No law prevents Prayut from becoming a political party adviser: Wissanu

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politics March 13, 2018 17:08

By The Nation

Deputy Premier Wissanu Krea-ngam on Tuesday affirmed that Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha was eligible to be a political party adviser, amid speculation that the PM would be invited to take up such a role with the new Palang Pracha Rath Party.

“There is no law that prohibits him from doing so. But he can’t contest in [the next] election,” Wissanu said.

He referred to the 2017 Constitution’s provisional clause, which requires members of the Cabinet and the National Legislative Assembly to resign within 90 days of the charter’s coming into force if they want to stand as MP candidates in the next general election.

Given that Prayut did not resign after the Constitution came into effect last April, he is deemed unable to become an MP candidate in the next national election.

 There has been speculation that the military-led government’s premier might join or advise a political party, which could pave the way for him to continue a post-election premiership by becoming an outsider PM.

Unlike previous charters, the current one does not require a prime-minister candidate to be an MP of a party.

Instead, it paves the way for an outsider to become a candidate via MPs’ nomination and votes from both the House of Representatives and the junta-handpicked Senate.

The greatest focus is currently on Palang Pracha Rath, a new party which was registered earlier this month with a similar name to the government’s flagship economic scheme, “Pracha Rath”.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda said briefly on Tuesday that it would be Prayut’s personal decision as to whether he would become such an adviser.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Pheu Thai politicians still split over Sudarat being next party head

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Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan

politics March 13, 2018 15:36

By The Nation

Pheu Thai politicians remain split as to whether Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan should become the next party leader.

As Sudarat seems to be increasingly gaining support from more party colleagues from the Northeast, some elements in Pheu Thai have disputed views she has expressed about the party.

Young Pheu Thai politician Pachara Nariphathaphan on Tuesday voiced his opposition to Sudarat’s remark that the party was part of the “mud hole” in which Thailand has been stuck for many years due to lingering political conflicts.

“Instead, Pheu Thai Party was hit by road traps and we got robbed,” he said, apparently referring to the military coup that overthrew the government that the party had led in 2014.

Pachara, the son of former energy minister Phichai Nariphathaphan, added that he believed Pheu Thai had personnel with the potential of fixing the problem and “replacing the flat tyre”, so that Thailand would be able to move on.

In a thinly veiled attack apparently aimed at Sudarat, the politician said: “The problem is someone chooses to be obsessed with their status. They often cite religious reasons and goodness for their own benefit. This in turn causes people to lose faith in them.”

However, Sudarat has gained the backing of many Pheu Thai politicians in northeastern provinces, who view her as the most suitable candidate to become the next party leader, according to former Pheu Thai MP Chaiya Phromma, who represented the province of Nong Bua Lam Phu.

“Many northeastern ex-MPs I talked to consider that Khunying Sudarat is the best choice to become Pheu Thai leader at the moment,” he said.

“Personally, I see that she is capable of leading Pheu Thai into a new political era, upholding democracy, preserving the top institution, and bringing about reconciliation and peace in Thai society,” he added.

Young politician Surachart Thienthong – a former Pheu Thai MP for Bangkok – said he also believed that Sudarat was suitable to become the party’s next leader.

Surachart said he had worked with Sudarat and saw many good leadership qualities in her.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Mahothorn Devi represents the mythological element of this year’s Songkran

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national March 13, 2018 07:04

By The Nation

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Songkran is not just a festival for splashing water at each other in the Kingdom, but also the astrological passage of traditional Thai New Year, with each year’s celebration having its own representative mythological goddess to give the general public an idea about the weather forecast for harvests in the year ahead.

This year’s Songkran, whose Thai New Year’s Day – April 14 – falls on Saturday, is represented by the goddess Mahothorn Devi, who has a peacock as her vehicle, with her right hand holding a “chakram” gear wheel and her left hand holding a trident.

She also has water hyacinth and black sapphire as decorative items, and hog deer as her food.

