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  • PM supports green chiretta use to treat Covid patients

    Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha supports the use of green chiretta to treat Covid-19 patients as it helps reduce their inflammation, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said on Wednesday.

    Green chiretta, known as Fa Talai Jone in Thai, could decrease inflammation and strengthen the immune system, he said. It should be administered along with antiviral drug favipiravir to treat Covid-19 patients, especially those with inflammation, he added.

    The Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine confirmed the properties but also warned green chiretta did not prevent Covid-19 infection, Mr Anucha said.

    He quoted the department as reporting that green chiretta contained andrographolide, a substance that had been shown to kill the virus and some bacteria in test tubes.:

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


    • Covid jab the best and only protection, Prayut says

      While presiding over the opening of Bangkok’s 9th vaccination station, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told Thais not to worry about the new “Thai variant” of the virus and said everyone should get their jab first.

      He was overseeing the opening of the station at Asiatique in the capital’s Bang Kho Laem district on Friday.

      Prayut said the government will manage the vaccine rollout on a monthly basis and ensure it is in line with the plan to vaccinate all Thais by December.

      “Some adjustment to the vaccine management plan is necessary, but I confirm that all Thais will receive their jab for sure,” he said.

      As for rumours that a local company has been trying to sell its own Covid-19 vaccine, he said all firms must comply with the regulations of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation and Food and Drug Administration to import vaccines to Thailand

      Britain on Wednesday reported a new Covid-19 variant that reportedly originated from Thailand. :
      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


      • PM defends defence spending

        Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha defended the Defence Ministry's share of the budget for the upcoming fiscal year during the first reading of the bill in parliament on Monday, after opposition MP slammed the figure as unusually high when compared to allocations for health care.

        Before the reading began, Gen Prayut said the 3.1-trillion-baht budget agreed last year will be crucial to the implementation of various measures and policies to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

        He told parliament that Thailand's economy is expected to grow by 2.5-3.5% this year, as the global economy begins to recover.

        That said, Gen Prayut said this year's growth could still be affected by a resurgence of the virus both in Thailand and abroad, which will dent the recovery of the tourism sector, along with drought and volatilities in the global financial system.

        "There are limitations and risks that could affect Thailand's economic recovery in 2021," Gen Prayut told the House of Representatives, which continues the first reading tomorrow.

        "There are still uncertainties over the Covid-19 situation both at home and overseas, and [the pandemic] may be more severe and longer than expected," he said.

        The budget proposes spending of around 3.1 trillion baht next year, down about 5.7% from this year.

        The difference is due to lower revenues from tax collection, projected to be 2.4 trillion baht, or down by 10.26% from the previous year, according to the premier. Next year, the Thai economy will expand by 4-5%, he said.

        On the national Covid-19 vaccine rollout, he said the government will proceed according to its plan.

        "Every vaccine must be imported with the government-to-government method. We have a committee working on this," he said.

        As for the budget of the Defence Ministry, if you look at it carefully, you will see that most of the budget will be spent on salaries, funding core missions and developing the armed forces," he said.

        He insisted the defence budget isn't too high, arguing that it had been cut by 10 billion baht each year in the past two years.

        "So it is not correct to say that the Defence Ministry's budget is higher than that of the Public Health Ministry," he said.

        He said besides the Public Health Ministry's budget, there is also the budget of three health funds worth 141.74 billion baht. As a result, the total health care budget is 295.7 billion baht, just 5.9 billion baht lower than this fiscal year.

        Pheu Thai secretary-general and MP for Nakhon Ratchasima, Prasert Chanthararuangthong, said the budget doesn't reflect the nature and urgency of the country's problems.

        Sompong Amornvivat, Pheu Thai leader and MP for Chiang Mai, said he could not allow the budget bill to be passed by parliament due to the government's slow and untimely response to the pandemic.

        "People are suffering from Covid-19 ... but I don't see any clear plans or strategies on how to handle that," he said.

        Move Forward list MP Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn said the government had set aside 45 billion baht from its one-trillion-baht loan for public health, but only 7.1 billion baht of the budget had been disbursed since the start of the pandemic in Thailand.

