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A summit of hope for peace – Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore

The Thaiger & The Nation

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A summit of hope for peace – Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore | The Thaiger
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By Wasamon Audjarint and Supalak Gangjanakhundee

The leaders of the US and North Korea are now in Singapore for an unlikely but historic meetingExperts believe the Trump Kim meeting in Singapore tomorrow may see some commitment on denuclearising Korean peninsula.

A historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was expected to be a success, according to experts, as Kim was likely to offer a vague promise on denuclearisation when they meet in Singapore tomorrow, leaving tough negotiations over implementation for later.

“Kim’s most urgent need is to alleviate the threat of a US preventive military strike and to get at least some of the economic sanctions lifted,” Hawaii-based East West Centre’s senior fellow of research program Denney Roy told The Nation in an interview via e-mail.

North Korea’s nuclear program and missile tests over the past few years have brought the secretive communist regime to the brink of a nuclear state, which has given it strong bargaining powers with Washington.

A summit with the US president is critical for the Pyongyang leader to make his regime secure. “He also wants to gain international prestige, establish a normal relationship with the US where he is treated as an equal, and make progress towards weakening the US-South Korea security cooperation,” Roy said.

Kim likely wants to get North Korea into a position where both Beijing and Washington are competing with each other to gain influence in Pyongyang by granting favours, he said. While denuclearisation is the ultimate goal to stabilise the Korean Peninsula, President Trump is likely to hold his cards close to his chest.

“I think that very quickly I’ll know whether or not something good is going to happen,” Trump told reporters in Quebec over the weekend. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has met Kim Jong-un twice, said earlier that the reclusive North Korean leader had indicated the regime was prepared to denuclearise.

The top US diplomat refrained from talking about the plan, saying the two leaders would discuss the issue during their summit. An expert on Korean affairs, Roy said the summit could be called a success if there were any commitment on denuclearisation, with the hard bargaining over implementation left for later negotiations. However the key to the success of the summit also depends on the diplomatic style and negotiating skills of the two leaders.

While Trump is unpredictable, Kim is virtually unknown. His first appearance in the diplomatic world was only when he was on camera with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at Panmunjom in late April.

“At that time, he managed to not look like a monster, which is not very difficult. We don’t know how he might perform one-on-one with Trump. I would expect he will be well-prepared and wily,” Roy said.

The success or failure of the Singapore summit would have implications for other countries in the region too. China, Japan and South Korea are also stakeholders in the peace and security in the Korean Peninsula. All of them have different interests and agendas in the summit, Roy said.

“So a result that is good for the US might not be so good for Japan, a result that is good for China might not be that good for the US, and so on.”

Southeast Asia, where the summit will take place, would also benefit from the historic meeting, Thammasat University political science expert Viboonpong Poonprasit said.

“While this summit would not follow the normal protocol with both leaders making on-the-scene talks, the outcome should be positive or neutral at the least and help guarantee more stability in the concerned regions,” he said.

“While Trump looks for denuclearisation of North Korea, Kim would wish for the US to phase out from the Korean Peninsula as well as reduce sanctions,” he said, adding, “Their efforts should at least maintain a peaceful atmosphere.”

Irrespective of the summit outcome, Thailand’s situation would not change as far as abiding with international orders, including economic sanctions regarding North Korea, is concerned, he said.

“Our decreased economic ties with Pyongyang, which is not economically significant, has been to keep the status quo with the international community. I see no need to be eager to change that,” he added. Trump indicated that Pyongyang would be rewarded with economic assistance if the regime complied with the denuclearisation programme and Washington expected that developed economies in the peninsula would actively participate.

State Secretary Pompeo said economic assistance and North Korea’s denuclearisation are “incredibly linked”

“For North Korea to have the security assurances it needs, it needs to know that it has an economic – economically viable path forward. It has to know that its people can eat and that they can have the wealth that the North Korean people so richly deserve,” he said. “So, these are very closely linked issues; it’s difficult to separate them out.

And so not only Japan, but South Korea, China – I imagine many nations will want to participate in the North Korean economy if we are successful in Singapore,” Pompeo said in an interview with NHK last week.

