New role for Princess – hopes for higher scores

Princess to become UNODC Ambassador

Jeremy Douglas, regional representative of the Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), and Kittipong Kittayarak, executive director of the Thailand Institute of Justice, would be making an official announcement next week at UN Bangkok headquarters on the naming of Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha the Goodwill Ambassador on the Rule of Law for Southeast Asia on behalf of UNODC.

HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha was Thailand’s ambassador to the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and was also appointed UN Women’s National Ambassador to Thailand in 2008. The latest appointment is aimed at raising the profile and support that contribute to judicial reform by the development of efforts that bespeak the impact of crime on society.


Top: Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha. Photo:

Higher O-Net scores expected

Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin hopes he would be looking at higher O-Net (Ordinary National Educational Test) scores in every subject as the National Institute of Educational Testing Service (Niets) has given out content outline and range of skills to be tested which was part of the policy he handed down.

National Institute of Educational Testing Service (Niets) logoPart of the Education Ministry’s 20-year Strategic Plan is short-term goals, one of which includes raising the average O-Net score to above 50% in all subjects. The average score from last academic year were below 50% in every subject.

Mr Teerakiat said 20% of this year’s O-Net test total marks will be writing test in Thai subject which will allow the examiner to better evaluate student’s analytical skill and help address current literacy problems. However, the writing section is only piloted among primary schools because the effect on secondary school graduates would be too drastic.

“If the writing sections start bearing fruit, Niets will gradually expand them to other subjects,” he said.

According to Niets director Sampan Panpruk, the institute told the test writers to be careful with the content and answer keys to avoid repeating past heavily-criticized errors and had prepared over 2,000 well-trained staff to complete marking of the written part of the test within 20 days after the exam’s last day.


First inset: A National Institute of Educational Testing Service (Niets) logo. Photo: Internet

More Helmet Gang assets impounded

On Monday, Feb. 6, DSI officials, police and soldiers impounded the deeds to 102 pieces of land and buildings covering around 800 rai, worth about 400 million baht in Uthai Thani province, believed to be linked to the country’s biggest loan shark network, known as the Helmet Gang allegedly led by 47-year-old Wichai Panngam.

DSI deputy director-general Suriya Singhakamol said Mr Wichai’s ailing parents were staying in one of the 10 houses searched in tambon Tha Sung of Muang district. The impounded assets are in Muang and Nong Khayang districts.

Alleged Helmet Gang leader's houseMr Suriya said his parents were unlikely to be involved but there are lenders in Uthai Thani who were part of Mr Wichai’s network.

The deputy permanent secretary for justice Dusadee Araruit said in Bangkok that Mr Wichai had expressed from overseas his interest in turning himself in, but only on the condition that he would be released on bail.

Justice authorities believe he led the biggest loan sharking service in the country. Established in 2011, the network had 86 branches nationwide, charging 300% interest per annum, may even operate in Cambodia, involved 1,000 government officials and 2,000 black market creditors in spreading out 4 billion baht to 170,000 borrowers.

This impoundment topped up on earlier 150 million baht assets impounded in December and the raids and seizures still persist.


Second inset: Soldiers surround alleged Helmet Gang leader Wichai Panngam’s house. Photo:

BRT system to be scrapped soon

Bangkok’s city engineers and councilors have come to a mutual conclusion that, at the end of April, the City Hall should terminate the Bus Rapid Transit system because it has not been making profit.

After seven years of service, Bangkok deputy governor Amnoy Nimmano said on Monday that the BRT service was running at 200-million baht annual loss to the BMA which is based on 2-billion-baht investment and the collected fares certainly could not cover it.

He said when the service expires at the end of April, BMA would ask BMTA (Bangkok Mass Transit Authority) to provide buses to serve the present daily 25,000 passengers. The concrete lane dividers would be removed to return the separated lane to normal traffic, the bus stations would later be dismantled.

Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) Transportation and Logistics Policy Research Director Sumet Ongkittikul, Ph.D. said that it is considered normal to operate a public bus at a loss because the lower-than-cost fare was for the citizen’s benefit. The project’s success or failure indicator should not solely be based on the monetary profits, the number of passengers and ability to solve or ease traffic problems should be taken into account as well.

“Imagine what would happen if, of the daily 20,000 BRT passengers, 5,000 decided to use their own cars on that same route. ”, said Dr Sumet.


Below: BRT service will soon terminated for not making a profit.  :

By Piboon Awasdaruharote

 Bangkok BRT service



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