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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: PM seeks Japanese transportation deal; People’s Army on the move; Thaksin no terrorist; Floods not a crisis

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: PM seeks Japanese transportation deal; People’s Army on the move; Thaksin no terrorist; Floods not a crisis | The Thaiger

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

PM seeks Japanese role in Bt2-tn transportation project
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has invited Japan Inc to take part in Thailand’s Bt2-trillion transportation development project.

She also proposed to Myanmar to jointly develop a “trilateral highway”, creating land bridges between India, Myanmar and Thailand.

She discussed these issues during bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Myanmar President Thein Sein on the sidelines of the 23rd Asean Summit in Brunei, PM Office’s spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said yesterday.

She briefed Abe on the progress of the mega-infrastructure project. She also asked his government and Japan’s private sector to join the project.

Teerat said Abe was interested in having state agencies and the private sector become involved. Japan is not only keen to help roll out the high-speed train network but also to provide consulting services on train operations and ticketing systems.

Abe expressed sympathy over the flood situation in Thailand and asked the Yingluck government to take special care of Japanese factories.

Yingluck told Thein Sein that Thailand was ready to help Myanmar in achieving its reform agenda and to collaborate in trade and the development of the Dawei special economic zone.

The two leaders discussed the problem of smuggling across their borders, which cost the countries in lost tax collections.

Thailand was also eager to work with Myanmar on the implementation of the National Single Window, an electronic system ensuring secured and efficient electronic exchange of trade-related documents through a single point of entry.

The 23rd Asean Summit ended yesterday in Bandar Seri Begawan. In a statement, it was revealed that the grouping grew 5.7 per cent last year, was able to maintain its level of Foreign Direct Investment inflows at US$108.2 billion and recorded $2.47 trillion in total merchandise trade.

The leaders were also of the view that against the backdrop of weaker global growth, regional growth is expected to moderate in the immediate term. Nonetheless, in the longer term, economic activities in the region are expected to remain robust.

A number of measures – 279, or 79.7 per cent – of the AEC Blueprint have been implemented, encouraging the leaders that the regional integration would be completed by 2015, which would enhance Asean’s competitiveness and continue deepening and broadening the regional economic integration.

To spur infrastructure development in the region, Asean also looked forward to the commencement of the Asean Infrastructure Fund’s (AIF) lending operations this year. “We believe that AIF is an integral component of Asean’s efforts to strengthen regional physical connectivity, and narrow the infrastructure development gaps in Asean.”

Thaksin escapes terrorism charge
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Public prosecutors have dropped terrorism charges against fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in connection with the unrest and riots of 2010, due to “weak evidence”, attorney-general Athapol Yaisawang said.

He said it was a decision taken by his predecessor Chulasingh Vasantasingh, who cited weak evidence as reason not to prosecute Thaksin.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) submitted its reports on the terrorism charges to the Office of the Attorney-General. In addition to Thaksin, charges were also filed against 23 red-shirt protesters, allegedly connected with the 2010 political violence.

Athapol said yesterday that prosecutors had reviewed the charges against Thaksin as a separate case, because the accused was a fugitive.

Chulasingh had the final word on whether to try Thaksin because the alleged offence happened outside the country.

Office of the Attorney-General spokesman Nanthasak Pulsuk said Thaksin had only phoned in from abroad and there was no clear evidence that he had instigated people to take part in terrorism.

“Thaksin’s address [to the red shirts] did not call on the protesters to violate the law by burning city halls, embassies, consulate offices, or by toppling the Constitution. The violence at the Ratchaprasong intersection was because the government used military force to reclaim the protest area – with armoured vehicles and war weapons – to disperse the red-shirt protest, leading to many injuries and deaths,” he said.

DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said yesterday that the attorney-general’s decision was deemed final and the DSI would not reopen the case.

People’s Army moves rally from Govt House to Lumpini Park
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The group that calls itself People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime has agreed to move its rally site back to Lumpini Park, although it said it reserved the right to protest outside Government House.

Police and rally organisers struck a deal ahead of today’s visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

“The protest leaders have decided to vacate the Government House area and relocate to Lumpini Park,” rally organiser Preecha Iamsuphan said yesterday.

Preecha said the organisers would decide whether to return to the seat of the government after the departure of the Chinese delegation.

The announcement to relocate the rally site came yesterday afternoon following 30 minutes of talks between organisers and deputy national police chief General Worapong Chewpreecha.

Rally organisers said the relocation should not be construed as conceding defeat.

They said they would not back down despite the enforcement of the Internal Security Act.

A number of protesters voiced disappointment with the decision, saying it was tantamount to retreating.

They disagreed with the argument that the relocation should be seen as aimed at protecting the country’s good image at a time when the Chinese premier is paying a visit.

Police withdrew riot forces to pave the way for the clean-up and beautification of Government House.

Protesters continued to congregate near the Nang Lerng area before moving on to Urupong intersection, which is not covered by the ISA.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnog refused to hold talks with People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime as requested by the group leaders.

He said he would answer a motion submitted by MPs during a House meeting. “I have assigned the representatives of the Peacekeeping Centre to talk to protesters,” he said.

He also said had he joined in the talks, he might have violated the law as the mandate had already been given to the Peacekeeping Centre.

Pol Maj-General Thawat Boonfueng, who is deputy secretary-general to the prime minister for political affairs, said the government had prepared 15 buses to transport the protesters to their destinations. Meanwhile, the Internal Security Act would remain in effect in three Bangkok districts until next Friday.

He refused to reveal other conditions negotiated between the protest leaders and the Peacekeeping Centre.

Temple wants remains from graveyard removed
— 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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