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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Korea evacuation plan at the ready; Soldier abducted in South; Charter debate rages on

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Korea evacuation plan at the ready; Soldier abducted in South; Charter debate rages on | The Thaiger
PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

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

North Korea on Friday issued a new threat to attack the US, reacting to a show of force by two US B-2 stealth bombers that dropped inert munitions on to a South Korean training ground not far from the North’s border.

Pyongyang said its targets were the US mainland as well as bases in Hawaii, Guam and other areas of the Pacific as well as South Korea.

There are about 43,000 Thais living in South Korea, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Soldier seized in suspected revenge raid in South
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Eight armed men, wearing military-style clothing, abducted a soldier from his home in Narathiwat’s Reu Soh district, the soldier’s wife told police yesterday.

She said her husband had taken part in a base-protection operation on February 13, in which 16 suspected insurgents were ambushed and died.

Dareesoh Sorpee, 22, accompanied by her husband’s parents, told Reu Soh police that Private Ma-ela Tohlu, 24, who had served at the army base in Ba Cho district that was raided by the insurgents on February 13, was visiting his home on vacation.

On Monday night, when Dareesoh went out to buy food, leaving Ma-ela and her younger brother Yakariya, 20 at home, eight men on a pickup truck raided the house and abducted Ma-ela at gunpoint, but left her brother unharmed.

Dareesoh insisted Ma-ela had no conflict with anyone, but he had told her that he and fellow soldiers had been cautioned of an insurgent retaliation and rumors that insurgents aimed to slay 32 officials to avenge the 16 deaths.

Meanwhile, two border patrol policemen, on their first day of duty after transferring from Chiang Mai to the restive region, were seriously wounded by a motorcycle bomb in Tambon Pitumudi of Pattani’s Yarang district yesterday morning.

The injured were Pol Sen Sgt Major Niwet Luereung and Pol Sen Sgt Major Pornthep Waiwong, who rode a motorcycle leading the 10-strong team on motorcycles and a pickup truck patrolling a local road. An initial probe found the Honda Wave motorbike was reported stolen years ago, while the licence plate it carried was also from another stolen vehicle.

In Songkhla, security officials are beefing up measures for public safety ahead of the Songkran Festival, after news the city might be targeted, while Hat Yai police station chief Col Adirek Beuraheng urged residents and tourists to have confidence in their security measures.

Meanwhile, Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 Front spokesman Col Pramote Phrom-in affirmed that security on trains and southern buses had been strengthened while officials would help accommodate Songkran travellers. He added that the change in the Army region 4 top post – from Gen Udomchai Thammasarotrat to Lt Gen Sakol Cheuntrakul – celebrated in a ceremony yesterday, would be seamless and pose no obstacle to operations.

Sakol expressed hope that the National Security Council’s dialogue with separatists on March 28 would take them on the path to peace in the region and his agency would be willing to offer both information and expertise to the government’s talks.

Islamic Culture Foundation president Chamroon Den-udom said the public was interested in the NSC’s dialogue with separatists and hoped the violence would end soon. The Malay-language TV and radio committee which he chairs would also help provide information to the public and promote peace.

In related news, a “misguided” person Adeunan Pasae, 31, who was wanted for the attempted murder of a local resident on October 7, 2001 and for draft dodging, surrendered himself to police in Narathiwat’s Ra Ngae district yesterday after hiding in Malaysia.

Kittiratt to head loans-bill scrutiny panel
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong was yesterday appointed chairman of the House special committee scrutinising the Bt2-trillion loan bill.

At a meeting temporarily chaired by Bhum Jai Thai party-list MP Chai Chidchob, the panel also appointed six deputy chairmen:

– PM’s Office Minister Varathep Ratanakorn
– Pheu Thai Party member Chaturon Chaisang
– Science and Technology Minister Woravat Auapinyakul
– Democrat MP Korn Chatikavanij
– Pheu Thai Party Nakhon Panom MP Paijit Srivarakarn
– Democrat Nakhon Si Thammarat MP Withaya Kaewparadai.

Pheu Thai MP Pichit Chuenban was appointed secretary to the committee.

Three spokesmen were also appointed: Pheu Thai Chiang Mai MP Chullapan Amornwiwat, State Railway of Thailand Governor Prapat Chongsanguan and Democrat party-list MP Samart Ratchapolsit.

Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt, Democrat MP Phirapan Salirattawipak and Thewan Lipta-panlop were appointed as advisers.

The committee will meet every Monday and Tuesday from 1:30pm to 9pm. It will first check the legitimacy of the draft bill before the Council of State is invited to assess it.

