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NACC stands by case against Yingluck, asks if all files read

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NACC stands by case against Yingluck, asks if all files read
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Panthep Klanarongran, chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), reiterated yesterday that former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra had been derelict in her duty, which led to huge losses in the rice-pledging scheme.

However, he said he was willing to work with the Office of the Attorney-General, which on Thursday asked the NACC for more evidence on charges it seeks to lay against Yingluck and asked that a joint panel be set up to make a stronger case against the former premier.

Panthep also said that he did not feel like he was losing face by the move and denied that the NACC had pushed the case through. He said that perhaps the Office of the Attorney-General should have looked through the entire pile of documents prepared by the NACC before deciding that the case against Yingluck was weak.

He went on to say that he will wait to see who is appointed by the attorney general for the joint panel so the NACC can appoint appropriate people for the committee.

He said the NACC would meet to discuss the matter on Tuesday. Panthep also said that if the joint committee cannot agree on the case then the matter will be sent back to NACC so they can indict Yingluck themselves.

Panthep also dismissed a claim in a report by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) – a Hong Kong-based consultant group – that the anti-graft agency plans to amend laws in order to target certain political factions.

The NACC chief said the legal amendments were done according to international standard – the charter of the United Nations, for example, for laws relating to bribery cases by state officials or people at private firms.

The legal changes were not targeted at certain political factions but to improve the effectiveness of the graft-busting operation.

Panthep said official declaration on the documents would be sent to the consultancy to explain the matter after its report to the commission today.

The document would be drafted by Pakdee Pothisiri, a member of the commission, he said.

The PERC report said Thais were frustrated with corruption, which was now seen as a major issue in Thailand.

Furthermore, corruption had become “increasingly politicised”, which meant political factions used claims of graft as an effective tool to discredit their opponents, sometimes without hard proof. So, the public was suspicious and had a negative view of the governing system.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Tourism

The future of Thailand’s hotels, tough times ahead – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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The future of Thailand’s hotels, tough times ahead – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Thailand’s hotels are facing a very dark time with the Thai borders still largely closed and many of them remaining closed for business. Whilst some local domestic stimulus has provided a bit of a minor reboot for the battered industry, there is still more than 90% of the rooms in the country remaining unoccupied with staff unemployed, debts and leases unpaid.

C9hotelworks.com MD, Bill Barnett, is of the region’s most respected consultants for the industry and has been in constant contact with them during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phuket’s hotel industry is reaching breaking point and drastic economic support from the government will be needed for it to survive the high season. The warning from a slew of industry leaders who fear the island has reached a crucial turning point.

In the wake of the controversial “Phuket Model” international travel reopening scheme, reality is biting back as hotels in Thailand’s leading resort island are unable to sustain operating viability based on domestic tourism.

According to the Airports of Thailand, passenger arrivals at the aviation gateway have plunged 65% year-on-year from January through July of this year.

What is clear is that the 86,000 rooms in Phuket’s registered accommodation establishments cannot realistically break-even or even be cash-flow positive with only domestic demand. This realistically could set the scene for 50,000 job losses in the hotel sector this year if there’s no support forth coming or international visitors are not allowed in.

One of the green shoots is the Alternative Local State Quarantine program, with over 60 island properties applying. While this program is meant to emulate the ASQ program in Bangkok, given there are no direct international flights to Phuket, the government needs wider support of a return of international travellers at a local level and implement inter-ministerial coordination before it could materialise. But this may take months.

Anthony Lark, President of the Phuket Hotels Association that represents 78 hotels in Phuket said: “The math simply doesn’t work with single-digit occupancies being reported. No amount of induced local demand can prevent the dramatic continued loss of jobs and rapidly eroding financial crisis for owners and operators. We strongly advocate a safe, pragmatic, and strategic reopening for foreign travellers.”

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Business

Air Asia seeks to mitigate economic losses with launch of “super app”

Maya Taylor

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Air Asia seeks to mitigate economic losses with launch of “super app” | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.lowyat.net

Air Asia is introducing a super app, in an attempt to off-set – at least partially – the significant financial losses brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The mobile application shuffles Air Asia’s model as a flight and accommodation provider, to a broader platform of complimentary services. The app will offer users a variety of options, including digital payment services, delivery services, and an e-commerce platform. Air Asia Chief Executive and founder, Tony Fernandes, says the idea for the app was floated prior to the pandemic, but Covid-19 hastened its development.