        On the government's spending on Covid-19, Mr Wiroj said the cheapest solution to the pandemic is vaccination but the government was slow to inoculate people, allowing the disease to spread quickly.:

        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


        • PM sure there will be no vaccine shortage

          Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gave assurances on Monday that vaccine deliveries would arrive on time and Thailand would not experience any shortages.

          The pledge was made during an address to the House of Representatives as it kicked off its debate on the budget bill for the 2022 fiscal year ahead of the mass vaccination programme due to start on June 7.

          "The government continues to procure Covid-19 vaccines and has primary, secondary and emergency plans. I expect the delivery of the supplies to be made on schedule.

          "The government has procured vaccines from Sinovac and AstraZeneca while an alternative vaccine [from Sinopharm] is being procured by Chulabhorn Royal Academy (CRA)," he said.

          He defence came after the Mor Prom (Doctor's Ready) mobile appointment app was temporarily suspended.

          Gen Prayut also said the government would speed up allocation of vaccine especially to areas with large clusters of infections.

          Permanent secretary for public health Kiattiphum Wongrajit said on Monday the vaccine rollout will take place from June 7 as scheduled with AstraZeneca insisting the vaccine will be delivered as planned.

          Dr Kiattiphum said that about 70% of the population will get their first shots by the end of September in line with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration's (CCSA) plan.

          Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, said on Monday 19 samples of AstraZeneca's vaccine including five produced locally by Siam Bioscience had passed quality tests.:

          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


          • PM visits inoculation centre, assures enough vaccine for everybody

            Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday visited the Bang Sue Grand Station in Bangkok’s Chatuchak district where the Central Vaccination Centre opened to inoculate the general public.

            The government's mass vaccination drive kicked off on Monday for people who had pre-registered via the Thai Ruam Jai website and through mobile operators, which have been accepting registrations since May 27.

            Prayut was accompanied by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda and Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn.

            “Please rest assured that there will be enough vaccine for everyone, no matter on which channel you have registered,” Prayut said. “Vaccines that we have ordered will continue to arrive in Thailand in lots, as the global vaccine demand is still high. The government will prioritise vaccination in areas that have high rates of infection or are at risk of developing cluster cases.”

            The prime minister also attended a video conferencing session with governors of provinces that also opened vaccination units in their areas on Monday and asked them if everything was running smoothly. He then thanked medical professionals for sacrificing their time and energy to make sure that people get vaccinated so as to contain the outbreak.

            The Central Vaccination Centre at Bang Sue Grand Station can vaccinate up to 10,000 people per day and will be manned by over 500 medical professionals daily. The Public Health Ministry has been doing test runs since May 24 to make sure that it can inoculate people who have registered via Thai Ruam Jai website and with four mobile phone operators (AIS, DTAC, True and CAT Telecom) from June 7.

            Registration is a prerequisite and vaccination centres will not accept walk-in candidates.:

            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


            • Govt projects to speed up

              Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered the cabinet to speed up implementation of projects to benefit the people as the government has only one year left in office.

              Speaking after the weekly cabinet meeting, Gen Prayut said the government has so far approved spending of 984 billion baht of the 1-trillion-baht loan endorsed by the cabinet in April last year to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

              According to the prime minister, about 73% of the funds have been disbursed and the government has earmarked the remaining 15 billion baht to subsidise utility bills.

              Gen Prayut said he has instructed cabinet ministers to expedite schemes over the next year and make plans that can be used by the next government, stressing that continuity is key.

              "I have no objection to project proposals but they must be examined and screened by several levels of committees. The public and private sectors all participate in the project reviews. These schemes are not designed for anyone in particular but for the Thai people," he said.

              He said all the plans are prepared from the bottom up and they are vetted by parties concerned before they are reviewed by the cabinet.

              "I've stressed that within one year the government should deliver concrete results on what it has done and outline its plan for the year ahead," he said.

              He also assured that the government would ensure transparency in spending.

              According to Gen Prayut, several countries have begun economic rehabilitation and several international agencies expect the situation to improve next year.

              He said Thailand has its own challenges in rehabilitating its economy and keeping the recovery on track, noting that the government expects to generate 100 billion baht from border trade.

