Questions raised over Anutin’s military college enrolment

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Breaking News August 08, 2018 19:39

By The Nation

A former Pheu Thai Party MP has questioned the enrolment of Bhum Jai Thai party head Anutin Charnvirakul at a top military college, widely seen as a “patronage-seeking” institution for senior officers, company CEOs and politicians.

Anutin is among a couple of hundred names enlisted in a one-year programme run by the National Defence College of Thailand under the Defence Mnistry. He will attend the college as “CEO of STP&I Public Company Limited”.

Ex-MP Yutthapong Jarassathien complained that Anutin, a top politician and a construction contractor with the current government, had a high profile already and his enrolment would endanger the principle of social equality.

It would go against PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s declaration that politicians should not enroll and thus be able to seek connections with civil servants and military officers, the ex-MP said.

“This double standard shouldn’t occur and we might suppose it is because Anutin once recruited thousands of supporters to cheer the premier,” he said, referring to Prayut’s field trip in Buri Ram in May, where he was greeted by tens of thousands of locals, as arranged by Anutin and local politician Newin Chidchob.

He also called for Prayut to investigate how Anutin got to enroll in the course.


Source :  Tha Nation Multimedia

A vivid illustration of Asean’s rich diversity

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Photo courtesy of Culture Ministry

national August 08, 2018 20:00

By Phatarawadee Phataranawik
The Nation

The Culture Ministry is using the diversity of the vivid culture that exists in Southeast Asia as a key tool to strengthen relations between countries in the lead-up to Thailand taking over as Asean chair next year.

The ministry today marked Asean Day by launching a book and photography exhibition “Vivid Asean” at the Asean Central Centre in Rajdamnoen Klang Avenue.

“The book features the diversity of Asean cultures, their similarities and differences,” Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanara told The Nation, adding that the English version would be launched next year.

“By learning about the history and culture of our neighbouring countries, we will better understand [each other] and live together harmoniously.”

“Next year, Thailand will host a variety of cultural Asean activities with the bigger ones including the Ramayana Festival, Asean films and food festivals,” Vira said.

The 200-page book features 13 chapters on topics ranging from food, architecture, costumes, lifestyle, cultural performances and religions. It concludes by showing how Thailand is a multicultural nation.

National artist and photographer Teerapap Lohitkul, the book’s editor-in-chief, teamed up with SeaWrite Awardee Jeeranan Pitpreecha, photographer Sayan Chuenudomsavad and author Hor Supawut Jantasaro to put together the book, which is illustrated with more than 300 beautiful images of all things Asean. The book is available at the Asean Central Centre and the show runs until August 26.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Stateless ‘Mu Pa’ are now Thai citizens

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national August 08, 2018 20:30


FOUR STATELESS Mu Pa Academy footballers who were rescued from a flooded cave last month on Wednesday officially became Thai citizens.

Ekkapol Chantawongse

They attended a naturalisation ceremony held in Chiang Rai province and each of them was given the national identity card.

Adul Samon

The four are: Adul Samon, Mongkol Boonpium, Pornchai Khamluang and assistant coach Ekkapol Chantawongse.

They were among 13 members of the Mu Pa football club who went missing in the Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district in late June.

They were located and evacuated two weeks later in a multinational operation. Their rescue mission made headlines around the world as the method of evacuating them from the dark and flooded cave was regarded as the first of its kind.

Pornchai Khamluang

Mae Sai district chief Somsak Kanakham said they were granted citizenship according to the laws. During the ceremony chaired by Somsak, 30 people became Thai citizens.

The births of Adul, Mongkon and Pornchai were registered at Mae Sai and Wiengpankham municipalities and they were granted Thai citizenship after they presented their birth certificate to the district chief.

Mongkol Boonpium

Ekkapol, who is still in the monkhood, was born at Mae Sai Hospital and has a parent who was born in Thailand.

