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PM recognises potential of nation’s females

Posted by arnon_k On September - 24 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Yingluck blames cultural reasons for inequality.
Achieving gender equality is a priority for the Pheu Thai-led government, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised yesterday.

“As Thailand’s first female prime minister, I will make this issue a priority for the government,” Ms Yingluck said at the launch of a global report, “Because I Am A Girl: So What About Boys?”, conducted by Plan International.

“It would be a great loss if the potential of girls and women was not maximised due to cultural norms, as they represent half of the human resources of a nation,” she said.

“But girls face many problems caused by people’s attitudes and cultural stereotypes.”

Poverty, a lack of correct information and insufficient legislation are also among the factors, and solving them begins with the family, she added.

“For me, I benefit from a supportive family,” said the prime minister.

“My father, brothers and sisters encourage me to fulfil my potential.”

Plan International conducted a survey of around 300 boys and girls aged under 18 in Chiang Rai and Bangkok, and found that 47% of them said the status of boys and girls in Thai society was unequal.

Many girls upcountry felt gender inequality more than girls in cities, according to the survey.

The report emphasised that gender equality cannot be solved only by girls and women, but boys and men must also contribute to create an equal space and opportunity in society.

The Plan International report revealed that a father’s role was crucially important and how he treats his wife and daughters will limit or enhance their potential and choices in life.

It also noted that a father who joins in with domestic work has a powerful impact on how his son grows up, what kind of man the son becomes, and how he then treats his own family.

Mark Pierce, regional director for Plan Asia, said that boys were also affected by poverty, discrimination and lack of opportunity in many parts of the world, “but girls face twice the level of discrimination because of being young and female, and this year’s report highlights that boys and men can contribute to creating a more equal society.

“The concepts of traditional masculinity force boys to behave in ways that put them at risk,” he added.

He explained the studies show young men had the highest rates of death by traffic accidents, suicide and violence, all of which were related to the way they were socialised to be men.

It is also found that men with secondary education demonstrate greater support for gender equality, he added.

Plan International called for the promotion of equality between boys and girls starting from pre-school age, transforming school curricula to challenge stereotypes, and making schools safer for both boys and girls.

PM will ask Phnom Penh to free activists

Posted by arnon_k On September - 11 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS


Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will ask Phnom Penh to release two Thai activists who have been jailed in Cambodia since December.

She will make the request during her official visit to Cambodia on Thursday, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.

Mr Surapong, who will accompany Ms Yingluck to Phnom Penh, said the Cambodia visit will be considered a success if the Thai government can obtain the release of Veera Somkwamkid, a coordinator of the Thai Patriots Network, and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, his secretary.

“When we have a chance, we have to help our fellow Thais,” the minister said.

Veera and Ratree have been jailed in Cambodia since December on charges of spying and illegal entry.

A Cambodian court sentenced Veera to eight years in jail and Ratree to six years.

The yellow shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy criticised the Democrat-led government for failing to push for their release.

Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is a friend of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, will also visit Phnom Penh, a day after his sister’s visit.

A Pheu Thai source said Thaksin would also talk to Cambodian officers about the two imprisoned Thais.

Thaksin’s legal adviser Noppadon Pattama yesterday confirmed the former prime minister would would give a lecture on Asian and global economies to parliamentarians from several countries in Phnom Penh tomorrow.

He said Thaksin was invited by the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum and Cambodia Royal Institute to address the lawmakers on the topic.

“Thaksin’s trip to Cambodia will be a brief one. He will not be in Phnom Penh on the same day as Ms Yingluck,” Mr Noppadon said.

Ms Yingluck made her first official trip abroad yesterday with a one-day visit to Brunei.

The premier insisted she did not meet her brother during the trip, as reported by some media.

Thaksin has visited Brunei several times in recent years, as it is one of the two Asean countries which has allowed him entry since his 2008 corruption conviction.

The prime minister said her visit to Brunei would foster better relations between Thailand and Islamic countries since Brunei is a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, an international body consisting of 57 member states.

Ms Yingluck was welcomed by Hassanal Bolkiah, the sultan of Brunei, before the closed-door meeting, which was expected to touch on the insurgency in Thailand’s South, where near-daily attacks have left over 4,700 people dead since 2004.

Ms Yingluck was accompanied by Foreign Minister Surapong, who is scheduled to travel to Indonesia, the Asean chair tomorrow.

After completing her trips to Asean member countries, the prime minister is scheduled to make stops in China and India.

Govt vows to investigate ‘secret’ oil, gas talks

Posted by arnon_k On September - 2 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has asked the Foreign Ministry to investigate alleged secret talks about oil and gas interests in an overlapping marine area with Cambodia during the tenure of the Democrat-led government.