              Gen Prayut said the government has been working on several persistent problems including student and teacher debts.

              He pointed out that the government needs to be prudent when addressing these long-standing problems to make sure its attempts to solve the problems do not spawn new ones.

              "The government is working on these issues and it takes time because it involves large numbers of people and massive debts. We are figuring out how to tackle these problems without creating more. We have to be careful," he said.

              Gen Prayut said easing farmers' plight is also a tough task for the government and he has asked agencies such as the Commerce Ministry and the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to work out how to boost their income.

              He said one of the key issues that needs to be implemented is education reform and the education draft law has been submitted to parliament for consideration.

              He insisted the country's education system is not a failure even though it is in need of improvement.

              Meanwhile, the leaders of the coalition Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties said their parties are ready for the next election.

              Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said his party had made much more progress in recruiting election candidates for more than 20 constituencies in Bangkok so far and almost 50 constituencies in the South.

              Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said his party was always ready for an election.:
              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


              • One year left. Of course they do.


                • time to hurry
                  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                  • PM concerned over illegal gambling during Euro 2020 soccer tournament

                    Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed concern over an increase in illegal gambling by Thais during the month-long UEFA European Soccer Championship, or Euro 2020.

                    The prime minister had instructed the Royal Thai Police, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and relevant agencies to increase the monitoring of illegal gambling, especially online, and to enforce the law against the offenders strictly, according to the Deputy government spokeswoman, Traisulee Traisoranakul.

                    Traidulee also said that the prime minister expressed his good wishes to Thai people in general and, in particular, soccer fans, who can watch the soccer matches via the NBT2HD channel, which holds the rights to broadcast the matches live, at a time when many people may be under stress because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

                    The prime minister, she added, has appealed to soccer fans to avoid illegal betting on their favorite teams.

                    People in Thailand could have missed the chance to watch this spectacular soccer tournament, because none of the television broadcasters and potential sponsors could afford the broadcast rights, due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.

                    Two days ahead of the kickoff of the tournament, PM Office Minister Anucha Nakasai was told to negotiate directly with the owner of the broadcast rights for Thailand. The rights cost of over 300 million baht, according to a government source, who maintains that the money will not come from the taxpayer.

                    24 European nations are battling for the coveted crown during the month-long event, from June 12th to July 11th. Portugal is the reigning champion. 51 matches will be played.:

                    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                    • Thai PM vows to complete his term in office despite daily calls for his resignation

                      Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told senators today (Monday) that he will stay in office until the end of his four-year term, even though he faces calls for his removal on daily basis.

                      He made the statement during a parliamentary session to explain to senators the need for the Executive Decree to authorize 500 billion baht in additional borrowing, to rehabilitate the battered economy and help people struggling to cope with impacts of COVID-19.

                      The prime minister told the senators that there was political interference with the government’s efforts to manage the COVID pandemic, including distortion of facts and the spreading of disinformation, but he has always had respect for both the opposition and government coalition parties and has been trying to solve the problems.

                      At the end of his explanation, he asked the senators to raise their hands if they do not trust him, only to be met with giggling and no raised hands.

                      “Nobody?” he asked, adding that he would not force anyone to support him, because he believes in their maturity.

                      “I have been chased away every day,” said the prime minister, adding that calls for his resignation have strengthened his resolve to fight on.

                      “Is that OK with you? Anyone of you want to fight on my side? Nobody at all? ,” asked the prime minister, adding that he knew they have given him their moral support.:

                      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                      • PM aims to fully reopen Thailand in 4 months

                        Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha declared today (Wednesday) that Thailand will fully reopen its borders within four months, as the country is to begin welcoming fully vaccinated foreign tourists, starting with the southern resort island of Phuket on July 1st.

                        “The time has now come for us to look ahead and set the date on which we can fully open our country and start welcoming visitors, because it is one of the important ways by which we can start to reduce the enormous suffering of people who have lost their incomes,” said Mr. Prayut in a televised address.

                        “I know this decision comes with some risks because, when we open the country, there will be an increase in infections, no matter how good our precautions may be, but I think, when we consider the economic needs of people, the time has now come for us to take a calculated risk. The priorities for our country must now advance to the next level,” he added.

