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Air quality for Thailand – February 1

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Air quality for Thailand – February 1 | The Thaiger

Central Thailand

Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.

Air quality for Thailand – February 1 | News by The Thaiger

Northern Thailand

Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.

Air quality for Thailand – February 1 | News by The Thaiger

Southern Thailand

Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.

Air quality for Thailand – February 1 | News by The Thaiger

 



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Election

Thaksin is in Hong Kong. Thailand wants to extradite him.

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Thaksin is in Hong Kong. Thailand wants to extradite him. | The Thaiger

The exiled former Thai PM, Thaksin Shinawatra, is in Hong Kong to be part of the wedding party in the marriage of his youngest daughter Paetongtarn ‘Ing’ Shinawatra to a commercial pilot, Pidok Sooksawas.

Thai authorities are seeking the extradition of the exiled former PM from Hong Kong, according to local HK media. Many of the powerful Shinawatra clan are descending on the Chinese city for the wedding ahead of Sunday’s general election.

Thaksin is either a hero or criminal, depending on your side of the Thai political fence. He has outstanding charges and a prison sentence awaiting him if he ever sets foot back in Thailand. Thaksin, who was PM from 2001 to 2006, was deposed in a coup and has been in self-exile since 2008 to escape criminal charges he says are trumped up by the military and establishment.

Thaksin’s political party, which eventually morphed into the current Pheu Thai party, is expected to win the most votes in the March 24 poll but will fall short of winning a majority, according to recent polls.

Thaksin’s youngest daughter Paetongtarn “Ing” Shinawatra will marry commercial pilot Pidok Sooksawas on Friday at the Rosewood Hotel. The couple, and Ing’s Dad, have already arrived.

Thaksin’s younger sister, Yingluck, who was also deposed by the military after serving as PM from 2011 to 2014, is expected to be at the wedding too.

Chatchom Akapin, head of the Thai public prosecutor’s overseas department, says a formal extradition request would be put in as soon as authorities can find out where he is staying. He says this is the first time such a request was being made to Hong Kong authorities.

But before you get too excited, Thailand and Hong Kong do not have an extradition treaty. To further complicate matters, Thaksin is believed to be using a non-Thai passport.

A former dean of Thammasat University’s law faculty, Panat Tasneeyanond, said in the South China Morning Post that extradition of a wanted person between Hong Kong and Thailand could still take place under the principle of reciprocity.

“In the event that Hong Kong would like Thailand’s cooperation to extradite a person in future, it might assist now if there is a request from Thailand and if it thinks the request is apt,” he said in the SCMP.

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Business

Thailand braces itself for a ‘no deal’ Brexit

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Thailand braces itself for a ‘no deal’ Brexit | The Thaiger

Embattled British PM Theresa May is working against the clock to get her Brexit deal through Parliament after the recent defeats..

The British lawmakers last week voted to reject the option of leaving the European Union’s without a deal, raising questions over the conditions for the UK’s leaving the EU bloc. The deadline for their divorce is only two weeks away.

But economists are warning Thailand to brace for some fallout from the UK exit from the EU because it is more likely to happen than not, just a matter of when.

First of all, no-deal Brexit means the UK will no longer be a part of the EU bloc and will have to revert to World Trade Organisation rules on trade. Made-in-UK goods will be subject to EU tariffs, like that of other non-EU nations. Meanwhile, the price of the EU-made merchandises in the UK may become more expensive as they will have to bear the cost of imported tariffs as well.

According to SCB Economic Intelligence Centre, a no-deal Brexit will impact the UK economy and, consequently, affect British purchasing power overseas. British demand for Thai exports, namely automobiles and parts, and processed chicken meat may reduce.

British expats will also have to face a worsening rate of exchange with the Thai baht, lessening the power of the British pound they bring into the Kingdom for living, retirement or holidays.

Nonetheless, the overall impact on Thai exports should not be significant because the Thai outbound shipment to the UK represents only 1.5 percent of total Thai exports, according to the the think tank of Siam Commercial Bank.

Brexit may also prompt Thailand and the EU to renegotiate some trade deals such as import quota to the EU. Thailand may have to renegotiate the export quota with the EU on processed chicken, as an example. And Thailand may also have to negotiate another chicken export deal with the UK separately after the UK separation from the EU.

Auramon Supthaweethum, Director-General of Department of Trade Negotiations, said Brexit could complicate the process of Thai-EU free trade negotiation, which is scheduled to resume in the second half of this year.

