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Thailand News: Consumer confidence rebounds; Junta eases media gag, turns to web, Facebook

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Thailand News: Consumer confidence rebounds; Junta eases media gag, turns to web, Facebook | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Consumer confidence rebounds
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Consumer confidence last month improved for the first time in 14 months and to the highest level in four months on anticipation of cool-headed politics after the military stepped in pull the country out of a year-long recession due to the domestic conflict.

“The public realises that the political crisis has passed and the economy is recovering. Spending may continue to rise in the third quarter and beyond,” Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the Economic and Business Forecasting Centre at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday.

The university’s index-measuring sentiment advanced to 70.7 in May from 67.8 in April. The index tracked a nationwide survey of 2,251 respondents.

The recent improvement in the political outlook helped boost confidence, so the economy has a good chance of achieving growth of 2-3 per cent this year.

The National Council for Peace and Order’s measures to stimulate the economy through many projects, as well as the acceleration of Bt90 billion in payments to farmers for their pledged rice will help buoy consumer confidence and spending.

The NCPO’s economic enhancement packages will help add 1-1.5 percentage points to GDP growth this year as Bt200 billion-Bt300 billion is injected into the economy.

Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Board of Trade of Thailand and the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said rosier consumer confidence was cheering up businesses.

“With higher consumer purchasing power, businesses will have more confidence to expand and invest,” he said.

To raise confidence among foreign companies and investors in the country after the coup, the chamber will host the “Get Together with International Friends 2014,” roundtable on Tuesday at the Four Season Hotel.

Ambassadors, consuls and foreign investors from various foreign chambers of commerce would be invited to discuss how to raise their confidence and increase their understanding of Thailand’s politics and economic fundamentals.

The chamber has also prepared a strategy for sustainable economic development for the consideration of the military brass. Plans include reforming agriculture by demarcating zones for cash crops, bridging the income gap and promoting trans-border trading.

The chamber also called on agencies to eliminate barriers to trade and investment in the country.

Saowanee Thairungroj, president of the university, said the auto, housing and tourism industries as well as small and medium-sized investors would enjoy better growth this year, thanks to recovering consumer confidence.

Last month, other confidence indices, particularly those concerned with the future outlook, also rose.

Consumer confidence in the future climbed from 72.3 in April to 75.8 points last month, in future employment opportunities from 61.9 to 64.2 points and in future income from 83.8 to 87.1 points.

Confidence in the political situation also rose for the first time in 14 months, and touched its highest level in eight months since last October. It jumped from 37.3 points in April to 59.6 points in May.

The gross domestic happiness index also took a big step up from 61.2 points in April to 71 points last month.

Military eases gag on TV and radio outlets
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Back on Thailand’s screens are 333 satellite TV channels, 211 pay TV channels and 24 IPTV channels, six analog free TV channels and 23 digital TV channels – after they were suspended by the military coup.

According to National Broadcasting and Telecommu-nications Commission (NBTC) secretary general Takorn Tantasit, that leaves only 98 satellite TV channel operators waiting for approval from the NBTC and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to resume operations.

Their broadcasting future depends on whether they change their content from a heavy focus on provocative political issues and advertising with exaggerated claims of product quality, he said.

Meanwhile, 13 satellite TV channels and the digital Voice TV channel remain banned from May 22 by an NCPO order.

“They will be allowed to resume their operations when the situation in Thailand gets better – and if they change their programme content to focus on non-political issues,” Colonel Pirat Banjongkhian, director of the military technology centre of the Royal Thai Army headquarters, said.

He said the NCPO would not take into consideration the ownership of Voice TV when deciding whether to allow it to resume operating.

Voice TV is owned by the Shinawatra family.

Yesterday, the NBTC and Pirat – as a representative of the NCPO – held a press conference on the status of all TV and radio broadcasting nationwide.

For radio broadcasting, Takorn said 7,300 radio stations were banned by the NCPO order.

Out of the 7,300 radio stations, 4,300 were community radio stations and 3,000 illegal radio stations operating without licences.

Takorn said the NBTC was now considering resumption of radio issues as the next step following deals with television.

Meanwhile, a community radio group, which claims 315 community radio stations as members nationwide, yesterday submitted a letter to the NBTC to consider resuming their operations.

It said the NBTC should lift restrictions on the non-political content of radio stations which were never involved with any political issues.

