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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

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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Bangkok

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling

Bill Barnett

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Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett of c9hotelworks.com

PHOTOS: Rosewood Bangkok

For hotel owners and managers in South East Asia, one of the great mysteries of the past ten years has been the low rate profile of Bangkok’s luxury hotel set. Despite soaring and sustained tourism growth, rising airlift and a strong economy, rates at Bangkok’s top tier properties have remained fairly stagnant.

Have we reached the tipping point?

I had had the opportunity to visit the latest entry to the Bangkok luxury class a few days ago, the Rosewood. With 159 keys which includes a limited number of posh houses with private pools and terraces the property is seeing an exceptional response and already achieving high rates.

What’s impressive about the entry is a take on the design approach that sees hotel developers apply a non-uniform approach with AvroKO coming in to focus on the restaurants and bars, while the rooms and public areas were led by Celia Chu Design and Associates.

While the speakeasy Lennon’s has not be opened yet, the 6,000 record vinyl collection is impressive and the bar will clearly have a strong pull. Taking the approach to designing restaurants and not typical hotel outlets, the Chinese eatery Nan Bei is a breath of fresh air and limited seating provides a bespoke appeal.

Taking a step back, and looking at recent entries like the Waldorf Astoria, and upcoming 101 key Capella, what is clear is luxury properties are shifting in terms of key drivers of the segment of art, fashion, residential vibe, bar and restaurant offerings, wellness and events.

So, what about rates?

On a broad basis Bangkok’s top tier hotels have averaged rates of US$200-240 for the past few years. This set has seen longer serving properties such as the St. Regis, Kempinski, and Okura effectively flatline on rates, though newer entries have come up including the Park Hyatt. On the broader horizon is the return of the Four Seasons and Capella by the river and the Orient Express at the MahaNakhon skyscraper.

With the entry of Rosewood driving rates, my expectation is that a few of the set will follow and at the end of 2019 we will set limited number of hotels crash through the US$300 average room rate barrier and effectively smash the legacy glass ceiling of Bangkok’s luxury hotels.

As in any business there will be winners and losers. Smaller hotels with some rate leading premium key types will be able to push up average daily rates. Segmentation is another key and hotels on the river that lack substantial corporate numbers will remain challenged until transport links to the area improve.

Where in the world are Bangkok luxury hotels heading?

To sum up 2019, size and location matter, the shift on food and beverage and social events along with niches like wellness and  smaller meetings/weddings are the key to the future. As for the quantum leap in rates, it’s about time Bangkok hoteliers be confident and push rates towards a more global norm.

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport

The Thaiger

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Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | The Thaiger

The Thai cabinet yesterday approved the construction of a third runway at Suvarnabhumi International Airport as part of the country’s ambition to become the aviation hub of ASEAN.

The 21.7 billion baht project will increase the combined capacity of Suvarnabhumi international airport’s runways to 94 arrivals and departures per hour from the current 64, said Lt-Gen Weerachon Sukonthapatipak, deputy government spokesman.

Suvarnabhumi Airport (aka. BKK) was opened in 2006 as Bangkok’s second airport. Initially it replaced the tired Don Mueang Airport but Don Mueang was later revamped as a low-coast airport to service the growing traffic demands.

Meanwhile Suvarnabhumi Airport was, and still is, operating above its designed capacity. An earlier bid to build a third terminal has been mired in controversy and is currently shelved pending a new brief from Airports of Thailand with a new round of design bids called for in the future.

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | News by The Thaiger

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Plastics

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | The Thaiger

By the end of 2019 Thailand will be free from three types of plastic – microbeads, cap seals and oxo-degradable plastics.

Then by 2022 four other types of single-use plastics will also be banned – lightweight plastic bags less than 36 microns thick; styrofoam food containers for takeaways; plastic cups and plastic straws – according to a road map approved by the Cabinet.

The Plastic Waste Management Road Map 2018-2030 also includes an ambitious plan for Thailand to use 100 per cent recycled plastic by 2027 in various forms, including turning waste into energy.

The Cabinet has acknowledged the road map and assigned the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry to formulate a draft action plan for plastic waste management, so it is in line with the 20-year national strategy.

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | News by The Thaiger

The Cabinet also called for clear details on related agencies’ role in the integration of the work for managing plastic waste, which will also get huge participation from the private and business sectors. The related state agencies should create various mechanisms to propel this forward such as creating a good understanding among agencies, continuously implementing a public relations campaign via social media to achieve the set goals, the Cabinet instructed.

The work procedure must consider lifecycle plastic-waste management so steps are taken from the very start: with plastic products designed applying the “Eco Design” approach, manufacturing and post-consumption disposal which will include garbage separation, transport and storing, recycling and proper disposal.

According to the Department of Environmental Quality Promotion, Thais generate as much as 1.14 kilogram of garbage per head per day, contributing to the 27.04 million tonnes of waste per year.

One person uses approximately eight plastic bags a day – or 500 million plastic bags per day for the whole nation.

Most of the plastic waste ends up in the oceans, accounting for 16% of garbage in the seas.

SOURCE: The Nation

Thailand to ban three kinds of plastic by end of this year | News by The Thaiger

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