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Gen Prayuth voted to become next premier

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Gen Prayuth voted to become next premier | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

NLA votes Gen Prayuth to become 29th premier
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The National Legislative Assembly yesterday voted unanimously for junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha to be the 29th prime minister of Thailand.

He was the sole candidate for the job.

Prayuth was widely tipped to become the next prime minister after staging the coup in May. Before the assembly meeting yesterday, the only questions that remained were whether he would win unanimous approval or whether there would be other candidates.

Of the 197 NLA members, 191 voted for Prayuth while NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai and assembly vice presidents Surachai Liengboonlertchai and Peerasak Porchit abstained.

Three members were reportedly on sick leave.

Prayuth did not attend the meeting as he was not required to, and did not need to reveal his vision for the country. Instead, he attended a ceremony commemorating the 64th anniversary at the 21st Infantry Regiment of the Queen’s Guard in Chon Buri province.

An army of journalists arrived at Parliament early yesterday morning and there were a large number of security officers.

Before the meeting started, NLA members lined up for a group photo at 9am in a noticeably lively atmosphere, as members had got to know one other better through previous meetings.

Voting began at around 10 am, with Pornpetch detailing the voting procedures.

NLA member Tuang Antachai nominated Prayuth for the prime minister’s post, and the military-dominated assembly rushed to raise their hands to approve the proposal.

Pornpetch had to remind them that they still had to indicate their support on the electronic voting system.

The voting process went smoothly as members seemed to have collectively made up their mind.

The assembly president said he expected to submit Prayuth’s name as the new prime minister to His Majesty the King for royal endorsement later yesterday.

The economy must take priority, say key figures
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Economic advancement and integration into the Asean community are the great challenges for the Prime Minister-elect General Prayuth Chan-ocha, as the country is on the edge of recession while the door to regional integration has already been opened, diplomatic and business figures have said.

They said economic matters must be the priority for Prayuth’s government since the economy had slowed since late last year when anti-government groups started the protests that ended with the coup on May 22.

“I think one of the priorities will be to manage the economy. With a stable Thai economy, the regional economy will also perform better,” an Asean diplomat told The Nation when asked for a reaction after the National Legislative Assembly yesterday voted for Prayuth to become prime minister.

“Hopefully the new government will continue to think about Thailand’s integration into Asean, and also about the larger regional strategic picture,” said the diplomat, on condition of anonymity.

Lyn Kok, president and chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank (Thai), said that Prayuth’s priority must be to restore the confidence of foreign investors. She said one way to do that was by pushing infrastructure projects that could attract foreign investment.

The prime minister-elect should also try to boost Thai competitiveness as it was facing more challenges from more competitors being driven by integration of the Asean Economic Community at the end of next year.

Kok said neighbouring countries were enhancing their competitiveness to deal with the AEC, so Thailand had to do the same.

Darren Buckley, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, said foreign investors’ confidence in Thailand would not hurt by Prayuth becoming prime minister.

“The mix of the new Cabinet will be interesting since it is less obvious on what the set up is going to be, such as what is going to be the ratio of military personnel, and will there be a mixture of different political views within it,” he said.

Prayuth has not revealed his plan for the make up of the Cabinet. But it was reported that most ministers would come from the inner circle of the junta.

His deputies are tipped to become deputy prime ministers and ministers, taking care of key ministries.

Junta adviser Pridiyathorn Devakula is tipped to become a deputy prime minister overseeing economic matters while deputy junta chief Thanasak Patimaprakorn, a four-star general, could become foreign minister.

Stanley Kang, chair of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT), said foreign investors would be keeping an eye on the setting up of the new Cabinet and how it functioned.

Kang said everything seemed to be functional due to the respect that Prayuth had from the permanent secretaries and other government agencies. He was confident things would continue to run smoothly.

The JFCCT is due to meet with Prayuth in upcoming weeks to give its economic outlook for the next three to five years.

Sombat Kitjalaksana, managing director of Bangkok Metro Plc, said the junta had handled many challenges.

“I expect the rail system development, which is one of the biggest challenges facing the Prayuth government, will also be successful someday,” he said.

“Over the next 10 years, the country’s rail system will not be the same as it was in the past ten years. The rail system will be more systematic in terms of both the regulatory and business sphere.”

Business lobbies hail rise of Prayuth
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Business representatives say they are confident that the new prime minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, will drive the country’s economic growth.

Vallop Vitanakorn, vice chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said yesterday that the junta chief was suitable for the position of prime minister and his new post would help speed up the National Council for Peace and Order’s national reform effort along with restoring foreign confidence in the country.

He said the appointment of the new PM would improve governance, boost investment, and support the recovery of the tourism industry, since Prayuth would be working with a new cabinet to continue with the national reform effort. He is also expected to implement measures to stimulate the economy as proposed by the private sector.

Vallop said the 2015 budget bill would be the top priority of the new cabinet and it should pass the second and third readings with ease, which should help stimulate the economy through the expected increase in investment.

Boonsithi Chokwatana, chairman of the Saha Group, said he wanted the new government and prime minister to make exports a priority concern. The economy has not recovered yet and the new government should first promote a strong export sector and keep the currency more stable, albeit a bit weaker.

