Marauding jumbos driven back into forest

Drones and bonfires part of effort to move elephants away from Prachin Buri farms

Marauding jumbos driven back into forest
A herd of at least 100 wild elephants raids a sugar cane farm at tambon Khao Mai Kaew in Kabin Buri district of Prachin Buri. (Photo supplied/Manit Sanabboon.

PRACHIN BURI: The last of some 150 wild elephants that attacked plantations in Kabin Buri district have been driven back into the forest, park officials said.

The herd, which usually stays within the boundaries of Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary in neighbouring Chachoengsao province, has ventured into sugar cane farms in tambon Wang Tha Chang and caused damage.

Sixteen teams, involving 160 officials and workers, were deployed to stop the herd from advancing further and lead them back to the forest to protect crops.

The operation, launched on Dec 6, was declared a success after the last of the herd were led back to the sanctuary near Ban Yao at tambon Tha Kradan in Sanam Chai district of Chachoengsao early Saturday.

Bonfires were used instead of firecrackers to direct the animals away from the community. The method was chosen to avoid upsetting the animals and risk endangering the teams involved.

Drones were deployed to pinpoint the herd’s location and keep an eye on the elephants, while pickup trucks and agricultural machinery were also placed along the elephants’ path.

Thanon Sopitcha, director of Conservation Area 1 Office of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, urged residents to alert officials via the 1362 hotline if they spot any elephants that may have remained behind.

He thanked farmers for their patience and cooperation and apologised for any damage done to their crops.

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Thailand makes climate-finance pitch in Dubai

Environment minister Phatcharavat tells COP28 talks that $100bn fund essential to help developing states

Thailand makes climate-finance pitch in Dubai
Activists rally in support of climate finance outside the venue of the COP28 talks in Dubai on Saturday. (Photo: Reuters)

Thailand has called for further action from its partners to achieve the goal of $100 billion in climate finance by 2025, saying it is crucial for helping developing nations to reach their climate targets.

Pol Gen Phatcharavat Wongsuwan, the minister of natural resources and environment, issued the call during an address to the COP28 global climate talks currently taking place in Dubai.

He also reaffirmed Thailand’s determination to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050 and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2065.

Pol Gen Phatcharavat said the country was making concrete and clear progress towards its goals, having updated its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to alleviate the impacts and risks of climate change.

The plan covers key areas such as water management, agriculture and food security, tourism, public health, natural resources and environment management, as well as human settlement and security.

Thailand, he said, was expected to reach peak emissions in 2025. Meanwhile, studies have shown that the share of renewable fuel sources in electricity generation will need to reach 68% in 2040 — compared with about 15% now — and 74% by 2050 for the country to reach carbon neutrality.

“We are also moving towards phasing down fossil fuel in line with our 2050 Carbon Neutrality goal,” the minister added.

In the agricultural sector, a climate-smart rice farming project is now being funded by the Green Climate Fund. The €38-million project is expected to promote low-emission rice farming and improve climate resilience among farmers.

“We are in the midst of enacting our first Climate Change Act, in which appropriate regulations would be set for greenhouse gas emissions. Capacity-building on climate resilience will also be enhanced in every sector,” Pol Gen Phatcharavat added.

He reiterated that the worldwide climate finance goal of $100 billion for a Loss and Damage Fund by 2025 is crucial for developing states.

In 2009, developed countries promised that starting from 2020, they would transfer $100 billion a year to poorer nations hit by worsening climate change-fuelled disasters. They later indicated the target would not be met until 2023, and are now hoping to secure commitments to meet the goal by 2025.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, contributions by developed nations and other participants reached $89.6 billion in 2021.

“No one and no country is spared from the adverse effects of climate change,” Pol Gen Phatcharavat told the meeting. “I am gratified that the Loss and Damage Fund has been established and will be materialised further at COP28.”

The fund is intended to help compensate vulnerable countries for the impacts of climate change, such as increasing extreme weather events. At COP 28, the United Arab Emirates said it would commit $100 million to the fund, with another $100 million coming from Germany, $17.5 million from the US and $10 million from Japan, according to The Guardian.

