Monday, February 19, 2018
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POLICE ARE ATTEMPTING to determine whether anyone financed recent protests by anti-junta activists, a deputy national police chief said yesterday.

Amid the crackdown on protesters, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday continued to insist he was willing to listen to everyone’s voice.

The prime minister said in a weekly press briefing that he understood that protesters had their own reasons to rally publicly, but he warned them against violating the law.

Prayut also said he listened to all groups of people. Regarding the delay in the next election that protesters opposed, he said it would certainly bring advantages and disadvantages to different groups of people but he did not think the government would benefit.

Pol General Sriwara Ransibhramanakul, the deputy police commissioner-general in charge of security affairs, said investigators would summon seven activists who had been accused of violating the junta ban on political gatherings and instigating disturbances.

He said the ongoing police investigation could lead to more suspects being called in, but he declined to disclose a number.

His comments came after Colonel Burin Thongprapai, an official with the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), filed a complaint at Pathum Wan Police Station against seven activists who organised a rally last Saturday on the skywalk above the Pathum Wan intersection.

The demonstration, which included more than 100 participants, called for a general election by November, as had been promised by Prayut. The seven activists are Rangsiman Rome, Sirawit Sereethiwat, Nattha Mahatthana, Anon Nampha, Ekachai Hongkangwan, Sukrit Piansuwan and Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, most of whom are members of the Democracy Restoration Group.

Sirawit yesterday asked “people power” to rise up against the “NCPO dictators”.

He said in his Facebook message that, “On February 10 I will never back off,” referring to the date of a planned rally by anti-junta activists at the Democracy Monument.

However, Netiwit said in a Facebook message yesterday that he had joined Saturday’s rally as a citizen, and not as an affiliate of any group. “I feel honoured to be one of the seven accused,” he added.

Sriwara said yesterday that police were investigating to determine who was behind this “regular” group of protesters, but he declined to provide further details.

“Wait until arrest warrants are approved by the court, and you will know. The supporters are no mystery. They are behind the gatherings in five to six areas,” he said.

As the activists were being charged with political assembly, Prayut yesterday said the government was not guilty of discrimination. For example, he said, he had also been criticised by the media and yet had not prohibited their coverage.

“Don’t create misunderstandings. It is reported to the international community and now they view that the government as discriminatory,” Prayut said to Government House reporters.

He said activists should consider whether their rallies affected peace in society, adding that actions should be in line with the law.

“The Administrative Court has already granted an injunction [to the We Walk marchers]. Now try not to violate the law,” he said, apparently referring to activists marching to Khon Kaen to address public policy issues.

Prayut also advised people to look at the motives of the activists, while adding that he did not want to be in conflict with anyone.

He also admitted that the government’s popularity was in decline, saying it was common for every government in its fourth year of ruling. But the government would try to work hard and serve the people, he said.

Meanwhile, Sriwara yesterday met Pathum Wan district chief Nawaporn Klinbuakaew, who maintained that the rally site at Pathum Wan intersection was a public area. Police said protests were prohibited in the area under the Public Rally Act because it is located less than 150 metres from royal premises.

The case’s chief investigator, Pol Lt-Colonel Samak Panyawong, yesterday said the seven accused had been summoned to meet with police on Friday to be formally notified of charges against them. If they fail to meet with the investigators after being summoned twice, arrest warrants would be issued against them, he added.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday said authorities would rely on relevant laws and junta orders in dealing with protesters. He also noted that the junta was still in power and its ban against political gatherings of more than four people remained in effect.

“I have measures to take care of them. According to the intelligence, there is only one group [of anti-junta protesters]”, Prawit said.

Meanwhile, the National Security Council (NSC) was looking into reported moves by “hardline” groups and “foreign instigators” in support of the activists, NSC secretary-general General Wanlop Raksanoh said yesterday.

“We are trying to verify the reports,” he said, adding that there should be no problem as long as their acts were not against the law.