Air Asia’s Thai subsidiary, the majority Thai-owned Thai Air Asia, has been back flying domestic routes around Thailand since the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand lifted restrictions in June.

“This journey didn’t start during the pandemic, this journey started 2 years ago, but it was accelerated because of the outbreak. This is not a Plan B, this was always our Plan A, but we still think aviation will definitely come back.”

Air Asia was hit with losses of US$238 million in the second quarter of 2020 and says it desperately needs to seek new sources of revenue while the economic effects of Covid-19 continue to be felt around the globe. The Bangkok Post reports that from October 8, users in Thailand and the wider ASEAN region can access the new app through the company’s website or through its existing mobile app.

Fernandes says payment and logistics services will be provided by the airline’s subsidiary operation, Air Asia Digital. Users will be able to book flights (including those of other airlines) and hotels, as well as enroling in a rewards programme.

“Air Asia’s roots are from moving people from A to B and moving cargo from A to B, and that is the basis of Air Asia Digital and the basis for our platform AirAsia.com.”

The app is expected to face tough competition from super apps Grab and Gojek, currently understood to be in merger talks. Should a merger go ahead, the combined operation would create a monopoly on food delivery and car-hailing services in the ASEAN region. However, Fernandes remains optimistic, with the airline hoping to complement existing services.

“I don’t believe we are here to compete, but here to complement. Airlines always see us as competitors, but we complemented the full service and created a new market that was not there. Before, only a few people could fly, now everyone can fly, and in the same way we will complement the market.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat – VIDEO

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Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat – VIDEO | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: Protesters gather outside the Thai parliament - Tanaporn Choopanya

Thailand’s MPs and Senators have kicked the constitutional can down the road at least a month after the parliament failed to agree on charter amendments. A panel will be sent up to examine 6 motions that were proposed and debated over the past 2 days. Meanwhile, up to 2,000 protesters were gathered outside the unfinished parliamentary buildings as an act of solidarity for the MPs supporting the changes to the current Thai Constitution.

The reality of the vote, and the setting up of an investigative committee, could push any votes on real reform well into 2021.

The 2 Houses of Parliament voted 431-255 to delay the vote. Opposition Pheu Thai and Move Forward MPs stormed out and missed the opportunity of nominating anyone to the new 45 member parliamentary committee to examine the motions, whilst the remaining members chose members for the committee. Move Forward Party’s, Pita Limjaroenrat, described the vote as “a way to stall for time” complaining that the decision “was moving the country towards a dead end”.

It was not known how the NCPO hand-picked Senators would vote on the bills. Many were thought to side with the idea of constitutional reform but the reality was that, in most scenarios, they’d be voting themselves out of a job if any reforms went ahead. Thailand’s entire upper house is a military-appointed rump of conservative former businesspeople and Army officials, mostly men.

Charter vote delayed, committee formed and Senators escape Parliament by boat - VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

The protesters viewed the afternoon’s proceedings as a blunt stalling tactic to keep the current parliament, and its unelected senators, in power. The session ran until 8.30 last night. Rather than face the angry mob of anti-government protesters at the front of the building, most of the senators escaped on boat at the rear of the building, which backs onto Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.

The demonstrators, with a consistent theme of reform over 3 months of rallies, are demanding changes to the current constitution because it was drafted by the NCPO who kicked out the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014.

The protesters specifically point to the NCPO-appointed senate and the power they wield to elect the country’s prime minister, even though none of them were elected (nor was Prayut Chan-o-cha).

Protesters say they will now organise the next lot of rallies in October. Meanwhile, the Parliament is now is recess.

PROTESTSLive scenes from today’s protest rally to lend their voices, albeit from outside the The Parliament, to the debates inside about amendments to the Thai Constitution. The Thai parliament buildings are unfinished and, so it seems, are the student and anti-government protesters.

Posted by The Thaiger on Thursday, September 24, 2020

 

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