader of the opposition, Sompong Amornvivat, claims that in the five years the PM has been in power, total spending has hit 14.3 trillion baht, with loans of 2.2 trillion baht, without any significant growth in the economy. He accuses the government of spending more than 6 billion baht on defence, with the Interior Ministry getting 25 billion baht more than last year.

It’s also understood that the government has also put 518.8 billion baht aside, which it can spend as it wishes, without the consent of Parliament.

The government’s tourism stimulus plan, whereby domestic tourists would be given cash incentives, also came under fire as Sompong declared it a waste of money that would do nothing to boost productivity.

The subject of the PM’s oath-taking fiasco reared its head again, as the leader of the Seree Ruam Thai Party, Pol General Sereepisut Temiyavej declared the PM and his government unfit to rule or propose a budget bill as a result of it.

Anudit Nakorntab from the Pheu Thai party said the government should postpone unnecessary spending on military arms while the country’s citizens battle economic hardship, accusing the previous junta-led administration of also prioritising the military in its spending.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Environment

Academics warn of high cost of Thai ban on agri-chemicals

May Taylor

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Academics warn of high cost of Thai ban on agri-chemicals | The Thaiger

The chairman of the Thai Sugarcane Farmers Association, Thongkam Cheongklad, says a ban on the weed-killer paraquat would have a severe impact on production costs. Academics and Thai sugarcane farmers have also expressed their concern over the ban, saying it could cost the industry up to 570 billion baht.

The Nation reports that up to 1.2 million people working in the sugarcane industry are understood to be against the ban, saying the proposed paraquat substitute is both expensive and ineffective.

The president of the Thailand Society of Sugarcane Technologists, Kitti Choonhawong, says Thailand has approximately 11 million rai dedicated to sugarcane plantations, generating about 300 billion baht a year.

He claims that a ban on agri-chemicals may lower sugar production, which in turn would affect sugar factories and cause the export market to lose as much as 94.6 billion baht. Thailand is currently the world’s second biggest sugar exporter, behind Brazil.

A research director from the Thailand Development Institute says the ban could ultimately mean the country is not allowed to produce enough food, unless chemical fertilisers are still allowed if chemical pesticides are banned.

Viroj Na Ranong says production costs will still rise however, along with labour costs, adding that the government needs to do its homework.

“The government has to implement measures based on research, not on social trends and politics.”

It’s understood that The National Hazardous Substances Committee will meet on October 27 to decide if a ban on three chemicals currently used in farming will go ahead. The substances involved are paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos and the proposal is for them to be banned from December 1.

SOURCE: The Nation

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