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Phuket Gazette: Myanmar lifts ban on Suu Kyi; Malaysia willing to help Thailand; Request for Iranian

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Phuket Gazette: Myanmar lifts ban on Suu Kyi; Malaysia willing to help Thailand; Request for Iranian | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Myanmar lifts government ban on Suu Kyi rallies

PHUKET (News Wires): Myanmar election authorities have lifted a ban on rallies by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi after the National League for Democracy (NLD) complained about the restrictions, a Burmese news organization in exile reported yesterday.

According to Mizzima News, the Union Election Commission (UEC) said a ministerial order from the sports minister which restricted campaign rallies in stadiums had been lifted. The announcement came after the main opposition party, the NLD, complained in a press conference that the campaign process was not free and fair.

The NLD publicly accused sports minister Tint Hsan of hampering its campaign activities as the party had been prevented from using three sports fields for the rallies.

Campaign manager Nyan Win earlier said the government has prevented the NLD from holding election rallies in a village in Kachin State, citing security concerns. “So why do they hold by-elections in a constituency where they cannot ensure security?” Nyan Win asked, as quoted by Mizzima News.

Aung San Suu Kyi is running for one of the 48 parliamentary seats during the April 1 by-election. The famed politician spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest until her release in November 2010.

The fairness of the April 1 by-election is being studied carefully by the international community as a test of the newly elected government’s promise to hold a free and fair election. Western governments have said Suu Kyi’s judgment about the election’s fairness would be decisive in whether or not further sanctions are lifted on the military-dominated government.

Myanmar held its first elections in 20 years in November 2010, paving the way for the end of 49 years of military rule. The country has undergone a rapid number of political changes in the past year, including the loosening of press laws, legalizing the right to demonstrate and organize as workers, the release of leading political prisoners, and ethnic cease-fire agreements.

Malaysia willing to help Thailand find solution for South

PHUKET (The Nation): Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who met with his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra here on Monday, said Bangkok should focus on creating greater participation for the southern Thai people in matters such as the economy, education and religion.

He said Yingluck had requested Malaysia’s cooperation in helping Thailand find a durable peaceful solution for the South.

“We both agreed that this is a domestic matter for Thailand and that the people in the south must not seek a separate state.”

“They must reject violence and extremism, be loyal Thai citizens and be loyal to the King of Thailand,” Najib said in a joint press conference with Yingluck at Perdana Putra after a one-and-a-half-hour meeting yesterday.

An insurgency erupted in 2004 in Thailand’s three southern-most provinces bordering Malaysia, killing an estimated 5,000 people.

Yingluck, who is on her first official trip to Malaysia since assuming the premiership in August last year, voiced her support for Najib’s call for a global movement of moderates.

“Thailand firmly believes that moderation is the key to peace and development.

“This will not only promote economic possibilities for the people along the border and surrounding areas but also enhance regional connectivity,” she said.

In a joint statement, the two prime ministers also agreed to enhance economic cooperation in seven major industries halal trade, automotive, rubber, food security, energy, tourism and oil and gas.

Thailand was Malaysia’s second largest Asean trading partner with trading value worth US$22.95 billion.

Najib said about 400 Malaysian firms had invested in Thailand.

“There is a discussion going on to look at the new cross-border agreements between our countries.

“We also touched on the problems of dual citizenship between our two countries and we agreed that we should compare our database so we can resolve this problem,” he said.

Malaysia asked to hand over Iranian

PHUKET (The Nation): A written request has been submitted to Malaysian authorities to hand over an Iranian man suspected of being part of a terror cell involved in the three blasts in Bangkok last week, a senior public prosecutor said yesterday.

The document requesting that Masoud Sedaghatzadeh be handed over to Thai authorities was dispatched through the Foreign Ministry yesterday afternoon.

“We are confident that there is sufficient evidence to support the hand-over, but additional details would be supplied upon request,” said Wanchai Rujjanawong, director-general of the Office of Attorney General’s Foreign Affairs Department.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thanee Thongphakdee said the hand-over could be done under a 1911 extradition agreement between Thailand and Malaysia. A Malaysian court must first review the evidence supplied by Thai police and make a judgement on whether to hand over the suspect.

Intensive crime-scene investigation found residues of explosives in a room used by the Iranian suspects at the Nasa Vegas condo building, said police explosive-ordnance disposal (EOD) sources. The room was rented by Leila Rohani, a suspect who is believed to have returned to Iran. The three suspects also rented a house near Soi Pridi Banomyong 31, where the three blasts occurred.

Another suspect, Mohammad Khazaei, was questioned for seven hours yesterday. He reportedly did not answer questions about stickers bearing the word “SEJEAL” that were found posted along a Bangkok street. According to police, the street is regularly used by Israeli diplomats allegedly targeted by the suspects.

Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha said Israeli diplomats who met him on Monday praised Thai authorities for conducting a thorough investigation into the explosions and for the swift identification and arrest of the suspects.

“The suspects’ preparations were not known by Israeli intelligence services before the explosions occurred, and the incidents indicate that Israeli diplomats are also targets of terror attacks, not just Israeli tourists as widely believed,” Yuthasak quoted the diplomats as saying.

The diplomats thanked Thai authorities on behalf of the Israeli government, and urged Thai authorities and intelligence services to stay alert and not underestimate terrorists’ potential, or overlook details that could point to potential major incidents, Yuthasak said.

National police chief Pol General Priewpan Damapong has forbidden police investigators from giving interviews or commenting on the ongoing probes, assigning a deputy, Pol General Pansiri Praphawat, as the only spokesman in the case.

Before the gag order took effect, a senior EOD officer, Pol Lt-Colonel Kamthorn Ui-jaroen, said the first explosion at the rented house was accidental, possibly resulting from mistakes made while setting a fuse and five-second timer, sending the suspects running for cover.

Suspect Saeid Moradi, who lost his legs in two attempted grenade attacks following the blast at the house, may have sustained his head wounds in the initial blast, rather than from grenade shrapnel, he said.

He said bombs found in the house would have been very effective because they were to be detonated by hand grenades placed inside, which he said was a better method than using a mobile phone or two-wa

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Finance Ministry approves stimulus package to spur tourism

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Finance Ministry approves stimulus package to spur tourism | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Among other things, the TAT are organising some big concerts over the last three months of 2019. Some of the 50,000 that attended the BTS ‘Love Yourself’ stadium concert in Bangkok in April 2019.

The Finance Ministry has now approved a stimulus package for the last three months of the year to boost Thailand’s tourism sector. The aim is achieve a 3% growth rate.

The Thai Tourism and Sports permanent secretary Chote Trachu says the purpose is to increase the total tourist arrivals for the second half of the year to 20 million, with the aim to reach the year-start projections of more than 40 million tourists to Thailand for 2019.

Tourist arrivals for the first eight months of the year totalled 26.5 million, generating 1.3 trillion baht of revenue, according to official figures from the Ministry of Tourism and Sport. For the remaining four months of the year, Mr. Chote said there would likely be another 13 million tourist arrivals, with expected revenue of 750 billion baht.

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yutthasak Supasorn says that events have been planned to boost tourism for the final months of 2019 including World Cannabis Festival, Super GT, a Tour de France cycling competition and concerts featuring famous bands such as Tomorrow Land and EDC.

Meanwhile, last Thursday, the World Bank slashed Thailand’s economic growth projection for 2019 to 2.7%, down from an earlier 3.5%, because of the contraction of the country’s exports.

In its latest “East Asia and Pacific Economic Update”, the World Bank said today the 2.7% GDP forecast for Thailand is the lowest among ASEAN’s developing countries. The Washington-based institution also cut Thailand’s GDP growth forecast for 2020 to 2.9% from 3.6%.

The World Bank’s report attributes the lower GDP growth outlook to an export slump in the first half of the year, the global economic slowdown and fallout from the US-China trade tensions. The World Bank also says “the Bank of Thailand has limited scope to tackle the baht’s strength, but the currency’s climb is a sign of investor confidence in the country’s economic fundamentals”.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Economy

Thailand’s growth forecasts for the rest of 2019 slashed again

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Thailand’s growth forecasts for the rest of 2019 slashed again | The Thaiger

Following their most recent meeting, the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking has announced Thailand’s economic growth this year has been revised downward to between 2.7 – 3.0% from the previous projection of 2.9 – 3.3%.

It has also revised down its prediction of this year’s exports to between minus 2 – 0%.

The committee says the revised export outlook reflects uncertainties in the economies of major countries, the prolonged US-China trade war and the strong baht. They added that the economic indicators in July and August suggest possible softening of economic growth in the third quarter, due to the slowing global economy, US-China trade war and the strength of the baht.

The committee estimates that the floods in north-east and central Thailand will cost the economy between 20 – 25 billion baht.

It has estimated that the government’s economic stimulus “Eat, Shop, Spend” campaign, which has proved popular with Thais, will inject 20 – 30 billion baht into the economy. The committee says it hopes to see additional new monetary and fiscal measures from the government to boost the economy.

Earlier this week the Kasikorn Research Centre revised downward its economic growth forecasts for 2019 from 3.1 – 2.8%, while predicting that the economy may grow at less than 3% next year amid numerous negative factors.

SOURCE: The Nation

Thailand's growth forecasts for the rest of 2019 slashed again | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Nation

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People

King Bhumibol Adulyadej – an enduring legacy

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King Bhumibol Adulyadej – an enduring legacy | The Thaiger

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (December 5, 1927 – October 13, 2016) was Thailand’s monarch for just over 70 years. At the time of his passing in 2016, King Bhumibol was world’s longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history. Amongst his many other gifts, he was was revered as a calming and compassionate influence overseeing Thailand’s stormy political history in the second half of the 20th century.