He was granted citizenship on grounds of his good behaviour and actions that benefited society.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Lao dam review ‘right decision’

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Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower dam

national August 09, 2018 01:00


Safety standards to be examined; new investments on hold.

ENVIRONMENTAL and communal rights activists praised the Lao government for its decision to examine the safety standards at all planned hydropower dams and reconsider its “impactful” strategy of generating electricity for export and becoming the Battery of Asia.

The Lao government has also decided to suspend the consideration of new investments in hydropower projects in order to review its hydropower development strategy and plans.

Laos issued the latest order on Tuesday in the aftermath of the deadly dam catastrophe at Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydropower dam, and said it would inspect every dam to check for flaws in structure and design to ensure safety.

After the disaster at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower dam, which claimed at least 34 lives and displaced thousands, Laos has decided to reconsider its dream to become a power supplier for the region.

Chainarong Setthachua, a lecturer at Maha Sarakham University, said yesterday that the Laos government’s decision could be considered a turning point for development in the entire region.

“After Laos started moving towards capitalism, it has focused on taking advantage of the country’s rich water resources and its mountainous geography to develop hydropower as a core economic engine of the country by generating electricity for export,” Chainarong said.

“However, profits earned from selling power to neighbouring countries has come at a great price, because the development and foreign direct investment on hydropower dam projects have largely been done without proper environmental protection studies and consideration of the livelihood of local people.”

He said that after experiencing dam disasters over these past three years, especially the devastation wreaked by the latest one, the people of Laos have finally realised the true cost of these hydropower dam projects that have been constructed all around them.

“I hope the Laos government stays firm in its decision and seriously considers the pros and cons of hydropower projects. If Laos changes its strategy and abandons its plan to invest in hydropower and allow intensive development, it is bound to have a huge impact on the regional energy sector and the many players,” he said.

Chainarong added that in the end both Thai and Laos authorities have to ensure that the investors of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower dam project are held responsible for damages and loss caused by the disaster. He said the dam had burst because it was poorly constructed, and there was a severe lack of proper warning systems and emergency plan for locals.

Leading researcher and founder of Mekong Butterfly, Montree Chantawong said the government’s decision to examine all hydropower dams was commendable, because over the past 10 years dams have been built in almost every corner of the nation. He also pointed out that the country’s laws were not strong enough to ensure proper construction and safety of these dams.

According to Laos’s national strategy to become a Battery of Asia, the government plans to build more than 90 hydropower plants by 2020 and export most of the generated electricity.

Nevertheless, Thai Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan had earlier pledged the support of Lao’s hydropower development strategy, as he pointed out that this policy will not only benefit Lao economy, but it is also an important economic partnership on energy sector and it will make the economy of the whole region prosper.

The meeting, attended by cabinet members, agreed to establish a taskforce committee to lead the investigation into the reason for the collapse of saddle dam D, one of five auxiliary dams at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project, according to the Vientiane Times.

The failure of the dam on July 23 flooded 13 villages in Sanamxay district, killing 34 people as of August 6 while 100 villagers are still missing. Thousands have been left homeless. The investigation committee is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the Government Inspection Authority, Bounthong Chitmany.

The committee welcomed the help of international experts in carrying out the investigation and verifying the cause of the dam fracture. The committee will also invite representatives of the governments of South Korea and Thailand, whose companies were stakeholders in the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project, to provide consultation and observe the investigation process.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Phetchaburi town set to reel under runoff

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Phetch Dam

national August 09, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

PHETCHABURI town is set to be inundated this weekend, even after the Royal Irrigation Department has stemmed and even slowed down the run-off from upstream zones.

The department expects the volume of water in Phetchaburi River to peak on Saturday, with 230 to 250 cubic metres of water flowing into the Phetch Dam per second.

Phetch Dam sits in Phetchaburi’s Tha Yang district, between the now-overwhelmed Kaeng Krachan Dam and Phetchaburi’s Muang district. Some 55 cubic metres per second will be diverted from the Phetch Dam to the irrigation system along the river before it heads to town, while another 35 cubic metres per second will be directed to the D9 drainage canal.

