Malee Choklumlerd, director-general of the department, said it had found that about 70-80 per cent of Thai export value was attributed to large enterprises and multinational companies. “Of the total Thai export value of US$215 billion [last year], about $21 billion or 20 per cent was contributed by SMEs. To drive the growth of exports by SMEs, the department will work closely with Thai trade representatives and private organisations in drafting plans to increase their export proportion. Moreover, during the meeting with 66 Thai trade officials from overseas posts meeting, the Commerce Ministry will formulate plans for trade missions to target markets. At the meeting, trade officials and private-sector representatives will also brainstorm on how to drive export growth to each market.
Thousands of monks and followers broke through barricades to enter Wat Phra Dhammakaya Sunday, as temple devotees launched a campaign on social media to mobilise hundreds of thousands of supporters nationwide to pressure officials into ending the temple search. Want to disrobe all the Dhammakaya monks and take eight tonnes of golden [Buddha] statues." About 10 minutes later, followers and temple monks emerged from inside the temple. At 3.30pm, temple followers and monks set up a tent near the Khlong L 2 canal outside Gate 5 and Gate 6 to welcome additional followers who were coming in to support the temple. DSI deputy spokesman Woranan Srilam denied claims on social media that officials would seize temple assets including golden Buddha statues.
Dr Suthon Pisuttinusart examined the damage to the face of Nong Sai at Yanhee Hospital in Bangkok on Feb 14, 2016, watched by Pavena Hongsakul of the Pavena Foundation for Children and Women. Naruedee Jodsanthia, 17, better known as Nong Sai, was now able to fully close her left eye and smile normally. There was no longer drooping at one corner of her mouth, Supoj Samritthiwanicha, a physician at Yanhee Hospital told the media on Sunday. Nong Sai had received a combination of treatments from experts in the fields of neurology and brain damage along with alternative treatments including acupuncture, hyperbaric oxygen and physical therapy. Mr Paithoon said he did not mean to hurt Nong Sai and offered to pay 80,000 baht for damages.
Phra Thammasak said Phra Dhammajayo had not gone far because he was too ill to travel. In a media briefing held at the temple's Gate 5 on Sunday, Phra Thammasak said Phra Dhammajayo was hiding somewhere nearby and he could show the press and authorities the abbot's escape route. Earlier report : Dhammakaya's human shield just before deadlineHe said the temple's monks still admired Phra Dhammajayo and would lay down their lives for him. Phra Thammasak said he made an audio recording of the meeting but was not ready to release it yet. After the media briefing, Phra Thammasak was escorted to Khlong Luang police station to be questioned about Phra Dhammajayo’s whereabouts.
Police identified the three men as suspects in connection with the murder of Kim Jong Nam. KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian police said on Sunday that four North Korean suspects in the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un fled Malaysia on the day of the killing. Kim Jong Nam died on Monday after being assaulted at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where he was catching a flight to Macau. South Korean and US officials have said he was assassinated by North Korean agents using what was thought to be a fast acting poison. Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, had spoken out publicly against his family's dynastic control of isolated, nuclear-armed North Korea.
(Left) Motorcycle taxi drivers at Land Transport Department (Bangkok Post file photo). (Right) A sign at the Soi Bearing queue offers free internet access to customers. The rank, which sees a long queue of customers at peak times, recently offered the free Wi-Fi with download/upload speed at 200/50 megabits per second. Netizens have praised the queue for raising the bar of motorcycle taxi services and lightheartedly likened it to the government's Thailand 4.0 economic model as “Motorcycle queue 4.0”. Ronnakorn Tonrub, 37, one of the queue operators, told Thairath that not everyone can have access to the internet even in today’s digital age.
The higher excise tax on cigarettes has hit the revenues of provincial administration organisations (PAOs) and affected their development projects, Niphon Boonyamanee, president of the Songkhla PAO, said on Sunday. Mr Niphon, who is a member of the Association of Provincial Administration Organisations of Thailand, said the cigarette tax was raised last year and resulted in the PAO's annual income from the tax dropping between 20% and 80%. The cabinet last February increased the excise tax in an effort to discourage cigarette consumption. Some smokers had quit, while others turned to untaxed foreign cigarettes which were priced about 60% lower than local cigarettes, Mr Niphon said. The 14 southern PAOs also agreed to promote nature tourism in three southern border provinces, which are abundant with natural beauty and local products.
Police and followers of Wat Phra Dhammakaya confront each other at a gate of the temple in Khlong Luang district, Pathum Thani, Sunday afternoon. (Photos by Pongpat Wongyala)PATHUM THANI - Thousands of followers broke through official barricades to enter Wat Phra Dhammakaya and returned with monks to form a human shield, just before a deadline for them to leave the temple. The followers breached the barricades at Gates 5 and 6 on Bang Khan-Nong Sua Road in Khlong Luang district at about 1pm. Wearing face masks, they cut opened Gate 5 and formed a human shield confronting police. The incident occurred two hours before the 3pm deadline of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) for people and monks who are not a resident of Wat Phra Dhammakaya to leave the temple to facilitate searches.