                        The prime minister has instructed all government units, including provincial governors, to make all preparations to meet the four-month goal.

                        He added that 105.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been ordered for this year, higher than the initial goal of 100 million, to inoculate 70% of the population and build herd immunity, with another goal of acquiring 50 million more doses for next year.

                        Calling the planned mass vaccine rollout a “truly historic mission”, Mr. Prayut laid out the short-term plan of giving as many people as possible their first dose, with a long-term plan of having the vaccine locally produced.

                        The prime minister also acknowledged hurdles in the rollout, since mass inoculations began last Monday, saying “something may need to be adjusted to meet new challenges, as they arise in this constantly evolving situation, and there may also be certain errors or inconveniences, and I ask for everyone’s understanding.”

                        Thailand’s sizeable tourism industry accounted for about 20% of the country’s pre-pandemic GDP. Several tourist attractions and hospitality businesses have, however, closed down, due to the lack of foreign tourists since March 2020.

                        The “Phuket Sandbox” project will pave the way for reopening, with fully vaccinated foreign tourists arriving in Phuket and being required to stay there for a period, without a quarantine, before being allowed to travel elsewhere in the country.:

                        Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • Prayut plans to visit Phuket

                          Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will visit Phuket next Friday to ensure the resort island's reopening on July 1 goes smoothly.

                          The Phuket plan will kick-start the government's hopes to reopen the whole country in October.

                          From July 1, Phuket will waive quarantine requirements for foreign tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 under the "Phuket Tourism Sandbox" model, which is being touted as a model for the reopening of the tourism industry.:
                          • PM, close aides test negative for Covid-19

                          The prime minister, his close aides and other government officials underwent Covid-19 tests on Friday after a housekeeper at the Cabinet lounge tested positive on Wednesday.

                          The woman had been serving lawmakers between May 31 and June 2 while they were considering the 2022 national budget and then again on June 9 during the consideration of the 500-billion-baht loan decree.

                          Though the premier tested negative, he will still attend the daily meeting with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration via video conferencing.:
                          Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                          • Thai PM urges all to do their utmost to make reopening of Thailand possible in October

                            Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has reiterated his intention to open Thailand fully to foreign visitors in the next 120 days, or within October, and is urging everyone to do their best to achieve that goal.

                            “I would like to confirm, once again, that every agency and individual must do their utmost. (I) don’t want anyone to begin with the thought that the goal is unattainable. Today, the people are struggling for survival. Every passing day and week is important for them” said the prime minister.

                            “We do the job with a clear target,” he said, as he predicted that there may be some disruptions, such as delayed vaccine deliveries, the possible emergence of new variants or other factors.

                            Meanwhile, 91.4% of respondents to an opinion poll, conducted by Super Poll, said they agree with the government’s plan to reopen Thailand, in parallel with proper disease controls, after at least 50 million Thais have received their first vaccine dose.

                            8.6% of the respondents, however, disagreed with the plan, according the survey of 1,069 people.

                            94.9% believe in the ability of Thai health officials to contain the pandemic, which will make it possible for the country to reopen to foreign visitors.

                            86.9% hailed the plan as well-thought out and clear, which will help boost confidence in the reopening of the country.:

                            Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                            • PM says 'no' to amending Sections 144 and 185

                              Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha disagrees with amending Sections 144 and 185 of the constitution which he says serves as the core protection against corruption, amid the ruling Palang Pracharath Party's push to rewrite the two sections.

                              Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said the premier wants the two sections kept intact as they are effective in warding off graft.

                              Parliament on Wednesday began its two-day joint sitting of MPs and senators to consider 13 charter amendment bills tabled by political parties in the government's coalition and the opposition camp.

                              One bill was submitted by the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), four by the opposition parties and eight by the government's coalition parties.

                              Highly contentious were calls by the PPRP to amend Sections 144 and 185.

                              Section 185 specifically bars MPs and senators from using their position or influence to interfere for their own interest or the interest of a political party either directly or indirectly. Section 144, meanwhile, forbids lawmakers from increasing the annual budget expenditure bill. All they are permitted to do is trim the budget amounts during the scrutiny stage.