Representatives of the National Economic and Social Development Board, the Fiscal Policy Office and the Office of State Enterprise Policy will then be summoned to explain why the government needs to borrow money for infrastructure development, its readiness to embark on the projects and expected economic benefits.

The Bank of Thailand, the Budget Bureau and Comptroller General’s Department will be invited to explain the procedures for checking the use of the funds, source of funds, and financing procedures. The Transport Ministry will be asked to explain the projects. The next meeting is set for next Tuesday.

Senator asks court to rule on move to change Article 68
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: A senator asked the Constitution Court yesterday to prohibit any change to Article 68 of the charter and suspend the deliberation in Parliament pending a ruling on the move.

The court has scheduled today to discuss whether to accept the case, court secretary-general Chaovana Traimas said. Somchai Sawaengkarn, a member of the so-called Group of 40 Senators, said he invoked Article 68 itself to seek a ruling from the top court on the bill to amend the article.

The government-backed bill seeks to amend Article 68 so that people are required to submit petitions only via the Office of the Attorney General if they want to file complaints to the Constitution Court against moves they regard as seeking to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.

In his petition to the court, Somchai alleged that Parliament President Somsak Kiartsuranond collaborated with 311 coalition MPs and senators to violate the charter and abused his authority by allowing debate on the bill to amend Article 68 to proceed.

Somchai said in his petition the amendment would restrict people’s right to participate in upholding the democratic system. He said the amendment would also go against the Constitution Court’s earlier ruling that people could invoke Article 68 to seek a ruling from the court directly.

The petition asked the court to order Somsak and coalition MPs and senators to stop the debate on the Article 68 bill.

The senator also asked the court to order the dissolution of the Pheu Thai, Chart Thai Pattana, Chart Pattana, Palang Chon, Mahachon and New Democracy parties for jointly sponsoring the A

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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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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Expats

Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple

May Taylor

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Thai app will ease expat immigration woes and make 90 day reporting simple | The Thaiger

The “OSS Foreigner” app is coming, and you will be able to use it for 90 day reporting, according to the Secretary-General at the office of the PM.

Dr Kobsak Pootrakool says the planned app can be used for all immigration reporting, including 90 day reports, adding that typing in the required data and uploading a selfie will accomplish the same result as filling out paperwork at the local immigration office but without having to make the trip there.

Dr Kobsak has been given responsibility for sorting out the TM30 debate and says the immigration app, called OSS Foreigner, is nearly complete and should make all those who live and work in Thailand feel more welcome and make compliance easier and more convenient.

The TM30 form, and its companion, the TM28, have been a source of expat displeasure over the past five months since the immigration department decided to enforce a little-used 1979 law that required foreigners to report their whereabouts if they had stayed overnight at an address different from their registered address.

This latest move comes as part of a wider program to make Thai public services more efficient, with Dr Kobsak making the announcement while outlining plans for all Thai government departments to embrace digital technology by as early as 2022. Meanwhile, the Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak is championing a programme to improve Thai public services for both Thai citizens and foreigners.

“The government’s new approach to IT and digital technology is designed to deliver a smarter, easier service as part of the Thailand 4.0 economic model.”

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Crime

Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued

May Taylor

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Karaoke premises raided in central Thailand, 3 underage sex workers rescued | The Thaiger

The Nation reports that 3 underage sex workers have been rescued after raids on a karaoke restaurant and a karaoke massage parlour in Ang Thong, central Thailand.

The raids were confirmed at a press conference held by Ronnarong Thipsiri, Head of the Department of Provincial Administration’s investigation and suppression division, along with Sakda Bandasak, sheriff of Ang Thong’s Muang district. Ronnarong alleges both premises were using the underage girls as prostitutes.

“We collaborated with Damrong Dhama Centre and anti-human trafficking organisations and learnt that two karaoke joints in Ang Thong were employing underage sex workers. These were the Chil Chil Karaoke on Highway No. 3064, Pa Ngiew sub district of Muang district, and Jittra Karaoke on the ground floor of a hotel in Muang district.”

During the raids, police identified 6 sex workers offering services to a group of customers. Four of the girls were Thai and two were from Laos. Three were under the age of 18, with the youngest being 15 years old. A large number of used condoms were also found.

Somjit Phetwijit and Aphirom Pheungpracha, the owners of Chil Chil Karaoke and Jittra Karaoke respectively were arrested and charged with human trafficking, solicitation of prostitution, prostitution of an underage person, and opening an entertainment facility without a licence.

A 17 year old girl from Jittra Karaoke told the press she was hired to sit and drink with clients and was paid 50 baht each time a client ordered a drink.

“Clients can buy sex for 1,500 baht a time or pay 3,500 baht for a whole night. They can either use massage rooms in the back or bring the girls to other hotels of their choice.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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