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Thai government announces hotel license amnesty

Bill Barnett

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by Bill Barnett, c9hotelworks.com

In a significant move by Thailand’s government, a hotel licensing amnesty program has been announced on a nationwide basis. Clearly pressure by hotel owners amidst an large-scale influx of non-licensed accommodation has spurred the action.

Leading international legal advisors Baker McKenzie Thailand have issued an information alert on the program which we are publishing in full, as follows:

“Thailand’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) issued Order No. 6/2562 on 12 June 2019, to temporarily suspend the enforcement of town planning and local building control regulations on certain buildings that are used for hotel business operations. The order also grants amnesty to hotel operators who have not been in compliance with these regulations and hotel laws in the past.

Temporary suspension
The suspension is effective from 12 June 2019 to 18 August 2021. It places a hold on the enforcement of town planning regulations and local building control regulations (e.g. those prescribed by municipalities and sub-district administrative organizations) on buildings that were built before 19 August 2016, and are being operated as hotels without meeting/function rooms.

Amnesty
Certain types of hotel operators can be released from criminal liability that would otherwise have resulted from non-compliance with the town planning, building control, and hotel laws. To avail this, building owners who have been operating their property as a hotel prior to 12 June 2019 need to notify the local authority of any of the following non-compliant practices:

Thai government announces hotel license amnesty | News by The Thaiger

Once the local authority has been notified, owners will be given the opportunity to take the necessary measures to improve the current conditions of the buildings to meet the requirements set by the NCPO order. This includes measures such as improving the building’s fire safety system.

The notification and the building improvement of fire safety systems must be completed within 90 days from the date of the NCPO order (i.e. by 9 September 2019). Hotel operators, who notify the local authority of their non-compliant practices and complete their building improvements of their fire safety system within such 90-day period, will be exempted from complying with the town planning regulations and from the criminal liabilities for their past non-compliance.

The Minister of Interior has yet to prescribe detailed criteria, procedures, and conditions on this matter. Hotel operators are urged to closely monitor relevant regulations as it paves way for hotel operators to ensure compliance with the town planning regulations, without being subject to penalties, and enjoy continued business operations. However, as the time for seeking this amnesty is limited to only 90 days, hotel operators should take necessary steps and actions to improve its fire safety measures as soon as possible.”

The recent action by the government has been broadly welcomed in Thailand’s hospitality sector and deemed so be a much needed initiative.

To read the official Baker McKenzie Alert click HERE. For hotel developers and owners seeking advice in this manner, we strongly suggest obtaining professional legal advice.

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Bill Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the Asian hospitality and property markets. He is considered to be a leading authority on real estate trends across Asia, and has sat at almost every seat around the hospitality and real estate table. Bill promotes industry insight through regular conference speaking engagements and is continually gathering market intelligence. Over the past few years he has released four books on Asian property topics.

Crime

Anti-Corruption Commission official sentenced for pointing loaded gun at taxi driver

Caitlin Ashworth

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Anti-Corruption Commission official sentenced for pointing loaded gun at taxi driver | The Thaiger
PHOTO: NewsBeezer

A National Anti-Corruption Commission senior official was sentenced by the Criminal Court to 1 year in jail with a 2 year suspension for pointing a loaded .38 Colt pistol, threatening a Bangkok taxi driver back in 2018. Nation Thailand called it a “very lenient” sentence.

The assistant secretary general of the commission, 54 year old Piset Nakapan, must also pay a fine of 31,000 baht. He was charged with weapon in violation of Section 309 of the Criminal Code, carrying a weapon in public, threatening others, and violating the Firearms Act.

Footage from the taxi’s dashboard camera shows Piset getting out of his car and pointing the loaded gun at the taxi. He said to the driver, Pipat Seesa-on, “Why are you following me? Drive back and use another road.”

At the trail, Piset confessed to the charges and gave Pipat 2,000 baht as compensation. Since he confessed, the court commuted his sentence in half, cutting down the 2 year jail term to just a year and a 62,000 baht fine down to 31,000 baht. His jail term is suspended for 2 years, with mandatory probation check-ins every 4 months.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post

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Tourism

Some tourism officials concerned with political climate, ask government to open dialogue

Caitlin Ashworth

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Some tourism officials concerned with political climate, ask government to open dialogue | The Thaiger

In the midst of Thailand reopening its borders to foreigners on the Special Tourist Visa, political protests have only grown in Bangkok and are now being held in cities across Thailand. Now tourism operators are worried and are asking the government to engage in dialogue with the protesters. President of the Tourism Council of Thailand Chairat Trirattanajarasporn says he’s worried about another coup (Thailand’s had 12 since 1932) being used to solve the problems rather than talking it out.

“If the situation’s gone too far, I am concerned a coup will worsen the economy and affect the country’s image on the global stage… A coup is not the ultimate solution to the problem.”

