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February 24 election date official – probably

The Thaiger & The Nation

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February 24 election date official – probably | The Thaiger

PHOTO: A pro-election protest earlier this year. Looks like protesters’ demands are being answered – Kyodo News

Put it in your calendar. As far as the Government’s main voices are concerned February 24 is THE date for the next Thai general election.

Government leaders are reiterating that the national elections will be held on February 24, now that the last two electoral organic laws were promulgated on Wednesday.

The Nation reports that Deputy PM General Prawit Wongsuwan has stressed that the date remains unchanged, though how the relaxation of the ban on political activities unfolds depends entirely on PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Another of the Deputy PMs, Wissanu Krea-ngam, in charge of legal affairs, also said yesterday that he has not heard of anything other than that national elections will be held on February 24.

The Thai stock index, meanwhile, rose yesterday by 38.57 points or 2.30 per cent to 1,717.96. The market closed at 78.999 billion baht. Analysts attributed the surge to positive sentiment from the election development as well as possibility of a US-China trade deal.

Earlier, the ruling NCPO had announced that the national elections could be held any day between February 24 and May 5. This period is restricted by the Constitution, which prescribes the national poll should take place within 150 days once all electoral organic laws go into effect.

The last legislation is the MP election law, which was promulgated on Wednesday and should go into effect 90 days later, or by December 10, according to Wissanu.

The road map to democracy dictated by the NCPO has never been this clear, despite the junta continuously promising over the nearly five years since the 2014 coup to return power to the people.

However, with the NCPO’s history of failing to keep its promises and delaying polls, some political observers remain uncertain about this election. According to the Constitution, the junta gets to retain its indisputable power until a new government takes office.

Academics and politicians voiced concerns earlier that this stipulation essentially gives the junta the power to do anything, even nullifying the election and its results.

Sirawith Serithiwat, a pro-democracy activist and leader of the “We Want Election” group, said yesterday that anything could happen as long as the junta still has absolute power. Also, he said, there is always a chance that sweeping powers under Article 44 can be invoked to scrap the entire plan.

“The NCPO should only act as a caretaker government, let go of power and major administrative work and focus solely on transitioning the country back to democracy by realising a free and fair voting,” the activist said.

February 24 election date official - probably | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: 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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Newborn baby dumped beside garbage bins

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Newborn baby dumped beside garbage bins | The Thaiger

FILE PHOTO

A newborn baby has been found abandoned near rubbish bins in Chon Buri province, south-east of Bangkok, earlier today.

18 year old city sanitation worker, Anucha Boonkhai, has told police that he had loaded garbage from all the bins on Soi 4 of Ban Kao village in Tambon Ban Kao, Muang district, when he spotted a pile of towels. He checked and found a baby boy, whose umbilical cord was still attached still smudged with blood, wrapped in one of the towels.

The baby was alive but had been bitten by mosquitoes and insects so he called an emergency unit of a hospital and then informed police.

Police are now checking footage from security and CCTV cameras in the area to try to identify the mother or person who had dumped the newborn baby.

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