Kaeng Krachan Dam

The remaining 140 to 160 cubic metres per second will hit downstream areas.

Though this volume of water is not expected to flood the Tha Yang district, Muang district could suffer from the overflowing Phetchaburi River on Sunday.

In fact, some communities in the district will find themselves under 30 to 50 centimetres of water for seven to 10 days.

Close watch on all dams

The department’s director-general, Thongplew Kongchan, confirmed yesterday that Kaeng Krachan Dam had exceeded its capacity.

“The dam is now 103 per cent full,” he said, explaining why large volumes of water had to be discharged from the dam.

“He added that water up to 46-centimetres deep was being released down the spillway constantly.

However, downstream communities should not be too badly affected by this rapid release, apart from some low-lying riverside resorts, he said.

Also, some 40 pumps have been installed along the Phetchaburi River to speed the run-off to sea.

These boats and officials are in charge of speeding up the water flow in the Phetchaburi River in Phetchaburi province yesterday, as Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha turns up to inspect water management. 

While Muang district should be inundated for a week to 10 days, Ban Laem – located at the point where Phetchaburi River meets the sea – could be submerged for about a month, he said.

High tide could slow the run-off to sea in Ban Laem, but action is being taken to minimise the effect, he added.

So far, 40 boats and pumps have been put in place in the area to ease the impact, though the boats may not be that effective when high |tides hit the area during the weekend.

Thongplew was at hand to brief Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during his visit to Phetchaburi yesterday.

The authorities are keeping a close watch on four dams in the area due to the huge volumes of water they contain.

Apart from the brimming Kaeng Krachan Dam, Nam Oun Dam in Sakhon Nakhon province is 103 per cent full, while Vajiralongkorn and Srinakharin dams in Kanchanaburi province are 85 and 87 per cent full respectively.

The weather bureau, meanwhile, has predicted heavy downpours and warned of landslides in 31 provinces. Among them is Ranong province, where some 3,000 residents in Kapur district are suffering from the impact of flash floods.

Though flooding has subsided in some areas, many low-lying parts were reported to still be submerged as of press time.


Source :  The Nation Multimedia

Denying the right to abortion ‘puts lives at risk’

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national August 09, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

AT LEAST 28 women were denied their legally recognised right to abortion over the past year in Thailand.

The figures come from cases handled by the Aids and Unwanted Pregnancy Hotline 1663 centre between August 1, 2017 and July 31 this year.

Abortions are legally allowed when pregnancies result from sexual attacks, are mired with serious foetus development problems, or could hurt the physical or mental health of the mothers-to-be.

Denying women professional and hygienic abortion services often forces them to seek risky alternatives.

“When medical facilities deny them services, many women or girls with unwanted pregnancies turn to uncertified facilities and face the risk of substandard operations,” Aids Access Foundation’s director Nimit Tien-udom said yesterday.

He was referring to a National Health Security Office report that unsafe abortions had claimed 11 lives in 2016 alone and cost the state Bt112 million in medical treatment for girls or women who developed health problems caused by unsafe abortions.

Nimit said 652 soon-to-be mothers had told the 1663 hotline over the past year that they had tried to end their pregnancies by ordering drugs from illegal websites or by harming themselves.

“These girls and women should have been eligible to undergo abortions legally, because their situation hurt their mental health,” he said.

Nimit lamented that the medical workers’ attitudes toward unwanted pregnancies had put many girls and women in danger.

He said all medical facilities should offer abortions for women or girls who refuse to carry their pregnancies to full term. He also pointed out that the Public Health Ministry had a policy that allowed abortions, and the National Health Security Office covered the cost in most cases.

Achara Kaewpradit, operations chief of the 1663 centre, said it was very tough for a woman to learn that her foetus has development problems. “And they suffer even more when hospitals repeatedly deny them the right to terminate their pregnancy,” she noted.