Pol Gen Phatcharavat expressed optimism that the Dubai talks “will set a firm pathway for all of us to achieve the 1.5 degrees Celsius target under the Paris Agreement”.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Phatcharavat Wongsuwan (left) joins the Thai delegation at the COP28 talks in Dubai. (Photo: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Facebook)

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Prisoner escapes from Pattaya hospital

Inmate serving time for theft was being treated for penis enlargement gone wrong

Prisoner escapes from Pattaya hospital
Inmate Thanaphat Mayod is seen walking towards a hospital elevator to escape from Bang Lamung Hospital in Pattaya at around 2am on Saturday. (Capture from TV)

A prisoner escaped from a hospital in Pattaya early on Saturday after undergoing surgery to treat a penis infection, police said.

Officials from the Pattaya Remand Prison alerted police that the man had fled Bang Lamung Hospital in the Na Klua area of the beach town in Chon Buri, said Pol Col Nawin Sinthurat, chief of the Bang Lamung police station, who was alerted about 2am.

People saw the inmate running towards a forested area behind the hospital. More than 100 police and prison staff were hunting for him, said Pol Col Nawin.

According to police, inmate Thanaphat Mayod, 37, had one year and 10 months left to serve for a theft conviction.

After suffering a severe infection from injections to enlarge his penis, he was admitted to Bang Lamung Hospital for surgery on Dec 6. He was recovering in a seventh-floor patient room that was being guarded by two prison officers.

At around 2am, Thanaphat used a steel cutter to break his fetters and left the room, taking an elevator to the ground floor to make his escape.

When police called his wife in for questioning, she reportedly admitted she had brought him the cutting tool on Friday.

The woman claimed her husband escaped because he missed his family.

Thanaphat’s escape is the second such incident involving a prisoner in recent weeks. Chaowalit Thongduang, alias Sia Paeng Nanod, escaped from Maharat Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital in Nakhon Si Thammarat on Oct 22. Despite a massive manhunt and a shootout with police, he remains at large.

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Meth couriers caught only 200 metres into journey

Police seize 2 million pills after stopping pickup in Chiang Rai

Meth couriers caught only 200 metres into journey
Authorities find bags containing 2 million speed pills during a checkpoint inspection in Chiang Rai in the early hours of Saturday. (Photo supplied)

Two drug mules carrying 2 million methamphetamine pills were arrested at a checkpoint in the northern border province of Chiang Rai after travelling only 200 metres.

Chiang Rai police reported on Saturday morning that the duo had been taken into custody and charged with the distribution of a Category 1 drug. They were identified only as Kriti, 44, and Phap, 56.

Acting on a tip received on Dec 6 about a pending attempt to transport drugs via the Chiang Rai bypass, authorities set up checkpoints on Road No 131 in tambon Rop Wiang of Muang district.

On Saturday morning, police stopped and inspected a Chevrolet pickup truck with Lampang licence plates heading into Chiang Rai. Kriti was driving the vehicle with Phap in the passenger seat.

Finding several black plastic bags in the back seat, officers opened them to discover 10 woven sacks, each containing bags of methamphetamine stamped with Y1 and A. Each sack contained 200,000 pills, or 2 million in total.

The pair admitted to police that they had been approached during the Loy Krathong festival to transport the drugs.

They told police they had only finished loading their truck 30 minutes prior and had driven only about 200 metres before being intercepted.

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Abhisit quits Democrats at stormy leadership meeting

Party veteran Chalermchai Sri-on confirmed for top post after running unopposed

Abhisit quits Democrats at stormy leadership meeting
Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announces his decision to quit the Democrat Party during a meeting to elect a new leader and party executives on Saturday at the Miracle Grand Convention Hotel in Lak Si district of Bangkok. (Photo: Democrat Party Facebook page)

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva quit the Democrat Party on Saturday during a tumultuous meeting in which veteran MP Chalermchai Sri-on was chosen as its new leader after running unopposed.