An official shakes hands with a demonstrator after the Krabi coal-fired power plant protest outside Government House is ended. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)Five leaders of the protest against the planned coal-fired power plant in Krabi province have been released and demonstrators dispersed after the government agreed to renew the project's environmental impact assessment and the environmental health impact assessment. The proposal and information from the protest leaders were forwarded to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Energy Minister Anantaporn Kanjanarat for consideration. The protest leaders had been well looked after and the government had agreed to their proposals. Mr Prasitthichai was one of the five protest leaders who were arrested on Saturday and had been detained by the authorities.
A Japanese government spokesman on Sunday welcomed China's announcement to suspend all North Korean coal imports until the end of this year as part of strengthened sanctions against Pyongyang in response to its nuclear and missile development programs. "The North Korean threat has increased, including its missile development. China's Commerce Ministry said Saturday the suspension of coal imports was in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2321, adopted in November 2016 following North Korea's fifth nuclear test, which was carried out in September the same year. The resolution particularly targeted coal, North Korea's biggest export, much of which is delivered to China. Noting that Japan has urged North Korea to refrain from nuclear and missile development through pressure and dialogue, Hagiuda said, "By increasing pressure, we have to help North Korea realise that silly acts will further isolate the country in the international community."
A fire breaks out in Khon Buri forest reserve in Nakhon Ratchasima early Sunday. As of Sunday morning, it had burned through forest cover from top to bottom of Khao Makha mountain. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)NAKHON RATCHASIMA -- Fire erupted again on Khao Makha in the Khon Buri national forest reserve in Khon Buri district early on Sunday, razing forest cover from the top to the foot of the mountain, local media reported. Wichian Abkrathok, chief of Ban Makha in tambon Khok Krachai, said the fire broke out early yesterday in the Khon Buri national forest reserve but local residents and officials managed to bring it under control. The fire was seen burning down from the top to the foot of the mountain as the local residents and officials could only watch with concern.
Executives of the DSI and police use a helicopter to get a bird's-eye view of Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Khlong Luang district of Pathum Thani on Sunday. He did not rule out reports that authorities would cut off water and electricity at the temple, saying they had several measures in hand ranging from soft ones to harsh ones. Temple officials could not check inside authorities' numerous vehicles arriving for the search on Friday, the monk said. The order to control the temple compound had discouraged monks from leaving to collect alms or attend religious ceremonies and examinations, Phra Sanitwong said. He asked the government not to cut off water and power supply, saying the temple management had cooperated well with searches.
NAKHON RATCHASIMA -- A wildfire erupted again on Khao Makha in the Khon Buri national forest reserve in Khon Buri district early on Sunday, burning down the forest from the top to the foot of the mountain, local media reported. Wichian Abkrathok, chief of Ban Makha in tambon Khok Krachai, said the fire broke out early yesterday in the Khon Buri national forest reserve but local residents and officials managed to put it under control on Saturday morning. However, the fire erupted again today at 2.30am. The fire was seen burning down from the top to the foot of the mountain as the local residents and officials could only watch with concerns. It was believed the fire would destroy at least 200 rai of forest before it could be brought to a halt today, Mr Wichian.
Permanent secretary for defence Chaicharn Changmongkol escorts Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, accompanied by party executives, as they are invited to contribute their ideas on national unity at the Defence Ministry on Friday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)A majority of people say it would be acceptable to them if an election is further delay for the government and National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to hold talks with all concerned for national reconciliation, according to an opinion survey by the National Institute for Development Administration or Nida Poll. The survey was carried out on Feb 15-17 on 1,250 people aged 18 and over of various educational levels and occupations throughout the country to compile their opinions now that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has set up a committee for national reconciliation. Asked whether it would be acceptable to them if an election is further delayed to allow for the government and NCPO to hold talks with all parties concerned, a majority of the respondents, 71.28% said "yes", 21.68% said "no", and 7.04% were uncertain or had no comments. To the question whether they think reconciliation would be able to reduce conflicts between people in the country, 64.32% said "yes", reasoning that reconciliation would bring about unity; 24.72% did not think it would help reduce conflicts because the people who are pushing for reconciliation still lack justice or neutrality; and 10.96% were uncertain.
(Reuters photo)A United States aircraft carrier strike group has begun patrols in the South China Sea amid growing tension with China over control of the disputed waterway and concerns it could become a flashpoint under the new US administration. China's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday warned Washington against challenging its sovereignty in the South China Sea. The US navy said the force, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, began routine operations in the South China Sea on Saturday. China wrapped up its own naval exercises in the South China Sea on Friday. China lays claim to almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which about US$5 trillion worth of trade passes each year.