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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Yingluck ditches Prem; Suthep welcomed at Health Ministry; 9 killed in Songkran drive

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Yingluck ditches Prem; Suthep welcomed at Health Ministry; 9 killed in Songkran drive | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

PM misses Prem meeting
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Caretaker Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was absent yesterday from a gathering to pay their respects to Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda, leaving only commanders of the Armed Forces with him.

Supreme Commander General Tanasak Patimapragorn led Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Air Force Commander Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Navy Commander Admiral Narong Pipatanasai and National Police Chief Adul Saengsingkaew to pay their respects to Prem as per the New Year tradition at Songkran.

Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha was also present at the event, as president of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand.

Prem thanked the commanders for their gestures although the former commander retired from the Army more than three decades ago.

“It is good to see all three of the Armed Forces’ commanders and police chief come to me every year. This shows we all have friendship and I have the Armed Forces as good friends,” he said. “I feel comfortable to see the unity among us.

“If we unite, the country will be secure. The Armed Forces would have power over those who have bad plans to hurt our nation,” Prem said.

“As His Majesty the King said many times, we have to perform our duty with honour. We also have to look at our people to have them perform their duties honestly. “General Tanasak plus the military and police commanders have many hard tasks to achieve these days. If we unite and do our jobs and have our men to do their jobs as well, people can rely on us, so that people will love, respect and trust the military and police,” Prem said.

Meeting with the top adviser to His Majesty the King is interpreted as a political signal to show that General Prem retains high influence over the Armed Forces. Prem’s support for any groups would be significant for political developments in the Kingdom.

Good ties

At an Army event on Thursday, Prem said he would not be able to mediate negotiations between Yingluck and Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee. Prem said the two sides would not listen to him.

Usually the defence minister leads the commanders to pay respect to Prem to show that the government has good ties to him. Yingluck currently holds the Defence portfolio.

She did not respond when she was asked on Thursday if she would lead commanders to see Prem at Songkran. The caretaker prime minister faces many political and legal challenges because of the prolonged anti-government protests concentrated in Bangkok and will spend her time over the holiday break quietly in Chiang Mai, her home province. She may not appear to celebrate the festival in public as usual this year, a source said.

Defence Ministry permanent secretary Nipat Thonglek did not attend the commanders’ gathering at Prem’s residence yesterday.

A military source said Supreme Commander Tanasak had asked the Defence Ministry if Yingluck would lead the commanders to see Prem, but she made no clear instruction this year. Tanasak later decided to lead the commanders to see Prem on his own, the source said.

Meeting with Prem requires a formal letter for an appointment in advance, of at least three days up to a week, the source said.

However, the Privy Council chief did not say anything about the absence of the prime minister, according to the source close to the meeting yesterday, who suggested the gathering had no political agenda.

In 2012, Yingluck visited Prem on the occasion of Songkran. Last year Prem did not open his home for such greetings.

During the New Year, Yingluck led the military top brass to greet Prem for that occasion. Earlier, in August, Yingluck greeted Prem on his 94th birthday.

Separately, at the Royal Thai Army headquarters, Prayuth said he hoped the political situation would get better after the traditional Songkran events, which let people make merit and pay respect to their seniors. But he said all sides of society should join together to help restore peace and order for the country.

Nevertheless, he vowed not to allow violence, which some expect amid rising political tension after Songkran.

Health officials ask Suthep for reform in sector and an embrace
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Top Public Health Ministry officials yesterday submitted a blueprint for reform of the country’s public health system during their meeting with leaders of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Public health permanent secretary Dr Narong Sahametapat and his deputy Dr Wachira Pengjuntr welcomed PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban and thousands of anti-government protesters who visited the ministry to ask officials to side with them.

Narong also gave a warm hug to Suthep before hundreds of officials blowing whistles and waving small national flags at the ministry’s secretariat building.

Suthep gave a gold whistle to Narong, who said he accepted the whistle on behalf of officials in the entire ministry. Other groups of senior medical workers – such as the ministry’s former permanent secretary Dr Paichit Warachit, the Medical Council’s president Somsak Lohlekha, Thailand Nursing and Midwifery Council’s president Krissada Sawaengdee – and hundreds of health volunteers welcomed Suthep.

Narong said he had proposed a blueprint to reform the country’s public health system to the PDRC and he understood the committee was worried about the health issue.

He said he and the PDRC had the same idea to strengthen the country’s public health system and needed a mechanism to check and balance power.

The Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) has issued a warning to state officials and civil servants not to support or join the PDRC’s demonstration. Narong said when asked to explain to the CAPO about his political stance, he insisted he had done nothing wrong.

Paichit said he was not worried about the current situation at the ministry, adding that officials must be the main pillar in resolving the country’s crisis.

“Reformation must come from the participation of all people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Suthep said both PDRC and Public Health officials have the same ideas about a fight to improve the country. It was not a fight for a political party but for a country and benefit of the people.

“This was the first time PDRC and top officials of the Public Health Ministry had officially met each other. We will take the ministry’s blueprint to resolve the country’s crisis,” Suthep told his supporters at the ministry.

Meanwhile, outgoing National Security Council secretary general Paradorn Pattanatabutr said the authorities would not allow a situation like this – in which Suthep and other PDRC leaders visit bureaucrats at different ministries – to continue any longer.

“We can’t allow this to go on any more. This is political psychology. If we allow this to continue, it will bring negative developments for the government,” Paradorn said.

He said some permanent secretaries that Suthep visited even invited the PDRC leader into their offices.

— 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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