With Mahothorn Devi representing this year’s Songkran, the prophecy has it that there will be plenty of rice, fish and other food but less water for agriculture in the year ahead, according to Monday’s government announcement about Songkran 2018.

Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat invited people to celebrate the Songkran Festival in line with the traditional ways of merit-making, Buddha image-bathing, asking seniors for blessing and saving water.

He urged that the water-splashing or partying accompanying the festival should also consider people’s safety.

The Cultural Promotion Department will host a celebration at the Bangkok Cultural Centre under the theme “Songkran Vithithai Chainam Khumkha Cheva Plodpai” (Thai traditional-style celebration of Songkran, which is to save water and ensure public safety), the minister said.

Like the rest of Thailand, various major sites in Bangkok city will hold special Songkran celebrations during April 12-15, including at Wat Pathumwanaram, Siam Paragon shopping mall, Siam Square, Silom Road and Khao San Road.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Iraqi army kills four Islamic State militants while infiltrating into Salahuddin

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Salahuddin ( – Iraqi army, backed by pro-government troops, killed on Tuesday four Islamic State (IS) militants while trying to infiltrate into al-Shirqat district in northern Salahuddin province via western borders, a security source was quoted as saying.

Speaking to Knooz Media, the source said, “A group of IS militants tried to infiltrate into the Sunni-dominated al-Shirqat district coming from western borders, but troops of the Iraqi army and al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) managed to foil their plot and killed four of them.”

The source affirmed that the security situation “in the district is now under control.”

The IS group declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014, prompting the Iraqi government to launch a campaign with the help of the a U.S.-led international coalition to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens.

Although Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December, isolated cells believed to be linked to the militant group remain active in some parts of the country.

The surge in violence between armed groups and government forces has resulted in over 3 million internally displaced persons across Iraq and left more than 11 million in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Source :  Iraqi News

Central Bank of Iraq Auctions $201,715,251 on 13 March 2018

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Baghdad ( The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) currency auction on March 13 registered $201,715,251 in sales, a 0.89% volume increase from the US $199,935,053 sold by Iraqi Dinar, credit and transfer at the previous auction held on March 12.

The latest auction was attended by 45 banks and 9 remittance companies. The same institutions attended the auction held on March 13 compared to the previous auction.

Data for the March 13 auction was made public by CBI Announcement Number 3654.

Dollar sales in the in the period January 1, 2018 to March 13, 2018 saw an increase of -1% compared to the sales of US $7.33 billion in the same period in 2017. The total amount of US currency sold by CBI in the calendar year 2017 was US $15.7 billion.

An analysis of the monthly dollar sales by CBI since January 2016 reveals highly fluctuating volumes. During the period from January 2016 to March 2018, sales of US dollars averaged US $1.82 billion per month. Peak volumes were reached in May this year when sales touched US $2.3 billion.

2017 January 2.2
2017 February 2 -9%
2017 March 2.1 5%
2017 April 1.8 -14%
2017 May 2.3 28%
2017 June 0.6 -74%
2017 July 2.2 267%
2017 August 2.1 -5%
2017 September 1 -52%
2017 October 2.2 120%
2017 November 1.9 -14%
2017 December 1.9 0%
2018 January 2.2 16%
2018 February 2 -9%
2018 March 0.8 -60%


Source :  Iraqi News

Over 19,000 Islamic State militants killed across Iraq in three years: Commander

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Baghdad ( More than 19,000 Islamic State militants were killed over three years during liberation battles across Iraq, the Federal Police announced on Monday.

“So far, some 19,484 militants were killed in each of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahuddin, north of Baghdad, in addition to Anbar, which represents around one third of the country,” Lt. gen. Shaker Jawdat, commander of the Federal Police, told the Russian Sputnik agency.

The total areas liberated by the Federal Police in the four provinces, according to Jawdar, “reached 27155. 496 square kilometers.”

Moreover, the total regions, towns and districts liberated by the troops reached 890.

