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BNK 48 pop idol under fire for hosting pro-junta programs

The Thaiger & The Nation

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BNK 48 pop idol under fire for hosting pro-junta programs | The Thaiger

by Kittipong Thavevong of The Nation

A young Thai pop star has become the subject of a heated political debate and the target of attack for hosting a television show publicising the government’s achievements.

Anti-junta activists are calling the show ‘political propaganda’ and called out Cherprang Areekul, ‘captain’ of the popular girl pop band BNK 48 for “serving the dictatorship” and “helping whitewash the junta”.

The popular 22 year old is one of many showbiz celebrities recruited to host “Doen Na Prathet Thai” (Moving Thailand Forward). Yet, Cherprang appears to be the only one targeted by anti-junta activists.

Academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who is living overseas to avoid the lese-majeste charge, describes Cherprang as a “detergent for dictatorship” and a “greenhorn in democracy”.

Rangsiman Rome, a student activist campaigning for an early election, said in his Facebook post that Cherprang has become a “mouthpiece for the dictatorship” and that this would become a “lifelong stigma” for her.

Cherprang’s supporters, however, hit back, saying she had the right to choose what to do and that these “cyber-bullies” must respect her judgement if they really believe in human rights. Some noted that Cherprang and other BNK 48 members had also joined events hosted by Pheu Thai Party’s senior figure Sudarat Keyura-phan.

Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says he feels sorry for Cherprang as she had done nothing wrong.

“She is just acting like a government spokesperson, free of charge. Is that wrong? What’s wrong with doing good?” he asked.

The premier said he suspected the critics were simply trying to “get a free ride” on Cherprang’s popularity by criticising her.

On Monday, Deputy PM and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said student activist Rangsiman should also respect other people’s rights.

At Government House last week, Cherprang and other showbiz celebrities met General Prayut, who honoured them for helping provide public services free of charge. Cherprang’s boss, Jirat Bowornwattana, says that she was participating in the government show for public interest and had no political purposes.

The program is broadcast every evening after the national anthem is played at 6pm. The audience rating was previously low, as the program mainly focuses on the government’s projects. However, the ratings have risen after showbiz celebrities began participating.

A recorded episode of the show, in which Cherprang acts as guest host, will be broadcast this Saturday. This episode focuses on the government’s moves to reduce inequality in education.

BNK 48 pop idol under fire for hosting pro-junta programs | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Bangkok

Festival of lights will decorate 13 Bangkok bridges until October 25

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Festival of lights will decorate 13 Bangkok bridges until October 25 | The Thaiger

PHOTO: TakeMeTour

Thirteen bridges over Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, as it snakes its way through the metropolitan areas, will be lit up in a festival that runs through to October 25.

The Department of Rural Roads is decorating Rama III, Rama IV, Rama V, Rama VII, Maha Jesadabordinthanuson, Somdet Phra Pinklao, Phra Phuttha Yodfa, Phra Pok Klao, The King Taksin , Krung Thon Buri, Bangkok, Bhumibol 1 and Bhumibol 2 bridges.

The special decorations are a part of the final part of the May coronation ceremony and will feature barge processions along the Chao Phraya.c The bridges will be lit up from 7pm to 10pm each night, and 6pm to midnight on October 24.

The move is meant to show the unity of Thai people and project the beauty of the Chao Phraya River to promote tourism.

The Government and TAT have outlined a range of other projects to Cabinet, including concerts, festivals, expos, tourism discount promotions and even a ‘Ganja World Festival’ in Buriram, in efforts to push the international tourist numbers past 40 million.

In a challenging year, the tourism numbers started well with forecasts of over 40 million for 2019. But March, April and May saw some changes to the demographics and some of the traditional favourite locations noted big drops in numbers. But the numbers appear to have stabilised since and a drop in overall Chinese tourism has been matched with surges is some other markets.

SOURCE: The Nation

Festival of lights will decorate 13 Bangkok bridges until October 25 | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare

Greeley Pulitzer

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Professor: Military government too interested in tourism – not people’s welfare | The Thaiger

A professor of Rangsit University has criticised the previous military government for focusing too much on tourism and not enough on the welfare of the Thai people. The professor was speaking at Chulalongkorn University at a seminar discussing street stalls and urban development.

She questioned the National Council for Peace and Order’s policy of clearing street vendors in all but a few areas such as Yaowarat and Khao San Road that mainly cater to tourists.

She claimed that the NCPO – in power since the coup of 2014 until this year’s election – was more interested in economic development through tourism than in the welfare of the public.

Having affordable street food options was not just about tourism, she said, it was vital for poor workers who have migrated from the countryside, adding that it was part of an informal rather than a formal economy.

“For years people had earned their living from selling goods and services, including food, on the streets.”

This in turn provided an affordable option to eat for workers who came to Bangkok on for large investment projects. The issue, she said, was not just about tourism but the wider economy that might benefit.

The professor noted that CNN had once called Bangkok the best place in the world for street food but this had changed with the sanitized food trucks that have appeared since stalls and vendors were banned from most areas.

The Thaiger notes that banning street vendors has divided the capital. Many are happy that the sidewalks are easier to navigate, but others – including tourists – have said that the lifeblood and character of the city has suffered.

SOURCE: Naew Na | ThaiVisa Forum

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Bangkok

Stricter controls and paperwork putting brakes on residential property market

The Thaiger

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Stricter controls and paperwork putting brakes on residential property market | The Thaiger

The honorary president of the Thai Housing Business Association, Atip Bijanonda, is tipping the local residential market may fall by up to 10% this year starved of economic confidence, the global economic slowdown and the loan-to-value limits.

But he also believes the situation is far from the situation leading up to the 1997 economic collapse.

The Greater Bangkok residential market is now valued at 372 billion baht (in 2018). That’s a rise of 29% compared to the year earlier. So the drop this year is off the back of a very successful 2017.

For this year the market has fallen by 5%, according to the Thai Housing Business Association, with the largest declines in Q2, in retaliation to the LTV limits taking on April 1.

Some of Thailand’s major developers are now shelving some projects as the market soaks up a glut of properties constructed over the past two years.

Three property associations – the Housing Business Association, the Thai Condominium Association and the Thai Real Estate Association – are having meetings with the finance minister discussing the current property market.

Topics for discussion are the improvement in property regulation, construction permits, licences and stricter controls over developers and lending. The associations also want to discuss the current delays on Environmental impact assessments (EIAs). They say that since the responsibility for EIAs was handed over to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration from the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning in 2016, the process is now taking much longer.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy secretary-general to the PM for political affairs says that stricter lending criteria and the LTV rules are the main factors obstructing mortgage approvals for homebuyers

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