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Russian PM to visit Thailand Tuesday

Posted by pakin On April - 7 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Dmitry Medvedev will make the first visit to Thailand by a Russian prime minister in 25 years when he leads a delegation to meet Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha Tuesday.

Mr Medvedev’s April 7-8 trip is aimed at strengthening Thai-Russian cooperation in areas including politics, economics, energy and culture.  It also comes as Thailand forges close ties with Russia’s historical rival, China.

The Russian premier, who began an official visit to Vietnam on Monday, and Gen Prayut will hold talks on Wednesday, which will focus on enhancing bilateral economic relations, including the increasing of trade volumes, expanding markets for agricultural products, seafood, and industrial products; as well as cooperation between state enterprises and the private sector.

During the visit, Thailand and Russia will sign bilateral agreements in various fields such as energy, culture, and tourism.

Mr Medvedev’s entourage includes Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov. He is expected to discuss with his Thai counterpart collaboration in civil aircraft manufacturing, the automotive industry, nuclear engineering, and oil and gas industry equipment.

SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott faced a wave of criticism Wednesday, including that he was unfit to be leader, after describing living in remote Aboriginal communities as a “lifestyle choice”.

The country’s indigenous people are the nation’s most disadvantaged, with a much shorter life expectancy than other Australians while suffering disproportionate levels of imprisonment and social problems such as unemployment.

Abbott said late Tuesday he supported a plan to close more than 100 remote Aboriginal communities across the vast Western Australia state if essential services could not be provided.

“It’s the job of the taxpayer to provide reasonable services in a reasonable way, to indeed to provide high quality services in a reasonable way,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“What we can’t do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have.”

Aborigines have lived in Australia for at least 40,000 years and the comments drew stinging criticism, with Abbott’s key indigenous advisor Warren Mundine saying Aboriginal people had a cultural connection to their land, and it was not simply a matter of going to “live in the bush”.

“These people are actually living on their homelands and it affects a lot of things, it affects their cultural activities, it affects their native title, it affects a number of areas,” he said.

“It’s about their life, it’s about their very essence, it’s about their very culture.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda said the comments were “baffling” and would cause offence in the indigenous community.

“We’re going to make a situation that’s pretty bad already in those places even worse,” he said.

Abbott defended the remarks on Wednesday, saying he was being realistic.

“If you or I chose to live in a very remote place, to what extent is the taxpayer obliged to subsidise our services?” he said.

“It is incredibly difficult for the kids to go to school if there’s only half a dozen of them and getting teachers there is all but impossible.

“Similarly it’s very difficult for adults to get a proper job if there’s no employment within hundreds of miles. And this is where we have to be a little bit realistic.”

Abbott last year spent almost a week running the government from a remote Aboriginal community in the nation’s far north and will do the same this year.

Rolf de Heer, an acclaimed filmmaker who has made indigenous movies including “Ten Canoes”, said the comments were “so inappropriate that it’s laughable”.

“It shows such ignorance that he has no right to be the prime minister of Australia,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.

Aborigines are believed to have numbered around one million at the time of British settlement in 1788, but there are now just 470,000 out of a total population of 23 million.

PM assures Japan of poll

Posted by pakin On February - 10 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Abe hopes for swift return to democracy

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha Monday sent a clear message to the Japanese government, its business leaders and the media that elections would be held in Thailand at the end of this year or early next.

This was a consistent theme laid out by Gen Prayut during his string of meetings, which ended with bilateral talks with his counterpart Shinzo Abe.

At the end of their 45-minute talks, the two leaders issued a joint statement covering politics and security, people-to-people exchanges and co-operation on regional and international issues. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Abe said he hoped reconciliation would occur and democracy would return to Thailand swiftly.

At the same press conference, Gen Prayut thanked Japan for its concern and reiterated the same message he had given earlier to the Japanese business federation Keidanren – that elections would be held at the end of this year or early 2016.

“I promise that Thailand will return as a strong nation,” he said.

During their talks, Mr Abe praised Gen Prayut for his leadership, a government official attending the meeting told theBangkok Post.

Earlier in the day, Japanese business leaders raised the issue of “a return to civilian leadership”.

Gen Prayut assured Mr Abe he had no intention of retaining power, even after elections.

He went into considerable detail about the process, as he had with Japanese business leaders earlier.

Once the charter is completed in September, it will take several months for organic laws to be passed and polls would be held at the end of the year or early in 2016.