Thousands of IS militants as well as Iraqi civilians were killed since the government campaign, backed by paramilitary troops and the coalition, was launched in October 2016 to fight the militant group.

In December, Abadi announced full liberation of Iraqi lands, declaring end of war against IS members. However, Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks across Iraq against troops. Security reports indicate that the militant group still poses threat against stability in the country.

The war against IS has so far displaced at least five million people. Thousands of others fled toward neighboring countries including Syria, Turkey and other European countries, since IS emerged to proclaim its self-styled “caliphate”.


Source :  Iraqi News

Walk into the starry night with Van Gogh in Dubai

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Rahul Gajjar/Dubai
Filed on March 12, 2018

More than 3,000 images are showcased in this interactive exhibition

 After making waves around the world, Van Gogh Alive has finally made its way to Dubai.

Running for 44 days, until April 23, at Dubai’s creative hub d3, the unique exhibition gives visitors more than a peek into the enduring legacy of artist Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter often considered amongst the most influential figures in Western art history.

As the name suggests, it brings to life Van Gogh’s masterpieces, letting visitors experience the sensation of walking right into his paintings, with an interactive display. “What makes this exhibition different to a normal art gallery is that everything is moving. You will feel as if you are immersed in the paintings of Van Gogh,” said Jessica Zuell, director of event company 6IX Degrees Entertainment, that’s behind this unique digital exhibition along with Grande Exhibitions.

“We are showcasing more than 3,000 different images of Van Gogh in this digital art exhibition. We are using one of the most advanced screening systems and this beautiful exhibition has travelled all over the world including Shanghai, Berlin and Singapore before finally arriving in Dubai,” she added.

Before committing suicide at 37 in 1890, Van Gogh created around 2,100 artworks – over 800 of them oil paintings including the now iconic The Starry Night.

A digital projection of the 1889 creation – which now resides safely in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art – is the highlight of the multi-sensory exhibition event that takes one deep into Van Gogh’s artistry and his eccentric world and mind. Another highlight is the Bedroom in Arles live exhibit, showcasing a replica of Van Gogh’s actual room where much of his work was produced, including The Starry Night, which is supposed be the view he saw from his bedroom window.

“You don’t have to be an art lover or an art aficionado to soak in the atmosphere and be overwhelmed, but being a massive fan of Van Gogh personally and having been to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam recently, this is an experience of a kind,” said a visitor.

Set to a fitting classical score, the interactive display of over 3,000 inspirational images transforms the walls, ceilings and even floors into a surreal symphony of light, colour and sound, bringing the art genius truly alive to the viewers.

Venue: Dubai Design District

Price: Dh70 per adult

Dh65 (16 and under)

Dh65 with student card (any age)


Source :  The Khaleej Times

UAE roads getting safer, reveals survey

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Angel Tesorero/Dubai
Filed on March 12, 2018 | Last updated on March 12, 2018 at 11.46 pm

The perception of UAE motorists goes hand-in-hand with the remarkable reduction of traffic fatalities in 2017.
The UAE roads are becoming less dangerous, according to the latest survey by the UAE Road Safety Monitor. Despite the positive trends, “the absolute levels of perceived misbehaviour among road users are still high and more has to be done to raise awareness on road behaviour”.

The study, commissioned by i-Insured and RoadSafetyUAE and conducted by YouGov in February, analysed the feedback of around 1,004 residents on road safety.

“The perception of UAE motorists goes hand-in-hand with the remarkable reduction of traffic fatalities in 2017, down by about 30 per cent against last year,” according to the survey, which started in 2015 and now on its sixth cycle.

“The UAE motorists perceive less dangerous driving, less lane swerving, less tailgating, less speeding and less distracted driving on our roads,” said Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE.

“It seems that the ongoing hard work of all stakeholders like governmental entities, the media, corporations and platforms like RoadSafetyUAE have started bearing fruit,” he added.

Explaining the survey to Khaleej Times, Edelmann said: “Does road safety improve in the UAE? What is the verdict of the traffic participants? Do we see improved behaviour on our roads? The answer is yes!

