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Phuket Gazette: Reform in Burma; PM denies Bantoon forced out; Parties face problem of drunk MPs

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Phuket Gazette: Reform in Burma; PM denies Bantoon forced out; Parties face problem of drunk MPs | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

Reform in Burma is irreversible : aide
PHUKET (The Nation): Burmese President Thein Sein’s chief political adviser, Ko Ko Hlaing, says Burma’s political reform is “irreversible” because of the president’s strong will, the specific constitutional stipulation towards democracy, the Burmese people’s taste of new-found freedom, and the need for the country to follow the international trend.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation, the man known as Burma’s “political insider” said he was certain that former military leader Senior General Than Shwe was not running the country from behind the scenes and would not make a comeback.

“As a Buddhist, you can understand the mentality of an elderly Buddhist. You should understand also the mind of a soldier – who has always the desire to accomplish his mission. After the mission is accomplished, he can take a rest. He [Than Shwe] had taken the responsibilities of the state for a long time and there were many hardships, pressures and difficulties. But he did the best for his country. He built a lot of bridges, roads and dams. He also laid down the conditions of democratic reform – the seven-step road map. He is now enjoying his retirement with his grandchildren,” Ko Ko Hlaing said.

Asked whether Than Shwe may be dictating the government from behind the scenes, the presidential aide said: “As far as I know, he has totally resigned from politics. He doesn’t want to be involved in this new set-up. He told some of his colleagues and some senior military officers that he had resigned from politics. He is not like Deng Xiao Ping of China or Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore [who retained considerable power after stepping down from the top political posts].”

Responding to a question about whether the former military strongman is afraid to be taken to trial by a civilian government, Ko Ko Hlaing said: “This is a Buddhist country. Forgiveness is our principle. Also, Aung San Suu Kyi and the other opposition leaders, old and young, have talked about forgiving and forgetting the past and trying to do the best for the nation.”

National League for Democracy leader Suu Kyi has said she is not clear whether the Burmese military establishment is solidly behind the reform “and until I know that they support the reform fully, I cannot say that the process is irreversible.”

The presidential adviser said Suu Kyi had for a long time been under house arrest and, even when she was in the country, she had been kept in isolation for many years. “It’s now only a few months since her release. So, this is the time she is trying to cope with the current situation. It’s quite natural that she doesn’t fully trust the Myanmar [Burma] military yet.”

“We have faced much turbulence and [many] riots in the past. We don’t want to return to the past. The Myanmar government and the people wholeheartedly want a smooth transition. It’s a top-down process. We started with a bottom-up approach in 1988 but, during 2004-2011, it was a top-down process. Why? Because we would like to see a very smooth transition. At that time, there was no Arab Spring. But we have to admit that we have had a long history of insurrections and insurgencies. That’s why the role of the military was quite significant in our politics,” he said.

Burma at the time was risking disintegration like Bosnia. “The military tried very hard to keep the country intact at the peak of the Cold War between the Eastern and Western blocs. We also had to protect our territorial integrity. It was a very hard time for the Myanmar army. This experience has always haunted the military leaders.

“That’s why the Myanmar military wants to have a role in the political arena, not to dominate the political stage but to take part as an element – as a balancing sector. That’s 25 per cent of the seats in parliament. The Indonesian constitution used to have a nearly 40-per-cent military presence in parliament,” he said.

“Every revolution started from evolution,” he added. “The military regime [in Burma] back in 1988 had an idea to return power to the people and to build a democratic society, but for many reasons, the process took over two decades.”

Ko Ko Hlaing pointed out that the fall of the Berlin Wall happened in 1989, and that the Tiananmen incident in China took place the same year. But in Burma, the “people’s uprising” had broken out in 1988.

“Actually, Myanmar was a pioneer in the democracy movement. At the time [1988], it was a bottom-up activity. People had suffered social economic hardship for a long time. When the spark occurred, there was an uprising. Unfortunately, there followed anarchy in our country. The defense services of Myanmar had to take responsibility of the state in August of that year. And as soon as the military took power, they promised that one day they would return power to the people. At the time, the political opposition forces were quite nervous and frustrated after the political turmoil. They wanted democracy instantly – within a short time – but the situation was quite chaotic. At the same time, we have many minority groups,” he said.