Now that the protests are spreading across the country, Chairat says some tourist destinations could be impacted. In Bangkok, traffic has been blocked on busy intersections by thousands of protesters. BTS and MRT stations have also been shut down during some protests. He adds that people also tend to save their money during times of protest movements rather than spending it on trips.

“At this moment, the government has to show protesters and Thais the improvements they have brought about during the past 6 years, instead of harassing them for speaking up.”

On the flip side, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn says he’s checked with TAT’s 29 overseas offices that have been monitoring international feedback and no one has reported concerns with Thailand’s political climate, adding that the visitors on the Special Tourist Visa are sticking with their plans to travel to Thailand.

“It is too early to assess the impact on tourism as mass gatherings have occurred recently and there has been no violence.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Media censorship, Thai parliament to meet, STV flight arrives | October 20

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Media censorship, Thai parliament to meet, STV flight arrives | October 20 | The Thaiger

Thaiger News, posted daily around 5pm, Thai time, with all the latest updates, news and information.

Court orders suspension of Thai TV news channel during political protests

The Criminal Court has agreed to suspend the Thai media company Voice TV for allegedly violating the State of Emergency orders which prohibit media content “considered to be a threat to national security”.

Talk about the Voice TV shut down has been circulating for a few days, along with threats to close down other media voices. It’s not the first time Voice TV has come to the attention of the NCPO, in the past, and the current government.

The digital ministry spokesperson said this morning that “Voice TV will be suspended”. The order applies to all of the company’s online platforms, including social media accounts.

They’ve also instructed the closure of The Standard, The Reporters, Voice TV, Prachatai and the Free Youth movement Facebook page. But, for now, those media platforms still seem to be online.

House Speaker confirms agreement for special parliamentary session

The Speaker of the lower house of Parliament has confirmed that there is cross-party agreement for an extraordinary parliamentary session to be convened in the wake of the ongoing political unrest.

Chuan Leekpai has notified PM Prayut Chan-o-cha of the agreement to hold the special session in a bid to seek a political resolution to the conflict.

In his letter to the PM, Chuan calls on the cabinet to back the declaration of a special session. He proposes an initial general debate so MPs and senators can express their opinions and work towards a solution to the current impasse. The PM has already voiced his support for an extraordinary session of parliament.

Meanwhile, a number of opposition figures are calling for the state of emergency imposed on Bangkok to be lifted, declaring its implementation illegal and unnecessary.

Jailed Thai activists, protest leaders, pro-democracy doctor, released on bail

Thailand’s Appeal Court has granted bail to a number of anti-government protesters and protest leaders, on condition there is no repeat of the offences they’re accused of. Sort of doubt that’s going to stick.

They must also report to the court every 2 weeks. Protesters have been charged with sedition, violating the Covid-19 emergency decree by holding an illegal gathering, using an amplifier without authority to do so, and breaking the Computer Crimes Act.

Yesterday’s three “pop up” protests were held outside of central Bangkok and again surprised police. The protest gatherings all attracted up to 2,000 people each and were held, and then dispersed, peacefully, without police intervention.

Police threaten jail time for anyone taking selfies at protests

The State of Emergency recently imposed on Bangkok amid escalating political unrest carries some sweeping powers, some of them targeting the younger, connected mobile generation.

Police are warning that anyone taking a selfie at anti-government protests is risking 2 years in jail and a fine of up to 40,000 baht.

The emergency decree is being invoked in everything, from the arrests of protesters and their leaders, to the threat of restrictions being slapped on media outlets whose reporting is deemed unfavourable.

41 foreign tourists to arrive in Bangkok today on Special Tourist Visa after 7 month ban

Just 41 foreign tourists are expected to arrive in Bangkok today under the special tourist visa. A small, yet major step forward after a 7 month ban on international tourists which was put in place in late-March.

The visa allows a 90 day stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months. But the tourists departing from Shanghai, China and arriving in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at 5pm, allegedly, will only be in Thailand for 30 days, and that includes their 14 day quarantine.

The flight arriving today was first going to have 120 to 150 tourists, but now it’s down to just 41. We’ll soon know if they actually arrived. Never before has the arrival of so few tourists kicked up such interest.

Pickup truck crashes into elephant as herd runs across Chon Buri road

A herd of wild elephants running across a road in Chon Buri caused a driver to crash into one of the elephants, damaging his Isuzu pickup truck and injuring the passenger.

The man says he was heading to the province’s Ban Ang Kraden district when a group of about 20 elephants ran out of the forest and cut in front of his truck. He says he couldn’t stop in time and crashed into one of the elephants.

The injured animal didn’t stop and continued to run across the road, following the rest of the herd into the forest. Local officials are tracking the elephant’s footprints to find the injured elephant and provide medical treatment. The 20 year old passenger was rushed to hospital and is in a satisfactory condition.

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