“This means all dimensions of dangerous driving decline, which is really good news,” he added.

“Besides these positive trends, however, it must be noted that the absolute levels of perceived misbehaviour are still high. For example, with regards to ‘distracted driving’ we see a nine per cent reduction of respondents stating ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ versus six months ago. The negative 9 per cent trend is great! However the absolute level is still high as 56 per cent of respondents ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ to see more distracted motorists around them versus six months ago,” Edelmann said.

RoadSafetyUAE earlier noted that eight out of 10 motorists don’t use their indicators.

Frederik Bisbjerg, executive vice-president of Retail i-Insured, said: “Despite the positive trends, more needs to be done, as the absolute levels of perceived misbehaviour are still high. The dedicated work of all stakeholders must continue to educate the UAE’s road users by creating more awareness.”

Meanwhile, safe driving starts from proper training, Khalid Javed, senior instructor at Emirates Driving Institute, told Khaleej Times. “Quality driver training enhances the ability of the drivers to identify the hazards and respond positively to aggressive drivers and learn from their mistakes.”

Highlights of the survey
The UAE motorists who took part in the YouGov survey said they have experienced a three per cent overall drop in dangerous driving in the past six months. In particular, lane swerving saw a decrease of 11 per cent; distracted driving nine per cent; speeding eight per cent; tailgating five per cent; involved in a collision one per cent and commute time 10 per cent.

On the negative side, driving enjoyment dropped by six per cent from 51 per cent in August 2017 to 46 per cent at present and improvement in traffic infrastructure declined by 10 per cent from 78 per cent six months ago to 68 per cent in March 2018.

Dubai resident Mohammad Faizal, who works as a bank executive, told Khaleej Times: “Every day, I spend at least four hours on the road doing client errands and oftentimes, I have to take a call. Good thing my phone is connected to my car via Bluetooth but I always see motorists driving and talking on their handsets. That’s really very dangerous.”

For motorcycle rider and Filipino expat Allan Manzano, his main concern is to educate all drivers to use their indicators when changing lanes. “It’s just a simple thing to use the indicators but many drivers don’t do that, making it hazardous and difficult for us (motorcycle riders) to anticipate where they are going.”


Source :  The Khaleej Times

RAK Crown Prince, 167 grooms to get married in mass wedding

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Ahmed Shaaban /Ras Al Khaimah
Filed on March 13, 2018 | Last updated on March 13, 2018 at 06.11 am

A new exit has been opened in front of the ballroom to give visitors easy access to the mass wedding.

The emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is all geared up for a first-of-its-kind wedding of 167 grooms, including the RAK Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi himself.

The much-awaited wedding shall be held at the Al Bayt Mitwahid ‘Our Home is United’ at the Azan area on Tuesday, March 13, according to Ahmed Salem Al Mazrouie, deputy head of the supreme organising committee of the mass wedding.

To mark the joyous occasion, RAK government departments will get an hour-long break. (scroll down for circular)

“The wedding ceremony will be held at one of the biggest ballrooms in the country that has been auspiciously held up by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.”

The Crown Prince, celebrating his wedding along with 167 grooms as part of the massive wedding is a clear message to all families to follow the shiny model, and showcase solidarity towards each other, he added.

“The massive wedding, one of the most important community initiatives nationwide, is aimed to support youth, ease their suffering, and help them lead a stable and debt-free marital life.”

The UAE’s prudent leadership spares no effort to support all nationals, be it the men or women, all over the country, Al Mazrouie underlined.

“This time one of the sons of the Sheikhs will be standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow citizens as is the case in the ongoing war in Yemen where the children of the Rulers insisted in performing their national duty next to fellow soldiers.”

The mass wedding is part of the UAE culture that shows solidarity and interaction among all members of the society, he pointed out.

“The leadership is keen on expressing congratulations to each and every groom in a dazzling and meaningful image that reflects the strong bonds of the UAE people and intimate relationship between the leaders and nationals.”