Ms Yingluck wants the ministry to look into talks involving Suthep Thaugsuban, deputy prime minister in the last government, said government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng.

On Tuesday, the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority said the Cambodian government would welcome a resumption of negotiations with Thailand on resolving claims to the 27,000 square kilometre stretch of seabed considered to be rich in oil and gas.

The authority, under the supervision of Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, said Bangkok and Phnom Penh had held secret talks to try to reach a deal.

Mr Suthep, now a Democrat Party MP from Surat Thani, denied he met Cambodian authorities secretly to talk about oil and gas interests.

He conceded he had met Sok An, who oversees energy affairs, in Hong Kong, for informal talks at the Cambodian minister’s request. He did not say what was on the agenda of the Hong Kong talks.

Ms Yingluck has expressed concern over the matter and fears it might affect relations between the two countries, which are showing signs of improvement, Ms Thitima said.

The government spokeswoman said the Pheu Thai-led government would hold negotiations on any issues in a transparent manner and would protect the country’s interests.

Noppadon Pattama, close aide and legal adviser to deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, yesterday urged former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to come clean on the talks.

He said Mr Abhisit must tell the public why Mr Suthep visited Cambodia in July last year and why he had to hold secret talks with Cambodian officials.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said he would write to Cambodia asking for clarification about any secret talks that may have taken place.

“The Yingluck government will discuss this issue with Cambodia straightforwardly and will not hold any secret talks so as not to create a false impression that there are conflicts of interest,” Mr Surapong said.

He said he was not worried about a conflict of interest arising if the two countries could agree openly.

He added that negotiations on the overlapping maritime zone in the Gulf of Thailand during the Thaksin Shinawatra government had taken place under a 2001 memorandum of understanding that was put in place during the Chuan Leekpai government.

“The Abhisit government announced its intent to revoke the 2001 MoU without informing Cambodia, but it reappointed Mr Suthep as the head of a delegation to negotiate this issue with Cambodia again,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said he would visit Cambodia to seek the release of Thai Patriots Network coordinator Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, who were jailed for espionage in the neighbouring country.

He plans to make the request after Ms Yingluck visits Cambodia.

Yingluck defends petrol price cut policy

Posted by arnon_k On August - 29 - 2011 1 COMMENT

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has defended the sharp cut in petrol and diesel prices amid worries over the effect on gasohol sales and production.

The measure, which has slashed the diesel price by three baht a litre and 91 and 95 octane petrol by between seven and eight baht, is an initial step to relieve people’s living costs, the prime minister said yesterday.

She insisted her government was still committed to promoting the use of renewable energy.

Gasohol, a mix of petrol and ethanol, a kind of alcohol made from crops such as cassava and sugar cane, is considered renewable energy as the fuel is partly made of natural materials which can be easily regrown.

However, the government’s decision to slash contributions from petrol sales to the Oil Fund to keep diesel and petrol prices low have raised worries over the side-effects, as the contributions are used to subsidise such alternative fuels as gasohol and cooking gas.

In response, Ms Yingluck has appointed Energy Minister Pichai Naripthaphan to study ways to solve problems that may arise from the fuel price cut.

“We will hold talks on renewable energy promotion,” she said when commenting on the state’s long-term energy policy.

The prices of 91 petrol and gasohol are almost equal. This has caused many motorists to switch to petrol 91 even though past governments have encouraged them to rely more on gasohol to decrease the country’s dependence on oil imports and promote a cleaner fuel.

Many petrol stations ran out of petrol on Saturday, the first day of the new prices, as motorists flocked to fill up.

Suthep Liamsiricharoen, director of the Energy Policy and Planning Office, said petrol use averaged between five and six million litres a day.

He insisted the country would not face a shortage. The scarcity on Saturday resulted from service stations’ failure to anticipate the spike in demand.

Meanwhile, the Association of Goods Transport in the Northeast announced yesterday it had reduced transport prices by 8-10%, following the three-baht reduction in the diesel price.

The move cam under a joint agreement between hirers and transport operators who will adjust service charges in accordance with the fuel price, association chairman Kwanchai Tiyawanit said.

The industry is in its low season, so operators compete to draw customers by lowering the cost of goods transport.

Asked for his reaction to the cut, and probably a future rise in diesel prices, Mr Wanchai said he is not worried by the changes.

The number of outlets selling natural gas vehicle (NGV) fuel for trucks was too small to keep up with demand, which posed a much bigger concern for the industry.

About 10% of 9,000 trucks driven by association members have already shifted to NGV.

The Central Land Transport Committee will also consider reducing fares in all state-run public vehicles this week.

The state-owned Transport Co will ask the committee to approve its proposal to reduce inter-provincial bus fares by 0.2 baht a kilometre.