STORY: The Nation

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Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 or 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the south’s battered economy. The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Bangkok

Bangkok air pollution predicted to reach “unhealthy” levels

Caitlin Ashworth

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Bangkok air pollution predicted to reach “unhealthy” levels | The Thaiger

Bangkok’s air quality improved during the lockdown period. In January, it was listed as the “third most polluted city in the world.” By April, air pollution levels dropped down to a “safe” and “healthy” US Air Quality Index, or AQI. Now, forecasts predict Bangkok’s air pollution will reach “unhealthy” levels.

Air with containing low levels of the air pollutant PM2.5 is considered “safe.” PM 2.5 is fine particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. At high levels, it can be harmful to people’s health. AQI is measured by the concentration of air pollutants. An AQI at 0 to 50 is considered safe, while 300 and up is considered dangerous.

  • 0-50: Good
  • 51-100: Moderate
  • 101-150:Unhealthy for sensitive groups
  • 151-200: Unhealthy
  • 201-300: Very unhealthy
  • 301-500: Hazardous

Just yesterday, Bangkok was listed as the 16th city with the worst air quality in the world on Air Visuals with an AQI of 108 with PM 2.5 at 38 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). This morning, Bangkok’s air quality was reported at a “moderate” level with an AQI of 95, according to Air Visuals.

Another website, through the World Air Quality Index project, reported the city’s AQI at 129, a level that can be harmful to sensitive groups. Both websites forecast the AQI to increase by tonight to “unhealthy” levels that could be harmful to someone’s health. Levels are expected to increase today to an AQI of 158 to 171.

The Pollution Control Department says the air quality in Bangkok fluctuates. While AQI was reported at a fairly high level yesterday, Bangkok has been between a “good” and “moderate” level with PM2.5 at around 20 to 42 µg/m3 detected by 71 air quality stations, according to the department.

The top 5 cities with the worst air quality, as of this morning on Air Visuals, are Delhi, India with 192 AQI; Shenyang, China with 186 AQI; Beijing, China with 174 AQI; Chongqing, China with 172 AQI and Chengdu, China with 167 AQI.

Bangkok air pollution predicted to reach

Pollution forecast for the week of October 26 to November 1, according to the World Air Quality Index project. Red means air pollution at “unhealthy” levels and orange means air pollution at levels “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Air Visuals| World Air Quality Index project

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Economy

Government planning new strategies to boost economic recovery

Maya Taylor

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Government planning new strategies to boost economic recovery | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pracha Hariraksapita / Shutterstock

Energy minister and deputy PM Supattanapong Punmeechaow has outlined a number of strategies the government hopes will help the Thai economy recover from the Covid-19 fallout. The Eastern Economic Corridor, the special economic zone covering the eastern provinces of Rayong, Chon Buri and Chachoengsao, continues to eye foreign investors with a number of large infrastructure projects in the pipeline. One of those is a high-speed rail link between U-Tapao, Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports. Also in the works is a 290 billion baht project to develop U-Tapao, with plans for a new, third terminal, and an aviation training centre, among other facilities.

Supattanapong adds that the Board of Investment is considering a range of incentives to encourage foreign investors to purchase property in Thailand. The government is considering offering permanent residency to those buying condos in the Kingdom, provided they don’t mortgage, transfer, or sell the units within 5 years of purchase.

In relation to foreign arrivals, he says the government will clarify its plans on any further re-opening to tourists and investors, in addition to any potential reduction in quarantine. He adds that if the current 14-day period is to be reduced, this would only apply to those coming from countries considered “low risk” for Covid-19. It’s understood the Public Health Ministry is working on categorising countries into low, medium, and high risk, in order to determine the new mandatory quarantine period for international arrivals.

Officials are also considering how foreigners can be encouraged to up their spending from the current average of 50,000 baht per person to 100,000 baht. Since the closure of Thailand’s borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s tourism sector, once welcoming around 40 million visitors a year and generating 3 trillion baht in revenue, has been decimated.

Meanwhile, the government continues to target domestic tourists and residents through a number of stimulus measures, including a recently announced co-payment scheme aimed at boosting spending.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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