The department of public works, all set for the mass wedding, has built 3,500 parking spaces adjacent to the ballroom at Azan area.

“The department has decorated all the surroundings of the wedding ballroom, and planted 20,000 square meters with palms trees, colourful flowers, and green grass.”

Over 8,000 UAE flags are being installed on the roads and squares leading to the ballroom, he elaborated.

“The department has also built six helicopter landing zones for receiving 12 choppers on an area of 9,000 square meters using 14,000 square meters of interlock.”

The entire roads of the area have been redesigned, Al Mazrouie stated. “A new exit has been opened in front of the ballroom to give visitors easy access to the mass wedding which is slated to start on Tuesday, March 13, at 4pm.”

All trucks shall be denied access to all the roads leading to Al Tawain roundabout from all directions. The same applies to the road extending from the Al Tawain roundabout to the Al Ghail area, both directions, on Tuesday, March 13, for eight hours, from 1pm to 9pm, in view of the mass wedding to be held at the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan ballroom, Azan area, RAK.

Hour-long break

Local government employees will get a ‘free hour’ on Tuesday (March 13) – to mark the happy occasion of the RAK Crown Prince’s wedding.

A circular in this regard was issued today by Dr Mohammed Abdullatif, director general of the RAK HR department.

Although, timings have not been specified but departments are expected to mark the hour-long break at their convenient timings during the day.

Road closed for trucks

Trucks will not be allowed on all roads leading to Al Tawain roundabout from all directions.

The same applies to the road extending from the Al Tawain roundabout to Al Ghail area, in both directions, on Tuesday for eight hours – from 1pm to 9pm – due to the mass wedding to be held at the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan ballroom in RAK’s Azan area.


Source :  The Khaleej Times

Is this the 767 replacement Qantas has been looking for?

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Highly-respected aviation journalist Jon Ostrower has published a first image of a Boeing concept design for its proposed New Middle-Market Airplane (NMA).

The image published on Ostrower’s blog shows a concept design that features a Boeing 767-style nose, 787-style wing and main cabin windows and a 737 MAX-style tail cone.

“Highly unlikely to be the final form of the eventual 797, its attributes hint strongly at some of Boeing’s efficiency enablers for its next-generation of medium-range airliners,” Ostrower wrote.

“Elements adapted from existing aircraft are apparent across this early iteration of the NMA design: A 737 MAX-style tail cone, larger 787/777X-sized cabin windows, and a 757/767/777-style windscreen. The door arrangement matches that of Boeing’s last “small twin,” the 767-200, very strongly suggesting a twin-aisle design.”

While details are thin on the ground, Boeing is believed to be studying a two-aircraft NMA family that would carry between 225-275 passengers anywhere from 4,500-5,000nm. It would be powered by new engines in the 50,000lb of thrust class.

Entry into service is projected to occur in the 2024 to 2025 timeframe.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has publicly expressed his airline’s interest in the NMA for domestic trunk routes, trans-continental services and South-East Asian flying.

“We are actually excited and I think a lot of carriers are about the potential for that aircraft,” Joyce told media at Qantas’s first half results briefing on February 22.

“It’s still a paper aircraft so Boeing have to define the spec of it, the weight of it, the performance and the price of it, but it looks like it’s being pitched as an aircraft that would work very well in the domestic market.

“It is a lighter aircraft than some of the widebody twin-aisles that we have today. It has a range that’s designed to fly transcontinental and maybe into South-East Asia.”

Such an aircraft would in effect be a replacement for Qantas’s much-loved Boeing 767s, filling the gap between the narrowbody Boeing 737-800s and larger widebody Airbus A330-200s and -300s.

Qantas retired its last 767 passenger aircraft in December 2014 (its Qantas Freight division operates a single 767-300F freighter).

A feature article on the Boeing NMA is planned for the April 2018 issue of Australian Aviation.


 Source :  Australian Aviation