Thailand

Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Gold sales soar as price falls; Teachers charged for toddler’s death; Police corruption probe continues

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

Gold sales soar as price dips below Bt20,000 per baht weight
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Local gold has been sold below Bt20,000 per baht weight for the first time since 2011, following a sharp fall in global prices over the past few days.

Bullion for immediate delivery was at US$1,379.50 (Bt39,770) an ounce at one point in London trading, while gold fell to a two-year low of $1,321.95 an ounce yesterday on growing optimism that an economic recovery – particularly in the US – will curb demand for the precious metal as a protection of wealth.

The price of gold bullion has gone down 18 per cent so far this year, after rising six-fold in a 12-year rally through last year.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Cypriot Finance Minister Haris Georgiades confirmed yesterday that the Cyprus government planned to sell part of its gold reserves within the next few months.

Sales of assets and gold are a way to raise revenue in order to unlock the €10-billion (Bt380 billion) European Union bail-out package for the ailing island-state.

Thai gold prices were adjusted eight times yesterday for an aggregate cut of Bt2,400 per baht weight to Bt18,950, as business resumed after the long Songkran holiday period.

People buying up

The falling prices drew heavy traffic to Yaowarat gold shops. As some shops remained closed, others were crowded and inventory, particularly that of bullion, ran out.

Hua Seng Heng, the oldest gold shop in Bangkok’s Chinatown, had to issue coupons to clients, urging them to pick up their purchases on April 24.

As gold and silver prices changed more than 10 per cent, the Thailand Futures Exchange temporarily halted trading in order to help investors digest news.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, trying to calm the nervousness, said the dip would be short-term as gold remained an asset with relatively high security. Gold-price speculation is normal, he added.

Mathee Supapongse, Bank of Thailand’s senior director at the Macroeconomic and Monetary Policy Department, said sliding prices had no impact on the growth prediction, as gold prices had not been taken into account in predicting the economic outlook.

“Gold was set up for having a proper correction,” Jim Rogers, chairman of investment company Rogers Holdings, said on Bloomberg TV. “This may be the proper correction and, if so, then it will make a bottom and we can all buy gold again because it is going to be much higher over the decade.”

During March and April, many researchers revised down their gold-price predictions for this year. Goldman Sachs, for example, cut its prediction for the precious metal to $1,545 an ounce from the $1,610 it predicted earlier.

“Given gold’s recent lacklustre price action, and our economists’ expectation that the acceleration in US growth later this year to above-trend pace will support US real rates, we are lowering our dollar-denominated gold-price prediction once again,” said the US investment bank. “While higher inflation may be the catalyst for the next gold cycle, this is likely several years away.”

France’s Societe Generale has also lowered its gold outlook for 2013, to $1,500, while Nomura has cut its prediction from $1,981 to $1,602.

“For the first time since 2008, the investment environment for gold is deteriorating as economic recovery, rising interest rates and still-benign Western inflation [for now] will leave some investors rethinking their cumulative $240-billion investment in gold over the past four years,” said the Japanese institution.

Teachers face jail term for toddler’s death
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Police are preparing to press harsher charges against a teacher and an assistant teacher over the death of a young girl who was accidentally locked inside a school van early this month.

Three-year-old Manassanan Thongphu never regained consciousness following the April 3 incident, and died at Bangkok Hospital yesterday morning.
Bang Poo Police Station superintendent Pol Colonel Wichit Boonchitwuttikul said Daorong Srisamung, an assistant teacher, and Santiparp Wanjai, the computer teacher-cum-school van driver, would be charged with recklessness leading to the girl’s death.

Initially, they were charged with recklessness that led to her being hospitalised. According to the ongoing investigation, Daorong was responsible for checking arriving students and closing the van’s door on April 3. Santiparp was the van driver that day.

If convicted, both face up to 10 years in jail and a maximum fine of Bt20,000.

Wichit said the school would also be held responsible for Manassanan’s death.

“This is separate from the civil lawsuits that her parents can file,” he added.

The girl’s mother, Rattana Nakhonsopa, said she would now focus on arranging the funeral for her daughter and leave it to police to pursue the case.

“I loved my girl so much, it’s heartbreaking for us to lose her,” said her tearful husband.

The grieving father urged schools to improve safety precautions for all children, irrespective of their age.

Police cancel contract with PCC
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Royal Thai Police announced yesterday that it was cancelling the Bt5.848-billion contract it had signed with PCC Development and Construction Co to build 396 police stations nationwide.

Police spokesman Piya Uthayo said the bureau had the right to cancel the contract because the police logistics office and regional committees had reported that the contractor had failed to meet the completion deadline. He said only 12 per cent of the project had been completed over the past 755 days.

Hence, he said, the national police chief had approved the cancellation, effective from today, and the police bureau would notify PCC and other related agencies later.

The police bureau plans to seek Cabinet approval to hire a new contractor for each of the 396 projects so they can start the e-bidding right away. Deputy police chief Worapong Chewpreecha said he had already called a meeting of related officials in relation to the development of the project.

As for the Royal Thai Police’s plan to seek compensation from PCC, Piya said the bureau’s legal team was working on it, adding that PCC was within its legal rights to file a lawsuit against the police bureau as it had threatened earlier. He said the Royal Thai Police was ready for a court battle.

When asked if taking the case to court would affect the construction of police stations, Piya said there should not be a problem because the goal was to build the stations as soon as possible.

Pol Lt-Colonel Santhana Prayoonrat, who works as adviser to PCC executive Pibul Udomsithikul, was also present at the press conference yesterday.

In response to questions, Santhana said PCC did not know former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, former deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban and veteran politician Newin Chidchob and that it was just being dragged through the mud for the sake of politics. Abhisit and Suthep are being investigated for alleged abuse of authority in relation to this project.

Santhana said the PCC h

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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