It complained the suspended operations had affected their revenue and left jobs insecure since the NCPO order of May 22.

Govt House website, FB to serve as info channels
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The junta will communicate with the public and international communities through the Government House website and Facebook.

Yongyuth Maiyalarp, the newly appointed member of the National Council for Peace and Order spokespersons team, said from now on the NCPO will use www.thaigov.go.th as a major channel to update on the current situation, in Thai and English. The Thai Khu Fah Facebook account will be used to promote reconciliation as well, he said.

The decision came after a meeting at Government House of the NCPO spokespersons’ team, the Foreign Ministry, the Public Relations Department, and PM’s Secretariat Office.

The meeting was aimed at stressing and bringing about reconciliation and harmony in the country and creating a better understanding among foreign communities, the former spokesman of the Surayud Chulanont government said.

The NCPO yesterday also began holding its daily press conference at Government House. The NCPO moved its venue for general press conferences from the Army Auditorium in Thewes to the Santi Maitree Building in the Government House compound.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Politics

PM dismisses rumours of alliance with opposition to form new government

Maya Taylor

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PM dismisses rumours of alliance with opposition to form new government | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.thailandnews.co

Thai PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha has rubbished rumours that the ruling coalition parties plan to join forces with the opposition Pheu Thai party to form a new government. While the PM initially didn’t respond to the question, instead bidding reporters a good day and walking away, he did mumble that he had enough of a headache with just one party.

Thai PBS World reports that Deputy PM, Prawit Wongsuwan, also dismissed the question, accusing the media of being behind the speculation, as he pointed a finger at reporters gathered at Government House.

“You go and ask the one who spread the rumour.”

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda has dismissed rumours he’s planning to set up a political party with the PM and interior Permanent Secretary, Chatchai Promlert. Anupong says he’s no political expert and has never considered creating a political party.

Since July, anti-government protests have been taking place around the country, with activists calling for the PM’s resignation, the dissolution of Parliament, and for fresh elections to be held.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Environment

Thailand’s ban on hazardous farming chemicals to remain in place

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s ban on hazardous farming chemicals to remain in place | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

Despite fears to the contrary among those in favour of it, the ban on paraquat and chlorpyrifos is to remain in place. The Hazardous Substances Committee has confirmed that production, possession, and importing or exporting either substance remains illegal, under legislation introduced on June 1 of this year.

Thai PBS World reports that Industry Minister, Suriya Juangroongruangkit, says a discussion of the ban took both pros and cons into consideration, adding that a number of reliable reports clearly illustrate that the chemicals pose a health threat. He points out that they are banned in many other countries, in addition to Thailand.

Thai farmers have been protesting the ban, criticising suggested safer alternatives as ineffective. Abhai Sutthisung, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, agrees suitable alternatives have yet to be found. It’s understood the Agriculture, Industry and Commerce ministries are attempting to convince farmers to make the change to organic farming, by identifying viable markets for organic produce.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand

Minister calls for all complaints against Sarasas schools to be monitored amid abuse allegations

Maya Taylor

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Minister calls for all complaints against Sarasas schools to be monitored amid abuse allegations | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kapook

The Education Minister, Nataphol Teepsuwan, is asking the Office of the Private Education Commission to closely monitor all complaints filed against all Sarasas Witaed School branches around the country. Nation Thailand reports that 34 out of 42 have had complaints filed against them.

Allegations of abuse first emerged when the actions of an abusive teacher at a branch of the school in the central province of Nonthaburi, just north of central Bangkok, were captured on CCTV. A teacher, Ornuma Plodprong, was captured on video pushing students to the ground, banging their heads against their desks, and twisting their ears until they cried out in pain.

Additional complaints made against several other branches of the private school allege harsh punishment, the charging of fees not sanctioned by the Education Ministry, and the use of unqualified teachers. An investigation by immigration police also caught one Filipino national working illegally at the Nonthaburi branch. The school was also accused of using babysitters as teachers. If proven, the Education Minister says the school director could face 3 years’ imprisonment, while the ‘babysitters’ could get 2 years.

Nataphol says Education Ministry rules forbid teachers from using physical punishment, pointing out that the only permissible forms of punishment include probation, reducing test scores, and corrective activities. Netizens who’ve taken to social media to criticise the abuse say it’s only one part of a wider problem with the Thai education system.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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