He was the ninth king of the Chakri dynasty and is also referred to as Rama IX.

Bhumibol’s early days

Bhumibol Adulyadej was born on December 5, 1927, in Massachusetts, USA. As the second son born to his parents, and because his birth took place outside of Thailand, young Bhumibol was never expected to ascend Thailand’s throne. His reign came about only after his older brother’s mysterious death.

His father, Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, was studying for a public health certificate at Harvard University. His mother, Princess Srinagarindra, was studying nursing at the same time.

When Bhumibol was one a year old the family returned to Thailand, where his father took up an internship in a hospital in Chiang Mai. Prince Mahidol died of kidney and liver failure in September 1929.

Thailand’s democratic revolution

In 1932, a coalition of military officers and civil servants staged a bloodless coup against King Rama VII. The Revolution of 1932 ended the Chakri dynasty’s absolute rule and created a Thai constitutional monarchy. Princess Srinagarindra took her two young sons and daughter to Switzerland a year later where the children were placed in Swiss schools for their early education.

In March 1935, King Rama VII abdicated leaving his 9 year old nephew, Bhumibol Adulyadej’s older brother Ananda Mahidol as Thailand’s new monarch. But the child-king and his siblings remained in Switzerland due to his young age and nascent political developments in Thailand. Two regents ruled the kingdom in his name. Ananda returned to Thailand in 1938 but his brother Bhumibol continued his schooling in Switzerland until 1945 .

King Bhumibol Adulyadej - an enduring legacy | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: King Mahidol Adulyadej and his younger brother Bhumibol Adulyadej

On June 9, 1946, the young King Mahidol was killed in his palace bedroom from a single gunshot wound to the head. Two royal pages and the king’s personal secretary were convicted of assassination and executed although controversy still swirls around the incident.

Bhumibol returned to the University of Lausanne in Switzerland to complete his degree and his uncle was appointed Regent, ruling in his place in Thailand.

Marriage to Queen Sirikit

The young King Bhumibol met the daughter of the Thai ambassador to France, a student named Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kiriyakara, during a visit to Paris. Adulyadej and Sirikit began a courtship some time in 1946.

In October 1948, Adulyadej crashed into a truck and was seriously injured, losing his right eye and suffering back injuries. Sirikit spent a lot of time nursing and entertaining the convalescing king. King Bhumibol’s mother encouraged Sirikit to transfer to a school in Lausanne so that she could continue her studies and spend more time with the young King.

Adulyadej and Sirikit were married in Bangkok on April 28, 1950. She was 17 and he was 22 years old. The king was officially crowned a week later and became King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej - an enduring legacy | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Queen Sirikit and his four children (a young Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn on the left)

Half a century of military dictatorships

In the early days of his reign Thailand was ruled by a military dictator, Plaek Pibulsonggram, until 1957. Then the first of a series of coups, which would dog the Kingdom for the second half of the 20th century, removed him from office. The King declared martial law ending with a new military dictatorship formed under a trusted ally of King Bhumibol, Sarit Dhanarajata.

During the next phase of his rule the young King would revive many abandoned Chakri traditions, including the need for subjects and staff to kowtow – bowing and keeping their head below the monarch. He also started to make public appearances around the Kingdom – an activity which would become a hallmark of his reign, significantly reviving the prestige of the Thai monarchy and staying of the royal family.

Coups took place in 1963, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1985, and 1991 (and more in the 21st century). Although King Bhumibol worked hard to remain above politics, he refused to support the 1981 and 1985 coups, and was seen as a settling influence in the swirling political events.

Democratic governments

When a military coup leader was selected as PM in May 1992, huge protests broke out around Thailand. Known as ‘Black May’, the demonstrations turned into riots. Fearing a civil war, Kong Bhumibol called the coup and opposition leaders to a televised audience at the palace.

Adulyadej pressured the coup leader to resign. New elections were called and a civilian government was elected. This intervention was the beginning of civilian-led democracy that has continued, with a few military interruptions, to this day, most notably the intervention of the military in a coup in 2014 when the National Committee for Peace and Order seized power.

King Bhumibol’s image as an advocate for the Thai people, reluctantly intervening in the political fray to protect his subjects, became an enduring legacy.

Death

Since 2006, King Bhumibol suffered a number of health issues and was hospitalised frequently. He died at the Siriraj hospital in Bangkok on October 16, 2016. Crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn became the 10th King of the Chakri Dynasty, and his official coronation was held between May 4-6, 2019.

Although Bhumibol was never intended to be Thailand’s king, he is lovingly remembered as a successful and beloved Thai monarch, who helped calm successive political turbulence over the seven decades of his reign.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej - an enduring legacy | News by The Thaiger

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