The presidential adviser explained that at the time, the biggest rebel group was the communist party. The BCP, together with other minority groups such as the KNU (Karen National Union), exploited the political instability by launching huge offensives against the government forces in the remote areas near the Burma-China and Burma-Thailand

borders. They were very fierce battles, he said.

PM denies Bantoon forced out; cites health concerns
PHUKET (The Nation): Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra saidyesterday that her secretary-general, Bantoon Supakvanit, resignedfor health reasons, not political pressure.

“His workload was rather heavy. I sympathize with him,” she said.

Bantoon would become her new adviser, she said after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

One of Bantoon’s deputies, Thawat Boonfuang, will act as PM’s secretary-general pending the appointment of Bantoon’s replacement.

“I will make the selection myself,” she said.

However, she would not wait for one of the banned politicians to complete his or her five-year ban to serve in the post, she said.

Pol Maj-General Thawat, the third-ranking deputy PM’s secretary-general, was a classmate of Yingluck’s brother, ex-premier Thaksin, at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.

A source said Prommin Lertsuridej would likely become the new PM secretary-general when his five-year ban from politics ends in May.

The Cabinet approved Bantoon’s transfer and Thawat’s temporary appointment, said Anusorn Iamsa-ard, a deputy government spokesman who was also appointed by the Cabinet as the acting government spokesman.

He was proposed by outgoing acting government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisang, who is becoming a secretary to Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, who is also the finance minister.

Parties facing up to problem of boozed MPs
PHUKET (The Nation): Pheu Thai MP Paijit Sriworakhan, as chairman of the committee on House affairs, said the committee would discuss measures to prevent alcohol consumption in the Parliament compound during a meeting tomorrow morning.

Incidents of drinking are reported to have happened many times before, especially late at night, but Chalerm’s case had received much public attention.

Paijit said the committee would also consider Democrat MP Rangsima

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Officials mull over new guidelines for this year’s Songkran water festival

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Officials mull over new guidelines for this year’s Songkran water festival | The Thaiger
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

With Thailand’s massive water festival, Songkran, set to go on next month, officials are now mulling over potential guidelines to help reduce the risk of Covid-19. The culture minister says there is talk of setting up so-called “water play” areas that allow the water fights and splashes with a Covid-19 check-in at the entrance. Pattaya News says face shields, goggles and raincoats could be required in the splash zones, but the idea is still being discussed.

The Thai new year has become an annual water fight with massive events in popular tourist destinations like Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Culture minister Itthiphol Khunplume says the “water play” zones are likely to be set up in areas with major events. In a previous report, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said people will need to abide by social distancing rules during the festival.

The government is also reviewing disease control guidelines for traditional activities like pouring scented water over religious objects and monk processions.

The Pattaya News says the government plans to hold a meeting next Monday to discuss Songkran guidelines as well as other Covid-related subjects like the length of the mandatory quarantine for travellers entering Thailand.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Business

Vietjet CEO, dreams to transform the world

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Vietjet CEO, dreams to transform the world | The Thaiger
VietJet CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao: “It is not technology that transforms the world but the human’s dreams; technology is merely a means, and it is created from the dreams of the people.”

“Start-ups shouldn’t ‘save on’ dreams but rather dream big and realise them by simple acts each day at your business or organisation.”

Meet the tour-de-force behind the establishment of VietJet, one of the region’s most successful aviation start ups.

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Any first-timers meeting Vietnam’s only self-made female billionaire Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao will be taken aback by the opposites she harbours. A petite woman with a bright smile always on her face, Nguyen will talk in her soft voice about her business motto… once you dream, dare to dream big.

‘Dream big and realise them’

Nguyen has been popular in the business since her young days studying abroad. Her hard work has paid off when she became a millionaire at the age of 21 – not a usual dream for a college student. But Nguyen is different. She strives to be the pioneer of everything she does by bravely conquering all challenges.

Upon returning to Vietnam, Nguyen has quickly made her appearance widely noticed by her successful investments in the finance-banking and aviation sectors. She is now the CEO of Vietjet Air and the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of HDBank.