All is going according to the roadmap, although martial law is still necessary to maintain order, Mr Abe was told.

Both leaders witnessed the exchange of a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) on future cooperation in developing Thailand’s railways.

The MOI was inked earlier in the day between Transport Minister ACM Prajin Juntong and Akihiro Ohta, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Although Japan has not officially agreed to fund development of the railway, it has agreed to research and study development of two rail links – Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Mae Sot-Mukdahan.

The development will either focus on the improvement of existing metre-gauge lines or the development of new standard-gauge ones.

Both Thai and Japanese ministries will continue to explore possible technical cooperation, including technical transfers on the railway sector.

In order to improve rail connectivity with neighbouring countries in the Southern Economic Corridor from the East to West, both ministries would also cooperate on research and study on railway development of three routes – Kanchanaburi-Bangkok, Bangkok-Chachoengsao-Aranyaprathet and Bangkok-Chachoengsao-Laem Chabang.

The MOI also states that a “study on the feasibility of cooperation” on rail freight services in Thailand would be conducted.

Both ministries welcomed the “ongoing cooperation” on the development of the mass transit railway system in Bangkok – the Purple and Red lines.

A joint steering committee at the ministerial level will be set up to oversee the implementation of the MOI.

The existing Railway Working Group will support the new steering committee.

At the end of last month, Thailand and China agreed on the construction of the dual-track system on the Nong Khai-Map Ta Phut-Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi route, totalling 873 kilometres.

It is not clear how long the Japanese would take to conduct their study, but an informed source said that it is possible the government would allow the Japanese first pick of one of the routes before opening the others to bidding.

In their joint statement, Gen Prayut outlined Thailand’s initiative to establish the first of six Special Economic Zones along the borders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia as part of a national strategy to stimulate economic growth, attract foreign investment, foster development of border areas and support Asean integration.

Mr Abe took note of the initiative.

Both sides reaffirmed the importance of promoting the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar through trilateral consultations between Japan, Thailand and Myanmar. Japan will start procedures to meet the necessary conditions for equity investment in Special Purpose Vehicles, while Thailand said it looked forward to Japan’s input on the project’s master plan.

Both leaders expressed “resolute condemnation over the outrageous and impermissible murders of the two Japanese nationals by the Islamic State group”.

They agreed that the international community should remain united and not give in to terrorism.

Gen Prayut, in his talks with Mr Abe, praised Japan for its “proactive contributions” to peace in the region, while in the joint statement, expressed appreciation for Japan’s role in working towards peace and stability in the Middle East.

Mr Abe said he appreciated Thailand’s strong support for the permanent membership of Japan in the reformed United Nations Security Council.

Gen Prayut is scheduled to leave Tokyo Tuesday on the high-speed Shinkansen (bullet train) for Osaka, where he intends to meet with regional business leaders before returning to Bangkok.

He plans to visit Japan again in March to attend the Third United Nations Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and again in July for the 7th Mekong-Japan Summit.

PM to open floating market near Government House

Posted by pakin On January - 20 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha is planning to open a floating market at Khlong Prem Prachakorn near Government House.

Prayut floated the idea after presiding over the opening ceremony of the orchid market next to Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem.

Prayut came up with the idea of a floating market while walking back to Government House from the orchid market with his secretary-general Wilas Arunsri.

Wilas also reported that the authorities were in discussions with the Fine Arts Department to conduct landscape improvements around Government House by extending the fence line along the first gate towards Khlong Prem Prachakorn.

The premier ordered that the plan to be thoroughly studied with regard to adverse effects and budget.

“When I try to build something, people might say that I want to stay in my position longer,” Prayuth said.

Prayut said the orchid market, which will be open every Monday to Wednesday from 9am to 6pm for three months, would provide opportunities for farmers who are facing problems with limited outlets in which to sell their orchids and low pricing.

“Thailand is the world second largest orchid exporter after the Netherlands and its export volume is worth Bt3 billion per year,” he said.

The orchid trade should be promoted to boost the country’s income, he said. This can be achieved by stimulating the domestic consummation of orchids, finding more markets for orchid exports and promoting orchid processing for added value, he said.

This also goes along with the |government’s five-year vision for |”the sustainable security of the country and sustainable prosperity for the people.”

The prime minister also urged those involved in the orchid trade, especially the middlemen, to ensure consumers get quality goods at appropriate pricing.

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