Mr Abhisit, who led the party from 2005 to 2019, made his surprise announcement after being nominated by Democrat patriarch Chuan Leekpai for the leadership.

He declined to comment on reports that his exit could be linked to the possibility that under a new leader, the party might move from the opposition benches to join the Pheu Thai-led government coalition.

Two hundred and sixty members turned out for the general assembly of the country’s oldest political party to select its ninth leader, at the Miracle Grand Convention Hotel in Lak Si district of Bangkok. Under party rules, at least 250 of 346 party representatives nationwide must be in attendance.

The party had failed in two attempts in July and August to pick a new head to succeed Jurin Laksanawisit due to a lack of quorum. Mr Jurin had stepped down to take responsibility for the party’s poor showing in the May general election, when its seat total was halved from 2019.

Mr Jurin was among four former party leaders at Saturday’s meeting, alongside Mr Chuan, 85, Banyat Bantadtan and Mr Abhisit. Several other Democrats were seen holding signs showing support for Mr Chalermchai, whose candidacy had been put forward by a group of 21 of the party’s 25 members of Parliament.

After discussions about the party’s next executive committee, Mr Chuan proposed Mr Abhisit for the leadership.

“Mr Abhisit is not inferior to any political party leader in Thailand at the moment, and I believe Mr Abhisit will lead the party towards democracy,” said Mr Chuan.

However, Mr Abhisit responded by announcing his refusal and his decision to leave the party altogether.

“I wish to withdraw myself as a candidate and resign from the Democrat Party,” he said. “There is no other party, and there will be no other party for me.

“If you were to cut me, I would bleed blue. I will remain loyal to this party for the rest of my days, and I am hopeful that the next group of administrators will be successful in their stated objectives.”

His statement was met with applause as he exited the hall.

“If you were to cut me, I would bleed blue. I will remain loyal to this party for the rest of my days,” former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva tells the Democrat faithful at Saturday’s meeting. (Photo: Democrat Party Facebook)

Addressing the press while leaving the hotel, Mr Abhisit said, “I have said all I want to say and there is nothing left on my mind.”

Asked about his future role in politics, the Oxford-educated Democrat said he had not yet given it any thought.

He declined to comment on whether he had intended to resign before discussing the matter with Mr Chalermchai during the meeting.

The new leader, he told reporters, could elaborate on their discussions and on whether the party might be considering joining the government side.

Mr Abhisit, 59, served as prime minister from 2008-11. He led the Democrats from 2005 until he resigned following the party’s weak performance in the 2019 election.

Mr Chalermchai faced no opposition after the meeting decided not to waive a rule requiring a candidate to have been with the party for at least five years before seeking the leadership. That eliminated Watanya “Madam Dear” Bunnag, 39, the only other contender, who had vowed to bring new ideas to the party.

After Mr Chalermchai received 88.5% of the votes cast to secure the top job, acting deputy leader Sathit Pitutecha also resigned from the Democrats and said he would not seek membership in another party.

“Mr Chalermchai had clearly stated that he would permanently withdraw from politics if the Democrats failed to secure at least 50 MP seats (in the general election),” said Mr Sathit. “Today, he’s vying for the position of party leader. The person who will lead the party must keep his word.”

Mr Chalermchai, 58, is a native of Prachuap Khiri Khan. A graduate in Law from Ramkhamhaeng University, he also holds a master’s degree in Art (Policy and Planning) from Krirk University.

He was first elected to the House as an MP for Prachuap Khiri Khan in 2001. He served as Minister of Labour in the Democrat-led government of Mr Abhisit in 2010, and as Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives from 2019-23 in the Prayut Chan-o-cha government.

