Bangkok: World’s first natural silk made bullet-proof, The bulletproof vest is developed by a team of university researchers in Thailand, a media report said on Tuesday.
The vest can withstand .38 and .22 calibre bullets fired from a distance of three metres, Panomkorn Khwakhong, a researcher at Khon Kaen University’s chemical engineering department, said.
The armour, made from silkworm cocoons mixed with a special resin and then hydraulically compressed, is durable and lightweight, the Bangkok Post quoted Panomkorn, a chemical engineering lecturer as saying.
The vests are 14-20 millimetres thick, weigh 2.5-4 kgs, and cost only one-third the price of conventional bullet proof vests, he said. He said silkworm cocoons were used because silkworms are raised and farmed in many areas of Khon Kaen, which has a reputation for quality silk clothing.
Panomkorn said the silk vest is also able to take repeated hits without deteriorating. His team planned to continue developing the vest and make a version that can withstand automatic weapons fire, such as the M16 assault rifles.
Voters in Thailand were heading to the polls Sunday in the country’s first election since the military ousted an elected government in a 2014 coup.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief who led the coup, is hoping to extend his hold on power after engineering a new political system that aims to stifle the influence of big political parties not aligned with the military.
About 51 million Thais are eligible to vote. Leaders of political parties opposed to military rule have urged a high turnout as the only way to derail Prayuth’s plans.
The junta leader was among the first to vote in the Thai capital Bangkok, arriving in a Mercedes, after polling booths opened at 8 a.m.
Speaking to reporters after casting his ballot, Prayuth said, “I hope everyone helps each other by going to vote today as it’s everyone’s right.”
The election is the latest chapter in a nearly two-decade struggle between conservative forces including the military and the political machine of Thaksin Shinawatra, a tycoon who upended tradition-bound Thailand’s politics with a populist political revolution.
Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 military coup and now lives in exile abroad to avoid a prison term, but parties allied with him have won every election since 2001. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, who led the government that was ousted in 2014, also fled the country after what supporters said was a politically motivated corruption prosecution.
Thailand’s powerful King Maha Vajiralongkorn issued a statement on the eve of the election that said the role of leaders is stop “bad people” from gaining power and causing chaos.
Invoking a speech by his father, the previous Thai king who died in 2016 after reigning for seven decades, Vajiralongkorn said not all citizens can be transformed into good people so leaders must be given support in ruling to create a peaceful nation.
He urged government officials, soldiers and civil servants to look after national security.
It was the monarch’s second notable intervention in politics recently. Last month, he demanded his sister Princess Ubolratana Mahidol withdraw as a prime ministerial candidate for a small Thaksin-allied party within 24 hours of her announcement.