                              "The prime minister was following the [charter amendment] debate in the first reading on Wednesday. As prime minister and a citizen, he stands against changing the [two sections]," Mr Anucha said.

                              PPRP list-MP Paiboon Nititawan, who presented the bill on the PPRP's behalf, told the meeting that the PPRP would push through proposed charter amendments to disprove claims that the party and senators had tried to obstruct the charter amendment process.

                              The party's bill seeks to amend 13 charter provisions that cover issues regarding the protection of people's rights and freedoms, revising the voting system by shifting from the current single ballot for constituency and party-list MPs to two separate ballots.

                              The amendment bill also targets Section 144 and Section 185 of the constitution. Section 144 would be amended to ensure additional flexibility in the budgetary system while Section 185 would be revised to allow MPs to follow up on the government's efforts in solving social problems.

                              Critics said the proposed revisions would weaken mechanisms to tackle graft and malfeasance. But Mr Paiboon said that if the bill passed the first reading, he would ensure the original principles of the two sections would be restored when the bill is scrutinised by a vetting committee in the second reading.

                              The bill also includes proposed revisions to Section 270 to enable MPs to follow up on, make suggestions about, and expedite national reform plans. Currently, only senators have such a role.

                              Meanwhile, Parliament president Chuan Leekpai on Wednesday defended his decision to exclude a charter amendment bill seeking to revise Section 256 from the parliamentary agenda.

                              "No one can boss the Parliament President around. The decision was in line with the law. If I had defied the ruling [by the Constitutional Court] by including it on the agenda, I would have violated the constitution myself," Mr Chuan told parliament.

                              The charter amendment bill on Section 256 was taken off the agenda after the court ruled that an amendment to this section would involve replacing the charter, meaning a referendum before and after the rewrite would be required.:

                              Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


                              • PM unsure 7-day lockdown of Bangkok will stop spread of COVID-19

                                Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha remains non-committal on the proposal to lockdown Bangkok for seven days, to contain the ongoing spread of COVID-19, saying that he has to consider the issue very carefully and hear the opinions of all stakeholders, including people in the capital, about the impacts from such drastic action.

                                “How can we be sure that, after the lockdown, it will be over? If it is not, what should we do? I think that, if we get hurt but it will be over, then we should do it but, if we get hurt and it does not work, then we should explore other means,” said the prime minister, as he advised everyone in Bangkok to consider it their duty to look after themselves.

                                He also made clear that he will not seek tougher laws to contain the spread of the virus, noting that the current law is enough, but there are still people who defy it, apparently alluding to the various political groups which staged protests on Thursday in the capital.

                                The prime minister said, however, that, under the present circumstances, authorities will resort to limited lockdowns at sites where there are cluster infections and to make sure that the action will not have unnecessary impacts on people in general and the overall economy, while the government procures more vaccines.

                                He claimed that there are people in various countries who are interested in visiting Thailand and are not worried about the COVID-19 situation, but he stressed that measures must be in place to make sure that the foreign visitors will not be infected when they go home.

                                Regarding the Phuket “Sandbox” project, which is to start on July 1st, he said that, if the pilot project works, it will be applied to other tourist destinations “but if there is a problem, then the project will be suspended.”

                                Regarding illegal border crossings, the prime minister said he has instructed security officials to tighten the monitoring of all border crossings and the Labour Ministry is to make random checks of factories for illegal migrant workers and prosecute any violators.

                                He also warned medical personnel about expressing their opinions about the current situation, saying that any doubts or questions should be directed to the CCSA or the Ministry of Public Health.

                                Meanwhile, National Security Council Secretary-General Gen Nattaphon Narkpanich, in his capacity as head of the CCSA subcommittee, said that most of the new infections in Bangkok are confined to construction worker housing and factories.

                                If the proposed lockdown for Bangkok is intended to solve the problem of the shortage of hospital beds, especially for severe cases, he said that the CCSA is already coordinating with hospitals in and around Bangkok and with the Public Health Ministry to increase beds to accommodate new cases.

                                He also said that both the Public Health and Defence ministries must help to provide more medical personnel to work in hospitals.:

                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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