Acting Democrat leader Chalermchai Sri-on ran unopposed for the leadership on Saturday and received 88.5% of the votes. (Photo: Chalermchai Sri-on Facebook)

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Indian tourists killed when van rear-ends truck

Indian tourists killed when van rear-ends truck
Rescue workers try to retrieve the bodies of two Indian passengers from the van after it rear-ended a truck in Chumphon province in the early hours of Saturday. (Photo: Phetkasem Chumphon rescue foundation via FM91 Trafficpro Facebook)

Two Indian tourists were killed and five other people – four Indian nationals and a Thai driver – sustained severe injuries when a van they were travelling in rammed into the rear of a truck in Tha Sae district of Chumphon in the early hours of Saturday.

The crash occurred at kilometre marker 476+100 on the Bangkok-bound Phetkasem Road in tambon Na Kratai,said Pol Capt Theeraporn Khongnuan, deputy investigation chief at Tha Sae station. Police received the report of the incident 1am.

Police, medics and rescue workers rushed to the scene and found a 10-wheel truck with Nakhon Pathom licence plates parked at a U-turn. The collision caused slight damage to the vehicle’s left side.

Truck driver Kraisorn Klinsawang, 32, of Prachuap Khiri Khan, waited for police at the scene. 

About 150 metres away from the incident, a badly-damaged Toyota van with Phuket licence plates had overturned in a roadside ditch. Four Indian passengers and a 50-year-old Thai man sustained serious injuries. The Thai man was identified only as Nirot, the van driver.  All were taken to two nearby hospitals.

Two other male passengers were found dead and trapped in the wreckage. Rescue workers had to use a cutting tool to extract their bodies. The deceased passengers were identified as Indian tourists, aged 25 and 28.

A preliminary investigation showed that the van was transporting 10 foreign passengers from Hat Yai district in Songkhla to Bangkok. Upon reaching the scene, the 10-wheeler moved to the right lane to make a U-turn, resulting in the van rear-ending it. The impact caused the van driver to lose control, and the vehicle overturned and plunged into the roadside ditch.

Police were investigating to find the exact cause of the crash. They plan to question the van driver, the injured passengers and the truck driver.

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Pheu Thai and Move Forward: friends or foes?

Pheu Thai and Move Forward: friends or foes?
Thanathorn: Secret Thaksin meeting

If anyone thought the ruling Pheu Thai Party and the main opposition Move Forward Party (MFP) are perennial enemies, they should think again, according to a political source.

The two parties looked to have broken off ties when Pheu Thai ditched the MFP to form a government with parties from the previous administration.

But the old saying still holds true: there are no permanent friends or foes in politics.

Lending credence to the belief that there is no real bitterness between the two biggest parties is the MFP’s reaction, or a lack thereof, to Pheu Thai’s very controversial digital wallet money handout scheme.

In fact the MFP, as the primary force on the opposition bench, appears to be letting the government off easy, not only on the wallet policy, but also jailed former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s unusually long hospital stay away from prison. Thaksin has not spent a day or night in prison since he returned from exile overseas to face imprisonment months ago.

The MFP has found itself beset by scandals and allegations involving its members and MPs. However, it has no excuse for underperforming as an opposition party, according to the source.

The only senior MFP figure actively questioning the wallet scheme is Sirikanya Tansakun, a deputy party leader who was at one time groomed to be finance minister. But her weighing up, viewed by some as half-hearted, was merely scratching the policy’s surface.

The source said the 10,000-baht digital wallet scheme was not exactly tenable, with hordes of critics, including noted economists and even the Bank of Thailand, pointing to its potential flaws, both from legal and practical points of view. Pheu Thai, however, declared there is no turning back on the policy which the party has maintained will lift the country out of crisis by pulling the economy out of stagnation.

The source has conveyed the critics’ remarks that it is out of character for the MFP to be sitting on its hands and to not jump at the chance of grilling Pheu Thai over Thaksin’s protracted hospitalisation and the planned heavy spending of taxpayers’ money on the wallet policy.

The remarks were directed at the main opposition party at a time when Progressive Movement chairman, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, admitted for the first time that he met Thaksin, who is accused of being the de facto leader of Pheu Thai, in Hong Kong prior to the former premier’s return to the kingdom and the government’s formation earlier this year.

