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Thais surprised by new queen ahead of coronation

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 3rd, 2019

(L-R) Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida during their wedding ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand, May 1, 2019. | Courtesy : Reuters

Many Thais said on Thursday (May 2) they were excited to see the newly named Queen Suthida while others said they were surprised since there were no signs of an impending royal wedding before the marriage announcement.

Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn announced on Wednesday (May 1) that he has married Suthida Tidjai, the deputy head of his personal guard force and a former flight attendant for Thai Airways, and released footage of a wedding ceremony to all Thai television channels.

Vajiralongkorn, 66, also known by the title King Rama X, became constitutional monarch after the death of his revered father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

He is due to be officially crowned in elaborate Buddhist and Brahmin ceremonies on Saturday (May 4), followed by a procession through Bangkok the next day.

In 2014, Vajiralongkorn appointed Suthida as a deputy commander of his bodyguard unit.

Some royal observers and foreign media had linked Suthida romantically with the king, but the palace had previously never acknowledged a relationship between them.

Vajiralongkorn was previously married and divorced three times and has seven children. (REUTERS)

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Search continues for two Filipino tourists missing in Thailand — DFA

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed that two Filipino tourists went missing at Freedom Beach in Phuket, Thailand on Tuesday (July 17).

The DFA through the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok said it is actively monitoring the case after the Royal Thai Police and a group of Filipino tourists notified them of the incident.

According to Ambassador to Thailand Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon, the Embassy immediately made representations with the Thai Police and coordinated with the Filipinos upon receipt of the report.

According to reports, the two Filipinos were at the beach playing in the sea during a heavy storm, when they were swept away and have not been seen since then.

The Embassy assured rescue operations by authorities is ongoing.

The Embassy continues to coordinate with the authorities on the case, as well as respond to the needs of the Filipino family and friends of the two missing Filipinos.

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Thai cave boys return to pray on anniversary

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, June 24th, 2019

(Chiang Rai Province, Thailand) Alms being given to Buddhist monks to commemorate the late Thai diver who died during the cave boys’ rescue. | Courtesy: Image grabbed from a Reuters video

The boys and the coach of Thailand’s ‘Wild Boars’ soccer team returned to the cave where they were trapped a year ago on Monday (June 24) to remember a former Navy SEAL who died during their rescue operation.

Samarn ‘Sam’ Kunan, a former member of Thailand’s elite navy SEAL unit who was part of the rescue team in Chiang Rai, died on the night of July 5, 2018 after entering the cave to lay oxygen tanks along a potential exit route for the trapped boys.

His wife, Waleeporn Kunan, said her husband still remains in her heart, while the coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, thanked Sam for his sacrifice.

“This is our intention to make merit for him (Samarn Kunan) every year. Our merit making is for Sergeant Sam (Samarn Kunan), to remember him,” said Chanthawong.

“They (cave boys) treated me as if I was someone special and they, these brothers still do until now. Every time they see me they run up to me,” said Kunan, wife of the late diver.

The soccer team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach were trapped on June 23, 2019 while exploring the Tham Luang cave complex when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

A 17-day effort to rescue them gripped the world with experts from various countries volunteering to help. (REUTERS)

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Duterte asks US, China to end trade war

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, June 24th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte joins other leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states during the 34th ASEAN Summit plenary session at The Athenee Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand on June 22, 2019. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

BANGKOK, Thailand – President Rodrigo Duterte has urged the United States and China to end their long-standing trade war and asked the two super powers to ‘take the high road’ and resolve their differences for the sake of global economy.

“The trade war between the United States and China is creating uncertainty. It is taking a toll on global growth. And it could hinder the ongoing processes of economic integration,” the President said in a meeting during the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok on Saturday (June 23).

Duterte added that the conflict between the two nations indeed slows down economic integration among countries.

Meanwhile, the President has also urged the ASEAN regional bloc to support the open and rules-based multilateral trading system instead of the “zero-sum approach” to international economic relations.

“We in ASEAN must strengthen our support for a rules-based and open multilateral trading system,” Duterte said before the leaders of the other member states.

“In pursuit of growth, we should be partners not competitors,” he said.

ASEAN has stepped up its efforts on the proposed free-trade agreement Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The regional bloc targets to finalize the trade pact by November.

The agreement involves six Asia-Pacific nations – Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand – with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements.

RCEP would be the world’s largest free trade deal once approved.

President Duterte also emphasized the Philippines support to the ASEAN Single Window initiative with aims to integrate single-window systems of all ASEAN member states through electronic exchange of trade-related documents towards the establishment of cross-border trade.

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