To many young Vietnamese start-ups, Nguyen is the big inspiration and a role model for them to follow.

“Start-ups shouldn’t ‘save on’ dreams but rather dream big and realise them by simple acts each day at your business or organisation. We ourselves have turned the impossible into possible and made our dream come true. Millions for the first time have been able to fly and I’m extremely happy to learn that they are not only Vietnamese but people from other countries who have boarded a Vietjet flight for the first time.”

The billionaire’s motto has also inspired her own employees at Vietjet and HDBank to keep their dreams alive despite all adversities. Regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impacts on the economy, the staff at Vietjet and HDBank are confident of their company’s new business strategy and solutions to overcome the pandemic.

Nguyen even envisions Vietnamese enterprises leading and creating a global sentiment by developing them into multinational, multicultural companies and integrating the most cutting-edge technologies.

“We need to be the pioneer of the digitalisation and automation trend in the industrial revolution 4.0 – the key factors for growth.”

Her message is realised at Vietjet as the airline has recruited nearly 6,000 employees coming from 50 countries and territories on its way to revolutionise the aviation sector of Vietnam, the region and the world. HDBank, meanwhile, has particularly grown by more than 20 times in the last decade after 30 years of relentless innovation since establishment.

‘An inspirer of kindness’

Recognised as a successful businesswoman, Nguyen though never thought of making money the ultimate goal of business. The values her company can create, especially for the sake of the community, is what truly matters to her. Nguyen also highly regards business ethics, stressing that “honesty will guide us to do the good things for the society”.

Nguyen has initiated the “Wings of Love” program to grant scholarships and gifts to children at orphanages and poor families, as well as to give winter clothes to children in remote regions.

“I understand more about the responsibility of the company and that of each of us to the community every time being on a charity trip and realise how brilliant the idea of our CEO, Mrs Thao, is. We all call her an inspirer of kindness,” a Vietjet employee said.

In addition to the “Wings of Love” program, HDBank has also supported the national chess sport via the HDBank Cup International Chess Tournament for the last 10 years, preparing the ground for the internationally famous chess players like Quang Liem and Truong Son. The bank has also organised the HDBank Futsal with a long-term goal of improving the physical health of young Vietnamese.

Despite unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic, Vietjet and HDBank are still committed to charity activities. The airline has helped to bring hundreds of thousands of passengers back to their home countries like South Korea, Japan and China, while operating hundreds of repatriation flights during the pandemic. It also gave 2.5 million of face masks to the people in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States. Vietjet’s aircrafts have transported thousands of tons of medical equipment and essential goods to the people under social distancing as well as urgently delivered relief cargo to the flooded Central region.

The female billionaire and her employees have cooked and distributed more than 100,000 meals to disadvantaged people like motorbike taxi drivers or street lottery sellers. HDBank has launched special credit packages in support of those who were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, while granting 1,000 premium hospital beds to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health and another thousands of health insurance passes to the people.

The popular magazine Tatler has honoured Nguyen as one of the 110 Asian figures in philanthropic activities due to her lasting acts of kindness through years.

Vietjet CEO, dreams to transform the world | News by The Thaiger

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Crime

Woman’s charred remains found near northern Thailand rubber plantation

The Thaiger

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Woman’s charred remains found near northern Thailand rubber plantation | The Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/ หน่วยกู้ภัยพิษณุโลก มูลนิธิประสาทบุญสถาน (Phitsanulok Rescue)

The charred remains of a 19 year old woman was found near a rubber plantation in Phitsanulok, a province in northern Thailand. Police say the woman’s 18 year old boyfriend, a murder suspect, turned himself in.

Jularat Kongkaew was reported missing on February 27. She had left her home the previous afternoon with her boyfriend, a Mathayom 6 student (equivalent to a high school senior), who said he was taking Jularat to see a doctor, according to Jularat’s mother.

Police received a report about the remains of a woman’s body in the Ban Muang Hom district at around 7am yesterday. Along with the charred remains of Jularat’s body, investigators found 3 burned car tyres.

After the remains were found, the victim’s boyfriend turned himself in to the Kaeng Sopha police.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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