He said that at the time the junta seized power on May 22, the baht was trading at 32.9 against the US dollar. However, it has been getting st

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Business

Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai Airways must modify rehabilitation plan to survive: Airline President | The Thaiger

PHOTO: gta5-mods.com

“Thai Airways will have to modify its rehabilitation plans to survive in the face of tight competition.” This frank admission by the airline’s president Sumet Damrongchaith.

The national carrier is now carrying a total debt of over 2.45 billion baht and losses of more than 20 billion, despite being able to reduce its debts by 48 billion baht over the past five years.

Sumet says the first step will be to restructure the airline’s management and finances as well as reconsider its plan to spend 1.5 billion baht on 38 new aircraft. He admits the biggest problem is that Thai Airways has low capital but a high debt-to-equity ratio of eight times.

In order to maintain its competitiveness, the carrier will have to reduce its debts versus assets and boost its working capital with support from the ministries of Transport and Finance. Hence, it plans to borrow approximately 3.2 billion baht in fiscal 2020 in line with the budget limit set by the Office of Public Debt Management.

This loan will be taken to support the airline’s investments as well as for its working capital, to update equipment and maintain existing aircraft, but will not be used to repay old debts.

The Nation also reports that the airline is also concerned about maintaining its liquidity because at the end of June this year, its revolving credit line stood at 13.4% of the total revenue forecast for 2019.

Sumet admits that, though the original rehabilitation plan has a set framework, the situation has now changed due to the appreciation of the baht, so in order to achieve goals, the work method has to be redesigned, such as finding a way to procure more passengers.

“We are now in the process of analysing new markets.”

Meanwhile, Thai Aiways’ board chairman Aek-Niti Nitithan-Praphas says the board is reconsidering plans to procure a new fleet taking into consideration the state of the global and domestic economies as well as the US-China trade war.

“The growth of the tourism industry and the airlines’ financial status needs to be reviewed in line with strong competition and routes that are no longer popular. It’s better to carefully revise the plan instead of exposing the airline to greater risk. The target should be reduce expenses by 20%.”

Meanwhile, Thai Airways aims to boost the sale of tickets, find ways of increasing online shopping of duty-free goods and reducing unnecessary expenses by 10%without affecting the quality of service in the last three months of 2019.

The airline is also negotiating the option of cutting down overtime expenses and is looking into curbing losses incurred by it’s semi-budget offshoot Thai Smile by increasing its flying hours to 10.5 hours daily. These steps are expected to help the airline reach breakeven point in the short term.

The airline is also considering long-term goals such roping in more passengers by offering greater benefits to Royal Orchid Plus members, focusing on digital marketing, retiring non-performing assets as well as increasing revenue from related businesses such as kitchens and aircraft repair centres.

SOURCE: The Nation

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Expats

Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple

May Taylor

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Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple | The Thaiger

The “OSS Foreigner” app is coming, and you will be able to use it for 90 day reporting, according to the Secretary-General at the office of the PM.

Dr Kobsak Pootrakool says the planned app can be used for all immigration reporting, including 90 day reports, adding that typing in the required data and uploading a selfie will accomplish the same result as filling out paperwork at the local immigration office but without having to make the trip there.

Dr Kobsak has been given responsibility for sorting out the TM30 debate and says the immigration app, called OSS Foreigner, is nearly complete and should make all those who live and work in Thailand feel more welcome and make compliance easier and more convenient.

The TM30 form, and its companion, the TM28, have been a source of expat displeasure over the past five months since the immigration department decided to enforce a little-used 1979 law that required foreigners to report their whereabouts if they had stayed overnight at an address different from their registered address.

This latest move comes as part of a wider program to make Thai public services more efficient, with Dr Kobsak making the announcement while outlining plans for all Thai government departments to embrace digital technology by as early as 2022. Meanwhile, the Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak is championing a programme to improve Thai public services for both Thai citizens and foreigners.

“The government’s new approach to IT and digital technology is designed to deliver a smarter, easier service as part of the Thailand 4.0 economic model.”

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Crime

Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued

May Taylor

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Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued | The Thaiger

The Nation reports that 3 underage sex workers have been rescued after raids on a karaoke restaurant and a karaoke massage parlour in Ang Thong, central Thailand.

The raids were confirmed at a press conference held by Ronnarong Thipsiri, Head of the Department of Provincial Administration’s investigation and suppression division, along with Sakda Bandasak, sheriff of Ang Thong’s Muang district. Ronnarong alleges both premises were using the underage girls as prostitutes.

“We collaborated with Damrong Dhama Centre and anti-human trafficking organisations and learnt that two karaoke joints in Ang Thong were employing underage sex workers. These were the Chil Chil Karaoke on Highway No. 3064, Pa Ngiew sub district of Muang district, and Jittra Karaoke on the ground floor of a hotel in Muang district.”

During the raids, police identified 6 sex workers offering services to a group of customers. Four of the girls were Thai and two were from Laos. Three were under the age of 18, with the youngest being 15 years old. A large number of used condoms were also found.

Somjit Phetwijit and Aphirom Pheungpracha, the owners of Chil Chil Karaoke and Jittra Karaoke respectively were arrested and charged with human trafficking, solicitation of prostitution, prostitution of an underage person, and opening an entertainment facility without a licence.

A 17 year old girl from Jittra Karaoke told the press she was hired to sit and drink with clients and was paid 50 baht each time a client ordered a drink.

“Clients can buy sex for 1,500 baht a time or pay 3,500 baht for a whole night. They can either use massage rooms in the back or bring the girls to other hotels of their choice.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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