Mr Thanathorn did not elaborate. However, his admission adds weight to the rumour that a political deal may have been struck between the MFP and Pheu Thai. Mr Thanathorn is no stranger to the MFP, having led its predecessor, the now-defunct Future Forward Party which was dissolved on the Constitutional Court’s order because of Mr Thanathorn’s illegal loan to the party.

However, Mr Thanathorn told a news talk programme: “I don’t hold any political office. If I had cut any political deals, the MFP could have been dissolved.” He was referring to laws barring outsiders from wielding influence over a political party.

The source said tongues were wagging over whether the MFP was lying in wait for the right moment to reconcile its perceived differences with Pheu Thai. There is no precluding the possibility of the two parties reuniting and establishing a government together in the future if and when the existing coalition comes to an end.

Former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij has theorised that the MFP may be reluctant to dissect the wallet programme and give it the tough scrutiny it deserves because the party might be wary of the danger of being demonised.

If the MFP’s scrutiny was potent enough to contribute to the sinking of the policy, the vast numbers keen on collecting the handout money would turn against the party. They are bound to include the MFP’s own supporters.

“An opposition party doesn’t have to disagree with the government on every issue. Its duty is to highlight the faults in the government’s work.

“In case the faulty policies run substantial risk of breaking the law, the opposition is duty-bound to counter them through all avenues,” said Mr Korn in his Facebook.

He added: “That is what checks and balances are all about.”

A new chapter begins

Prayut: Still a PM candidate

Upon being appointed by His Majesty the King as a member of the Privy Council, former prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has effectively closed the door on his political career, according to political observers.

Although he was in power for almost a decade, Gen Prayut has a few years left before he reaches the eight-year term limit due to a Constitutional Court ruling that his tenure started on April 6, 2017, when the current charter was promulgated, rather than when he assumed office following the 2014 coup he orchestrated.

Gen Prayut became the United Thai Nation (UTN) Party’s chief strategist, seeking to return to power for another term. When the UTN failed to win a mandate and form the government after the May 14 general election, he announced his decision to wash his hands of politics.

While the charter does not provide a process for him to withdraw the candidacy, by joining the Privy Council, which serves as a body of advisers to the monarchy, Gen Prayut has essentially stepped away from the political arena, even if he is still listed as a prime minister candidate of the UTN.

Several observers say Gen Prayut’s departure from politics has raised questions about the future of the country’s political landscape, especially when the term of the Senate expires in May next year.

Over the past nine years, the public has gained some insight into the inner workings of the power structure, particularly the role of the 250-member Senate in co-electing a prime minister in parliament, according to political watchers.

Handpicked by the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order, the senators overwhelmingly voted for Gen Prayut, who was nominated by the Palang Pracharath Party, to be prime minister, following the 2019 polls.

In August this year when Gen Prayut stepped back, Pheu Thai’s prime minister candidate, Srettha Thavisin, won the premiership vote in parliament, surprisingly, with the backing of senators known to be close to Gen Prayut.

Mr Srettha’s rise to power is widely seen as a compromise between the old powers and the Pheu Thai Party, whose de-facto leader Thaksin Shinawatra, returned from exile the same day Mr Srettha was elected to the top post.

Olarn Thinbangtieo, a political science lecturer at Burapha University, told the Bangkok Post that the political situation following Gen Prayut’s transition from politics is of intrigue.

He pointed to recent remarks made by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Progressive Movement, in a media interview that he met Thaksin in Hong Kong in July ahead of the formation of the government.

Mr Thanathorn, a key supporter of the main opposition Move Forward Party (MFP), described the ruling party as an ally even though they were on opposite sides and the country’s future was in the hands of Pheu Thai and the MFP.

“Will the so-called secret deal between the old powers and the Pheu Thai Party remain intact? Will the MFP continue to be soft on the ruling party? People are watching closely,” said Mr Olarn.

According to the academic, the MFP is apparently not making the efforts to scrutinise the Pheu Thai-led government as it is supposed to. While the current political situation seems to be favourable to all political parties, it is not in the best public interest, he noted.

