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UK travel giant Thomas Cook collapses leaving 150,000 holiday-makers stranded

The Thaiger

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UK travel giant Thomas Cook collapses leaving 150,000 holiday-makers stranded | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Bye bye Thomas Cook – The Independent

Thomas Cook, the iconic British travel and airline company, has collapsed after last-minute negotiations failed to find a solution for the debt-ridden company. The tour operator’s failure affects 22,000 jobs worldwide, including 9,000 in the UK alone. Thomas Cook had been operating for 178 years.

The company is now bankrupt.

The collapse has triggered the largest ever peacetime repatriation aimed at bringing more than 150,000 British holidaymakers, spread around the world back to the UK. The emergency operation has been codenamed Operation Matterhorn. The British Civial Aviation Authority says that “all Thomas Cook bookings, including flights and holidays, have now been cancelled.

Thomas Cook’s chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, says the company’s collapse was a “matter of profound regret”.

In anticipation of the inevitable decision, empty aircraft were already heading overseas, ready to take British tourists back from far-flung parts of the world, including Thailand.

(The Thaiger will have contact details for the hundreds of British tourists stranded in Thailand after the collapse as soon as they become available.)

Thomas Cook had secured a 900 million pound rescue deal, led by its largest shareholder Chinese firm Fosun last August, but a recent demand from its lending banks to raise a further 200 million pounds in contingency funding had put the deal in doubt. Executives from the holiday company spent all yesterday in talks with lenders trying to secure a salvage deal. The company had also asked the government for financial aid, a solution also urged by Labour and union groups.

Thomas Cook has blamed political unrest in holiday destinations such as Turkey, last summer’s prolonged heatwave and customers delaying booking holidays because of Brexit. But the firm has also faced fierce competition from online travel agents and low-cost airlines.

Another issue has been the company locking in bulk bookings up to two years ago, when the British pound was higher in value, but then being forced to pay its bills with a much weaker currency.

UK travel giant Thomas Cook collapses leaving 150,000 holiday-makers stranded | News by The Thaiger

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Politics

PM defends the 80 billion baht munition spend

The Thaiger & The Nation

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PM defends the 80 billion baht munition spend | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

Speaking to the House of Representatives’ budget debate for the 2020 financial year yesterday, PM and Minister of Defence Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha defended the expenditure for the Defence Ministry. He claimed they must reserve a budget of 70-80 billion baht for buying munitions and vehicles for defense purposes.

“This money is part of the Ministry of Defense’s allotted budget, nothing to do with the central expenditure budget.”

“Our military personnel are patrolling 5,000 kilometres of border both by land and sea.”

“It’s a dangerous and important duty and they need modern ships for efficient operations.”

The Nation reports that the PM explained to the parliament that the Ministry’s existing fleet is more than 60 years old and most of the ships require urgent repair or replacement.

“All our neighbouring countries have modern ships, and Thailand needs to keep up with the changing world to maintain our negotiating powers, as well as show our potential and capability to protect our resources, especially around naval borders.”

“The Ministry of Defence is trying its best to reduce costs, such as by using smaller ships or even trying to build the ships domestically. However, we cannot let up on naval patrol. As you can see from skirmishes with illegal, unreported and unregulated foreign fishing boats, we need to protect our people and resources as well as prevent matters that might escalate into bigger conflicts.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Thailand

Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December

The Thaiger

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Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December | The Thaiger

The point deduction system, for traffic and road infringements, is tentatively scheduled for activation for motorists and motorcyclists in mid-December. It is hoped that the system will help reduce road fatalities and injuries on Thai roads.

The deputy commander of Highways Police Command says that every licensed driver will be given an allocation of 12 points. Each time the driver commits a traffic law violation, points will be deducted. When there are no points left, the driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, after which the driver or motorcyclist will have to undergo training administered by the Land Transport Department to get their licence back, and another 12 points.

Those who don’t attend the training, however, will have their licence returned after 90 days, but with only 8 points.

Points to be deducted differ, depending on the offence. Offences are divided into four categories:

• One point deduction

Using a cell-phone while driving; exceeding the speed limit; not wearing crash helmets for motorcyclists; not wearing seat belts; not giving way to emergency vehicles, riding on the sidewalk and not stopping for pedestrians on zebra crossings.

• Two points deduction

Running a red light; driving on the wrong side of the road; reckless driving; driving while his/her license is suspended and drunk driving.

• Three points deduction

Organising or promoting street racing without permission; hit-and run; driving while under the influence of narcotics; driving while under the influence of alcohol exceeding 150mg per ml.

• Four points deduction

Driving under the influence of alcohol exceeding 200mg per ml, drunk driving in a way which may cause serious injuries or death to the other people; driving in a manner disregarding the safety of the other people or causing trouble to other people.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Economy

Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget

May Taylor

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Opposition hits out at government’s military spending in 2020 budget | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Reuters | The Business Times

The opposition is accusing the government of being more concerned with military arms than the daily struggles of Thai citizens. During a debate in Parliament on the budget bill, the government was accused of caring more about the growth in military spending than citizens’ financial woes.

The opposition levied the attack after PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha delivered the 3.2 trillion baht bill to the House of Representatives. The debate on the 2020 budget is expected to continue for two more days and if approved by Parliament, the bill will come into force early next year.

The PM says the budget aligns with the “20 year strategy” to improve the living standards of the nation’s citizens while growing the economy, but opponents accuse him of making defence spending a priority.

The leader of the opposition, Sompong Amornvivat, claims that in the five years the PM has been in power, total spending has hit 14.3 trillion baht, with loans of 2.2 trillion baht, without any significant growth in the economy. He accuses the government of spending more than 6 billion baht on defence, with the Interior Ministry getting 25 billion baht more than last year.

It’s also understood that the government has also put 518.8 billion baht aside, which it can spend as it wishes, without the consent of Parliament.

The government’s tourism stimulus plan, whereby domestic tourists would be given cash incentives, also came under fire as Sompong declared it a waste of money that would do nothing to boost productivity.

The subject of the PM’s oath-taking fiasco reared its head again, as the leader of the Seree Ruam Thai Party, Pol General Sereepisut Temiyavej declared the PM and his government unfit to rule or propose a budget bill as a result of it.

Anudit Nakorntab from the Pheu Thai party said the government should postpone unnecessary spending on military arms while the country’s citizens battle economic hardship, accusing the previous junta-led administration of also prioritising the military in its spending.

SOURCE: The Nation

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