In Thailand English-language News for April 7, 2017, Newsline presenter Sandra Hanutsaha tells us about:
• HM King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun yesterday promulgated Thailand’s 20th constitution since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, bringing closer the prospect of democratic elections following the May 22, 2014 coup d’état.
• In a national television broadcast Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that despite the 2014 Interim Thailand Constitution now having been replaced by the 2017 Thailand Constitution, there would be no changes to the Cabinet, the junta’s ruling National Council For Peace and Order (NCPO), and the remainder of the current administration for now. He said the Constitutional Drafting Commission (CDC) will complete and forward to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for approval within eight months ten organic laws, four of which are necessary before elections can be held. A definite timeline for a Thailand general election could not be given at this time, he said.
• Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) chairman Meechai Ruchupan has explained why a Thailand general election will not be held in 2017, or even early into 2018. Mr Ruchupan said two organic laws necessary for the establishment of both houses of parliament would take at least six months to complete, followed by a two month review period and a further one month for amending meant claims by some commentators and academics that an election could be held in 2017 were unrealistic.
• Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittaya on Thursday flagged off a road caravan as part of a campaign to promote road safety between April 11-18. Mr Termpittaya said a series of measures implemented by the government had seen road surfaces and street and traffic lights repaired nationwide ahead of the Songkran holiday, while the Department of Highways (DoH) and Highway Police have teamed up with related agencies across the country to establish 394 service points staffed by over 15,000 personnel to provide assistance to motorists 24-hours a day. He said the aim was to achieve at least a 5 per cent reduction in Songkran road fatalities over last year. In 2016 Thailand reported 442 deaths, 3,656 injuries and 3,447 accidents during the seven days of Songkran.
• NBT speaks with Dr Daniel A. Kertesz, World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Thailand, ahead of World Health day today, April 7, the reasons behind its emphasis on depression this year, and what activities are being held in Thailand to focus on the ailment. Dr Kertesz said that in Thailand depression affects between 2-3 per cent of the population, with many of the 4,000 suicides a year in the kingdom due to depression. He added that depression costs the global economy some $800 billion annually. Describing depression as the largest cause of disability globally, Dr Kertesz said in Southeast Asia alone some 86 million people are affected by depression.
• Thailand Ministry of Labour (MoL) and 11 other agencies have signed a five year agreement aimed at providing greater income and stability for workers in the informal labor market. The agreement will see those in the informal labour sector provided with better health care by increasing the insured rate, and standardised skills training. Minister of Labour General Sirichai Distakul said his goal over the period of the agreement was to see 1.5 million of an estimated 1.99 million informal workers covered by health insurance, while raising incomes and the quality of life for all.
• The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has committed to ensuring equal access to information for all by installing mobile cell towers in all areas nationwide overlooked by commercial operators because of their lack of commercial appeal by the end of 2017.
• The Thai Gem and Jewellery Traders Association (TGJTA) is preparing for the “Thailand Gems & Jewellery Fair 2017 to be held between June 15-18 at Impact Muang Thong Thani. Suttipong Damongsakul, president of the TGJTA, said the government has been promoting Thailand as a global commercial hub for the jewellery industry. He said last year the Thailand gem and jewellery sector generated Bt480 billion (about US$13,877 billion) in trade, making it one of Thailand’s largest industry sector’s.
• All privately operated public transportation vans operating across the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge in Nong Khai Province have been upgraded to meet new Thailand road safety regulations. Among the improvements are seat belts, emergency escape hammers, fire extinguishers and GPS tracking devices. Additionally, the operator of the van service said only drivers who have completed a course by the Nong Khai Land Transport Office (LTO) will be employed.
• and more.
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Newsline is a daily Thailand English-language news and current affairs programme produced by the National News Bureau of Thailand (NNBT) under the Thailand Government Public Relations Department (PRD) for *NBT World, the NNBTs 24/7 English language television service delivering Thailand government news and information to the Thai, Asean, and wider Asian communities via cable and satellite. It is also available via android and iOS apps. AEC News Today publishes Thailand English-language News M-F.