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Govt denies secret prisons, tightens security at US Embassy

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Govt denies secret prisons, tightens security at US Embassy | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Govt denies secret prisons, tightens security at US Embassy
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Government figures yesterday denied the existence of secret prisons or the torture of suspected foreign terrorists here while being sceptical of a security alert issued by the US Embassy in Thailand.

They rejected aspersions cast on Thailand after a recent report of the US Senate on the Central Intelligence Agency’s harsh interrogation program against terrorism suspects.

“A secret prison has not existed here and there are no reports of torture in Thailand. No Thai agencies have carried out such operations,” Prime Minister’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana said. “There have never been cases of bringing in these sorts of prisoners. We have never conducted any illegal activities with the US.”

Suwaphan, a former director of the National Intelligence Agency, said he did not see Thailand being mentioned anywhere in the report. “The incidents mentioned in the report took place many years ago Anyway, I can assure [you] there are no secret prisons or torture in Thailand.”

He said the authorities would have to heighten security measures after reports that the US Embassy here had stepped up security and warned American citizens of possible terrorist attacks. “Thailand has no information about threats but we will not take risks.”

Interior Minister General Anupong Paochinda affirmed that no secret prisons had existed in Thailand.

“The Army was unaware of any secret prison in Thailand when I served as the Army chief. At that time, I had given assurance that Thailand did not have any secret prisons,” Anupong said.

Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Worapong Sanganetra said he had no information regarding secret prisons or torture of suspected terrorists in Thailand.

He also said it was “normal” for the US authorities to warn their nationals. In response to the US warning of possible terrorist attacks in Thailand, the general said security personnel were carefully dealing with this matter.

The US Senate report mentions Thailand many times for its role in facilitating and sheltering terrorism suspects as well as helping US authorities capture some key suspects. Years ago, leaked reports indicated that the CIA had used facilities in Thailand for detention, harsh interrogation and torture, but the US Senate report, which was heavily censored in many parts, did not mention these clearly.

Paradorn Pattanathabutr, a former National Security Council chief who advises Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, said yesterday: “We have never allowed the US to use our space for detention or torture and there have never been any requests to do so.”

Panitan Wattanayagorn, an adviser to Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, said one policy followed by every Thai government was that no foreigners would be allowed to operate any detention facility in Thailand.

A political-science lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, Panitan said Thai governments in the past often denied the existence of secret prisons or detention places operated by the CIA for suspected terrorists. However, he noted that there was some classified intelligence that could not be accessed by state agencies.

Panitan said the security agencies had concluded that Thailand was not a target for terrorist attacks. However, regular monitoring would continue.

Pol General Jakthip Chaichinda, the deputy national police chief in charge of security affairs, yesterday said he had instructed the Metropolitan Police to provide increased security at the US Embassy here after the warning of possible terrorist attacks on Americans.

Meanwhile, the tourism industry said the US warning would have no impact on tourist arrivals to Thailand.

Association of Thai Travel Agents president Sisdivachr Cheewarattanaporn said there had been no cancellations by tourists scheduled to visit Thailand in November and December.

“The government has reacted quickly over the warning in order to give confidence to tourists,” he said.

Thai Hotels Association president Surapong Techaruvichit said hotels in the capital and all major tourist destinations were on high alert after the US warning.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thai Life

Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers

The Thaiger

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Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Daily News

The answers are in the banana leaves.

Thai people LOVE playing the lottery (and gambling generally). In fact they’re BANANAS about the twice-monthly lottery (it was drawn again today). Daily News has reported about two unusual banana trees growing in front of a shop in Klong 4 Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok. The trees did not have blossom and on one plant two bananas were pointing skywards. On another there was a whole bunch pointing up into the sky.

There was a steady stream of the faithful lighting incense, praying and rubbing powder on the trees to get lottery numbers. One group thought ‘542’ was the magic numbers and a path to riches (we’re not sure how they came to this conclusion). 53 year old Surachai says the trees had been growing for a few months and that he’d never seen anything like it before.

An unnamed agricultural expert suggested that there was probably something wrong with the banana plants. Trees and malformed animals are a favourite source of inspiration to select numbers for the lottery, as are numbers of houses and vehicles involved in events where people experience “miracle” escapes from danger, or even bizarre accidents.

SOURCE: Daily News

Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | News by The Thaiger Thais go bananas over freak plants in pursuit of lottery numbers | News by The Thaiger

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Crime

Clean Up to the Countdown – Crackdown on illegal software

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Clean Up to the Countdown – Crackdown on illegal software | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Pantip Plaza, Bangkok

The Clean Up to the Countdown campaign aims to encourage top executives to legalise their corporate software before midnight on December 31, 2019.”

BSA The Software Alliance is partnering with Thai police and chief executives on a campaign to crackdown illegal software in the workplace by the end of 2019. Many companies still use illegal, pirated or copied computer software.

This campaign will target 10,000 companies across Thailand that are thought to be using illegal software. This includes corporations in a variety of business sectors, such as manufacturing, construction, banking and finance, engineering, architecture, media, design, IT and healthcare. Many of these companies are known users of software, but lack license agreements from software providers.

The Nation reports that the BSA is working with police to ramp up enforcement against corporations using illegal software and has already helped identify nearly 10,000 companies in 10 provinces suspected of using illegal software.

The Economic Crime Suppression Division wants to see business leaders take a proactive approach to cleaning up their corporate software assets so that they can enter 2020 fully legal and compliant. From now until the end of the year, it will continue to raid companies suspected of not complying with Thai laws protecting software copyright.

While ECD enforces the Thai laws, BSA is contacting thousands of corporate leaders in Thailand to offer guidance and advice in addressing illegal software use in the workplace.

BSA Senior Director Tarun Sawney believes that some CEOs may be aware their company is using illegal software and are wary of investing in genuine software.

“But there are other CEOs whose companies have hundreds or thousands of PCs, who simply may not be aware of the type of software running on their corporation’s PCs, and whether it is legal or not.”

“BSA wants to help CEOs do the right thing but this requires that CEOs take a hands-on approach to addressing the risk of using illegal software in business operations. Our advice is that CEOs treat the risk of illegal software with the utmost importance. This means being hands-on and proactive. CEOs can and should control this risk factor.”

The solution, according to the software industry, includes a better effort by CEOs at self-policing their own use of software by corporations in Thailand. The Clean Up to the Countdown campaign is a part of Legalize and Protect initiative launched earlier this year. So far, the initiative has helped thousands companies in Thailand legalize their software assets and protect data from malware and hackers.

SOURCE: The Nation

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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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