“At any rate, after the Thai general election, Thailand is set to continue to negotiate with the EU on the Thai-EU free trade deal regardless of the UK decision.”

On the bright side, Brexit may prompt the UK investors to pay more attention to potential markets beyond the EU border. At present, direct investment from the UK to Thailand is small, accounting for only 3.5 percent of the total foreign direct investment, according to SCB.

Kasikorn Research Centre note that in addition to Brexit, Thai investors should take into account the consequences of the EU and Japan’s Economic Partnership Agreement which came into force last month.

The EPA could affect the exports of Thai automobile which is part of the Japanese’ supply chains. The EPA will end tariffs of auto and parts between Japan and EU by 2026.

Kasikorn Bank’s think tank says, in light of Brexit, some Japanese automakers will likely relocate some of their car production from the UK to other EU countries to maintain the EU trade privileges. Nissan and Honda have already flagged this probability.

Thus, the destinations for Thai exported automobiles and parts, which are part of the supply chains of Japanese automakers, may also change in accordance with Japanese automakers’ revised business strategy.

While the actual impacts on trade and investment remain to be seen, Brexit has been chiefly attributed to the volatility of the British pound since the referendum in 2016.

The SCB Economic Intelligence Centre say the weaker British pound could dampen the sentiment of British arrivals. They note that UK holidaymakers are among the high spenders in Thailand with 77,600 baht per trip.

“At any rate, since the receipts from British travelers represent only 2.1 percent of the total, the impact on the Thai tourism industry will be insignificant.”

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Election

Choosing sides. Abhisit Vejjajiva will have to choose after Sunday.

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Choosing sides. Abhisit Vejjajiva will have to choose after Sunday. | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

Sunday’s election will not be the end, it will only be another episode in a two-decade long drama as Thailand struggles with democracy and attempts to throw off the shackles of nearly a century of military tampering in political affairs.

Thailand’s oldest political party, the Democrats, head into Sunday’s election with leader Abhisit Vejjajiva facing some tough decisions in the first poll since the 2014 coup.

At one end of the political spectrum in Thailand are the pro-military, pro-status quo parties. At the other are the pro-democracy, pro-Thaksin parties. And between them, the Democrats trying to find some political middle ground.

The way the votes are likely to fall, no party will have enough seats in the new lower house of the Thai parliament. There will have to be some long phone calls and concessions made by everyone to cobble together a workable coalition. Either way, the Democrats are likely to be the ones roped into any coalition – they won’t get enough votes to win government but will have a substantial handful to bargain their place at the table.

Either way they are going to upset a sizable majority of the pro-military or pro-democracy parties. And the Democrat voters won’t be happy with they party leaders getting cosy with the opposition parties.

But Abhisit Vejjajiva argues that there is a scenario that could return him to the PMs office, which he held from 2008 to 2011 after a court dissolved a pro-Thaksin government.

“We will be the alternative in leading Thailand out of the last decade of troubles.”

But the polls and pundits say this scenario is unlikely.

The March 24 election is being billed by the NCPO as returning south east Asia’s second-largest economy to civilian and democratic rule. But the new constitution, overseen by the generals simply enshrines military influence over politics. Whilst it will be a free and fair vote for the lower house of government, the upper house of 250 military Senators is already set in stone.

Abhisit this month said in a campaign video he would not support Prayut Chan-o-cha staying on as PM, which he said will “breed conflict and is against the Democrat party’s principle that the people have the power”.

But at the same time, Abhisit made it clear he would be loath to work with the main pro-Thaksin party, Pheu Thai. The Democrats have long decried the Thaksin movement as corrupt and a threat to independent democratic institutions.

“I don’t want dictatorship and I don’t want corrupt people,” Abhisit said.

“Corrupt politicians provided the pretexts for the military to stage all the coups in the last 20 years.”

So here I am, stuck in the middle with you!

The biggest problem Abhisit faces next Sunday is an electorate that has become increasingly polarised, and the middle ground, with all the best intentions in the world, being lost in the background noise of the bitter political struggle.

There is no doubt that the charismatic Abhisit Vejjajiva, and his party members, will be a part of any new co-alition following the election – they will have numbers and numbers count. But the Democrat vision, one of the oldest political visions in Thailand, will be lost amongst the ongoing battle between the pro-Thaksin and pro-military voices.

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