But, he dismissed as highly unlikely speculation that Thaksin will be released from jail before he serves at least six months, or half of his reduced jail sentence.

It had been speculated that Thaksin, who has yet to spend a day in jail after his return on Aug 22, stood a chance of benefitting from a royal pardon to mark His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great’s birthday on Dec 5.

However, Justice Minister Thawee Sodsong said on Wednesday that Thaksin has not requested a second royal pardon for a further jail term reduction.

Neither Thaksin nor his family has sought a second royal pardon since he was granted the first one, which saw his eight-year jail term cut to one year by His Majesty the King.

The justice minister also said the Corrections Department will consider doctors’ opinions before deciding whether to extend Thaksin’s hospitalisation outside prison further, to 120 days, at the end of this month.

Thaksin was placed in quarantine at the Bangkok Remand Prison and after experiencing chest pain, hypertension and low blood oxygen on the first night, he was moved to the Police General Hospital where he has remained since.

According to Mr Olarn, it is likely to be in the old powers’ interest if Thaksin, who is believed to be the political puppet master, remains confined given that the MFP is pushing for a political amnesty and wholesale charter amendment.

“I believe the old powers won’t risk it with him although he is said to be pulling the strings from the 14th floor [of the Police General Hospital]. They must have realised the whole ball game could change if he is freed,” he said.

Mr Olarn noted that Gen Prayut’s new role will keep his supporters happy for the time being. “Let’s wait and see what happens after May next year [when the Senate’s term expires],” he said.

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118 turtle eggs found on Phangnga beach

118 turtle eggs found on Phangnga beach
Some of the 118 leatherback turtle eggs found on a beach in Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Muang National Park in Thai Muang district on Friday. (Photo: Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Muang National Park)

PHANGNGA: A total of 118 leatherback turtle eggs were found on a beach in Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Muang National Park in Thai Muang district yesterday, the first of the current nesting season, according to park officials.

Prarop Plaengngan, the national park chief, said officials were patrolling the beach for signs of a leatherback turtle, or Tao Mafueng, breeding site when they spotted turtle tracks on Hat Pang Friday morning.

They followed the tracks of the mother turtle, which was 160-170 centimetres in length, to the nesting site where they found 118 eggs. Of them, 34 were infertile.

Mr Prarop said the eggs were moved to a safe place where they would not be disturbed by other animals or human activity so they can be hatched safely, adding the nest is expected to hatch in early February.

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Thamanat warns local rice farmers

Alarm sounded on smuggled strains

Thamanat warns local rice farmers
Thamanat: Thai rice not inferior

The government has warned farmers not to smuggle or grow rice sourced from Vietnam that Thai authorities have not yet certified.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Capt Thamanat Prompow on Friday issued the warning to Thai farmers saying they could be in trouble if Vietnam files complaints against them.

Capt Thamanat said this could also affect the country’s reputation and bilateral ties.

The minister admitted that rice strains from Vietnam produce more yield per rai than Thai rice strains, which can generate more income for farmers.

But he said it is impossible for the Department of Rice to certify rice strains smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

Capt Thamanat said he instructed the Department of Rice to research and develop new domestic rice strains that will yield more crops per rai with better quality so farmers can use them for growing in the next planting season.

On Tuesday, The Rice Trader (TRT) announced that Vietnam’s Ong Cua ST25 rice won the first prize in the World’s Best Rice 2023 contest at the World Rice Conference in Cebu, Philippines, held on Nov 28-30, beating about 30 other rice varieties submitted from various countries.

The second and third prizes were won by rice from Cambodia and India, respectively.

The president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, Chookiat Ophaswongse, said that Thailand did not join this year’s contest even though Thai rice is widely recognised for its high quality and standards.

Thailand’s Hom Mali 105 rice won the world’s best rice title for two consecutive years in 2020 and 2021.

However, Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol rice surpassed Thailand’s Hom Mali rice, winning the title of “Best Rice in the World” in 2022.