She added that in one case, a woman had to travel several times to Bangkok from upcountry before she could undergo the abortion.

Somwong Uraiwattana, manager of the 1663 hotline centre, said 52,370 pregnant women and girls had called his centre about unwanted pregnancies.

“Some 30 per cent of them were below the age of 20,” he said, adding that 83.5 per cent of the callers chose to terminate their pregnancies, after consulting the centre, while 6.2 per cent decided against it.

His centre has worked with the Health Department and with doctors participating in the Referral System for Safe Abortion.


Source :  The Nation


Multiracial teams are welcome, but what about racism in society?

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opinion August 07, 2018 01:00

By Cai Hong
China Daily
Asia News Network

Two Spanish football heavyweights, Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres, made their debut in Japan on July 22, though both of their clubs ended up on the losing side. Still, Japanese football fans were excited about their arrival.

Iniesta, a former Barcelona star, has signed for Vissel Kobe, and Torres has left Atletico Madrid for Sagan Tosu. They have followed in the footsteps of some great football players who helped Japan become an Asian football heavyweight. Japanese men’s national team made it to the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia, the only one from Asia which is home to 70 per cent of the world’s population.

Japan’s national squad made its first World Cup finals appearance in France in 1998 and has qualified for the finals every four years since then. After Japan’s professional football league, the 10-team J League, was established in 1991, the beautiful game has developed at an increasing pace thanks to the arrival of some international football stars. The J League signed legends such as Jorginho, Bebeto, Gary Lineker and Arthur Antunes Coimbra, better known as Zico.

Moreover, several Brazilian football players such as Wagner Lopes, Alex Santos and Tulio Tanaka took Japanese citizenship and were enlisted in Japan’s national team.

The international football stars were role models who inspired Japanese players with their talent. Now there are several Japanese football players playing for the best clubs in Europe.

The Japanese football story reflects the benefits of globalisation. A bigger winner is the French national football team. Out of the 23 members of the French squad that won the 2018 World Cup, 17 are immigrants or the children of immigrants – 12 players have African ancestry.

Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year-old wunderkind who is of Cameroonian and Algerian descent, became the face of the French team because of his remarkable display in the tournament.

Diversity is believed to be the French squad’s biggest strength. The French newspaper Le Monde said in its editorial on the World Cup victory that the national team, made up of players of many different ethnic groups, showed that “the sense of national belonging goes hand-in-hand with many different histories and different backgrounds”.

France’s multicultural team has been hailed as representing a real model of integration. But now that celebrations of France’s victory are over, the stark reality outside the field is back.

On the Daily Show in the United States, South African comedian Trevor Noah claimed Africa won the World Cup, because of the number of black players in the French team. “You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the south of France,” Noah said. “France is Africans’ backup team.”

Criticising Noah’s racist remarks, French Twitter users informed him that more than 90 per cent of the players in the French team were born in France. Only two were born in Africa, but had come to France at the age of two and have grown up there.

German football star Mesut Ozil resigned from the national side on July 22 due to the “racism and disrespect” he faced since being photographed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo an in May. German Football Association President Reinhard Grindel, as Ozil said, had made him a “scapegoat” for the team’s poor World Cup showing. Germany, the defending champion, was knocked out in the group stage in Russia.

“I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,” Ozil, who has Turkish ancestry but grew up in Germany, said. Not surprisingly, Ozil’s resignation has sparked a debate over integration and racism.

There have been reports of racial slurs, chants and banners, and even bananas were thrown at and monkey gestures made against some players in and outside stadiums. Italian striker Mario Balotelli, who was born in Palermo, Sicily, to Ghanaian immigrants, gave a wake-up call to football officials a few years ago.

Racism is only partly about sports; it also reflects society and politics outside the field. But is the world listening?

Cai Hong is Tokyo bureau chief for China Daily. 


Source :  The Nation Multimedia