 

Thai street food cook feels heat of Michelin fame

Posted by pakin On December - 22 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
Wearing her trademark ski goggles for protection from flying sparks, Thai cook Jay Fai hunches over two sizzling woks as tourists from around the world line up in three-hour-long queues at her modest streetside eatery.

The 72-year-old’s crab-stuffed omelettes have always been popular among local gourmands, but her eponymous restaurant shot to global fame overnight after it was awarded a Michelin star this month at the launch of Bangkok’s first guide.

While she is proud of the achievement, former dressmaker Jay Fai is still adjusting to the media frenzy that has seized her open-air kitchen in Bangkok’s old quarter.

“There are advantages and disadvantages,” she told AFP as she flung ingredients into a wok, explaining she did not have time for a formal interview.

“The downside is being exhausted … Also, the government wants me to promote Thailand. I feel like I don’t have a choice,” she added.

She has been asked to appear at the seaside town of Hua Hin for an international tennis tournament this weekend, where she will teach top-ranked players to make her signature crab omelette and the Thai soup dish Tom Yum Kung.

“I will not be selling for two days,” she said ruefully, adding that she would even consider handing back the coveted star if it meant returning to her normal routine.

Any distraction from work means a loss of business for Jay Fai, whose spirited cooking style — a flurry of activity from grabbing handfuls of raw seafood to dishing out plates of the finished product — is one of the main attractions.

Her supersized portions of crab and jumbo prawns are also part of the draw, though the dishes are far pricier than the city’s average street vendor at upwards of $20 a pop.

The unflashy eatery, which has partial indoor seating, was the only streetside venue among the 17 Bangkok restaurants awarded stars on December 6, when Michelin unveiled its first guide for the Thai capital.

Michelin only awards stars to establishments with fixed addresses, leaving many of Bangkok’s famous roadside stalls out of the running at a time when the city is attempting to move them off the pavements and into organised markets.

Jay Fai had heard of the brand name Michelin but was not aware that the French tyre company had anything to do with cooking.

She is not the first chef to feel the heat over the flood of attention that comes with a Michelin star.

In September a chef in southern France with three stars said he wanted to be stripped of the award because of the “huge pressure” to meet its standards on a daily basis.

But Jay Fai’s colleagues are not worried about her.

“She’s quite strong. She never gets ill,” said Kung, an assistant who has worked there for 10 years.//AFP

 

Too many tourists visiting Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park in Phitsanulok are driving their own vehicles to scenic viewpoints, resulting in a ban on vehicles in the Phu Lom Lo area beginning on December 25.

Park chief Sawang Sritawan said safety and congestion are concerns at Phu Lom Lo, renowned for its picturesque stands of blossoming Himalayan cherry trees, often called sakura.

Officials are also worried about possible harm to the natural ecosystem.

Sawang said private vehicles would be banned until further notice under Section 16 (9) of the National Park Act 1961, violations of which can result in a month’s imprisonment and/or a fine of up to Bt1,000.

Phu Lom Lo is a prominent rise in the centre of the park that was once the scene of a battle. Crops had long been cultivated there, leaving the area denuded of trees.

More than 100,000 cherry trees have been planted on the rise since 1998, and the annual appearance of the white and pink blossoms December through February makes it a popular attraction for tourists.

This season, the trees are expected to be in full bloom in mid-January.

To encourage visitors to leave their private vehicles behind, entrepreneurs in Phitsanulok and Loei have arranged 350 trucks to transport them to Phu Lom Lo.

The trucks are stationed at the park office, at Ban Rong Kla in Nakhon Thai district in Phitsanulok, and in Dan Sai district in Loei.

 

“Smart bus” delivered

Posted by pakin On November - 14 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

A “smart bus” was recently unveiled at the “Bus & Truck 17” exhibition at Bitec.

Chalermchoke Lamsam, third from left, managing director of Loxley, and Ralf Christian Erler, second from left, general manager of commercial vehicles of Mercedes-Benz (Thailand), jointly delivered the Mercedes-Benz “Phuket Smart Bus” to Karn Prachumpan, fourth from left, president of the PKCD board. The smart bus will be used to transport tourists under the “Phuket Smart City” project.

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