The failure of Thai rice to join the competition caused a stir among the Thai public, given that Thai rice has long been a world champion and has always been among the top three best rice types worldwide.

Capt Thamanat offered assurances about local rice despite its lower yield per rai.

“When it comes to quality, Thai rice is not inferior to any other rice variety,” Capt Thamanat said.

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Daily minimum wage to rise by 2.4%

Figure falls short of Pheu Thai’s promises

Daily minimum wage to rise by 2.4%
A group of construction workers commute to work on a songthaew in the Rama IV area of Bangkok. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

The daily minimum wage for Thai workers nationwide is set to rise from Jan 1, 2024 — and the new rates will vary from province to province, ranging from 330 to 370 baht, according to the labour ministry.

The tripartite committee on minimum daily wages, comprised of representatives from the business sector, labour and the government, approved the new rates on Friday.

The current rates are between 328 to 354 baht. The increases in the daily minimum wage will range from 2 to 16 baht, or an average of 2.4%.

Workers in Phuket will obtain the highest daily wage of 370 baht, up from 354 baht now, while workers in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala will receive the lowest wage of 330 baht, up from 328 baht.

Workers in Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon will receive the new daily wage rate of 363 baht, up by 10 baht from the current 353 baht per day.

Speaking after chairing the committee’s meeting, which lasted five hours on Friday, Pairoj Chotikasathien, permanent secretary for the Labour Ministry, said that the wage hikes will be presented to the cabinet for acknowledgement before it is announced in the Royal Gazette.

The new wage rates will then take effect on Jan 1.

“This adjustment will allow workers to achieve a standard of living that is based on economic conditions and is suitable for businesses,” Mr Pairoj said.

He also explained that 370 baht has been approved for workers in Phuket because the island province is unique in that there is little farming in the province and most labourers work in the tourism sector there. Furthermore, the cost of living in Phuket is higher than that of other provinces.

“Therefore, the new daily wage of 370 baht for Phuket is appropriate,” Mr Pairoj said.

However, the new daily wage falls short of the level promised by the Pheu Thai Party during its election campaign earlier this year.

This wage adjustment has attracted more public attention than usual after the ruling Pheu Thai Party had previously announced a policy to raise the minimum wage to 400 baht per day, a promise the party made during the last general election.

However, Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn last month poured cold water on that idea, saying wages would probably rise by only 2% — in line with the current low inflation.

The last wage increase approved by the tripartite committee was 5%, in October last year.

Pheu Thai’s plan for a big wage hike had rattled businesses that feared it would push up operating costs and make the country less competitive for investors at a time when the economy is underperforming.

Mr Pairoj said there would be another wage increase in 2024, when the committee would seek to raise the level to 400 baht.

Mr Phiphat said after the meeting on Nov 27, a sub-committee under this main wage committee submitted wage hike figures proposed for each province before a screening panel. He said that five provinces, including Phuket, did not request wage hikes.

“This was unacceptable and unfair to workers. The daily wage should be raised in every province and vary from province to province depending on their respective economic conditions.

“Provinces where the government is trying to stimulate the economy should receive high wage hikes. I believe the daily wage of 400 baht is expected to be approved for provinces which enjoy healthy economies in line with the government’s policy,” he said.

“If things get off to a good start next year, the daily wage is expected to rise further to 600 baht in 2027,” the minister said.

Atthayuth Leeyawanich, president and chairman of the Employers Confederation of Consumer Goods and Services, said that the new wage rates are appropriate and acceptable to employers as they were screened by a panel of academics before being submitted to the tripartite committee.

He also noted that the increase of 2 baht is only for three provinces while most provinces will still receive an increase of 8-10 baht.

Veerasu Kaewboonpun, an employee’s representative on the committee, said he was satisfied with the new rates.

The new rates are high in some provinces and low in other provinces, depending on local economic conditions, he said, adding that the new rates are intended to maintain employment given that some employers may replace workers with machinery which will lead to lay-offs.

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